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.

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The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

A beautiful middle grade steampunk fantasy adventure story…

This story is set in the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures. An institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music.

For the innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only the number 13 etched on a medallion around his neck and does not have a name, this place is the only home he has ever known but unexpected courage leads him to an unexpected friendship and the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives him two amazing gifts: a real name “Arthur” like the good king in the old stories and friendship. From here, they embark on an excitingly scary adventure that will take them out into the wider world and down the path of Arthur’s true destiny.

This was such a wonderful book to read. So beautifully written and just so heartwarming. It brought back memories of my childhood when I embraced The Chronicles of Narnia – the friendships formed in the “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” as well as the characters and adventure. This is a middle grade fantasy fiction story however an adult can really enjoy this. A fantastic tale of courage, friendship and adventure with amazing illustrations that really brings the story to life. It’s one collectable you will want to keep on your shelf forever and a story you will want to read over and over again.

Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

 

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

BOOK 1 of the Hex Hall Series

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

My review
If you love Harry Potter then you’ll love this book and will be up until 3am in the morning not wanting to put it down just like I did! Sophie just like Harry Potter grew up in the human world and well it’s an interesting twist with the boarding school she ends up going to where it’s more like juvie for the supernatural, but the things is that Sophie actually doesn’t know how to do any magic yet. Follow on her journey to making friends, making enemies, getting into trouble, saving her friend, dealing with a boy crush on someone she can’t have and let’s not forget the evil groups that want her and her school mates dead. A fun filled series that I’m eager to keep reading about.

Recomendation
I’m going to say ages 8 and up but I think anyone at an age that can understand the imaginary and loves books about magic will love this book. Also great for Harry Potter fans who love stories about teenage witches and even twilight fans will enjoy the vamipire and other mythical beings elements in this book.

– Crystal

Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

First installment of the Knights of the Borrowed Dark Trilogy – A book you wont put down!!!

Denizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesied king. But this is real life—orphans are just kids without parents. At least that’s what Denizen thought…
One dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that almost growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen soon learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is an ancient order of knights who keep them at bay. Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny, or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive

Once I started to read Knights of the Borrowed Dark, I couldn’t put it down. It dragged me right in. I found myself not caring that I have work tomorrow… I had to finish reading this book. I was not to move until I had finished it. Knights of the Borrowed Dark is well worth the read. I’m going to be tracking down the second book as soon as work finishes tomorrow!!!

Many thanks to Penguin Publishers Australia for sending me this review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Meredith

It Came from the Deep by Maria Lewis: Exclusive Blog Tour

Best selling Australian Author, Maria Lewis – author of the Who’s Afraid? series is back with an epic novel “It Came from the Deep” due for release as an e-book by the end of October 2017!!!

“It Came From the Deep” Synopsis
An elderly professor is murdered, leaving a puzzling crime scene for police to unravel and a laboratory housing all kinds of marine life. But something is missing … something huge. Recent highschool graduate Kaia Craig has problems of her own, with her career as an ironwoman on the Gold Coast in jeopardy after a horrific accident. Yet someone wants to hold her accountable. After nearly drowning in Lake Pelutz and her attackers on the run, Kaia is left with more than just physical injuries. She’s convinced she saw something in the depths of the lake: something that choose to spare her. Uncertain whether she’s running towards the discovery of a friend or foe, Kaia begins digging into a mystery that may have bigger ramifications than she or any of her friends can fathom. It Came From The Deep is a thrilling combination of young adult and science fiction from the author of the critically acclaimed Who’s Afraid? series, Maria Lewis

Maria has also created a whole song list for “It Came From The Deep” Here is the playlist on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/1242659949/playlist/2vymlNzXCwFoOGjsvXoqI1

Exclusive Q&A with author Maria Lewis

What was your inspiration to write “It Came From the Deep?”
In the same way my first book Who’s Afraid? is a flip on the Universal movie monster classic The Wolf Man, I have always wanted to do a spin on the Creature From The Black Lagoon meets The Little Mermaid. That is to say, switching up the gender roles and having a woman discover a merman. The idea of a male ‘mermaid’ is always played for laughs (Zoolander, the upcoming Splash remake with Channing Tatum) so I was intrigued to see if I could do it as a proper sci-fi mystery targeted at a YA audience. I’ve never written a YA book before, but I’m a massive fan of the genre and wanted to see if I could contribute something.

How did you come up with the characters for this story?
For over a decade I was an iron woman competitor and raced in surf sports across events like board, surf ski, iron woman, surf race etc. It’s a world I spent a lot of time in and one that several of my close friends are still submerged in on a professional level. It’s such a classically Australian pastime, yet it’s also something that has a burgeoning global community. It just seemed like an interesting, untapped world to try and set a story within – especially a YA story. The characters are a product of that lifestyle and very different from the ones readers have met in my previous works. I’m keen to see how people respond to them, as I had a blast getting to live with Kaia Craig and her posse for as long as I have been.  

Did you apply the same writing process as you did for your “Who’s Afraid?” Series?
My process for Who’s Afraid? was all around building a world for the central protagonist – Tommi Grayson – as she’s what I had first. She very stubbornly wouldn’t jump out of my head until I gave her something to play with. Whereas It Came From The Deep was based an idea that I had, so in this case it was about fleshing out the concept and seeing if I could execute it. The latter rather than the former is usually how I work, as I have a clear idea or set of themes that I want to communicate going in to it. The stories are written in a way to facilitate that. 

While you were writing this story, did anything specific or crazy happen while you were writing that resonates with you as part of your writing journey experience? For example you’re hanging out with friends suddenly an idea hits you and you’re scrambling for a notepad til you bump into the waiter spilling the drinks?
Ha, no nothing like that happened – my life is not a Kate Hudson rom-com where I’m tripping over hunks while trying to chase my professional pursuits.

Will this be a stand alone or a series?
I’ve been getting asked that question a lot and I always intended It Came From The Deep to be a standalone story – just one novel. However, the more this question has come up the more ideas I’ve had for how the adventure can continue and where it might go. It honestly depends if people like what I’ve done first time round and whether there’s an audiences for it. 

Who’s Afraid? Is turning into a TV series (kudos) do you see this one hitting the screens?
Firstly, thank you! I’m super excited about the Who’s Afraid? TV series and we’ve been working really hard on it. As for an It Came From The Deep screen adaptation … I don’t know, that decision is honestly out of my hands. It all depends on who reads it and how they respond to the book. With Who’s Afraid? we were approached by some serious people very quickly who saw the potential for a television version, so it would all come down to whether someone with the power and the resources read It Came From The Deep and was like ‘heck yeah, I want to see that’. Hypothetically it would be a lot easier show or movie to shoot than Who’s Afraid? as it’s a much more self-contained story. But again, I guess we’ll see what happens.  

Connect with Maria Lewis!!!
Twitter: @MovieMazz
Email: maria@marialewis.com.au
Website: marialewis.com.au (for further info on obtaining your copy of “It Came From the Deep”)

Many thanks Maria for chatting to Read3r’z Re-Vu again, we love your work and always love catching up with you.. Also, congrats on the release of “It Came From The Deep” we are all looking forward to reading it!!!

-Watch this space.. review for “It Came From The Deep” to come-

Blog Tour post and Interview compiled by Annie

Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life. But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness. Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all. 

My Review
Violet and Chevy’s story brings to the fore front what most young teens probably think about what fuels the desire for some people to be in a gang.

There is the gang called the Riot who represent the typical corrupted money and power hungry who will do what ever it takes to get revenge and then there is the gang the Reign of Terror who represent being a non blood family who values respect, loyalty and who think they are protecting the ones they love but soon both Violet and Chevy learn that there is no safety and that the non blood family they love can’t protect them.

I really enjoyed how this book was written from two perspectives and how the chapters blended together easily, I also had no idea this book was actually book 3 in a series and that it was so well written that I honestly thought it was a stand alone book.

A beautiful story about breaking dependencies, making choices and forging ones own path in life.

Recomendation:
For teenagers about to embark on studies or life choices this book is a pleasant encouragement about life and making choices while also touching on the dangers of not making a choice or following the wrong crowd.

THIS BOOK HAS AN EASTER EGG!!!
There is a page at the very end with a song list to go with the chapters so give it a try while reading along for a little extra sensory experience.

Many thanks to Harlequin Publishers for supplying this book in exchange for my honest review.
– Crystal

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

To simply call this a fairytale retelling would do this story an injustice.. This is a uniquely, magical story in its own right…

This would be one of the best books I have read this year… A story of mystery, identity, magical betrayal and intrigue.. A story of one crown – two women: Mina, whose heart is made of glass.. Lynet, who is made of snow.. both brought to life by a magician the kingdom is taught to fear..

A step-mother/step-daughter relationship based in a kingdom in need of only one queen. At sixteen years of age, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees their king for the first time, Mina makes it her mission to win the king’s heart through her beauty to become queen and finally know what love is. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother to Lynet, who at aged fifteen, is the  splitting image of her late mother but one day Lynet discovers why… A magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order but rather than filling the shoes of her late mother, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. What started as a bond between step-mother and step-daughter may soon become a fight to the death for the crown…

 I gave this book a standing ovation. This story takes you into a whole new world of twists, turns and mystery whicht left me gaping, page turning and confused as to which character had my allegiance. This story had fantastic world building and was mildly paced so it allowed me to immerse myself into this new world as well as the character development but the suspensful plot got the heart pumping and captivated me to the very end!!! Such an amazing story and I highly recommend this to fans of fairytale retellings (although I find this book is more than that) and fans of YA Fantasy Fiction… This is on the shelf as one of the best of 2017!!!

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie