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.

Amanda:
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.

Annie:
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
Annie

 

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.

-Annie

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.

-Annie

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.
-Annie

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!!!
-Amanda

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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.

-Amanda

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

A great book: 4.5/5 Stars

let me just start by saying.. I LOVE TOOTHLESS!!!

I had a lot of fun reading this book but having to work, I wasn’t able to finish this book in the time I had wanted to – it is a book you wont be able to put down.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as “the Dragon Whisperer” This story takes us back to what one may call historical Scotland when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. The challenge Hiccup is to face is to capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb. Hiccup embarks on an adventure and tries to find a better way to train his dragon and become a hero.

My word of advice is do not start reading this book with the expectation that it’s just like the movie, this book is very different so best to treat this as a stand alone read and do not think back to the movie.

Meredith

Nathalia Buttface and the Most Embarrassing Dad in the World by Nigel Smith

A great children’s book I rated 4.5 stars out of 5

About the book – as seen on Goodreads.com:
The Most Embarrassing Dad in the World was embarrassing Nathalia even before she was born. He went and married Mum, didn’t he? Mum’s last name was De Montfort. Thanks to Dad she wasn’t Nathalia De Montfort. She was Nathalia Bumole. “It’s pronounced Bew-mow-lay,” Dad would tell her patiently, time and again. “If anyone says differently, the joke’s on them.” But as Nathalia knows only too well, the joke will not be on them. It will be on her. Massively. If Nathalia can just keep The Most Embarrassing Dad In The World away from her new school, then maybe he won’t ruin everything this time. Maybe

My thoughts:
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. As a library technician, I am given a whole selection of books to familiarise myself with for the students – and this was a lot of fun!!! The humour in Nathalia Buttface is well placed and had me smiling and even chuckling while reading it, even in public places where I am sure passers by thought strangely of me. The characters were quite funny just like the story. I highly recommend this to younger readers aged 7-12 years.

-Meredith

Caramel Hearts by E.R Murray & Read3r’z Re-Vu Exclusive Blog Interview

Bloomsbury Publishers contacted me to be part of the launch and blog tour of Elizabeth Rose (E.R) Murray’s debut novel “Caramel Hearts”. Having accepted to be part of this special event, I have no regrets!!! Caramel Hearts is a beautiful and thought provoking coming of age story, one I have rated 5 stars. E.R Murray lives in Ireland where she fishes and grows her own vegies. Caramel Hearts is her first novel.

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Caramel Hearts is mind blowing though I felt depressed reading this book, it was so insightful! A beautiful coming of age story however it’s realistic as it’s not just about teenage girls crushing on teenage boys or girls stressing about what to wear to their next party. This book focuses on Liv Bloom, whose life is more complex than other 14 year old girls as her father abandons the family and her mother is a recovering alcoholic, Liv’s older sister struggles to take care of her family and complete her studies. Through the madness, Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her Mum’s handwriting which Liv uses for her journey to self-discovery and reconciliation. As this book is structured around real cake recipes you find throughout the book that adds a light touch to an otherwise depressing storyline, it gave me the urge to get into my baking again. What I liked most about this book (besides the recipes) is it tells a realistic story and focuses on real socio economic issues that teens face and others forget or ignore. I recommend this to all Contemporary YA readers. Special thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me an advanced review copy in exchange for my review – also thankyou very much for introducing me to the lovely E.R Murray – although she’s oceans away, we still keep in touch by email and it has been a pleasure to read your book and get to know you!!!

Now, let’s meet the author – Elizabeth Rose (E.R) Murray…
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When did you first get inspiration to write?
I always wrote as a child, mainly short stories and epic poems that would fill entire notebooks. I was very inspired by ancient myths and legends! I would also tell myself stories when I went to bed at night, revisiting them the following night to recap and continue on the adventure. These tales could last weeks, even months – so I guess it was an initial foray into creating book-length tales. I had a few things published at school, but then life got in the way; I put myself through uni, jumped onto the career ladder, and forgot all about writing until my mid/late twenties when it started calling me again.

What is the title of your debut novel and what inspired you to write this book?
Caramel Hearts is my debut young adult book, and it’s the first released in Australia, but it’s the second book I’ve had published. The first was a middle grade fantasy published in the UK and Ireland, The Book of Learning – Nine Lives Trilogy 1 (Book 2 is out in September!). The Book of Learning was inspired by my move to Ireland and a sighting of a ghost, while Caramel Hearts was driven by a desire to write something more real, looking at the effects of addiction and growing up in an underprivileged area – with real cake recipes!

Is there any particular reason you chose this genre?
I love young adult fiction, it’s so brave and honest and heartfelt. But to be honest, when I write, it’s all about the characters, and they combine to choose the genre for me. Story always comes first and the genre falls into place somewhere along the way.

Do you like to read? What’s the first book you ever read?
I adore reading – along with travel and writing, it’s my favourite thing! I don’t remember the first book I ever read; I’m one of those people that barely remember anything before the age of seven! It’s like reading was always there, an integral part of my world. But I did love pouring over the Brambly Hedge series and by the age of ten, I’d fallen in love with Charles Dickens.

Where did you grow up and where are you currently based? (Just city and country name)
I was raised in Southbank, Middlesbrough (North East of England) and I now live on the Southwest coast of Ireland, in an idyllic area called West Cork.

If you’re not reading or writing, what would you be doing?
Growing vegetables, catching fish, moving cows, hiking around the countryside, watching a band play live music; these would be typical of everyday life. But I also love travel, so you’re highly likely to find me on a train or about to board a plane.

What was the secret to getting your work done in writing this book? Did you constantly snack on chocolate or have a photo of an inspirational person on the wall of your room?
I’m extremely disciplined, so the key is just to turn up to your desk every day. But I do love to burn scented candles as I write; I have several to choose from, to suit my mood. Another big help is my dog, Franklyn, because he’s great company but also makes sure I break for walks. Changing walls really helps too; I love travelling to new places, surrounded by different languages, food, weather, and experiences – I find it energising. I hate routine – it saps my energy. I can’t bear to stay in one place for too long.

What was the last book you read? (title/genre/author/rating out of 5 stars)
I always have more than one book on the go, so I’ll give you two. First, Claire Hennessy’s Nothing Tastes As Good – and I rate it 5 out of 5. You have a snarky anorexic ghost on a reluctant mission – what’s not to love? I also read Jan Carson’s short story collection Children’s Children, also 5 out of 5. That woman can write!

If your life was turned into a movie, who would you like to play you?
I’d go for Ellen Page because when Juno came out, everyone commented on the similarities in terms of attitude, so she’s already nailed me, apparently!

As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
I guess it’s that writer’s write – that’s the simple ingredient you need to be a writer. It can be difficult to admit you’re writing, especially at first when you have few or no accolades to your name, and it’s also difficult to see yourself as an actual writer. But the truth is, writers write – simple!

I would also add: never give up! Persevere and you have a chance of getting published, give up and you’re out of the game. I’d say 80% of the people that I met when I first started out – those that have continued writing – are now published or have an agent or book deal, or they’ve been asked to send in their full manuscript. It’s all about determination and dedication.

The Top 10: This or That
Ice cream or Ice Block? Ice cream, preferably sea salt flavour (I had to google ice block – we call it an ice lolly!)
Library or Bookstore? Both – as often as I can.
Vegemite or Peanut Butter? Both – just not together.
Chicken or Beef? Beef. And it has to be as rare as possible. Blue steak is perfection
Winter or Summer? Summer! I love wintry weather but here it gets dark around 4.30pm and stays dark until 8am. It can get depressing!
Tea or Coffee? Tea. Including herbal.
Favourite Chocolate: I don’t really like chocolate so can I swap for Turkish Delight?
Favourite Colour: Blue.
Ultimate Holiday Destination: I’ll choose two I haven’t been to yet – Japan or Canada (though you can’t beat Australia for landscapes and wildlife).
When reading, I love to eat/drink: pickled chillies.
Famous last words: Never give up!

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Blog Review and Blog Interview Completed by Annie