Karen

Reviewsday: Tales of Beauty & Madness by Lili St Crow

nameless

In the never ending parade of fairy tale adaptions, there's always something unique and clever about each and every one but we all know there are a few stand outs in the bunch that bring such a rich, engrossing interpretation to the table that they have to be raved about. This trilogy would probably rate in my top five fairy tale adaptions because whilst some elements of the stories read the same, the tweaks and changes compliment the original tale in a breathtaking manner.

Nameless, Wayfarer and Kin (Snow White, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood respectively) wayfarertell the tales of Cami, Ellie and Ruby, an unlikely group of friends each facing their own struggles. As if trying to make it through high school unscathed wasn't enough, Cami is battling her mysterious, unknown past and parentage, Ellie is dealing with her demanding stepmother and her gruelling, never-ending list of chores and Ruby's fighting an arranged marriage, a compulsory undertaking to keep her clan alive. With each other's support, they must face the trials and tribulations that face them or their world may crumble beneath their feet.

kinWith danger lurking around every corner and foes disguised as friends, the Tales of Beauty and Madness are mystifying and heart-wrenching takes, stirring up drama, adventure, romance and just a touch of magic to keep you spellbound.

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.

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.

Reviewsday: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

“Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled upon her arm. A whole pack of them – made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same…”

wolf by wolfIt’s been years since Yael saw her own face; she no longer remembers what she should look like. Living in Germany, 1956, over ten years after the Nazi’s won the war, her real face would not be safe to show to the world anyway. Using the skinshifting abilities gifted to her through brutal experimentation during her years in a concentration camp as a child, Yael can show the world any face she desires. Her next face will kill Hitler.

Posing as Adele Wolfe, an infamous Victor of the Reich’s Axis Tour who stole her twin brother’s identity to compete, Yael must do the impossible: win a second Axis Tour, get close to the Fuhrer and take his life during the Victor’s Ball, an event televised across Europe. The how of it is easy enough: ride fast enough and viciously enough across the continent to beat the other competitors - names and faces Yael has memorised over and over. But, as she soon finds out, names and faces are nothing compared to the real competitors; competitors the real Adele Wolfe has a past with, competitors that know secrets Yael cannot possibly know. Competitors that may just blow her cover sky-high.

Wolf by Wolf is an intense, action packed read that paints a giant “what if” in glorious, brutal colour. Yael’s tough-as-nails persona is hard won and painfully wrought through memories that will have your heart in your throat and her journey across a continent, weaving through intense interpersonal relationships that mystify and delight, is unforgettable.

“Her story begins on a train.”

QBD Reviews: Vigil by Angela Slatter

Vigil

Verity Fassbinder has one foot in each of two very different worlds. Half human, half Weyrd and one hundred percent bitter about the end result of her most recent attempt to protect both worlds (see: maimed by an otherworldly creature), she’s none too pleased when her boss – and ex-lover – turns up on her doorstep with yet another problem in need of solving that her unique skills are perfect for.

Before she can manage to come up with a good excuse to avoid Bela’s request, she’s inundated with more than she’d bargained for. On top of the spike in missing street children, the police have her consulting on the murder of a siren, whose half-angelic baby has vanished and there’s a headstrong, arrogant businessman on her doorstep demanding she investigate his AWOL son. Oh, and there’s some romantic prospects on the horizon if she could manage to find some time for a date in amongst all of the fact-finding, ass-kicking trips she’s having to make around the city to get information out of human and Weyrd alike; all in a day’s job for the daughter of an infamous Weyrd criminal.

Vigil is a stunning urban fantasy novel, jam packed with action and mystery, set in our own backyard. Our fair heroine, Verity, is full of wit, courage, compassion and has a penchant for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time that makes her journey an amusing one at times. Verity’s explorations in her home town of Brisbane and its surroundings and interactions with its Weyrd residents as she attempts to get to the bottom of the myriad of mysteries that buzz around her like flies make for an intriguing read and I, for one, cannot wait for more!