One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

“It is not the voice of a girl dressed as a boy. It is even stronger. Invincible.”

One Half from the East is a great YA read that I would highly recommend for readers who enjoys a coming-of-age, slice of life story. It’s a story about a young girl who had to pretend to be a boy in order to change the fortune of her family. This superficial transformation is based on a longstanding Afghan belief that a “bacha posh” (girl who dresses and acts like a boy at home and in public) can bring luck to her family. This story is an interesting exploration of how boys and girls are treated differently in traditional Afghanistan, it examines gender inequality through the eyes of a ten-year-old Obayda (Obayd as a boy) and what girls can achieve when they get the same rights and freedom as boys. I really felt for Obayda throughout the story, especially her struggles in pretending to be a boy and also coming to terms with what would happen when she returns to being a girl. I also enjoyed reading about her friendship with Rahim. The story is well-written and profoundly perceptive. I liked that the story also focused on friendship, personal growth and family. It’s a compelling and thoughtful read that can also be enjoyed by adult readers.

– NJ

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A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

We had the pleasure of meeting internationally renowned author Nadia Hashimi last Spring when she visited Australia!

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The Read3r’s Re-Vu group was very excited to hear about her bestselling novels and engaging in conversation about her journey, writing and how she finds time to write while working as a pediatrician and mother of four!

Nadia’s bestselling books include The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, A House Without Windows, When the Moon is Low and her Young Adult fiction, One Half from the East.

Among Nadia’s bestsellers, Read3rz blogger NJ read A House Without Windows. Check out her blog thoughts below.


“Time passes differently through a woman’s body. We are haunted by all the hours of yesterday and teased by a few moments of tomorrow. That is how we live – torn between what has already happened and what is yet to come.” – Nadia Hashimi, A House Without Windows

This book is more than just another story about Afganistan, it’s a story about women – women who helped each other in the most abysmal of circumstances, women who are resilient, intelligent, brave and powerful during times of struggle and fear, living in a strict society with little to no societal status and rights. A House Without Windows is an empowering read that tugs your heart strings. The story starts with Zeba’s husband, who was brutally murdered in their family home. Zeba was imprisoned for his murder despite the lack of witness and evidence. In order to defend her and save her from death row, Zeba’s lawyer Yusuf must find out what really happened. He must also navigate the convoluted, arbitrary methodologies of Afganistan’s legal system. After reading this novel, I must say that I’m still extremely shocked by the truth of the murder! What I really loved about this book is the interplay between themes of truth and morality, faith and law, honour and justice, society and family, magic and hope from the eyes of the characters. Reading these contrasting themes is like watching a riveting dance, it just makes you want to read on. I also loved the thoughtful writing and complex characters, from the powerful Gulnaz, a loving mother but bewitching trickster, to the Mullah with a hidden past; the characters are compelling and raw. I enjoyed reading about the prison sisterhood too, their stories made me feel so grateful to be living in a society where women have rights. I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns or To Kill a Mocking Bird. This story is well written, thought-provoking and heartfelt, leaving the reader with much to think about after the last page.

– NJ

Night Shift by Debi Gliori (picture book)

An insight into depression that words often struggle to reach

A groundbreaking picture book on depression with stunning illustrations that both Annie and Meredith read together and highly recommend this as one of the most important picture books of the year.

“I have used dragons to represent depression. This is partly because of their legendary ability to turn a once fertile realm into a blackened, smoking ruin and partly because popular mythology shows them as monstrous opponents with a tendency to pick fights with smaller creatures. I’m not particularly brave or resourceful, and after so many years battling my beasts, I have to admit to a certain weariness, but I will arm-wrestle dragons for eternity if it means that I can help anyone going through a similar struggle.”
– Debi Gliori (author of Night Shift)

This is an amazing picture book that depicts the author’s struggle with depression. The author found this picture book was the best way to communicate her condition with others when she felt it difficult to explain in words – with the clever use of dragons that is used as a metaphor because of their common profile in other stories where they tend to be quite monstrous and pick fights with smaller creatures. I admire the author of this book as she doesn’t let depression eat away at her, she acknowledges her condition but puts it into beautiful illustrations and strives to manage it as well as bring understanding to others. I believe this is an important book and recommend it to readers of all ages.
-Annie

A very good take on explaining depression that I have never seen before. Throughout ‘Night Shift’, it shows that there is more then one way to beat depression but sometimes it doesn’t fully disappear which comes across beautifully. The depression is represented as dragons because dragons are always there, either by leaning on your shoulder, head or flying behind you at a distance. I thought this was quite creative. I also found it helpful in understanding depression a little bit more.
-Meredith

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

Earth Boy by Sami Shah

An epic sequel to an epic debut – and a fantastic end to an amazing duology!!!

Once again, Sami Shah does not disappoint with “Earth Boy” due for release: April 2017.

Picking up where we left off in “Fire Boy” we continue with Wahid’s journey – Wahid, the boy from Pakistan who has an unusual talent of seeing what others can’t.. He can see jinn. In a freak accident that he’s been blamed for, it appears jinn have stolen his friend’s soul and it’s up to Wahid to free her from jinn before it’s too late. Towards the end of Fire Boy, Wahid meets an unlikely and untrustworthy ally – The Devil Himself. The book starts with Iblis’ (The Devil’s) story and continues Wahid’s quest to not only save his friend’s soul but to also determine what’s really going on in the jinn world and why are all these unexplained things are happening? In order for Wahid to succeed, Wahid has to learn the true nature of his birth and potentially cross over into the parallel world of jinn.  

Written just as well as the first book, this book had me on the edge of my seat and I truly advise readers to read this during daylight hours. Again, I found the referencing of Islamic belief in this urban fantasy story was accurate which made me enjoy this story even more. Although I finally have closure as to what happens next, I was gaping at Wahid’s story! I highly recommend this to the readers who enjoyed “Fire Boy” as you really wont be disappointed. You will gasp, cringe, gape and laugh throughout this story.  

Many thanks to Fantasica Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review, it was an honour to read this and I look forward to the finished product when it hits the shelves in April 2017.

-Annie

The Witch’s Kiss

A dark tale with a modern twist – A great, recommended read for those who enjoy dark fairytales!!

Meredith feels invisible at school and is subject to an ongoing family feud and an inherited talent she never wanted for herself – she is the last remaining witch of her ancestry line with uncontrollable power that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Meredith just wants to get through her senior high school years yet she is roped into the responsibility of having to break a 100 year old curse. But what happens when the enemy she is sworn to kill to break this curse becomes more than what she bargained for?

If I had to give this a star rating, I would go 4.5 stars as it is well written and fast paced story with a complication that isn’t cliché. Meredith works with her brother Leo when they discover Meredith’s fate. Leo is a character I enjoyed with his comedic dialogue and I enjoyed the brother/sister team work in trying to break this curse which isn’t something I always see in YA Fantasy Fiction books. Normally it’s a guy and girl who are friends or work together then at the end, they fall in love.. so the brother/sister team and working with their Gran was in fact a nice change of pace. I also enjoyed the backstory and legend that intricately explains the curse and how it affects the characters in present day.

Many thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Annie

Prince Lestat and The Realms of Atlantis (The Vampire Chronicles vol 12) by Anne Rice

5 STARS! Unputdownable, amazing world building with the back story of all back stories.

“Afterall, it is a lot of trouble to hate people, isn’t it? And a lot of trouble to be angry, and a lot of trouble to bother with such abstract notions as guilt or revenge.”- Anne Rice, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis

Prince Lestat and The Realms of Atlantis kept me reading through the night and my immediate impression after reading this book was: this book is absolutely amazing to the core (pun intended) and be prepared to feel a myriad of emotions! Prince Lestat and The Realms of Atlantis (vol 12 of the Vampire Chronicles) takes Prince Lestat (vol 11) up a notch by exploring in-depth origins of Atlantis and how it relates to the origins of vampires, it ties up the vampire chronicles and all our favourite vampires in a seamless way. It is well-paced with incredible spellbinding storytelling and is filled with breathtaking world-building. I don’t know what could be more thrilling than our favourite, lovable but tormented vampires (a legend themselves) coming to terms with the legend of Atlantis or “Atalantaya”! If Atlantis did exist, I would want it to be how it was described in this book. There were also many heartfelt moments for our tormented vampires and spirits. The writing is palpable with truth, friendship, anger, courage, forgiveness and love. It questions existence, faith, fear and suffering. Lestat is (and have always been) a beacon of love and joie de vivre. This book is very timely during our tumultuous and uncertain times; it sets a keen reminder that through loving, we can conquer suffering. A 2017 must read for fantasy lovers.

Other interesting quotes:

“my motto, what it’s always been. I refuse to be bad at what I do, and that includes being bad. I won’t be bad at being bad.”

“There is only value… to overcoming suffering and seeking to spare others the suffering one has known oneself.”

– NJ

Exclusive Interview with New Adult Author: C.J Duggan

Founder of Read3r’z Re-Vu Annie teams up with Founder of Book Buddy Designs/Blogger Tianna for an exclusive blog interview with International New Adult Best Seller, Australian Author C.J Duggan!!!

“New York Nights” by C.J Duggan has been rated 5 stars!!
This book is amazing!!! Hands down my latest, favourite New Adult read written by Australian Author CJ Duggan. Without spoilers: the book centres on Sarah Williams, a young independent Aussie who goes to New York to be an au pair for successful businessman Ben Worthington’s baby daughter. Sarah is very relatable, she’s fun, quick witted and challenging but she still has her heart in the right place with a good sense of morals and responsibilities. Ben is a misunderstood character who I can’t say too much about or I’ll spoil the book. But I will say I found myself getting very attached to these characters and eagerly anticipating the next scene they appear in together as their chemistry is amazing. The plot of the book at first seems simplistic (not so rich girl meets hot, brooding, rich guy) but then Duggan creates a world of secrets tightly guarded by the Upper-class Worthington family. Nothing is as it seems in this family as secrets begin to be revealed with a massive plot twist towards the end which left me shocked and cheering. One of the highlights of Duggan’s writing is the way she describes Sarah’s NYC surroundings. Not just the heart of the city but also the surrounding suburbs. Duggan isn’t afraid to name drop as she describes various New York City landmarks either. Another one of Duggan’s charms is the aussie, light hearted sense of humour that fills the dialogue. You can’t help but to laugh at some of the things her character Sarah is saying. Final opinion: If you love a light and fluffy book that engages you from the first page: READ THIS BOOK. If you have no sense of humour and an intolerance for happy stories: hand it to a girlfriend who needs a laugh. After reading this book, I hope we get to meet these characters again. Maybe next time in Sydney?
-Tianna

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR OTHER TITLES IN THE SERIES: PARIS NIGHTS AND LONDON BOUND

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Let’s get to know Australian Author C..J Duggan!!


What inspired you to write your first novel?
The Boys of Summer was an idea I had when I was in my pre-teens; it was obviously just an idea that had been lying dormant waiting to be told. I became reconnected with books and writing in my twenties and it was that ancient idea that was loudest in my mind at the time. It took me only a month to complete 90,000 words, a crazy passion project that will always be close to my heart.

Do you have a particular method for writing your novels for example chocolate or having a photo of someone who inspires you on your desk?
I have to be in my office. I find it very difficult to write anywhere else, I need to be surrounded by things that inspire me, oh and cold Pepsi Max of course!

When you’re not writing, do you read romance novels?
Absolutely! Anything YA or Historical, Paranormal when the mood strike, a good romance is what keeps me turning the page.

If only one of your books were turned into a movie, which book would you prefer to see as a film adaptation and who would be the lead star?
Paradise City would make for a great adaptation. Lexie, Luke and Dean need to be brought to life! I think Aussie actress Alicia Banit from Dance Academy would be the perfect Lexie, incredibly talented I’m a big fan of her work.

What is the title of the first novel you wrote and why did you choose this particular genre to write?
The Boys of Summer was my official first title published. Back in the day New Adult wasn’t really even a thing, so it was slotted more as a ‘mature’ YA. I am so happy how much the New Adult genre has expanded, being able to push the envelope on some of the more serious subjects of this age group is very satisfying as a writer.

What was the best piece of advice you were given as an author?
Own what you do.

For new readers like myself, when did you start writing and what was your first novel you completed?
I have been writing all through my teens, only getting an online presence and connecting with the bookish community in 2010. I had written a novel during this time but it wasn’t until 2011 when I penned ‘The Boys of Summer’ and I knew that would be my first published novel.

Do you ever travel abroad as inspiration for your work?
I am usually on holidays when inspiration strikes; it was how I came up with the idea of ‘The Heart of the City’ series during a round world trip in 2015. The Paradise series came to me in LA, and brainstormed further on the Gold Coast. I plan to go on an intentional research trip next time.  

How many drafts do you tend to write before sending it off to an editor?
I usually write freely turning that editing switch off before sweeping through and cleaning it up and submitting to my editor who will do line edits and send the MS back to me. I will go through changes and then submit to a secondary editor who will concentrate on structural story development and character, plot development etc. I will go through copyedit changes, possible rewrites and bigger changes are made here. If I am happy I will then send to a proofer (usually 2 people) before sweeping through it one last time before it gets formatted.

When writing do you write sequentially or do you write different scenes at a time?
I definitely write in order. I like to go through that excitement of living through the characters and experiencing what they are experiencing. I’ll write notes, but I am generally a total pantser not a plotter so most of the time I am just as excited to see what happens next, and if I feel that way it’s my hope the reader will feel that way to. 

Who has been your most difficult character to write out of all your works and what made them difficult?
Definitely London Bound. I did massive rewrites and went through a lot of soul searching when it came to writing Jack. It’s hard when your writing head and heart are at odds, but after some serious rewrites I am so happy with what it has turned into. I honestly believe that the most difficult books tend to turn out the best, I’m not sure why that is, but I think it might be because we have to tap into a deeper a place in order to get it over the line.  

In your heart of the city series which famous city has been your favorite to write about and why?
I think New York, the character Sarah really had a sense to want to explore and was always lost in that ‘pinch yourself moment’ which I think is quite relatable when you are lost in such an iconic city as New York.

Your titles cross over a few places: London, New York, Paris.. are these places you have been to and were inspired? Also which was your favourite place to visit?
I went to all three places in 2015 so the experience was very fresh in my mind and hugely inspirational. Being able to write about characters walking the exact same street you did, or eating from a café you went to is so fun. It’s also great to think that your readers can also walk in your characters shoes given the chance.

Without spoilers: Who is your favorite character in New York Nights and why?
That would have to be my leading lady Sarah. She is really determined yet vulnerable and incredibly relatable; it was really fun to explore New York through her eyes.

Roughly how old are your characters? When I read New York Nights I pictured Ben as late 20s early 30s and Sarah as almost mid 20s to late 20s.
I usually write about characters exploring those post school years where their experiencing so many life changes. Leaving home, first job, first love, first heartbreak and all the while not having a clue what you are doing. The 20’s is about finding out who you are, making mistakes and learning from them (Hopefully) 

Have you been brave enough to book that ticket?
Ha! I’m not going to lie when I booked my round the world trip and received our paper itinerary that resembled a brick it was so thick I did have a few heart palpitations.

Which series of yours would you recommend to a new reader to read first? 
The Summer series is somewhat a classic amongst my readers it’s where it all began for me and is a light, Aussie romance set in the 90’s what’s not to love?

For further insight into C.J Duggan’s work – log onto her website: http://www.cjdugganbooks.com/

C.J Duggan, many thanks for taking the time to speak with us!!
We wish you all the best for the next chapter you may be writing!!

Special thanks to Hachette Publishers for providing us with an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for our honest review

-Interview conducted by Annie and Tianna