Tag Archives: Emma Carroll

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read Yet

Even those of us who read a lot (cough, me) don’t always get enough time to read everything we want. There are, after all, only so many hours in the day, and so many other pesky things that need doing, like work and sleep and eating, occasionally, and sometimes – if we’re brave enough – venturing outside and dealing with people who aren’t, you know, written on a page, but actually literally made of flesh and blood and bones and stuff.

Life can be tough for the bookworms among us. Reality very rarely stacks up against the worlds of fiction, for one, and people – charming as they are – don’t speak in the gorgeous curlicued turns of phrase one finds in books, and when you look at a tree in the real world, there aren’t spools of rich descriptive language hanging off its branches like clothes-tags, making it real and believable. You’ve just got to use your eyes, instead, which is boring. But that’s why we always go back to books, I suppose; they continue to allure and beguile, and there are so many stories still to be told and experienced. It does scare me that there are so many stories in the world, and I only have one brain which is already overcrowded, and I’ll never read them all. But there are a few books which I simply can’t believe I haven’t made time for yet.

And it’s a Tuesday. This is a Top Ten Tuesday post – check out the Broke and the Bookish for more. And it’s time to come clean.

The Top Ten Most Talked-About Books Which I Have Not Yet Read (to my eternal shame)

Emma Carroll, The Girl Who Walked on Air

I have read (and loved, and reviewed) Emma Carroll‘s gorgeous debut novel Frost Hollow Hall, and I have been meaning to get around to her other books ever since. She’s now on her third, if not her fourth, published book (eek!) and so I’d better get my act together. If only she’d stop being so darned talented and prolific, that is.

Samantha Shannon, The Bone Season/The Mime Order

Anybody with half a brain, or any sort of eye on the bookish world, has heard of the phenomenon that is Samantha Shannon. Her six-book deal at the age of twenty made literary hearts flutter and created a huge buzz around her work (which must, on reflection, have been quite a weight of pressure), but I have yet to visit her alternate London, peopled with clairvoyants and magic. The first two books in the series have since been published to huge acclaim, and I really should catch up, shouldn’t I?

V.E. (Victoria) Schwab, Vicious

Victoria Schwab is great fun on Twitter, and one of the most hard-working authors out there today. She seems to have a new book out every other week, which is at once an inspiration and also rather scary. There are several of her works which appeal to me, but I think Vicious is the one I would enjoy the most, being as it is about a pair of college roommates who begin to do experiments on the idea of ‘extraordinary’ abilities – and who then end up turning into superheroes (or supervillains, perhaps). It sounds like a brilliant read. Also, it looks like this:

Image: goodreads.com

Image: goodreads.com

*incoherent squeaking*

Paula Hawkins,

The Girl on the Train I truly love it when debut novels take off into the stratosphere like this one has. It’s a multi-million copy bestseller all over the world, and it has been optioned for film (and I’m sure it will be excellent when it eventually finds its way to the screen). A thriller, about which I know very little – mainly because I do want to read it and I don’t want to spoil it for myself – I know it involves a girl, a train, and what she sees from her carriage window. But that’s all. Don’t none of y’all give away the ending on me.

Zoe Marriott, The rest of The Name of the Blade trilogy

I read and reviewed the first in this trilogy (The Night Itself), concluding my review with the prediction that I would hardly be able to wait for the second book to be published. Well, yes. I have certainly remembered this series, and it’s one I really want to finish, but I still haven’t managed it. I don’t have an excuse, besides time and money. I feel bad enough about it; you don’t have to add to my burden by looking at me like that, thank you very much.

Allan Boroughs, Ironheart (and sequel, Bloodstone)

Argh! And this one! When it was newly published, I thought ‘Oh, my goodness. A book about a young girl embarking on a dangerous quest to the very north of the world? *flail* This book has me written all over it!’ And, in truth, Ironheart is a book I know I would adore. But, for whatever reason, it’s sort of hard to find. I went looking for it, and/or its sequel Bloodstone, last week in a massive bookshop and even the bookseller – that same knowledgeable lady I’ve spoken of before on this here selfsame blog, she who knows all and sees all in children’s and YA publishing – hadn’t heard ot it. So, I gloated for a bit that I’d introduced her to a book she hadn’t come across already, and she promptly ordered in some stock. Next time I’m passing through I’ll pick it up. (And I can’t wait).

Philip Reeve, A Darkling Plain

I’ve just finished Infernal Devices, the third book in the Predator Cities series (jaw-droppingly awesome) and now I can’t wait for the final instalment. Mobile cities which move around on tracks eating one another, airships, reanimated zombie warriors, ruthless killers, pirates, brigands, battles, bravery, unscrupulousness in all corners… Wow. This series is a triumph.

Emer O’Toole, Girls Will be Girls

This is one I’ve picked up and put down a few times when I’ve seen it in bookshops, mainly because the price was a bit prohibitive when it was first published – but I really, really want to read it. A polemic, an academic study, a riveting look at gender roles and why (and how) we play them, this is a book I not only want to read, but one which I know I need to read. I feel everyone needs to read a book like this one. I’m saving my pennies.

Moira Fowley-Doyle, The Accident Season

Apologies to the author for being unable to add the trema to the ‘i’ in her first name (blame WordPress, or perhaps my own ineptitude!), as well as for not having read her book yet. In my defence, it’s only barely been published – if it were Bambi, it’d still be doing the whole ‘trying to walk on the frozen pond’ thing. But it sounds fab, and here’s why: it’s about a family which seems cursed to suffer accidents (some serious) every October, for no explicable reason, and their struggle to break free, I can’t wait to get my brain around it.

Tatum Flynn, The D’Evil Diaries

This is truly shocking. A book with a cover like this:

Image: goodreads.com

Image: goodreads.com

about a twelve-year-old useless younger son of Hell who gets mixed up with a girl who accidentally fed her nasty uncle to a lion before becoming embroiled in a mystery which could upend the reality of the underworld itself, and I haven’t read it? I have no excuse. I can but throw myself on the mercy of the reading gods and hope for forgiveness, in this life or the next.

And there you have it. Ten of the books I’m really looking forward to reading, but which I haven’t quite managed to get to yet. Of course, with every passing week this pile is added to, and I’ll never catch up. But it’ll be fun to try.

Happy Tuesday! What’s on your TBR pile these days?

Book Review Saturday – ‘Frost Hollow Hall’

Emma Carroll’s ‘Frost Hollow Hall’ was another book my husband handed to me saying ‘this looks like your cup of tea’ as we were browsing in a bookshop, and once again he was bang on the money. I am beginning to think he should give up his day job and become a professional book-recommenderer, because he’s got an acute eye for it.

Image: goodreads.com

Image: goodreads.com

The book tells the story of Tilly Higgins, a girl living in a town named Frostcombe with her mother and sister Eliza in the year 1881. As the story begins, the three Higgins women are waiting for the return of the ‘man of the house’, Tilly and Eliza’s father, who has been away working for several weeks and is due home with his pay. Their rent needs to be paid, and their landlord is breathing down their necks, and Mr Higgins’ wages will save the roof over their heads – not to mention, of course, the fact that Tilly misses her father, and wants to see him. Then, a knock comes at their door – but it’s not Pa. It’s Will Potter, the local butcher’s son, who wants to call on Tilly.

After a bit of persuasion, Tilly leaves with Will. They find their way to the gates of Frost Hollow Hall, the local ‘great house’, home to a family named Barrington. He challenges her to a dare, and she accepts; before long, they find themselves skating on the frozen lake in the grounds of the Hall.

The same lake where, ten years before, the young son of the Barrington family drowned in a tragic accident.

Image: alexiacasale.wordpress.com

Image: alexiacasale.wordpress.com

Tilly skates too far from shore and the ice begins to give way. Before she can react, she is swallowed by the freezing water, and her heavy clothes weigh her down. Terrified, disoriented, panicking, she feels certain she is about to die – and then, a gentle-faced boy appears out of the depths and leads her to safety. A boy with the face of an angel.

Tilly comes to as Will is dragging her from the water, and she drops in and out of consciousness as he carries her to the Hall, where she is attended to and warmed up by the kitchen staff, whom – it turns out – Will knows quite well, as he and his father deliver meat there on a regular basis.

Tilly returns home, furious with Will, to find her father still absent, and her mother growing more and more worried by the hour. Her sister is talking of emigration, and her mother is taking in more and more mending work to make ends meet. Tilly’s own job doesn’t pay her much, and so when an opportunity arises to take up work at Frost Hollow Hall, Tilly grabs it with both hands. Her dreams are haunted by the vision of the beautiful young boy in the water, the one who saved her life – and, gradually, Tilly realises that the secret to his identity and his reasons for saving her are to be found somewhere within the Hall.

I enjoyed this book on lots of levels; its main plot, that of uncovering the story of the boy in the lake, is beautifully realised, but the book also deals delicately with Tilly and Will’s relationship, Tilly’s fraught co-existence with her family and her complicated feelings towards her father, the harsh realities of life in the late nineteenth century and the raw, heart-shredding nature of grief. It is, of course, a ghost story – there are several ghosts in this tale, and all of them have their own tales to tell – and the spine-chillingly scary bits (of which there are plenty!) sit wonderfully with the emotionally wrenching descriptions of Lord and Lady Barrington’s pain for their lost son, and the eerie way in which they’ve memorialised him in their home.

And – without giving away too much – I found it almost unbearably moving to compare the ways in which different characters are grieved for and remembered, and how huge a difference social class and status made in relation to the amount of sorrow that could be displayed. It was such a stark comment on the structure of society at the time, but it also had a larger relevance to the plot. Masterful work.

There was one slight detail near the end of the story which irked me, just a little; a character hides a very important item which has the power – or, so it is believed – to destroy their life, and realises that they have been spotted red-handed by another character, but they go ahead and hide the item in the place where they’ve been seen, anyway. It would have made more sense to hide it somewhere else, I felt, but perhaps there was a slight indication that the character wanted to be found out; that they wished, on some level, for an end to their secrecy. I also felt the end was slightly too ‘pat’ and neat, but at the same time I wouldn’t have ended it differently if I was the author, so I can’t really point to it as a fault.

These tiny quibbles didn’t take away at all from my enjoyment of the story, and I’d happily recommend ‘Frost Hollow Hall’ to anyone who likes period drama – for the detail, in terms of costumes and speech and social niceties and everything is pitch-perfect – and/or ghost stories, and/or tales of gentle romance. I am not much of a judge of ghost stories, as I scare easily (this one had the hair on the back of my neck standing right up, at various points, but it might not have that effect on everyone) but all I can say is this book was a winner, for me, in relation to plot, characterisation, language and setting, and it’s one of the best I’ve read this year so far.

Image: theburnsarchive.blogspot.com

Image: theburnsarchive.blogspot.com

I hope you’ll make some time this weekend to hunt down some words, and read ’em. Go on – just do it.