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QBD Reviews: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte 

Four Queens. A divided nation. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

Astrid Scholte's debut novel is an enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences. 

Keralie Corrington is a talented pickpocket. She steals for the black market in her quadrant. Her nation is divided into four regions, each strictly separated from the other. Four queens, one from each quadrant, rule as one.

When Keralie steals a particularly valuable item from a messenger, she discovers she's intercepted instructions to murder the queens. Hoping to find the culprit, Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt. But with Keralie and Varin each keeping secrets, everything is at stake. And no one can be trusted in a world full of ruthless thieves, black markets, a golden palace, daring heists, royal intrigue, noble messengers, forbidden love, four queens - each with a secret, and, of course, murder.

Four Dead Queens is released on March 4th 2019. To pre-order Four Dead Queens click here.

 

What an impressive debut! I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reading copy and upon seeing the cover and synopsis was instantly excited; devouring this wondrous story as fast as my eyes could take me. My imagination worked overtime attempting to create accurate images in my mind of the vastly different quadrants, all the while failing to truly grasp how these sectors are so geographically close together yet feel like they are from completely different worlds. I was taken from period costume with corsets and bonnets and a quadrant with no electricity to dermasuits and comm chips and technology so advanced it blew my mind! I was introduced to characters I immediately wanted to know more about and as the story progressed, was constantly surprised to discover new things about them I wouldn't have guessed.

This was a pretty cruise-y novel to begin with, an easy read that wrapped me up in the stunningly creative world Astrid has created until just past half way when the rugs started ripping out from under me with twists I never saw coming- much praise for an author who can still do that so successfully! I truly loved this book, a standing ovation from me as I (not so) patiently wait for Astrid's next masterpiece (please!)

~ Taegen , QBD Loganholme

QBD Reviews: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

As singular entry in Brandon Sanderson's growing collection of novels, Warbreaker is a fantastic addition to what some may say are some of the best Fantasy novels written to date. Impressive in scope and execution Warbreaker explores a new form of ethereal magic known as Breath. It is this form of magic that sets up the premise of the story. Breath enables the holder to not only obtain talents such as enchanced colour sight and perfect pitch, but Breath may also be used to animate objects to perform tasks unimaginable. With a power such as strong as Breath one can imagine that it is highly sought after, and you'd be right.

In this story you will follow the lives of two princesses as they lives are turned upside down on a quest to save one another from the God King, a being of untold power who's Breath is to be rumoured as unmeasureable, in the ever colourful yet unfamiliar city of Hallandren. Come explore the reasons by Breath is so powerful, yet so very dangerous in Sanderson's stand-alone novel Warbreaker. You'll love it the twists and turns, I promise!

Fans of authors such as Terry Pratchett and Patrick Rothfuss will absolutely love this novel. It would also be suitable for teenagers with a growing ability to comprehend more mature concepts found in adult sci-fi and fantasy novels.

- Liam, QBD Carousel

The Wundersmith is here!

Return to the magical world of Nevermoor! Morrigan Crow's perilous adventures continue in the most anticipated sequel of the year, Wundersmith, a treat for all fans of magic and Wunder. 

Wunder is gathering in Nevermoor ...

Morrigan Crow may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And she is fast learning that not all magic is used for good.

Morrigan has been invited to join the prestigious Wundrous Society, a place that promised her friendship, protection and belonging for life. She's hoping for an education full of wunder, imagination and discovery - but all the Society want to teach her is how evil Wundersmiths are. And someone is blackmailing Morrigan's unit, turning her last few loyal friends against her. Has Morrigan escaped from being the cursed child of Wintersea only to become the most hated figure in Nevermoor?

Worst of all, people have started to go missing. The fantastical city of Nevermoor, once a place of magic and safety, is now riddled with fear and suspicion...

____

QBD Readers our raving about our Children's Book of the Year, Nevermoor!

"If you’re a fan of Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland you will love this book. Adults and children alike will love the story of eleven year old Morrigan Crow, cursed to die on her eleventh birthday but instead was saved by a man named Jupiter North and taken to the wonderous world of Nevermoor where she has to prove that she is worthy to stay and not go back into a world that she cannot live in." - Jordanna, Chadstone QBD

"A rollicking read, that will leave you wondering when the next one is out. Morrigan's cursed existence fades into memory with a family of her choice as she learns more about herself and the world around her than she ever expected. A great read for kids and big kids alike. Nevermoor and its fabulously strange characters will enchant you like nothing else. "- Caitlyn, Canberra QBD

"Nevermoor is the first in a new series destined to have you desperate for the next book! Like Alice in Wonderland with the quirkiness of Roald Dahl, I was hooked on Nevermoor from the first page. Magical!" - Coreena, Morayfield QBD

QBD Recommends: The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh 

 

Most booklovers who have spent any time in an Australian bookstore are probably familiar with the name Fiona McIntosh. One of Australia’s most prolific writers, Fiona has written over thirty books across a wide range of genres, including crime, fantasy, and children’s literature. Arguably though, it is her historical fiction for which she is most well known, and keeps her place as one of Australia’s best-selling authors.

And it is her historical fiction that recently brought the Sussex-born author all the way from her home in South Australia, to Penrith, NSW – to discuss her new novel, QBD’s current Book of the Month, The Pearl Thief.

Having just finished reading The Pearl Thief myself, I can personally tell you: This book is extraordinary! The Pearl Thief is the type of book that will keep you up at night, reading into the early hours of the morning, because you just can’t put the book down! (An experience I haven’t had with a book in years, but with The Pearl Thief, sleep was not an option!)

But what did Fiona McIntosh have to say about her latest novel?

The evening was hosted by Penrith City Library on Thursday, 15th November. Readers of all ages had come out to fill the Library’s Lower Lounge. Around the room, copies of The Pearl Thief were tucked under arms, or kept open on laps, as readers continued to flip through the pages with an insatiable need.

Fiona McIntosh took to the podium, decked out in tribute to the titular pearls. Pearl necklace, pearl bracelet, pearl earrings. Her entire discussion was presented with her unmistakeable, vivacious energy and passion for storytelling.

But let’s start with the most important question. Why should readers read The Pearl Thief?

Fiona McIntosh described this book as “a book of firsts”, admitting that usually, when she writes, she is never aware if her writing is good or not. But when it came to The Pearl Thief, things were different.

“Usually, I just write, and I’ve got no sense of ‘Is this good? Is this bad? Is this ordinary? Is this fabulous?’

“But as I was writing this one, I knew… it was fabulous!”

For the first time, Fiona knew, what she was writing was not only tremendously special, but she was hitting all the right notes. Her storytelling, her setting, her characters, her words – all combining to create magic!

So where did this magic begin? What was the origin of the idea for The Pearl Thief?

When it comes to writing her stories, Fiona attests, she always starts with place. Where is the story set? So when she set out to write what would become The Pearl Thief, she asked herself, “Where would my readers like me to take them next?” The answer: Prague.

This choice of setting then provided the catalyst for the story to follow. Once Fiona had decided on Prague, she began to think about the city’s history, and how the German occupation of Czechoslovakia became a trigger for World War Two.

So, Fiona had her setting, and her timeline. Prague, 1930’s/1940’s. Now she needed a character. She knew immediately that she wanted this character to be a survivor. Enter, Severine Kassel.

“She arrived, and tapped me on the shoulder, and she was complete. It was the first time… that a character had arrived into my life and said ‘Here I am! I’m ready to go!’”

Who is Severine Kassel?

When Severine Kassel arrived as a character in Fiona’s mind, she knew she was a survivor. But what was her story? From her podium at Penrith Library, Fiona described how she knew she wanted this character to be running from something, until something came along in her life, and forced her to turn around.

“And that’s why on the front cover of the book, she’s turning. Because I wanted her to turn around and face all the darkness, and all the pain.”

But what was it that was going to set Severine’s story in motion? Fiona came up with the idea of a glorious, family heirloom of Byzantine pearls. These pearls would then be stolen from Severine, only for her to stumble across them again, twenty years later.

“And when she sees them, having reinvented her life over those twenty years, and glued herself together, all of her pain, and all of her anger is going to be unleased, when she sees these pearls again and decides the only way she can go forward, the only way she can live her life properly, is to go and hunt down the man she holds responsible for all of her pain.”

“That’s what the story became. This is her turning around to say “I’m no longer running from you, I’m coming for you.”

The writing process behind The Pearl Thief

Now Fiona had told us all about the story, and the origins of The Pearl Thief, it was time for her to share some inside tips on the writing process. When it comes to her historical fiction, Fiona lists research and travel as two of the most important ways to create a “bubble of believability around the reader”. When writing a novel like The Pearl Thief, Fiona always travels to the place where her story is set, to walk where her characters will walk.

“I go and find all these places… and then I can weave them into the story with great authenticity… Every place you read about in the story, I’ve been to, and I’ve put my feet there.”

To make sure her travels are well informed, Fiona hires a personal tour guide, and allows them to teach her all about the history, and people of the place she has chosen to set her story. But she never takes notes for her research.

“Everything I do is based on feeling... When I’m researching, I’m never taking notes, I’m just looking, and absorbing, and a bit like osmosis, whatever gets through, sticks, and stays with me. And then the writing is done all on pure emotion.”

Here, Fiona shared her most poignant moment in researching the Prague setting of The Pearl Thief. The moment came when she asked her guide to show her the forests that lay beyond Prague. At this point, Fiona knew, something bad was going to happen to her character here, but she needed to see it for herself. To find this place, and walk in her character’s shoes. To feel what her character would feel. So her guide drove her out, and around the forests, until Fiona asked her to stop. Then, she hopped out of the car, and walked down the wooded lane alone, listening to the sounds of the few birds, and the falling autumn leaves.

“The leaves were falling by the hundred, on top of me. It was like confetti. And I could just hear this flutter. And it was the most beautiful sound, but the most chilling sound. And I began to cry, and I knew I’d found the spot. I thought, ‘this is where it’s going to happen. This is where Severine is going to walk.”

When you read The Pearl Thief, it’s easy to see why this setting brought Fiona to tears. The forests became the scene of Severine’s most traumatic moment. A moment that turns her life upside-down, robbing her of far more than her family pearls. A moment that McIntosh has written to absolute, horrific perfection. This is the moment that will stick with you, long after you’ve read it. This is Fiona McIntosh at her best, and absolutely why you should be reading this incredibly powerful story.

So make sure you head to your nearest QBD store, and pick up a copy of The Pearl Thief today!

~Alyssa, QBD Penrith.

Reviewsday: The Survivors by Kate Furnivall

The Survivors was one of the most complex, gripping historical thrillers I have read. This is the first novel I have read of Kate Furnivall's, and I was thoroughly engrossed from the first page.

Following a story line not common of novels set in the Second World War, The Survivors is not a story of concentration camps or war scenes, but the aftermath of war and the long lasting effects on civilians who have lost everything. The shadow of war lingers heavily over the characters of this novel. Klara and her daughter Alicja suffered through a long and almost deathly journey to get to the Graufeld Displaced Persons Camp after being reunited after the war. After losing Klara's hubsand, Alicja's father during the war, their home was bombed, leaving them with nothing. Far from finding the safety and security they expect at the camp, Klara discovers that a mysterious figure from her past has arrived at the camp, and she fears for both her life and her daughters'.
Who is this man, and what events of her past have led her to fear him so much? And what did Klara do to fear his revenge?

The Survivors shows the depths of a mother's love, and the lengths she will go to in order to protect her child. A story of love and loss, of hope and of despair, it will keep you hooked from the first page. It kept me on the edge of my seat through the intense war scenes, the thrilling journey to freedom, and a fight for survival. The twist at the end had tears streaming down my face, and I wanted to read this book all over again.

I highly recommend The Survivors for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Love That I Have, and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, or just for any fans of well written and researched historical fiction.

~ Coreena, QBD Morayfield