Title: Animal Farm

Author: George Orwell

Pages: 69 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’

When the downtrodden animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master Mr Jones and take over the farm themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of freedom and equality. But gradually a cunning, ruthless élite among them, masterminded by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, starts to take control. Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another.


The Review

I must admit I didn’t really enjoy reading Animal Farm. I understand that it is an allegory for power and government and how people will always strive to overthrow governments to gain more power but as a piece of literature it just didn’t float my boat.

I think that if I had been reading Animal Farm as part of a study rather than reading it for pleasure I would have enjoyed it more but alas I read it because I felt like I needed to read it because as an English graduate you feel guilty when you haven’t read books that people presume you should have read. Ah well. Overall, Animal Farm was not as equal (or more equal) than some of the other books that I have read recently.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is available now.

For more information regarding Penguin Books (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.


Title: Searching for Grace Kelly

Author: M. G. Callahan

Pages: 289 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK

The Blurb

For a small-town girl with big dreams in 1955, there is no address more desirable than New York’s Barbizon Hotel – the place where Grace Kelly lived when she first came to the big city.

Laura is an aristocratic beauty from Connecticut who arrives with a magazine internship and dreams of becoming a writer

Dolly is a hopeless romantic working the secretarial pool and looking to be swept off her feet

Vivian is a red-headed British bombshell who yearns to make it as a singer while working nights as a cigarette girl

Perfect for fans of Mad Men, The Best of Everything and The Paris Wife, this is a novel filled to the brim with glamour, following the lives of three women as they are lured into the exhilarating, dazzling world of New York City and embark on a journey that will alter their lives for ever.

The Review

Set in the Summer of 1955, three very different girls descend on the Barbizan Hotel to try and achieve their dreams and escape the humdrum of their regular lives. These three girls, Dolly, Vivian and Laura are very different but for an unlikely friendship; a friendship that will change their lives forever over the course of one summer.

I love historical fiction, especially when it is historical fiction that I can visualise and really sink my teeth into and 1950s New York with all its fashion and glamour and promise really does manage to take my breath away.

M. G. Callahan creates a stunning version of the New York lifestyle; he mixes debutantes with society folk and with the beatnik movement in one fell swoop. He looks at the challenges that modern young women faced and how they coped in the face of difficult decisions and adversity. Searching for Grace Kelly is a stunning novel that hooks you from the first page. It is told in contrasting perspectives of the three girls and allows us to see that the grass isn’t always greener.

Searching for Grace Kelly by M. G. Callahan is available now.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group UK (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

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.


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.