Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

A 5 star read – feeling privileged to be among the first in the world to have read the advanced review copy and have a copy of the published works..

This was a uniquely quirky read!!

When reading this, I’m thinking an adult version of Harry Potter!!! In a land where three suns almost never set, Mia, daughter of a revolutionary, vows to avenge her father’s death and with her gift in communicating with the shadows, she is initiated into a school better known as the Red Church where she learns to wield her power and become an assassin.

The writing style is so unique, not like anything I’ve read before.. I enjoyed the past and future method of telling the story and the unique dialogue. I started reading this on my Eid day holiday – was difficult to put down. Great read, not recommended for younger readers though..

Many thanks to Harper Voyager Publishers for giving me an advanced copy in exchange for my review..

-Annie

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Serpentine by Cindy Pon

A great read I rate 4 stars!!! 

An interesting read that re-tells the ancient Chinese legend of Serpentine! Skybright is a handmaid for Zhen Ni who is like a sister to her and all their lives they shared secrets and did everything together until Skybright goes through a night of self discovery that turns her life upside down... When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time..

A sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.. Very well written story of coming of age and a read full of adventure, mystery and a hint of romance!!

Great read recommended for YA and Urban Fantasy fans!!

-Annie

The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

This was a fantastic read, A book I would give this 6 stars to if I could

From beginning to end this book is an amazing page turner!! An Arabian nights inspiration comes a creative story set in a land ruled by a murderous boy-king where each dawn brings grief to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When Shahrzad’s dearest friend, Shiva falls victim to the Caliph, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride and is determined not only to stay alive, but vows to avenge her best friend death by plotting to kill the Caliph.

However, Shahzrad learns once volunteering herself to be the Caliph’s next wife that things may not always be what they seem. There is more to the tale than what she knows and it’s a strange turn of events when Shahrzad has lived past dawn and night after night she enchants the Caliph, Khalid with stories of the old. What happens next will blow your mind!!! Such an addictive read – very well written and nothing like I have read before – I cannot wait for the next book!!! 10/10!!!

-Annie

Demon Road and Desolation by Derek Landy

Book: Demon road (#1 in the series) 5 stars
For book 1, I’ll rate it 5. I really, really enjoyed this book, and I haven’t liked a book as much for a long time. I also enjoyed the characters, especially Glen, who is a nice change from all the brooding male love interest types in most stories – even though there is already another taciturn, brooding male in the story. The characters bounce off well against each other, and is fun to read. This book starts off with a rather cliched and uninspiring situation, but it picks up very quickly and is a definite page turner. It is, however, VERY dark horror that involves cannibalism right from the start, which I’m fine with (I write horror), but even I found it shocking. The setup, however, is intriguing for people who enjoy this sort of thing and the atmosphere is strong – I love stories about the ‘dark underbelly’ of society, and how there may be secret cabals of scary things on hidden ‘dark highways.’ This is a dark road trip fantasy crossed with a Faustian deal-with-the-devil kind of story, but definitely gory and dark, nor will it necessarily have a happy ending. Too gory for a YA book methinks, so consider yourself forewarned.

Book: Demon road (#2 in the series) 3.5 stars
For book 2, I’ll rate it 3.5. It’s competent and action-packed, but it’s even darker and gorier than book 1, and I just didn’t like the sheer ugliness of the world this story is set in. At some point, the awfulness of it all just crossed a line for me – it’s not fair to the book or the author, but I’m marking it down because it’s meant to be YA, and this is just too much. I wonder if it will be better off as adult fiction. Conversely, if you love nihilism and gory horror, then this book will probably be a 4.5 for you. For me personally, I loved the world the author built in book 1, but found that I liked it much less in book 2 because I found out more about it. I’ll be upfront – I have issues with some of the backstory and world-building, which I think leans too dark and lacks balance. If you compare it to adult dark urban fantasy like The Dresden Files, the latter does a better job of creating a magical, unseen dark layer of society with a strong balance between the forces of light and darkness. Here, it’s mostly darkness, which can make the situations so unappetising. It also fails to make the most of the “deal with the devil” sort of stories that Faust made famous – typically, doing deals with demons require a sprightly intellect and a genuinely clever twist to be effective, but both in book 1 AND book 2, the main character Amber fails to do both in the times she had to bargain with a powerful demon. She ended up relying on what feels like (a) violence and fighting, which isn’t quite the point of “deal with the devil” stories, and (b) what feels like a deus ex machina. As a result, I’m unsure of whether I want to read book 3, because given the nastiness of book 2 and the way book 3 is set up, I have a feeling it’s not suddenly going to lighten up. I do stress that this is a competently written and paced book though, so if TOTAL DARKNESS is your thing, by all means read it. I recommend it for it’s skill and pacing, even if I have other issues with it.

Special thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for giving me the Advanced Review Copies in exchange for an honest review.

-Queenie Chan

Read3r’z Re-Vu Exclusive Blog Interview with author Oliver Phommavanh, author of “The Other Christy”

The Other Christy

Oliver Phommavanh has just released a new novel for kids “The Other Christy” and I had the privilege of reading an Advanced Review Copy and interviewing Oliver for our blog – he’s awesome btw – before we get to the interview, here’s some light on “The Other Christy”. Highly recommended to a younger reading audience aged 8-12 years old, I still enjoyed this book as an adult. Christy Ung, a quiet, reserved girl has always been known as “The Other Christy” while being in the same class as the “loud-mouthed” Christie Owens – the most popular girl in school.

Christy Ung migrated to Australia from Cambodia and struggles with daily life as she is still a loner at school. Adjusting to Aussie life is hard enough especially when living with her traditional and clean freak Grandpa however with the help of her Aunt Mayly, Christy soon discovers when baking a cake to share with her class on her birthday, you can exhibit a positive charge to win in a negative field when you feel the world is against you. A cute, heart warming and funny read that is suitable and recommended for a younger audience. A great story about a girl called Christy – the other Christy as there are 2 in her class. A story of friendship and great lessons – highly recommended as a light hearted fun filled read that I rated 5 stars!!! Thankyou Penguin Random House Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my review.

 – Exclusive Blog Interview with Author Oliver Phommavanh –

  1. Who is your target audience for “The Other Christy”?
    Kids aged 9 and up, but anybody will enjoy this book.

  2. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I recommend it to all readers of all ages as it really brought back memories of primary school. What was your inspiration to write this book?
    As a teacher, I’ve taught shy students in my class who don’t have many friends, but when they do come of out of their shells, they attract like-minded people. So I wanted to write a story for the shy kids out there, to speak up and be heard!
  3. I felt there were nice lessons to be learnt in this book, for one – I learnt that exhibiting a positive charge in a negative field can help you win in difficult situations. What do you want your readers to get out of this story?
    It sounds like a cliché but being yourself is the best way to make friends, or more importantly to keep friendships strong. If you’re just pretending, chances are, you’ll be found out and it won’t last.

  4. Why did you call your main characters ‘Christie and Christy?’
    True story, I had the title in my head ten years ago. I had a crush on a girl named Christy back at university, and there was another girl with the same name that hung out in the same group. The Christy that I liked was never around, so I’d always ask, ‘where is the other Christy?’ When it came to writing the story, two girls with the exactly the same name was never going to work, so I tweaked one of the names.

  5. Christy appears to have trouble fitting in, in her class – do you see much of yourself or your childhood in Christy?
    Christy and I share the same weird slant on life. While I was a class clown at school, I wasn’t popular. I was just that loud random kid who said funny stuff. So I found making real friends kind of hard. There were people that I would talk to at school, but that was it. Just like Christy, I wanted a friend outside of school, hanging out.

  6. This is clearly a story about self-discovery, growing up and friendship. Would you yourself have adopted Christy’s methods in her efforts in trying to make friends?
    I think I would. Auntie Mayly offers Christy some heartfelt advice that I would gladly give to anybody who feels like they don’t fit in. I think about all the friends I’ve made, and they were simply by one or two common interests and some kindness. A smile here and there. Just being grouped together in a class isn’t enough, there needs to be some chemistry to spark friendships.

  7. Christy’s Grandpa is hilarious, in a story it’s funny how he’s such a clean freak and over protective although in real life, I think I would find him overbearing (lol) but I also felt sorry for him as he was burdened with a task of raising his granddaughter in a world that is foreign to his Cambodian traditions. I am wondering, what was the inspiration for “Grandpa’s” character in this story and whether he is anything like your own Grandpa?
    He is very much based on my father in law! My grandpa passed away when I was five, but I’d imagine he’d also be as steely and stubborn when it comes to family traditions. My father in law’s quirks and weird habits were priceless material, but I also wanted to show his funny and sensitive side. He really does cherish his daughter (my wife) and wants to protect her, especially when they’ve just settled in a new country.

  8. Why was cake the means to ‘win people over’?
    Food brings people together and it’s the currency used in Christy’s class. I remember teaching a class where kids would try to outdo each other with their birthday cakes that were brought in. I put on six kilos haha. It’s particularly more important for Christy because baking is her passion, so her talent and self-worth is on the line. She really is serving a slice of herself to others. 
  9. Do you feel the reason why Christy was an outcast in her class was due to her ethnicity or cultural difference or was it more of a personality difference?
    I wanted to make sure it was personality, because Christy used to be in an ESL class with other migrant kids, and they all made friends except for her.
  10. If ‘The Other Christy’ was going to be turned into an adaptation – would you prefer TV or film? Why?
    We are living in another golden age of television, so I’d love to see it as a mini-series, where each key moment is built up over every episode. Plus there’s more scope to throw in a few other side stories too.

  11. When you’re not writing – what would you be doing?
    Playing video games. I’ve sunk 100 hours in Xenoblade Chronicles X on the Wii U and my 3DS is my travel buddy.

  12. What other books have you written?
    Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines, Thai-no-mite and Stuff Happens: Ethan
  13. What is your favourite restaurant and why?
    I love burgers (check out my Instagram @oliverwinfree) and my favourite burger chain is Grill’d at the moment. Just wholesome burgers with some great chips on the side.

  14. Cast your mind to 10 years ago, would you have pictured yourself publishing your first novel back then?
    Funnily enough, it was exactly 10 years ago since I quit full-time teaching. I gave myself five years to publish my first novel, so yeah I was determined to make it.

  15. Do you like reading? What is your favourite genre?
    I’ve always been a lifelong reader, my favourite genre is contemporary stories, especially with comedy thrown in.

  16. Can you remember the first book you ever read? What was it?
    I think it may have been a Dr Seuss or Golden Book, but just can’t make out the title.

  17. If you could be a character in a video game, who would you be and why?
    My hero is Sonic the Hedgehog, because he’s cool, blue and fast. Three things I’m not in real life haha.

  18. Where is your ultimate holiday destination?
    It was Japan for awhile, but now it’s America, for the food, the oversized shopping malls and American brands.

  19. My all-time favourite artist is Michael Jackson and my favourite song ever is Black or White – yes I still listen to this song on my iPod. What is your favourite type of music/who is your favourite singer?
    I still listen to my cassette Walkman and have over 100 albums on cassette. I thought StarLord from Guardians from the Galaxy would start a revival but anyway, I do still have an i-pod classic too. I love pop music, boy bands have always filled my playlist from the Bee Gees to the Backstreet Boys and ID. My favourite singers include John Mayer, Eninem, Justin Bieber and Drake.

  20. As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
    Just write. Don’t wait for inspiration. Just write!

The top 10: This or That
Ice cream or Ice Block? Ice cream for sure.
Library or Bookstore? Library because I can write in there
Chicken or Beef? Chicken for the variety
Winter or Summer? Winter because I love snuggling up at night
Tea or Coffee? Tea. I don’t drink coffee
Bungee Jump or Sky Dive? Haha, I’m scared of heights. I suppose sky dive because at least I have a parachute.
Favourite Colour: Purple
Ultimate Holiday Destination: America.
Famous last words: Whatever man, I’m just doing this for the lols.

Review and Interview by Annie

The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934 by Anaïs Nin, Gunther Stuhlmann (editor)

“We once admired those who did not compromise, who destroyed themselves. We will come to admire those who fight the enemies of life.” – Anaïs Nin

“I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing… The romantic submits to life, the classicist dominates it.” – Anaïs Nin

5 stars – A reflective, poignant journal of Anaïs Nin’s internal surreal world

Reading The Diary of Anaïs Nin is like diving into an ocean of poetic feelings and nuanced perspectives written with artistry, eloquence and surrealism. It makes you want to swim in her sea of words and discover who she really is (beyond the essayist and writer). The Diary volume 1 is a interesting (but expurgated) account of Anaïs Nin’s life aged 28-31 years old. Anaïs is a complex woman; she is unafraid to explore her psyche and desperate need for love. She writes about all the roles that she must play in life for others – the artist, writer, patient, lover, daughter and friend.

Anaïs is an eloquent writer and a progressive thinker of her time. Her intimate diary accounts self-reflections on her relationships, art, being a woman, life, love, passion, writing, surrealism, seduction, feminism & femininity, psychoanalysis, compassion, honesty and her relationship with her father. I enjoyed reading her unique view of the world, which is truthful, perceptive and deeply poignant. She writes thoughtful and observant points about life and people. Near the end, I was shocked by her experiences and touched by her revelations. It’s no small thing to be able to describe feelings so accurately like she did. In my view, her diary is about self-discovery and individualism; it’s about her coming to terms with her own choices and her relationships. It’s also an intriguing read about her neurotic, artistic friends and lovers. Anaïs’ diary however does contain [spoiler alert] undertones of her incestuous relationship with her estranged father (you have been warned), this in no way detracts from her potent and expressive sophisticated writing. Recommended for readers that enjoy reading different perspectives on life and self-reflection, and readers who like eloquent, poetic writing and a provocative read. I will be getting the internationally acclaimed volume 2 soon!

– NJ

Other interesting quotes from the book:

“For my life is slowed up by thought and the need to understand what I am living.”

“He overlooked the deeper cravings of an artist, for whom deep love is the only possible form, no simmering life but a boiling one, no small compromise with reality.”

“Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvellous.”

“I thought of my difficulties with writing, my struggles to articulate feelings not easily expressed. Of my struggles to find a language for intuition, feelings, instincts which are, in themselves, elusive, subtle, and wordless.”

“You cannot possess without loving.”

“As an ordinary woman I might have been serenely happy with such a miniature life, but I am not that woman.”

“I want the key, the key to the lies” [Henry] “Passion and violence never opened a human being.” [Anais] “What opens human beings?” “Compassion.”

“You have no gratitude because you have no love. To be grateful, one must first know how to love.”

“Proofs of love and friendship are what I give to others all the time. And everyone seems to need them.”

“I want to give him life and adventure, but I cannot convey to him that it is the mood, not the places, the relationships which can light up shabby hotel rooms, stained cafe tables, brimming  noisy streets, sour wine.”

“Create a world, your world. Alone. Stand alone. Create. And then love will come to you.”

“I wondered whether he was right that it was the rituals we had lost, or whether it was that people had lost the power to feel, and that no ritual would give it to them.”

“For the absolute, one dies if one wants the absolute.” 

“The neurotic is the modern romantic who refuses to die because of his illusions and fantasies prevent him from living. He enters a combat to live. We once admired those who did not compromise, who destroyed themselves. We will come to admire those who fight the enemies of life.”

“When others asked the truth of me, I was convinced it was not the truth they wanted, but an illusion they could bear to live with. I was convinced of people’s need of illusion.”

“It is the woman who has to speak. And it is not only the woman Anais who has to speak, but I who have to speak for many women. As I discover myself, I feel I am merely one of many, a symbol. I begin to understand June, Jeanne, and many others…, women of yesterday and today. The mute ones of the past, the inarticulate, who took refuge behind wordless intuitions; and the women of today, all action, and copies of men. And I, in between… My life has been one long series of efforts, self-discipline, will. Here I can sketch, improvise, be free, and myself.”

“We love best those who are, or act for us, a self we do not wish to be or act out.”

“The struggle to live by my own truth is so difficult, so weary… I am like the adventurer who leaves all those he loves, and returns with his arms full of gold; and then they are happy and they forget how they tried to keep this adventurer from exploring, from his voyage and his search.”

“Poetic vision is not the outcome of blindness but of a force which can transcend the ugliest face of reality, swallow and dissolve it by its strength, not evasion.” 

Click here for the book blurb on Goodreads.