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

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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

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

How would you react if your father asked you to become a ghost bride? Would you agree if it meant a future of prosperity

This would have to be listed as one of my favourite reads for 2017!!!

Though ruled by British overlords in Colonial Malaya, the Chinese Malayans hold ancient customs, values and superstitions close to heart. Set in the sleepy port town of Malacca, this takes us back to the 1880’s and follows the story of Li Lan, our female protagonist and the daughter of a genteel yet bankrupt family with few prospects. Li Lan receives an unusual proposal from a wealthy and influential family – the Lims – who propose she become a ghost bride for their late and only son who recently died under mysterious circumstances. An ancient custom, becoming a ghost bride was said to placate a restless spirit and guarantee prosperity for the bride – but what happens when this restless spirit starts to haunt the potential ghost bride? What happens when rather than following regular protocols to rid a restless spirit from the human world, Li Lan embarks on a journey that leads her to a peculiar supernatural cross over.

Exploring old Malayan folklore, superstitions and intertwining of Malaysian culture with true historical events – this haunting, dark yet fascinating tale kept me turning the page to the very end! I was captivated from the first chapter and I strongly recommend this to fans of Frances Watts’ “The Peony Lantern”

Many thanks to Allen and Unwin Publishers who gave a copy to me as a prize for a competition I won.

This is one great book!!!

-Annie

Read3r’z Re-Vu Exclusive – Father’s Day Special

Anybody can be a father but it takes someone awesome to be a Dad..
Read3r’z Re-Vu would like to wish all the awesome Dads a wonderful and happy Father’s Day!!! To celebrate this great occasion, here is a Father’s Day special – a blog round up of recommended reads for the Dads!!!

The Martian by Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

This book!!!! I know the writing style won’t work for everyone. However, as a science nerd, the scientific jargon and log entry style was engaging and I consumed this novel. I felt all of the emotions while reading this book. I feel like no matter how hard I try I won’t be able to adequately express how much I loved this book. A rare gem.

This is one of my all time favourites and tells the story of an Astronaunt that gets left behind on Mars and his struggle for survival. I couldn’t read this book fast enough.
-Amanda


The Grimm Series: The Icy Touch by John Shirley
There once was a man who lived a life so strange, it had to be true. Only he could see what no one else can: the darkness inside, the real monster within. And he’s the one who must stop them.. This is his calling. This is his duty. This is the life of a Grimm.

When a torched body is found in an underground tunnel, Portland Police Captain Sean Renard takes one look at the victim’s burned claws and assigns the case to homicide detectives Nick Burkhardt and Hank Griffin. They soon discover that a criminal organization known as The Icy Touch is threatening Wesen into joining their illegal drug-smuggling operation, and brutally murdering those who refuse. But as Nick closes in on the gang’s charismatic and ruthless leader, the Grimm uncovers an ancient—and deadly—rivalry.

As a HUGE fan of the TV Series, I immersed myself in this book to manage my Grimm withdrawals after watching the final episode ever. I did enjoy this book and I found I was able to relive the series and the characters. What I loved most was the historical backstory taking us back to the Grimm’s ancestors which we didn’t get to see on TV. The underlying storyline of the Grimm being the centrepiece in a world of kersheite and wesen however I found the dialogue was different than what I was used to on TV – I found some of the way the characters conversed in the book was very different from the TV but you have to expect that when you read a novel that is inspired by TV and film (and vice versa). I enjoyed the story – the mystery – the action.. I don’t believe this book ruins anything if anything it helps you enjoy the Grimm story a little differently.
-Annie

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

This is easily one of my ALL TIME favourite books. Ready Player One is a virtual reality treasure hunt, based around 1980’s pop culture. This novel celebrates geek culture with an action packed, suspenful treasure hunt that had me obsessed with every page. You don’t need to know 80’s pop culture to love this book. I didn’t know a lot of the references but the passion of fandom transcends genre. I think that there is something for everyone in this story. There are geeky references, gaming, an action-adventure packed treasure hunt, suspense, romance, dystopian setting and political undertones. There is no way I could write a review which could accurately capture the awesome of this novel. It was a true joy to escape into the world of Ready Player One. I highly recommend this novel.
-Amanda

S.T.A.G.S by M.A Bennett
9 students.. 3 blood sports.. 1 sinister secret.. TEAM SAVAGE!!!! This is a recommended read to the Dads that enjoy Y.A. Inspired by 1985’s “Blood Sports”, It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered – a weekend away with society’s elite – an opportunity to make new friends and try new, exciting activities.. or is it? A suspenseful thriller that will keep you turning the page right until the end with unpredictable twists and plots. The writing style is definitely YA – especially the dialogue between the characters however the plot and the premise is what holds you to the end. Many thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Happy Father’s Day to all the Awesome Dads!! Happy Readings!!

Enchantment by Brittany Riley + Exclusive Q&A

I had the pleasure of meeting Brittany at the Allen and Unwin YA Fan Fest in 2016. When Brittany told me she published her first book, I was most excited to read it… And did not disappoint!!! Having read this book, I can highly recommend it to fans of mythology, folklore, fae and YA urban fantasy. Brittany gave me a copy of her book and once I read it, I managed to do a quick Q&A with her to share with you all..

Enchantment
The protagonist is Elise Dawson and she has led a pretty sheltered life being home-schooled and protected by her parents from the suspicious eyes of the world. Like thousands of others, the Dawsons are the descendants of the UndeAdlic Acolitus, or Immortal Lightbearers–a subspecies of faerie with only one enemy: the Banshees – an evil version of the Lightbearers however, Elise has no idea who she is, what her power or destiny is as she feels suffocated under the overbearing protection of her parents. Little does she know she is the descendant of the first water elemental, Lennox Henderson, and that she has the ability to control all water sources on Earth. This is a story of a young woman who discovers her true identity and must choose between her destiny as an elemental or someone who should be her enemy.

Again, I recommend this for fans of YA fantasy/urban fantasy fiction who like reading about elementals and fae. The book is very well written and I was gripped from the prologue right to the end – it’s very easy to read and the suspense keeps you hanging, wanting to know what will happen next. The family dynamic and friendship was illustrated very well and I also like how the author illustrated the initial meeting between unlikely allies: Elise and Christian- their initial meeting and continued interaction, I found, set itself apart from other YA characters interaction, it wasn’t so cliché. The characters and the storyline progressed quite well and the structure was very easy to understand and follow. A great debut novel!!!

Special thanks to author, Brittany Riley, for giving me a copy of her debut novel in exchange for my honest review…

Pictured: Brittany Riley

Exclusive Q&A with author Brittany Riley

Your debut novel, “Enchantment” was published in 2016. What was your inspiration to write your first novel?
I actually come up with the idea when I was in high school. I’m not sure of the exact ‘lightbulb’ moment, but I remember sitting in class and getting excited over the opportunity to see this idea through. Mind you, it was a very different version back then, in almost every respect. It was only over the following years that I fully developed the storyline, characters, cliff-hangers and aspirations for worldwide publication.

Is there any particular reason you chose fantasy fiction as the genre for your debut novel?
I’ve always been obsessed with fairy tales and magic. Even as a child, my favourite creatures were fairies. I guess the most amazing thing about writing and even Y.A is that I can explore these concepts while adding my own dark, personal twist.

How did you come up with the characters and their interaction? I liked Elise’s interaction with Christian throughout the story – I guess forbidden fruit is always interesting…
I wanted to be different in how my characters came together and interacted. I didn’t want my book to be your average fairy tale, because too often, even in real life, love stories are messy and beautiful and catastrophic all at once. I’ve always loved the idea of forbidden fruit; it’s far sweeter. I think Christian and Elise’s love story is very different from all the rest.

I found “Enchantment” touches on real life themes such as family relations – when Elise is struggling to understand her parent’s decisions which they believe are in her best interests but with limited to no context of these decisions, Elise felt so suffocated and tempted to rebel, were these sorts of themes inspired by real life stories you may have heard or even experienced yourself?
I personally have never felt Elise’s level of suffocation, but I think the concept of constriction, in whatever context, can relate to many people on many levels. I empathise with both Elise and her parents in a way, because I know if it was my child I would want to protect them, but if I was put in Elise’s positon, I’d be frustrated beyond comprehension too. It’s a fine balancing act between what’s “right and wrong” and how these definitions differ in the eyes of those around you.

It looks like a lot of research went into your novel – I liked how there is a lot of information presented in the book so the reader can read exactly what Elise was reading when she was researching her history – without revealing ‘trade secrets’ how did you go about your research?
I’ve always loved European history, so it was actually fun to write! I had to find a medium between factual and fantastical to suit the story. Obviously Elise was in need of information about her own identity and the audience needed context because it was the first book, so I thought this particular presentation of information was the best option.

I won’t give anything away other than – at the end of the book, I felt it was a bit of a cliff hanger… will we see a sequel? When?
I’m working on the sequel as we speak, however, I still have a day job and need to dedicate time to that as well. In terms of release date and publication, I am currently querying agents so I can get the book/TV deal I’ve always dreamed of! I’m hoping doors of opportunity open soon so everyone can immerse themselves in my books on a far larger scale!

There are five books in the series. I know exactly how each goes and how the whole story ends, and believe me when I say there is a whole lot of love, heartbreak, scandal and breathtaking moments to come in the series!

When you’re not writing, what could we find you doing?
I love coffee, so you’ll generally find me at cafes watching the world go by. I’m very close to my family as well, so I love spending time with my mum at the gym or shopping. I love watching TV series too, especially Shadowhunters, Reign, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries; anything Y.A based, really. I find it inspiring as I want a TV adaption for my own series one day. Apart from all these activities, I love scrolling through Facebook and Twitter and finding inspiring stories, writing quotes and opportunities for discovery.

Do you enjoy reading yourself? What genre/s do you enjoy?
I do love reading, and I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m a Y.A writer myself or my age, but I rarely read anything that isn’t Y.A. I love Becca Fitzpatrick and Fleur Ferris, and any author that can transport me to another exciting, heart-pounding universe.

How can readers contact you or get hold of a copy of “Enchantment?”
My website contains all the relevant information! It’s: http://www.brittanyrileyauthor.com. I also have a Facebook page (Brittany Riley – YA Author), Twitter page (@brileyauthor) and a few other social media links. My website has specific links to all the online stores where my book is available! I love seeing comments from readers and am aiming to continue building my online presence.

-Review and Interview by Annie

The Read3r’z Re-Vu: Eid Special

EID MUBARAK!!! 1 SYAWWAL 1438H

Muslims around the world have just completed their fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan and have immersed themselves in some wonderful celebrations for Eid (Idul Fitri).

As part of the festivities, this blog post is a celebration and recommendation of some of the awesome books I have read that were written by Muslim authors…

Some you may have already seen before…

Have you ever worked with a Muslim colleague or have a Muslim friend who has declined invites to lunch or even social gatherings after work or school during a certain time of the year? They suddenly go missing from the social sphere or they disappear for a power nap during lunch?  It’s certainly not to cause any offence or to avoid anyone, it’s because they are embracing the Holy Month of Ramadan.

So.. What is Ramadan and What is Eid?
Muslims follow the lunar calendar where the phases of the moon are followed closely and upon the citation of a new moon, a new month commences. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, depending on the citation of the new moon it can go for anywhere between 28-30 days. It is a holy month for Muslims as Muslims believe it is when Prophet Muhammad received the divine revelation of the Holy Quran, Islam and the message of One God.

As part of the holy month, Muslims engage in a fast during sunlight hours. The fast is a means of bringing them closer to God, humble themselves as a person and a reminder of those who are less fortunate. During Ramadan, Muslims are either fasting or praying… or sleeping… When it’s time to break the fast (Iftar) it is most likely with family as Ramadan is the time for family then afterwards, they go to their nearest mosque for prayers which go for most of the night. Time is quite consumed with the fasting and prayers during the Holy Month. With it, the fast can get quite exhausting but not from the lack of food and water consumption. Sahur (breakfast) is at approx. 4:30am to eat in time before Fajr (morning prayers) by 5:20am – then it’s off to work or school so when it’s downtime – it’s usually for rest.

The fast is only prescribed to Muslims who are fit and able to engage in the fast – so if a Muslim is sick or has a medical condition that requires regular medication or meals, they are exempt. Same applies to pregnant and lactating women. If one has commenced fasting then during the day has become ill, they are to break their fast immediately. For those who can’t fast, they usually pay a Fidyah (charity) that is paid to the needy and equates to what one normally spends on food in a day. General rule of thumb is approx. $10 per day for a meal.

Ramadan is a peaceful time of the year – it is a time for prayer, family and repentance. You could call it an annual spiritual and physical detox…

To mark the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate a religious holiday called Eid also known as Idul Fitri or Eid ul Fitr. It’s a time when Muslims wear new clothes and first attend prayers in the morning then make up for lost time by visiting friends or family from house to house and eat.. A LOT!!! It’s also a time for charity as a Fitrah (charity paid prior to Eid) that is paid to the poor. It’s also a day to remind Muslims to forgive their fellow Muslims for shortcomings and continue to carry on positive behaviour once they bid the Holy Month farewell.

Recommended reads by some awesome Muslim Authors

Randa Abdel-Fattah’s When Michael Met Mina an important Contemporary YA Novel that I see as the next “Looking for Alibrandi” and Noah’s Law a great Contemporary YA novel that has an element of crime mystery thriller…
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sami Shah’s Fire Boy and Earth Boy epic Urban Fantasy novels that reference the Islamic faith on Jinn.. has you on the edge of your seat!!!
 

Demet Divaroren’s Living on Hope Street – A raw and confronting yet fantastic YA read that’s set in “The Burbs”

Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Light both intense YA page turners that had me on the edge of my seat.. A story that is set in a brutal world that is inspired by Ancient Rome and its ruthless way of ruling with an iron fist..
 

Wishing all our Muslim members a wonderful and blessed Eid Mubarak:
1 Syawwal 1438 H

-Annie

 

Earth Boy by Sami Shah

An epic sequel to an epic debut – and a fantastic end to an amazing duology!!!

Once again, Sami Shah does not disappoint with “Earth Boy” due for release: April 2017.

Picking up where we left off in “Fire Boy” we continue with Wahid’s journey – Wahid, the boy from Pakistan who has an unusual talent of seeing what others can’t.. He can see jinn. In a freak accident that he’s been blamed for, it appears jinn have stolen his friend’s soul and it’s up to Wahid to free her from jinn before it’s too late. Towards the end of Fire Boy, Wahid meets an unlikely and untrustworthy ally – The Devil Himself. The book starts with Iblis’ (The Devil’s) story and continues Wahid’s quest to not only save his friend’s soul but to also determine what’s really going on in the jinn world and why are all these unexplained things are happening? In order for Wahid to succeed, Wahid has to learn the true nature of his birth and potentially cross over into the parallel world of jinn.  

Written just as well as the first book, this book had me on the edge of my seat and I truly advise readers to read this during daylight hours. Again, I found the referencing of Islamic belief in this urban fantasy story was accurate which made me enjoy this story even more. Although I finally have closure as to what happens next, I was gaping at Wahid’s story! I highly recommend this to the readers who enjoyed “Fire Boy” as you really wont be disappointed. You will gasp, cringe, gape and laugh throughout this story.  

Many thanks to Fantasica Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review, it was an honour to read this and I look forward to the finished product when it hits the shelves in April 2017.

-Annie