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Bream Community Library

Bream Reading Club Reviews The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Stars out of 5: 2.5

At one end of the spectrum our members really enjoyed this book, on the other end the word used was ‘insufferable’.

To break it down, The Historian is an in-depth tracking down of the real Draculya, not the Hollywood version but the historical man as well as the mythology surrounding him. The book is weighed down in detail, and relies far too much on letters to convey vast amounts of information. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is mentioned a number of times in the book as if to form a direct comparison. Letters are also used in Bram’s book, but they used far more effectively.

The true genius of this book was the way different time lines were woven together with apparent ease. Every character is carefully maintained in each story stream and you learn each characters history as well as the historical quest they are following. The prose is many places is beautiful and exceptionally well written.

The disappointment is that the characters never truly find their voice. They are more like cardboard cut outs filling in their scenes with no development or growth. None of us became invested in any of the characters no matter what threat they were facing. It appeared to us that the characters were sacrificed entirely on the altar of pure history.

Too many times this book read like a dry history, something more akin to a textbook than anything suspenseful, which appeared to us to be a lost opportunity that could have been something truly epic.

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Harry Potter Book Night!

What an evening! 😀

Class kicked off at 5:30 pm with our very own Bellatrix welcoming the children.

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Our very own Bellatrix!

They were ushered into the Hall by Mrs Potato a long lost cousin to Mrs Sprout, to begin the Sorting Hat Ceremony.

Our Random Wizard called for attention and the Sorting Hat Ceremony began! In quick succession the potential witches and wizards were in their houses and a captain chosen to collect their owl post. Captains ripped open the envelopes to reveal the Quest. Each House had a list of items to find in the library, including asking one of the witches if she had the Dark Mark and then ask for her signature.

The truly brave approached the magic books to seek items, dodging the Book of Monsters as it squirmed in its chains. The even more brave asked Bellatrix for their fortunes to be read, the crystal ball glinting invitingly in the lights.

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Random Wizard

Quest completed there was no slowing down as back in class Mrs Potato went straight into a quiz. It was a fast paced question and answer leaving Bellatrix not much time to mark the results of the Quest. Random Wizard totaled up the scores and Gryffindor won with only the smallest margin.

The best dressed were given prizes including our best dressed mum with lovely red hair. After the prizes got handed out, Mrs Potato did a reading to the class all about Aragog the massive old and blind giant spider. Not her favourite subject but nevertheless she persevered.

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Mrs Potato

The final part of the evening was the Certificates of Attendance being completed and handed out. The evening finished up slightly earlier than intended probably due to the reading going a bit too fast!

Thank you to all the amazing kids and parents who made the night fun and all our incredible volunteers who made it happen! 

Harry Potter Book Night 2018 – done and done! 

 

Harry Potter Book Night! 1 Feb

poster 2Come for a night of Magizoologist fun!

Dress code: Wizard robes / Harry Potter dress up. Best children’s costume, and best parents costume wins a prize.
Age range: 5-12 RSVP only.

Night includes a Fantastic Beast Quest, Quiz and a Reading from one of the Harry Potter books. Arrive at 5.30 for the Sorting Hat to choose your house!

 

Bream Reading Club Reviews The Shining by Stephen King

51Kf+jjhR0L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Stars out of 5:  3.5

For two of our members this was re-read so they didn’t enjoy as much as they did the first time round. That said we all agreed there were parts so well written you had to stop and just think about them, and other parts that were unnecessary in being over-descriptive and a bit of a waffle.

Discussing the characters:

The Boy: Danny was written as a far more mature character than a real 5 year old would be, since all of us are mothers, that part stood out for all the wrong reasons. Even though his parents acknowledged his maturity, his emotional maturity being that high just wasn’t believable. His perceptions are clear and uncluttered and his emotional development at the end of the book is far more realistic. Danny’s character is way better on his own compared to when he is interacting with his parents.

The Father: Jack’s alcoholism and uncontrolled anger is written exceptionally well, he is a person who doesn’t take responsibility for his actions, he is an addict, and he is selfish and ultimately thinks a great deal more of himself than is healthy. He begins as an angry addict forcing himself to stop and hates how his past keeps getting thrown back in his face. He hates how his wife surreptitiously checks his breath. He hates how people don’t trust him anymore. He wants all the past badness to be erased and trust fully restored. His relationship with his own father offers some explanations for his behaviour and attitudes towards alcoholism, bullying, assault and women. His stay at the hotel takes him down the road to madness and his rage seems to speed him along that path.

The Mother: Wendy is interesting in her psychological dependence on Jack and the thread that runs back to her own mother. She cannot leave Jack because going back to her mother would be ‘worse’. Why could she not stand on her own? She appears to have no other recourse. She is portrayed as conflicted, wishing to keep her family together despite undeniable proof that something is very wrong. She continues to hope unrealistically to achieve some ‘happy family’ somewhere down the line. At the hotel her strength shows far more, and ultimately she protects her son and herself from her maniac of a husband.

The Hero: (In our view) Mr Halloran.  The most well rounded character in the whole book. Wise, funny, practical, kind and courageous, salt of the earth kind of person. He takes Danny under his wing so to speak and makes sure that Danny knows he has a friend he can call on if he gets into trouble.

Discussing the Story:

It is essentially a ‘haunted house’ story. Jack gets hired as the winter caretaker of a long established hotel with a checkered history. He brings his family with him. Danny is psychic and can read surface thoughts, Mr Halloran refers to this as ‘shine’ as he too has this skill though Danny is the strongest one he has ever come across. With Danny’s super perception he sees a whole lot more at that hotel and it is frightening to him. In a short time Jack is being influenced negatively by the malevolent spirits in the hotel which ultimately compel him to murder his own family. The spirits want Danny because of his amazing gift. The story has a happy ending in that Jack’s body is killed by Wendy in self-defence, Mr Halloran arrives just in time to save Danny and Wendy, the hotel blows up because the boiler ‘creeps’ and the malevolent spirit is torn free of the hotel and is pulled apart by the wind. Wendy and Danny start a new life, where Wendy is standing on her own feet and Mr Halloran is a firm family friend.

The issues:

There are elements that didn’t make sense. There was overstatement, some repetition and too much description. The fright parts were well written, designed to make you startle. There were some areas that had such potential but weren’t explored.

Mr Halloran experiences obstacles his entire trip back to the hotel on his rescue mission. If this stalling was meant to be suspenseful it wasn’t necessary. The nail biting wait for him to get there was already enough. Were the ghosts making it next to impossible for him to get there? Was Danny’s proximity to the ghosts making this possible?

The Unanswerables:

Why were the hedge animals outside the hotel so powerful when the ghosts inside weren’t?

There was a malevolent spirit in the shed where the snow mobiles were kept too, not just at the hotel, so why didn’t the ghosts from the hotel flee to the shed to survive a little longer?

A good read but disappointing in places.

We lend Micro:bits!

Did you know you can now borrow a BBC micro:bit from hundreds of libraries around the UK?

Well you can – and Bream Community Library have some just waiting for you to snap up!

What is a Microbit?

It is a micro computer that you can programme yourself. Especially for reaching out to kids to develop their coding muscles!

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More information here: http://microbit.org/en/2017-10-23-libraries/  and here:

https://www.microbit.co.uk/about

 

Huge Thank You to the Big Issue for this donation!

The Big Issue has an amazing book give away – all the details can be found of their website. It’s super easy just nominate the charity you want to get some books and submit it.

https://www.bigissue.com/news/big-issue-big-book-giveaway-nominate-group-well-send-books/

We love books and love this initiative! Thank you!

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We even got some super popular Older Junior Fiction and Teenage Fiction!

 

 

Bream Reading Club Review ‘Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

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Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Total Stars out of 5: 2 Stars

Review by Reading Club member.

Having staggered through to the end of this book I thought that it was an extremely long-winded way of telling a very short story.

A rather naïve teenage girl is seriously manipulated by a deceased uncle into caring for his sick partner, who is similarly manipulated into caring for his late lover’s favourite niece. End of….

The background is unusual, being set in the 1980’s, when Aids was a full-on media subject, but what are we supposed to do about it? Are we supposed to reflection how far we’ve come since then both in medicine and in social attitudes? If so, Brunt doesn’t make a very convincing case and anyway, do we really want to go over all that again? It was a particularly unpleasant time and hopefully, we’ve lost our prejudices and have become more liberal without having to resort to fiction.

The best bits of the book are psychological studies of the two teenage girls, June the favoured niece and Greta the waspish elder sister. Devoid of parental interaction – both parents are both heavily engaged in the ‘tax season’ – they have more freedom that they can handle and the emotional ups and downs of June’s relationship with Toby, Uncle Finn’s dying partner, and Greta’s bitchiness towards her younger sister are long drawn out and irritating.

Both girls are believable characters however, and the reader does become anxious for the well-being of both of them as June descends into emotional confusion and Greta hits the bottle.

In fact the last few chapters really are the most interesting part, and spur the reader on to complete what is otherwise a tedious narrative.

I like reading circle books with discussion points at the end, but in this case the topics on page 370-1 are largely hypothetical. The three I really agree with are 3, 6 and 8. Finn was a psychological blackmailers, a manipulative user of both June and Toby.

All in the name of love? I really don’t think so.

Books just for Christmas

The Lost Words – A Spell Book

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The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

From Acorn to Weasel: a gorgeous, hand-illustrated, large-format spellbook celebrating the magic and wonder of the natural world

All over the country, there are words disappearing from children’s lives. Words like Dandelion, Otter, Bramble, Acorn and Lark represent the natural world of childhood, a rich landscape of discovery and imagination that is fading from children’s minds.

The Lost Words stands against the disappearance of wild childhood. It is a joyful celebration of the poetry of nature words and the living glory of our distinctive, British countryside. With acrostic spell-poems by peerless wordsmith Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustrations by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the irreplaceable magic of language and nature for all ages.

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