Emma Carroll

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The Snow Sister – Emma Carroll

Published August 13, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Ever since her sister, Agnes, died, Pearl has a tradition every time it snows. She makes a person out of snow. A snow sister. It makes Christmas feel a little less lonely.

On Christmas Eve, her father receives a letter about a long-lost relative’s will. Is their luck about to change? In anticipation of a better Christmas, Pearl goes to beg credit at Mr Noble’s grocery to get ingredients for a Christmas pudding. But she is refused, and chased down the street where she is hit by a hansom cab. The snow is falling so hard that they can’t take her home. She’ll have to stay at Flintfield Manor overnight, in a haunted room… Will Pearl make it home for Christmas?

This gorgeously evocative Victorian Christmas story is the perfect stocking filler for girls ages 9-12.

What did I think?:

If you’re a fan of heart-warming, evocative middle grade fiction and haven’t come across Emma Carroll yet, you are in for such a treat. I first came across Emma’s writing with her debut novel, the wonderful Frost Hollow Hall which holds a very dear place in my heart and after reading her follow up books – The Girl Who Walked On Air and In Darkling Wood, I knew this was an author that I would read absolutely anything she wrote. The Snow Sister is one of her shorter pieces of fiction, at a mere 112 pages but it’s such a hopeful and genuinely beautiful read that what it lacks in page numbers it fully makes up for in heart.

Set in the Victorian era at Christmas time it’s the story of a little girl called Pearl and her family who are not only dirt poor but have suffered a terrible loss when Pearl’s sister, Agnes passed away. Each Christmas, Pearl makes a “snow sister” outside in the street to make up for the hole that her sister’s death has left in her life. This year however, it looks like their fortunes may be on the turn. Pearl’s father has received a summons to Bath and has been told he is a beneficiary of a rich relation’s will. Pearl is sent out to buy some ingredients for a special Christmas pudding so the family can celebrate their luck finally taking a turn for the better. While carrying out her mission, Pearl becomes embroiled in an exciting adventure and learns a valuable lesson as a result. Furthermore, she is delighted to discover that some things in this world can be more precious to a family than money.

I know it might seem quite odd that I read this book in summer – it’s an absolutely perfect read for Christmas and, I’m sure, even more atmospheric if you read it when it’s cold outside but I couldn’t wait any longer to read this little book and is definitely something I would re-read when the weather decides to turn. It’s a stunning, poignant story that brought tears to my eyes and filled me with joy at the same time, leaving me completely in awe of how Emma Carroll can create characters that you instantly fall in love with and think about for weeks after you finish the story. The Snow Sister is perfect for younger readers but I think adults can also get so much out of this story, either for themselves or if reading it to little ones. There are important messages and beautiful imagery that will touch your heart and give you that lovely, cosy feeling you only get with a really satisfying novel. This is another wonderful effort from Emma Carroll and it just makes me more excited to read her next book, Strange Star so look out for my review here on bibliobeth very very soon!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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In Darkling Wood – Emma Carroll

Published March 14, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘You’re telling me there are fairies in this wood?’

When Alice’s brother gets a longed-for chance for a heart transplant, Alice is suddenly bundled off to her estranged grandmother’s house. There’s nothing good about staying with Nell, except for the beautiful Darkling Wood at the end of her garden – but Nell wants to have it cut down. Alice feels at home there, at peace, and even finds a friend, Flo. But Flo doesn’t seem to go to the local school and no one in town has heard of a girl with that name. When Flo shows Alice the surprising secrets of Darkling Wood, Alice starts to wonder, what is real? And can she find out in time to save the wood from destruction?

What did I think?:

I’m a huge fan of Emma Carroll’s writing which is aimed at middle grade readers but can easily be read by children and adults alike. In fact, I like to think it brings out my inner child which I did think was permanently dormant until I get lost in one of her stories. Everything about this story is just beautiful. From the stunning cover art and inviting title to the story and characters within, the author has managed to write an inspiring tale that had me enraptured until I had finished it.

Once again, our main protagonist is female and just as charming and delightful as the author’s previous female leads in Frost Hollow Hall and The Girl Who Walked On Air. Her name is Alice and she has already been through the emotional mill and dealt with much more than a young teenager should have to. Her parents are (quite acrimoniously) separated and she has quite a difficult and distant relationship with her father and her father’s family. To top it all off, her little brother Theo is seriously ill and at the beginning of the novel, gets a long awaited call to have a heart transplant which will undoubtedly save his life. Alice is packed off to live with her grandmother on her father’s side, Nell while the upheaval with Theo is going on.

Nell lives right alongside Darkling Wood, a magical place where Alice manages to make her first friend – Flo, who dresses strangely and only meets her within the wood. Flo tells Alice all about the fairies who call Darkling Wood their home and that they are desperately worried. You see, some of the trees are causing a bit of damage to Nell’s house and Nell has become determined to get rid of the entire wood, despite the pleas of the other people in the town to desist. If this happens, the fairies will lose their home. Alongside this story, we also see wonderful letters from 1918 that a young girl who used to live there wrote to her brother, fighting in the war. Alice has a multitude of things to deal with – worries about her brother, her relationship with her grandmother and father, learning about the past and trying to change the present, all the paranoia that comes with starting a new school and being an outsider, learning to believe in fairies and magic again, healing rifts and building bridges that have been broken for so long.

I was always going to be excited about another Emma Carroll book, let’s be honest. An Emma Carroll book about fairies? Well, knock everything else off the TBR pile, I had to read this one ASAP. Of course, I was in no way disappointed. This wonderful story had everything I wanted and so much more. I loved the fairies, granted but this novel is so much more than that. It’s bittersweet, occasionally dark and sometimes heart-breaking and explores beautifully the complexity of human relationships in such a gentle, intelligent way. I especially loved the nod to actual events, where Arthur Conan Doyle visits girls who have reported that they have seen fairies. The author reminds me with every books that she writes of the old magic and strong characters that I used to live for in children’s literature. She deserves every bit of praise that is written about her and while I eagerly anticipate her next novel, I just want to wholeheartedly thank her for making me believe in fairies again.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

The Girl Who Walked On Air – Emma Carroll

Published February 14, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Abandoned as a baby at Chipchase’s Travelling Circus, Louie dreams of becoming a ‘Showstopper’. Yet Mr Chipchase only ever lets her sell tickets. No Death-Defying Stunts for her. So in secret, Louie practises her act- the tightrope- and dreams of being the Girl Who Walked on Air. All she needs is to be given the chance to shine.

One night a terrible accident occurs. Now the circus needs Louie’s help, and with rival show Wellbeloved’s stealing their crowds, Mr Chipchase needs a Showstopper- fast.

Against his better judgement, he lets Louie perform. She is a sensation and gets an offer from the sinister Mr Wellbeloved himself to perform in America. But nothing is quite as it seems and soon Louie’s bravery is tested not just on the highwire but in confronting her past and the shady characters in the world of the circus . . .

Fans of Frost Hollow Hall will love this epic adventure, where courage takes many different forms.

What did I think?:

The Girl Who Walked On Air is the wonderfully talented Emma Carroll’s second novel for children, aimed around the middle grade reading age but… (and this is a big BUT), I truly believe that her books can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, especially those adults who love an imaginative plot and beautifully drawn characters like Louie Reynolds, our heroine for the story.

I first came across Emma’s writing with her fantastic debut, Frost Hollow Hall which completely captured my heart and I can’t recommend highly enough. Well, if she hasn’t gone and done it again with The Girl Who Walked On Air! Set in the grounds of a Victorian circus it features a young girl called Louie who was abandoned by her mother at Mr Chipchase’s circus and is looked after by the kindly Jasper, a trapeze artist and her guardian angel. She has big dreams of being a performer, or to be exact – a “showstopper,” on the tightrope wire. She practices constantly, watched over by her loyal little dog Pip, but Mr Chipchase is determined that she is only good enough to sell tickets and mend costumes.

This sends her and new arrival at the circus Gabriel, straight into the clutches of Mr Wellbeloved, who manages a rival circus and insists on only the most death defying stunts to bring in the punters. As Louie learns more about who she is as a person, where her heart lies and just what lengths she will go to in becoming a star, she also discovers a lot about friendship and just who can be trusted in a fickle world where money and pure greed is, sadly, the only yardstick by which success is measured.

Once again, Emma Carroll has given us some brilliant characters which have stayed with me long after finishing the book. Louie, just like Tilly in Frost Hollow Hall is beautifully drawn. She is impetuous, independent, brave and indeed flawed but ever so realistic as a young girl which in turn, made her infinitely more loveable as a result. I really enjoyed reading about her relationships with Jasper and her friends Ned and Gabriel and was touched by the dark side of her past and her desperation to find out where she came from and where she belonged. The setting of the circus that the author chose was just as stunning and so descriptive that I felt I could picture events scene by scene, character by character, which led to many difficulties putting it down!

As I mentioned earlier, please don’t be dissuaded that the author writes for children, I do believe that this book can be enjoyed by adults just as much. The Girl Who Walked On Air took me right back to my childhood when I used to just sit in a room and read right until the book was finished (and if this went past my bedtime, it was continued under my duvet with a torch!). I didn’t need the torch as an adult, but I certainly read from the beginning to the end in one sitting and loved every moment.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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British Books Challenge 2016 – The Round Up

Published January 1, 2017 by bibliobeth

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2016 was my fourth year of participating in the British Books Challenge. I love doing this every year and think it’s important to support our authors here in the UK, old and new. Here’s what I’ve managed to review this year in British Books!

Frost Hollow Hall – Emma Carroll

The Horse Dancer – Jojo Moyes

We Were Just Driving Around – Jon McGregor

Bella Broomstick – Lou Kuenzler

The Chamois – Daphne du Maurier

Silent Saturday – Helen Grant

The Demons Of Ghent – Helen Grant

Urban Legends – Helen Grant

The Demon Headmaster – Gillian Cross

Under The Pylon – Graham Joyce

The Versions Of Us – Laura Barnett

The Quality Of Silence – Rosamund Lupton

In A Dark, Dark Wood – Ruth Ware

Duet – Kate Mosse

Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden

The Coral Strand – Ravinder Randhawa

Defender Of The Realm (Defender Of The Realm #1) – Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

Strange Girls And Ordinary Women – Morgan McCarthy

The Samaritan (Carter Blake #2) – Mason Cross

Moving – Jenny Eclair

Enough Of This Shit Already – Tony Black

The Boy In The Dress – David Walliams

Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier

Create Your Own Spy Mission – Andrew and Chris Judge

Charm For A Friend With A Lump – Helen Simpson

A Year Of Marvellous Ways – Sarah Winman

Noble Conflict – Malorie Blackman

The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

The Inventory: Iron Fist (The Inventory #1) – Andy Briggs

Alfie Bloom And The Secrets Of Hexbridge Castle (Alfie Bloom #1) – Gabrielle Kent

Alfie Bloom And The Talisman Thief (Alfie Bloom #2) – Gabrielle Kent

Notes From The House Spirits – Lucy Wood

Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller

How I Finally Lost My Heart – Doris Lessing

The Bones Of You – Debbie Howells

According To Yes – Dawn French

The Borrowers – Mary Norton

Random Acts Of Unkindness – Jacqueline Ward

The Adventure Of The Speckled Band – Arthur Conan Doyle

Maggot Moon – Sally Gardner

Sweet Caress – William Boyd

The Girls – Lisa Jewell

The Oasis Of Time – Carolyn Waugh

Author Requests – Off Key by Mark Robertson, Piano From A 4th Storey Window by Jenny Morton Potts and The Death Of Danny Daggers by Haydn Wilks

The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy – Rachel Joyce

A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding – Jackie Copleton

Garlic And Gauloises – Hemmie Martin

Looking For JJ (Jennifer Jones #1) – Anne Cassidy

If It Keeps On Raining – Jon McGregor

Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense Of The Twentieth Century – John Higgs

The Lordly Ones – Daphne du Maurier

Roseblood – Paul Doherty

The Last Act Of Love – Cathy Rentzenbrink

Tiger Moth – Graham Joyce

The Widow – Fiona Barton

The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken

The Puppet Master – Abigail Osborne

Under My Skin – James Dawson

Red Letter Day – Kate Mosse

Missing, Presumed – Susie Steiner

Getting It Wrong – Ramsey Campbell

Disclaimer – Renée Knight

Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild

Among Others – Jo Walton

Chinese Whispers – Ben Chu

The Last Leaves Falling – Fox Benwell

Hogmanay Homicide – Edward Marston

 The Loving Husband – Christobel Kent

The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair

So if I’ve calculated correctly, that makes it 72 books for the British Books Challenge this year. It isn’t as much as last year but I’ve still made the target of 12 books a year which I’m very happy with, especially as I haven’t had a great blogging year with a lot of illness. 😦

Highlights from this year include Disclaimer by Renee Knight which I will treasure as not only is it a fantastic book but I also managed to meet the lady herself at Crime At The Court (hosted by Goldsboro Books, London) with my blogger buddy Cleopatra Loves Books. She’s lovely and so very talented and I will probably read anything she ever writes! The Last Act Of Love was also a hugely important and emotional book for me and I loved reviewing it with my sister, Chrissi Reads in our little “Talking About” feature which we do on occasion. Other honourable mentions go to Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig, Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, the Forbidden Spaces Trilogy by Helen Grant and the fabulous Emma Carroll who wrote the beautiful Frost Hollow Hall. I could go on and on. I’m certainly looking forward to reading some more “best of British” books in 2017! Look out for my sign up post coming soon.

Frost Hollow Hall – Emma Carroll

Published January 2, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

‘The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.’

Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.

Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington’s ghost.

Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It’s all about the dead here, she’s told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . .

‘Frost Hollow Hall’ is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly’s unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery.

What did I think?:

Emma Carroll’s debut novel came highly recommended to me by my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and after reading the beautiful synopsis, I was certain I was going to enjoy it. Well – I did more than that, in fact I LOVED it. Set in the 1800’s the author transports us to a world rich in detail, with a protagonist that will instantly win your heart and tells a story that will both chill and excite in equal measure. It begins in a cold February where our heroine Tilly Higgins and her friend Will Potter are on their way to the big house on the estate, Frost Hollow Hall where ten years ago, a horrifying tragedy occurred and led to the heir, a young boy called Kit Barrington, drowning as he fell through the ice while skating there. Now Tilly has been dared by Will to skate on that very same ice and she is not the kind of girl to shy away at a dare, especially from Will who half the girls in the village are in love with.

Then something terrible and wonderful happens. The ice breaks and Tilly soon slips through and it seems certain she too will succumb to its icy depths until a hazy figure appears to her underneath the ice and pushes her back up. This boy also appears to her in her dreams and she understands it to be the spirit of Kit Barrington who seems desperate for her to uncover the secrets behind his death. Compassionate Tilly knows she has to help him and despite the problems in her own family she manages to get a post as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. With the help of Will, she starts to uncover the mysteries at the big house that Kit appears to be pushing her to reveal. There are certainly odd goings-on afoot, with poltergeist pottery that crashes around by itself, terrified staff, a housekeeper that seems to know a lot more than she is letting on, seances and Lady Barrington herself, wild with grief. Secrets are unearthed that will rock Tilly’s world indefinitely and teach her a whole lot about family, friendship, love, absolution, letting go and moving on.

This is such a beautiful book and a superior piece of writing that I will be eternally grateful that I’ve read it. The characters are all phenomenal and we see the growth of every single one throughout the novel but I had a special soft spot for Tilly, a normal, independent and loving girl that although she has problems of her own delights in being able to help other people. I also enjoyed her relationship with Will and how it developed through the novel and even Will himself becomes a much bigger person than what he first appeared to be directly through his experiences with Tilly. For anyone who is not sure about YA, please don’t let the genre put you off – this is a fantastic ghostly story that can be read and enjoyed by a wide variety of ages and, of course, it’s a perfect tale for this time of year. Curl up with Frost Hollow Hall, a blanket, a cup of tea (or other tipple!) and be prepared to be transported into a Victorian masterpiece that will grip you until the final page.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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December 2015 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #4

Published December 19, 2015 by bibliobeth

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It’s December. And that means…. (drumroll please) it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

My lovely sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads gives me books on a regular basis, and as she reads at the speed of light I have had to acquire a cupboard in my bedroom purely for her books. Unfortunately, with all my other books and huge TBR pile, I’m not getting through them as fast as I’d like so I would like to dedicate the month of December to reading books purely from the Chrissi Cupboard. I will obviously be reading my short story every week and our Kid-Lit and Banned books for the month of December, but I’m hoping the majority of books will be from this cupboard. Here are the first ten I am planning to read and review:

Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

The Kiss Of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) – Mary E. Pearson

Prisoner Of Night And Fog (Prisoner Of Night And Fog #1) – Anne Blankman

Double Cross (Noughts & Crosses #4) – Malorie Blackman

Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles #1) – Lauren DeStefano

In Darkling Wood – Emma Carroll

The Impossible Knife Of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

The Good Girl – Mary Kubica

Pointe – Brandy Colbert

Queen Of Shadows (Throne Of Glass #4) – Sarah J. Maas

As usual, I’m carrying on with a couple of series, finishing one (the Malorie Blackman) and starting others! My other Chrissi Cupboard Months so far have been pretty strong but I think this one is the strongest yet. I’m most excited for Asking For It and carrying on the Throne of Glass series as I’m absolutely smitten with it, but I have a funny feeling that I’m going to enjoy the Mary E. Pearson book a lot more than expected from what Chrissi has been gushing about it. She knows my tastes pretty well and I trust her judgement! I’ve also loved what I’ve read from Emma Carroll so far (review for Frost Hollow Hall and The Girl Who Walked On Air coming soon) so I’m very excited to read In Darkling Wood. A brilliant month ahead, wouldn’t you agree?

YA SHOT – 28th October 2015, Uxbridge, London

Published October 21, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

YA Shot is a one day event for young adult and middle grade fiction in London where seventy-one authors will participate in talks and book signings. It has all been organised by the lovely Alexia Casale, author of The Bone Dragon and House of Windows who decided on a YA Shot five-word “ethos,” that it should be generous, passionate, inclusive, challenging and fun and she has put together a fabulous programme that is sure to excite anyone who is enthusiastic about young adult fiction.

Tell us more?:

The event in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstones Uxbridge will host various “panel” and “in conversation” talks throughout the day at different sites all within easy walking distance of each other. There will also be an opportunity to attend workshop events hosted by bloggers and vloggers active in the UK at the moment.

What kind of talks?:

There are so many talks planned that look so interesting! I will be trying to attend as many as possible (that is, until I have to go host one of the workshops with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads in the afternoon!)

The ones I’d love to go to include:

11.30am – 12.30pm Playing with Time: Historical fiction and historical settings – Chaired by Natasha Farrant with Lucy Coats, Rhian Ivory and Alison Rattle

12.45pm – 1.45pm Crime and Punishment: Fictional wrongdoing and human rights – Chaired by Laura Jarratt with Cat Clarke, Keren David and Emma Haughton

2pm – 3pm Trigger Warning: Exploring sensitive issues in ethical ways – Chaired by Alexia Casale with Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne and Louisa Reid

12.45pm – 1.45pm Treasured Land: Nature as a character and concern in YA – Chaired by Piers Torday with Lisa Heathfield and Anna McKerrow

4.40pm – 5.40pm Tragedy! Tackling sadness in fiction for younger teens – Chaired by Candy Gorlay with Jane Elson and Aoife Walsh [MG event, suitable for children aged 7-11 as well as adults]

Aagh, I can already see I’ve got a clash and am going to have to think carefully about which talk I want to go to! This is only a small sample of what’s on offer and I can honestly say I think there’s something for everyone.

Don’t forget the workshops as well! Chrissi Reads and I are hosting one at 3:45 pm about How To Get Started With Blogging. If you’re new to the blogging world or already have your own blog but want to know a bit more about getting things going, please come along and we shall try our best to make it worth your while. We’ve also got Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies and a member of the Bookish Brits who will be talking about group projects and reading challenges, Benjamin of Tomes who will show you how to get started with vlogging, Debbie from Snuggling on the Sofa and Daphne of Winged Reviews who will show you how to develop your brand and increase your followers and Jim from Ya Ya Yeah and Wei Ming Kam of Rare, Medium, Well Done who will discuss diversity in literature. To name a few!

Which authors are going to be there?:

I’m just going to throw a few names out there:

Alexia Casale (obviously)

Piers Torday, author of The Last Wild series

Jane Elson, author of A Room Full of Chocolate and How To Fly With Broken Wings

C J Daughtery, author of The Night School series

Tanya Byrne, author of Heart-Shaped Bruise and Follow Me Down

Emma Carroll, author of Frost Hollow Hall and The Girl Who Walked On Air

Holly Bourne, author of Soulmates and Am I Normal Yet?

Cat Clarke, author of Undone and The Lost And The Found

James Dawson, author of This Book Is Gay and All Of The Above

And that’s just a few of them.

Where can I buy tickets?:

Tickets are still available from the YA Shot website. Online orders will close at 6pm on Tuesday 27th October but there may be some available on the door on Wednesday 28th October.

Any more information?:

Please see the official YA Shot website which will tell you everything else you need to know. Maybe I’ll see you there!

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