Review: Monsters Unite by Sara Sheridan, Molly Sheridan and Iain Carroll

Monsters Unite is the second picture book from the author Sara Sheridan, who is best known for the Mirabelle Bevan mysteries as well as a number of historical fiction books. In this case, she has had help from her daughter, Molly, for whom the story was originally created, and the colourful and imaginative illustrations have been provided by Glasgow-based illustrator Iain Carroll.

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Review: Crime Squirrel Investigators by Emily Dodd and Giulia Cregut

As well as being a sweet and charming story about friendship, honesty and forgiveness, it’s also full of facts about the eating and living habits of many woodland creatures. Author Emily Dodd, who has previously published other wildlife-themed works such as Ollie and the Otter and The Grouse and the Mouse, collaborates with Italian illustrator Giulia Cregut to bring the story and its environment to life.

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Review: The Freedom Artist by Ben Okri

The latest novel from Nigerian-born writer Ben Okri, whose best known work is the Booker prize-winning novel The Famished Road, is a frightening study of free will, mass hysteria and censorship. Set in an unnamed dystopia, it focuses on two intertwined storylines – the main one focuses on Karnak, whose lover, Amalanta, has been captured by the regime for daring to ask forbidden questions, and the other concerns Mirababa, a young boy sequestered in a sarcophagus as part of his inheritance from his grandfather. The society in which they live has become illiterate, and books have all but disappeared, and the history and folklore of the area have been rewritten by the ruling regime. Karnak ultimately joins forces with Ruslana, the daughter of a missing bookshop owner, to find their imprisoned loved ones, and in doing so they slowly uncover the lies, fear and oppression the regime has subjected their society to.

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Review: Sweet Fruit, Sour Land by Rebecca Ley

Sweet Fruit, Sour Land is the debut work by Rebecca Ley, a graduate of the creative writing Master’s at City University – but more notably than this it has won this year’s Guardian Not the Booker Prize. Set in a dystopian and famine-hit London, it tells the story of two women – Mathilde, who has immigrated from an equally barren France and finds herself in higher circles after her grandmother makes a dress for the hostess of one of its many parties, and Jaminder, whom Mathilde meets at one of these parties. The novel tells how both women are drawn into this world and Mathilde is taken in by George, a corrupt government minister who is able to procure extra food for her and her grandmother and keep her from having to conceive. Likewise Mathilde and Jaminder form an intense bond, but the tide seems to be against them.

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