Blunt though quick-paced, this book sends a likable hero through an oddball tunnel of religion and money.

In The Year Of Our Lord

A debut satirical novel focuses on a young preacher and the world’s temptations.

With his 12-year-old pickup and his job at a grocery store, Sylvester “Sly” Smith may not seem destined for greatness. Many believers, however, are likely to disagree. Having started a successful prayer chain on the Internet to bring down the price of gasoline, Sly has managed to gain a following as a preacher. He may not be ordained, but he draws an impressive crowd to a sermon at the University of Texas at Austin. Attracting “students, middle-class couples, kids, whites, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, along with the unwashed and unprofiled,” the diverse gathering shows that Sly clearly has a gift for spreading the Lord’s message. The question, though, is how will he be able to continue his work considering the large amount of money that’s required. The event at the University of Texas cost some $9,000, the reader learns, and to someone like Sly that “might as well be nine billion.” Enter Michael “Ponzi” McGee. A dubious investment professional if there ever was one, Ponzi offers to manage the finances for Sly’s operation. Desperate for cash, Sly sees no alternative but to accept Ponzi’s services. What could possibly go wrong with trusting financial matters to such a man? Obviously something has to, and it is just this sort of on-the-nose sentiment that may frustrate some readers. From the obese woman in an investment club who is constantly eating (she even manages to consume an “industrial-size bag of microwaved popcorn” during a meeting) to the aptly named Reverend Holyworth (a man with a strong distaste for Sly the “acne-laced bumpkin”), aspects of the story tend to lean toward the expected. The narrative does eventually venture to strange places, but the reader is most likely to be hooked by Sly himself. It is not difficult to root for such a protagonist. Though he is foolish enough to trust someone whose nickname is taken from a well-known scam, he does so with noble intentions. At less than 300 pages, the tale of Sly’s troubles moves quickly, and while it is clear from the outset what they will likely entail, finding out how they dissipate remains surprising.

Blunt though quick-paced, this book sends a likable hero through an oddball tunnel of religion and money.

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5233-2120-9

Page Count: 236

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2016

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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