A wonderfully concise distillation of one of the greatest advocates of republicanism.



A novelistic depiction of the famed politician and orator Cicero’s lifetime of devotion to the Roman Republic.

As depicted here, Marcus Tullius Cicero is born in 106 B.C.E. in the rural province of Arpino, and he’s an unhealthy baby, expected to die soon after his birth. He survives, although he’s plagued by sickness throughout his childhood and bullied by his peers. In Cicero’s late teens, Gaius Marius takes over the top position of Roman consul and refuses to relinquish power. Lucius Cornelius Sulla organizes an army to oppose his despotic designs. Cicero joins this army out of loyalty to the republic, ascends the ranks due to his sharp strategic mind, and eventually becomes Sulla’s trusted adviser. However, Sulla has tyrannical ambitions of his own, and when he announces his plan to storm Rome after the death of Marius and his henchman, Cinna, Cicero protests and returns home to Rome. He becomes a lawyer and rises to notoriety after he takes a case defending the unpopular Sextus Roscius, who’s accused of murdering his father; in this telling, Cicero proves that Sextus was framed by Lucius Sergius Catiline. Cicero is expelled from Rome as a result and made quaestor of Sicily; there, he opposes the local governor, who bilks his citizens through illegal taxation. Cicero eventually returns to Rome and becomes a senator, and he successfully opposes the power-hungry Catiline for the seat of consul. However, his career never quite recovers politically—he’s simply made too many enemies. Debut author Martin vividly captures Cicero’s unflagging commitment to the republic of Rome in this fictional dramatization. The prose is straightforward and unembellished but powerful, and the author mostly maintains historical accuracy, with some occasional storytelling license. The author also includes a riveting subplot about Cicero’s friendship with Julius Caesar, whose own fidelity to republicanism wasn’t nearly as uncompromising as Cicero’s. The novel is part of the Barbera Foundation’s Mentor Project series, dedicated to the portraiture of historically significant Italians. Besides its biographical content, its depiction of Cicero also movingly captures his stoical composure in the face of grave danger.

A wonderfully concise distillation of one of the greatest advocates of republicanism.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947431-03-4

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Barbera Foundation, Inc.

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.


From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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