Review: Stage Fright

Stage Fright is a collection of three short, spooky stories set in the same London theatre during different historical periods.  Each of these thrilling tales sent a shiver down my spine, and are perfect for readers looking for short, suspenseful reads with tantalising twists which evoke a frisson of fear.  

A Perilous Act sees brothers Dan and Jas entering a dilapidated Empire Royal Theatre expecting to find it deserted, but instead they meet a strange old man in the box office, who tells the boys a terrifying tale that takes them back to the heyday of the theatre in 1899 when daring and dangerous acts were performed on its stage.  I became just as engrossed in listening to the old man’s tale of treachery and revenge as the boys, and loved the slow building of suspense, and the feeling that we were not the only ones listening …

The Ghost Light takes the reader to 1941 where we meet Mo in the theatre where she helps her Uncle Jack who is in charge of the stagehands putting on the Christmas pantomime.  Mo finds herself using the stage’s safety ‘ghost’ light to try to locate her uncle after he disappears whilst searching for one of his missing crew.  Could these disappearances have anything to do with the sinister conversation Mo has overheard between two guests at her mother’s boarding house?  This is an exhilaratingly thrilling tale set during the Blitz which is deliciously creepy with a brilliantly dark twist …

A Strange Exit sees stargazer and cosmology-fan Jules determined to visit his local theatre-turned-cinema to enjoy a new film, Star Wars even though he is too young to see it without an adult, and his parents are too busy to take him.  This not does deter Jules and, after sneaking into the auditorium, he finds himself on his own until he meets a rather unusual young boy who offers Jules an irresistible bargain, a bargain that changes both of their lives in the most unexpected way … a spine-tinglingly delicious tale.

There are also some wonderfully detailed illustrations that beautifully evoke time periods and atmosphere, and complement the stories perfectly.

This exciting collection of short stories are brimming with suspense, twists and chills and are sure to delight both avid and more reluctant readers of 9+ who are fans of historical fiction and ghostly mysteries. 

Thank you to the publisher, Dinosaur Books, for providing me with a proof copy in exchange for my honest review.

WWW Wednesday

I’ve now got back from visiting my family in Ireland, and have arrived home to some wonderful book post, including a copy of How to be a Human which I will be starting this evening.

I did some reading on the flight to Ireland and some early morning reading and managed to finish two books this week. Stage Fright is a collection of three stories set in the same theatre during different periods. I enjoyed these spooky tales, and will be posting my review shortly. I also finished Hide and Seek which is the first book by this author which I’ve read, but I definitely now want to read his others. This is an incredibly powerful and thought-provoking historical adventure with one of the most courageous heroines I’ve ever encountered.

I’m hoping to read Fireborn which is due for release in September next.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

MG Takes on Thursday

This is my weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. This week I’ve decided to revamp the banner to include the book I’m celebrating.

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by Sylvia Bishop
Illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino
Published by Scholastic

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

With the bat safely contained, Throgmorton’s School for Girls shook itself, and settled back down to a regular evening.

This book in three words:

MYSTERY, FRIENDSHIP, BATS

The Midnight Thief is a gloriously gripping, action-packed and clever mystery set in a boarding school that kept me enthralled throughout.

Freya is a somewhat reluctant boarder at Throgmorton’s School for Girls.  After a chaotic encounter, with hilarious consequences, with a bat in the out-of-bounds School attic, she meets wildlife-loving twins, Esmie and Daniel who are on an intriguing mission:   to find out why the local bats, who should be hibernating, are waking up in their roosts.  They invite Freya to a midnight meeting which sees her breaking the strict school rules, and sneaking out to help her new friends with their investigation…

However, the next morning Freya wakes to some shocking news:  all seven of the Eldrida Dragons, which belong to Lord Throgmorton, have been stolen.  Who could have taken these priceless artefacts?  And, more worryingly, will the curse which follows the dragons should they be united be unleashed?

Freya finds herself in a race against time to unveil the culprit before her distinguished archaeologist father arrives at the school.  Could her new friends be involved in their disappearance, or could the midnight thief be even closer than she imagines?

So begins an incredibly exciting, page-turning mystery as Freya’s investigations reveal tantalising clues, uncover secrets, and lead to more than one possible suspect, but who has the most to gain by the theft of these precious dragon sculptures? 

I really liked Freya who is a wonderfully curious, determined and quick-thinking young girl who is not averse to breaking rules, but who is also finding it difficult to form friendships in a new environment, an environment into which she has not been welcomed.  Esmie and Daniel are also both incredibly likeable.  Freya first meets them hanging upside down in the school, and they immediately reach out to her, perhaps sensing her loneliness as they are very perceptive, and offer her much-needed friendship.

I LOVED each chapter ending which switches effortlessly to the viewpoint of an animal observing the humans around them.  These very cleverly link to the main plot, but also gave a wonderful insight into animal habits and behaviours.  Absolutely brilliant! 

The full- and partial-page black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout are superb and complement the story perfectly giving a real nostalgic feel and air of mystery.

This is marvellously magical must-read for young, and older, fans of boarding school adventures and mystery with heart-warming friendships, suspects galore and perceptive wildlife! 

Thank you to Harriet Dunlea and Scholastic for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

WWW Wednesday

I’m about to start Hide and Seek which sounds amazing, and one which I think will bring tears.

I’ve finished reading The House on the Edge which I really enjoyed. I enjoyed the build-up of tension, the twists and the setting. Faith is a really likeable main character. I also read The Midnight Thief which is a wonderful boarding school mystery. I will be posting my reviews for both of these soon.

I’m hoping to read How to be a Human next.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

July Wrap-Up

Wow! July was a LONG month, and probably one of the hardest I’ve had in teaching due to the constant worry with so many classes having to isolate in the last couple of weeks before break up – by far, the worst period of the pandemic for school in terms of both adults and children having to isolate after positive tests. At one point, there was only me and one of our LSAs left of the team of 7 for Year 4 – that was a hard week! BUT, I’m on holiday now and enjoying some much needed down time. I’m also aiming to try to get a little healthier and fitter over the summer, so I’ve bought a rowing machine and am going on lots of walks. I’m also finding time to read lots which I’m loving. My reading and blogging is likely to take a back seat for the next week or so as my sister and her partner are coming over to visit today which I’m so excited about as I haven’t seen them in nearly a year.

Books I’ve read:

I’ve read 12 books this month: 9 physical copies, 1 e-book and audiobooks. I’ve written and posted reviews for 6 of the books I’ve read.

NetGalley:

My Feedback Ratio is now at 93%. I have only requested one more book this month: Shadowghast. This is the third book set in Eerie-on-Sea after Malamander and Gargantis. I absolutely couldn’t resist this as I adored the first two books.

Books sent by publishers:

I have been lucky enough to have been sent these books by publishers this month. I took part in the Blog Tour for Tiger Warrior. I have also read The Midnight Thief which I really enjoyed, and am writing my review. Hide and Seek is being released on 12th August, and sounds like it will be an emotional read.

Books I’ve bought:

I have bought books this month, and have managed to read one of them!

How has your month been? Have you read any of these?