An often riveting tale that develops its characters as well as it does its steadily paced narrative.


From the Astrodiac series , Vol. 1

In Kitchen’s debut fantasy/adventure, a supernaturally gifted, elite few become targets for murder.

Crime is a rarity in the land of Austere, thanks largely to the Art of War Law, which prohibits any citizen from bearing arms or forming armies. The law was passed by the 13-member Hierarchy, 12 of whom are Signed—marked at birth with an astrological sign and a special power. Sarai Divens, a Signed, telekinetic Capricorn, challenges the current Hierarchy Capricorn member, Hex; she aims to get justice for her mother’s murder. Meanwhile, Ian Radke, an Unsigned, craves vengeance against the man responsible for his father’s death. The long-standing Scorpio of the Hierarchy, Julius Blackwood, defies the law by secretly recruiting an army of his own to defend against those who would harm Signed people. Sure enough, a group of Unsigned slowly emerges that’s dead-set on eliminating not just Signed Hierarchy members, but all Signed citizens. Potential obstacles for that group include Cade Henson, who’s looking for his late father’s mysterious research, and Ava, who somehow bears the mark of four Signs instead of the usual one. Readers will find the powers on display to be familiar (Aries people have superior strength; Virgos have a healing capability). But Kitchen excels at molding and interweaving his characters’ individual stories. Ava, for example, is shown to have the potential to be the most formidable citizen in Austere, but she’s also still a teenager who often can’t control her powers. In her initial encounter with Ian, he’s fleeing the consequences of one of his many fights, resulting in an intense meet-cute in which their ensuing romantic feelings happen organically. The author also aptly and subtly incorporates social themes into the narrative, such as discrimination—the ruling Signs, for example, reputedly make up a mere 10 percent of the population. Several unresolved subplots practically guarantee a sequel to come.

An often riveting tale that develops its characters as well as it does its steadily paced narrative.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9992324-0-8

Page Count: 428

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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