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UNTIL THE LAST STAR FADES

A good mix of poignancy and sexy fun, with two well-developed protagonists.

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A baggage mix-up at LaGuardia Airport leads to a new friendship and more in Middleton’s (London, Can You Wait, 2017, etc.) delightful contemporary romance novel.

Riley Hope, a senior at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, has too much on her plate. She is flat broke; her mother, Maggie, is fighting cancer for the third time; and her three-year boyfriend, Josh King, star of the University of North Dakota’s ice hockey team, has just proposed. There are many reasons Riley doesn’t want to accept, but Josh has promised financial help for her mother’s insurmountable medical bills. And Riley will do anything for Maggie. It’s been Maggie and Riley against the world ever since her father took off. We meet her as she is chasing down a disheveled 20-something who has mistakenly taken her suitcase from the baggage carousel. Ben Fagan, seriously hung over, has just returned from Los Angeles, where he auditioned for a new TV series. The befuddled Scottish lad has no idea how to get himself to the cheap Airbnb he has scored on Canal Street in lower Manhattan. Riley, whose tiny studio apartment is in the East Village, leads him through the transportation maze of New York’s subway system, and the seeds of friendship are planted. Readers will need to wait patiently for that friendship to transition to steamy love. But there are plenty of distractions, both humorous (e.g., Erika Kobayashi’s bachelorette party with male dancers) and serious (Riley’s high-functional depression, Ben’s dyslexia, Maggie’s cancer), to keep a twisty, if occasionally far-fetched, plotline moving quickly. The novel is a stand-alone, although Middleton connects it with two previous books via shared plotlines and characters. While the prose is smooth, carried primarily by fast-moving dialogue, musical references and some colloquial lingo (e.g., FOMO) may be lost on some readers (although a glossary is included).

A good mix of poignancy and sexy fun, with two well-developed protagonists.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9952117-8-0

Page Count: 498

Publisher: Kirkwall Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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