The Chalet School and the Lintons

The Chalet School and the Lintons by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars The first thing to say about The Chalet School and the Lintons is that it’s a much better hardback than it is paperback. In a way it marks the first of the Armada edits that, to me, make veryContinue reading “The Chalet School and the Lintons”

The Chalet School and Rosalie and The Mystery at the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The Chalet School and Rosalie & The Mystery at the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 3 of 5 stars Two books in one which can be basically summed up as “girls: mean” and “girls: complicated!!!” We begin with a Mystery at the Chalet School which gives us a new girl with aContinue reading “The Chalet School and Rosalie and The Mystery at the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The New House at the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The New House at the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 5 of 5 stars Today was a day for New House. The weather was thick and hot and dense; that still, heavy air that is just hot and nothing else, and what else should one do on such days but read aContinue reading “The New House at the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Girls’ Crystal Annual 1952

It’s vintage book acquisition o’clock! I recently picked up a couple of annuals from a local charity shop and was pleased to find them rather interesting things. Annuals aren’t my normal space as a collector because the authors that I’m interested in very rarely published in them. There’s quite a clear distinction as the namesContinue reading “The Girls’ Crystal Annual 1952”

Guest Post: Rebecca Mills on ‘Grand Tours and Great Escapes in the Early Chalet School Books’

I am so happy to be able to share this guest post with you today from the lovely Rebecca Mills. As you may know, I have a great love for the early Chalet School characters and so this was right up my street. I suspect you’ll enjoy it a lot as well – it’s soContinue reading “Guest Post: Rebecca Mills on ‘Grand Tours and Great Escapes in the Early Chalet School Books’”

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh My rating: 4 of 5 stars Sometimes I think thar you can get to books too soon. I first read Brideshead Revisited when I was at school, somewhere around my A Levels, and I was not ready for it. But then, I think, neither was it for me. We wereContinue reading “Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh”

The Secret Garden on 81st Street by Ivy Noelle Weir and Amber Padilla

The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Retelling of the Secret Garden by Ivy Noelle Weir My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s difficult to tell you how much I loved this book without just shrieking “I LOVED THIS BOOK” and basically just repeating that for several paragraphs or so. The Secret Garden onContinue reading “The Secret Garden on 81st Street by Ivy Noelle Weir and Amber Padilla”

The Years of Grace edited by Noel Streatfeild

The Years of Grace by Noel Streatfeild My rating: 3 of 5 stars I was alerted to The Years of Grace by a friend (thank you!) who knew I enjoyed books of this nature. And I do, I am very fond of those kind of ‘how to be a girl’ books from, say, the 1940sContinue reading “The Years of Grace edited by Noel Streatfeild”

How To Be True is available for pre-order

(Isn’t she lovely?) How To Be True is available for pre-order right now! It’s published in the UK on July 7th and in the US in September (it’s worth the wait, I promise). Pre-orders help a book massively and I’m endlessly grateful to anybody who does so. You can pre-order via Pushkin here (and there’sContinue reading “How To Be True is available for pre-order”

Looking at The Deptford Mice books by Robin Jarvis

There was a point, just towards the end of The Final Reckoning, the third in the remarkable Deptford Mice trilogy by Robin Jarvis, that I knew that I did not want it to end. I will not give you spoilers for that moment for, if you are not familiar with them then you need toContinue reading “Looking at The Deptford Mice books by Robin Jarvis”

Max Counts To A Million by Jeremy Williams

Max Counts to a Million by Jeremy Williams My rating: 4 of 5 stars Max Counts To A Million is the first children’s book I’ve read to be set within the COVID pandemic. This is something I’m still wrestling with about whether or not to reference the pandemic in my own work and I don’tContinue reading “Max Counts To A Million by Jeremy Williams”

The Girl Who Lost A Leopard by Nizrana Farook

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard by Nizrana Farook My rating: 4 of 5 stars I found this super charming and I’m grateful to Nosy Crow for sending me a copy to look at. The first thing to note is how beautifully they produce their books there. I always mention it because it’s always true:Continue reading “The Girl Who Lost A Leopard by Nizrana Farook”

The Alchymist’s Cat by Robin Jarvis

The Alchymist’s Cat by Robin Jarvis My rating: 4 of 5 stars Every now and then I return to Robin Jarvis’ work like somebody finding dry land after weeks at sea. I first came across the Deptford books a long while ago, somewhere in that messy early nineties period of children’s literature where nothing wasContinue reading “The Alchymist’s Cat by Robin Jarvis”

Tom Tackles The Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Before I get to the review itself, can I tell you a bit about my copy of Tom? It’s one of the most precious books in my stash and honestly, it doesn’t look like it should be. It’s a slightly mothy Armada paperback with those soft, rubbed corners, so familiar to a book that’s beenContinue reading “Tom Tackles The Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

Changes for the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Changes for the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars I remembered how much I love these books when I got to the part where one character vaults out of the window and vanishes. Honestly, I think I cackled for a week over that one and I will probably cackleContinue reading “Changes for the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

Sabotage on the Solar Express by MG Leonard and Sam Sedgman

Sabotage on the Solar Express by M.G. Leonard My rating: 5 of 5 stars I have such respect for this wild and well-told adventure series and so I was thrilled when the publishers sent me a copy of Sabotage on the Solar Express to review. Adventure stories are hard to plot, mystery adventure stories areContinue reading “Sabotage on the Solar Express by MG Leonard and Sam Sedgman”

Judith Kerr (the illustrators)

Judith Kerr by Joanna Carey My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s difficult for me to tell you how perfect this is so instead, I’ll tell you about how I had to stop halfway through reading to have a moment over how perfect it was. I have lusted over the Illustrators series from Thames andContinue reading “Judith Kerr (the illustrators)”

Stalking the Atomic City by Markiyan Kamysh

Stalking the Atomic City: Life Among the Decadent and the Depraved of Chornobyl by Markiyan Kamysh My rating: 4 of 5 stars Delirious, dangerous, and rather intoxicating, Stalking The Atomic City tells of the author’s visits to the ‘exclusion zone’ that exists about Chornobyl. There’s more than a little bit of Trainspotting about it butContinue reading “Stalking the Atomic City by Markiyan Kamysh”

Introducing How To Be True

I have some news 😊 Meet How To Be True. It’s a follow-up to How To Be Brave and it features a school trip that nobody will ever forget, barricades before breakfast, and also cake. Lots and lots of cake. There will always be cake in my books. And ducks. There’s a pivotal duck. AlwaysContinue reading “Introducing How To Be True”

The Adventures of Alice Laselles by Alexandrina Victoria aged 10 3/4

The Adventures of Alice Laselles by Queen Victoria My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve had this on my to be read list for a while, interested not only for the author but also because of my research into young female writers. It is an amazing topic to look at and one which fascinates meContinue reading “The Adventures of Alice Laselles by Alexandrina Victoria aged 10 3/4”

The Last Weapon by Theodora Wilson Wilson

The Last Weapon by Theodora Wilson Wilson My rating: 3 of 5 stars I came to The Last Weapon through one of Wilson’s children’s books Five of Them and could not quite believe how the author of that could also write this, an anti-war polemic that was banned during the first World War. It seemedContinue reading “The Last Weapon by Theodora Wilson Wilson”

Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

Killing and Dying: Stories by Adrian Tomine My rating: 4 of 5 stars Hovering somewhere between literary fiction, comic, short story, and ‘crisp, stark ruminations about life’, Killing and Dying has left me a little bit breathless. I found it almost by accident in the library and picked it up because I am always hereContinue reading “Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine”

Susan Kendall, Student Nurse by Patricia Baldwin

Susan Kendall, Student Nurse by Patricia Baldwin My rating: 3 of 5 stars It’s an interesting one this, a career novel from 1960 (so written at the tail end of the 50s) and detailing the progress of Susan Kendall into her chosen career as nurse. It’s published by Victory Press Books, a religious press, andContinue reading “Susan Kendall, Student Nurse by Patricia Baldwin”

The answers to the Second Quite Niche Children’s Literature Quiz

As promised, here are the answers to the quiz I posted on Christmas Eve! How did you do? Round One: Boarding School Stories One M-L hanging off a sturdy young sapling = One Mary-Lou hanging off a sturdy young sapling Two O’S T not caring at S C = Two O’Sullivan Twins not caring atContinue reading “The answers to the Second Quite Niche Children’s Literature Quiz”

The Second Ever Quite Niche Children’s Literature Christmas Quiz

Hello! Last year, I started a new tradition on this blog and I see no reason why I should not continue it this year. So here we are – it’s time for The Second Ever Quite Niche Children’s Literature Christmas Quiz. You can revisit the first one here, and if you’d like a reminder ofContinue reading “The Second Ever Quite Niche Children’s Literature Christmas Quiz”

The Chestnut Filly by Primrose Cumming

The Chestnut Filly by Primrose Cumming My rating: 4 of 5 stars It’s not often you get a pony story like this and that, I think, makes The Chestnut Filly rather interesting. Randal Gray, a stammering and shy thirteen year old, has come into money due to a wayward godfather finally remembering that his godsonContinue reading “The Chestnut Filly by Primrose Cumming”

Michelle Obama by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara and Mia Saine

Michelle Obama by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’ve been a fan of the classy Little People, Big Dreams for a while. The quality of them is outstanding and I’ve always loved the artistic style used, a kind of vibrantly loose interpretation of the real world situations they depict coupledContinue reading “Michelle Obama by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara and Mia Saine”

The Rivals of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The Rivals of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars I realised recently that I have a handful of books left to do before I have reviewed the entire Chalet School series and so, I headed off to Rivals to start ticking them off. It had been a whileContinue reading “The Rivals of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

Finishing my Goodreads reading challenge

I have been using Goodreads for a while. It began when I first started blogging, primarily because I didn’t know how to format things then (what on earth was this thing called HTML???) and I quite liked how Goodreads did the work for me. I’ve stuck with it ever since because I’ve become increasingly intriguedContinue reading “Finishing my Goodreads reading challenge”

How To Be Ace by Rebecca Burgess

How to Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual by Rebecca Burgess My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve wanted to read How To Be Ace by Rebecca Burgess ever since I heard about it. I’m always excited by the books that put something different or under-represented into the world, and books featuring asexualityContinue reading “How To Be Ace by Rebecca Burgess”

How To Be Brave has been nominated for the 2022 Carnegie Awards

When I knew that How To Be Brave was going to be published, I made a little bucket list for it and this was one of those things. I still cannot quite believe that it’s happened. Thank you to everyone who’s supported the girls in their adventures so far. You’re the best. Do take theContinue reading “How To Be Brave has been nominated for the 2022 Carnegie Awards”

Parsing Piranesi: on books and reading and time

I’ve been on a bit of a deep dive with my reading at the moment, burrowing into things and not quite coming up for air until they’re done. Normally I’d think about reviewing them the moment that I finish (for they are good, good) and normally I do that, but sometimes I want more. IContinue reading “Parsing Piranesi: on books and reading and time”

Dulcie’s Little Brother by Evelyn Everett-Green

Dulcie’s Little Brother by Evelyn Everett-Green My rating: 4 of 5 stars This was surprisingly charming, albeit in that very Victorian ‘everybody gets a moral’ kind of way. The story is simple: Dulcie and her brother Tottie live in London with their nurse Nancy. Their father is away being something of a foolish wastrel (asContinue reading “Dulcie’s Little Brother by Evelyn Everett-Green”

Rescue In Ravensdale by Esmé Cartmell

Rescue in Ravensdale by Esme Cartmell My rating: 4 of 5 stars Oh this was interesting. I picked this up from one of my local bookshops with a healthy section in vintage children’s fiction. I’ve found some interesting titles there before and this, with the local – ish, connections caught my eye. I didn’t knowContinue reading “Rescue In Ravensdale by Esmé Cartmell”

Welcome To The New World by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan

Welcome to the New World by Jake Halpern My rating: 4 of 5 stars A thoughtful and eloquent “graphic novel and true story” Welcome To The New World is the story of an arrival. The Aldabaan family, originally from Syria, have arrived in America at the same time that Donald Trump has arrived in theContinue reading “Welcome To The New World by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan”

Danger at Dead Man’s Pass by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

Danger at Dead Man’s Pass by M.G. Leonard My rating: 5 of 5 stars I was just looking back at my prior reviews of this series and every single one has five stars. And so it is with Danger At Dead Man’s Pass that takes the series to somewhere spooky and spectral and (when theContinue reading “Danger at Dead Man’s Pass by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman”

The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter

The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter My rating: 4 of 5 stars I was catching up on some long overdue review copies this weekend and The House On The Edge was on top of the pile. It’s a Nosy Crow book which always means quality – the way they present their titles andContinue reading “The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter”

Wonder Pony by Marie Spénale

Wonder Pony by Marie Spenale My rating: 4 of 5 stars God, I found this so incredibly charming. It’s a rather deliciously eccentric comic which details the adventures of Louison at her new boarding school. That includes all the normal parts of new school life – making friends and finding a place in the worldContinue reading “Wonder Pony by Marie Spénale”

Guest Post: Rachel Playforth on The Melling School series by Margaret Biggs

[I am so thrilled to bring you this guest post today on the Melling books from the lovely Rachel Playforth. Rachel is a poet, editor, crossword setter and librarian. She has poems in the recent anthologies:  Night Feeds and Morning Songs by Ana Sampson (Hachette UK) and These Are The Hands – Poems from the Heart ofContinue reading “Guest Post: Rachel Playforth on The Melling School series by Margaret Biggs”

The 1933 Girl’s Own Annual

(What are heatwaves made for if not to enjoy books that are eighty-eight years old?) If you’ve never come across a Girl’s Own Annual, you’re missing out. They were yearly bindups of the Girl’s Own paper – a publication that ran from 1880 – 1956 – and included work from authors as legendary as NoelContinue reading “The 1933 Girl’s Own Annual”

The Admirable Crichton by J M Barrie

The Admirable Crichton by J.M. Barrie My rating: 5 of 5 stars I came across the film first. The Admirable Crichton (1957) caught my eye because of the mention of Kenneth More – an actor who I’d enjoyed in some other films of that period, despite his rather wonderful ability in them to be nothingContinue reading “The Admirable Crichton by J M Barrie”

The Abbey Girls Go Back To School by Elsie J. Oxenham

The Abbey Girls Go Back To School by Elsie J. Oxenham My rating: 2 of 5 stars I keep trying with EJO and she keeps testing me and yet, I keep coming back. Why I cannot quit this series, I do not know. I keep putting them all in a bag to go to theContinue reading “The Abbey Girls Go Back To School by Elsie J. Oxenham”

A Company Of Swans by Eva Ibbotson

A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson My rating: 5 of 5 stars I think sometimes Eva Ibbotson can be so perfect that you can’t quite figure out how she can be better, and then she writes: “At which point there entered a deus ex machina.It entered in an unexpected form: that of a lean,Continue reading “A Company Of Swans by Eva Ibbotson”

The Yearbook by Holly Bourne

The Yearbook by Holly Bourne My rating: 5 of 5 stars I have such time for what Holly Bourne does. I like how smart and fearless and honest her writing is. I really like how she’s unafraid of giving people complex endings. Life isn’t neat. Things don’t cleanly web together. We knot, we fray, weContinue reading “The Yearbook by Holly Bourne”

On slow book collecting

I’ve been thinking a lot about the art of book collecting. It is an art, I think, for it comes with its own peculiarities, rhythms and language, and one can spend a thousand years studying it and yet still somehow not quite understand the twists of fate and circumstance that bring a book into yourContinue reading “On slow book collecting”

Peggy’s Last Term by Ethel Talbot

Peggy’s Last Term by Ethel Talbot My rating: 5 of 5 stars I recently finished a substantial bit of writing (finished, I say, in that way that Substantial Drafts Are Never Finished Oh God Oh God) and I decided to celebrate by sleeping for three weeks and then reading Peggy’s Last Term by Ethel Talbot.Continue reading “Peggy’s Last Term by Ethel Talbot”

How To Be Brave is out in one month!

Publishing is so strange. Everything seems to take forever – there’s things you can’t talk about to people for aaaaaaages, and then all of a sudden, you’re writing a post telling everybody that your debut children’s book is out in precisely one month (July 1st for the UK; July 6th for the US). Strange, yes,Continue reading “How To Be Brave is out in one month!”

Murder on the Safari Star

Murder on the Safari Star by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman My rating: 5 of 5 stars This is just so good. SO good. I’ve talked before about the Adventures On Trains series before (reviewing The Highland Falcon Thief and Kidnap on the California Comet and loving them both intensely) and so, when Macmillan sentContinue reading “Murder on the Safari Star”

Otherland by Louie Stowell

Otherland by Louie Stowell My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is the story of one very challenging night in the lives of Myra and Rohan. Born within seconds of each other – and dying, too, before the doctors bring them back – they celebrate each other’s birthday/deathday each year together. The only problem isContinue reading “Otherland by Louie Stowell”

You can now pre-order signed editions of How To Be Brave

We are now officially on the countdown to 1st July when my debut How To Be Brave is out and I am very happy to have some news to share with you. If you pre-order through the delightfully lovely Book Nook in Hove, you will get your book signed! personalised! and also support a gorgeousContinue reading “You can now pre-order signed editions of How To Be Brave”

Night of the Red Horse by Patricia Leitch

Night of the Red Horse by Patricia Leitch My rating: 5 of 5 stars There’s a point in the Jinny books where they step up into a whole new gear, and I rather suspect that it’s here. The Night Of The Red Horse picks up the themes that have been within the series and flipsContinue reading “Night of the Red Horse by Patricia Leitch”

Ponds, children’s literature, and Hayao Miyazaki

The stories that we read as children stay with us. Sometimes practically: dishevelled, bruised, cracked-of spine; or sometimes more metaphorically as a memory, or a feeling we can’t describe or even fully realise. This is because literature is a continuum: everything we read talks to everything we’ve ever read before and to everything we’re yetContinue reading “Ponds, children’s literature, and Hayao Miyazaki”

Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison, edited by Sarah Mirk

Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison by Sarah Mirk My rating: 4 of 5 stars I was trying to explain why Guantanamo Voices worked so potently for me to somebody and I think it centres on the inescapability of the image. If I were to say to you, for example, theContinue reading “Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison, edited by Sarah Mirk”

The Lost Café Schindler by Meriel Schindler

I’m increasingly conscious of the narrowness of history. Growing up in Britain in the nineties meant that our history was a very specific thing. You would have been forgiven for thinking that Britain had historically hopped from period to period; romans! tudors! victorians! the! modern! day! everything else in between just sort of happened! (Or,Continue reading “The Lost Café Schindler by Meriel Schindler”

The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke by Kirsty Applebaum

The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke by Kirsty Applebaum My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve had a lot of time for Kirsty Applebaum’s previous work, so when Nosy Crow sent me a proof of The Life And Time of Lonny Quicke, I was fascinated to see what she did with it. The premiseContinue reading “The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke by Kirsty Applebaum”

Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland

Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland My rating: 4 of 5 stars Oh this is nice. Eland’s carving herself something of a delightful and rather elegant niche here, discussing complex and often challenging emotions with a lightness of touch and a beautifully wistful style. Having previously looked at sadness in When Sadness Is at YourContinue reading “Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland”

How To Be A Hero by Cat Weldon

There are some stories that tell you what human experience is and what it will be. Myths. Legends. Folklore. I love them. They’re the DNA of the human experience and there’s always something fresh and thrilling to be found in the telling of them, whether it’s Vikings, or Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis (and hisContinue reading “How To Be A Hero by Cat Weldon”

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

I mean, where do you begin with a book like this….? The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë My rating: 5 of 5 stars I think that sometimes there are stories that you do not meet at the right time in your life, that somehow neither you nor it are right for each otherContinue reading “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë”

How to Be Brave has a US cover!

I am so very happy to share with you all the cover for the US edition of How To Be Brave. It’s been designed by Trisha Previte and illustrated by the amazing Flavia Sorrentino and every time I look at it, I see something different. I love it so much. I have been so luckyContinue reading “How to Be Brave has a US cover!”

How To Be Brave is now available to pre-order!

What is life, eh? How To Be Brave is now available for pre-order, adding on Goodreads, reading and reviewing via Netgalley, and generally swooning over. (Let us all guess which one I am doing the most of). Thanks so much to the amazing Thy Bui for the cover and the team at Pushkin for makingContinue reading “How To Be Brave is now available to pre-order!”

Vy’s Special Gift by Ha-Giang Trinh and Evi Shelvia

Let’s start the year off with a good, good picture book. I get a lot of emails from people asking me to review things here and there was something about this one that made me say yes. And oh, I’m so glad I did. Wild, beautiful, fiercely distinct artwork, and a story that’s full ofContinue reading “Vy’s Special Gift by Ha-Giang Trinh and Evi Shelvia”

The Answers to the First Quite Niche Children’s Literature Christmas Quiz

As promised, here are the answers to the quiz I posted on December 24th. How did you do? 🙂 Round One: Boarding School Stories A lot of H D’s at the S = A Lot of Hot Doctors at the Sanatorium Eleven M having breakfast at F = Eleven Maynards Having Breakfast At Freudesheim OneContinue reading “The Answers to the First Quite Niche Children’s Literature Christmas Quiz”

The First Ever Quite Niche Children’s Literature Christmas Quiz

Hello! I have been thinking for a while that I wanted to start a new Christmas tradition on this blog, and this year felt like the perfect time to do precisely that. So! Here is the First Ever Quite Niche Children’s Literature Christmas Quiz! (I am very excited). There are no prizes, other than gloriousContinue reading “The First Ever Quite Niche Children’s Literature Christmas Quiz”

Dogger’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes

Okay. So you know we’re a fan of Shirley Hughes here at DYESTT Towers. There’s nobody out there who can quite do what she does and we are SO lucky to be able to read it. (You can probably imagine my face when I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Dogger’s ChristmasContinue reading “Dogger’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes”

Luna Rae Is Not Alone by Hayley Webster

Luna Rae is Not Alone by Hayley Webster My rating: 5 of 5 stars There are a lot of new things in Luna Rae’s life. New home, new school, new friends. It’s a lot to deal with and the one she thinks might help would be winning the school’s baking competition with her mum. TheContinue reading “Luna Rae Is Not Alone by Hayley Webster”

The Accidental by Ali Smith

I’ve been wanting to read a lot more Ali Smith for a bit, and The Accidental felt like a perfect place to start. It’s easy, I think, to be a little bit intimidated by the authors and the books that win all of the awards because sometimes it can feel like you’re missing something ifContinue reading “The Accidental by Ali Smith”

Some Carefully Curated Lists of the Best Children’s Books To Buy This Year

Hello! I have been putting together some lists of children’s books to buy which, I suspect if you’re reading this blog, might be up your street. One of the things to mention is that these are affiliate links which mean that I do get a referral fee but I’m not doing it for that. IContinue reading “Some Carefully Curated Lists of the Best Children’s Books To Buy This Year”

Kidnap on the California Comet by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

Once when I was very little, I got press-ganged (they called it ‘being part of the Brownies’ and ‘community action’ but honestly, press-ganged) into helping clean up the local station. Can you imagine the sight? A gang of four foot nothing children in brown outfits depressedly cleaning windows. Amazing. A hundred years ago, and I’mContinue reading “Kidnap on the California Comet by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman”

The Most Popular Girl In The School by Bessie Marchant

You know when you just finish reading a book and go ‘huh, so. what. just. happened?’. That’s The Most Popular Girl In The School in a nutshell. I read it and had to have this little moment where I flicked back through to check that I hadn’t imagined it all. But I hadn’t. Honestly, everythingContinue reading “The Most Popular Girl In The School by Bessie Marchant”

Girls In Green by Elisabeth Morley

I’m going to apologise in advance for this review of Girls In Green, but honestly – this book. It starts in a normal place and then BOOM we’re up a tree and BOOM there’s stitched up pillowcases and BOOM somebody’s about to cark it in the pond. What I’m trying to say is there’s aContinue reading “Girls In Green by Elisabeth Morley”

Ballet for Drina by Jean Estoril

[Can I tell you a secret? I only discovered in the last few years that Jean Estoril was a pseudonym for the legendary Mabel Esther Allan..and I’m still not quite over it. Fun fact: “Jean Estoril” is almost an anagram for “neorealist” and this has entertained me ever since…] Ballet for Drina by Jean EstorilContinue reading “Ballet for Drina by Jean Estoril”

Chester House Wins Through by Irene Smith

[This has been on my TBR pile for a while, and today I felt like it was the time. I sort of thought it might be brilliant – I rather like it when books tell me off for waiting to read them – but reader, it wasn’t. However, Chester House Wins Through does have theContinue reading “Chester House Wins Through by Irene Smith”

The Monsters of Rookhaven by Pádraig Kenny

The Monsters of Rookhaven by Pádraig Kenny My rating: 4 of 5 stars The first thing to recognise about The Monsters of Rookhaven is how beautiful it is. It’s a really rather perfectly put together book, which is always a good sign. It tells you that the publisher understands this book, that they know whatContinue reading “The Monsters of Rookhaven by Pádraig Kenny”

A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt

[Back when lockdown ended, and the world opened up again, one of my first visits was to a street in my town that’s full of charity shops. Each charity shop has its own character. One is very good for antique crockery (I’ll save my blog on cake-stands for another day), another is curiously obsessed withContinue reading “A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt”

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

[Hello! I’ve been reading some not great books recently – hence the great gap between the last review and this. You know the sort of thing I mean? The book that you read a couple of pages of and realise instantly that they’re not for you. That. A lot of them, suddenly, all at onceContinue reading “Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively”

Welcome To Your Period! by Yumi Synes and Dr Melissa Kang

Welcome to Your Period! by Yumi Stynes My rating: 5 of 5 stars Welcome to Your Period! is funny, frank and fearless and I loved every inch of it. Even though I’m roughly three thousand years old at this point (hello 2020!), it took me back to the sex education classes we all received atContinue reading “Welcome To Your Period! by Yumi Synes and Dr Melissa Kang”

A Future Chalet School Girl by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

A Future Chalet School Girl by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 3 of 5 stars It recently hit me that there were still a few titles to do in my review of the Chalet School series and, that A Future Chalet School Girl is quite poor in every definition of the word, so where elseContinue reading “A Future Chalet School Girl by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Red King’s Dream : Or Lewis Carroll in Wonderland by J. E Jones and J. Francis Gladstone

The Red King’s Dream: Or Lewis Carroll in Wonderland by J.E. Jones My rating: 3 of 5 stars So, before we begin: I am no Alice scholar, nor am I particularly fond of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I enjoy it but it’s never been one of those books that has particularly resonated with me norContinue reading “The Red King’s Dream : Or Lewis Carroll in Wonderland by J. E Jones and J. Francis Gladstone”

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s always a good sign when a book looks as stunning as The Black Flamingo does. This is a treat of design, all the way from that luscious front cover full of colour and style and power through to the pages themselves whichContinue reading “The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta”

“When you can’t speak, you sing, and when you can’t -” : musical theatre, Glee, and Naya Rivera

I never wanted to perform myself. Still don’t. The amount of interest I have in getting up on the stage can be measured in one hand. Musical theatre wasn’t – isn’t – for me. But watching it? I can’t imagine anything better. There’s something so intoxicating about watching people sing and dance their way acrossContinue reading ““When you can’t speak, you sing, and when you can’t -” : musical theatre, Glee, and Naya Rivera”

The Last Word and Other Stories by Graham Greene

The Last Word and Other Stories by Graham Greene My rating: 4 of 5 stars I think I’m in love with Graham Greene now and I’m not sure how to feel about that. In many senses, I’d written him off as somebody who wrote about things that I wasn’t interested in. A sweeping statement IContinue reading “The Last Word and Other Stories by Graham Greene”

The School by the River by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The School by the River by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars I reread The School by The River for a lecture I attended online this week, one concerned with the role of memory and how the act of reading is in itself situated across our lives. What does it mean toContinue reading “The School by the River by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota My rating: 3 of 5 stars It was only when I finished The Year Of The Runaways that I managed to figure out what wasn’t working for me. There’s a lot here that does; it was nominated for the Booker in 2015 and rightly so, it’s aContinue reading “The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota”

The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf edited by Susan Dick

The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf by Virginia Woolf My rating: 5 of 5 stars I am circling around the work of Virginia Woolf, dipping in my toe every now and and then and trying to figure out what this author is for me and what her work can be. I struggled a lotContinue reading “The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf edited by Susan Dick”

In the Shadow of Death by Rūdolfs Blaumanis

In the Shadow of Death by Rūdolfs Blaumanis My rating: 5 of 5 stars [I am very grateful to my friends at Latvian Literature for securing me a review copy of this. As ever, my opinion is my own. I’d not be writing this if it weren’t…] First published in 1899 and based on aContinue reading “In the Shadow of Death by Rūdolfs Blaumanis”

Fracture by Andrés Neuman

Fracture: A Novel by Andrés Neuman My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve been making a deliberate push for a while to read more translated fiction, a reaction, I suppose, to the world we find ourselves within at the moment and the way that even the bottom of the road seems a little unknowable andContinue reading “Fracture by Andrés Neuman”

The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy by Peter Jackson, the art of storytelling, and season eight of Game of Thrones

It’s not a good sign when you watch something and think, quite clearly, of something else that did it better. But that was what happened on my watch of the final season of Game of Thrones, a season that was derided by pretty much every critic I read and person I know as appalling. TheyContinue reading “The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy by Peter Jackson, the art of storytelling, and season eight of Game of Thrones”