2016… that’s a wrap!!!

Read3r’z Re-Vu: what an epic 2016 season!!!

This was the year Read3r’z Re-Vu celebrated their 7th successful year!! In reflecting and celebrating the network’s achievements, Read3r’z Re-Vu hosted their Black and White party in April with special guest authors: Will Kostakis (author of The First Third and The Sidekicks) and Queenie Chan (author of Fabled Kingdom). An epic night of reminiscence and new memories. The sessions got better and better as we had even more authors join our sessions as special guests this season – special thanks to authors Maria Lewis (author of Who’s Afraid?), Mitchell Hogan (author of Crucible of the Souls), Melina Marchetta (author of Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, Finnikin of the Rock and On the Jelicoe Road), Shivaun Plozza (author of Frankie), Helen Thurloe (author of Promising Azra), Tamar Chnorkian (author of The Diet Starts on Monday), Tara Eglington (author of How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You, How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You and My Bestfriend is a Goddess) and Kirsty Eagar (author of Summer Skin). Your time in joining us and sharing your experience with us is greatly appreciated and we cherish the friendships we formed and hope to keep in touch with you.

When Read3r’z Re-Vu were not hosting sessions, the network was busy leaving their mark on the history books from attending enlightening Publisher events that get us photographed on their publications to attending exclusive blogger night and book launch events. We also had the pleasure of hosting high tea with some great authors – international author Maria V. Snyder (author of the Poison Study series) who, while touring Australia from The U.S, spent exclusive time with us and Australian Authors Fiona Wood (author of Cloudwish and Wildlife) and Alison Goodman (author of Eon, Eona and Lady Helen and The Dark Days Club). It was such an amazing and unique experience for Read3r’z Re-Vu to have this quality time with our favourite authors.

October was yet another memorable month – having hosted our very first, impromptu Read3r’z Re-Vu Mini Conference in the Sydney CBD. In light of the sudden cancellation of the Book Expo, The Read3r’z Re-Vu Committee reached out to bloggers, readers and authors from far and wide who travelled in for the Expo to come together for a Conference. It was a day of epic proportions. Many thanks to Pantera Press Publishers who brought Wanda Wiltshire (author of the Betrothed Series) and Baz Michael Radburn (author of Blackwater Moon and Taylor Bridges Series) to join us as special guests for our panel. Also special thanks to Queenie Chan (author of Fabled Kingdom) and Cathy A. Wilson and Cathy T. Wilson (authors of the Lions and Lilies Series) who also joined us as special guests. We also held a segment about Bloggers VS Vloggers which was enlightening and played some fun games for light entertainment. In light of this mini conference’s success, Read3r’z Re-Vu are planning to host a conference towards the end of 2017. The conference was followed by an epic Q&A with panel of talented authors from Cohesion Press at Galaxy Bookshop.

Having launched our blog in February, followed by growing social media platforms, the network reached out to many readers, bloggers and publishing houses across Australia and around the world – making new friendships that no doubt will last a lifetime. With it, the network also continued their selfless charity work by sending donations to troubled areas around the world to assist with immediate relief as well as donating gifts to the K-Mart wishing tree for disadvantaged children. The network continues to grow and the committee continue to work together to bring members exciting sessions and events that keeps everyone passionate about reading. 2017 proves to be an epic year ahead with epic themes and special guest authors lined up for the sessions as well as book publisher show cases, book launches and bookstore crawls planned for the first 2 months of the year!!! community charity work projects are also on the cards and the committee are working on potentially hosting a conference towards the end of the year.

With all the fun events Read3r’z Re-Vu took part in, there was always time to pick up a great book to read.. here are some of the titles that really made it to our favourites this year!!! (in no order of preference)

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier

Illuminae/Gemina by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff

Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Who’s Afraid by Maria Lewis

The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

The Crowns Game by Evelyn Skye

Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey

Small Things by Meg Treggonning

Mechanica: A beginners Guide by Lance Balchin

Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Kushiel’s Scion by Jacqueline Carey

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Yukarism (Manga) by China Shiomi

Fire Boy by Sami Shah

Nona and Me by Clare Atkins

The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

When Michael met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

Something in Between by Melissa De La Cruz

Valentine by Jodi McAlister

Black Jade by Kylie Chan

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by JK Rowling (screenplay)

From a fantastic year of 2016 to an even bigger year of 2017, Read3r’z Re-Vu would love to thank all members and followers for a great season and we wish you all the best for the new year ahead!!! May it be a great one filled with awesome new reads, happiness and accomplishments.. make it count and make it yours…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

“Be Brave.. This is how my journey will begin, one thing at a time..”

-a heartfelt read I rate 4.5 stars-

At the age of ten, poor Flora Banks had a tumour removed which resulted in her brain’s incapacity to retain memory or  make new memories. With only “be brave” inked on her hand, Flora struggles to navigate through life as her memory resets itself several times a day, that is.. until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks, as such, Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again.

This story was quite engaging (albeit a bit depressing) it was interesting given the profile of the character who is struggling with her memory and the incidents she falls into because of it which leads up to that one breakthrough.. I like how the story develops however I found it’s a little repetitive due to the resetting of her memory. A story of self discovery and identity – I highly recommend this to fans of YA Contemporary – the story is unique!!!

Special thanks to Penguin Teen Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review – this book will be available in January 2017 and will be the Read3r’z Re-Vu book of the month on our social media platforms in February 2017 – keep an eye out for it!!!
-Annie

Fire Boy by Sami Shah

“And verily, We created mankind from sounding clay of altered smooth mud and the jinn We created from smokeless fire.” (Quran, Surah 15, Ayats 26-27)

-One of my 2016 favourites!!! Rating: 5 Stars-

This was a really engaging and fantastic read!!! Yes this is urban fantasy – yes the story is a work of fiction – however, it accurately references Islamic beliefs and terms throughout the story which worked really well with the plot and it intrigued a lot of my non-Muslim friends into asking more questions about Islam and wanting to learn more, it bridged some gaps from a different angle.

This epic Urban Fantasy follows the story of Wahid whose birth and ability to see jinn (creatures made of smokeless fire) remains a mystery. He’s growing up in Karachi, Pakistan and he’s a typical geek boy – really into Dungeons and Dragons, comics and games. In an ill-timed, fatal car accident, Wahid witnesses a jinn stealing his friend’s soul and he vows to get her back. Wahid is wrongfully accused of causing the accident and is on the run having to source help from the most darkest of all spirits – the Devil himself.

Some scenes were rather violent and freaky however, the story line was captivating and the dialogue was quite witty and clever. It is very well written, action packed – and suspenseful. For those who don’t take well with jinn or the supernatural, I strongly advise reading during daylight hours. Due to the themes and level of violence in the story, it is not suitable to readers under 15 years of age. I highly recommend this story for urban/fantasy fiction fans as it is very different to what you may have read before.

Please remember, this story is a work of fiction with reference to Islamic beliefs. For further reading and understanding on the Islamic beliefs that are referenced in the book, please refer to Islamic books, the Quran or Hadith. 

I am really looking forward to the sequel!!!
-Annie

Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

“Family before family”

An epic fantasy fiction book rating 4.5-5 stars!!

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family until she finds her family murdered and her home up in flames. Lea Saldana makes it her mission to avenge her family’s death – even if it means questioning her alliances.

I rated this 4.5 stars – Deadly assassins in a creative, magical world.
I really enjoyed the world building in Assassin’s Heart. You  just can’t go wrong with assassins, masks, ghosts and gods. Throw in vengeance and a pinch of love and you’ve got a sweet tale exalting your thirst for a great read. When I first picked up this book, I thought it was going to be just another YA Romeo and Juliet story but with assassins. How wrong was I!!! it was a tale of adventure, family, choices and devotion. I might be wrong but it has an “Underworld” vibe to it. Recommended to fantasy fiction fans – such an interesting read!!
-NJ

I rated this book 5 stars! I loved this book! the mystery – the intrigue.. an amazing, well written book that captivated me from page 1!!! A story of how powerful assassin families are filtered by tier and tensions rise of power and position and one Lea Saldana harbors a deep, dark secret that just may cost her, her family and possibly her life. I was most impressed with the world building of Lovero and how well explained and intriguing the characters’ beliefs were. I also liked how well defined the characters were by their masks. A plot full of twists, mystery and adventure!!! I am really looking forward to the sequel now!!
-Annie

Many thanks to Harlequin Publishers for sending us an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for our honest review

Exclusive Blog Interview with Author Lili Wilkinson – author of The Boundless Sublime

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A dark YA tale of what it’s like living in a cult.. 4.5 stars

The Boundless Sublime is a shocking and dark tale of the exploitation of a young person’s vulnerability. It starts off with our main character, Ruby, living with guilt due to an unfortunate incident at home which has torn her world apart. Her world was bleak until she met Fox – but Fox is not what he seems… In Ruby’s most vulnerable moment, she fell into the sinister cult called ‘The Boundless Sublime’. It all started innocent until the cracks began showing in their web of lies. It is up to Ruby to discover the truth for herself and perhaps be her own salvation.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was confronting and somewhat morbid but highly relevant. It felt like this could happen to anyone at any time. The story takes you through what it is like living in a cult – the brain washing that goes on and the helplessness of the victims. At a deeper level, the story tells a tale of self discovery, courage, love and redemption. There are definitely heart felt moments amongst the horrific incidents that happen in the story. There is a big twist at the end that I really did not see coming and I found it really shocking – my first thoughts were “NO!! how could this happen!?”

This book is a great read for inquisitive minds and suitable for readers who want a glimpse into the dark side of YA. It is very well written – 4.5 stars!!!
-NJ

Let’s get to know the author of this great book – Lili Wilkinson!!!

1. What is the name of your debut novel – what other novels have you written? 
I’ve written ten books in all!

The Boundless Sublime (Allen & Unwin 2016)

Green Valentine (Allen & Unwin 2015)

The Zigzag Effect (Allen & Unwin 2013)

Love-Shy (Allen & Unwin 2012)

Pocketful of Eyes (Allen & Unwin 2011)

Pink (Allen & Unwin 2009)

Angel Fish (Black Dog Books 2009)

The (Not Quite) Perfect Boyfriend (Allen & Unwin 2008)

Scatterheart (Black Dog Books 2007)

Joan of Arc (Black Dog Books 2006)

2. When did you first get the inspiration to start writing novels?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, since before I could read. I’ve always loved books and stories, and honestly could never think of a better job that one could have. But I started writing novels when I was working at the Centre for Youth Literature – being surrounded by so many amazing books and authors, it was impossible for me to not want to join in. 

3. Have you ever experienced writer’s block? How do you overcome it?
The thing about being a writer is that it’s still a job, and nobody in the world wants to do their job 100% of the time. There are many times when I’d rather be watching TV or playing with my toddler or eating everything in the fridge. And sometimes that feels like writers block. But it isn’t. It’s procrastination. Procrastination isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s your brain telling you to take a break. Sometimes it isn’t, and you have to just suck it up and get back to work. But the first kind – the being-stuck-with-plot kind, I totally have a fix for that. Write a list of 15 ways to solve your problem – no matter how stupid or ridiculous they are. 15 possible solutions. I guarantee one of them will work. There are two kinds of writers block. One is the real kind, when you can’t figure your way out of a plot problem, and the other is just procrastination.

4. Is there a particular reason why you have written novels for the Young Adult (YA) genre?
Because YA is the best! I read mostly YA. It’s plot- and character-driven. It’s intense. It bends genres in ways adult fiction doesn’t. It can be profound and funny at the same time. And it’s much better at writing rad feminist female characters than adult fiction is.

5. When you’re not writing, what could we find you doing?
I have a two-year-old, so I’m often doing parenting stuff. Or reading. Or watching TV. Or gardening. Or procrastinating on the internet.

6. Who is your favourite author and why?
Diana Wynne-Jones. I discovered her as a pre-teen and have adored her books ever since. She writes my favourite kind of fantasy – where magic bleeds into the real world – and every time I reread one of her books, I discover something new.

7. What is the best piece of advice you were given as an author?
Actually the best piece of writing advice I was ever given was from my year nine English teacher. She came into class on the first day of school and wrote SUCCINCT on the whiteboard. It’s stuck with me.

BOUNDLESS SUBLIME

1. How did you research the topic of cults i.e. was it based on real cult experiences?Definitely. I did a lot of research into real-life cults and new religious movements. The Institute is kind of a mix of a few different ones – I just picked the aspects I found the most fascinating and blended them together. (you can learn more about my research from my Youtube series Let’s Talk About Sects!)

2. What was the most difficult part of writing The Boundless Sublime?
I thought it was going to be writing dark, as it isn’t something I’ve done before. But I started it just after I had a baby, and it was such a relief to pour all my own darkness and exhaustion into the book, leaving me refreshed and cheerful for the real world! I’ve never found a book so easy to write as The Boundless Sublime – it came together so perfectly. The only hard part was stopping all the cult research… oh, and coming up with a title.

3. How did you come up with the “Boundless Sublime” cult name?
I knew the name of the cult would be the title of the book. AND I SUCK AT BOOK TITLES. The cult was variously called Panacea, The Subtle Body, The True Family, Quintessence and about a million other things. But I kept going back to the idea of sublimination – I like the double meaning where sublime is something really joyous, and sublimate is to turn something from a solid to a gas without passing through a liquid state. I knew I wanted the cult to have some weird beliefs about alchemy, so it seemed right. The Boundless part came after about three days of staring at a thesaurus. Did I mention I suck at titles?

4. The story had some creepy elements, as a writer, what is you top tip for writing creepy but heartfelt moments?
Creepy, awful, dark stuff is great. But it can’t be gratuitous. It has to serve the story. There’s one particularly awful thing that Ruby does in the book (no spoilers), that I knew I wanted to include. But I spent a lot of time making sure it really needed to be in the book. That it worked as a changing point in Ruby’s attitude towards the Institute.

5. How did you come up with the names of the Family Members? Are they Greek names? They are names of famous historical alchemists from all over the world.

6. In the book, Ruby had gone through so much in the story, was it an emotional roller coaster for you while writing her story?
Yes, but definitely not in a bad way. I found it an extremely cathartic experience. I confess I was a bit gleeful writing some of the horrid bits.

7. What message would you like to impart to YA readers to take from The Boundless Sublime?
Living can be messy and complicated. Don’t let anyone try and tell you they have all the answers you’re looking for.

Interview and Review compiled by NJ and Annie – Special thanks to Lili Wilkinson for taking the time to be part of our exclusive blog interview.

On the Blue Train by Kristell Thornell

What really did happen to Agatha Christie during her mysterious eleven-day disappearance just as she was on the cusp of fame?

“Yes, she said, finally. Breaks are important. There are times when it’s wiser to get away. From it all.”

“On The Blue Train” is an interesting interpretation into the disappearance of Agatha Christie on 4 December, 1926 who took on a different identity. Escaping her past, Teresa decides to take a break away from it all and becomes a resident of the spa hotel named Harrogate Hydro. It is here she meets and becomes friends with another resident of the hotel, Harry McKenna who shows her how to dance and enjoy life again. This is a novel about white lies to protect ourselves and truths be known. It is a dark and brooding novel which moves from France to England taking us on a ride through Agatha Christie’s twelve day disappearance and what could have happened.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I rated it 4 out of 5 stars – special thanks to Allen and Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review. I really recommend this book!!!

-Carolyn

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Insightful – Relevant – 4 stars

The synopsis of this book captivated me and this was one book I really could not put down!!!  This story is thought provoking as it deals with very real issues that we don’t seem to think about or even understand – unless it was to happen to us personally. “Something In Between” is told by protagonist Jasmine del los Santos  who migrated with her family from The Philippines to The United States of America. Her parents are highly qualified in The Philippines however in America, her mother is a hospital cleaner and her father is a bus driver – both trying to make it in America to give their children a better life and better opportunity.
Jasmine is a model student – captain of the cheer squad – no time for social life or parties as her parents push her to study and engage in extra curricular activities. Her grades and activities have ensured her a spot in a prestigious college only to have it all undone for her when she is selected for a National Scholarship that she is to turn down when she discovers her parents are actually “undocumented aliens” a.k.a: illegal immigrants and have been living under the radar all her life.

Although I had an idea from the start where this story would be going, I found I really felt the emotions Jasmine was feeling and I was just so wrapped in the story, I really wanted to know what happened next – does she get her green card? does she get deported? what about the guy she’s met? can Jasmine really forgive her parents for the major let down?  It was so interesting to read and I highly recommend this book to all YA contemporary fans – it’s interesting, insightful and relevant..

Many thanks to Harlequin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Annie