QBD Reviews: City of Masks by Mary Hoffman

city of masks

It’s time to pay tribute to one of the unsung heroes of my childhood book collection: City of Masks reads like The Fault in Our Stars and Outlander had a child and passed only the good genes on. There was nothing about the Stravaganza series that was ever disappointing or boring and the first journey to sixteenth century Talia, a parallel-world country similar to our Italy, was possibly the best of them all.

After acquiring an old, vibrantly covered notebook from his father’s worksite, Lucien falls asleep one night and awakes to find himself smack bang in the main square of Bellezza. Thinking it a dream, Lucien is quickly corrected by a series of accidental encounters that not only lead him to discover that he is a Stravagante – able to transport himself in time and place with the use of a talisman – but reveal a dangerous plot against Bellezza’s Duchess. Despite finding himself in the middle of all the secretive chaos, the real danger to Lucien is the leukaemia he’s battling in his reality. In Talia, he no longer feels the effects of his chemotherapy treatments and feeling whole and healthy again is a temptation that may prove to be more hazardous than the assassination attempts he finds himself mixed up in.

With action, adventure and plots constantly afoot in the streets of Bellezza, Lucien’s journey is equally breathtaking and bittersweet. The companions he collects during his trips to Talia make his ventures all that more engaging and the grand, sweeping country of Talia is almost a story element in and of itself – the customs, culture and citizens of the imaginary realm burst from the pages with startling clarity and sneakily suck you in. Lucien’s tale is just the beginning of the adventure that is this 6 book series. Each book brings a new Stravagante, a new city of Talia and new issues to the table that will keep you engulfed until the very last page.

Darkest Minds Movie: We have a Ruby!


One of our favourite YA novels, Alexandra Bracken's  The Darkest Minds, has been optioned for film by Fox . While there is no official release date, it is set to be directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the film has just signed Amandla Stenburg to star as Ruby!

You may remember Amandla as Rue from the Hunger Games movie. We imagine she did this when she found out...because we totally did!

The Darkest Minds is set after a pandemic kills off most of America's children and teenagers. When the survivors, including Ruby Daly, start developing superpowers they are deemed too dangerous for normal society and are placed inside internment camps. Ruby, who has telekinetic powers, escapes from her camp and joins a group of teens 'on the run'.

If you are looking to read this before you see it, Alexandra Bracken has a suggested reading order on her website: The Darkest Minds, In Time (novella), Never Fade, Sparks Rise (novella), In the Afterlight, and, finally, Beyond the Night (novella). There is a free short story about Liam set between The Darkest Minds and Never Fade that you can find here.


Historical fun for everyone!

Are you interested in history but find facts, figures and dates boring? Want a little bit more pizzazz and adventure with all the educational mumbo jumbo? Then historical fiction is the genre for you and I’m going to give you the scoop on some of the amazing titles floating around out there for all ages!

9781847374592The Lady of the Rivers  by Philippa Gregory:
Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of nineteen, she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her household for love, and then carved out a life for herself as Queen Margaret of Anjou’s close friend and a Lancaster supporter – until the day that her daughter Elizabeth Woodville fell in love and married the rival king Edward IV.

A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French:
In 1894, twelve-year-old Matilda flees the city slums to find her unknown father and his farm. But drought grips the land and the shearers are on strike. Her father’s turned swaggie and he’s wanted by the troopers. In front of his terrified daughter, he makes a stand against them, defiant to the last.
Set against a backdrop of bushfire, flood, war and jubilation, this is the story of one girl’s journey towards independence. It is also the story of others who had no vote and very little but their dreams.

9780552775311Two Brothers  by Ben Elton:
Berlin 1920. Two babies are born. Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood.
As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested ot the very limits of endurance, and the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice. Which one of them will survive?

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden:
The extraordinary tale of Sayuri, a young girl who grows up to become and acclaimed geisha, spanning a quarter of a century, from 1929 to the post-war years of Japan’s dramatic history and opening a window into the half-hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation.

9780141014081The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman:
One for the graphic novel lovers, Maus is an adaptation of the author’s fathers experiences in Nazi Germany and the concentration camps. Using cartoonish depictions of cats and mice to the tell his father’s tales which Spiegelman’s detailed black and white illustrations add interesting dimensions to, Maus is ultimately a survivor’s tale which endeavours to help us understand the horrors experienced by the Jews under Nazi reign.

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah:
A semi-fictionalised version of her breathtaking biography Falling Leaves for younger readers, Chinese Cinderella recounts Adeline’s childhood in a strictly traditional Chinese household where she was considered bad luck after her mother died giving birth to her.

Happy Birthday John Marsden!

marsdenjohn01Happy Birthday to John  Marsden, beloved Australian author of the Tomorrow series and the Ellie Chronicles! 

Born in Victoria, John Marsden began a Law/Arts degree at the University of Sydney, and worked at a mortuary, in a sideshow and as a security guard, before finally becoming an English teacher.

His landmark Tomorrow series is recognised as the most popular book series for young adults ever written in Australia. The first book of this series, Tomorrow When The War Began, has been reprinted 26 times in Australia and is now a television show on the ABC network. The first sequel of a new series of books featuring Ellie Linton from the Tomorrow series, The Ellie Chronicles: While I Live, was published in 2003, with the second novel and third novels released in November 2005 and November 2006 respectively.


Spotlight on QBD Pacific Fair 2016

Our team at Pacific Fair throw some great beach reads under our QBD Spotlight this week!

Ghostly Echoes: A Jackaby Novel by William Ritter:

This is such a wonderful series. For the uninitiated, R.F Jackaby is a supernatural detective solving crimes of a decidedly spooky nature in 19th Century America – he can be best described as a weird and wonderful combination of Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor. Jackaby is accompanied on his adventures by his unflappable assistant Miss Abigail Rook, along with a rotating cast of ghosts, werewolves, banshees, vampires, and other assorted supernatural creatures. Ghostly Echoes is the third Jackaby novel, and sees Jackaby and Abigail investigating the death of Jenny, the lovely ghost that resides upstairs in Jackaby's rickety old house. Like its predecessors, Ghostly Echoes is full of quirky characters, sly humour, and spooky adventure. If you're a fan of tv shows like Doctor Who, Supernatural, and Sherlock, Jackaby and Abigail are waiting to sweep you off your feet! - Sarah (Store Manager)

9781760113803 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff:

“Am I not merciful?” - AIDAN.
This is one of those rare few books that I’ve found that truly blind-sided me. I wasn’t expecting to be so hooked in with the unorthadox storytelling that I wanted to share this master piece with everyone!
In the beginning, it’s just the messages between protagonists Kady and Erza. They had just broken up when their planet got bombed by a rival mining company, launching unknown weapons amongst the people. After cramming all survivors onto any ship available, the skies turn into a shooting-fest. Only three ships managed to get away from the planet. To make matters worse, the AI system AIDAN on the only surviving battleship may not be as stable (or sane) as they all hope. As you get further into the book it shifts more and more to Kady and the AI, and it pushes the idea of how far you would go to protect others. Oh, and there may be Space Zombies if you tilt your head to the side. - Allison (Store 2IC)

The Vagrant by Peter Newman:

From the get-go this book grips you with its fantastic writing and characters which will keep you hooked until the end! A fantasy book with a touch of science fiction, it tells the story of the Vagrant, a silent protagonist who's transporting a baby to the Shining City. Set in a post-apocalyptic world filled with demonic creatures, undead knights and people trying to survive, the Vagrant's trip is not a quick and easy one. This is a must read for someone craving something unusual and original! - Andrew

9780141182674Penguin Modern Classics: On The Road by Jack Kerouac:

With an extremely narcissistic character to read about this story had me endlessly reading. Keourac has completed this story direct from his own diary as he was travelling which is a very cool, inspirational and unique thing to do. The story involves Keourac's travels throughout North America with a friend who roam throughout the country in a quest of self-knowledge and experience. As I was reading this, it feels like all of his ideas were put together all from his own conciousness while travelling and made me want to read more and more. It was a great introductory story for myself to find out what the “beat movement” was all about and has lead me to read more of the other great authors from this era. - Liam

It by Alexa Chung:

A must read for anyone with a passion for fashion or a love for the creative mind.
Alexa Chung's It has everything from awkward spice girl loving teen years, inspiration from all her favourite movie stars to her hilarious yet familiar routine for getting ready in the morning.
Her charming guide into her world of fashion, includes photos, notes and her awkwardly funny opinion on life. Alexa Shows you to be inspired and to rock it out with your own unique style. - Kelly

9781471158254It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover:

It Ends WIth Us is Colleen Hoover's most raw, honest and emotional novel yet. It follows the story of Lily Bloom as she starts her life in Boston, meeting Ryle Kincaid, a gorgeous neurosurgeon who seems like her perfect match. But is he too good to be true? This novel is an unforgettable tale of love, showing that sometimes, it comes at the ultimate price. A deep and powerful story, this one will have you reaching for the tissue box! - Gemma


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Every week our QBD Spotlight visits a new store!
Keep an eye out for your local team.