Category Archives: ActiveReviews

Retro Review: Fish Out Of Water (2008)

MaryJanice Davidson

Piatkus (2008)

ISBN: 9780749909079

The Mermaid Series #3

Book 1: Swimming Without A Net
Book 2: Sleeping With The Fishes
Book 3: Fish Out Of Water

Given that I am a fan of MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead books, I was amazed to discover she had written a mermaid trilogy and I didn’t know about it! Sure, vampires are far more prevalent in the paranormal genre than mermaids, but still, you’d think someone would have told me!

Fish Out Of Water is the third and final book of the Fred the mermaid trilogy. Not having read the others didn’t really impact on my reading of this one, although I imagine my emotional investment in some of the characters and the events happening to them would have been stronger if I had read the first two.

In this book half-human, half-mermaid Fredericka Bimm, media liaison to the merfolk – who have only recently “come out” to the land-dwelling humans – struggles to balance this role with her new engagement to the undersea Prince Artur and her friendships on land. Add to this strange merfolk disappearances, her own inadequacies as an undersea citizen, and her unresolved feelings for the lothario marine biologist Thomas, and Fred has a lot on her fins.

Davidson’s writing is as flippant and engaging as always. Irreverent banter between characters is a trademark of her style, and I enjoyed the quick pace of the story very much. Davidson manages to employ a lighthearted style without telling a shallow story, and is always highly readable.

While the novel did stand up to being read out of sequence, I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series (Sleeping With The Fishes and Swimming Without A Net are the first two books – there is also a novella in the anthology “Dead Over Heels”). You will get more MaryJanice Davidson fun, and the sense of character will no doubt be better too. A thoroughly enjoyable, speedy read, and a great break from fat fantasy!

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New Review: Den of Wolves (2016)

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Juliet Marillier

Pan Macmillan Australia (2016)

ISBN: 9780451467034

Blackthorn & Grim #3

Blackthorn is under a geis of sorts to alway provide help when asked, a stricture that has become less difficult for her as we have followed her adventures during the preceding two books. So when the princess Flidais requests that Blackthorn help her with a young woman recently brought to court under unusual circumstances, it isn’t really a hardship. However, when Blackthorn’s companion Grim begins a huge job for the girl’s wealthy father, it soon becomes apparent that there are some very odd things happening. Strange enough to be dangerous to everyone involved, which Blackthorn and Grim cannot turn their backs on. And not only is there a weird and perilous mystery afoot, but Blackthorn’s old enemy Mathuin is also on the move, which terrifies and unsettles her beyond reason. The pair must for the first time fight separate battles – but will they be strong enough to overcome if they are not together?

I have absolutely adored this trilogy (if indeed a trilogy it is – I certainly wouldn’t be averse to more instalments…) and was thrilled when the author sent me an advance reading copy of this book. The world Blackthorn and Grim inhabit is fascinating, detailed and raw, with a rich tapestry of characters weaving their stories on the page. Marillier’s writing is sublime, a gorgeously captivating style that draws you in and simply won’t let you go. This has been one of my favourite fantasy series in a long time, and I will admit to more than once having to stop reading this final book to prolong the experience further (and wipe away tears – it’s that darn good!).

You really don’t need me to tell you how wonderful Juliet Marillier’s work is, with her apparently effortless manner of writing that builds on folklore with astonishingly good characterisation and subtle, clever plotting to create beautiful books. She is a stunningly good Australian writer with a well-deserved international reputation. If you haven’t read her work, the Blackthorn and Grim series is a highly recommended starting point, and you should go out and get your hands on them right now.

I previously reviewed Tower of Thorns

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Retro Review: Wings of Wrath (2009)

Celia (CS) Friedman

Orbit (2009)

ISBN: 978 1 84149 533 0

The Magister Trilogy #2

Kamala is the only female Magister in a brotherhood of magicians – except that most of them don’t know she exists and has accessed the secret of their power. Outsiders don’t know the secrets of the Magisters, so Kamala is a massive threat to their supremacy, being not only a woman, but not being as constrained by the rules that bind the rest of them to keep their secrets. Kamala has secrets of her own, and is forced to keep her powers hidden under the guise of witchery, the only other option for a woman with her abilities. She has proven to herself and her master that she can hold her own as a Magister, but the events unfolding before her test her will and her own self-belief. Continue reading

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Retro Review: Hush, Hush (2009)

Becca Fitzpatrick

Simon & Schuster (2009)

ISBN: 978 1 84738 695 3

This book has such a beautiful cover that I’m certain readers will be picking it up just to drool over it, and hopefully, this will lead to them wanting to read it! It’s impossible to underestimate the value of good-looking covers and publishers of YA fiction need to sit up at take notice of these sort of examples, which really draw in the intended readers (ie: teenage girls).

Nora Grey’s life is pretty normal, until Patch comes along. Suddenly, weird things start to happen, and Nora finds herself struggling to not only understand what’s going on in her nice ordinary life, but also for her very survival. Continue reading

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GR Retro Review: Daughters of the Storm (2014)

Kim Wilkins

Harlequin MIRA (2014)

ISBN: 9781743569115

Blood and Gold #1

I absolutely loved the novella “Crown of Rowan: A Tale of Thyrsland”, set in this world, which appeared in Legends of Australian Fantasy back in 2010, and have been eagerly awaiting the series since then. It was worth the wait – this is one of the best books I’ve read in ages! The worldbuilding is beautifully done – Wilkins has avoided the trap of overburdening the reader with too much information, but cleverly seeds details throughout the book, which increased the richness of the reading experience overall. The plot itself is actually quite contained, essentially distilling to the story of Bluebell’s efforts to save her father, with other elements woven into and branching out from this task, but it works very well over the course of the novel. Continue reading

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