What Is Sera Reading? Fairy Tale by Stephen King

Charlie Reade is a regular seventeen-year-old American until a tragic accident claims his mother’s life and his father sinks into alcohol trying to cope. It is when the darkness of reality gets its own little miracle a fantasy becomes reality. An act of chance and kindness leaves Charlie with the keys to a magical world hidden under our own reality. He then has to fight to protect our world and right the wrongs within the other.

The story is incredible, no less than you would have expected from a seasoned storyteller like Stephen King 🤴
The size of the book may seem daunting. I honestly was worried if I fell asleep reading, it would fall on my face and give me a black eye. However, the story carries more than just one narrative; the character of Charlie Reade’s struggle to care for himself and his dad after his mom’s death in a brutal hit-and-run is enough for one novel on its own. When he meets a dog named Radar and her ageing master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill with a locked shed in the backyard life gets all the stranger and Charlie’s promise to God gets a new test. The second narrative is a genuinely fascinating fairytale mash-up and remix. Charlie fulfils a prophecy of a long-awaited hero prince.

The presentation is good, I love the illustration, but more importantly, care has been taken in chapter planning and image placement so as not to break the reader’s flow in reading the story. The main performing characters are excellent. Some of the narratives are lazy as it presumes you can make the reference to the “Average American life”. However, it’s still strong stuff. The gruesome is not lost or watered down by fairytale atmospheric delivery. An excellent read. Easily a good read for any fantasy enthusiast. I would even recommend this one to Young Adult readers (not typical for Steven King novels), especially those looking to take the next step up from reads such as the Percy Jackson collection.

Big County Wide Competition

A big county-wide competition is now open. This is a creative writing opportunity for young people across the county. whether you are into poetry or storytelling, music or drama. Please do take the opportunity to get some extra training and even compete with others for prestigious prizes.
https://www.wcaf.org.uk

WCAF 2021 – 70th Anniversary Concert

What Is Sera Reading? Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran

Queen of Coin and Whispers has two narrators: Lia, the young, recently crowned Queen of Edar and Xania. Lia is determined to right the wrongs of her dissolute Uncle’s reign, and Xania, a fiercely intelligent young woman who works in the treasury, is determined to investigate her father’s suspicious death, she becomes Lia’s spymaster. As the two of them try to get to the bottom of the corruption in Edar, and a romance sparks between them.

The chapters switch back and forth between the two protagonists, in the first person. It’s a testament to how strong both voices are that I didn’t ever lose track of whose chapter it was. This is a YA novel which aims to be contemporary but also high fantasy which leans into a naturally historical feel.  When they fall for each other, their feelings collide with their expected paths in life: duty and vengeance. The political intrigue is well integrated into the romance narrative and neither feels unreal. Counterplotsand hidden enemies make life difficult for our two leading ladies. There is a good range of gay and bi characters as well as herosexual.

Unlike many YA fantasy for teens this has fabulous portrayals of parents and the way the remain parts of their children’s stories Even if the children are out uncovering murder and ruling a country. Additionally, this has a wonderful, healthy representation of a stepparent too, which is a nice refreshing theme.

What’s Joshua Reading? The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman Book One: Preludes and Nocturnes

Joshua is 18 years old and has in the past struggled with reading on a regular basis. Joshua says the key to getting him into reading was comics and poetry books.

“Both use fewer words to tell the story and must have good rhythm and pace to be worth reading.” – Joshua

Joshua’s review: Neil Gaiman is an awesome writer for children and has some of the best young adult stories going. Even his version of Hansel and Gretel is dark and teen appealing. Not all children want the cute and fluffy happy-go-luck hero. If they enjoy a Tim Burton movie than Gaiman is the writer for them.

The story was interesting and engaging and I never felt bored at any point reading it. Preludes and Nocturnes is the beginning of a much bigger story, so you do have to deal with some story world building and explaining. But, this is a must in all fantasy as you need to know the limits of your hero. That is why this start is one of the best, right from the outset our hero has the biggest fall of his eternity. Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams has been captured and his items of the endless are stolen. We follow his escape and his efforts to return to his realm as king. Along the way he has to learn how people have changed without dreams. The world [worlds] are not as he left them and nightmares are free to cause issues. If only that was his only problem, humans and other mythology folk are also causing problems. Morpheus even has a battle of whit with Lucifer [devil] in person. All really good action and fun. The blending of history with mythology and a modern storytelling form is excellent. Sam Kieth has done a wonderful series of graphic novel illustration from the sketches Gaiman and Leigh Baulch had. The images alone keep your eye on the page.

The Sandman series on Netflix’s is a close enough adaptation that there’s no reason fans can’t jump straight from the Netflix episodes into the graphic novels.

What’s Sera Reading? Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Seraphim with Tenbury’s copy of Little Fires Everywhere (hardback)
by Celeste Ng (author)

Celeste Ng is a New York times best seller author her previous novel “Everything I Never Told You” was in the top 10 for three weeks running . This novel “Little Fires Everywhere” was released May 2018 and hit the news for some controversial depictions of the dangers of American’s smug liberalism.

Combining a deeply observant story about race, community and motherhood. A story of a carefully ordered Cleveland community that is shaken by a family home being destroyed. At first it looks like the youngest child of the Richardson’s is responsible but nothing is ever as it seems.  Mia and Pearl enter into this place with all they have in one car. They become more than just tenants and we discover Mia has more history than just her single motherhood story and her creative photography is more than just a hobby. All of the Richardson children find Pearl wonderful and intriguing, and Mia a breath of fresh maternal input. However, when a Richardson family friend attempts to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town. we get an explosion of points of view from the different characters involved. Here we find out the weight of secrets. It puts Mia and Elena [Mrs Richardson] on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But there at an unexpected and devastating cost.

Celeste Ng and the paperback cover of “Little Fires Everywhere”

It has the pace and fervour of a psychological thriller, Little Fires Everywhere is a truly remarkable novel of American suburbia’s dark undercurrents. Personally I really enjoyed the exploration of art and identity in human nature. [I’m an artist] and the undeniable weight, pains and pulls of motherhood.

Yes, I recommend it. Plus, men would enjoy the story too.

What’s Sera Reading? Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This is the story of Kya, (her name shortened from Catherine Danielle Clark) set in the 30’s through to the 70’s the “Mash Girl” haunts Barkley Cove and is suspected of murder. Always observant of the creatures and life in the marsh Kya grows up differently to the expected norms. She is seen as wild and improper. Actually a victim? She has been badly treated and then abandoned but there is hope, a choice.

Delia Owens is an excellent naturalist and ecologist the book’s interesting environment of the swamp and its wildlife is a perfect match for the poetic prose. This story has grown a following thanks to it’s brilliant observations on American North Carolina marshland society, on relationships, love, prejudice, racism and sexism. The narratives issues and that of its protagonist are intermingled with a fast paced and gripping murder mystery which takes us on an emotional back journey.

However, a disappointing ending for me, did she do it? Kya talks a lot about mating in nature and how savage it can be. So, was she in disguise on the bus back?

What is Sera Reading? The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Sera with the Tenbury Library copy of “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss.

The book is part 1 of The King Killer Chronicle. The two parts have been hailed as one of the best high fantasy stories in print this decade. It has great ratings on amazon and Goodreads.

So, is it worth the fuss Sera?

This is a story that is exciting and engaging. Despite the fact “The Name of the Wind” encompassed only Day One of Kvothe’s [Main Protagonist] storytelling and little else. Kvothe, the man of many names tells the story of his life to the Chronicler, who will write Kvothe’s entire chronicle starting from his childhood up to his present life as an innkeeper in Waystone Inn. Rothfuss has a skill with prose that is worthy of high praise. from the start the world building is excellent the unique magic system called Sympathy felt so real and the ease of the characters grasp on it is believable to me.

It is the character driven narrative that makes this book so wonderfully effect. Without the amazing well thought out cast, this book would be flatter than a pancake. Kvothe is an extremely memorable character, and his narrative is wonderfully compelling to read. The writing makes use of his age at the different stages as well as how he interacts with other cast persons and creatures. As a reader you are constantly seeking the clues in his past that make the man.

Part Two to come….

Sera with book two

Part 2 : The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Deep, rich, perfectly paced prose and a super high fantasy story that has not stopped amazing me. The quest of Kvothe’s [Main Protagonist] life to become the “King Killer” moving from one elaborate setting to another, cohesively strung together. Intermissions though interrupt us are not without purpose, as we silently root out who Kvothe truly is. I feeling like the magic Rothfuss created could actually be real for those willing to work hard enough to master it. one massive down side…. its not finished.

In part 2 we are gifted the story of Kvothe’s trip to the fairy realm, of the end of his childhood as he becomes a man who is versed in womankind and the fighting skills we were waiting for have been seeded in his being. Yet….

That’s right we are still not at the end! Not even close. To make matters worse we are more aware of the conspiratorial bard, friend and scribe. Why do they want our hero’s story? and Just what do they have planned for our hero?

What is Oliver reading? Hercule Poirot Over 50 Stories by Agatha Christie.

I am Oliver and I am currently doing my work experience at Tenbury Library.

I began reading Hercule Poirot after being introduced to the character of Mrs Marple by my father. I have so far enjoyed reading Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot. It is a classic who’s convoluted plots and intriguing characters still hold up today. The titular Hercule Poirot is the world’s most famous detective (and the world’s greatest if you ask him), his egg shaped head and finely waxed mustache are iconic features making him recognizable even in the crowded world of ‘great’ detectives. However Poirot’s flaws are as pronounced as his moustache primarily his colossal ego which is often shown when he criticizes his most well known companion, Captain Hastings’, ideas.

Despite there being Fifty-two stories in the volume it rarely feels repetitive as Christie constantly throws in twists and rarely lets it turn out the way it first seems. This keeps every story different and unique with one of the few constant factors being that Poirot always seems to figure it out. The crimes range from scamming to save a failing business to murder to keep a secret hidden. The culprits are just as varied: an old man who has nothing left to live for, a dutiful maid that keeps their head down and a wealthy and respected father trying to kill his own children. Every story has a unique way that they accomplished this task from hiding a ruby in a Christmas pudding to killing the person before they last heard alive. These stories truly are ‘Masterpieces in Miniature’.

What’s Sera Reading? The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This is a book that is very popular with Book Clubs at Tenbury. I think a lot has to do with the many aspects of fiction that go into making this odd duck a real swan. The Story holds magic realism at its core but all along you get the sci-fi element mix with a mental health guide. [like I said, odd.]

The first chapter has me wanting to put the book down , go outside and lay down in the traffic. However, The Midnight Library speedily redeems itself as you enter the endless library where every book provides a chance to try another life. The main character Nora is dancing at the edge of the universe in suspended animation with decisions to make and remake. With a Librarian from her childhood as a guide Nora explores old job opportunities and old heartbreaks relived. We get boiled down to the last question of the existential crisis; What is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living?

I liked this book in the middle parts. I didn’t like the diary of a suicided at the start and that just before the end it suddenly decided to moonlight as a self-help manual. The narrative hits hard as we deal with complex issues of self and life verses goals, freedom to live and our definition of success.  It’s a really exciting concept, that between life and death you enter a library of all your life choices. I find its a great metaphor for the minefield of regrets. Interesting book, well written, do tell me what you thought of it.

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