Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

The Last Thing She Needs Is a Prince – The First Thing She Needs Is Some Magic

Advanced Review Copy Blog Duet with Annie and Sarah S. rating this book 4.5 Stars!!

Frogkisser!
Princess Anya is forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss and forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own. Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Princess Anya sets off on a Quest to hopefully free her land and teach her a thing or two about the use of power.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this fun retelling of “The Tale of the Frog Prince”. The story was full of fun adventure that would instigate the fright, magic and humour of readers of all ages. Frogkisser! starts out with detailed world building that really shapes your understanding of the protagonist, Princess Anya, rightful heiress to the throne, who, like me, would rather spend her days in the library reading and expanding her knowledge however she is approached by her sister, Morven, who begs Anya to help her get her beloved prince back once he was transformed into a frog by their evil stepstepfather who is attempting to usurp the throne. Reluctantly, Princess Anya agrees and what do you know – Princess Anya must embark on a Quest in an attempt to create a lip balm that will give Princess Anya’s lips the strength to kiss frogs back to human life. I loved the imagination the author put into creating such interesting human and non human animals and the way the land was built and told to the reader was so intricate, it really places you there. I also enjoyed the amusing quest Princess Anya had to endure – when focusing on one goal, she’s roped into several.  I also found the story brought back fond memories of my childhood and my love for Fairytales and elements of “The Wizard of Oz”. Frogkisser! is very well written, very imaginative with such innocent adventure, I would most probably read this again. I recommend this to fans of fairytales of all ages!!!
-Annie

Frogkisser covers familiar fantasy ground: an evil step-parent, a princess in a tower, a frog transformed into a prince, a fearsome creature in the castle moat and a threat to the rightful succession of the throne. Fortunately, Garth Nix takes these basic ingredients and transforms them into a surprising and whimsical tale, which thwarts readers’ expectations in nearly every respect. Our protagonist is Anya, the second-oldest princess of Trallonia, who is much concerned with her burgeoning education in sorcery and would like nothing more than some quality time in the library. Anya’s studies are sadly interrupted by a request from her sister (Morven, the crown princess on the cusp of coronation) to turn a frog back into a handsome prince, the result of their evil stepfather’s interference. What should have been the work of an afternoon unfolds into a much larger quest to reunite a divided kingdom and return civil rights to the people. The book offers strong growth of its protagonist as well as welcome and necessary representation of women in traditionally male roles, such as wise wizards, knights, leaders and heralds. Frogkisser is appropriate for audiences from 8-88 years, providing all of the magic, friendship, excitement and charming animal companions any child could ask for. The prose style also has shades of Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynn Jones, and with its many subversions of classic fantasy tropes adult readers will find much to enjoy here.
-Sarah S.

Special thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending us an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for our honest review.

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

“The only person you can ever really change is yourself” 

A gripping, psychological read — 4.5 stars

This book is like The Girl On The Train meets Big Brother with a great premise and lots of plot twists. It had me reading through the night because it’s just so fascinating and made me wanted to know more about the characters and their secrets. It’s fast-paced, plot-driven, easy read. I loved how the story is set in a minimalist house designed by a mysterious man, the house itself designed to make the tenant improve their life by following a set of unrelenting rules, and allowing highly advanced technology to monitor the tenant’s mood and well-being. The story oscillates between the present day tenant Jane and Emma from the past, of how they lived in this magnificent but mysterious house… discovering its sinister past and what connects them to each other. This is definitely a great psychological thriller for readers who loved Gone Girl or The Girl On The Train and those who loves an unpredictable twist in the end.

– NJ

The Reader by Traci Chee

“Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.”

One of the most interesting stories I have ever read!!!
A very unique world and storyline that I would like to rate 4.5 stars!!!

The protagonist is Sefia and she lives her life on the run after her father is viciously murdered, she dwells in the forest with her only remaining relative, Nin – the only one she can now trust. They survive in the wilderness together until one fateful day, Aunt Nin is kidnapped and Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no lead as to who’s taken her Aunt or why accept for only clue – a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father – something she comes to realize… is a book!! In a world where reading is unheard of, Sefia has to take it upon herself to learn about this strange rectangular object and to decipher the symbols (words) inside it, in order to unravel the secret behind this strange object that appears to be the focus of everyone’s hunt, the reason Aunt Nin was taken and potentially the reason why her father was murdered… NOTHING is what it seems…

I thoroughly enjoyed this whole new world and I absolutely loved how this book was put together – it was a story within a story within a story, the publication is amazing. I found it unique to have a world where people are illiterate yet one had the talent to teach herself how to read and that was the key to solving the mystery. Sefia’s mission to save her Aunt kept me on the edge of my seat and I just kept turning the pages to know what happens next and to understand how and why this book was the key.. Such intricate world building of a unique place and the formation of the most unlikely alliances between interesting characters, this is one magical read and you will yearn for the sequel as I do right now!!!
-Annie

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

The thrilling sequel to Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club
– 5 Stars –

It is June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen is now disowned by her uncle and now a full member of The Dark Days Club. The stakes are even higher now as Lady Helen struggles to become the warrior she is expected her to be for the club.

 In participating in a read along with a friend, I have to say I wish I was able to finish this sooner!

I found this sequel to be more gripping that the first one – an intricate story full of plot twists you don’t see coming then just as you feel you have closure towards the end, the plot thickens and you will yearn for more.. In book one, we learn all about the status of women and how Lady Helen was quite unique and challenges the status quo. There were times my feminist streak would take over and I wanted to talk to some of the misogynist characters with my fist!!! In discovering the Dark Days Club in book 1, this book takes us through an insight of how the Dark Days Club operated and Lady Helen going into training to become a “Reclaimer” We also find that dark forces are within the Pact and one mystery that kept the story alive was the unsolved issues about Lord Carlston.
Both book 1 and 2 are written extremely well and book 2 really holds you to the end!!
I really need book 3 now!!!

Many thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

“There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept your own flaws.”

Necromancer meets Memoirs of a Geisha – 4.5 stars!

Expected publication in March 2017

Tea is a witch like no other that’s been born into the eight kingdoms for decades; when her powers awakened, she unwittingly used her powers as a necromancer to resurrect her dead brother. As a new and rare Bone Witch, she must follow her path to become a fully fledged dark Asha wielding dark powers that could either save or destroy her world; powers that are misunderstood, feared and frowned upon.

This book is amazing with creative world building mixed with lyrical, engaging story-telling. The Bone Witch has exceeded my expectations, it’s got an absorbing and interesting premise which is used to explore the themes of self-discovery, journey, politics and diversity. Tea’s apprenticeship to become a dark Asha is akin to that of the Memoirs of  Geisha, very interesting! Book 1 sets up well for the sequel which I just can’t wait to read! I also enjoyed how the story was told using foreshadowing, like a story within a story through alternating perspectives. It is very well written and highly recommended read for readers who enjoys a YA fantasy story somewhat similar to Memoirs of a Geisha but with magic, the walking dead, monsters, potions, magical dresses, spells, prophecies, necromancing and amazing world building.

Other interesting quotes:

“you will always have a weakness, and that will always make you believe you have no power when someone exploits it. There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept your own flaws.”

“People will never be what you make of them, but at least your own heart stays yours and true.”

– NJ

 

Ten Letters to Delacroix’s Tomb by Clare Rolfe and Exclusive Interview!!

Clare Rolfe is a member of Read3r’z Re-Vu and she has just published her very first novel!!! Feeling privileged to be among the first to read this awesome debut, Read3r’z Re-Vu committee members Crystal and Annie are in conversation with Clare for an exclusive blog interview!!!

-Retaining a 4.5 star Rating-

Ten Letters to Delacroix’s Tomb

Jenna flees her life of slavery to fulfil one last desire to re-unite with her beloved Gabriel in the timeless city of Paris. During her journey she is hunted by the relentless Purgers and must confront a dying world bereft of its own history. In her heart lies the fragile hope that Gabriel is still alive after 40 years since they were torn away from each other by the implacable masters, urging her on through crippling doubts and the haunting demons of her past.

Review and Thoughts by Crystal
A great debut novel by Clare whom I am honoured to call a friend. The only way to describe this book is “A heart breaking tale that reaches the soul and will have you still thinking about it long after it’s done” I absolutely love books that keep me thinking even after I’ve put them down and this was definitely one of them. I also absolutely loved how the 10 letters were given in reverse and written in such a way that I could not even guess what would happen (and normally I am really good at guessing endings). When I read this book I found myself thinking about Jenna and her journey even while doing mundane tasks like my dishes (which is normally a time I crave the distraction of YouTube). It was a nice change to just allow my mind to ponder the story and where Jenna’s journey would be taking her. I read the final chapters in great anticipation to discover what it was that she had hidden inside her clothing that was so important that she had to kept so close to her chest (an item that is not revealed until the final chapter of course).

Exclusive Interview by Annie and Crystal

  1. What was it like writing the scene with Jenna and her confrontation with the Ocean? Did you experience similar emotions while writing it?
    This chapter and the last were the most thoughtful as I couldnt rely on plot to maintain  the momentum of the story.  The ocean was the stage of the journey where Jenna had to leave things to chance rather than previously she had strategised how she would make it back to Gabriel. Hence the language is prayer like and desperate ie when all else is gone there is only hope….. It required me to delve more deeply  for the words …make the emotions live on the page….I felt I was with her as I do all the characters I create otherwise its like  taking a photo using words.

  2. Can you tell us a bit more about the purgers and how you came to choose these characters?
    The Purgers are genetically engineered soldiers. They are not robots as they are flesh but are formed to be the perfect soldier who arose out of previous generations of war and attempts to control limited resources. Ultimately they are used to plan the escape from the earth by the bond masters when they know the date of the death of the sun. They were chosen more as a crafting tool who represent the unforgiving world around Jenna . In a time when resources are so scarce  everything has to be controlled and the way to do this was a system of policing that was incorruptible to its purpose. It also explains the rigid partitioned society where it is predetermined which class you will belong to ie master or slave…
  3. Did you have any particular real life inspirations that helped to shape this book or influence the world and time it was set it?
    Visiting Paris and Europe old civilisation meeting modern world ….Pere La Chaise cemetary in Paris is where Eugene Delacroix ‘s tomb is located ….the sense of history , time passing as well as the magnificent gravestones cobbled paths made me think of our brief existance and the mark we leave…..in terms of climate environment…drought here at home  ….. mostly it is a philiosophical novel hence the lack of explanation in terms of Purgers or the density of details that a sci fi novel may contain. I wanted to present  a surreal feel ….a sense of disconnection which comes from not understanding what is happening around you yet trying to live through it.
  4. Was it a hard decision to present the ten letters in reverse? Can you tell us what that process was like?
    Not as difficult as it may seem. The letters and book are almost two separate  story lines so each was written independant of the other with some tweaking to make it flow.
  5. Can we expect a prequel or another book like this soon?
    Probably not like this one. Ten Letters is part of a triptych which includes another  novella and 3 short stories based in current times…they explore absurdist philosophy and have art and Paris in common ..I may at some point write a story about the wars of attrition briefly mentioned in Ten Letters. My next project is a trilogy fantasy which I am reviewing currently. That was completed a few years ago. I feel ready to tackle it again.
  6. What inspired you to write and why this particular book as your first novel?
    Reading inspired me to write. I have dabbled in poetry for a long time but writing stories is what I enjoy the most. I decided to be more serious about 7-8 years ago for no other reason than its now or never. Ten letters just felt right….Dystopian themes are prevalent with concerns about climate change also where is technology headed …are we losing something as tech begins to order and compartmentalise our lives do we lose the diversity and vulnerability that the creative side of our natures ie art culture brings…also with AI on the horizon I wonder where do humans fit on the scale of things…how in control are we if ultimately the sun dies so do we…you know normal everyday questions one may ponder while enjoying some vegemite on toast ….so why not throw all that into a love story with Paris in the background!!

  7. Did you experience writer’s block? How did you overcome it?
    Not in terms of a story line but choosing the right words. Writing requires patience & persistence so if Im stuck I step away or work on something else…Poetry is a great salve for many things…

  8. Which author inspires you? Why?
    For story and adventure in fantastical worlds Tolkien and Herbert (Dune) For exploring philosophical themes Dostoesvky and Camus. Ten Letters dystopian setting  and brevity was inspired in part by the Road by Cormac  McCarthy …every word infiltrated my mind in an explosive manner ..I hadnt felt such a strong impact from a piece of fiction for a long time….

  9. When you’re not reading what could we find you doing?
    I like coffee catch up with friends …art exhibits…occasional poetry gigs…. I work as well so that fills up the week and pays for the travelling. Writing in between.

  10. What was the best piece of advice you were given as an author?
    Find the middle voice keep writing….and review review review!!!

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Congratulations Clare on this wonderful achievement!!! Read3r’z Re-Vu are so excited and proud of your work, we hope to continue seeing you at our sessions and wish you all the very best for your next chapter!!!

-Blog/Interview Duet by Annie and Crystal