Thursday, October 30, 2014

AWWC 2014: Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier

In this sequel to Shadowfell, Caller Neryn continues to learn about the gift that lets her connect with the Good Folk. Now she has joined the rebels she realises the importance of her Gift and she needs to bring them and the Good Folk together if they are to succeed. This is more important than ever before in a land where all magic is under threat from the brutal Enforcers of the cruel and vicious king, Keldec, who is determined that all magic must come under his control or be wiped out. Neryn has much to learn about controlling and using her Gift from the remaining magical Guardians and very little time in which to do it (even supposing they can be persuaded to teach her). Then there's her worry about the man she loves, the enigmatic Flint, who brought her to the rebel camp and has now returned to his dangerous work in the king's court.

I confess I'm a great fan of Juliet Marillier's novels and this one didn't disappoint. It is full of meticulous world building with realistic and believable characters and is beautifully written as well. Raven Flight is set in a past time in a land full of magical creatures and crammed with dangers. There's a good balance between the tension of a hostile land where no-one is to be trusted and the quieter periods of life in the rebel camp and when Neryn is learning her craft. At the same time the author doesn't shy away from the effects of war and the terrible consequences it can have.

Neryn's growth in magic and in herself is a large part of this novel and we see her mature from the frightened girl of Shadowfell into someone much more adult in her attitudes and understanding. I like Neryn a lot. She has enormous empathy and her Gift gives her added depth as she manoeuvres her way between the different needs of the rebels and the Good Folk to enable them to work together.

While Neryn is the main character, Tali, one of the rebel leaders, takes a major part in this book as Neryn's guard while she seeks out the Guardians. Tali is a complete contrast to Neryn and this adds much to the story. Where Neryn is gentle, kind and thoughtful but with a deep inner strength, Tali is a  physically tough, skilled warrior who can outfight almost anyone. She is full of righteous anger but is also intelligent and caring and she, too, grows as the women journey together.

I am totally hooked on Neryn's story and could hardly wait for The Caller, the final book in the trilogy, to come out. It has and I'll review it soon. For now let's just say I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Published in Australia in 2013 by Pan Macmillan Australia, Raven Flight is available both as a hard copy and as an e-book.

Juliet Marillier's website is here and she is also on Facebook.

Friday, October 24, 2014

AWWC 2014: A Trifle Dead by Livia Day

Tabitha Darling, a lover of vintage fashion and with a tendency to get into trouble especially with the wrong kind of men, runs a trendy cafe in Hobart where she and her equally gifted associate, Nin, cook experimental - and delicious - food. The daughter of a popular and now deceased police superintendent, she spends a lot of her time feeling smothered under the protective gaze of much of the local constabulary, including the dishy Leo Bishop, who brings out conflicting feelings in her. They argue loudly and furiously but she also wants to snog him. When a body is discovered in the top floor flat above the cafe, Tabitha can't resist the urge to investigate along with a journalist, Stewart. He's a fascinating man of many talents who works for a news blog on the floor above and, just to add complications, Tabitha finds him very attractive as well. Then things get really complicated. Tabitha's friend and landlord is missing and strange and scary things start happening around her.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Trifle Dead. It's a light hearted (except for the murders, of course, but there's no graphic or sadistic nastiness even there) and often funny mystery with a protagonist whose delight in food and fashion provides an intriguing backdrop to mysterious crimes and murder. Add in her collection of eccentric friends and acquaintances plus twists in the plot and we have a fascinating mix that makes it a real reading pleasure.

Livia Day is the crime writing pseudonym of award winning Tasmanian fantasy writer, Tansy Rayner Roberts. 

Published by Deadlines, the crime imprint of Twelfth Planet Press, in 2013, A Trifle Dead (Cafe la Femme Mystery, Book One) was shortlisted for Best Debut Book, Davitt Awards for Australian Women's Crime Writing and was a Killer Nashville Silver Falchion finalist. It is available as a paperback and an e-book from the publisher as well as

The second 'Cafe la Femme' book, Drowned in Vanilla, has just been released.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Pressure's Off

for now at least.

There's much nastiness going on on the internet and I'm trying to avoid it by paying some attention to my spiritual needs. So here's some food for the soul in the form of small creatures. Enjoy.

Some sleepy hedgehogs

A newborn bat

A dwarf Japanese flying squirrel

Motherly love

And a little whimsy

Friday, October 17, 2014

Conflux 2014

I've been very busy since I got home from Conflux, a Canberra based speculative fiction convention, so this is the first chance I've had to put a few thoughts down about it.

First, as always, let me say I had a great time. I've been to Conflux a few times now and it's never let me down. It's small, friendly and very much writer based so obviously it appeals to me from a writer's perspective but it also gives me a chance to catch up with my writerly mates on the opposite side of the continent. Perth has a lot going for it as a place to live and it has a thriving writing community but distance does limit face to face meetings with many of my fellow writers. This time I went with my good friend and fellow Egoboo WA writer, Satima Flavell. We stayed on for a day after the con finished to see some of the sights of Canberra when we realised that, by a quirk of air fare prices, it would cost us no more to stay and to fly home on Tuesday evening (even after factoring in accommodation costs) than to leave on Monday.

Conflux was held at Rydges Capitol Hill. This is a truly beautiful setting because the hotel has a huge tree filled atrium where you can sit and have a peaceful coffee and/or a chat. I tried to get a photo but it was beyond my phone to capture it. (Note to self: it really is time to buy a new camera). At night the whole area is lit with festoons of lights which add even more to its appeal. One of my memorable moments was when I looked out one morning to see three children, all dressed in bright red, playing among the trees. Quite magical.

Then there is the real business of the con, the panels. This year's panels were particularly interesting, I thought, covering a wide range of subjects. When you've been to as many cons as I have panels can be repetitive - after all there are only so many subjects you can come up with - but this time we were spoiled for choice making for some hard decisions when two excellent panels were on at the same time. I only volunteered as a panellist for one panel this year. This was The Art of Reviewing. My fellow panellists were David McDonald, Satima Flavell and Shaheen, and although I've been reviewing sporadically for some years now myself, I was most impressed by their knowledge and enthusiasm.

Another of the highlights for me was the reading of a very funny radio play (Useless Questions, written by my Clarion South mate, Laura E. Goodin) in front of a live audience. A cast of Cat Sparks, Nicole Murphy, Stephen Ormsby, David McDonald and Satima Flavell had a packed room in fits.

Naturally, I fell under the siren song of the Dealers' Room. I always do, of course, but this time there were so many wonderful books launched that were then available for purchase. The good thing was - because I am learning to travel ever more lightly - there was a huge amount of empty space in my suitcase, at least going to Canberra. Not so much on the way back, I have to confess. I'll be doing some reviews later when I've unpacked. See, I told you I'd been busy since I got home.

So all in all, a good time was had and I'm hoping I can organise myself to go again next year.

Monday, October 13, 2014


These are all unashamedly taken from Jim C. Hines' blog because they made me feel good inside.

First a lion cub having fun among autumn leaves

Then some cat thieves

And some very unimpressed cats 

Then, because it always makes me laugh, Giles Gets Knocked Down. Ah Buffy, I miss you.