Half-term Holiday Reads

It’s hard to believe that this time last week I was lying by a pool sunbathing while today I’m wrapped up in many layers as a crisp and cold Autumn has descended upon us. This gorgeous weather allowed me to catch up with some of my overflowing to be reviewed pile, which is taking over my study at an alarming rate. Today on the blog I’m sharing  five books that made me laugh, cry, gave me serious chills and left me thoroughly entertained.

Death in the Spotlight – Robin Stevens

For me there is nothing more joyful than a new ‘Murder Most Unladylike,’ story. I am and will always be, a loyal member of the Detective Society.  This time I had to wait patiently ( I was definitely not patient) whilst my youngest daughter read it. There were lots of sharp intakes of breath and exclamations of how much I would enjoy it, reader let me tell you this did not do much to improve my patience. ‘Death in the Spotlight,’ transports our marvellous heroines Daisy and Hazel to the dark and dingy world behind the glorious façade of the theatre. Cast into tiny roles to keep them out of mischief and danger (they really never learn, do they those grown ups?) they soon find themselves embroiled in a world filled with jealousy, dark threats and intense rivalry. Naturally this comes to head with the shocking death of one of the cast members and as opening night looms closer can they solve the crime before it’s too late. Once again I failed miserably to spot the culprit, this deliciously dark mystery will keep you guessing right to the very end. Wonderfully diverse, I wish there were more contemporary stories as thoughtfully written. Robin excels in creating intriguing , compelling characters who readers wish to engage with. I am already eagerly anticipating the next book in this magnificent series, bravo Robin another triumph in storytelling.

The Last Chance Hotel – Nicki Thornton

Matt Saunder’s hauntingly beautiful cover invites the reader to step inside, ‘The Last Chance Hotel,’ hinting at the darkness and secrets that lie within. Seth lives a lonely and wretched existence tied to the Last Chance Hotel, where the owners seem to delight into making his life miserable. Tied by his father’s debt he seems doomed to this terrible life, but fate steps in when one night a strange gathering of extraordinary people arrives for dinner. Dr Thallomious takes a kind interest in him but when he is poisoned by the special dessert that Seth created he becomes the main suspect. Seth senses that there is a weird magic afoot that could help solve the mystery and clear his name. Filled with magic, mystery and mayhem this story will cast a spell over you and completely confuse your mind so that you will be unable to discover who is the real culprit. Original storytelling meets wonderful characterisation in this compelling debut from Nicki Thornton. Thoroughly engaging and entertaining, I devoured it in one setting.

Evie’s War – Holly Webb

I’m really drawn to children’s stories that are set during the World Wars, after hearing about history through the eyes of a grown up world, I have a real fascination for seeing these stories from a child’s perspective. In ‘Evie’s War,’ Holly Webb takes us on an emotional journey with Evie whose family is in turmoil after the tragic death of her younger brother Alexander. They are all internalising their grief making it incredibly difficult for them to move on, this is compounded by the break out of World War One. Everything in their lives is turned upside down as young men – including her brother David –  enlist in the army, maids seek employment in the ammunitions factory and they bear witness to terrible events. She soon discovers that they must all find a way to make the necessary but difficult choices to support the war effort. An emotional rollercoaster of a story that highlights brilliantly the effect war has on everyone. I think it’s so important that we still remember and honour the sacrifices that this generation made, the horrors that they experienced and the lasting impact that it had on theirs and their families lives. This story beautifully conveys this pain and heartbreak of love and loss so movingly.

The Train to Impossible Places – P.G. Bell, illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino

So, ‘The Train to Impossible Places,’ is one of those mind-boggling reads that plays tricks on your thoughts. In a world that defies gravity, confuses your perceptions and challenges everything you thought was impossible, you find yourself smack bang in the middle of the aptly named Impossible Place. When Suzy finds a troll digging a railway track in her hallway one day, her inquisitive mind can’t resist jumping aboard when the gigantic steam train flies by. But this is no ordinary train but the fastest mail train in the universe. Little does she know that she’s about to embark on a magical journey of a lifetime where she will meet talking frogs, bright yellow bears and friendly trolls whilst facing the most dastardly and fearsome Crepuscula and holding the fate of the Impossible Places in her hands. Flavia’s enchanting illustrations capture the chaos and carnage brilliantly. Fast, furious and filled with fun and frenetic action, climb aboard for a breath-taking ride that will take you beyond your wildest imagination.

Murder at Twilight – Fleur Hitchcock

The demand for high action, dark adventures appears to be growing at my school. I’m regularly met with demands for the scariest, darkest book that I can lay my hands on. ‘Murder in Midwinter,’ by Fleur Hitchcock is always a go to book, that comes with a warning, ‘not for the easily scared,’ and I can confirm that her latest book, ‘Murder at Twilight,’ is another dark and dangerous adventure. When Viv’s arch-enemy the spoilt Noah goes missing and spots of his blood in her Mum’s car lead to a false charge, she knows she must endeavour to uncover the truth. Little does she know that she is about to get caught up in an deadly conspiracy in her hunt for Noah, leading to a terrifying chase that could have fatal consequences. Fast-paced, thrilling and filled with numerous twists and turns, this edge of your seat adventure will satisfy the most ardent of murder mystery fans.

A huge thank you to Chicken House, Nosy Crow, Puffin, Scholastic and Usborne for sending me copies of these books. All of these books are available to buy now online (click on the title) or from any good bookshop.

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