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.

Title: Is This Love?

Author: CE Riley

Pages: 224

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

Did you mean to marry me? Did you understand the vows that we took? J’s wife has left, and J is trying to understand why. How could someone you loved so much, who claimed to love you once, just walk away? How could they send divorce papers accusing you of terrible things, when all you’ve ever done is tried to make them happy?

Narrated by J in the days, weeks and months after the marriage collapses, and interspersed with the departed wife’s diary entries, Is This Love is an addictive, deeply unsettling, and provocative novel of deception and betrayal, and passion turned to pain. As the story unfolds, and each character’s version of events undermines the other, all our assumptions about victimhood, agency, love and control are challenged – for we never know J’s gender. If we did, would it change our minds about who was telling the truth?

The Review

Sadly, Is This Love? was a DNF for me. I promise you, I gave it a good try. I got to 41% before I stopped. The premise was good. The opposing views of what it is like to go through a break up and the different ways that each person in a couple perceives the events of their relationship. However, both characters were unlikeable, they had no redeeming features, they both seemed to be unreliable narrators and I just didn’t root for either of them.

I can deal with a slow story if I like the characters. Equally I can deal with characters who aren’t very nice if the story is good but for me Is This Love? failed on both.

Is This Love? by CE Riley is available now.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit www.serpentstail.com.

Title: Young Mungo

Author: Douglas Stuart

Pages: 430 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Picador

The Blurb

The extraordinary, powerful second novel from the Booker prizewinning author of Shuggie Bain, Young Mungo is both a vivid portrayal of working-class life and the deeply moving story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James.

Born under different stars, Protestant Mungo and Catholic James live in a hyper-masculine world. They are caught between two of Glasgow’s housing estates where young working-class men divide themselves along sectarian lines, and fight territorial battles for the sake of reputation. They should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all, and yet they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the doocot that James has built for his prize racing pigeons. As they begin to fall in love, they dream of escaping the grey city, and Mungo must work hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his elder brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold.

But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. When Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, with two strange men behind whose drunken banter lie murky pasts, he needs to summon all his inner strength and courage to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.

Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism, Douglas Stuart’s Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the meaning of masculinity, the push and pull of family, the violence faced by so many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.

The Review

Okay. So. Young Mungo. I tried. I really tried. It was jus far too bleak.

I persevered with Shuggie Bain and was left feeling empty by it but I wasn’t going to give up on Douglas Stuart just yet.

Sadly, Young Mungo was there breaking point. I really tried to get through it but I just couldn’t.

I’m sorry.

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart is available now.

For more information regarding Douglas Stuart (@Doug_D_Stuart) please visit www.douglasdstuart.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) and Picador Books (@picadorbooks) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: The Hiding Game

Author: Naomi Wood

Pages: 383 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

In 1922, Paul Beckermann arrives at the Bauhaus art school and is immediately seduced by both the charismatic teaching and his fellow students. Eccentric and alluring, the more time Paul spends with his new friends the closer they become, and the deeper he falls in love with the mesmerising Charlotte. But Paul is not the only one vying for her affections, and soon an insidious rivalry takes root. 

As political tensions escalate in Germany, the Bauhaus finds itself under threat, and the group begins to disintegrate under the pressure of its own betrayals and love affairs. Decades later, in the wake of an unthinkable tragedy, Paul is haunted by a secret. When an old friend from the Bauhaus resurfaces, he must finally break his silence. 

Beautifully written, powerful and suspenseful, Naomi Wood’s The Hiding Game is a novel about the dangerously fine line between love and obsession, set against the most turbulent era of our recent past.

The Review

I have a rule that has been put in place since my NetGalley backlist is currently over 900 books (shh! If I pretend it isn’t there then maybe it will go away) and the rule is that I am not allowed to stick with a book if it isn’t gripping me. I will give it a good try but if I’m not getting along with it then I will have to put it down. Life is too short for books I am not enjoying. Unfortunately, The Hiding Game fell into this category.

I feel bad because I am sure others have loved this book. It may have been a case of right book wrong time but at this point in my life I cannot continue with a book that I can’t remember the names of the main characters for when I am over 10% into it. It just isn’t for me.

The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood is available now.

For more information regarding Naomi Wood (@NaomiWoodBooks) please visit www.naomiwood.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: To Paradise

Author: Hanya Yanagihara

Pages: 720 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

From Hanya Yanagihara, author of the modern classic A Little LifeTo Paradise is a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.

In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him – and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.

These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.

To Paradise is a findesiecle novel of marvellous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara’s understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love – partners, lovers, children, friends, family and even our fellow citizens – and the pain that ensues when we cannot.

The Review

Oh boy.

Okay, so I should preface this review by saying I bloody loved A Little Life. It broke me in ways I didn’t know I could be broken and I would read it all again even though that broken hearted feeling would get me again. Therefore, I was both excited and terrified of reading To Paradise – Hanya Yanagihara’s latest release. I tried to not compare it to A Little Life and tried to go into it with the knowledge that I just liked the writers style and I swear I gave it a good college try. I read up to 51% of the novel before having to admit defeat. I just couldn’t finish it.

I loved the first part of the story, the arranged marriage between the two main characters and if the story carried on being about them I think I could have carried on with the novel – although at 720 pages it probably was a bit too long – but then the story switched. It took me a while to get my bearings with the second section and whilst I didn’t fin the story as engaging as I did the first I really wanted to try and keep going. However, when the third storyline hit and it was set in space I had to tap out. I just stopped caring for the characters and the story.

So unfortunately To Paradise was a DNF but not without lack of trying.

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara is available now.

For more information regarding Hanya Yanagihara (@YanagiharaHanya) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.