Newest Anthologies Reviews

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A Poem for Every Day of the Year by Allie Esiri

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For those who do not read much poetry, for those who do not know where to start, this is a fun and easy commitment to take on. Reading a poem a day does not take long, mere minutes, and with over three-hundred poems in here there's bound to be a poem that speaks to each reader directly. Full review...

William and Dorothy Wordsworth: A Miscellany by Gavin Herbertson

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William Wordsworth was a defining member of the romantic literary era. He was part of the first wave, and his poetry helped to shape a large part of it. Nature is the key: existing in nature, finding one's own true nature and becoming natural in the process were the driving forces behind it. Full review...

The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write by Sabrina Mahfouz

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What does it mean to be British and Muslim? This is a question these writers tackle with stunning clarity. Modern day British society has a varied sense of cultural heritage; it is a society that is changing and moving forward as it adds more and more voices to the population, but is also one that has an undercurrent of anxiety and fear towards those that are minorities. So this collection displays how all that fear is received; it comes in the form of stereotypical labels and racial prejudice, which are themes eloquently reproduced here. Full review...

View from the Cheap Seats by Barry Holland

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A little bit about Barry Holland: he was born in Newport, South Wales, to working class parents. He loves rugby and his son - his son is his favourite rugby player, which is just as it should be. He is a qualified engineer but is unable to work because of mental ill health. All of these things feed into View from the Cheap Seats, which is a collection of poems and imaginings as vivid and immediate and striking as you could hope for. Barry sounds like a thoroughly nice bloke and his book was a pleasure to read. Full review...

The Book of English Folk Tales by Sybil Marshall and John Lawrence

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From ghosts to witches, to giants and fairies, The Book of English Folk Tales is a fascinating collection of stories retold by social historian and folklorist Sybil Marshall. Out of print for over three decades, this beautiful new clothbound edition is complete with wood engraved illustrations by John Lawrence and is sure to capture the attention of a new generation of lovers of folklore. Full review...

Winter: A Book for the Season by Felicity Trotman (editor)

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This seasonal anthology contains a nice mixture of poetry, nature and travel pieces, and excerpts from longer works of fiction. Felicity Trotman, a freelance editor and member of the English Civil War Society, has arranged the material into three sections: 'The Old Year', 'Christmas, Sacred and Secular', and 'The New Year'. This creates an appropriate sense of chronological progression, and also serves to make Christmas the heart of the book. Black-and-white illustrations – maps, photographs and engravings – are interspersed throughout, and each author gets a short paragraph of biography and background. Full review...

Winter Magic by Abi Elphinstone (Editor)

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With everything from dragons to mysterious crimes, voice-stealing witches to time travel, and magical worlds to first performances of world-famous ballets, this is a collection of short stories that delights from start to finish. Anthologies of short stories can sometimes fall flat, with one or two good ones and then a bunch of mediocre fillers, but this collection has no weak links...all the stories are good, and most of them are brilliant. I felt entirely caught up in each individual world as I read, loving the varied and extremely likeable heroines throughout. Full review...

The Virgin Mary's Got Nits by Gervase Phinn

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Christmas in our house is the time we tend to get on a plane and head to either sun or snow, anywhere that is far, far away from the madness at home, last minute dashes to the shops on Christmas Eve, and food cupboard stockpiles that would imply supermarkets are shutting for a month, nor a mere 36 hours. But I do remember the feeling of Christmas when I was younger, back when it was magical, and back when you knew exactly what the season would bring with carol concerts and school nativities and Christmas parties. This book is an anthology of those moments, and it took me right back to the wonder of Christmas as a child. Full review...

No Pasaran: Writings from the Spanish Civil War by Pete Ayrton (editor)

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In ¡No Pasarán!: Writings from the Spanish Civil War, Pete Ayrton has chosen a majority of texts by Spanish writers, arguing that the conflict has long been written about from the point of view of the international brigades. Full review...

Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries (British Library Crime Classics) by Martin Edwards (editor)

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I'm not big on short stories, but two factors nudged me towards this book. Firstly, it's broadly golden age crime, one of my weaknesses and secondly, the editor is Martin Edwards, a man whose knowledge of golden age crime is probably unsurpassed and he's done us proud, not only with his selection, but with the half-page biographies of the writers, which precede each story. There's just enough there to allow you to place the author and to direct you to other works if you're tempted. It's an elegant selection, from the well known and the less well known, all set in and around the country house. Full review...

Once Upon a Place by Eoin Colfer (editor)

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You know the bit of the blurb on every Artemis Fowl book, where Eoin Colfer had it said about how you pronounce his name? That wasn't the intention of an up-and-coming author to be recognisable; rather, it was pride. Pride in the difference of it, of the Irishness of it. Ireland, it seems to me, is more full than usual of people, things and ideas, and places that are different by dint of their singular nationality – and so many deserve to have pride attached to them. The places might not be the famous ones, but they can be the source of pride, and of stories, which is where this compilation of short works for the young comes in, with the authors invited to select their chosen place and write about it. Full review...

Love From Pooh (Winnie the Pooh) by A A Milne

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For a small book, a small review – this is a quite delightful little thing, about which not a lot can be said. It is a gift book pure and simple, much in the way that Pooh Bear was a little simple at times (Pooh… thought how wonderful it would be to have a Real Brain which could tell you things). With it comes a simple blurb, and almost instructions that it is for giving, and there is a space for a loving dedication at the beginning, which is again only apt, as it is all about love. Love of honey, love in friendship, love of all various kinds, but just love. It can't help but make you most warm-hearted. Full review...

What Makes This Book So Great: Re-Reading The Classics Of Science Fiction And Fantasy by Jo Walton

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Jo Walton has published over ten books, several of which have been award winning. On top of that, she has a voracious appetite for books - both as a well respected writer of original fiction, but as a well respected reviewer too. Not only does she have time to do all that, but she also writes a regular column for Tor.com, on Science Fiction and Fantasy books, and it is these columns that a selection of which are collected here. Full review...

Did We Meet on Grub Street? by Emma Tennant, Hilary Bailey and David Elliott

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Essentially, the three authors (all of whom have long careers in the book industry) revel in the idea of being whining old curmudgeons who miss the good old days of publishing. This unashamed nostalgia provides the focus of the book and allows the writers to recount numerous anecdotes from their days in the publishing business. Whilst the primary audience for this book may well be students of creative writing and media studies, it also serves as an interesting exploration of an aspect of modern history: how a once-burgeoning industry is now a shell of its former self, much like a lot of manufacturing. Because of this, I was disappointed that no space was given to a consideration of how the rise of the e-book and Kindle has directly damaged both the sale of books and the potential for new books to be written (fewer real books sold = fewer financial advances paid to writers = fewer books written). Also, given the clear love of books as treasured artifacts, the dismissal of the Harry Potter phenomenon seems truculent, given the impetus the series gave to reading amongst both the young and adults. Full review...

The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries by Otto Penzler (editor)

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Nostalgia is a big part of the Christmas experience, and that's provided in sack-loads by this hefty tome of short stories. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Brother Cadfael jostle Morse, Rumpole and Vic Warshawski for space on these tightly packed pages, while lesser known and long since forgotten writers furnish new and unexpected pleasures for even the most well-read of book worms. Full review...

Burnt Tongues: An Anthology of Transgressive Short Stories by Chuck Palahniuk, Dennis Widmyer and Richard Thomas

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Saying certain things out loud just don’t sound right. Some things are so disturbing or politically incorrect that you are best off leaving them inside your head, or better yet not thinking of them at all. When these words are spoken they could lead to the sensation of Burnt Tongue; an aftereffect of knowing what you said was wrong. Are you prepared to enter the world of Transgressive Fiction that aims to disturb, alienate, disgust and question? Full review...

Rogues by George R R Martin and Gardner Dozois (Editors)

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George R R Martin is undoubtedly the biggest name in modern day fantasy, and Gardner Dozois an American science fiction author of considerable renown. Here, the two collect twenty one stories by a list of well known and hugely loved authors. Full review...

While Wandering - A Walking Companion by Duncan Minshull

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While Wandering - A Walking Companion, was first published ten years ago as The Vintage Book of Walking. Reprinted and retitled with a stunning new cover by James Jones and Finn Dean, and a foreword by Robert Macfarlane, the best writer on walking in recent years (in my humble opinion). Full review...

A is Amazing!: Poems about Feelings by Wendy Cooling and Piet Grobler

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How do you get young children interested in poetry? I guess you hope that you don't have to – you want them to be aware of clapping and skipping songs by nature, and of lyrics to music heard in school and at home. Surely it's a case of making sure a child never learns to hold verse in disfavour, and carries a natural eagerness for poetry through to adulthood. But just in case, there are books such as this wonderfully thought-through compilation, that will catch the eye and entertain those aged six or seven and up, and provide for many a read of many a different style of verse. Full review...

A Broken World: Letters, diaries and memories of the Great War by Sebastian Faulks and Hope Wolf

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Sebastian Faulks and Dr Hope Wolf have expertly brought together this far-reaching collection of memories, diaries, letters and postcards written during and after the First World War. While Faulks is the author of novels such as Birdsong and Charlotte Gray, Dr Hope Wolf is a research fellow in English at the University of Cambridge, whose doctoral research focused on archives at the Imperial War Museum. The combination of such a respected author, whose most famous (and arguably his best) novel is set in the First World War, and an academic whose expertise is the in the same area, means that this fascinating collection hits all the right notes. It's commemorative, poignant and very human. Full review...

Dead But Not Forgotten by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner (Editors)

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Dead But Not Forgotten returns to Sookie Stackhouse's world, exploring the lives and misadventures of some of the more minor characters in the series. The collection features stories about Pam Ravenscroft, Adele Hale Stackhouse, Luna, Diantha, Bubba and many of the other colourful characters from Bon Temps and the wider universe of Sookie's story, written by authors such as Seanan McGuire, Rachel Caine, Nicole Peeler, Christopher Golden and many more. Full review...

Stories of World War One by Tony Bradman

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World War One, or the Great War as it was known at the time, was a cataclysmic war. Millions died and life was changed forever for the survivors - for the women of Britain, and for the working classes and ruling classes alike. 2014 is the centenary of its outbreak and the redoubtable Tony Bradman has gathered together a dozen of our best writers for young people to create an anthology of short stories to commemorate the anniversary. Full review...

Daughters of Time by Mary Hoffman (editor)

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This is an anthology aimed at tweens and younger teens on the subject of some of history's most remarkable women. It's an interesting idea, particularly as the usual suspects are perhaps avoided. No Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Victoria, or Florence Nightingale. Instead we get Boudica, Mary Seacole, Aphra Behn and Julian of Norwich, amongst others. It doesn't altogether work for me but there are enough strong stories to make it well worth a look. Full review...

No Man's Land: Writings From A World At War by Pete Ayrton (editor)

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July 2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War: a war that has become imprinted on the national consciousness of Britain (and plenty of modern nation-states), partly because of the large numbers of people (mostly men) writing about it. I don't mean journalists, who had been covering wars for the Victorian public, but artists: poets, authors, memoirists and painters. The poets especially have stamped World War One on collective memory, through countless poetry anthologies, recitals at memorials, and in school classrooms. Full review...

Of Lions and Unicorns: A Lifetime of Tales from the Master Storyteller by Michael Morpurgo

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Of Lions and Unicorns is a collection of short stories and extracts from Morpurgo’s most popular books. The book is split into five sections, which focus on recurring themes in his writing. Full review...

Rags and Bones by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt (Editors)

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Some of today's top authors have come together to retell classic tales - from fairy stories to Victorian-era fiction. As usual with this kind of anthology, it's a fairly hit-or-miss affair, but the hits here are so strong that they're well worth picking up the book for. Full review...

Smoothly From Harrow: A Compendium for the London Commuter by Chris Moss

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If you want to get behind what commuting is really like - not in an academic or a political way, but from the perspective of having your hand through a strap and wishing that the man next to you wasn't quite so enamoured of Brut aftershave - then you need a travel journalist. Step forward (but mind the gap), Chris Moss, who writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph and has done the same for the Guardian, Independent and various magazines. Most importantly, he's commuted from Camberwell, Camden, Hackney, Harrow, Herne Hill, Surbiton and Tooting. Personally, I think he deserves a medal. Full review...

The Time Traveller's Almanac by Anne VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer

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From H.G Wells to Doctor Who, there is something about a good time-travel story that has the power to ignite the imagination in a way unique to the genre. Perhaps it is due to the fact that when dealing with the subject of time travel, literally anything is possible. Well, almost anything...apart from going back in time and killing your Grandfather, which we know would cause an almighty paradox and probably destroy the universe. Full review...

Stuff I've Been Reading by Nick Hornby

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I am lucky enough to be typing this while sitting on the fifth floor of the magnificent new Library of Birmingham. Coming in at a whopping £189 million the burghers of the second city certainly haven't skimped in trying to create a 21st century centre of learning. Amongst all the interactive learning zones, digital galleries and coffee shops there are of course books. Many, many books. Over one million in fact. And this in an era when some critics have said that the book in its current form is dead. Full review...

Beyond Rue Morgue: Further Tales of Edgar Allan Poe's 1st Detective by Paul Kane and Charles Prepolec (Editors)

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C. Auguste Dupin is often regarded as the first fictional detective and at the very least Edgar Allan Poe’s character was the blueprint for many sleuths to come, most notably Sherlock Holmes. Dupin is an eccentric genius from Paris whose use of logic and deduction aid the police on their most baffling cases. The characters literary debut was in the short story The Murders in the Rue Morgue in 1841 and between 1842 and 1844 Poe wrote two more short stories about Dupin and his exploits. Beyond Rue Morgue contains nine stories (in addition to the original Poe tale) by various authors and gives many different takes on the same character or influenced by him. From samurai assassins and the apocalypse to an agoraphobic distant relative of Dupin attempting to solve a murder without even leaving her home; the different writers all take the intriguing character to places we wouldn’t expect and the creativity of all keeps the character fresh from story to story. Full review...

Best British Short Stories 2013 by Nicholas Royle (editor)

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Expect to read some quality work in Best British Short Stories 2013, sourced from a number of short story magazines; 'Granta', 'Shadows and Tall Trees', 'Unthology' and 'The Edinburgh Review' are just some of the publications in which these pieces were to be seen first. If asked to identify a red thread between the components of Nicholas Royle’s anthology, I would say that in each short story, everything is left to simmer under the surface. There is a frustration brought about by the lack of clarity in every short story, which to me is a reflection of just how unclear the most seismic of situations may be to any individual involved. Full review...