Thankyou 2017… That’s a Wrap!!!

As I am sitting here writing this 2017 wrap up, I am wondering – where did the year go!?
2017 was once again, a great success for Read3r’z Re-Vu and in 2018, we will be entering our 9th year!!! Next to getting our hands on some fantastic reads this year, a most honourable achievement is how much we have grown as a network. Read3r’z Re-Vu continue to network with authors, publishers and reading enthusiasts who become such great friends and it’s amazing to see the growth and the friendships formed over a common bond – the passion for reading. It’s been so much fun at our monthly sessions hanging out with well read friends and getting to know authors and their writing journeys. Attending bookish events and book launches throughout the year was also a highlight.

Many thanks goes to the authors who spent their time with us this year by attending our sessions and exclusive events as special guests. It gave members such a unique and memorable experience. Many thanks to Krystal Sutherland (author of “Our Chemical Hearts” and A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares”) who was the first author to join us this year as she joined us as special guest for our March session and who also had me emcee her book launch for “A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares” at Kinokuniya Bookstore.

Many thanks also to E.R Murray (author of “Caramel Hearts”) who, whilst visiting Australia all the way from Ireland, had a special lunch with us at Volcanos Steakhouse. It was amazing to learn all about your writing journey and life in Ireland.

To author Garth Nix, (author of newly released “Frogkisser!” thank you for joining our Read3r’z Re-Vu special: Author in Focus session at Galaxy Bookshop. We had so much fun with you that day, thanks so much for the Haigh’s Chocolate Frogs and for giving away Frogkisser! audio books and an advance review copy of “Have Sword, Will Travel

Lynette Noni, (author of “The Medoran Series“) thank you so much for spending time with us over high tea while you were in Sydney during the Sydney Writers Festival. We had such a great time chatting over tea and cakes with you!!

To Wai Chim (author of “Freedom Swimmer”) thank you so much for joining us for our July session, it was so insightful learning about your inspiration to write Freedom Swimmer.

James Bradley (author of “The Silent Invasion”) thankyou to you also for joining us as special guest at our September session, it was great to chat all things books with you!!!. Many thanks also goes to author Brittany Riley, author of (“Enchantment”) who also joined our September session as an attendee. To Gabrielle Williams (author of “My Life as a Hashtag”) lunch with you at the New York Metro was amazing, thank you so much for joining us while you were visiting Sydney from Melbourne.

To Marita Smith (author of “Convergence”) and the wonderful Harbour Publishing House team who visited Read3r’z Re-Vu over afternoon tea at The Coffee Club all the way from Ulladulla – thankyou also Marita for the homemade cookies!!

 Special shout out goes to our creative partner – The Curio Boutique, created and owned by the ever so talented NJ!!! Thank you so much for partnering with Read3r’z Re-Vu and sponsoring prizes from The Curio Boutique for our session giveaways. We are so honoured to be such great friends with you and we are so proud of your creativity and talents!!! Also, big congrats to you for hosting your very first stall this year at the Allen and Unwin YA Fest!! It was very exciting to be there to support you and we hope to see you running more stalls in the future and really look forward to your 2018 creations.

To all the publishers who take a chance on us to consider, read and review their books as well as help organise for the authors to attend our sessions, thank you so very much!!! It’s great to be affiliated with great Australian Publishers and we really look forward to continue working with you in the New Year.

Read3r’z Re-Vu Members – session attendees, online members and blog followers, thank you so much for always engaging with us and for your enthusiasm that keeps this network alive!! 2017 was a great year for books and here is a list of titles some of our session members have noted to be their 2017 book of the year…

NJ: “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas and “Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor
Meredith: “Autoboyography” by Christina Lauren
Lyn: “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut
Monica: “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer and “Bitter Greens” by Kate Forysth
Allison: “The Hidden Legacy Series” by Ilona Andrews
Rebecca: “Keys of the Kingdom” series by Garth Nix and “The Silent Invasion” by James Bradley
Sarah: “Demian” by Hermann Hesse

As for me.. like everyone else.. it really is a tough choice!!! Nevermoor” by Jessica Townsend was such a great read.. so was “Wreck” by Fleur Ferris, “All Rights Reserved” by Gregory Scott Katsoulis, “The Crown’s Fate” by Evelyn Skye.. “Flying Through Clouds” by Michelle Morgan had a very personal connection for me.. Just some of the great titles I had the pleasure of reading this year and I am psyched for the 2018 new releases!!!

From the bottom of my heart, I want to send you all much love and many thanks to you all for making Read3r’z Re-Vu, the 2017 season such a great success!!! Wishing you all the very best for the festive season and many happy returns for a happy new year!!!

Well, 2017… that’s a wrap!!!
-Annie
xoxoxoxo
(Founder)

new year – new books – more for our TBR!!!

featured image: Pintrest

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Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Synopsis from Goodreads
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah. But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is…

My Thoughts
I can’t believe that I just finished a book that took me on emotional roller coaster ride. It’s been well over a decade since that has happened. The tears are still coming. Throughout Autoboyography I was crying my eyes out, squealing with joy, felt like my heart is braking in two and slowly mending again. I’m going to be recommending Autoboyography to anyone who asks me for a book recommendation. I leave with this question – How soon is too soon for a reread? …I’m off to get a tissue…
-Meredith

The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy

Blurb as seen on Goodreads
16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad. Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear. With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever

My Thoughts
How to do justice with this review of ‘The Last of the Firedrakes’. I don’t know if I have the words. I’m going to be dreaming about this world for a long time to come. Aurora grows as a character. As she learns about her world, family and of those around her. She won’t step aside if one of her friends is getting picked on.

-Meredith

Runebinder by Alex R. Kahler

Magic was lost then returned to the world and as it comes, it could have saved humanity but greed and thirst for power caused mankind’s downfall instead.

Now once-human monsters called Howls prowl abandoned streets, their hunger guided by corrupt necromancers and the all-powerful Kin. Only Hunters have the power to fight back in the unending war, using the same magic that ended civilization in the first place.

Tenn is a Hunter. When he is singled out by a seductive Kin named Tomás and the enigmatic Hunter Jarrett, Tenn realizes he’s become a pawn in a bigger game. One that could turn the tides of war. But if his mutinous magic and wayward heart get in the way, his power might not be used in favor of mankind

This was a beautifully written story. The adventure and magic are mixed and don’t over power each other, at all. I found that I liked going on the adventure with Tenn and the others. I’m really looking forward to (with fingers crossed) book two’s release date. Many thanks to Harlequin Teen Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Meredith

 

Scales of Empire by Kylie Chan

This is an exciting new adventure filled with diverse characters, strong heroes and heroines and wild creatures!!!

Scales of Empire follows the story of Corporal Jian Choumaliis who on the mission of her life time as security officer/soldier on one of Earth’s huge generation ships, fleeing Earth’s failing ecosystem to colonise a distant planet. The ship encounters a technologically and culturally advanced alien empire that is led by a royal family of dragons. The empire’s dragon emissary offers her aid to the people of Earth, bringing greater health, longer life, and faster-than-light travel to nearby stars. But what price will the people of Earth have to pay for the generous alien assistance?

Firstly, I want to advise all Kylie Chan’s fan base to take their minds away from her previous works in the White Tiger series as this is a completely different to the series. Go into this as a whole new world – an epic intergalatic adventure set at a time when Earth is facing their downfall and soldiers are sent out to space to colonise other planets in order to save humanity. The first installment of a new series, I find this to be very promising and a series worth investing in. It is a story full of action, drama and suspense and takes a unique step with such diverse characters that include dragons and special talents that can either make or break humanity. I found this to be a lot of fun to read and mildly paced so I was able to enjoy the world building and character profiling but was kept on the edge of my seat with action and plot twists. Scales of Empire really took me out of this world – into another realm of Kylie Chan’s imagination and talent and I enjoyed it as much as I did the White Tiger series. I am really looking forward to reading what happens next…

Special thanks to both author Kylie Chan and Harper Voyager Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review. Keep reading for the blog exclusive with author, Kylie Chan!!!

“Scales of Empire” is very different to your previous published works – could you please briefly tell us how different this story is compared to your previous work? (Spoiler free of course)
It’s a major departure from the Chinese martial arts and gods-and-monsters of the Dark Heavens series. This is hard science-fiction – with a Kylie Chan twist – and it’s set in the future. There aren’t any mythological creatures involved although I do have dragons – as aliens that have been visiting Earth for eons. It’s a space opera with multiple species of aliens, inter-planetary political machinations, and a lot of fun exploration of the nature of species and how they would relate to each other in an interstellar setting.

What was the inspiration to write “Scales of Empire” and how many are we expecting in this new series and when can we expect the next instalment?
All the ideas have been swimming around in my head for years. This will be three books, and I’ve mapped out the second and know exactly where it and the third one are going.  I can’t believe you are asking for the next one before the first one is even released! The first book – ‘Scales of Empire’ – will be out in February of 2018.

The world building is quite unique and the characters are quite diverse in this story, what sort of research went into your world building and how did you come up with the characters/how they develop throughout the story?
As usual I’ve done a vast amount of research. Global warming and its aftermath are a big issue for the population of Earth, and I had to investigate colony ships – how many people do you need for a viable population? – and the nature of warp drives and interstellar travel. If you can’t communicate over Star Trek’s beloved ‘subspace’ instantaneously – how do you communicate when messages travelling, even at the speed of light, will take hundreds of years? Closer to home, I’ve drawn from people I know (in poly relationships) and people I’m close to (who are bi, or of mixed race) to create characters that are deeper and more complex than the standard ‘space marine’ trope.

If your book was ever turned into a movie or a TV series, can you think of who you would want to cast as the characters of your story?
I don’t usually attempt to ‘cast’ my story because I know that casting is way more complicated than that – but what I do is to visualise what someone looks like while I’m writing the book. It will sometimes ping when I see them on the screen. For Jian, I see her looking very much like Sonequa Martin-Green, the lead of Star Trek: Discovery. She has that same no-nonsense attitude. For Richard, I haven’t seen anyone recently that pinged the visual for me. And of course the dragons could be played by anyone!

How did you structure your story? Did you target a certain amount of words per day or use post it notes or info dump in a journal during your writing purpose?
I try to write a certain number of words every day, I do have a word target. And I have found that agonising about not reaching that target is pretty much a sure-fire way to ensure that I don’t. I carry a notebook everywhere with me and have a laptop beside the bed – I write a lot of my stuff when I’m half-asleep. I structure the story in my head: I know the outline of it, and how it will look in a general sense. The details come to me and it’s like filling in a sketch. Sometimes the images that fill the sketch are entirely unexpected and then I know the end result will be good.

When you’re not writing or reading, what would you be doing?
I’m at the beach! I just moved to the Gold Coast and it is wonderful. The artist definitely produces more words when immersed in salt water.

-Review and Q&A by Annie

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

A new Black Witch will rise… her powers vast beyond imagining…

“Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else. As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.” -Synopsis from Goodreads.

With such mixed reviews on this book, I just had to read it for myself as soon as possible. To be honest I really couldn’t understand the negativity surrounding it but then again that’s my opinion..

The best way I can explain my thoughts would be to use Harry Potter as an example. For those who have read Harry Potter, do you remember the prejudice in that world by “pure bloods” who would look down on “half bloods” and “muggles” or “muggle borns” and go as far as to say “mixture of magical and muggle blood is an abomination”? That was the sort of world I discovered here, a fantasy world where such prejudices exist and naturally the dialogue brought that out of each character and in doing so, profiled the characters quite well. I read each dialogue in context and understood it was typical of what that character or that particular race/group of people would say etc therefore the story and what was said in each dialogue made sense to me. I was able to draw a parallel with what I read in this book and conversations I hear in real life. Sad, but true and with all stories I read, I find nasty characters either grow to become good or are destroyed at the hands of good.

Overall I enjoyed the story and I enjoyed getting to know each character (even the ones I hate in the story) I particularly like the beginning where in a world of “status quo” the protagonist’s Uncle was the one person who puts his foot down against the concept of the “wandfast” at a young age (which is like an arranged marriage) in order for his niece to go on and get educated first by going to university and learning apothecary then make her own decision in life later on. Again – not very far from what I have heard in real life. There are more examples however I don’t wish to spoil the book for anyone and I would like readers to be their own judge of this book. Personally I liked it and I recommend it to fans of YA fantasy who enjoy stories of power struggle, magic and a whole new world building.

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

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross + exclusive Q&A with author Leife Shallcross

Release Date: May 2018
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (Hachette, Australia)

“I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both. I am the Beast. The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time. My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded. My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again. And now I might lose her forever.”

Firstly, we would like to give our special thanks to Hachette Publishers: Date A Book Team for an Advanced Review Copy we received at their exclusive Blogger Nighte and to author Leife Shallcross for being part of our personal read along journey and taking part in our exclusive blog interview. Such an exciting experience as we engaged in a read along with 2 amazing bloggers “Sydney Editor 1” and “Tien’s Blurb” who are also dear friends of ours and the author, Leife Shallcross herself! (Now a dear friend to us all) A lot of fun as we communicated spoiler free updates to each other and Leife sharing her writing experience and inspirations with us as we read along.

Our Thoughts
This was so beautifully written, I felt like I was reading a classical, melodic, fairytale with all the feels that really came to life in my mind!!! An amazing story that developed beautifully, fantastically well-defined characters, the author did such a great job in reimagining the tale that’s old as time and really took us deep into the heart of the beast. This is a story no one has heard before and a must read now. Beautiful writing and language, amazing characters you grow to love and a beast who I just want to hug!  Oh.. the love.. the feels.. for a first time in a very long time, I found this to be a book I needed to take a moment of silence for right at the end, it was that beautiful.
– Annie

This book is so beautifully written, you’ll feel the magic, the intricate storytelling, the love, all the feels that you can expect from a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I love that it’s set around about the 17th-century era, the restraint, the language and politeness all add to the charming storytelling. I love the characters, my fav has to be Marie. I’m also totally in love the Beast too as you’ll see everything from his perspective! This is a wonderful, magical and a timeless book and retelling. I only wish it came in hard copy as I feel I would be re-reading this book anytime I need to escape reality. There are so many parts that hit me right in the heart.
– NJ

Exclusive Q&A with author Leife Shallcross

What is the title of your debut novel and what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always loved fairy tales (I use them a lot in my writing), and I particularly love Beauty and the Beast because the two protagonists actually get to spend time falling in love. But one of the big story problems for me was always the question of how you make a romantic hero out of a man who has done something so awful that someone was compelled to put him under a curse for 100 years. So I wanted to explore that. I also wanted to create a fairy tale world I could just sink into and lose myself. My novel is The Beast’s Heart, and will be published by Hodder & Stoughton (Hachette) in May 2018. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast from the Beast’s perspective.

What sort of research goes into writing a book like this and how did you come up with the characters for your story? Were you reading other books or going online to search how one may dress at a particular time?
I did a fair bit of research into the historical details. There were so many little bits and pieces that I had to tweak to make them accurate! For example, in France in the 17th Century, people were usually married on the steps of the church, rather than inside at the altar (I didn’t know that before I started!) I did a lot of my research online, but obviously this means I had to be a bit careful about using reliable sources. Contemporary paintings are a great resource for things like food, clothes and table settings, but I had to bear in mind these were usually painted to hang in the houses of the rich and convey a sense of their wealth. I used original sources where I could (like church registers for names – it’s surprising how many are available on the net). My characters are mostly the ones you find in the usual B&B fairy tale, but I have tried to give them their own personalities, motivations and story arcs. I’ve added a few extra ones of my own devising, though!

If your book became a film adaptation, who would you cast to play your characters?
Such a tricky question! Perhaps Aidan Turner for the Beast. Or Theo James. And maybe Maisie Williams or Lily Collins for my heroine. I think you’d need someone very striking to play the Fairy. Perhaps Tilda Swinton or Eva Green?

Are you a reader yourself? What is your favourite genre and your favourite book?
Of course! I read a lot of fantasy and sci fi, and predictably I particularly love fairy tale retellings. I subscribe to the belief that before you can be a good writer, you have to be a devoted reader. But how am I supposed to choose a favourite book???? Argh! All time favourites include Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne-Jones, Beauty, by Robin McKinley and Red As Blood by Tanith Lee. Recent faves are Uprooted by Naomi Novik and the Shades of Magic series by V E Schwab. I could go on forever…

If you had the chance to create a soundtrack for “The Beast’s Heart” what would the track list look like?
Here’s a few:
-Green, by Alex Lloyd
-1000 Oceans, by Tori Amos
-Heartlines, by Florence & the Machine
-Photograph, by Ed Sheeran
-If Time is All I Have, by James Blunt.

During your writing journey, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Find your writing community (and it can’t just be any old writing community, it has to be the right one. Your writing community. Your tribe. People who are going to get what you’re trying to write.) Writing can be a very lonely business, and it’s not just about being a good writer. You have to know about the industry and how to be professional about your craft. I’ve learned so much invaluable stuff from the wonderful, generous people in my writing community (the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild). I don’t think I’d be here today without them.