Congratulations to Romeo Kennedy, winner of THE SILVER BOUGH. It appears that Romeo’s wild strawberries left the competition stranded in a Bergmanesque void, and for that act of magical conquest alone the prize is highly well-deserved! This week’s competition announcement falls on a Day of Cosmic Potency – well, my birthday – and to celebrate I am giving away two JFB novels: my own SEOUL SURVIVORS and Karen Lord’s award-winning debut REDEMPTION IN INDIGO. I’ve blagged enough about SEOUL SURVIVORS on this blog for you all to know what a chillsome, thrillsome, jet-setting prize it is. REDEMPTION IN INDIGO is a marvellous strange world-conjuring fantasy from an author I can’t wait to meet one day. Karen Lord, now a writer and research consultant in Barbados, has also worked as a physics teacher, a diplomat, a part-time soldier and an academic at various times and in various countries. She’s already sounding…

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On Advising a Young Man from Galway To Do a Second MA in Biodiversity And evening full of the linnet’s wings — WB Yeats Not sparrows, not dusty summer robins — linnets. Her tidy brown self; His Nibs, top-nobbing the fence posts in puffy pink vest, white epaulettes. Linnets. Not the slender, moth-grey echoes of Inishfree and Jenny Lind I’ve smuggled to Mayo in the rickety cage of my mind, but barefoot ballad mongers, ha’penny paper sellers, three-walnut-shells-and-a-pea players; fancy lads and freckled lasses on a Kilmainham council estate, shadowing a stranger, then like laughter snatched by the wind, whisking away in a riffle of reshuffled cards, the purring flight-path of an arrow. Strutting little linnet, you take a flattering interest in us but we’ve hardly returned the favour: not made you a greeting card icon, just a fleeting emblem of the orchestral Irish air. So, young man at the…

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Congratulations to Leo Elijah Cristea, winner of last week’s book prize, The Snowmelt River by Frank P. Ryan, a work of classic fantasy steeped in Irish mythology. I enjoyed all the entries, which presented four eclectic portals into the realms of otherworldliness – Leo’s metamorphosing pathway, Romeo Kennedy’s secret tree trunk, Tina Lawton’s cheerful toilet, and Chris’s whalebone arch at Whitby (returning through which would only be possible if you had saved a whale in the past). I chose the winner by pulling a Tarot Card – the Tarot being itself a portal to another world, and its four suits associated with the Celtic symbols of Sword, Spear, Cauldron and Stone. Again courtesty of Jo Fletcher Books, this week’s prize, The Silver Bough by Lisa Tuttle, combines fantasy, romance, and echoes of WB Yeats, and whisks our Celtic themes across the cold northern waters to the realms of Scottish faery:…

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Congratulations to Glen Mehn, winner of last week’s prize The Ravenglass Eye, and many thanks to my Aunt for offering to act as a random number generator (while ironing, yet – the Aunt is nothing but game), saving me from having to run around in a frozen Norfolk field whilst suffering from laryngitis. This week’s offering from Jo Fletcher Books is The Snowmelt River by Frank P. Ryan, a book for lovers of Irish mythology, as well as classic fantasy adventure: On the summit of the fabled mountain Slievenamon in Ireland there is a doorway to an ancient land of terrible power. The gate of Feimhin has lain closed for centuries, the secret of its opening long lost. But now four orphans drawn together by Fate must pass through the portal to face their destinies. What they find beyond is the enchanted but war-ravaged world of Tír, a strange land peopled by beings of magic. Here death waits…

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February gets short shrift in most people’s books – and in everyone’s calendars, even in Leap Years. But it’s always been one of my favourite months – okay, possibly because it contains my birthday, but also because of snowdrops, the subtle phonics of an ‘f’ and semi-silent ‘r’, and the way the lengthening grey days begrudgingly promise spring but still insist we stay curled up at home with a good book. This year, February’s even more auspicious for me: I don’t change decades, but the last day of the month marks the publication of my first novel, cyberthriller Seoul Survivors. To celebrate, courtesy of my fabulous publisher, Jo Fletcher Books, I’m running a weekly book-giveaway competition up until the 28th. (Yes, I know, four Fridays and a Thursday – February can never be a just plain regular month, can it!). Each week I’ll be giving away a different JFB book,…

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5/5