Wednesday, 4 September 2019

The Harp is live!

Have you bought your copy of The Harp of Kings?

If not - watch the 'film' then buy the book! Juliet Marillier sweeps us away again with a timeless tale of magic, mysticism and music!

The Harp Of Kings

Monday, 19 August 2019

Review:The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth

The Blue Rose  Author: Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth (The Wild Girl, Beauty in Thorns) brings another significant historical period to life in her newest novel, The Blue Rose.
17-year-old heiress Viviane is bound to wed within the aristocracy, however her heart belongs to the talented but impoverished David, hired by her father to create lavish new gardens for their Estate.
Torn apart from each other, Viviane is led to believe David is dead and enters a loveless marriage. David travels to China heartbroken, not realizing Viviane’s life will soon be in danger from the revolutionary fires are simmering throughout France. Hungry citizens, fueled by the stirring speeches of the infamous Robespierre, become a threat to the lives and safety of the French Royal Court and all who serve them – including Viviane.
Set against the background of the French Revolution and all its grisly horrors; the imprisoning of the King, Marie-Antoinette and their small children; the denouncing of ‘aristos’ and the murder of thousands by Guillotine, this novel moves at a fast pace taking the reader from the sumptuous gardens of Versailles to the bloody streets of Paris.
Once again Kate Forsyth weaves a story of truth and fiction, bringing to life characters of yester-year and those of her own invention. Romance, drama, historical action – The Blue Rose will keep you captivated until the final page.

The Blue Rose
Author: Kate Forsyth
Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Harp Of Kings is nearly here!

The Harp Of Kings is due to be on the shelves of bookstores around the country,  in 13 days!

Friends of Juliet 
Pan Macmillan

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Book Trailer for The Harp Of Kings by Juliet Marillier

The Harp Of Kings is the newest fantasy fiction novel from Juliet Marillier. The release date is September 3, 2019 and I couldn't be more excited. After reading the advance copy I was inspired to create a book trailer to celebrate its upcoming publication.

As well as having Juliet's blessing on the content and design, I was thrilled to have the expertise of UK Musicians Andy Findon (Flute) and Deian Rowlands (Harp) who created the beautifully  haunting music for this project, and allowed me to call it Liobhan's Theme.

I owe these two gentlemen a great debt for their generosity in composing this stunning melody specifically for The Harp of Kings unofficial trailer. Please take some time to visit Andy's website: here and perhaps leave a message if you love Liobhan's Theme as much as I do.

Sincere thanks also to my dear friend, musician Graeme Taylor of UK folk /rock band Gryphon, for asking Andy and  Deian to help me out on this project of love. You can visit Gryphon's website and facebook page here for some fabulous and innovative folk/rock.

I hope you enjoy my tribute to the extraordinary writings of Juliet. And I hope you enjoy delving into the story of The Harp of Kings as much as I did.

The Harp of Kings Pan-Macmillan Australia
US Publisher PenguinRandomHouse
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Regency Romance meets the Paranormal: A perfect match when written by Alison Goodman.

Attending the IPed (Institution of Professional Editors) Conference last month in Melbourne, was a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow editors, writers, and publishers.

There were many amazing guest speakers attending, including the fabulous Alison Goodman - Author of the highly successful Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club Series.

Although I was familiar with the author and her books, I had not had a chance to read them. Luckily, I was able to purchase the series at the conference. For the next two weeks, I was caught up in a world of Regency romance  meets paranormal activity in an historical fiction fantasy adventure.

Having devoured Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland novels in my early teenage years, I have an appreciation for the world of Debutante Heroines, brooding dark-eyed heroes,  and malevolent Earls, Dukes and Duchesses.

In the first book of the series, Lady Helen and The Dark Days Club 18 year old debutante Lady Helen Wrexhall, prepares to be properly presented to the Royal Court in 1812.  As she practises her curtsies, undergoes endless gown fittings, and endures stern lectures on propriety from her dear Aunt, she has little notion that she will be unwillingly drawn into a shadowy world of missing housemaids and demonic conspiracies.

Impeccably  dressed and faultlessly polite, our heroine takes the discovery of a shocking truth about her mother and subsequent introduction to her own, inherited supernatural powers, with aplomb. The anti-hero of the story, Lord Carlston, is cynical, fabulously rich and handsome. He is appallingly rude to everyone, and is believed to have murdered his wife, although her body has never been found.

He is also a card carrying Member of The Dark Days Club.  The Club, mysterious and invite-only, is endorsed by the King and Queen of England. The Club is comprised of people such as His Lordship, who have Reclaimer powers. Supernatural powers allow Reclaimers to fight the evil Deceivers: demonic life forms inhabiting humans, feeding off their energies. Lady Helen has inherited Reclaimer Powers from her mother. Unbeknownst to Lady Helen, a tiny portrait of her mother instigates a train of events leading her to discovering her untrained  Reclaimer powers.
A loyal servant, a cruel Uncle, a weak-willed brother and a scandal involving a dear friend of Lady Helen's, are all woven into the fabric of this rollicking Regency adventure.

There are plenty of blood-curdling assassinations, and dangers lurk in alley-ways, unassuming servants and especially amongst the society creme de la creme in which Lady Helen mingles.

Alison Goodman has clearly enjoyed writing the Dark Days Club series. The first book sets up the main plot and introduces several subplots. The characters are strongly developed and we get a real sense of the time period and setting which is vitally important to the ongoing theme. Alison's research has been thorough and this shows in the consistency of the period in which the story takes place.  The diabolical elements of the story, coupled with the wonderful old institution of British polite society, and enhanced with excellent fight scenes and gruesome murders, turns what could be just an enjoyable Regency Romance into an action-packed story that wouldn't be out of place in a Doctor Who story-line.

I give it five snuff boxes.

Friday, 31 May 2019

The Harp of Kings. An exciting new novel by Juliet Marillier .


Recently, I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of The Harp Of Kings from Juliet, on her last visit to Melbourne. I wouldn’t dream of revealing any spoilers prior to the September release date, but Juliet has kindly given her approval for posting my thoughts.

Despite being forced to put the book down while I worked and slept - how inconvenient - I was enthralled the moment I began reading Harp.

The main character is 18-year-old Liobhan, a singer and musician, determined to be accepted into the Swan Island Warriors, alongside her beloved brother Brocc. Once feared outlaws, the Warriors are now a revered and sought-after fighting and investigative organisation.

The siblings, both talented musicians, are chosen for an undercover mission, their skills making them a perfect choice to visit the Kingdom of Breifne to attend the coronation of Prince Rodan – a spoiled, unpleasant bully. The goal of the mission is seemingly straightforward - recover the ancient Harp of Kings or else the upcoming ceremony, and the kingdom itself, will be in peril. The Harp is no ordinary instrument and without it the King cannot be crowned.

Brother and sister must play their roles convincingly, taking on entirely new personalities and enduring both physical and emotional challenges. And for Liobhan, torn between obeying the rules and following her instincts, she must make a decision, potentially jeopardizing the entire operation and her future.

 In the Kingdom itself, Druids, courtiers, and stable hands, are not always who they appear to be. There are secrets in this Royal Court and uncanny forces in the forest, both good and evil, that could sabotage the mission and cause lives to be lost.

 For readers who have followed the journey of healer Blackthorn and the gentle Grim in  Dreamer’s Pool to Den of Wolves, you will recognise much of Blackthorn in her daughter Liobhan; the strength of will, the passion for justice and the compassion for those who need help. We catch a glimpse of the younger Blackthorn, before the tragic events which altered her path forever. In Brocc, we can see the gentleness of Grim in his raising. It is clear this is a close and loving family.

Juliet’s unique story-telling had me guessing about many things, right until the last few chapters. There were many ‘aha!’ moments causing my fellow commuters on the train to look at me questioningly, as I chuckled or exclaimed at key moments.

One of the strengths in Juliet’s writing is her ability to create characters with complex layers and offer crucial insights into a character’s past. This is just one of the reasons her stories continue to resonate with us long after we finish reading them. The Harp of Kings is no exception.

The Harp of Kings by Juliet MarillierThe subtle references throughout the book to Blackthorn and the gentle Grim, will delight all who are familiar with their adventures.  However, this current novel stands alone, with strong new characters – such as the intriguing Mistress Juniper, the seemingly overconfident Dau and the ethereal Eirne.

If The Harp of Kings is your first foray in to Juliet’s magical worlds, you will be enthralled. For her current dedicated readers, this is another wonderful example of the depth of Juliet’s writing. An exciting journey of adventure, magic and mystery.

The Harp of Kings is available in Australia from September 3, 2019.
 Pre-order your copy now via Amazon.


Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Aurealis Awards 2019...and the Winner is...!

I love an awards ceremony and when its book awards - even better! Saturday the 4th of May was  the wonderful Aurealis Awards  at the Jasper Hotel in Melbourne.

Aurealis magazine is THE magazine for Science Fiction, Horror , and Speculative and Fantasy Fiction writers and illustrators.
Image result for aurealis awards

An eclectic collection of writers, illustrators, publishers, editors, judges and supporters gathered to enjoy pre-awards canapes and drinks before celebrating some of the most talented writers and illustrators in Australia Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fiction.

The highlights for me were:

  • Shaun Tan winning Best Illustrated Graphic Novel/Illustrated Work Tales from the Inner City.Image result for tales from the inner city (Then proceeding to accept nearly everyone else's award on their behalf!)
  • And  the Sara Douglass Award for Best Fantasy Books Series won by Juliet Marillier,for her   Blackthorn and Grim series!  

I may have shrieked with joy at the announcement, almost deafening Juliet who was sitting next to me. And yes I may have also shed a few tears at the beautiful speech she gave paying tribute to her dear friend Sara.
Click here to read more about Juliet's upcoming series - The Warrier Bards. The first book in the series, The Harp of Kings is due for release in September 2019.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Friends of Juliet get to meet...Juliet!

So this happened on Saturday the 4th of May!

My Friends of Juliet FB page is dedicated to Juliet Marillier. I began it after I met Juliet in 2017 at an event  and decided it would be great to stay in touch with other readers of Juliet's novels. 

So, Friends of Juliet was formed, and Juliet continues to be a  warm supporter, contributing posts and giving me the-heads up on certain events such as being in Melbourne for the Aurealis Awards, and wondering if she could catch up with us! 

A picnic was planned, the mead was ordered (!) I had found a beautiful spot but of course Melbourne weather did what it does best. So, I re-routed us to an indoor retreat called the Phancy Cafe and it was perfect.

Small but cosy, atmospheric but congenial.

Lovely, friendly cafe staff  and lots of delicious things on the menu including this:

A small but dedicated group of FOJ's attended and we spent a delightful 2 hours with Juliet discussing books (mostly hers!) stories and writing, publishing, dogs, folklore, and the merits of tea versus coffee.

To our joy, Juliet generously brought along a copy of her soon-to-be released novel for us to share; The Harp of Kings

Its what the industry calls an 'Advanced Reading Copy' meaning it may still have  errors which need to be ironed out. 

Did we care? NO!!  Are we reading it? YES!!!!   Will we spill any secrets? NEVER!

The Harp of Kings is due to be released on September 3, 2019. You can pre-order your copy of The Harp of Kings here. Don't miss out!

Monday, 29 April 2019

Fantastic Books and Where To Find Them

I love a pre-loved book!  There is something about the aura of a pre-loved book that enhances its already wonderful qualities. Discovering books in op-shops, second-hand book shops, garage sales - always fills me with a thrill as magical as if I had discovered The Holy Grail!
'Forget the cup - give me the book!'

Last week I discovered two amazing books at my local Op Shop - Dreaming Again, filled with stories by Australian Fantasy writers including Celia Dart -Thornton and Sara Douglass. Plus, Ursula le Guin's Voices!

Both for the princely sum of $2 and in excellent condition. I felt almost guilty paying so little (Disclaimer: I usually pay more than the purchase price anyway - because its all going to a good cause!)

The other store I HIGHLY recommend, is That Little Bookshop in Ballarat. This bookshop is such a find I want to keep it all to myself! Owned and run by Wayne, (who I'll be featuring in an interview later on) this is the book shop of my dreams.

It is tiny, overrun with books of every description: out-of-print , new releases, pre-war books, fantasy fiction, historical fiction, children's classics, reference books - you name it, you'll find it and there are some really obscure titles too! Wayne posts current titles on FB every day and will also mail them to you if you ask nicely - which I  did thank you very much Wayne!

My recent finds were 3 Sara Douglass novels and 2 Juliet Marillier! How funny that this great bookshop had books from 2 of my favourite authors up for grabs?

Despite the fact I already own copies of The Dark Mirror and Blade Of Fortiu, I couldn't resist giving them a home. Hey there is aways room for one more book!

Some other great places to find books are:(in no particular order)

Monday, 22 April 2019

Two Top Ladies

The female fantasy fiction authors I love the best.

Juliet Marillier

Sara Douglass and Juliet Marillier - When I see a book with their name on it a thrill runs through me. Why? Because they write bold, multi-layered stories featuring strong, female protagonists.

With winged creatures, mysterious birth stories,  Druids, faery creatures and more - both writers expertly engage the reader in stories which pick you up and don't let you go. Its always a wild ride!

Juliet Marillier is Author of The Sevenwaters Series, The Bridei Chronicles, The Blackthorn and Grim novels, Hearts Blood, Cybele's Secret and Prickle Moon and the upcoming Warrier Bards Series beginning with Harp Of Kings.
Prickle Moon Short Stories and the haunting Flame of SevenWaters
Her books are intriguing, exciting and chock-full  of magic realism, mystery, family struggles, romance, good versus evil and elemental magic.
A  member of Obod - the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids , Juliet  is also a passionate rescuer of dogs and always has a posse around.

Whether male or female, protagonist or antoganist, Juliet's characters are always beautifully layered. Backstories create a depth of character that is a signature of her style, such as Blackthorn in Dreamers Pool or Bran in Son of the Shadows.

Another fascinating aspect is her love of history and the intriguing use of historical characters such as Bridei, King of the Picts as well as his Druid, Broichan. Weaving  a tale around real-life figures is a monumental task and one that Juliet fulfills with expertise in The Bridei Chronicles.

If you would like to learn more visit her webpage or Friends Of Juliet FB page! 

        Sara Douglass wrote 'big' storylines. Mystical creatures, magic, but not so much magic realism as magic fantasy. The Axis Trilogy begins with a gritty tale, BattleAxe involving  many a bloody battle between humans who worship a cruel god called 'Artor' and the Winged Icarri people, who are  reviled as filth and demons. Long-buried prophesies awaken and turn men into gods and gods into demons.

Demons are a main feature in many of Sara's novels - sometimes the demons are in fact angels as in The Nameless Day:Book One of the Crucible series 

Sara was fascinated  by medieval Europe in particular the horrific events in the 14th century with the onset of the Black Death which wiped out millions throughout Europe.

 Sara Douglass passed away on September 27th 2011, after a long battle with ovarian cancer, leaving a magnificent legacy in the books she wrote. Stories which remain as sought after and popular as when they were first published. She was 54 years old when she died.  The same age that I am as I write this blog.

From that first fateful day when I picked up a copy of her book Enchanter, I always wanted to tell her how much her books  meant to me.  I can now honour her by recommending her books, and her memorial page, maintained by her dear friend Karen Brooks.

Sara's Memorial page is her own personal blog, and it is  wonderful  to read of her self-sufficiency journey, her cancer journey and many other things close to her heart. 

It allows us all a glimpse of the amazing woman behind the books. Read it for yourself and try not to cry at the poignancy of the life she lived and the legacy that lives on:

Everything Old is New Again..With apologies to Peter Allen)

... a message from beyond the veil.

I love it when I check out the book section of an Op Shop (Oxfam Shop or Goodwill for those of you not living in Australia!)

There is ALWAYS a little treasure hidden on the book shelves! Todays find is (DRUM ROLL please):

Ursula Le Guin's VOICES  and DREAMING AGAIN - 35 new stories in Australian Fantasy Fiction with SARA DOUGLASS!    Now, call me crazy, but I think Sara is sending me a message of approval from beyond for my post regarding her wonderful novels and life. 

 The story in this anthology seems aptly named in light of my recent blog on her life and death THIS WAY TO THE EXIT .

I think this proves beyond a doubt that Sara Douglass had and continues to have, a wonderful sense of humour. Vale Sara and thank you for sending this gem my way!

Monday, 15 April 2019

Juliet Marillier is to blame for this blog!

The very first book I read by Juliet was The Dark Mirror.  I was horribly ill with flu and my husband brought it home for me thinking it would be my sort of thing.

I devoured this amazing story based on the Legend of  Pictish King Brudei and his rise to power under the often obsessive guidance of the Druid Broichan. As little is known about the Picts, it was up to the author to gather as much factual detail about these real-life characters and then weave a tale of  strong magic, kinship, bloody battles and yes, romance with a twist!

Juliet Marillier is a New Zealand born, Perth based, Award-winning Fantasy Fiction Author.  Her novels include;

The Bridei Chronicles: The Dark Mirror; Blade of Fortriu; The Well of Shades. Highly recommended.

The Sevenwater Series: Daughter of the Forest; Son of the Shadows; Child of The Prophecy; Heir to Sevenwaters: Seer of Sevenwaters; Flame of Sevenwaters.

Heart's Blood.


Young Adult Fiction
Wildwood dancing
Cybele's Secret

The Caller

Short Story collection
Prickle Moon

Click here to visit Juliet's Official Website or Join Friends of Juliet Fanpage

Juliet is due to release a brand new novel The Harp of Kings in September 2019. I can't wait to read it!

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Loving a Faery Story...Is magic Fact or Fantasy?

Magic always fascinated me . Not the, 'cut-people-in-half-pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat-someone-call-PETA!' type of magic, but REAL magic:  Hearth magic, woodland magic, weather wizards, white witches, spell-craft, sacred rituals, and druids (male AND female druids as it was not exclusively a male domain  - but more of that on another blog..Image result for druid cartoons

Re-reading The Hobbit  filled me with fascination over secret maps, dwarves, trolls, elves and magic rings. But even earlier, and long before JK Rowling introduced a 'port-key', The Magicians Nephew, by C.S Lewis, and prequel to the Narnia books, began the journey of ordinary humans being transported to otherworlds beyond the realm by magic rings!

Image result for The Magicians Nephew
In 2002, living in London, I grabbed a second-hand copy of Enchanter by Australian author Sara Douglass. I just wanted something to read on the tube but from the first line I was hooked:

'Gorgrael stood in the deserted bedchamber of Gorkenfort Keep, his breath frosting about his tusks in the frigid atmosphere.'

I then read every book of The Axis Trilogy  and The Wayfarer Redemption Trilogy.

ellow Sara Douglass devotees will understand my subsequent desire to:
a) grow wings and be an Icarii
b)be sung to by Stardrifter Sunsoar  (disclaimer:this is Chris Helmsworth but picture him with wings and..'nuff said..)

Image result for chris hemsworth body
c)  read anything written by Sara Douglass. 

And thus my fascination with Fantasy Fiction began! So,

What was the first Fantasy Fiction Novel you ever read?