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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...

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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.

Classic novels for the reader who’s been scared of them since High School

Did you cringe in fear every time your English teacher said "This semester we'll be reading....", and then proceeded to trot out some classic novel that sounded like a lot of work?
Take it from us, you are not alone!  Reading is rarely fun when it’s being forced upon you. That’s why so many of us are so resistant and resentful about some of the actually great books we've been assigned to read.

However now we're older, and wiser, it might just be time to take a second look at some of those books again... you just might enjoy them!
Payton has put together a list of common classroom classics that are definitely worth a second glance.

1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger:

I approached this book with trepidation, believing that it would be full of dense sentences I would hardly be able to understand , but with less than two-hundred pages, I felt like I had no excuse to not dip my toe into the classic genre with this book. All of my worries turned out to be irrelevant as this quickly became one of my favourite stories of all time; the stream-of-consciousness writing style Salinger adopts sucked me into Holden's psyche. If you're interested in stories that don't sensationalise mental illness, and elaborate on the issues young adults go through, this book is timeless, relatable, and easy to read.

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde:

The language of this novel is slightly less modern than that of The Catcher in the Rye, but the story is so twisted and gothic that I found it to be just as encapsulating. Plus – it's another short one with less than three-hundred pages!

 

 

3. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut:

I just read this for my university literature class , and even researching and writing a series of mini-essays and a major two-thousand word essay hasn't negated from my love for this book. It is very easy to read, fast-paced, and the story itself is thought-provoking and sadly relevant in today 's political climate, where people all around the world become casualties in conflicts they cannot escape.

4. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams:

Yes, yes, this is a play – I'm still new to the classic genre, too, okay? And I want to keep the running theme of books that are easy to read – we're still just dipping in our toes! This story is charming, sad, and incredibly aggravating as we see Blanche DuBois struggle with internal and external conflicts and pray that she finds self esteem, inner strength, and happiness.

5. A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen:

This is another play, and like “A Streetcar Named Desire” it deals with a female protagonist who struggles to be independent and respected in a male-dominated world. Both of these stories highlight how far our Western society has progressed in the past century, while also reminding us of what our fore-mothers had to live through and encouraging us to continue fighting for our rights and freedom.

I hope you enjoy these stories. Classic books don't have to be scary – or boring! ~ Payton

10 books that will make your skin crawl

 

Whether you're a fan of Halloween or just love spine-tingling reads,
the great reads in this list are guaranteed to chill your bones!

The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson:

Now a series on Netflix, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Salem's Lot by Steven King:

Thousands of miles away from the small township of 'Salem's Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to 'Salem's Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town.

Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris:

There's a killer on the loose who knows that beauty is only skin deep, and a trainee investigator who's trying to save her own hide. The only man that can help is locked in an asylum. But he's willing to put a brave face on — if it will help him escape.

World War Z by Max Brooks:

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the 10-year fight-back against the horde, World War Z brings the very finest traditions of American journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredible story in the history of civilisation.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman:

There is something strange about Coraline's new home. It's not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It's the other house - the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever.

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow and other tales by Washington Irving:

The Headless Horseman faces off with Ichabod Crane in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," a ghost story of enduring popularity that takes place at the time of the American Revolution. "Rip Van Winkle," another traditional favorite from the same historic period, tells the tale of man who fell asleep for 20 years and found his small town in the Catskill Mountains much changed by the time he awakened. Both are included — along with many other tales — in this classic collection by Washington Irving.

Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice:

In a darkened room a young man sits telling the macabre and eerie story of his life - the story of a vampire, gifted with eternal life, cursed with an exquisite craving for human blood.

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey:

Liz Kendall wouldn't hurt a fly. She's a gentle woman devoted to bringing up her kids in the right way, no matter how hard times get.
But there's another side to Liz---one which is dark and malicious. A version of her who will do anything to get her way, no matter how extreme or violent.
And when this other side of her takes control, the consequences are devastating.

The Passage by Justin Cronin:

An epic, awe-inspiring novel of good and evil.
Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she's the most important person in the whole world.
She is.
Anthony Carter doesn't think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row.
He's wrong.
FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming.
It is.
THE PASSAGE.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill:

A spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, centred around a woman trying to save her son from a vicious, supernatural killer who has set his sights on him.

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Do you have a favourite creepy thriller?
Let us know in the comments!

 

Spotlight on QBD: Canberra Centre , ACT

 

Our Canberra team have a slew of recommended reads for you!

If you're not sure what book to pick up next, just ask and they'll sort you out!

 

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas:

The book I'm most excited for this Christmas is definitely Kingdom of Ash. As the final book in the fantastic Throne of Glass series, Sarah J Maas promises to deliver another lethal dose of her trademark powerful women, immersive fantasy and emotional anguish. If you enjoy young adult fantasy and haven't already read this series then now is the time to start!

Pick up your copy in store from October 23 and let me vent to you about how much I love Dorian. – Charlotte

Pig the Grub by Aaron Blabey:

Pig is shamelessly naughty and back to teach his next lesson about cleanliness. Aaron Blabey's rhyming and wonderful illustrations make for an engaging read. Pig the Grub is a delightfully simple and fun story, bound to make any child or adult smile no matter how many times it's read.
- Alice

No Friend But The Mountains by Omid Tofighian & Behrouz Boochani:

Both an account of the ongoing imprisonment of refugees at Manus island and a literary exploration of life in seemingly perpetual imprisonment, No Friend But The Mountains is a tragic, yet beautifully written book. Translated via texts sent from within the detention centre, I would recommend this book as necessary reading for anyone interested in the situation of refugees coming to Australia. While it makes for difficult and even confronting reading, the experiences and writing of those on Manus remind us that hope and free expression can be found in the darkest of places. - Yann

Sisters' Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud:

Of all the books in store, the one I recommend most often is Sister's Entrance, by Emtithal 'Emi' Mahmoud.

Emi is a UNHR Goodwill Ambassador & winner of the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam. Her poem 'how to translate a joke' (featured in Sisters' Entrance) has over 150k views on Youtube, and speaks with a clarity and eloquence that is as breathtaking as it is educational.

Her poetry is alive and kicking, making Sister's Entrance perfect for countering any who believe that poetry belongs to aging academics, dead playwrights, and Banjo Paterson. -Jerzy

Skulduggery Pleasant 11: Midnight by Derek Landy:

The latest book in the fabulous series, Midnight is another rollicking read from start to finish. As always the banter and sass between Skulduggery and Valkyrie is the highlight of this amazing writing. A funny, engaging yet dark read that builds on everything the series has given us so far and then goes a little further. Sherlock Homes meets Harry Potter with a dash of Doctor Who. A recipe for great quotes and a team that you'll wish you were cool enough to be a member of.

A wonderful read for kids aged 9 and up or adults that want an easy read that won't bore them to tears.
(contains violence and magic/horror themes) -Cai

The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R Tolkien:

Step back into Middle-Earth with The Fall of Gondolin, the swansong of Christopher Tolkien and illustrator Alan Lee. The Fall of Gondolin completes a trio of extended tales alongside The Children of Hurin and Beren and Luthien, and is just as prosaic as one expects Tolkien to be.
The book presents two versions of the tale, one a sweeping poetic epic, the other a more traditional narrative. Accompanying these are Christopher Tolkien's notes on his father's work, and Alan Lee's beautiful illustrations.

If you're a Lord of the Rings fan like me, don't miss this one last adventure in Middle-Earth! - Glen

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty:

One of her best releases so far, Nine Perfect Strangers explores the world of health retreats and the lives of the nine people who attend this life changing one. Even with many unexpected twist and turns this is still a light and heart warming title. I read this book in a day, and what a day it was!

Perfect for anyone who love Australian fiction! - Sarah

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith:

After an agonising 3 year wait, Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) is back with the 4th installment of the Cormoran Strike series. After finishing Career of Evil on what can be described as a 'mic drop' cliff hanger, leaving us fans screaming what happened next?!

From the first page you are reunited with Robin & Strike where things are a bit tense since the Career of Evil. As they hire their next client, a simple case of blackmail turns into something much larger leaving you guessing until the very last pages.

Lets hope we do not wait another 3 years for the next book, but while you wait I highly suggest you check out the BBC tv series of Strike to ease those cravings. -Courtney

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