Melbourne Writers Festival 2022

I was lucky enough this year to be able to get tickets to this years Melbourne Writers Festival – an utterly fabulous, and finally in person (after two years online) annual event. Perchance, I was scheduled on the night shift this past weekend so during the day I could book myself into various Writers Festival events and leave myself completely exhausted by Sunday night. Totally worth it though!

Thurs 8th Sept – ‘The Boy in the Dress’ – Author Jonathan Butler in conversation with Yves Rees

This was such a wonderful start to the week. Butler talked about his debut book – part memoir, part investigation – which started as an investigation into the murder of a relative in 1944. It was so interesting listening to Butler talk about his research process and the different avenues it took him on over the ten years he was doing so.

Fri 9th Sept – ‘Love, Factually’ – Trent Dalton & Clementine Ford in conversation with Elizabeth McCarthy

Was I expecting to be in tears at 10:30 in the morning? No. Was I in tears though? Big yes! And for the best possible reason too. Love, Factually brought heartfelt stories, life advice, and a lot of laughs into one room. I found the whole conversation both inspiring, and emotional. There was a great, effortless dynamic between the three on the panel which was so interesting to listen to.

Fri 9th Sept – ‘Small Town Thrills’ – JP Pomare and Dinuka McKenzie in conversation with Fi Wright

I’ve always loved books set in small towns, especially crime fiction novels. There is something in the closeness and community that you can only find in a small town that makes crime fiction set there so much more intense. I loved listening to the two authors talk about why they chose small towns as the settings for their novels, and how they went beyond the small town tropes to make it their own. So keen to read their books!

Sat 10th Sept – Talking About a Revolution – Yassmin Abdel-Magied in conversation with Roj Amedi

After a day in the city with a friend of mine, it was great to go to this event in the evening. I listened to Yassmin Abdel-Magied talk quite a few years ago at another Writers Festival in Melbourne and absolutely loved hearing her speak. For this event she was talking about a new collection of essays she has published. As always she was engaging to listen to, and managed to be humorous around the more serious topics of conversation.

Sat 10th Sept – Queerstories – Hosted by Maeve Marsden, with stories from Shane Jenek aka Courtney Act, Krystal De Napoli, CS Pacat, Yves Rees, and Omar Sakr.

Queerstories was the most wonderful end to the festival for me. While I had gone to the writers festival before, I hadn’t attended a Queerstories night before, I am so glad to have now done so. Queerstories asks leading LGBTQI+ voices to share a story they’ve always wanted to tell, but have never been asked to before. This led to a night of both humorous and emotional stories, all told with a strong presence and with heart. I also discovered that there is a Queerstories podcast so I will be giving that a listen to soon!

It really has been such a fun and insightful few days! I am excited to get stated on these books by some of the wonderful people I met.

I’ve realised as well that I have a new goal in my writing: to be one of the people to talk about my writing and my books at one of these writers festivals. It would be amazing!

In the meantime, I will always be booking tickets to these events, as it is always such a fun weekend.

Book Review | Felix Silver, Teaspoons, and Witches, Harry Cook

Goodreads Blurb:

After his parents announce that his bizarre, emerging abilities are getting in the way of their divorce, Felix Silver relocates to Dorset Harbour and becomes the charge of his Grandma Aggie. As Felix adjusts to life in a new school, Aggie decides that it’s time he learn The Silver Way, and teaches him all she knows about sorcery and magical arts. When Felix and his new friends decide to solve the mystery of local teenagers who have gone missing, Felix learns that his crush, Aero, has a big secret. Is dark magic creeping into the town, and can Felix learn enough from Aggie and the witches of Dorset Harbour to combat it?

My Thoughts:

‘Felix Silver, Teaspoons & Witches’ was a really fun, easy read, with likeable characters. The plot was fairly straightforward, but engaging, which kept me reading right until the end. This book had some interesting friendships/relationships in it too!

There were a few things I found that lessened my enjoyment though. On the whole I found that the novel didn’t feel quite as polished as it potentially could have been. Grammatically I didn’t find any issues, but the story felt quite rushed to me. This meant that the characters felt underdeveloped, and as a result, less easy to connect with as I read. The romance was sweet but to me it felt a little rushed as well, or even rather instantaneous after the first meeting. This made it something I couldn’t happily invest myself in.

The last thing I found was that it was difficult to tell who was narrating a chapter until a couple of paragraphs in. This made it hard to follow the story once there were multiple narrators. This could easily be helped with name of the PoV character with the title of each chapter.

The plot itself I found really interesting, and especially with the fun magic system. I loved how magic seemed to be integrated with the town it was set in. I would have loved to have seen more of the limitations of the magic, and more learning about how it works as Felix is still learning. I loved how the magic of each person was channelled through a teaspoon, such a fun idea, but I feel it could have been explored further.

Overall I really did enjoy reading this but I feel that there were a few things that could really improve the way the story is told and make it more impactful. I do not hate it in the slightest, and am interested to see if the final publication has been edited further. I will be getting myself a copy to see if the issues I found were just part of the early reader version. Especially as I think this story is such a fun read!

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for gifting me this ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 30th August 2022.

News | Publication Day!

I am so excited to announce that both the eBook and physical copies of my debut poetry collection ‘Hearts, Cages, and other Locked Boxes’ are available for purchase from today!

Hearts, Cages, and other Locked Boxes is a collection of poems exploring the self, the mind, queerness, and love.

You can find the eBook at most online retailers. Click here and choose the one you usually read eBooks from.

Click here to order the paperback.

Find it on Goodreads here

Book Review | The Octagon’s Eight, Mairon Oakley

Goodreads Blurb:

Every year the city of Hanging Hold hosts an event.

Eight prisoners condemned to death are sent out to sea – none are expected to return but if they do, they win their freedom.

The dark-elf Dirian has grown up Below, the brand on his face testament to his place as a scout and skills as a warrior. Now he finds himself on a mission gone wrong, abandoned in a foreign Surface world and forced on an adventure bound to end in his demise.

Follow Dirian and his companions of varying enthusiasm as they set sail and face the harsh forces of nature, impossible creatures and magical wonders all to unlock the mysteries of the Octagon and escape with their lives in this perilous tale of discovery.

My Thoughts:

My gosh. This was one of those books where once I picked it up I just couldn’t stop reading. No, really, I had a few days off last week and with the cold weather I don’t think I did much else! There is so much to love about Oakley’s debut novel that I am not sure where to start, but I do need to start somewhere.

I found the world building for this novel truly wonderful. It was recognisable as classic fantasy, with all the familiar species, class division, magic, and belief systems, but with Oakley’s own twist on them. It also feels very full bodied without trying too hard, or making the reader feel bogged down with information. Making this world a new favourite of mine to read about. Especially with the rather straightforward plot which encouraged the characters and their growth to shine.

Though at face value, the plot was rather simple, it was engaging and exciting. It left room for the characters to really shine! I found that every time I had to put the book down, I needed to know what happened next. Especially with the high stakes of the quest – life and death. Something which manages to bring the unlikely group of characters together (and working together too, despite their differences).

It didn’t take long for the group of main characters to completely steal my heart! I was invested from very early on, and loved seeing their growth throughout the novel. They were all beautifully complex, and so interesting to follow. I found myself holding my breath in really intense scenes, needing them to be okay! I also really love how there was a little romance, but it is so subtly brought into the story, and in such a clever way at it felt so natural for those characters, and not out of place.

I highly recommend this book to other fantasy readers who are looking for an exciting read with high stakes and wonderful characters!

Thank you to the publisher, Tebreus Press and the author, Mairon Oakley for gifting me this ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 12th July 2022.

News | eBook Preorders are Open for my Debut Poetry Collection!

I am so excited to announce that eBook preorders are now open for my debut poetry collection ‘Hearts, Cages, and other Locked Boxes’!

Hearts, Cages, and other Locked Boxes is a collection of poems exploring the self, the mind, queerness, and love.

You can find the eBook at most online retailers. Follow this link and choose the one you usually read eBooks from.

The paperback will be available to order 19th July!

Find it on Goodreads here