Title: Meddling Kids

Author: Edgar Cantero

Pages: 322 Pages

Publisher: Titan Books

The Blurb

With raucous humour and brilliantly orchestrated mayhem, Meddling Kids subverts teen detective archetypes like the Hardy Boys, the Famous Five, and Scooby-Doo, and delivers an exuberant and wickedly entertaining celebration of horror, love, friendship, and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn.

SUMMER 1977. The Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in Oregon’s Zoinx River Valley) solved their final mystery and unmasked the elusive Sleepy Lake monster—another low-life fortune hunter trying to get his dirty hands on the legendary riches hidden in Deboën Mansion. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

1990. The former detectives have grown up and apart, each haunted by disturbing memories of their final night in the old haunted house. There are too many strange, half-remembered encounters and events that cannot be dismissed or explained away by a guy in a mask. And Andy, the once intrepid tomboy now wanted in two states, is tired of running from her demons. She needs answers. To find them she will need Kerri, the one-time kid genius and budding biologist, now drinking her ghosts away in New York with Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the club. They will also have to get Nate, the horror nerd currently residing in an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts. Luckily Nate has not lost contact with Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star who was once their team leader . . . which is remarkable, considering Peter has been dead for years.

The time has come to get the team back together, face their fears, and find out what actually happened all those years ago at Sleepy Lake. It’s their only chance to end the nightmares and, perhaps, save the world.

A nostalgic and subversive trip rife with sly nods to H. P. Lovecraft and pop culture, Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids is a strikingly original and dazzling reminder of the fun and adventure we can discover at the heart of our favorite stories, no matter how old we get.

The Review

Meddling Kids is a classic crime story that has author Edgar Cantero harking back to mysteries of the past. Part Stranger Things, Scooby Doo, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five Meddling Kids truly is a story to plunge yourself deep into and to let yourself go along for the ride because you really have no control in this book. None whatsoever.

With three of the four original members of the Blyton Summer Detective Club back together to solve one more mystery, we – the audience, are treated to a very clever plot development of what happened to our favourite childhood crime fighters when they got older. Cantero has cleverly looked at how life might turn out for them and take us on one last epic adventure.

Cantero doesn’t sugar coat things. He lets us know that our childhood heroes may have actually lived pretty insane lives and he recognises that the original audience has grown.

What I will say is that whilst I appreciate Cantero’s premise sometimes his delivery wasn’t as great as it could have been. We have laboured and even cheesy metaphors, aggravating alliteration and also the over use of authorial intrusion. In a book that seriously needs you to suspend your disbelief these things clashed together constantly reminding you that you were reading fiction rather than allowing you to immerse yourself in the story.

Meddling Kids was a great story in theory but sometimes the delivery let it down.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is available now.

For more information regarding Edgar Cantero (@punkahoy) please visit www.punkahoy.blogspot.com.

For more information regarding Titan Books (@TitanBooks) please visit www.titanbooks.com.

Title: Cover Up (#6 KateO’Donnell)

Author: Patricia Hall

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Severn House Publishers

The Blurb

Kate O’Donnell and her police sergeant partner, Harry Barnard enter dangerous waters when they uncover evidence of a top-level conspiracy. 

On a busy Friday night in 1964, a woman’s partially clothed body is discovered in London’s Soho Square. She has been raped and strangled. With no one reported missing, her identity remains a mystery. Assuming the victim to be a prostitute, DCI Jackson is inclined to dismiss the case. Detective Sergeant Harry Barnard disagrees.

Harry’s partner Kate meanwhile has been despatched to her native Liverpool to work on a magazine feature about the city’s remarkable regeneration, timed to coincide with the release of the Beatles’ movie, A Hard Day’s Night.

As Harry’s investigations point to evidence of a cover-up at the highest level, Kate’s assignment leads her to uncover a darker side to 1960s’ Liverpool – and a possible link to the Soho murder victim. Are she and Harry getting into something too deep and dangerous for them to handle?

The Review

Crime books are not usually my forte. If I am honest I am the person who never sees the big final twist and usually the red herrings fly completely over my head. I’m ok with all this because it is rare that I will read the crime genre. However, I decided to give Cover Up by Patricia Hall a read. Mainly, I did this because the book was set in Liverpool during the 60s. As a girl who was born and raised in Liverpool I find books based in my city oddly titillating.

Sadly, the bit that I thought that I would like about Cover Up was actually the bit that I found the most jarring. The use of what is deemed Liverpool lexicon such as “la” and “whack” made me feel uncomfortable as I felt that they were bad clichés.

I don’t think that it helped that I came to the series six books in. The mystery of crooked police, vice and the dark side of the Catholic Church was very well described and as a mystery I cannot say that it wasn’t good because clearly Patricia Hall is clearly a good writer but I don’t think the rest of the series is for me.

Cover Up by Patricia Hall is available now.

Title: The Secret Garden

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett

Pages: 294 Pages

Publisher: DigiReads

The Blurb

The Secret Garden” is the story of Mary Lennox, a sick young girl living in India with her parents. Mary rarely sees her parents though, as her sick and unsightly condition is too much for them to bother with. She is placed in the constant care of Indian servants until an outbreak of cholera kills everyone in the Lennox household except for Mary. Mary returns to Yorkshire to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven. It is here that Mary learns of a secret garden that belonged to the late wife of her uncle. Mary is instantly intrigued and sets out to find this secret garden and what is contained within.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I love reading classic novels and this year I had planned to read four amongst my many books that I have to read and review. However, when one of my students presented me with her much loved copy of The Secret Garden to me and told me that I needed to read it how could I say no?

I’m glad I didn’t.

The Secret Garden is the gorgeous story of Mary Lennox, an orphaned child who is removed from the world she knows in India and is taken to her new home in Yorkshire. She is placed in a house filled with mystery and secrets and due to her tenacious behaviour she sets about discovering all that her new home has to offer.

This is a lovely story about friendship, privilege and absent parents. Sure, at times it is slightly racist. Racism in classical literature has become a bit of a talking point in the press recently but by disregarding it completely would be to deny people the knowledge that racism existed and we should see it as not acceptable but at the very least a sign of the times.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Secret Garden and totally recommend it as a starter classic for children.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is available now.

Title: The Suffragettes

Author: Penguin Classics

Pages: 59 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Classics

The Blurb

‘Once they are aroused, once they are determined, nothing on earth and nothing in heaven will make women give way; it is impossible.’

A potted history of the women who pioneered feminism and changed the world.

One of 46 new books in the bestselling Little Black Classics series, to celebrate the first ever Penguin Classic in 1946. Each book gives readers a taste of the Classics’ huge range and diversity, with works from around the world and across the centuries – including fables, decadence, heartbreak, tall tales, satire, ghosts, battles and elephants.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

As part of the Penguin 80 Books Classics series, The Suffragettes is a fabulous working document which highlights the battles that The Suffragettes fought in as they strived for women’s rights 100 years ago.

Besides legal documents it also has pictorial documentation of how the suffragettes tried to encourage other women to join their movement and also of the propaganda that they were constantly facing from those who wished to keep women suppressed.

The Suffragettes is a very interesting and basic study of feminism and a very interesting time in British history.

The Suffragettes by Penguin Classics is available now.

Title: How Do You Like Me Now?

Author: Holly Bourne

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

‘Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.’

Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?

There’s no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. She’s inspired millions of women to stick two fingers up at convention with her bestselling memoir, and she has the perfect relationship to boot.

But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.

Everyone around her is getting married and having babies, but her long-term boyfriend won’t even talk about getting engaged. And when her best friend Dee – her plus one, the only person who understands the madness – falls in love, suddenly Tori’s in terrifying danger of being left behind.

When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.

It’s time for Tori to practise what she’s preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?

The debut adult novel by bestselling author Holly Bourne is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.

The Review

Life is hard. That’s it. No amount of being told that it is hard and that it is unfair prepares you for that fact. In fact, when I grew up I had a plan that I was going to finish high school, go to college and university and I would be married by the time I was 21. My friend Ana and I had a plan. If we weren’t married by 21 we would join the army. Needless to say, neither of these plans came to fruition. Call it naivety or just plain ignorance but I wasn’t prepared for life. A book like Holly Bourne’s How Do You Like Me Now? may have given me a little preparation for this crazy little thing called life.

How Do You Like Me Now? is the story of Tori Bailey; she is a life guru of sorts, followed by thousands, a best-selling author. She is the girl other girls aspire to be. She has her shit together. Except, she really doesn’t. She is watching her friends all make big life choices: getting engaged, married or with child. Tori feels a little left behind. What she doesn’t seem to understand is that she is actually in a very toxic relationship and she is being held back by the man-child she is living with.

I really, really, really loved How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne. Yes, Tori could be a pain in the arse and so very unlikable at times but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t relate to some of the things that she is going through.

It is a strange little love story but one about loving yourself and I think that is the bravest thing about How Do You Like Me Now? This is the book that I wish was on a mandatory to be read list for every 25+ woman. Believe me, they all need to read it!

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne is available now.

For more information regarding Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) please visit www.hollybourne.co.uk.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.