Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Blog Duet by Annie and Amanda – rating this book 4 stars

This story will take you back to the enchanting place of Wonderland long before Alice fell down the rabbit hole. This story follows Princess Dinah, the heiress to the throne – the future Queen of Hearts – in a place that is ruled under an iron fist by her father, the king. Characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance in this fantasy/twisted fairy tale that sets a whole new light on a place we all thought we once knew.

This Alice in Wonderland prequel of sorts was a quick read. There were interesting aspects to this novel, especially seeing how the known characters from the Alice in Wonderland universe fit into this story. Although I enjoyed this story, I couldn’t exactly find a main plot line – it was like reading about the world building of Wonderland, meanwhile there was a dark story lurking within this world. Some parts of this story remain a mystery to me – some I managed to predict – but it has kept me hanging for part 2 where I am hoping my questions will be answered. I see potential with this series so I am interested to read the next one. The read along was fun – Annie and I were texting each other over a few days updating each other on which parts we were up to – we both agree, we absolutely hate the King!!! and we both have theories as to some of the characters which we won’t share here to avoid spoilers.

Well I had the pleasure of doing a read along for this book with Amanda and it was quite fun texting with page and chapter number updates – a lot of which included emoticons expressing my shock or anger at particular parts of the story. I have to say, it’s not a bad prequel to Alice in Wonderland and it certainly explains a lot about the Queen of Hearts and how she become what we know her to be in future stories. Although this was a dark retelling/prequel to the story we all know, I felt it was quite creative how the author intricately rebuilt the world of Wonderland. It was also quite funny to see how a deck of cards have such involvement in the ruling of Wonderland – hearts were royal.. clubs were dark military etc. I found this to be a fast paced read, very easy to follow and even with a story full of mystery, twists and turns, there were moments we would “call it” and other times that slapped us in the face. Like Amanda, I see potential for this series so I am looking forward to the subsequent book/s.

Special thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for sending us an Advance Review Copy in exchange for our honest review

Gumnut Babies: 100 years by May Gibbs

An amazing piece of memorabilia that I rate 5 stars
I will treasure for this rest of my life!!

Marking the centenary publication of May Gibbs’ first book “Gumnut Babies”, this amazing piece of memorabilia will be available for all Aussies who remember the great stories of the Gumnut Babies!!! Divided into sections: Gumnut Babies, Gum-Blossom Babies, Flannel Flowers and Other Bush Babies, Boronia Babies, Wattle Babies, Nuttybub and Nittersing and Chucklebud and Wunkydoo, it makes the perfect companion to The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

Such an elegantly illustrated book with amazing stories suitable for young and old alike, this storybook will sure bring families together for a cosy read along. Every Australian who grew up with the stories of the Gumnut Babies needs to have this as a collectors item. Indeed this is one I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Special thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for sending me this amazing advanced copy in exchange for my honest review


Flying Circus by Chris Hoy

A fun read I rate 4.5 stars – Recommended for Younger Readers
Aged 8-11 years old

I read this pretty quickly in light of the closing ceremony of the -Olympic Games in Rio, just felt so appropriate as this great book is about an ordinary boy who has to face a cycling tournament that looks as though it will turn into a bake off as a biscuit factory intends to expand their factory to Fergus’ favourite park. I highly recommend to younger readers between the ages 8-11 years old. A funny story line with a touch of magic, great introduction of the characters in the beginning of the book with illustrations throughout the book.

Special thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me this Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.


Small Things by Mel Tregonning

Thought Provoking – Touching – Confronting – Relevant
5 Stars

In 2008, the illustrator of this book, Mel Tregonning started illustrating a graphic novel about the universal feelings of loneliness and depression. In 2014, Mel took her own life.

After a long journey to compile Mel’s work with the help of illustrator Shaun Tan, Small Things is due for release this September. Such a beautifully illustrated book without words that intricately depicts the feelings of an ordinary boy living in an ordinary world who suffers from loneliness, depression and anxiety. It illustrates how this young boy deals with his life and how he learns to reach out for help from the very place he didn’t think to look – loved ones at home.

A very relevant and beautiful book.

Special thanks to Allen & Unwin publishers for sending me this advanced review copy in exchange for my honest review.


Eon by Alison Goodman

“I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept but I cannot live any other way.” – Lady Dela in Eon

5 stars!

Sensational, epic writing and an unforgettable story about a heroine with a desperate secret…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eon, it’s filled with political intrigue, plot gripping action and a deeper, darker story than I expected. To become a Dragon apprentice, Eon must win the annual dragon contest to prove her worth against other candidates in hopes of being chosen by the elusive and mysterious Rat Dragon and to commune with its power; problem is, Eon is a girl disguised as a boy (women aren’t meant to see dragons)…

What I really liked about this book is the exploration of diversity – in particular the diversity of characters such as Lady Dela, Eon, Ryko and Chart, which is rare in fantasy YA novels. Even though our main character has a physical disability, I liked how her strength is represented in other ways such as her capabilities, inner strength, courage and compassion. I also liked how Lady Dela is man dressed as a woman which directly contrasts with Eon who is a girl pretending to be a boy, and showing how such differences are celebrated in one culture but dangerous in another; the contrast between living authentically and living in a lie. Eon for me is a story about identity, of being truthful to oneself, of friendship, loyalty, compassion and courage to overcome adversity and betrayal. I also enjoyed reading about dragons with powers that can shift monsoons, magical world building that’s inspired by myth and legends of Ancient China. I loved the imagination and the fast paced plot which kept me reading through the night. I highly recommend this great read! This is a YA novel that can also be enjoyed by adults. I want to thank author Alison Goodman for coming to our exclusive high tea and telling us about Eon and Eona. I’m proud to have the duology as part of my book collection.

Other intriguing quotes from the book:

“‘And what do you say Lord Eon? Does the acceptance of foreigners into our land dilute our magnificent culture?’…I groped for the only thing I had: experience. ‘I like the coffee that Ari the Foreigner sells in the market, Your Majesty…I do not know about diluting our culture. It is just a drink and he is just a man who sells it.’”

‘“I do not wear men’s clothing because I am a woman in here,’ she touched her head, ‘and there,’ she touched her heart. ‘You are wrong when you say there is no power in being a woman. When I think of my mother and the women in my tribe, and even the hidden women in the harem. I know there are many types of power in this world.’ She turned around to face me. ‘I found power is in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept but I cannot live any other way. How would it be to live a lie every minute of your life? I don’t think I could do it.

– NJ

Click here to read the book blurb on Goodreads

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child based on the storyline by J.K Rowling – Screenplay by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

 Blog Duet by Annie and Amanda – both rate this awesome book: 5 LIGHTNING BOLTS!!!

YES we were in line for the 9:01am world wide release…
YES we were a little sceptical given past experience of deflation following major hype…
NO we were not disappointed with this one at all…

This is a 10/10 .. 5 stars .. MAGNIFICO!!!!

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Based on a storyline by J.K. Rowling and screen play written by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, this eighth book of the Harry Potter series takes place 19 years later following the last book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. A stage show that has taken London by storm, the world is praying for a world tour. The story starts on Platform 9- 3/4 as Harry, Ron and Hermione are all grown up and have children of their own who now attend Hogwarts.

For “The Boy Who Lived” life was never easy for Harry Potter.. and it hasn’t gotten any easier now he’s an employee of the Ministry of Magic – an overworked father of three. To this day, Harry is grappling with a past that refuses to leave him meanwhile his youngest son, Albus is struggling with a family legacy he never wanted.

When I first heard about this book, I didn’t know what to expect although I was excited that fans get yet another dose of Harry Potter. Many were not fans of the book being script but to be honest, I loved it!!! An e
xceptional story line and well written scripting, I could imagine myself watching this in the theatre and the original cast playing this out on stage. So many scenes I am now curious to know how they execute in live theatre. Great story  with magical elements of time travel. Rumour has it parts 3 and 4 come out next year to commemorate the Harry Potter 20 year anniversary – really looking forward to that!!! ..Harry Potter fans read this now!! You won’t be disappointed and I would have finished this much sooner but duty called.. This screen play certainly does the original Harry Potter series justice.

To be honest, I was worried when I first picked up this book, I was worried it wouldn’t be as good as the original series that I love so much and never forget. My fear was the script would be a dark mark on the Harry Potter fandom (yes pun intended) but.. I should not have worried.. THIS WAS BRILLIANT!!! Yes it’s a script, not a novel exclusively written by legendary J.K Rowling however this script beautifully captures the magical essence created by J.K Rowling in the original series. I experienced joy, suspense and thrills as I did with the original series. This script is full of new characters you will fall in love with – old characters that will make you smile, particularly as the are now older than 30 and you will gasp at a few who make cameo appearances. A time-travelling magical adventure filled with heart, humour and truth. I highly recommend that everyone treats themselves with this script!!!

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London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning

Great Read – 4 Stars

When Sunny finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, it leads to an all night adventure across London. HAving recently moved back to Australia after living in London for 18 months, I was concerned that this book may not capture the spirit of London – or paint an accurate picture of the London I love – the London forever embedded in my heart. Sara Manning manages to capture the essence of London. A city that never sleeps. A city where you can have all night adventures, meet unique characters and make life-long memories.

This story is full of heart, humour and fun characters. Full of experiences that define London: the night bus, the horror when the tube is down, dodgy chicken shops on every corner, queuing random events like a night club in a convenience store (yes I went to one on the Shard). More importantly, Manning highlights the diversity of London – the culture, the history and the adventure that runs throughout the city.

I admit, I probably enjoyed this book mainly because of my love for London but I think most people would have fun reading this book. A book that shows what its like to be in love with a place and what it can offer. London was such a great adventure but it’s so great to be with Read3r’z Re-Vu!!

Special thanks to Allen and Unwin for sending me an Advance Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.