Everybody has secrets. Everybody. The world would be a boring and potentially less complicated and fascinating place if we didn’t. However, secrets can be dangerous things too. What if the secret that you have determined everything about your life? What if that secret was so dark that it could tear your family and your world apart?


Well that is the over-riding theme to Abigail Tarttelin’s second novel Golden Boy. In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice the great bard wrote ‘The truth will out’ and that is exactly what Max Walker’s family have spent the past 16 years trying to prevent. Max was born intersex. Even now, not a lot is known about how this happens but the affect that it can have on the individual – let alone their families – can be devastating. The Walkers have managed to keep Max’s intersexuality clandestine, only close family and friends are aware of his “condition.” However, when someone close to Max takes advantage of him the protective walls that have been put up around Max come tumbling down with distressing results.

It has to be said that it is so very rare to find a book that will simultaneously break my heart, have me clutching my chest in panic and have me aching so palpably for the characters; when I find a novel that can do that I know that I have found something special. Golden Boy is a fantastic insight into a world that we may have little or no knowledge of – in this case hermaphroditism – and combines it so seamlessly with worlds we have been a part of such as the intricacies of family life, being a parent and being a teenager. Tarttelin’s seemingly effortless switch between different character voices is truly remarkable that one can only sit in awe of this promising young talent.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin is available now.

You can follow Abigail Tarttelin (@abigailsbrain) on Twitter.

* Review originally published on Different Scene

Golden Boy

Title: New York Nights

Author: Lucy Lord

Pages: 34 Pages

The Blurb

A short story from the hilarious author of A Girl Called Summer – find out what Poppy was up to before her Ibiza adventures!

Poppy has flown to New York for the stag dos of her favourite GBFs (Gay Best Friends) Chase and Marco, before their civil partnership tomorrow. With the pressure on for the biggest and best Studio 54-themed bachelor night – and new husband Damian bending her ear about what might come next – Poppy needs to be on top of her game!

A cracking short story that takes place just before the events of A Girl Called Summer.

The Review

I really loved LA Nights – the predecessor to New York Nights – because it was fun, fast and frisky. If I’m totally honest, the second part of the series fell a little flat. It was still interesting and it was fun to meet some more of the cast members that are going to make up A Girl Called Summer but it just didn’t have the high octane dramarama of LA Nights. It is a shame because it had a lot of potential.

The theme of the story – a celebration of nuptials between Poppy’s friends Chase and Marco – was a great springboard for what could have been a great tale. I particularly liked all the references to 1970s disco. I think that New York Nights fell short due to its length. It is a hard skill to condense a story to a short amount of pages and sometimes it is a winner and sometimes more is needed and for me personally, I needed more from this story.

Let’s see what the next in the series brings.

New York Nights by Lucy Lord is available now.

Follow Lucy Lord (@LucyLord1) on Twitter.

New York Nights

The Blurb

John Green meets 500 Days of Summer meets Nick Hornby.

Darren hasn’t had an easy year. His parents divorced, his brother left for college, and his best friend moved state. Also, he still doesn’t have a girlfriend. Then his dad shows up at 6am with a glazed chocolate donut and a pretty world-shaking revelation. In full freak-out mode, Darren ditches school and jumps on a bus to visit his brother, Nate, at college. But someone weird / amazing comes along for the ride. Told entirely in lists, this hilarious novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone is: 1. painful 2. unavoidable 3. ridiculously complicated 4. possibly, hopefully, the right thing after all.

The review

Sometimes I like to get stuck into a big meaty tome of a book. A door stopper that will keep me hooked from the first to the last page. Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You was not that book.  At over 600 pages I expected something magical when in reality what I got was a bold stylistic choice that didn’t really work.

The story is about Darren; a young, somewhat naïve 15 year old who is trying to figure things out. Like most teenagers he is facing his own particular problems and to be perfectly honest he isn’t handling things all too well. Besides having some serious family issues he is also trying to control his hormones and get over the one…well the one that is always the one when you are fifteen.

So far, so good; the premise is promising. The problem comes in the way that Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You is presented. It is not in traditional narrative form; it is told almost entirely in list format. To begin with this seems like a quirky style choice, however, it soon becomes tedious.

Another problem I felt that the book had is that it went on for far too long. It could have been shortened so much and I feel would have been all the more better for it. It is frustrating because the storylines threaded through the novel are interesting and I personally feel could have been done justice if it had been written in a more conventional style.

Hasak-Lowy does need to be given praise for the story idea but Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You was stylistically not for me.

Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy is available now.

Me Being Me

The Blurb

What if you realized the book you were reading was all about you?

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realize the story will reveal her darkest secret.

A secret she thought no one else knew…

The Review

As a reader it takes a g-darn lot to impress me. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of books that I read but when a book comes along that blows my mind I have to give extra appreciation. For me, Disclaimer is such a book.

The story focuses around Catherine, an award winning investigative journalist. Her life is seemingly perfect. She is living with her husband Robert; her son Nick is living close by and she is respected in her field of work. However, when she starts reading a book that has mysteriously turned up at her house her perfect little life starts to crumble away.

The book tells her story. She knows she is the female lead and with each turn of the page more and more of her secret past is revealed.

What is truly great about this book (and for this we need to applaud the skill and mastery of writer Renee Knight) is that not only does she keep you guessing, not only does she throw in some major twists and turns but she also has that great ability to make you empathise with each character; even when you disagree with the way that they are acting or the decisions that they have made. To me, that takes real skill and shows the calibre of work the writer is capable of.

Disclaimer is not for the faint hearted. It is a story that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page and it is the sort of book that you will be itching for your friends to read just so you can have someone share in your shock and awe.

Disclaimer by Renee Knight is available now.


The Blurb

The international bestseller, translated from the German by Simon Pare.

On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.

The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust – until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.

The Review

Firstly, I would like to thank Poppy Stimpson from Little Brown for sending me a review copy of The Little Paris Bookshop.

I will admit that I fell in love with the cover of this book which urged me to request a copy of it for review; the title also played a bit part. I love Paris and I love bookshops. This book seemed perfect for me. What I also got with this book is a medicine cabinet of cures. It simultaneously broke my heart and fixed it; made me smile and cry. The Little Paris Bookshop also made me feel content; the way a good book should. The Little Paris Bookshop is chock full of substance and style – it’s a double threat on that account.

The story centres around Jean and his life as a book seller or apothecary who owns a bookshop barge that sits placidly on the Seine. He is isolated but by choice until a new neighbour – the recently heartbroken Catherine – moves into his tenement and unknowingly forces him to confront his past; a past that has plagued him for the past twenty one years and forced him to live a life of solitude and grief. Having been knocked into action Jean Perdu sets out on a journey of discovery with a couple of friends and a couple of cats in tow.

Through this journey we see Jean Perdu grow, change and shed away some of the layers of coldness that he has used to keep people at arm’s length drop away. It is gorgeous to watch and to live each emotion with Jean.

This is the kind of novel that comes by once in a while and reminds you why you keep reading some of the poorer more hyped books; because every so often you come across a gem like The Little Paris Bookshop.

This is a story about the journey AND the destination. Both are intrinsic to the story and Nina George has not left you hanging on and wondering how it all ends. The story is complete and as you turn the final pages you will know that you have read something both magical and enchanting.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is available now.

Follow Nina George (@nina_george) on Twitter.

The Little Paris Bookshop