How Much the Heart Can Hold, Short Story Collection | 1 Minute Reviews

Books of short stories, it turns out, are great for times when you cannot concentrate on a full novel. Nerys (pictured below) arrived on the scene on the 12th of April, a contradiction of teeth and cuddles, and so my attention has been somewhat divided. Short stories, I thought. This is where to go!

My wonderful friend Alice Slater, who runs the fabulous Short Story Salon at Waterstones Gower Street, confirmed this idea a solid one, as she often recommends them to new parents. My child may be furrier than average but her attention needs are quite up there.

Anyway, onto the book.

This stunning collection of short stories is the brainchild of Sceptre, a literary and non fiction imprint of Hodder and Staughton. Not your typical collection about romance, How Much a Heart Can Hold features a single story for each of the seven types of love – la douleur exquisite, eros, agape, pragma, philautia, mania and storge.

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The paperback edition, due out in August, also features an eighth story by Phoebe Roy about love changing over the seasons. A long time fan of Phoebe’s tweets and writing, I’m very much looking forward to this addition.

The collection boasts an impressive array of artists.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanon‘s take on la douleur exquisite (the sweet pain of unrequited or unreturned love) Before It Disappears follows Joy, an anorexic woman who refuses to eat and the husband who desperately wants to save her. This story is visceral and reminiscent of The Vegetarian by Han Kang.

One More Thing Coming Undone is a great story of first, burning loves you cannot forget by D.W. Wilson – tactile, melancholy and rich in Canadian life.

This is followed by a great short story White Wine about siblings battling racism and microaggressions after their mother’s death by Nikesh Shukla. I’m already a big fan of Nikesh’s work, though I am yet to explore any of his novels – a treat for later this year.

Donal Ryan explores complex mental health problems and obsession in Magdalena, Who Slips Sometimes. This is a furious, messy story that rips through the pages.

Codas by Carys Bray, covering familial love, is one of my favourites of the collection. Louise struggles to balance her roles of daughter and mother when her father has an accident at a football game. A gentle, lovely family tale.

The Love Story by Grace McCleen follows a young girl dealing with the beginnings of understanding romance and desire as concepts, but struggles to align them with her parents.

Bernadine Evaristo closes the collection with her take on love for humanity, writing as God. It truly is an impassioned essay about the cruelties of the world as much as a piece of fictional writing.

This is a really interesting collection

Interested? Get it here in Hardback or preorder the Paperback with the extra story.

What to read next:

Thank you kindly to Sceptre for sharing the copy with me.

The following stories require trigger warnings:

  • Before It Disappears: anorexia, eating disorders, self harm.
  • The Human World: sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, references to suicide.

 

Sorry I’ve been away; there’s been a lot of puppy poop

Hello chums,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s been rather quiet over here because, in case you don’t have me on any of your social media, I got a puppy this month!

“Her name is Nerys, she’s a Border Terrier and she’s 12 weeks old.” I’ve gotten used to repeating this script over and over this week as walking with her in arms anywhere means a lot of people come over to coo at her.

This is a big deal as I’ve wanted a dog for years to be my pal and help keep me company through seizures and meltdowns, and it’s happened! We’ve had a good fortnight of bonding and now I have to get up and do some work, while also keeping one eye open to spot for rogue indoor wees.

I’ve managed to finish a few things recently so the blog will be getting updated fairly regularly this week, and I’m also still backdating reviews from various online retailers onto here, because I’d never kept them all in one space… like some kind of silly person.

Anyway here she is.

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More soon. x

Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff | 1 Minute Reviews

This novel absolutely blew me away, tore my heart out and rebuilt me. It was far more than I ever expected, even though my expectations were high.

Naondel is the sequel to Maresi, a book I read earlier this year and absolutely loved. In Maresi, the island of Menos is built around the history turned mythology of seven women who founded the Red Abbey.

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In Naondel, we go back to Kabira the Mother, the woman who it began with. Protector of Anji of the pool, her duties are distracted when she falls for the Vizier’s son, Iskan. As Kabira’s infatuation with Iskan deepens, so too does his hold on her and Karenokoi. And so begins the story of how the women came together.

I need to be clear here, where Maresi talked briefly of gendered violence, Naondel shows it. Rape and violence against women from men are regular factors in this novel (in depth content notes at the end), and I’d urge survivors to choose their moments to read this, as with other books of its ilk like Who Fears Death.

Naondel is a story about women joining together, recognising the way patriarchy and male violence has damaged them and transforming their resilience into sisterhood. Each chapter is told by a new crew member of Naondel, occasionally returning to key characters such as Kabira and Garai. Sadly Estegi herself, ever present, never gets her own point of view chapter – I hope that we get a greater investigation of her in the future.

The wonderful thing about The Red Abbey Chronicles thus far is that there is no set order to reading them. Reading Naondel second has made me appreciate the mythology behind Maresi, and I feel that this is probably the best way round to read them.

If you love feminist fantasy literature of the likes of Margaret Atwood, Nnedi Okorafor, Naomi Alderman and Melinda Salisbury, then you are not going to be disappointed by Maria Turtschaninoff.

Maria kindly wrote about curiosity in her writing for me this week – find out more about her writing through the Naondel blog tour.

Interested? Get Naondel here in Hardback, and get Maresi in paperback or hardback (the latter I think is SUPER pretty)

What to read next:

Thank you kindly to Maria Turtschaninoff, Vicki Berwick and Pushkin Press for sending me a copy of Maresi and Naondel to read.

Content warnings: rape, physical violence against women, sexual violence towards women, self harm.

Mild spoilers in terms of LGBTQ+ content, Naondel features a f/f relationship and an intersex character.

Curiosity as a Driving Force | Guest Blog by Maria Turtschaninoff

Hello everyone!

Very lucky today to be the eighth stop on the Naondel blog tour with Maria Turtschaninoff and Pushkin Press. I absolutely love Maria’s first novel Maresi, which I also talk about in this video discussing stories about gender violence. Naondel is the follow up book to Maresi and I’m absolutely blown away by it.

Thank you so much to Vicki Berwick, Pushkin Press & Maria Turtschaninoff for involving me in the blog tour and sending me both books to read. I’m absolutely in love with them.

Take it away Maria!

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Every story I write opens new vistas, gives me new glimpses into people and stories I want to explore and know more about. I already know I will never be able to write them all because there simply are too many. In my second novel, Arra, there are several mentions of things that happen to side characters after the book ends – I would love to go back and write all those stories. And there are myths and legends told in the novel – I want to write those myths, too! My fourth novel, Anaché, has a very open ending, with hints of things to come – I fully intend to write a continuation. One day. When writing Maresi, my fifth novel and the first to be translated into English, a short mention led to a whole unexpected novel, the sequel to Maresi: Naondel. And oh boy, Naondel itself is full of story seeds I would love to explore…

Recently I wrote some hints of backstory for a character in “Letters from Maresi”, the working title for the novel I am currently working on, the third instalment in the Red Abbey Chronicles. This character has clearly had a very interesting past, even though she is very reticent about it. But she has dropped enough hints to make me very curious. Why did she settle down in this village so far from her birthplace? Why does she own a sword that no-one knows about? What has she done with it? And why did her first husband give it to her?

That is always my starting point: something makes me curious. It tickles my imagination and begs me to explore further. I poke around to see if there is something there; a story, an adventure. And if there is, then I am excited to set out on another journey of discovery. Hopefully the readers are, too.

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I honestly love these books so much and strongly recommend you pick them both up: buy Maresi (paperback or hardback) and Naondel. Want to read an extract of Naondel?

Want to read the rest of the blog tour posts?

  1. How Maria Started Writing – Tea Party Princess
  2. The Road to Publication – Vicki in Neverland
  3. Maria’s Writing Process – The Enchanted Book Case
  4. How Naondel Was Born – La Chouett
  5. The Road to Translation – Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books
  6. How Naondel Was Born –  Tales of Yesterday with Chelley Toy.
  7. Maria spills the gossip about the Maresi movie on The Pewter Wolf.
Posted in YA

The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell | 1 Minute Reviews

Have you been looking for something magical? An adventure to another world that mirrors our own?

The Crooked Sixpence, Book 1 of the new Uncommoners series, stands as one of my favourite middle grade novels of last year. Now is a great time to start, with book 2 coming along in June!

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When her home is ransacked, Ivy escapes to the under London world of Lundinor with mysterious Valian and her brother Seb, to find out what happened to her gramma on the Twelfth Night. Lundinor, which reminds me ever so much of Diagon Alley, is a world where common objects possess magical powers and where Ivy realises she belongs after all, provided the Dirge don’t get her and her family first.

I’m positive, this is going to be The book series for this generation. Written by children’s bookseller, Jennifer Bell, The Crooked Sixpence contains all the ingredients for the perfect children’s book – magic, excitement, hope and freedom.

Recommended from ages 8 up as there are some scary bits with the Dirge, but if your child has read Harry Potter and is okay with Death Eaters, they will be with this. Adults will also love this – I recommend you pinch your child’s copy afterwards.

Interested? Get it here!

What to read next:

Thank you to Penguin for sending me the copy to review.