Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton


Once, in the desert country of Miraji, there was a Sultan without an heir. The heir had been killed by his own brother, the treacherous Rebel Prince, who was consumed by jealousy and sought the throne for himself. Or so it was said by some. There were others who said that the Rebel Prince was not a traitor but a hero… In the final battle for the throne, Amani must fight for everything she believes in… who will triumph???

First of all.. I love Jin.. This was a great conclusion to one of my all-time favourite trilogies. Just as great as the first instalment, Rebel of the Sands and the second instalment, Traitor to the Throne this story really took me back to the desert and my love for the Arabian nights tales and stories of djinn, battle and magic. Following on from “Traitor to the Throne” it picked up nicely, even a year later, it brings back memories of the first 2 stories and I was able to immerse myself so quickly into this book. Although parts of the story slowed down to gear us up for something significant – like the final show down – it was still fast paced and there was always something happening in each chapter, parts even made me ‘wide eyed’. This final instalment, this final battle for the throne, was a stunning conclusion that gave me closure on the characters I came to care about, it tied it up so neatly we know of each character’s destinations in the end and it also answers that compelling yet dreadful question – who will survive and who will die? I am so sad this series is over, I thoroughly enjoyed all three books!!!

Hint hint, nudge nudge to the author: I would LOVE to read a Novella about Jin or Ahmad *wink*

Special thanks to Allen & Unwin publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy.


I am Thunder… and I Won’t Keep Quiet by Muhammad Khan

“A thought-provoking and empowering story which will encourage readers to question what they see and hear.”

One of the most confronting books I have read this year and a story that really hits the nail on the head. A new YA voice that demonstrates how far one can go to protect what they believe in and accurately depicts the world today. I really want to take this moment to thank the author, Muhammad Khan, for writing this story. As a Muslim woman reading this book – I felt this was a real eye-opener for non-Muslims and a warm hug to the Muslim brother/sisterhood as he stated in his author’s note.

“I am Thunder” is told by protagonist, 15 year old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a novelist but is trapped between 2 worlds: controlling parents who only care about her studying to be a doctor and growing up in a world that tells you to be what you want to be. As Muzna’s father lost his job, Muzna is forced to move to a new school in South London at a critical time of her life and after her best friend is shamed in a scandal.

Whilst dialogue among teens can be cheesy, I found the book to be very well written and honest. It’s a book that will definitely spark positive discussion. I had such a personal connection to the story and the character but felt extremely thankful I didn’t experience absolutely everything Muzna went through.

When Muzna is thrown into this new school, just like the real world, she realizes bullies are everywhere and yes difficult times are ahead but do you take a stand and fight for what is right or do you fade out because it’s easier? Struggling with home life and school yard prejudice against her culture and faith, the world looks bleak for Muzna until she meets Arif – her knight in shining armour – or so she thinks…

The author did a fantastic job in demonstrating the constant confusion in families who put culture first, Islam second which is a leading cause of clash and confusion in families and the wider community. Cultural identity is a real challenge especially among the youth and I really felt for Muzna being an only child growing up in the western world with strong ties to her cultural traditions and expectations, it can be a challenge but it can also be an opportunity. I felt Muzna had the right idea of wanting to be a novelist as a means to set a passive example that demonstrates that these acts committed do not represent her or her faith.

In addition to cultural identity, the fury Muzna and her parents felt when waking up to headline news of terrorist attacks and murder of innocent victims carried out in the name of Islam was all too real for me. It was a wave of mixed emotions – anger for what this mob do in our name and the compounding weariness of stepping out of our house wearing the hijab, that need to constantly be vigilant in your own home in case you’re next to be on the receiving end of hate attacks for crimes you never committed or endorsed but refusing to live in fear. 

The story is so real – with strong characters making poor decisions or turning a blind eye to things you think is so obviously wrong, but that’s exactly why it was so real – because it demonstrates exactly how extremists operate. They select articulate, intelligent individuals and targe their vulnerability as leverage for their own agendas.

Again, this book is extremely well written and fast paced. I am sure readers will have an emotional reaction to the story. I gasped, cringed, laughed, cried and I even had to put the book down for a moment as I was getting so worked up over it (it’s so real). I feel this is an important story and I do recommend this as your next read. Suitable for the YA audience from ages 14 years and up.

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy of this book as part of the Summer Readings Blog Tour.

Reign the Earth by A.C Gaughen

Release Date: January 2018

A fantastic start to a promising series!!!

This was one book that had me on the edge of my seat as I was gasping, cringing and rapidly turning the page to simply know what happened next. The plot was interesting as it follows the story of a young girl, Shalia, who is a proud yet naive daughter of the desert and after many years of war with another tribe/kingdom, she was used as a pawn via an arranged marriage with the king of the opposing tribe as a means to bring peace to both worlds. Shalia’s betrothed, Calix, the king, is motivated by a strong desire to kill all who identify as Elementae – magical people who have powers that can control the elements: earth, air, wind and fire.

So the question is, when two worlds become one family, what becomes of the proud, naive daughter of the desert when she is crowned queen as a result of this arranged marriage and learns of her new husband’s plans then later discovers her true self once she is thrown into this whole new world?

I found it was interesting to follow Shalia’s perspective during the story and how she grows as a character when taken out of her world of order and thrown into a world of chaos where, for her, it’s sink or swim – follow what is expected of her to retain peace or question everything, be true to herself and risk war. Does she thrive or just manage to survive?

This story is dark and it does take you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. For some of the themes covered, I would be more likely to recommend this to older YA readers, adults who enjoy fantasy fiction stories or who, like me, LOVE stories set in the desert. This had a great plot, is fast paced and it even confused me when I was trying to decide where my loyalties were during the story. I would love to read the sequel!!

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

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.


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.


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 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.