Have Sword, Will Travel by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

“Live by the Sword.. Die by the Sword.. No matter how often the Sword yells at you.. “

Release Date: 31 October 2017

Get ready boys and girls.. it’s time for a chivalrous quest!!!

This is an epic story that follows the Odo, Eleanor and Biter – an unlikely knight, a stubborn, head strong girl and.. a talking sword as they embark on a thrilling adventure to save their kingdom from the danger that comes in both human and dragon form. This is one fantastic collaboration between Garth Nix and Sean Williams. A very fun story to read that I was easily engrossed in, I always wanted to know what happened next and I grew fond of the characters very quickly. Yes I even enjoyed a laugh or two. I particularly liked the use of ‘medieval’ font for each time the sword, Biter, would speak – the setting of the scene really puts you there. I also loved the witty dialogue between Odo and Eleanor that presents a strong friendship and importance of team work. I found Eleanor’s character to be an important part of the story – being quite intelligent and head strong, Eleanor demonstrated strength in female characters which I find to be important for middle grade literature – it doesn’t always have to be a heroic prince or a male knight who has ability to embark on a quest and to save their kingdom. Although I can see this story is suitable for a younger audience, it would also be suitable for older readers and fans of adventure reads for young adults. It’s definitely a family friendly adventure that’s well written, easy to read that pulls you in from page one. I certainly enjoyed this one, another favourite for 2017.

Special thanks to author, Garth Nix for giving me this Advanced Review Copy at the Read3r’z Re-Vu session held in May as we hosted the “Author in Focus: Garth Nix” theme.

-Annie

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness + Exclusive Q&A with Patrick Ness

At 12:07am, A monster shows up.. As they do..

A monster that is wild, ancient.. different.. not one you would expect..

Connor O’Mally is the central focus of this monster and he wants the most dangerous thing of all.. Connor’s truth.

Author Patrick Ness has released a few epic novels – titles you may recall: ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go” and “Release” however “A Monster Calls” is the first of his novels to hit the box office!!!

Thoughts on the book:
I flew through this book in a matter of days, it was an amazing story one I believe is suitable for all ages. It has a strong element of truth to the storyline with the added magical twist that makes it work so very well. I found it very fast paced and enjoyable. What was also very notable was the words of wisdom that is intertwined with this fantastical story – the truth will always set you free no matter how bad you believe the truth is. I highly recommend readers of all ages to pick this one up before watching the movie.

Thoughts on the movie:
Patrick Ness not only wrote the book “A Monster Calls” he also wrote the screen play for the movie adaptation. I had the pleasure of attending a private screening courtesy of Walker Books Publishers and I have to say, having often felt the deflation of watching a film adaptation that goes against a favourite book, I found the movie did the book justice. It’s a family movie that has everything – a visual feast, humour.. even a tear jerker – though I must admit, some scenes may be scary for younger viewers. The cast all delivered their parts extremely well – I was engrossed in the film from start to finish.

“A Monster Calls” kicks off in cinemas around Australia on 27 July 2017. For a sneak peek of this awesome movie, here’s the trailer!!

Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy of “A Monster Calls” and for inviting me to a private screening of the movie adaptation.

Exclusive Q&A with Patrick Ness:

How did you feel when you found out that the book was going to be turned into a film?
Well, it was great, but I am always skeptical. I’m skeptical about everything, even my books – I never believe they’re going to exist until they do, with a film even more so. So much had to be in place that was completely out of my hands. I was optimistic: there were really great creative partners, who knew what they were doing and really wanted to make this happen. But I thought, movies don’t happen to people like me! So I didn’t ever count my chickens – I’m still not counting my chickens!

You have written several screenplays. What did you find interesting about adapting your own book into a screenplay? How different a writing experience was it?
I’d been very protective of the material right the way through so I held off from selling it for a very long time. Then I thought I’d actually like to write the screenplay because I thought I knew how the story works and how it could be changed. You don’t always know that something’s going to work; you just hope.

I’ll always consider myself a novelist because in a novel, for good or ill, all the choices are yours. You’re in charge of it and it’s one hundred per cent an expression of you. That’s a great freedom and a great responsibility and a great challenge – the tyranny of all that choice! It’s hard, but really rewarding, and I love it.

Screenplays, on the other hand, are kind of like puzzles: a movie at best if a long short story, so how do you take the essence of your story and communicate everything in it in a shorter space? That kind of creative challenge can spur you on. I’ve always found limitations can be a great spurt to creativity.

What needed to change in the story? How did you feel about altering things from the book? Was there a strand from the book that you wanted to be emphasized in the film?
The bullies get emphasized in the film because they’re Conor’s connection to the outside world and, given Conor’s world is so interior (he’s always in his home, or his grandmother’s house, or in the tales), it’s important to have this visual link to the outside world in his film. We need to know what the outside looks like, and how the world regards him, and how small his world has shrunk.

There were some changed Director J.A. Bayona wanted – the director always brings things. He was very interested in the idea of legacy and what a parent leaves behind. So he had the idea that Conor loves drawing because his mother is an artist, and this works perfectly visually because it links right into the tales, which erupt from his drawings. It comes together just gorgeously at the end. Throughout the whole film there’s been a locked room in Conor’s grandmother’s house. At the end we discover that the grandmother has been making it into a room for Conor and it’s full of all his artworks and all his mother’s old drawing pads. The final shot shows him opening one up and finding a drawing of the monster on his mother’s shoulder, so she has clearly seen the monster herself, probably when she lost her father. So the monster had come for her as well and they share that. It’s a beautiful addition.

Were you involved in the casting process for the film? What do the individual actors bring to your characters?
Casting is half desperate desire and half chance. You make lists of actors you want and they’re just ridiculous because, if you were to get them all, the salaries alone would be $300 million. Liam Neeson is so perfect for the role it’s almost slightly obvious, but we thought, let’s try him anyway. And he turned out to love the book, and he’s a truly lovely man so getting him involved felt like a bit of a blessing.

As for Sigourney Weaver, I don’t think we thought she’d be available, but then Bayona called me one day and said, “We’ve got Sigourney Weaver,” and I thought, whoa! And she’s perfect – she is physically perfect and her manner is perfect.

Bayona and the producer Belén Atienza suggested Felicity Jones and got her before The Theory of Everything – before she was too busy! So that was a great bit of timing. I once talked to a director who said casting is important but, in some ways, if you get good people, the film will sort of shape itself to fit them. But still, how amazing to get Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver for a film that didn’t have a huge budget! And among all the kids who were auditioned, Lewis MacDougall just stood out. He’s auditioned for three things in his life and he’s got all three, so that says it all really.

Did you spend much time on set? What did you enjoy most about the film-making process?
I was involved in the process all the way through. The director, J.A. Bayona, and the producer, Belén Atienza, were very generous and very collaborative. There were lots of script meetings in Barcelona where we’d talk and talk about scripts, scenes and order. We hashed it out until we were all happy. I was on set about ten or twelves times. It was a fairly lengthy shoot because they had a juvenile lead, so could only shoot a certain amount of hours a day. Throughout the whole process they would send me scenes. They would always ask me about additions to the dialogue – every single line of dialogue they were thinking of adding in. Sometimes actors suggest things on set, and some of it’s just fantastic and needs to be woven in.

The first two weeks were spent with Liam Neeson in a suit doing motion capture for the CGI monster. Because the monster is created using CGI, they had a big model of the monster’s head on set to give Lewis something to act to. And the final tale, which is set in a graveyard, was filmed in an abandoned hospital-studio on the outskirts of Barcelona, with a huge construction of a graveyard. It looked half impressive and half not there, but then in the film it looks amazing.

A Monster Calls is a very emotional novel. How difficult was it to translate into motion onto the screen?
I think we’re a good match, me and Bayona (Director J.A. Bayona). He’s very outwardly emotional and passionate, like a lot of directors are, and I’m very reserved (which doesn’t mean unemotional, just privately emotional). So I thought between us we could probably get to a really good central point which neither of us could get to on our own. I would always want to make sure the emotion is really true. I want ugly crying, not pretty crying. I don’t want any easy outs (not that Bayona would have gone for easy outs), and he probably instinctively distrusts lack of expression in emotion. So, together, we find the right path that most people are going to fall into.

In a movie it’s the performances that are going to do it, and all the actors understood that it’s not a movie about grief, but about sadness and anger. 

Both film and illustration are activities that transform a writer’s words into images. What do you feel about that visual process?
I’m not an artist, and I’m not a film director, so I felt a huge curiosity about how Jim Kay, the book’s illustrator, and Bayona would respond to my work. Jim is so talented! Some of the stuff he drew I could never have thought of and some of the stuff Bayona shot I could ever have thought of. That’s what you wish for – somebody who knows different things than you know and brings those to the work. The important thing for me always is to keep learning. I never want to be complacent – that’s why I wanted to do the screenplay myself. Even if I failed I wanted at least to try.

-Annie

Kidz Korner Round Up – School Holidays Special

The kids are on holidays in Sydney, NSW.. here is a round up of recommended books the kids can immerse themselves in these school holidays!!!


Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Divya Srinivasan

An exquisite hardcover picture book that would now be considered a collector’s item that tells a beautiful tale about a princess called Cinnamon whose eyes are made of pearls – in other words, she is blind.. and for reasons unknown to her parents, she refuses to speak. After futile attempts to find someone to make Cinnamon talk, suddenly a mighty tiger appears at their palace to teach Cinnamon to talk.. the illustrations and art in this book are so beautiful and bode so well with this mighty tale.. Suitable for family reading time to children from 5 years Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Hotaka (Through my eyes, Natural Disaster Zones) by John Heffernan
This was an interesting book that’s told in the perspective of a 10 year old child whose life is turned upside down in light of a natural disaster. The way the story starts is so real, this child is simply enjoying his friend’s pantomime like it’s just “a normal day” and suddenly the town is on alert and from a hill top, he sees the water drawing out in prep of a tsunami that is about to hit, something he has learnt from class and his own family. My family are originally from Aceh and endured the effects of the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 so this story was real for me. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I feel this is a good learning experience for children. I say this suitable and recommended to junior non fiction readers aged from 9 years and above.. Many thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Jamal

Rock pool secrets by Narelle Oliver
At first glance there’s nothing much to see. But the rock pools are full of secrets. Nestling in crevices … hiding in the seaweed … camouflaged against the rocks … What creatures will you find? An interesting and fun read. This book shows you what you can find in rock pools during low tide at beaches. As you read this picture book there are flip sections on a few of the pictures where you can get a better look at the creatures that live in the rock pools. The pictures are beautifully done. Suitable to a younger audience from pre-school to primary school. Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Meredith

Where’s Wally? 30th Anniversary Edition by Martin Handford
As a kid, I always loved the Where’s Wally? books and the various editions that were published. I bet kids today could still appreciate the hours of fun they can have with this one! This book celebrates 30 years of searching for Wally, a one off special edition of the original eye boggling classic. It’s an awesome special edition with bonus scenes and characters – it makes you determined to find him each time you find a false lead. In this edition you can hike around the world, on the beach, at the train station and you can even find Wally on a new wander in town again. Intricately detailed scenes and artistry here, I highly recommend it as a fun activity – you could even play teams – these school holidays!
-Annie

Poor Louie by Tony Fucille
Louie’s life is great! A walk on the leash every morning, ice cream on Sundays, snuggling in bed at night with Mom and Dad. Even the playdates with Mom’s friends despite their little crawling creatures who pull Louie’s ears aren’t all that bad. But then things get weird… This story had me smiling from the beginning. Because Louie doesn’t know how to handle the new member of the family, that’s coming in nine months… I’ll be re-reading this one for long while. I now want a dog like Louie!! Highly recommended children’s picture book. Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Meredith

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, Illustrated by Patrick Benson
A beautiful story that is artistically illustrated of three baby owls who wake up one night in their tree to find that their mother has gone, so they sit on the branch and wait, wondering when she will return. It’s such a cute and lovely story – heart warming and very suitable to read to kids aged 3+. Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods by Craig Phillips

A fantastic collection of diverse myths and legends from around the world – from Iceland to Poland to Japan, altogether in one graphic novel!!!

Tales include a cobbler girl tricks the Wawel Dragon, after all the king’s knights fail… The Polar Bear King loses his skin… Momotaro, born from a peach, defies the ogres everyone else is too scared to face… Snow White and Rose Red make friends with a bear…

This collection contains 10 tales and are retold as comics that includes adventures with giants, trolls, witches and beasts!!!

The art work is simply amazing, the legends and folktales are so exciting!! It’s one a graphic novel you would read over and over again and keep for collection. This is something I recommend to readers young and old alike who, like me, love myth and legend. I also recommend this for kids storytime – where parents can read to the children. It is pretty easy to follow however some themes may require parental guidance – the artwork is extremely details – such a visual feast!!!

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

-Annie

Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson

Dragonkeeper is the first book of a series that is set to be released as a big budget feature film animation!!!!

Dragonkeeper: The Book
Set in Ancient China (Han Dynasty), this story is about a slave girl who saves the life of an ageing dragon and escapes her brutal master. An adventurous read that can be enjoyed by children as young as 8 years old and even among adults such as myself, I find this to be a great family friendly read. The adventure continues as the slave girl and the dragon are pursued by a ruthless dragon hunter and they begin an epic journey across China full of magical and wondrous adventure, meanwhile carrying a mysterious stone that must be protected.

What I loved most about this book is the references to Chinese Mythology and a girl who defies her brutal master and does not accept life the way it is – she breaks down the barriers and finds strength within herself to make this perilous journey which I believe is sending a positive message to girls. Not to mention the adventure is a lot of fun!!

Dragonkeeper: The Movie
The movie is being produced by Dragoia Media, Movistar+, Atresmedia Cine and China Film Animation – a member of China Film Group which is the largest and most influential state owned film company in China.

The script has been written by Ignacio Ferreras, Rosanna Checchini, Pablo Castrillo, Carole Wilkinson (author of Dragonkeeper) and Xiamping Wang.

The film will be directed by Ignacio Ferraras and co-ordinated by Zhang Bo.

Scheduled for release: late 2019/early 2020.

Many thanks to Walker Books for providing me with an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Read3r’z Re-Vu Mother’s Day Special

In Australia, Sunday 14 May 2017 is Mother’s Day.
For a day that should be celebrated everyday, Read3r’z Re-Vu wanted to take this time to wish our beautiful mothers and all the beautiful mothers out there a wonderful day!!!

This special is a selection of recommendations for all of the mothers who love to read and the mothers who are looking for their next book to read to their children…

-featured photo of Tulip brooch handmade by Curio Boutique, a Read3r’z Re-Vu major sponsor-


An oldie but a goldie.. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This was my introduction to the classics and the regency period in books. I love how it teaches you that first impressions are not always accurate. I am recommending this for Mother’s Day as I find there are a few (or a lot of) reasons to recommend Pride and Prejudice to the mothers who love reading and are looking for a story that can apply to different people. The characters are multi layered and have their own faults.
-Meredith


The Wave in the Mind: Talks & Essays on the Writer, the Reader & the Imagination (About Writing)
by Ursula K. Le Guin

Overview: Ursula K. Le Guin explores a broad array of subjects, ranging from Tolstoy, Twain, and Tolkien to women’s shoes, beauty, and family life. With her customary wit, intelligence, and literary craftsmanship, she offers a diverse and highly engaging set of readings. 

Thoughtful, profound and inspiring. I found Le Guin’s voice to be refreshing, present and ever so relevant in today’s society for authors and readers alike. Topics explored include (but not limited to): imagination, life, society, oppression, feminism, reading and writing. Le Guin’s progressive and well thought-out perspectives and critiques are insightful, honest, delightful and empowering to read. Highly recommended for those who is after an interesting, inspiring and provocative read.
-NJ


Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
This recommendation is for all the mothers who love Young Adult, Fantasy Fiction – especially stories with an Arabian Nights Inspiration!!! This is the sequel to the epic debut: Rebel of the Sands, where the story isn’t about blood or love now it’s about treason and takes place approximately 1 year after the first book. Like the debut, this sequel was amazing! And I’m not just saying that because I love Arabian nights inspired stories. From start to finish the story really kept me turning the page as there was always something happening, always some action and plot twists, especially on the very last chapter – left me gaping and yearning to know what happens next! The plot and the setting really grabbed me, I found the plot progresses really well it’s not an info dump you follow the story as it progresses, you have insight into Arabian nights stories that form as part of the main plot, insightful backstories that paint a clear picture of the current plot and I felt this time I got to know the characters better than the first book and really want to continue with their story. If you haven’t yet read Rebel of the Sands, read it so you can read Traitor to the Throne!
Many thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie


Her Mother’s Secret by Natasha Lester
This is a story about a brave young woman who is chasing her dream in the face of society’s disapproval.
Recommended to mothers who enjoy Historical Fiction, this story is set in 3 different eras: 1918 England, 1920’s and takes you through to the 1930’s. At a time of celebration, tragedy strikes and this story takes you through a woman’s struggle and strength that leaves you asking.. can you guess her mother’s secret? Beautifully and elegantly written, you can also see the work and effort that was put into this book for historical accuracy that is intertwined with the fictional plot. Beautiful read.
Many thanks to Hachette Publishers for providing me with an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie



Blackwater Moon by B. Michael Radburn
Andy Walker knows tragedy is only ever a heartbeat away. When an inmate escapes from the prison farm upriver and abducts Nathan, a child Andy has vowed to protect after losing his own son years before, Andy discovers that the escapee is a dark figure from his past, the devil who changed his life and the man who introduced him to ‘The Game’
I really enjoyed this book and it really wasn’t what I was expecting. At first I was expecting the story to be similar to a domestic violence scenario where the woman is the victim but I was wrong. I really felt the emotion of the main character, Andy, to the point I cried and I even had to put the book down for a few hours but to have that sort of emotional reaction to the book just proves the author did a top job in conveying such a powerful story. The story does take you to a dark place which hits you to the core, it is heavy reading but I am a mother and I recommend this to mothers who love reading books that set your heart pounding but can handle heavy content. It really is worth the read.
Many thanks to Pantera Press who provided me with this book at the Read3r’z Re-Vu Mini Conference: 2016.
Many thanks to Read3r’z Re-Vu for having me on here as a special guest reviewer.

-Bec


Play by Jez Alborough
This is a recommended read for young mummies who love reading to their young kiddies or babies.
What can I say? This book was just TOO CUTE!!! Beautifully illustrated that tells such a cute and funny story in very few words. Play is about a little monkey who just wants to play.. play, play, play – even when Mummy says stay, he wants to play – and of course he wanders off like little kids do – so it’s an adventure to try and get home to his Mummy. The ending was adorable. Highly recommend this as a great kids picture book.
Many thanks to Walker Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie


My Mum is Fantastic by Nick Butterworth
Regardless of age – this is the perfect Mother’s Day Gift!!!
A picture book that is suitable to toddlers reading their first books, it’s a beautiful way that explores all the wonderful things our mothers do for us and we take for granted. My mum is fantastic is that one book that captures how great our mothers are and giving this to your mother will tell her how much you love her!!
Wonderfully illustrated and large print – very suitable for the little tikes.

Many thanks to Walker Publishers for providing me with a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Read3r’z Re-Vu wishes our beautiful mothers and all the beautiful mothers a wonderful and Happy Mother’s Day!!!

(photo credit: Pink roses gratitude ring by Curio Boutique)

Kidz Korner Round Up

A child who reads will become an adult who thinks…

Read3r’z Re-Vu is a Network of Readers that strives to bring readers, bloggers, small business owners, authors and illustrators together as one community to embrace what we are most passionate about – books – and to endorse wide reading in the broader community. One of the things that are most important to us is children who read. As part of a community initiative, Read3r’z Re-Vu Founder, Annie McCann has teamed up with Re-Vu Newz Editor, Crystal Oros and Intel Researcher, Meredith Thomas for the “Kidz Korner Round Up” blog. This is a space where we select top recommendations for younger readers.. we endeavour to blog a selection of children’s books at least once a month….

Here are our recommendations…

Anzac Ted by Belinda Landsberry
A charming read. This is a real heart warming picture book. About a treasured teddy bear, that’s been with one family for three generations. This teddy bear made it through a war and became mascot for the squad that he was in. This tale also shows us not to judge a person or any object by what they look like.
-Meredith

Paddington and the busy day: By Michael Bond
Paddington was one of my favourites growing up and I’ll be honest I wasn’t expecting my three year ld to have the patience for this book but she was captivated by the illustrations and talking about all the thing she could see happening so this is a great book for developing your toddlers language skills.
-Crystal

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey
This story is beautiful, funny and even a little bit sad. It’s about a pony called Thelma who isn’t happy with being a pony so she decides she wants to be a unicorn. This story is about self acceptance and being happy with being exactly as you are and our favourite message was about the special friendships when friends will love you even if Your not a unicorn.
-Crystal

Piranhas don’t eat bananas: By Aaron Blabey 
As a parent this is a fun read with lots of humour and the best part is it teaches your little one about healthy eating, the only downside is the number of bum jokes it promotes but is a good tool if your also at the toilet training stage.
-Crystal

I couldn’t stop laughing when I first read this book. So I had to do a few re-reads insterntly. The word rhymes between the fruit and vegitables with the body parts, that with anyone of any age will smile or laugh over. Piranhas also shows us that it’s alright to be your self. To me Piranhas is a feel good book that will always make me smile happily.
-Meredith

Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too by Jane Milton
Based on a true story that was on these three cows and the adventure that they go on after an earthquake.  The story is told by rhyming sentences. The story is told from the cows point of view. The illustrations are beautifully done in water colours. Special thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Meredith

Check on me: By Andrew Daddo & Jonathan Bentley
This one is my favourite! I love checking on my little one during the night to fix her blankets and just like the boy in the book I get to joke and talk to my child about how I find her sleeping and how we read books just like they do and yes you wake me up like that too. Again a great book for developing language and to open up conversations that are fun and loving.
-Crystal

Harvey the Hero by Hrefna Bragadottir
Harvey dreams of being a hero. Stopping thieves! Putting out fires! Saving lives! Little does he know that his dream is about to come true! This picture book was so cute, I absolutely loved the underlying message in this book that teaches kids that you don’t need a cape to save the day. I love how Harvey is clumsy but in his clumsiness he actually is a hero lol this is a great picture book for kids aged between 4 and 6 years old. Many thanks to Allen and Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy on behalf of Nosy Crow Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Gary by Leila Rudge
A lovely picture book that’s wonderful to read to young children. This story is about a pigeon called Gary who spends most of his time eating and sleeping and dreaming of adventure because he’s the one pigeon who cannot fly. When his friends set off in their travel basket, Gary expects to stay at home, organizing his scrapbook of travel mementos and imagining far-off places but when he accidentally falls into the travel basket and ends up a very long way from home, he discovers that flying might not be the only way to have adventures. Such a creative story and the illustrations that depict a wondrous adventure were amazing. I highly recommend this to young readers in kindy or year 1. Noted on the CBCA list of reads for kids
Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.