Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner with Exclusive Q&A

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Unearthed book launch emceed by the amazing Garth Nix (right) as he cracks us all up with his “background research” on Meagan (left) and Amie (centre)

Unearthed
When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered. For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance. In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race. (Goodreads)

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Our thoughts
This book is filled with nonstop action. It has the exciting adventure feel of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. The story follows a dynamic, loveable duo Mia and Jules on deciphering a secret message of the Undying whilst exploring an alien planet that the government is trying to profit from. This story is mostly about survival and explores themes of ethics, choices, trust and courage, I was immersed in the story from chapter 1. The fact that the story is set on another planet very similar to Earth makes the setting relatable whilst still managing to make the reader feel the “alien-ness” of the planet due to reminders about breathers. The cliffhanger of this book was absolutely crazy. I need book 2.
– NJ

This book really lived up to its pitch – an action packed novel that is like Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider in Outer Space. Following the adventure of Amelia and Jules who meet by chance on another planet but have their own agendas when they team up. It was a lot of fun to read, non-stop action, plot twists and witty dialogue, all up it was entertaining, even for someone like me who isn’t all that into sci-fi stories set in space. Both authors did a fantastic job collaborating on this one!!!
-Annie

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Exclusive Q&A with Amie and Meagan!!!

How did you come up with the premise of “Unearthed”?
Back in January 2015, we were on tour together, and we were spending a rare afternoon off in our hotel room, pretty much collapsed. Tour is tiring! We found an Indiana Jones marathon on TV, and we both adore all things Indy, so that was our afternoon sorted. We’d been talking a lot about what we’d write next, and slowly, the idea of a tomb-raiding adventure (in space, of course) came together.

 I’m curious to know how two authors collaborate to write one book. Do you get together to come up with characters and ideas for the plot then something each to compare?
We work together at every stage – we brainstorm the setting and the start of the plot together, we figure out the characters that would fit into it best, and then we start fleshing out the character we’ll each write. Ideas get tossed back and forth and tweaked and improved so often that we usually have no idea who came up with what.

Author collaboration would be a rewarding experience but are there be any challenges in a collaboration? How did you overcome these challenges?
By far the hardest part is being in different timezones – we wish we could chat even more than we do! But we email constantly, we text every day, we often jump on video chat to brainstorm (and just have a chat, we’re friends as well as co-authors) and we come up with lots of ways to stay in touch.

If “Unearthed” was to become a film adaptation, would do you picture playing your main characters on screen?
We have our fingers crossed for this, because Sony and a production company called Cross Creek have actually got it in development! A fantastic director called Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, The Edge of Tomorrow) is attached. We’re actually not supposed to talk about who we’d cast, because we don’t want to cloud the waters in case the characters are cast – you never know your luck!

For writers who are thinking of engaging in an author collaboration, what would be your best piece of advice you could give to them?
We’d advise them to communicate a lot, and check they’re both on the same page about everything they can think of, from how quickly they’ll work, to what they’ll do if one of them needs to take a break, to what they’ll do if they have different ideas about where they’ll take the story, and so on. It’s always easier to figure this stuff out in advance than later on, when it’s actually causing a problem. We’ve been friends for so long, and writing together for so long, that we know each other inside out, and it makes a huge difference!

-NJ & Annie

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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

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

Red-Haired Stepchild by Jaye Wells

Sabine Kane Series – Book 1

In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina Kane has the only profession fit for an outcast: assassin. But, her latest mission threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races and Sabina must scramble to figure out which side she’s on. She’s never brought her work home with her—until now. This time, it’s personal…

The acknowledgments and the extras at the end of books are starting to be a major pain in the backside, for me. It leads me into believing that there is more chapters to the story.

Throughout ‘Red-Headed Stepchild’ I kept wishing that I was either beside Sabina to help her out or that I was her.

All I’ve got to do now is to wait for the bookstores to open later this morning (which will be in about 10 hours).

-Meredith

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T Anderson

 

In a world where technology takes over and ATMs lead the charge!!!

An alien invasion story like no other!!!

When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth – but not necessarily an unwelcome one. But is it really an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? Apparently… yes…

I found this to be a quick and very interesting read that takes a different turn on alien invasion stories!!! Normally when we read about sci-fi and alien invasions we think green monsters or intergalactic soldiers defending earth against the universe.. this however treats an alien invasion as a colonisation – and to be honest, I can’t see how different this story is from the real world!!! A world where robots will take over and ATMs will lead the charge to help the economy and automate literally everything!! So where does automation leave families? Following the main character, Adam who is an artist and is battling what he calls an embarrssing illness. He takes it upon himself to support his family in an age of high unemployment in light of this technological invasion and the only way to get ahead is to be part of this alien reality tv show. The plot was quite unique and the story was quite cleverly executed. I found this to be a very fast paced read, all the while thinking – actually, this is happening right now!! I recommend this to readers who enjoy contemporary with elements of sci-fi.

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

 

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

This book is infuriatingly good!!!

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.  But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

This book is infuriatingly good. The type of book where I will wave it at you and tell you to read it every chance I get. It is brutally honest with its themes and how they reflect on our own society. I feel like I will never be able to express how thought provoking and important this story is.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!!!
-Amanda

 

Convergence by Marita Smith

An ancient secret… A genetic key… A planet in peril…

For scientist Robyn Greene, her laboratory is a second home. Here she searches for the ancient gene that is supposed to enable humans to communicate with animals. After years of failure, she’s beginning to wonder if the gene is a myth. But when she stumbles across a strange genetic mutation, Robyn’s world turns upside down. In a race against time, Robyn must track down the individuals with this rare gene before the wrong people seize control as this ancient cycle is designed to keep the Earth in balance – in the wrong hands, it could be chaos.

I really enjoyed this book as I found it brought science/chemistry to life in the form of fantasy fiction but I wouldn’t call it Sci-Fi as it appears to be more than that (well to me anyway). This isn’t like anything I have read before. The premise and plot twists were so cleverly executed throughout this book and I found the characters interesting. What was also interesting was how I found myself anxiously following the plot to determine what happens next and in between the story, we learn about well-defined characters and their own inner struggles which did have a relevance to the storyline. Great world building and character development, the story moved along at a brisk pace and the structure kept me turning the page to the end.

A story about an ancient secret, a genetic key, betrayal and paradigm shifting discovery that could either make or break this world.

I highly recommend this book to fans of YA Fantasy – especially those who are seeking a unique read.

Special thanks to Harbour Publishing House for sending me an Advance Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie