Short Story

Guest Review: Make More Noise! short story anthology.

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Repro_MakeMoreNoise_cvr.inddIf you missed out on  #Vote100, where have you been?
1918 was the first time women in the UK had the right to vote. Although voting rights were still not equal with their male counterparts, this was a crucial step in the battle for female suffrage in the UK.
Make More Noise! is an anthology of short stories written to mark this centenary. It focuses on gender equality and the importance of political rights. 
I have teamed up with Amy from GoldenBooksGirl to read and review the book. Amy has reviewed half the stories, and my reviews will be appearing shortly on her blog. 
Huge thanks Amy for your contribution. 
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On Your Bike by Jeanne Willis- I really struggled with the narrative voice of this, and overall didn’t like it despite the super interesting concept of a woman traveling the world by bike. It felt fairly repetitive and dull, and I think it could have been so much better. 

The Tuesday Afternoon Ghost by Ella Risbridger- I loved this. It was an atmospheric, not quite ghost story about two girls who experience an unusual accident. Some moments sent a shiver down my spine, and I enjoyed the exploration of friendship) I’ve been a fan of Ella Risbridger’s columns for years, and my first experience of her fiction writing was just as wonderful. Let me tell you, if she releases a children’s or YA book, I will be ALL over that.

The Otter Path by Emma Carroll- another story I adored. This one is about saving otters and celebrating land girls, and it’s full of Emma Carroll’s trademark excellence. It’s so well written, full of heart and there was even a bit where I cried. It was interesting to learn more about land girls, and I also enjoyed the message that you shouldn’t judge people based on the way they seem alone.

The Race by Ally Kennen- this is the story of Faith, as she goes to stay with her aunt and uncle on their farm and takes part in the titular race. I liked the dynamics of the big family, especially the humour, and I thought it was a nice story. I have an Ally Kennen book on my TBR, and this has made it more of a priority!

Discuss, Decide, Do by Catherine Johnson- This is the story of Claudette, a Jewish girl facing personal problems,  who witnesses a fascist protest against Jews just after World War Two. I thought the characters, particularly Claudette and Rita, and I found it fascinating to read at the end that it had been based on true events.

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Reflection

Book Swap – Amy at GoldenBooksGirl

When making our New Year’s Resolutions, Amy and I decided to swap book recommendations. The main purpose was to clear out TBR piles, and we gave each other lists of books which were sitting unread on our shelves. I started my blog last year, and it has been an adventure, but with proof copies to review I find I am less likely to chose a book published in previous years. This is not intentional, but a result of prioritising books I have committed to review. 

Thank you Amy for your recommendations! I look forward to reading. birdPrisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren- this is such a fun, wintry adventure and I thought it was nail biting in places. Valor is a great heroine and I hugely enjoyed the ensemble cast and unusual prison setting too. the  I think you might enjoy it from a writing standpoint as well as from what I’ve learnt from you about structuring stories this ticks quite a few boxes. 

The London Eye Mystery by Siobbhan Dowd- Before I read this,  I’ll admit I was very unsure of it. But I adore Ted Spark’s voice, it’s so amazing and unique and special,  and I think the mystery is pretty clever as well. If you enjoy it, you can then go onto the Guggenheim Mystery, which is coincidentally by the next author on this list too…

Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens- I’m pretty sure you’ve already read MMU, which is perfect as the 2nd book is my favourite in the whole series so far! I definitely didn’t predict the murderer (though I know you probably will. You’re amazing at it!), I adore Daisy and Hazel’s friendship and the addition of Kitty and Beanie in this book, and the country house setting is so classic and fun. 

Beetle Boy by M.G Leonard- I read this in a single setting back in 2016 (I was in a car, and didn’t have anything else to do, but I’m pretty sure I would still have got through it quite speedily eve if I wasn’t!). It feels like an instant classic, and it tells the story of Darkus as his father goes missing and he discovers an extraordinary group of beetles and he must protect them. I can guarantee you’ll fall in love with the beetles, even if you think the concept sounds peculiar on paper. I did, and now I adore these books. 

Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen- even though Boy in the Tower would be my first pick (if you know me at all, you’ll be gasping in shock here I’m sure ) I know you can’t get hold of it, so instead I’m choosing this. It’s a beautiful magical realism tale about Leelu as she moves to England and her family implodes, and the magical objects and people she discovers who help her through the hard time. It made me cry more than once and it may be as dear to me as Boy in the Tower one day, I think. 

 

Have you read any of the books on Amy’s list? Which books would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.

Middle Grade Reviews

GoldenBooksGirl on Mystery And Mayhem

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9781405282642You may remember Amy from GoldenBooksGirl from our shared read of Quest. Short Story Anthologies were designed to be shared, whether you read a story together, chat about one story every week or feed back to each other on one half of the book. This is the format we use – it works well from a blogging perspective, and allows us see whether we agree with each other’s verdict when we read the rest of the book. 

Murder And Mayhem is a great anthology for fans of mystery and crime. Me and Amy share a love of Middle Grade detective fiction, and the anthology has some of the greats: Frances Hardinge, Katherine Woodfine and Helen Moss to name three. 

Huge welcome to Amy, who read the first six stories from Murder and Mayhem. breakbird

MYSTERY AND MAYHEM GUEST POST

 

IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES

 

Emily and the Detectives- Susie Day

This is a really jovial opening to the anthology; it tells the story of Emily, a young girl who is the real brains behind her father and his friend Lord Copperbole`s much lauded feats as a detective duo, as she becomes involved in a locked room mystery no one else can explain. However, it also touches on why Emily isn`t given credit, and how unfair it is that she isn`t seen as clever/brave enough to solve mysteries just because she`s a girl. It shows a real historical murder method, which will be educational for some, and especially for younger readers or those not familiar with the historical mystery genre. Finally, I thought the mystery was wrapped up really well even though the solution kind of comes out of nowhere.

 

Rain on My Parade by Elen Caldecott

In her story for the anthology, Elen Caldecott sets a mini-mystery in her Marsh Road setting about the Marsh Road Carnival and a few members of the team solving the mystery of a sabotaged dress. While I did miss Piotr and Andrew in this story, I was pleased to see Minnie, Flora, Sylvie and minor character Big Phil appear. I adore Elen Caldecott`s vibrant, vivid writing style and the imagery she uses as it hugely helps me visualise the setting and understand exactly how each character is feeling, and it brings the world and the story to life. Finally, this story manages to have quite a complex mystery for such a short wordcount as there are several suspects and red herrings for the team to work through and it was as ffun as ever to follow their detective work.

 

The Mystery of the Green Room by Clementine Beauvais

This short story, possibly my favourite of the three in this section of the anthology, is about a large family reuniting in France for a funeral/will reading and what happens when one of their party goes into their room, locks the door and then dies. The protagonist Marcel is super likeable and I like that as well as him being a great detective we also see him struggle with his changing relationship with his slightly older cousin Joseph who he feels is leaving him behind. This is an absolutely fascinating locked room mystery with a solution I definitely didn`t guess, and I really liked the very enclosed setting as it makes the story feel quite dangerous at points. The only thing I`m not keen on in this story is that I struggle to keep the different members of the family straight in my head as there are so many of them.

 

CANINE CAPERS

 

The Mystery of Diablo Canyon Circle by Caroline Lawrence

Going in, I wasn`t expecting a huge amount from this as I’m not really a big fan of the Roman Mysteries series by this author, but I enjoyed this story hugely. Darcy is a great narrator and detective (I also love the literary references of her and her sibling`s names!) and the mystery- the disappearance of a dog called Shane who belongs to her celebrity neighbour- is interesting and I definitely wanted to keep reading throughout. I personally don`t like the ending of this (no spoilers though!) but it`s still an excellent story as this is just down to me personally and not the quality of the ending itself.

 

Mel Foster and the Hound of the Baskervilles by Julia Golding

I had no clue what this story would be like when I started it as Julia Golding is the only author in the anthology I`d never read before, but I`ll be seeking out the novels in the Mel Foster series soon. This was super fun and a great mystery, but I think my favourite part was the relationship between Mel and Eve as their friendship is so nice and they cover each other`s weaknesses and look out for each other in general. I do feel that I may have picked up on some extra references if I`d read the original Hound of the Baskervilles but the story was very easy to follow and I definitely wasn`t confused by anything. Finally, I loved the happy ending and the little cameo from Sherlock Holmes.

 

Dazzle, Dog Biscuits and Disaster by Kate Pankhurst

This story is the very definition of a canine caper, and I love it a lot! It`s about Sid, whose mum runs a dogwalking business, as one of their dogs escapes from its house and Sid gets blamed. He soon sets out to clear his name and find out where Dazzle really is. I actually managed to work out the culprit in this but it`s an utterly delightful read and Sid is a sweetheart of a narrator. If you like Mariella Mystery, I think you`ll love this short story even more.

 

 

Guest Post · Middle Grade Reviews

Guest Post – Amy from GoldenBooksGirl reviews Quest by Aarhus 39

Some blogging friends are there for celebrations, comiserations and totally random conversations. Amy from GoldenBooksGirl is one of those people. Earlier this summer, we agreed to joint-read Quest at a point when Amy could get near her local library. It’s been a great experience to share a short story collection. 

Quest is the Middle Grade anthology from the Aarhus 39. If you’re not up to speed, Odyssey and Quest were published to coincide with the International Children’s Literature Hay Festival, which takes place in October 2017. Every story is centered around a journey. 

Amy took the first half off the book. It’s great to host her reviews – thank you Amy for your time and wonderful thoughts. 

Aarhus

QUEST REVIEWS

Beware Low-Flying Girls by Katherine Rundell

This story is about Odile, a girl with a coat which gives her the power to fly, as she has to face mosnters who prey on her deepest fear (that her grandfather doesn`t love her). Rundell`s writing is as beautiful and distinctive as ever, the world of this story felt vivid and all-encompassing and I also really liked the illustrations. I did find the ending a little rushed but overall this was a solid and heartwarming opening to the collection.

Peeva is a Tone Deaf Cat by Anna Woltz

The 2nd in the collections is about Eva, who feels like a misfit in her family and decides that she must have been switched at birth. Eva`s voice was instantly engaging, and I really enjoyed her narration throughout. I loved the journey Eva goes on, and Tommy, the boy she meets on it. The plotline involving Tommy`s mum was very moving and I also adored the ending.

The Girl With No Name by Aline Sax

I really struggled with this story. I wasn`t a big fan of the narrative style, and I disliked the main character Nelle. I thought the plot (her disliking her name and wanting a new one) was quite silly and insignificant, especially when compared to some of the other stories in the collection. It did, however, feature the best literal journey as Nelle travels through her town and meets several different people who all try to help her, although it was quite slow paced and long winded. The other thing that I thought was quite about this story was the sweet message by the end. All in all, I don`t think this one was for me.

Mr Nobody by Laura Dockrill

I`ll tell the truth here; I considered skipping this story. I didn`t like Darcy Burdock, and I went in looking for reasons to dislike this story too. But it charmed me completely, and even made me cry. It`s the story of Oliver, a boy who has to let go of his imaginary friend as he starts secondary school, and it`s hugely touching. It had perfect pacing, a really sweet main character (I also liked his family), and it has a twist in that Mr Nobody may not actually be all that imaginary…

Hands down my favourite of the collection.

Pipounette`s House by Ludovic Flamant

While the imagery used in the opening paragraphs grabbed my attention, I struggled to understand this story as it developed. It`s about Pipounette, a woman who`s husband built her a house full of wonders just before he died, and her exploring it with her nephews. As I said, the story didn`t really make sense to me but I did empathise with Pipounette as a character and I thought it had a sweet ending. I also loved the illustrations.

The Roof by Nataly E. Savina

Sadly this story didn`t appeal to me either. I can`t even give a summary of what happens as I couldn`t really follow it. I had no attachment to the main character and nothing about this interested me. I especially disliked the random flashbacks to things the character had done with their grandparents; I think this was the main reason I struggled with this story so much as it was incredibly jarring.

A Trip To Town- Maria Parr

 Even though nothing really happens in this story, I enjoyed it a lot. It`s quite hard to explain, but it`s a story about the love between a grandmother and her grandchild, and a story that means a lot to both of them. The writing style had the cosy feeling that Enid Blyton always evokes in me, and I think it was a major part of why I liked this so much. Even though it was short, and didn`t properly fit with the theme of `journey`, this was one of my favourites.

The Great Book Escape

This was a super fun story. I liked the main character Sigrun as I felt she really challenged the stereotype that librarians are quiet and dull, as she goes on a journey to find books for her library. While I liked this idea more than the actual execution of it I still enjoyed the writing style and I thought the ending was very sweet.