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.

What’s Sera Reading? Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

Suggested by a Teen patron to the Tenbury Library I have been following the Witcher and his adventures in the hit collection THE LAST WISH Now on Netflix. But preceding the main Witcher Saga we the collection of six short stories. These were originally published in 1992 in Poland for a creative writing magazine. The book gives the stories of Geralt of Rivia in as chronological fit as was possible. fans of the show will be able to pick out characters and events from the first series that link in.

Geralt is a mutated human known as a ‘Witcher’ in this story world. He is a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Although he is a sword for hire Geralt (and other witchers) have a code. The ideal would be to protect the innocent and strive for good to win over evil. However, as he travels the wilderness and countries Geralt discovers not all are vile beasts and monstrous, some are the victims of evil or naive mistakes. Nevertheless, Geralt remains our hero as he battles monsters, demons and prejudices alike 

Tharshigly great read with high fantasy and all the gore you could want from such a great genre. Geralt’s stoic character has him chasing his destiny even when he wishes to avoid it. But, as all heroes are fated to do, he turns up when he is most needed, not when wanted. The nice twist on this is that Geralt admittedly is not always on his best behaviour. However, the faults in his manner create some exciting and fun moments of storytelling.  

What’s Julie Reading? The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Julie is a Worcestershire Library Customer Assistant who loves to read an eclectic mix.

‘The Miniaturist’ is set in 17th Century Amsterdam and most of the action takes place in the house of a wealthy merchant. An unusual wedding gift is at the centre of the story which slowly unfolds as the main character, Nella Oortman, gets used to her new life, in a new town as a very young newly married woman. Several chapters in there is a sudden turn of events that had been hinted at, but which still took me by surprise. From thereonin there are revelations about all of the main characters which keep you hooked, wondering what the next revelation could be.

Jessie Burton is a keen observer of human nature and her likeable characters are full of flaws and vulnerable, yet strong and resilient in the face of 17th century prejudices. The ending was a poignant mixture of sadness and hope and I thoroughly enjoyed entering another world and another time and getting caught up in this gripping story.

What’s Sera Reading? The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

I’m Seraphim Bryant and I work at Tenbury Library UK I love to read but it wasn’t always so. I struggle with the written word, and will all my life, but I have the taste for adventure too and there is nothing as remarkable as the other worlds we find in books.

This week I finished reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. It is chocka-block with different themes including love and friendship, science and religion. The book begins with a fantastic mystery. on New Year’s Eve, a drunk young man wanders down to the shore of the Blackwater estuary with the intention of swimming. He senses something strange in the water and then disappears.

Set in 1893 Cora Seaborne her son Francis exchange bustling London and rural Essex after her husband passes. I love how refreshing the main characters of Cora and Dr Garrett are. Cora is, a bright woman who has a burning interest in the natural sciences. Dr. Luke Garrett (nicknamed the Imp for his diminutive stature) has fallen in love with Michael Selborne’s wife, Cora, who he grew to know while treating her husband. He sensed an unhappiness in the marriage and became acquainted with Francis Seaborne (Cora’s son) and Martha (Francis’ nanny). when Cora moves to the rural village she discovers a population in thrall to the local legend of a sea monster lurking in the nearby estuary and a village priest who is desperately trying to dissuade his congregation of this belief.

 A thoroughly exciting read the novel is full of ideas, though its sensibility is firmly, consciously, outright story. A cheeky bit gothic and a dreamy delivery start is not off putting at all . Narrative and voice coil together until it is very difficult to stop reading, very difficult to avoid being dragged into the dark and sometimes darkly comic waters.

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