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QBD Penrith’s Recent Reads!

 

Our Penrith team have been reading up a storm!
From YA to biographies they have a recommendation for any taste.

 

9781473654785Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver broke my heart into a million pieces while simultaneously forcing me to realise that every day is special. Through the story of Sam, a teenage girl, reliving her last day over and over, you begin to realise the importance of family, self, and being kind towards other people, because you never know what they're experiencing. I have read this book over and over, and it always leaves me with a myriad of emotions and a renewed need to live life to the fullest. - Jacqui

Renaissance by Oliver Bowden:

I was genuinely surprised by how much I loved this book. I decided to read it because I am completely obsessed with the games and wanted more of Ezio. I expected it to be a basic novelisation of the games but it turned out to be much more than that. It gave us an insight into a lot of information that was never eluded too in the games and on top of that I have to commend the author for his grace in writing the many climbing and fighting scenes throughout the book. Overall I have to say that this was a solid novelisation and definitely worth the read! - Kate

9781780622286Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:

The Ice Court is the most impenetrable military fortress that the world has ever seen. At its heart is held a secret that could spell doom for the Grisha - people whose supernatural powers make them an asset and a target alike. Kaz Brekker is just the thief for the job of breaking in and stealing the secret, and he'll do it for the substantial reward money. He can't do it alone, however, and while the team he assembles might have the criminal prowess to succeed, the grudges they hold are quite likely to kill each other before they even get there.

While this book is set in the same world as Bardugo's other series, the Grisha Trilogy, there is no need to read that first. The world and its inhabitants are shown and developed in exquisite depth and detail. Each character is incredibly unique and each one is incredibly easy to love. This book is a real page turner with adventure and intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat and a heist that leaves you with your heart in your throat. It leapt into my top ten of favourite books from the very first chapter and I cannot see it being easily bumped down.- Georgia

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick:

Scrappy Little Nobody is a tell all book about Anna Kendrick's life. Whilst reading her book I found myself able to connect with her on so many levels. Not only does she constantly down-grade herself about her choices in life, she also shows us that the Hollywood lifestyle is harder to live in than we think - even she is still trying to figure that out. Throughout her book I couldn`t stop laughing as her comedic sense of humour was clearly shown in every page. It is one of those books that you can`t stop reading.- Abby

9781760111823Working Stiff by Judy Melinek:

The world of forensic pathology is not all in appears to be on TV. Judy Melinek recounts her time working as a medical examiner in New York City and tells stories of death, disaster and dealing with grieving families. While the topic is a morbid one, this book is full of humour and humanity. Melinek is an honest writer and her experiences will really open your eyes up to the hidden world of post-mortem investigation. - Renee

The Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly:

The Fifth Greatest Warrior returns in true Jack West Jr style! Years have passed, young Lily now a lady and Jack's in trouble again, snatched by a secret society to take part in a world saving quest, though this time he's a pawn in someone else's challenge. In true Matthew Reilly style, there's fights, history mysteries and a fast enough pace that all of a sudden it's 2am and you're empty because it's over. While not Jack's finest outing, still a ripper of a ride. - Karrie

9781922179623Spark by Rachael Craw:

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, okay words. This concept is awesome; a super soldier program split it's participants into two; Shields, who protect and Strikers, who attack. But when the Strikers go rogue and become Strays, it's a battle to the death for the life of the Spark. Enter a Shield who has no idea what's going on, her aunt that's been hiding this life from her and a cute boy who's sister is the spark and you have a wild ride. This fresh concept is just what the young adult genre needs. I read this one in a day and bought the second book the day after. Read it. Seriously. Just read it. - Kenzie

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QBD Highpoint’s ‘Must Read’ YA Fiction!

 

Looking to delve into YA?
Our Highpoint team have put together a 'must read' list for you!

 

9780140360462Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta:

This book is one of my all-time favourites. I read Looking for Alibrandi seventeen years ago and it is still the book I go back to when I don't feel like reading anything else. I grew up in a very stereotypical Anglo family so getting an insight into Josie's "Wog" family was not only enlightening, but it was like sitting outside someone's house and peering into their life. While Josie and I were so different in so many ways her character is still so relatable to all teenage girls. A crush on the popular boy, being friend-zoned by that boy, driving lessons with Dad, hanging out at the skate park with your best friends, the overbearing family member, losing your best friend, falling in love with the bad boy, feeling like you don't fit in and being bullied by the popular girl... It all resonates. When you finish reading Looking for Alibrandi, Josie will feel like a long lost friend. I have made my nieces read this book and I recommend it to anyone who has a teenage daughter. I remember when the movie came out, my Mum took me to see it, she was extremely concerned about the content but knew how much I loved the book so gave in. When Mum came out of the cinema she said to me "See, We may not be cool, we may be annoying and some days you will hate us but at the end of the day, your family is always there and we love you no matter what trouble you get in to... But please don't ever get on a motorbike with a boy." I think I grunted at her and told her to stop being so emotional but that has always stuck with me, just like the book has. - Chaille

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews:

This unique coming-of-age novel is told from the perspective of 17-year-old rookie-filmmaker Greg Gaines, and begins on his first day of senior year. Things were going as well as he could expect, until he gets home to the news that his "sort-of-kinda-not-really ex-girlfriend" from Hebrew school, Rachel, has been diagnosed with leukemia. His mum forces him to befriend her and eventually, the two rekindle their friendship. And before you think, "Ugh, not another John Green", think again.
One of the things I loved most about this book was that it was so genuine. It didn't have some sappy, unrealistic love story; there were no deep, philosophical conversations about life and death; and best of all, it didn't romanticise a terminal illness. It was just three teenagers trying to make it through high-school in all their awkward, self-deprecative, sarcastic glory. The characters and their interactions are hilarious - I don't think I've ever literally laughed out loud this often whilst reading a book - and the unique format that incorporates screenplay excerpts and lists was fun and original. This book is unlike anything you have ever, or will ever, read, and is by far my favourite YA book of all time. - Kayla

9780141339092Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer:

You don’t mess with magical creatures, especially is they have laser guns, invisibility shields and jetpacks to go with their magic. Yet teenage criminal genius Artemis Fowl intends to do just that. He plans to kidnap an elven police officer and ransom her back to people. He thinks he has everything planned out…
A hilarious book with action and drama to boot. Colfer’s writing drives the plot forward whilst allowing the amazing cast of characters their time in the sun, the wise-cracking tech head centaur and also-wise-cracking dwarven thief personal favourites. I’ve loved this series for many years and for a very good reason, it’s just that good. - Jai

Once by Morris Glietzman:

Once focuses on ten-year-old Felix, the son of two Jewish booksellers growing up in Poland in 1942.
Felix has lived in a catholic orphanage for 3 years and 8 months, after his parents hid him there for safety. He believes that someday they will come back to get him, but they never do. Later, a group of men known as Nazis come to the orphanage and start burning books. Felix believes that these men must hate books, and decides he must find his parents to warn them.
What makes Once so hard to put down, is the true naivety of Felix to the events occurring around him. He uses fictitious stories to turn starvation, death and violence into justifiable acts that he can understand. And as this becomes more and more impossible, readers get to grow and come to grips with it just as he does.
In his story, Morris Glietzman succeeds in painting a picture of the true destruction of innocence it must have been, to be a child during the holocaust. This is a book that every young reader should attempt. - Isabelle

9781407132082The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:

Panem... a world where one city, known as “The Capitol”, controls everything...
The Twelve districts are forced to give up one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to fight in the “Hunger Games”- a battle to the death in a maze of deception. Some districts have volunteers that will train all year or indeed, all their lives, to take part in this crazed battle. Other districts do not have the funds for food, let alone training. These districts have their representatives drawn from a lottery controlled by The Capitol who forces people to put their name in the draw so they can receive food. In District 12, When Katniss Everdeen's twelve year old sister Prim's name is drawn, she has little choice but to take her place, to preserve her sister's life. Katniss swears to Prim that she will win. Although Katniss does not believe that she will come out alive, she plans to fight as long as she can, with the promise to her sister constant in her mind.
Due to the current financial state of District 12, Katniss has been close to starvation many times, but continued to hunt for her family and fight to stay alive, surely she can draw on this experience to help her survive as long as she can.

Before “The Games” Katniss is forced, with her male counterpart from District 12, Peta, to put on a display to earn herself sponsors, who may choose to help her during The Games. This involves an extravagant lifestyle Katniss is completely uncomfortable with and which only serves to anger her, knowing that her family are starving in District 12 while she sits waiting to die surrounded by food and anything she could need. She is subjected to outlandish attire and ridiculous interviews that are simply displays of acting talent to see who can create the best persona and earn themselves the approval of a crowd of rich socialites.

During all of this, Katniss can only draw on that fact that she and Peta are in the same boat and that someone understands her pain in this situation. Peta is a much better showman than Katniss and gains acceptance more easily. At the advice of their Handler, it is decided that they will portray a romantic relationship to the people of “The Capitol” in an attempt to Have Katniss liked by the masses through Peta's charm and create a relationship that will be cared about – as far as it's entertainment value. But Katniss already has a romantic partner, how will this affect him? Will Katniss' close relationship with Peta be her downfall?

Katniss and Peta must train with the competitors from all the other districts and quickly realises they are massively out-matched. Some of these children have been training their entire lives for this battle to the death... All Katniss has is her bow skill and Peta has a good ability to hide. How are they any match for these warriors? During training, Katniss befriends a young girl from District 11 named Rue. During The Games, Rue helps Katniss to survive.

Will Katniss allow someone else to win so they do not have to die?
Will Katniss have to kill?
Who will win this Hunger Games?
Will Katniss survive?
Believe me, you will not want to stop reading until you have the answer to all of these questions. - Sam-Maree

The Maze Runner by James Dashner:

The Maze Runner begins with a boy, Thomas, waking up in the Glade, surrounded by a giant maze. He soon realises that he isn't alone, with a large group of kids being in close proximity all with a similar story. They know their names and that is all they can remember. They must find a way out of the maze to get to the real truth about the world outside. The first of James Dashner's Maze Runner series, which is now also a motion picture, this book is fast paced and well written. It is reminiscent of The Hunger Games in a lot of ways and if you enjoyed The Hunger Games series you're sure to enjoy The Maze Runner and its sequels. - Eric

9780141340135Lunar chronicles 1: Cinder by Marissa Meyer:

The Lunar Chronicles is a brilliant adaptation of the fairy tales we all know and love put into a futuristic, science fiction context. The first book follows Cinder, based off of Cinderella.

Cinder is a cyborg, with a unknown past, owned by her cruel step mother thanks to the laws against her kind, and is forced to work as a mechanic on the streets of New Beijing, which have been infected by a virus of unknown origins. Because of her reputation as one of the best mechanics New Beijing has seen, Prince Kai seeks Cinder out to repair a castle android, but when he finds her, she becomes the focus of his thoughts.

As the charming princes' affections for Cinder increase, he becomes the object of a suspicious marriage proposal from the wicked Queen of the moon colony, Levana. With a kingdom plagued by a disease of unknown origins, and a malevolent Queen's wicked plan, Cinder may be in the centre of it all.
Cinder will take you away into an amazing utopia turned dystopia, and make you want more! Marissa Meyer is a genius! - Tyler

Uglies by Scott Westerfield:

The first in a four book series, Uglies, is set in a post-apocalyptic future society that holds three values above anything else, Sustainability, Peace, and Equality, where at the age of sixteen everyone undergoes an intensive operation to become ‘pretty’. Told all her life that she is ‘ugly’ Tally Youngblood is excited to turn sixteen, become ‘pretty’ and join her parents and friends on the other side of the river where she will want for nothing. Her friend Shay doesn’t share the sentiment however. Tally is confronted with the concept that maybe being pretty isn’t everything it has always seemed to be and is forced to make a choice; betray her friends, or stay ‘ugly’ forever.

A dystopian coming of age story where at the heart of it all a young girl has to make some tough decisions that will affect not only her but her friends and potentially her entire civilisation but still wants what society tells all young girls they should want, to be pretty. I first read this novel in high school and was thrilled by a heroine that was intelligent and brave but still struggled with issues and feelings that most teens deal with now. Written from Tally’s point of view, it is an easy read filled with youthful slang and vivid world building that shows just how overvalued beauty can be - a theme that can easily be translated to our own cultures obsession with beauty and its worth. It does all this while also promoting themes of individuality and finding one’s own identity in an interesting sci-fi landscape. I’d recommend this to anyone that enjoys YA dystopian novels such as The Maze Runner or Hunger Games series. - Madeleine

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Brisbane City’s Current Reads

Today our Brisbane City team share with us what they are currently reading!

9780593074794My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella:

Although I just started this book, I'm absolutely loving it! It's the first Sophie Kinsella book I've read, and it definitely won't be the last. It's the laugh-a-minute story of Katie Brenner, an ex farm girl turned city dweller with big dreams for an Instagram-worthy life. When it all comes crashing down around her though, Katie realises that sometimes a seemingly picture-perfect life isn't all it's cracked up to be. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a cute, funny summer read! - Emily

Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante:

I have been reading Lynda La Plante's book series on DI Anna Travis, so far I am up to number 5 in this series and I'm giving it two thumbs up! I would highly recommend for anyone who loves a well written crime thriller. - Yvonne

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas:

After receiving this book for Christmas I couldn't wait to start reading it and it certainly didn't disappoint. The story follows Calaena Sardothien, a young, beautiful and deadly assassin held prisoner in the salt mines of Endovier. When an opportunity arises to win her freedom in a competition against other assassins, thieves and criminals alike, she has no choice but to take it. But Calaena soon discovers that evil and danger lurk behind every corner. Who is killing all the other competitors and what are the strange wyrd symbols that keep appearing under her bed? Filled with mystery, humour, magic and romance, fans of YA fantasy will love this. - Bec


9780141037479My Family and Other Animals
by Gerald Durrell:

A delightful, comical account of the Durrell family's five year long sojourn on Corfu after escaping the dreary and overbearing English climate in 1935. In later life Gerald Durrell was a celebrated conservationist, zookeeper and naturalist but it was his time in Corfu as a young boy which delighted and inspired his love of nature and wild life. Intended as a light-hearted recounting of the flora and fauna of Corfu during his time there in the late 30's this book soon became a loving and hilarious portrait of his family. There is much to enjoy and relate too in this fantastic book whether its the struggles of his mother to maintain a sense of order in their disordered lives, the pain of first love for his sister Margo, the competitiveness between his exceptionally different brothers, or just the awe and wonder with which young Gerald embraces the world around him. This is a great book for people who love David Attenborough or just a light, funny read! - Bronte

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick:

If you're down for a laugh-out-loud read by one of Hollywood's most hilarious underdogs, then look no further. Anna Kendrick presents to you, Scrappy Little Nobody. Undoubtedly, one of the funniest books I have read in the last year, this book presents a refreshing look at what it's like to grow up a little different, and to learn to enjoy your own oddities. A collection of humorous autobiographical essays that will keep you laughing, guessing, and cheering for this wonderful Scrappy Little Nobody. - Georgia

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler:

A fun combination of magic and muskets in the first book in the series from the fantasy author with the best name in the business. Think Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series meets Robin Hobb's Rain wild series! A new commanding officer for the Vordani Old Colonials takes over after a disastrous retreat. The new colonel has no intention of retreating back home and takes the fight to all and sundry. Magic, strange creatures and body parts go flying as the Colonials, in a very unhappy fashion, have to actually fight someone before they can get home. Secrets lie thicker than desert sands and somewhere behind it all is the answer to the question, "What is the Thousand Names?" - Geoff

9780857503572Black Holes: The BBC Reith Lectures by Stephen Hawking:

Stephen Hawking's Black Holes is an intriguing look into the ever expanding field of space sciences. It follows on from Hawking's talks during the BBC Reith Lectures in which the world renowned scientist was able to put in short his lifetime of work and knowledge of one of the most fascinating aspects of the universe that exists even if we cannot see it; Black Holes. This book captures even those with little knowledge on the subject and included is an introduction and helpful notes on the topics that are covered.
On the first page it reads, “It is said that fact is sometimes stranger than fiction, and nowhere is that more true than in the case of Black Holes. Black Holes are stranger than anything dreamed up by science fiction writers but they are firmly matters of science fact”. It is for this reason this book is something great to recommend, for what is better than an gripping story than one that turns out to be true? - Rae

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QBD Marion’s Australia Day reads

 

Today our Marion team shine a light on these great 'true blue' reads

- just in time for Australia Day!

 

at-the-beachAt the Beach by Roland Harvey:

Using individual postcards, this charming picture book takes the reader on a typical Australian holiday road trip and tells the tale of one family's adventures at 'Crabby Spit'. The illustrations are detailed and colourful depicting the perfect beach getaway. Similar to Where's Wally the reader must help the family find missing holiday items, a great addition to take on a long car trip. - Elise

SAFlavoursFlavours of South Australia by Jonette George:

Within these pages you can journey from the remarkable restaurants in Adelaide to the world-renowned wineries and producers of the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Clare Valley. This coffee table book contains a wide range of award winning cuisine with stunning photography of the region. A great gift for any foodie or wine lover, you'll be able to replicate a host of signature recipes to try at home. - Stacey

down-underDown Under by Trevor Comony:

Down Under is the iconic 80's Aussie tune that put Men at Work on the map, but an innocent trivia show put the song and the band into the court room. An interesting look into one of Australia’s controversial songs and the copyright battle they fought. A light read about the legalities of the Australian music industry. Make up your own verdict, is it "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gumtree"? - Holly

Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident by Bruce Pascoe:

dark-emuA rather important, worthwhile read for all Australians. Dark Emu  shatters many misconceptions about the way Indigenous Australians lived. Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for Pre-1788 Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal Australians used domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the “hunter-gatherer” tag. Have the history books been lying to us or did the government of the time choose to ignore the facts to enforce the concept 'Terra Nullius'? It presents a strong argument for the reconsideration of our understanding of the way the First Australians lived with the land. A short read that will change to way you look at your history books. - Sarah

secret-riverThe Secret River by Kate Grenville:

Beautiful and tragically written, this historical drama follows the rise of a convict family to free settlers merchants in colonial New South Wales. The Secret River is an acclaimed piece of literature, vividly telling the deeply personal story of Will and Sal Thornhill, early convict colonists and their interactions and relationships with the Indigenous and European communities of the Hawskbery river. A wonderful read for those who love history or those who just want to read the trials of small business venture. - Kate

wrong-girlThe Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster:

This Aussie chick-lit novel has recently been adapted it into a television series by Australian television network Ten. It follows city girl Lily, through her singledom life in present day Sydney. I loved reading about a modern Aussie girl, complete with career doubts, life choices and the ensemble of delightful friends. This easy-to-read modern day take on love and life in the city will keep you laughing. Read the book before the new season starts. - Hannah

glass-kingdomThe Glass Kingdom by Chris Flynn:

The Glass Kingdom explores the lives of Ben, Mikey and Voltan - all members of 'The Kingdom', a travelling carnival making it's way up East Coast Australia. Throughout the novel, readers are confronted with the rules of The Kingdom as well as the harsh realities of meth dealing. Darkly funny, it's a book that keeps you guessing. - Abbey

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QBD Reviews: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

girlbefore

Wow! I really loved this story, it was so twisty! I enjoyed how we learnt about Emma and Jane and their relationships - three years apart - with Edward, the architect of The House. Similarities between Emma, Jane and Edward’s first wife are pieced together through the narrative.

1 Folgate Street London is a special house, and only a certain type of person can live there. There are exhaustive and exacting rules to follow, an iron clad lease to be signed and each tenant must be approved by the architect before anyone is allowed to move in. After traumatic events in the lives of both Emma and Jane, they each find refuge and initially feel safe at Folgate Street. Emma had been threatened with a knife during a burglary at a previous house while Jane had recently had a stillborn baby girl at full term. 1 Folgate Street is very secure, with biometric scanning built in and very minimal décor. Both girls needed The House to feel safe and whole again.

All the way through the novel it was stated that the architect Edward was a controlling perfectionist, and it was alluded to that he was trying to re-create a perfect relationship. It was almost creepy how Edward gave each woman the same gifts, and said the exact same words to each. Edward appeared to love Emma and she tragically died in The House. Three years later Jane is accepted as a tenant.  She is curious and finds out small details about Emma, yet Edward refuses to speak about her. Going behind Edward’s back and speaking to people who knew Emma; a retired policeman, her previous boyfriend Simon and her therapist, Jane starts to worry for her own safety.

I loved how the characters were written in this story, they really came to life for me. I thought I knew what had happened to Emma, but I was surprised. Jane also surprised me with her strength of character, and how she dealt with her emotions and choices was really well written.

The denouement at the end of The Girl Before was another brilliant twist – who ends up controlling who? I loved this story, definitely a recommended read.

~ Kerryn, QBD Northland