Title: Our Country Friends

Author: Gary Shteyngart

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Atlantic Books / Allen & Unwin

The Blurb

It’s March 2020 and a calamity is unfolding. A group of friends and friends-of-friends gathers in a country house to wait out the pandemic. Over the next six months, new friendships and romances will take hold, while old betrayals will emerge, forcing each character to reevaluate whom they love and what matters most. The unlikely cast of characters includes a Russian-born novelist; his Russian-born psychiatrist wife; their precocious child obsessed with K-pop; a struggling Indian American writer; a wildly successful Korean American app developer; a global dandy with three passports; a Southern flamethrower of an essayist; and a movie star, the Actor, whose arrival upsets the equilibrium of this chosen family. Both elegiac and very, very funny, Our Country Friends is the most ambitious book yet by the author of the beloved bestseller Super Sad True Love Story.

The Review

Previously I would stick with books even if I didn’t enjoy them. I persevered with the third LOTR book for 3 months just to get it over with but lately I am just not that same person. I Marie Kondo my books. If they aren’t giving me joy then I don’t carry on with them. I tried with Our Country Friends. I read three chapters and I just didn’t care about the characters so I DNF’d it. Maybe it was a bit too hasty and maybe I will come back to it at another point in my life but at this moment I just do not have time to read books that aren’t bringing me joy.

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart is available now.

For more information regarding Allen & Unwin (@AllenAndUnwinUK) please visit www.atlantic-books.co.uk/allen-unwin/.

Title: Death By Society

Author: Sierra Elmore

Pages: 292 Pages

Publisher: Elm Street Publishing

The Blurb

MEAN GIRLS meets IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY when two teenage girls’ worlds collide when one attempts suicide to avoid toxic popularity.

Carter Harper may have created an award-winning app and have a 3.93 GPA, but her successes are overshadowed by brutal bullying, depression, and loneliness. Tired of being treated as the popular girls’ plaything, Carter thinks her only choice is to die by suicide.

Abby Wallace is one of the most popular girls in school, subordinate only to Kelsey, her best friend with benefits. The ambitious poet destroys reputations without care to prove how cool, cruel, and strong she is, all while pushing down her past trauma and secret guilt.

Carter and Abby’s tumultuous relationship comes to a boiling point when Abby stops Carter from attempting suicide. But what happens when they have to protect one another from Kelsey’s harmful antics? If Carter and Abby can stand each other for more than three minutes, they can stop Kelsey from hurting more girls—and maybe become friends in the process.

In the tradition of Courtney Summers and Laurie Halse Anderson, DEATH BY SOCIETY questions how far we’ll go to gain power over our lives—and what happens when we use our voices for both good and to harm others.

The Review

I’m sad to say but me and Death by Society didn’t get along. The premise of the story seems good and I know that this will resonate with a lot of people but it just wasn’t for me. I’m not sure if it is a cultural gap (British vs American) or if it is because I work with teenagers who are often marginalised and suffer with mental health problems but the way the story was told just didn’t mesh with my lived experience. As I say this book will be for someone that person just isn’t me.

Death by Society by Sierra Elmore is out now.

Title: Cult Classics

Author: Sloane Crosley

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

The Blurb

One night in New York City’s Chinatown, Lola is at a dinner with former colleagues when she excuses herself to buy a pack of cigarettes. On her way back, she runs into a former boyfriend. The next night, she runs into another ex. And then… another. The city has become awash with ghosts of heartbreaks past.

What might have passed for coincidence becomes something far stranger when the recently engaged Lola must contend not only with the viability of her current relationship, but the fact that her best friend and her former boss – a magazine editor turned mystical guru – might have an unhealthy investment in its outcome. As memories of the past swirl and converge, Lola is forced to decide if she will surrender herself to the conspirings of one very contemporary cult.

A smart, sharp and hugely entertaining tale of luck and love, Cult Classic asks: is it possible to have a happy ending in an age when the past is ever at your fingertips and sanity is for sale?

The Review

Sadly, Cult Classics was a DNF for me.

I’ve never read anything by Sloane Crosley before so I was going in a little bit blind to her writing but I found myself unable to connect with our main character Lola and at times I felt dizzy due to the swift changes in topics or scenes. For me it felt like there was no clear segue or signpost for the changes. We would be talking about Clive then Amos then Boots and I just couldn’t keep up.

Cult Classics by Sloan Crosley is available now.

For more information regarding Sloane Crosley (@askanyone) please visit www.sloanecrosley.com.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury Publishing (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

Title: Boy Swallows Universe

Author: Trent Dalton

Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Eli Bell’s life is complicated. His father is lost, his mother is in jail, and his stepdad is a heroin dealer. The most steadfast adult in Eli’s life is Slim—a notorious felon and national record-holder for successful prison escapes—who watches over Eli and August, his silent genius of an older brother.

Exiled far from the rest of the world in Darra, a neglected suburb populated by Polish and Vietnamese refugees, this twelve-year-old boy with an old soul and an adult mind is just trying to follow his heart, learn what it takes to be a good man, and train for a glamorous career in journalism. Life, however, insists on throwing obstacles in Eli’s path—most notably Tytus Broz, Brisbane’s legendary drug dealer.

But the real trouble lies ahead. Eli is about to fall in love, face off against truly bad guys, and fight to save his mother from a certain doom—all before starting high school.

A story of brotherhood, true love, family, and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe is the tale of an adolescent boy on the cusp of discovering the man he will be. Powerful and kinetic, Trent Dalton’s debut is sure to be one of the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novels you will experience.

The Review

Sadly another DNF for me.

I just didn’t connect with the voice and I feel like I was struggling to care about the characters or what happened to them. Certainly a disconnect between myself and the story.

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton is available now.

For more information regarding Trent Dalton (@TrentDalton) please visit his Twitter account.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter account.

Title: Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town

Author: Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Pages: 246 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

Come on a journey across the rural American West . . .

Meet the teenagers who live in the small towns across these states, separated by distance, but whose stories are woven together in the most unexpected of ways.

Whether they are brought together by the spread of wildfire, by the priest who’s moved from state to state or by the hunt for a missing child, these incredible tales blaze with secrets, rage and love.

A novel like no other, this intricate, intense and beautiful book will take your breath away.

The Review

Unfortunately Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town was a DNF for me. I just wasn’t enthralled by it. I tried and I don’t know if it was a case of right book at the wrong time but I just was bored by it. Sorry.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock is available now.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.