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

Fire Boy by Sami Shah

“And verily, We created mankind from sounding clay of altered smooth mud and the jinn We created from smokeless fire.” (Quran, Surah 15, Ayats 26-27)

-One of my 2016 favourites!!! Rating: 5 Stars-

This was a really engaging and fantastic read!!! Yes this is urban fantasy – yes the story is a work of fiction – however, it accurately references Islamic beliefs and terms throughout the story which worked really well with the plot and it intrigued a lot of my non-Muslim friends into asking more questions about Islam and wanting to learn more, it bridged some gaps from a different angle.

This epic Urban Fantasy follows the story of Wahid whose birth and ability to see jinn (creatures made of smokeless fire) remains a mystery. He’s growing up in Karachi, Pakistan and he’s a typical geek boy – really into Dungeons and Dragons, comics and games. In an ill-timed, fatal car accident, Wahid witnesses a jinn stealing his friend’s soul and he vows to get her back. Wahid is wrongfully accused of causing the accident and is on the run having to source help from the most darkest of all spirits – the Devil himself.

Some scenes were rather violent and freaky however, the story line was captivating and the dialogue was quite witty and clever. It is very well written, action packed – and suspenseful. For those who don’t take well with jinn or the supernatural, I strongly advise reading during daylight hours. Due to the themes and level of violence in the story, it is not suitable to readers under 15 years of age. I highly recommend this story for urban/fantasy fiction fans as it is very different to what you may have read before.

Please remember, this story is a work of fiction with reference to Islamic beliefs. For further reading and understanding on the Islamic beliefs that are referenced in the book, please refer to Islamic books, the Quran or Hadith. 

I am really looking forward to the sequel!!!
-Annie

Valentine by Jodi McAlister

A advanced review copy I rated 4.5 Stars – Due for release: February 2017

Valentine is the debut novel for YA author, Jodi McAlister. It is the first installment of a new series with a paranormal twist that is highly recommended to fans of Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.

I found this to be a really good and gripping read that honestly had me creeped me out at times and purposely reading this during daylight hours. Valentine is about 4 teenagers who happened to have share the same birthday – they were born on Valentine’s Day. During their senior year, each of the four teens start to go missing one by one and evil cats are following the protagonist, Pearl Linford, everywhere she goes. However, in trying to work out what on earth is going on, she forms the most unlikely alliance and has confused feelings for someone she once called her nemesis – who is just as part of the saga and is also discovering himself. As the plot continues, so does Pearl’s investigation into the mysterious disappearances and her ally’s background which brings her to question the trust she once had with friends who appear to become the enemy.
The dialogue is quite funny and witty, though sometimes I felt like hitting Pearl to make her focus on the task at hand and not go on a tangent about irrelevant things lol it was a cool read and I would love to see a sequel to this!!!

Special thanks to Penguin Teen Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Annie

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock Series) by Faith Hunter

A great read – 4 stars out of 5 stars

Blurb
Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind, she is a skinwalker of Cherokee descent. Jane can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. In this story, she is now being hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vampires.

My thoughts
I found this book while wondering up and down bookshelves at my local bookstore desperately looking for something to read when I left my book at home. Skinwalker is a fun and very easy read for me. I enjoyed it and it also left me muttering on a few occasions “Why do I have to put this book down when duty calls!?” “Boo.. Work” I really enjoyed this book so much, I want to get know the characters better and how the characters’ relationships continue to grow throughout the series. It’s one series I will invest in – and so should you.

-Meredith

Rebel of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Collective Blog from some avid readers in Read3r’z Re-Vu who engaged in an epic “whattsapp read along” What is a whattsapp read along you ask? it’s a tech savvy way to enjoy a read long with friends in a group chat on the app “Whattsapp”.. Ground rules: updates are spoiler free – use emoticons when can – updates are feels + page or chapter number – engage in full discussion upon everyone’s completion of the book… Here are the reviews…

Rebel of the Sands (synopsis found on Goodreads.com)
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands. Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from. Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Magic, Adventure, Myth and Legends – 4.5 stars!
After reading The Wrath and The Dawn, I wanted to read another middle-eastern fairy tale inspired story containing heroic characters, adventure and plot twists; Rebel of the Sands did not disappoint. It’s action-packed, easy to read, contains witty characters that make you want to read on,  plot twists that I did not see coming and mystical beasts which made the world sensational. Highly recommended for YA fantasy  readers that like a plot-driven story, adventure quests, strong characters and magical powers. The cover is also gorgeous, I loved the texture, it really enhanced the reading experience!
– NJ

Another epic read to add to a list of 2016 favourites.. Although I was the last to finish, I enjoyed the read along I did with members of Read3r’z Re-Vu! For this book, you can judge a book by the beautiful cover!!! From page 1, the story really pulls you into a world where you’re thinking Arabian nights meets quick draw at a Texan saloon.. Where you meet a girl who dresses up as a boy and enters shooting games to simply to get away from a life that is dictated to her and win enough money to escape.. A tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat , turning the page and even hating some characters!!! I highly recommend this story to YA fans, particularly fans of fantasy fiction and those who have yet to tap into the Arabian nights theme.. I am yearning for the sequel now!! A 5 Star Read!!!
-Annie

I bought a copy of this book because of its sunning cover and I was not disappointed!! The story is a cross between an Arabian nights adventure and a Western with a tough heroine and some (but not a lot) of romance to boot. What it also has is gunslinging, good pacing and plenty of twists and turns plus a healthy dose of Middle Eastern Folklore and magical creatures! If that sounds right up your alley, pick this up because I sure can’t wait for book 2!!!
-Queenie

OK.. WOW!!! I am speechless… Rebel of the Sands draws you in and doesn’t let you go. I loved this book, I was the last to start and one of the first to finish this read along.. I found this to be a YA about coming of age story as the character was figuring out who she is.. A classic mix of Arabian nights and fantasy fiction, waiting for the sequel now..
-Meredith

This fantasy-western I rate 4 stars pulls you in rom the first few pages and doesn’t let go. Amani is trying to write her own story within her misogynistic world. This action packed novel had me turning the pages, eager to find out what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed this story. The only thing that stopped it being a 5 star rating was at times, I felt the pacing was a bit off. However, Amani’s story had my full attention and I have high hopes for the next book in the series!!!
-Amanda

I guess my tastes are different as I couldn’t really get into this book – the world didn’t seem real to me and the characters seemed a bit out of place. For a country which was at the heart of industrialisation, it didn’t seem like it. The American wild west + magic with Arabian names didn’t exactly grab me either. I would say this more suited to YA fans who enjoy fantasy fiction – it was worth reading though, I gave it at least a 3 star rating..
-Vaughan