For some weird reason I always start without the quest book too, but my friend doesn't.... and not only in this mod pack. idk what's the deal :s
I am also having the same problem with new worlds. The HQM is not getting set and the player does not start with a questbook in hand. All the configs should be set correctly to start Quest Mode and Hardcore Mode when a new world is created so I really dont know what is causing this.
For now the only way I know of to get around this issue is to make sure to leave cheats on when generating a new world, or to open a LAN and turn cheats on from there. Then type in the command "/hqm quest" and spawn yourself a book. The questbook crafting recipe isnt very hard if you dont want to spawn one in, but you still have to manually start the Quest Mode.