Friday, 21 April 2017

Decisions, decisions...

Which book will be our next choice?  Miss Corbishley has been given the difficult task of choosing from four very different (and very well-argued) novels.

Megan put forward the case for The Fault In Our Stars

"I've not read it, but I've heard from other people that it's a gripping storyline, but that it's also very sad.  Apparently, it's one of those books that you can't put down.
I really want to see the film, but I always like to read the book before I see the film, so I think this would be a good one to read."


  • Miss Corbishley says - it would be excellent to read a book that no-one in BookClub has read before.  Also, it has a reputation as being a soppy romance which is really outside of some members' comforts zones - always a good thing! 


Poppy went for The Hunger Games trilogy

"We've all read the first one in year 7 and I've nearly finished reading the third one.  It's told in a realistic way - you can imagine yourself being there.  Once you get into it, you can't put it down.  It's one of those books that I could just read for hours and hours.
The characters are well-written - you like them and they are believable.  Also, there are bits in the story that seem irrelevant when you first read them, but then later on you remember them and you understand that everything has a reason for being included in the story."  

  • Miss Corbishley says - everyone is familiar with the first book so it would provide a nice sense of closure to read the third and final one together as a group.  

Holly had lots of recommendations but decided on Grandpa's Great Escape

"Like all of David Walliams' books, this is really funny but it's also quite touching at the same time.  The grandpa in the story has an illness where he keeps forgetting where he is and what he's supposed to be doing - he thinks he's back in the 1940's fighting in World War II.  Grandpa goes missing...
The next thing, the boy's class go on a school trip to a War Museum and he thinks his Grandpa is somewhere in the museum - asleep on one of the planes.  
It's also really interesting because there are lots of old people who lose their memory and it's interesting to see how it might affect people around them."  

  • Miss Corbishley says - David Walliams is a big favourite at home!  It's good to have something that doesn't just give you laughs and adventures, but also makes you think about how other people might view the world.  

Eleanor couldn't contain her enthusiasm for Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief 

"First of all, don't believe the films.  They are nothing like the books.  The books are a million times better!  Percy is 12 years old when he finds out that he's a half-blood:  half-mortal (like a normal human being) and half-God.  There are monsters which are based on mythical creatures and they can smell half-bloods so Percy has lots of battles with them.  
The setting is brilliant - they're on a special camp - it's amazing; really exciting.  As you read the books in the series, the characters grow up and get older, as you get older, so it's like you grow up with them and really get to know them."  

  • Miss Corbishley says - Fantasy adventures are always exciting.  Despite Megan saying she thought the blurb was really boring, this could definitely be a book that the club could whizz through - it's good to have divided opinion before we even start reading.  Discussion is what it's all about!  
So now we need to decide...  Which one should we choose?  

Friday, 10 March 2017

Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis

The latest book ahead of our trip next week is Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis.

Miss Corbishley found this quite a tough read, emotionally speaking.  "It's because there are elements of non-fiction here - some of these atrocities really do happen and it makes it quite difficult to read as fiction."

Despite this, it is one of the most popular books yet.

Poppy wasn't keen on the look of it, commenting, after having read the blurb, that it "looked like it was going to be a romance or something".  But having now finished it (in super speedy time!) she has this to say:

"I loved it.  If I was the girl, the spirit girl, I would have gone with the lady" and this prompted discussion about whether the spirit girl really did have magical, supernatural powers.  "I think she did" said Eleanor. "The demon inside her was real.  And people knew she had power because she survived the attack by the Black Mamba and that's what gives her the powers".

We also all agreed that the description of the setting was really well done.  It's not a landscape any of us were familiar with (never having been to the jungles and mountains of Congo) so this was no mean feat on the part of the author.  Eleanor said that if she closed her eyes, "I could imagine being there, breathing that air, feeling the leaves of the jungle. I could even feel the rain dripping down my arms and off my elbows".

Recommended reading age was agreed on 12 years and over - certainly not for the faint-hearted this one!

A big thumbs up from Fearnhill BOOKClub.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Jessica's Ghost

By far, the most popular book to date.  This hit the mark for lots of reasons.


"This was my favourite because it's not really about describing, it's more about an actual story.  Every time the teacher told me to stop reading, I didn't want to."

"It's quite slow-paced until the end, but it's nice because I know what's happening - with Dreaming The Bear I got quite confused."

"There's a really good swapping of gender roles.  The boy is into sewing and stuff and the girl is called a 'thuglet' by her mum."

"All the characters are outsiders at the start.  But they start to look out for each other and stand up for each other."

"By the end of the book, they've all got loads more self-confidence.  Like, the bullies' comments wouldn't bother them anymore.  They've grown up and seem much happier."


Friday, 3 February 2017

Help Wanted at Fearnhill BOOKClub

A disappointing turnout today!  Maybe everyone's got the flu.  Or maybe the novelty has worn off.  Or maybe Miss Corbishley's lack of cake is to blame.

Do you like reading?

Do you like books?

Do you like giving reviews to your fellow clubmates?

Then BOOKClub is for YOU!

BOOKClub is on every Friday lunchtime in E5 (apart from the holiday - cos no-one would go to school in the holidays.  Not even for cake.  Did we say there was cake?) so get down here now!

If you come, and you like it, how about you post on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram - any social media?  Post it, link it, help get BOOKClub back out there!

Author - Eleanor Brewer

Monday, 30 January 2017

Dreaming the Bear

The first book to be read in preparation for our trip to the North Herts Book Awards ceremony is 'Dreaming the Bear' by Mimi Thebo.

This novel actually divided opinion amongst our members, with some rating it more highly than others.

But first, what does the blurb tell us?  Well it starts off with introducing us to our protagonist, a girl called Darcy.

"When I get up, there's nobody home. Even Mum has gone out. The note says, 'I have to check my emails. I'll snowmobile to the meltline and be back soon. XX Mummy'. 
And I think, 'Good. I can feed my bear...'" 

We learn that Darcy is recovering from a severe illness in her parents' cabin, spending most of her days alone, until she comes face to face with a grizzly bear; this encounter blossoms into a surprising friendship.

The setting is gorgeous; Yellowstone National Park in Montana, with so much description, you almost feel like you are there with Darcy and the bear.  However, it is this description which divided our BOOKClub members:  

"It's a bit slow."  "There's too much description; not enough action."  "I like books that make you want to turn the page; this one went on too long describing the setting."

"I like how it's described as if you're there."   "I don't know anything about places like that, so the description helped."  

The other element that split the group in two was the ending.  Without giving away any spoilers, this was a real discussion point.  Some of us thought it was a nice change to have an unexpected ending like this - particularly in a book for children.  Others would have preferred a more typical ending.  

Overall, this is a book we would recommend, but only if you're not a fan of fast-paced, non-stop action!

Friday, 13 January 2017

BOOKClub trip - Book Awards Ceremony

We have our first BOOKClub trip coming up after half term.  

Fearnhill are really excited to have been invited to a presentation, author talk and creative writing workshops, part of the North Herts Librarians Book Awards Ceremony, on 15th March.  


       Kim Slater wrote 'Smart' which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and nominated for the 2015 Carnegie Medal, so we're looking forward to hearing from her and having the opportunity to pick her brains. 

       But, before we even get there, we've been presented with a list of books to read in advance:  




For Younger readers
  • 'Gorilla Dawn' by Gill Lewis
  • 'Dreaming the Bear' by Mimi Thebo
  • 'Jessica’s Ghost' by Andrew Norriss

 
For older readers
  • 'Girl on a plane'  by Miriam Moss
  • 'We Are All Made of Molecules' by Susin Nielsen
  • 'Denton Little’s Deathnote' by Lance Rubin

Our Key Stage 3 BOOKClubbers have finished
'Dreaming the Bear' already.
Watch this space for reviews.  

Friday, 6 January 2017

Book review: The Nest

Initially overlooked in favour of 'The Graveyard Book', 'The Nest' by Kenneth Oppel was the second book to be read by all of us*. 

It seems that this one just pipped Gaiman's book and is currently the group's favourite.  Have a read of the blurb to give you a flavour of what it's all about:  


""The first time I saw them, I thought they were angels." The baby is sick. Mom and Dad are sad. And all Steve has to do is say, "Yes" to fix everything. But yes is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back? Treading the thin line between dreams and reality, Steve is stuck in a nightmare he can't wake up from and that nobody else understands. And all the while, the wasps' nest is growing, and the 'angel' keeps visiting Steve in the night. A haunting coming of age story that will hold you captive, The Nest is lyrical, surreal and one of the most moving stories you'll read this year."


Here's what Dan in year 7 says about it:  

"This is my favourite book that we've read in BOOKClub so far...  For once in a book, I actually got a little bit scared!  I loved the way the author linked 'dreamland' with the real world and had special links.  Definitely a 5 star review!"  

For more information about Kenneth Oppel, see his website here or his blog here



*Miss Corbishley was shamefully slow in finishing hers.  Poppy and Dan finished first.  Hats off to them!