Quick Review: THE WORDS OF EVERY SONG by Liz Moore (Windmill/Broadway)

MooreL-WordsOfEverySongUKAn interlinked tour through the New York music industry, and some of the lives it intersects with…

The Words of Every Song takes the form of fourteen linked episodes, each centering on a character involved with the music industry. There’s the arrogantly hip, twenty-six-year-old A&R man; the rising young singer-songwriter; the established, arena-filling rock star on the verge of a midlife crisis; the type-A female executive with the heavy social calendar; and other recognizable figures.

Set in the sleek offices, high-tech recording studios, and grungy downtown clubs of New York, The Words of Every Song offers an authenticity drawn from Liz Moore’s own experience and brings an insider’s touch to its depiction of the music industry and its denizens.

Liz Moore’s The Words of Every Song takes readers on a trip through the contemporary music industry, as witnessed through the eyes and lives of a mixed cast of characters. Each of these episodes is linked with at least one of the others, and is an interesting collection of character studies. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: MALIBU RISING by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine / Hutchinson)

ReidTJ-MalibuRisingUSTaylor Jenkins Reid‘s Daisy Jones & the Six was one of my favourite reads last year (as it was for many people). Since I read it, I’ve also picked up and enjoyed Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Next year, Ballantine and Hutchinson are due to publish the author’s highly-anticipated new novel, Malibu Rising! Can’t wait to read this; it’s one of my most-anticipated novels of 2021. Here’s the synopsis:

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over — especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

ReidTJ-MalibuRisingUKThe only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud — because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own — including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Malibu Rising is due to be published by Ballantine Books in North America (May 25th) and Hutchinson in the UK (May 27th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: REALITY, AND OTHER STORIES by John Lanchester (Faber)

LanchesterJ-RealityAndOtherStoriesUKAn intriguing collection of speculative, creepy stories

Household gizmos with a mind of their own.

Constant cold calls from unknown numbers.

And the creeping suspicion that none of this is real.

Reality, and Other Stories is a gathering of deliciously chilling entertainments – stories to be read as the evenings draw in and the days are haunted by all the ghastly schlock, uncanny technologies and absurd horrors of modern life.

I’ve always wanted to read more of John Lanchester’s work. I’ve been slowly acquiring many of his novels — for example, Fragrant Harbour and The Wall — but keep forgetting that I have them on my Kindle. I was lucky enough to get a DRC of this short story collection, and decided to dive right in. Initially, I’d intended to read a story every so often, between novels, but I ended up reading all of them in just a couple of sittings. I really enjoyed this collection. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE FOUR WINDS by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press)

HannahK-FourWindsUSI spotted The Four Winds in a Macmillan catalogue, and my eye was caught first by the cover — doing its job, and making me stop to read the synopsis, which only increased my interest in reading Kristin Hannah‘s upcoming novel. Due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in February 2021, here’s the synopsis:

An epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras — the Great Depression.

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli — like so many of her neighbors — must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Looking forward to reading this. The Fourth Wind is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America in February 2021. (At the time of writing, I couldn’t find a UK publisher, but the North American edition is available for pre-order.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Quick Review: TRUE STORY by Kate Reed Petty (riverrun/Viking)

PettyKR-TrueStoryUKAn interesting, timely debut novel

After a college party, two boys drive a girl home: drunk and passed out in the back seat. Rumours spread about what they did to her, but later they’ll tell the police a different version of events. Alice will never remember what truly happened. Her fracture runs deep, hidden beneath cleverness and wry humour. Nick — a sensitive, misguided boy who stood by — will never forget.

That’s just the beginning of this extraordinary journey into memory, fear and self-portrayal. Through university applications, a terrifying abusive relationship, a fateful reckoning with addiction and a final mind-bending twist, Alice and Nick will take on different roles to each other — some real, some invented — until finally, brought face to face once again, the secret of that night is revealed.

Startlingly relevant and enthralling in its brilliance, True Story is by turns a campus novel, psychological thriller, horror story and crime noir, each narrative frame stripping away the fictions we tell about women, men and the very nature of truth.

Kate Reed Petty’s debut had quite the buzz when review copies first started circulating. It’s timely mystery about the events of a fateful night during high school, and how it has changed the lives of those involved and caught on the edge. Told through a variety of styles, it’s an interesting examination of how we frame our own stories, who has the right to tell certain stories, and how they shape our lives. Continue reading

Very Quick Review: THE SILENCE by Don DeLillo (Scribner)

DeLilloD-SilenceUSA very short novel, with little time to develop

Don DeLillo completed this novel just weeks before the advent of Covid-19. The Silence is the story of a different catastrophic event. Its resonances offer a mysterious solace.

It is Super Bowl Sunday in the year 2022. Five people, dinner, an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. The retired physics professor and her husband and her former student waiting for the couple who will join them from what becomes a dramatic flight from Paris. The conversation ranges from a survey telescope in North-central Chile to a favorite brand of bourbon to Einstein’s 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity.

Then something happens and the digital connections that have transformed our lives are severed.

What follows is a dazzling and profoundly moving conversation about what makes us human. Never has the art of fiction been such an immediate guide to our navigation of a bewildering world. Never have DeLillo’s prescience, imagination, and language been more illuminating and essential.

I’ve not read much of DeLillo’s fiction. I was intrigued by The Silence, however, because of the premise. This was a very quick read, and while interesting I think the synopsis oversells it quite dramatically. Continue reading

Quick Review: MEMOIRS AND MISINFORMATION by Jim Carrey & Dana Vachon (Knopf)

CarreyVachon-Memoirs&MisinformationUSA fascinating, at times unsettling novel-memoir

“None of this is real and all of it is true.” –Jim Carrey

Meet Jim Carrey. Sure, he’s an insanely successful and beloved movie star drowning in wealth and privilege–but he’s also lonely. Maybe past his prime. Maybe even… getting fat? He’s tried diets, gurus, and cuddling with his military-grade Israeli guard dogs, but nothing seems to lift the cloud of emptiness and ennui. Even the sage advice of his best friend, actor and dinosaur skull collector Nicolas Cage, isn’t enough to pull Carrey out of his slump.

But then Jim meets Georgie: ruthless ingénue, love of his life. And with the help of auteur screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, he has a role to play in a boundary-pushing new picture that may help him uncover a whole new side to himself–finally, his Oscar vehicle! Things are looking up!

But the universe has other plans.

Memoirs and Misinformation is a fearless semi-autobiographical novel, a deconstruction of persona. In it, Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon have fashioned a story about acting, Hollywood, agents, celebrity, privilege, friendship, romance, addiction to relevance, fear of personal erasure, our “one big soul,” Canada, and a cataclysmic ending of the world–apocalypses within and without.

I grew up watching and loving Jim Carrey’s movies — The MaskAce Ventura, and Dumb and Dumber, in particular, I found hilarious when I was a teenager. Combined with my general interest in Hollywood, I’ve found Carrey’s career to be pretty interesting. When I heard that he was writing a sort-of-novelized-memoir, I was certainly intrigued. I was lucky enough to get a DRC, and I’m happy to say that it is an interesting and rewarding read. It is, however, rather strange — perhaps predictably. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE EFFORT by Claire Holroyde (Grand Central Publishing)

HolroydeC-EffortUSI spotted Claire Holroyde‘s upcoming new novel, The Effort in a catalogue. Pitched as “For readers of Station Eleven and Good Morning, Midnight” this sounds pretty interesting:

When dark comet UD3 was spotted near Jupiter’s orbit, its existence was largely ignored. But to individuals who knew better — scientists like Benjamin Schwartz, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies — the threat this eight-kilometer comet posed to the survival of the human race was unthinkable. The 150-million-year reign of the dinosaurs ended when an asteroid impact generated more than a billion times the energy of an atomic bomb.

What would happen to Earth’s seven billion inhabitants if a similar event were allowed to occur?

Ben and his indomitable girlfriend Amy Kowalski fly to South America to assemble an international counteraction team, whose notable recruits include Love Mwangi, a UN interpreter and nomad scholar, and Zhen Liu, an extraordinary engineer from China’s national space agency. At the same time, on board a polar icebreaker life continues under the looming shadow of comet UD3. Jack Campbell, a photographer for National Geographic, works to capture the beauty of the Arctic before it is gone forever. Gustavo Wayãpi, a Nobel Laureate poet from Brazil, struggles to accept the recent murder of his beloved twin brother. And Maya Gutiérrez, an impassioned marine biologist is — quite unexpectedly — falling in love for the first time.

Together, these men and women must fight to survive in an unknown future with no rules and nothing to be taken for granted. They have two choices: neutralize the greatest threat the world has ever seen (preferably before mass hysteria hits or world leaders declare World War III) or come to terms with the annihilation of humanity itself.

Their mission is codenamed The Effort.

The Effort is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing January 12th, 2021.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Quick Review: THE UNRAVELING OF CASSIDY HOLMES by Elissa R. Sloan (William Morrow)

SloanER-UnravelingOfCassidyHolmesUSThe dark side of celebrity and early success

Cassidy Holmes isn’t just a celebrity.

She is “Sassy Gloss,” the fourth member of the hottest pop group America has ever seen. Hotter than Britney dancing with a snake, hotter than Christina getting dirrty, Gloss was the pop act that everyone idolized. Fans couldn’t get enough of them, their music, and the drama that followed them like moths to a flame—until the group’s sudden implosion in 2002. And at the center of it all was Sassy Cassy, the Texan with a signature smirk that had everyone falling for her. 

But now she’s dead. Suicide.

The world is reeling from this unexpected news, but no one is more shocked than the three remaining Glossies. Fifteen years ago, Rose, Merry, and Yumi had been the closest to Cassidy, and this loss is hitting them hard. Before the group split, they each had a special bond with Cassidy — truths they told, secrets they shared. But after years apart, each of them is wondering: what could they have done?

I’m very fond of novels set in and around the entertainment industry. Elissa R. Sloan’s debut novel was pitched as being in the same vein as Taylor Jenkins Reid’s (superb) Daisy Jones & the Six, so my attention was immediately grabbed. I read this very soon after receiving it, and I’m happy to say I very much enjoyed it. Continue reading

Upcoming: MEMOIRS AND MISINFORMATION by Jim Carrey & Dana Vachon (Knopf)

CarreyVachon-Memoirs&MisinformationUSIt was announced today that Knopf was pushing back the release date for Memoirs and Misinformation, a new novel by Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon, until September 2020 (maybe October). This was surprising news, as I’d totally missed the fact that Carrey had co-authored a novel. I decided to look up the synopsis, and I think it sounds pretty interesting:

“None of this is real and all of it is true.” –Jim Carrey

Meet Jim Carrey. Sure, he’s an insanely successful and beloved movie star drowning in wealth and privilege–but he’s also lonely. Maybe past his prime. Maybe even . . . getting fat? He’s tried diets, gurus, and cuddling with his military-grade Israeli guard dogs, but nothing seems to lift the cloud of emptiness and ennui. Even the sage advice of his best friend, actor and dinosaur skull collector Nicolas Cage, isn’t enough to pull Carrey out of his slump.

But then Jim meets Georgie: ruthless ingénue, love of his life. And with the help of auteur screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, he has a role to play in a boundary-pushing new picture that may help him uncover a whole new side to himself–finally, his Oscar vehicle! Things are looking up!

But the universe has other plans.

Memoirs and Misinformation is a fearless semi-autobiographical novel, a deconstruction of persona. In it, Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon have fashioned a story about acting, Hollywood, agents, celebrity, privilege, friendship, romance, addiction to relevance, fear of personal erasure, our “one big soul,” Canada, and a cataclysmic ending of the world–apocalypses within and without.

I’ve been a fan of Carrey’s movies for decades — ever since the double-whammy of Ace Ventura and The Mask — and I’ve enjoyed his slower output of late. The short documentary about his artwork, available on YouTube, is also excellent. I’m really looking forward to reading this novel.

Memoirs and Misinformation is due to be published by Knopf in North America and in the UK, on September 14th, 2020 (but may be later).

Follow the Author (Carrey): Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Vachon): Goodreads, Twitter