Title: City on Fire

Author: Garth Risk Hallberg

Pages: 911 Pages

Publisher: Vintage Books/Penguin Random House

The Blurb

Midnight, New Year’s Eve, 1976. Nine lives are about to be changed forever.

Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, heirs to one of New York’s greatest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by the punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbour – and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve.

Then, on July 13th, 1977, the lights go out.

The Review

Oh boy. What can I say about City on Fire. Well, it’s long. At 911 pages it is a beast of a book. If I had to say something about City on Fire it is that is like a version of Love Actually that tries too hard to be cool.

That probably sounds a bit harsh but hear me out. You have these interconnecting stories that take place over various time frames but all the characters are intrinsically linked to one character who spends the majority of the story in a coma. So far, this actually seems like a pretty interesting set up for a novel. However, you spend the majority of your time trying to keep up with whose story you are currently reading and then what their plot line is. So I kind of felt lost for the majority of the book.

I think City on Fire is a victim of its own length and really struggles to hold your attention.  I was constantly checking to see when the chapter would be over and not because I was excited to get to the next part.

When a book begins to feel like a chore to read then you know that t I not for you. This is not to say that City on Fire won’t be for somebody. There will be readers who will love all the things I disliked about City on Fire but sadly, for me, it failed to hold m concentration.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg is available now.

For more information regarding Garth Risk Hallberg (@GarthRisk) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Vintage Books (@vintagebooks) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

Title: Ask Again, Yes

Author: Mary Beth Keane

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Michael Joseph

The Blurb

A gripping and compassionate drama of two families linked by chance, love and tragedy

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.

Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.

It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.

A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later . . .

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so.

A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

If I was asked to describe Ask Again, Yes then I think I would really struggle. It isn’t a novel where a lot of things happen and yet loads of things happen. It is a novel that is driven by the relationships of the characters but we have a backdrop of the social history of New York over the decades.

The enduring story is one of love and how it can transcend time and circumstance.

I don’t really know how to sell this book except to say that it is brilliant, engaging and absolutely kept me turning the pages until it was over. I had the comfortably warm feeling after I finished and that to me is a sign of a great book.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane is available now.

For more information regarding Mary Beth Keane (@Mary_Beth_Keane) please visit www.marybethkeane.com.

For more information regarding Michael Joseph (@MichaelJBooks) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: The Masterpiece

Author: Fiona Davis

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Dutton Books

The Blurb

In this captivating novel, national bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.

For most New Yorkers, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future. It is 1928, and Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. Though not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist,” fiery Clara is single-minded in her quest to achieve every creative success—even while juggling the affections of two very different men. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression…and that even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

By 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Dilapidated and dangerous, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece—an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

The Review

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis is a multi-narrative story set in two time periods: the 1920s and 1970s New York. The two story threads meet in Grand Central Station which is the ideal setting for bustling Art Deco New York meets down and out New York when homelessness was rife and the glamour had definitely worn off.

In the 1920s storyline we follow Clara, a budding artist who is ignored by the art world because of her gender. However, the tide changes for Clara and success begins to pursue her much to the chagrin of others. In the 1970s storyline we meet Virginia. She is also struggling because of the confines of her gender. Recently divorced with no discernible skills to her name she struggles to carve out a new life for herself as an independent woman without a man to hide behind and to be protected by.

What I really like about Fiona Davis’ novels is that she magically weaves real life historical events into her stories which become a third character. You care about the historical element just as much as you care for the characters and their storylines. Furthermore, it opens the reader’s eyes to a slice of history that they may have never known about otherwise.

The Masterpiece is a wonderful story and one of those novels that you read voraciously because you want to know what happens but try to stop yourself from reading because you don’t want it to end.

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis is available now.

For more information regarding Fiona Davis (@FionaJDavis) please visit www.fionadavis.net.

For more information regarding Dutton Books (@DuttonBooks) please visit www.duttonbooks.tumblr.com.

Title: The Editor

Author: Steven Rowley

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: The Borough Press

The Blurb

After years of struggling as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally gets his big break when his novel sells to an editor at a major publishing house:none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie, or Mrs. Onassis as she’s known in the office, loves James’s candidly autobiographical novel, about his own dysfunctional family.

As Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. But when a long-held family secret is revealed, he realises his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page…

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The Editor by Steven Rowley is the story of James Smale. After years of toiling away writing his book is about to be published. His editor is none other than Jackie Kennedy. Whilst he cannot believe his luck that he is getting to work with such an iconic person he soon learns that she has a knack of getting more from her clients. More than even James wanted to give.

Concurrent to the story of the relationship between writer and editor we see the story of James and his family and the dysfunction that has led to his creativity. The Editor marries together the two aspects of protagonists James Smale’s life and shows how one cannot really exist without the other.

For me, the most interesting part of this novel was learning about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her career in publishing. Jackie O is such an iconic figure in history who is sometimes swallowed by the sadness that befell her during her time as First Lady that is was nice to see her as a more fuller person even if it was a fictionalised account.

The Editor by Steven Rowley is available now.

For more information regarding Steven Rowley (@mrstevenrowley) please visit www.stevenrowley.com.

For more information regarding The Borough Press (@BoroughPress) please visit www.boroughpress.co.uk.

Title: City of Girls

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Pages: 470 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

The blazingly brilliant new novel from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the international bestseller Eat Pray Love: a glittering coming-of-age epic stitched across the fabric of a lost New York.

The Review

This sumptuous tale is a lot more than the story of a debutante discovering herself. It is about the social changes in society; the development of a city; the change in time and attitudes. It is a love letter to the past and a recognition of just how magical life can be.

City of Girls is the first book in a very long time that has managed to provide the wow factor for me. The character of Vivian is shown with such unashamed honesty. We see every facet of her character – the good, the bad, and the ugly. She is an unforgettable heroine.

For me, City of Girls belongs to that rare breed of book. The one that you desperately do not want to end but cannot stop yourself from reading because you have to know what happens.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Gilbert (@GilbertLiz) please visit www.ElizabethGilbert.com.

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