August Reads

August, August… How did you fare in the reading department? Pretty good, I’ll say.

In this video I talk about the 6 books I read, from time travel romances and essay collections to a wonderful play starring Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.


Book Haul

I’m cranking out videos this week before I drop away from the blogosphere to enjoy my holidays. Today it’s all about books, hauls and deckled edges…Enjoy!

Oh Juliet Marillier!

It was pretty exciting to look at the 2015 Aurealis Awards shortlist and see Sevenwaters as a potential winner for the Sara Douglass Book Series Award. And that Tower of Thorns is a nominee for the best fantasy novel. For those who do not know, the Aurealis Awards are the awards for Australian speculative/YA & children’s fiction. So if you’re ever interested in reading Australian fantasy, sci fi and horror – this is a great stepping stone. It will be interesting to see who wins when the winners are announced the 25th of this month.

You can see the 2015 shortlist here:

I’m considering reading all the fantasy short fiction – so that might  pop up here on this blog!

But without further ado – let me discuss why Juliet Marillier, author of the Sevenwaters series and Tower of Thorns, is one of my favorite authors of all time.

A few key words: Historical Fiction. Fairytale Retellings. Romance. Adventure. Magic.

I love Juliet Marillier – her prose is beautiful and easy to read, her characters are complex and endearing, and the romance – oh! It’s very easy to fall down the rabbit hole with her stories, most have kept me up till the early hours in the morning. Her novels have literally made me weep, swoon, angry (in a good way!), happy, scared – sometimes all the emotions/all together!

*I’m going to hop on the gif wagon for once.
Too much?

And I have read all her novels too, bar one because I accidentally skipped the second book in a series (eventually I will rectify that)! All have been quite good too, never has one left a bad taste in my mouth.

I have been reading her novels since my early teen years when my aunty lent me a rather used and loved version of Daughter of the Forest, a historical novel based on the Six Swans fairytale set in Ireland and England. And you will notice that most of her novels are based on the British Isles. Although there are exceptions, I love the novels set in Transylvania and Turkey and there is a Viking inspired series as well.

Things you might find her stories: Strong female characters, romance, druids, magic, changelings, sorceresses, selkies, sea monsters, little Fae folk, battles, vampires, pagan rituals, seers and many more.

Now, let’s talk about her books and where you can start:

If you want to try a standalone.


Most of her books belong to a series, Heart’s Blood being the exception. Heart’s Blood is a Beauty and the Beast retelling set during medieval Ireland. It really plays with the fairytale, the Beast is not exactly a beast, the Beauty is a scribe and orphan and the castle is full of ghosts. This is my favorite B & B retelling of all time and I’ll heartily recommend it.

If you are a YA geek.

The Wildwood series (Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret) is based off the Twelve Dancing Princesses and Frog Prince fairy tales. Each are full of adventure, romance, sorrow and fantastical creatures. The first novel is set in Transylvania about a group of sisters who find a portal to the magical world where they can dance for one night every full moon. The second book follows one of the sisters and her adventures in Istanbul. If you are looking for a good YA series – this is a wonderful pick.

If you are looking for a long, awesome series.

I had started with the Sevenwaters series first and I don’t regret it – although there are favorites (Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows and Heir to Sevenwaters) each novel is full of heart and you will easily read at least one over a weekend. The first novel is about Sorcha and is based off the Six Swans fairytale, the others follow stories about her descendants. So consider this a family saga if you will. But I think I will be re-reading this series until my dying days – it’s so good!

Other books by Juliet Marillier:

  • The Bridei Chronicles – based on King Bridei I of the Picts.
  • Shadowfell – A YA fantasy series about a girl who communicate with the fairy folk and the rebellion that unfolds.
  • The Light Isles – A Viking duology.
  • Blackthorn & Grimm – a medieval mystery series.
  • Prickle Moon – a collection of short stories.


Have you read the Juliet Marillier novels, did you enjoy them? And who is your favorite author of all time and why?



February Reads | 2016

It looks like I’ve have a jam-packed ladies month this February, all female authors and a mix of fantasy, classics, historical fiction and a memoir. Not too bad, I say.

The Seven Sisters & The Storm Sister (Seven Sisters #1 & #2) by Lucinda Riley

Can I just say I have found a new favorite series? A mixture of historical fiction, mystery, romance – a series with women at the front and center and each book exploring a new destination…Brazil, Norway! The series starts off with the death of Pa Salt, the adoptive father of six women and the clues he leaves them regarding their heritage. Each book stars a new sister, but what I really enjoyed was the structure: half of the novel revolves around the sister and the other about her ancestor. For e.g Maia in the first book and a Brazilian socialite from the 1920s. I did enjoy the first book more but I’m beyond excited to continue the series with the third book that comes out later this year.

Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic (The Dowser #1) by Meghan Ciana Doidge

This was a little bit of fluff I read for one of my bookclubs – a short, easy read about witches, vampires, werewolves and cupcakes! Basically it’s about a young woman called Jade, owner of a cupcake store, who becomes involved in a mystery concerning the brutal deaths of werewolves. I enjoyed it, but as the book develops you realize there particularly no meat to the characters or the story, which is a shame.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J.K Rowling

The only re-read of the month but an enjoyable one to say the least. Chamber of Secrets continues Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts, a story that involves spiders, weird Slytherin things and that funky Polyjuice potion! I preferred this to the first book, and the Oh Witch podcast (discusses the series in an academic way) was a great accompaniment to the book.

Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

I really wanted to love this. I adored the Jo Walton books (Among Others & The Just City) last year, and this book, a mesh of Regency flair and dragons sounded delightful. But I felt disconnected from the characters and the plot (too many perspectives!) and found it hard to visualize most things. I enjoyed the world building though but it wasn’t enough for me to truly enjoy it.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Ok, here comes the first Austen book I truly enjoyed. Pride and Prejudice was ok. Persuasion was ok. Mansfield Park was…Errgh, no. But I adored Sense and Sensibility and I think that was because I loved the characters. Elinor was complex and charming. Marianne was awesome – if a bit too much passionate. Colonel Brandon, oh how I love thee! Now I’m off to see if I enjoy Northanger Abbey and Emma just as much, hopefully!

The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark

The Driver’s Seat is an interesting novella – weird, strange and a bit alarming. It’s sort of a mix of a backwards crime story and a distorted fairytale. Where we know quite early as what is going to happen, but also read with despair as we become increasingly aware of a woman’s journey to self annihilation – using the man as an object of destruction. This is a book to read in one sitting, to see that tension rises. And it definitely rises.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

The only book I’ve done a proper review of this month – one that I found funny, full of heart and relatable. See my review here.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Another Muriel Spark novel! I think I’ve found another author that I admire – which is awesome. And I think, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie might be my favorite of hers so far. It is about an unorthodox female teacher who has a special, and ultimately dangerous relationship with six of her students. I adored the character of Brodie, despite her very visible flaws – but she was complex, fun and now I can’t watch to see the film adaptation starring Maggie Smith.

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

My only Australian novel of the month, which sadly left a lot to be desired. All the Birds, Singing is about a woman called Jake who lives in an old farmhouse on a British island. Something, someone is killing her sheep and she is tormented by her secret past. I found some parts of the book quite interesting – the broken timeline, the mystery behind the sheep killer, her relationship with Otto and the book was easy to read. But I found the ending dissatisfying and felt disconnected and bored by most of the characters. I wish I enjoyed it more – but honestly I didn’t.

Favorite book of the month: The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

Stay up to date with what I’m reading and my ratings by following me on Goodreads.

So what were your favorite books that you read in February?


Cinnamon and Gunpowder | Eli Brown

I have a habit of reading my favorite books of the year come September-December – something I cannot shake. But I’m fine with that, because Cinnamon and Gunpowder was the right novel at the right time. My heart was large after reading it, I cried literal tears – that is a feat for me! And all I want to do is pick it up again, only to linger with the characters a tad longer.

The novel is a mixture of things I love: historical fiction, food, pirates, romance, witty banter and an awesome, kickass woman.

So what is it about again? Ahem, the euphoria is thick, my friends.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is set in 1819, about a renowned Chef called Owen Wedgwood who has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. To survive, every Sunday he must serve a spectacular meal to her.

There is a lot more I can add, but I feel that it is best to go into the deep end with only that in mind. Yet it is a novel full of complexities, of oddities, of beauty and love and it is wonderful. However I don’t think I would have loved it as much I do if not for the characters. From the grumpy protagonist, with interesting food philosophies, Mabbot and her wit and charm, Mr Apples and his aptitude for knitting to the determined Laroche, and idealist Brass Fox – it’s a myriad of interesting characters. By the end I was so connected to the characters, that I felt I was there with them feeling their pain and joy. And that is the markings of a great novel.

The writing was also slick and charming, and the voice of the protagonist stuck out clearly in my mind. The pacing worked and worked, time again. It never really had a dull moment – and I hungered each and every time for more dinner dates between Owen and Mabbot. They were wonderfully philosophical, charming, intimate moments that I wish I could replay in my mind over and over again. Every scene in the novel felt like character development for at least one of the characters, and I loved it.

And the action worked too, it was heavy and gritty but never deterred from the novel’s tone.

I feel like I could talk about this novel all night and day, but I think that is a sign for me to shush and let you wonder whether to read this novel. Hopefully I’ve done my job right as a new fan to encourage you, force you?

For me this is the best read in months, I give Cinnamon and Gunpowder 5/5*

My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time | Liz Jensen

My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time feels slightly reminiscent of a mixture between Jane Eyre and the Discworld books, except with time travel, avocado condoms and a little girl who loves spiderman. It’s witty, unapologetic and downright charming – and totally not in the same vein of other time travel novels I’ve encountered. I mean, the time traveller is a cunning Danish prostitute from the late 1800s with a lazy, sometimes unintelligible mother figure as a sidekick.

So to expand on what the novel is about, I’ll add in the blurb as my mind is still buzzing after finishing the last page. I just put the book down five minutes ago!

In Copenhagen, part-time prostitute Charlotte and her lumpen sidekick, Fru Schleswig, haven taken on jobs as cleaning ladies of dubious talent to tide them over the harsh winter of 1897. But the home of their neurotic new employer, the widow Krak, soon reveals itself to be riddled with dark secrets – including the existence of a demonic machine rumoured to swallow people alive. Rudely catapulted into twenty-first century London, the hapless duo discover a whole new world of glass, labour-saving devices and hectic, impossible romance.

Now with that out of the way, it’s time to focus my mind on summarising the hectic feelings this novel has pushed on me.


  • I loved the character of Charlotte, she was this awesome bull-busting person who got things done. But she was also inclined towards melodrama and exaggeration, and was unapologetic about who she was and what she did for a living. I appreciated that. The novel also relied on her narration, and oh boy was it fun and playful. I don’t think the novel would have worked as well, if not for that narration.
  •  The novel feels like a romp, a light hearted romp with adventure, action and dazzle. It was a nice step from the darkness of the last novel I read.
  • The other characters were interesting and eccentric – much to my liking!

I also enjoyed the romance, it was sweet and lovely – however the development was slightly too quick for me. It did fit the tone of the book. And although the science side (time travel) rushed over my head a bit, it wasn’t necessary to understand it to enjoy the novel.

Overall this was a nice quick read, wonderful with a cup of jasmine tea.

I give My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time 3.5/5*

The Just City | Jo Walton

I picked up this novel mainly because I found the inclusion of time travel and Greek gods quite fascinating but wasn’t quite sure how much I would enjoy the philosophy and art discussion. I think the most I’ve ever really thought about philosophy was when thinking of Thomas More’s Utopia and whether an Utopian society was possible.

The Just City expands on this idea. It is a novel about the Goddess Athene and an experiment to create philosopher kings through taking people from all points of time to a place, say Atlantis, to study philosophy and create a ‘just’ city. The creation of this city and how it is governed is based off Plato’s Republic. Coming into a book like this, I had only ever heard of Plato and had never really read about his ideas or the books he had written. So let’s say I was like the ten year olds who were brought to this city in this book, with open eyes and a willingness to learn.

Apart from the philosophy, the novel examines the lives of three different people. Maia, who was once a Victorian lady, now a Master of this city. Simmea, one of the children brought to the city who was once an Egyptian slave. And the god Apollo, who has decided to incarnate as a ten year old boy so he can understand volition.

I loved each of these character dearly, they all had their different ideas and perspectives on the evolution of the city and it was interesting and clever. Although I’ll have to say my favorite character is Socrates, yes that Socrates, a super, friendly person who absolutely loves debate and challenging ideas.

The book discusses many things: justice, types of love, souls, freedom and so much more. And if a book can have a climax with a debate between Socrates and the goddess Athene – and it being insanely awesome, I cannot help but love it.

And there is a sequel to this – I think I know what I’ll be reading in the near future…

I give this novel 5/5*