Blog

Page: 1

Tag / Book Review


Team Eastland’s Latest Reads

Our Eastland team tell us all about some of their latest reads in this week's Spotlight on QBD!
There's romance, thrills, horror... and Harry Potter!

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a thriller unlike any other. The Swedish novel is full of unexpected twists and turns which are only magnified by the beautiful complexity of its main characters; the charming truth crusader, Mikael Blomkvist, and the mysterious, stoic Lisbeth Salander.
Through this unlikely pair’s investigation, Stieg Larsson’s spellbinding text sheds a powerful light on the so often diminished sexual crimes against women in Sweden, and society’s attempt to sweep it under the rug.
Whether you are a lover of crime fiction or just looking for something different, this book is a must read. - Katrina

 

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus(Trans. Justin O'Brien):

When you see that someone has the last line of a book tattooed on his forearm, you can be reasonably assured he has some investment in it... Having read it three times, and having vowed to read it next in its original language, I can honestly say The Myth of Sisyphus has made a profound difference in my life; it has contributed considerably to the human being I am today. It has made me more myself. Through a form that can only be described as lyrical-prose, Camus considers the question: in the face of the absurd condition we find in living, why live? Why not die? The condition of the Absurd is fundamental to this question, as is how we respond to it. For Camus, the Absurd can be summed up as our compulsion to demand meaning from a universe that lacks the capacity to adequately provide this kind of meaning. Our only option is to live in the tension between these opposing conditions of our existence. He explores this Absurd Heroism in a number of ways, but finishes on the book's eponymous Sisyphus, an ancient Greek king who was punished by the gods for his arrogance by being compelled to push a boulder up a mountain for all eternity, only to have it roll back down every time he reaches the top. The last line: 'It is necessary to imagine Sisyphus happy' places the dynamic of this tension in our imaginations, not so much in our sense of reason specifically. And while this is a book of ideas, it is also beautiful to the point of poetry. - Jeremy

The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns:

Harper thinks her life is where she wants it to be. Great job, great marriage, great friends! She believes that her husband Samuel and her, are happy with their decision to not have children, but an interview on her popular radio program, about infertility struggles, sets her on an altruistic path to help Claire & Jasper become parents.

Claire & Jasper are a young married couple, running a successful Hot Air Ballooning company with family. The one thing missing in their otherwise perfect life is a child. Can Harper, unknown to them prior to her interviewing them, be the answer to their dreams?
An emotional roller-coaster ensues for all parties involved, as well thought out life plans change and relationships are tested and re-established.

The Greatest Gift is a contemporary tale of modern baby-making, full of joy and heartache. Johns' move from writing rural romance to modern women's fiction has been successful. As much as I still enjoy all her “chook lit”, I eagerly await her next foray in the pool of contemporary modern women's fiction. Well worth a read, but have the tissue box handy! - Susan

Pet Sematary by Stephen King:

What would you do if you lost everything that was dear to you? How far would you go to get it back?

These are the questions that King's horror classic Pet Sematary tries to answer. When Louis Creed and his young family move from the windy city of Chicago to small town Maine, they weren't expecting the series of unfortunate events that would unfold. From the moment a dying man stumbles into Louis' clinic, his life begins to spiral. Nightmares, ancient Native American burial grounds, and every parent's worst fear all send Louis down a path he can never hope to recover from.

While certainly not King's scariest novel (that award goes to Salem's Lot or The Shining), Pet Sematary adds an element of reality that cranks the creep factor up to 11. Brilliantly written in King's classic style, the story of Louis, Gage, and Church the cat is one to remember. I definitely recommend that you check it out, but maybe read it with the lights on. – Sean

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp:

Follow the lives of four students as each one struggles with survival and loss, stemming from the terrors that strike Opportunity High. While reading this novel I was overcome with the need to know what happened next- I couldn't put it down! I was drawn into the chaos, as I hoped for each character to find safety and escape the situation that is an unfortunate reality for many students in America. Marieke Nijkamp's writing was triggered by true events, that see shootings becoming a recurrence in the lives of many teens. Leading to a well thought-out plot, rendering the reader heartbroken by just how urgent the situation is, allowing us to become invested in the characters' survival. - Ruby

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (illustrated edition) by J.K. Rowling:

We all know Harry Potter. We went to school with him and learned magic with him, but now we get to see him in a new light. The illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a beautiful take on JK Rowling’s wizarding world. Jim Kay has managed to capture true magic in his pictures, truly bringing us to Hogwarts to experience magical creatures and ghosts alike. - Ella

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each week a different store goes under our Spotlight.
Keep an eye out for your local team!

Reviewsday: Circe by Madeline Miller

"Whatever you do, I wanted to say, do not be too happy. It will bring down fire on your head."

A lyrical reimagining of the myth of Circe, witch of Aiaia, with a feminist bent and gorgeously lush prose.

Circe was born of Helios and Perse, then banished to the island of Aiaia in punishment. Here she waits, perfecting her craft, until the hero Odysseus washes up on her shore after 12 long years of war and voyaging. Circe, wary of men and strangers, turns his crew into swine, but Odysseus charms her, staying a year in her bed and convincing her to release his men.

The book is a careful examination of a woman living in a patriarchal world, trying to discover and negotiate her own power, while still retain her humanity. Circe is a deeply flawed character, but those who surround her are flawed deeper still. Add a pantheon of jealous and beautiful deities, volatile heroes, an ancient breed of witchcraft reestablished and beloved, deadly monsters and you have a book that sings to the soul. Circe is a triumph for Madeline Miller and I hope everyone gets the chance to read it.

Interesting fact: The plant Circe uses in her pig-turning spell is thought to be Datura stramonium, a type of nightshade that causes hallucinations and delusions.

About the author:

Madeline Miller has a BA and MA from Brown University in Latin and Ancient Greek, and has been teaching both for the past nine years. She has also studied at the Yale School of Drama, specialising in adapting classical tales to a modern audience. The Song of Achilles is her first novel and was the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012.

 

Reading this book with your Book Club? Check out these great Reading Group questions to help spark your discussion!

Other books you might like:

Reviewsday: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark

This is an extraordinary true crime book, about a series of cold cases from the 1970s.

For background, the Golden State Killer (GSK) is a man who was called many different things- such as the Original Night Stalker or East Area Rapist. McNamara, in the 2010s, was operating a True Crime blog. She wanted to solve these decades old cases. McNamara worked painstakingly on this case, discovering links and evidence. Once there was an established link between all these cases, it was McNamara herself that said he should have a catchy name, so it sticks in people's heads and encompasses all the crimes he's committed in California. Thus the moniker, The Golden State Killer.

The Golden State Killer has been in the media this week, because the Police have finally caught him, after reopening the case in 2016. Sadly, Michelle McNamara passed away in April 2016. This book was a labour of, well not love, but obsession. She was very aware that she was obsessed with this case. She'd interview survivors, witnesses. She chased leads, hoping to find the one piece of evidence police missed, touring the neighbourhoods the GSK had visited and violated. Her writing is so enthralling, almost narrative like, it was easy for me to have many sleepless nights, imagining any noise in my yard at night might be someone sneaking across the grass.

I was almost finished the book when I heard the news. I was elated, finally this monster of a man who terrorized people in the 1970s was finally caught, after at least 12 murdered people and 47 rapes.

The most haunting part of the book comes at the end, where she writes directly to GSK, telling him there would be police one day knocking on his door:

"Open the door. Step into the light. Show us your face."

Check Out QBD Campbelltown’s Reading Recommendations!

 

Our Campbelltown team have leaped into the Spotlight this week with their fabulous reading recommendations! There's a book for everyone in this great list:

Mirror Sydney by Vanessa Berry:

The idea of an alternate city is an alluring one, explored by writers like China Mieville and Neil Gaiman in fiction, and you can step through the looking-glass for real in Sydney too, if you just look closely enough.

'Mirror Sydney' takes us on a journey through a city of oddities and follies; ghost signs, murals, abandoned shops, subterranean spaces,derelict amusement parks, memories and lost places. It is another world of wonder and ordinary strangeness, in plain sight to thousands of people every day but barely noticed on our busy way to our destinations. Vanessa's dedication to urban exploration is astonishing, and her keen eye and curiosity lead her to discover and share stories that not many of us know, which not only makes this a fascinating read but also an important document of small histories left behind in a rapidly changing city.

This is one of the best books I've read about Sydney, an alternative guidebook to the city and suburbs that shows a refreshingly different and infinitely more interesting place than that portrayed in glossy travel magazines. I love that it is written in a way that makes me feel as if I am right there exploring the city with the author, and the zine-style hand-drawn illustrations peppered throughout the book just add to the charm of it all. If you love people-watching and notice little quirky things and wonder why they are they way they are, then you will also love 'Mirror Sydney'.

QBD Bookalike: Delia Falconer's 'Sydney' is a memoir/history of the Emerald City in a similar vein, a bittersweet love-letter filled with nostalgia and exploration of Sydney's darkness as well as its bright sheen. - Marica

Bloodline by Claudia Gray:

I'm a sucker for Star Wars so I had to get my hands on this book. Claudia Gray's Bloodline tells the story of Princess Leia and her struggle to come to terms with the fact that she is Darth Vader's daughter while juggling her marriage to the infamous Han Solo and her demanding position as senator in the galactic senate. I was always curious about how Leia must have felt having Darth Vader as her father and this book saved me the trouble. There are awesome new characters as well as our old favourites. New worlds are explored and many new dangers present themselves. Princess Leia is brave, independent and wiser than ever before and is pushed to the very limit - will she overcome? May the Force be with us because this book is out of this world - literally! A must read for any Star Wars fan. - Jade

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins:

Stephanie Perkins definitely succeeded with writing a thrilling and gory novel inspired by 90s slasher teen movies. There's Someone Inside Your House is filled with a cute romance that will make you have butterflies in your stomach whilst also making you want to vomit out those butterflies from the graphic depictions of mutilated and dismembered bodies as a result of murder. Overall, this novel will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions as you fangirl over the main couple and use your detective skills to uncover who the murderer is and when they will next strike. - Beth

Love Simon by Becky Albertalli:

'Love Simon', originally known as 'Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda', by Becky Albertalli, is a hilariously fun and infinitely adorable book that will make you laugh, cry and feel all tingly inside just because of how cute this book truly is. It's a classic Young Adult high school love story but with a LGBTQIA+ spin to it, which is what makes this book so incredibly special and one of the first of its kind. Not only that, but it's also the base material of the amazing new movie 'Love Simon', which has already made a huge impact worldwide for being one of the first 'mainstream' LGBTQIA+ movies.

'Love Simon' tells the story of 16-year-old Simon who is gay, but hasn't told anyone yet. He secretly emails with another guy whose pen name is Blue and they discuss everything from their feelings and thoughts about being gay to which flavour Oreo is the best. But when one of these emails is discovered by someone, Simon is blackmailed into doing something he doesn't particularly want to do, otherwise his sexual identity will become known by anyone. This spurs a series of events that will keep you entertained from start to finish with relatable characters, awkward moments, and just a whole bunch of cute and fluffy feelings all rolled into one extraordinary book. - 5 Stars - Ella

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi:

For a debut novel, Tomi Adeyemi has done amazingly. There was so much hype surrounding this book and it lived up to all of it. A beautiful, vibrant and magical book about people rebelling against their oppressors. There are so many parts of the book that I love but the characters are my absolute favourite. They're so well written with great back stories and even better character development. I could not recommend this book more than I already do. 5 Stars!! - Maria

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski:

Sapkowski's writing is a marvel to behold, his style is as unique as his characters. I found this book gripping in a way few other books have been for me and would recommend it to those getting into reading again or who are already established fans of fiction or fantasy. - Lachlan

Didn't see anything you like? Never fear!

The team at Campbelltown can help you find something to suit your taste. Pop into store any time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

QBD Reviews: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

The people of Norta are divided by class, by ability, by blood – red or silver. Silvers are the elite ruling class, endowed with god-like powers. The Reds are commoners, powerless and destined to serve the Silvers. Seventeen-year-old Mare Barrow is one such Red, living a bleak existence with her family in the Stilts. Mare hates the privileged Silvers, even as she finds herself with a job in the Silver Palace, surrounded by those she despises. Then, a shocking discovery – though she has Red blood, Mare has a spectacular Silver ability. Afraid of what Mare’s power might mean, the Silvers declare her a long-lost Silver princess, and arrange her marriage to the Prince. Mare knows one wrong move means death – but when a member of the resistance group the Red Guard approaches her for help, she cannot deny them. Mare must learn to control her new ability, and navigate a world of betrayal and lies, all the while supressing her growing feelings for an enemy.

Red Queen is a fresh and fun addition to the YA Fantasy genre. Mare is a great protagonist – fierce, flawed, brave, and angry with the injustices of her society. The Silver abilities are cool too, with everything from telekinesis to super speed. The Silver Princes, Cal and Maven, are both potential allies or enemies for Mare, and each of them have different motives.  It’s a fast-paced, entertaining read, perfect for fans of The Hunger GamesDivergent, and Red Rising.

~Sarah, QBD Support Office