A frank and funny coming-of-age story with a rousing soundtrack.

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My Name Is Tom

In this music-powered story, a young man sets out to reclaim his prized record collection after pawning it during a period of drug-fueled indiscretion.

The result of a teenage pregnancy in 1970, the protagonist is given up for adoption as a newborn and raised by a terribly uptight mother and a much more lackadaisical father in Birmingham, England. Thomas Luke Joyce isn’t terribly ambitious or clever, but when he buys his first single at the age of 13—The Style Council’s “Speak Like a Child”—he finds a reason for being. Throughout the 1980s, Tom amasses a massive collection of vinyl from the likes of The Cure, New Order, and The Smiths, working for his accountant father solely to make enough money to buy more records. But when his friend Gary introduces him to rave culture, everything changes. Despite hating the “rubbish” music with every fiber of his being, Tom finds himself spending every Friday high on Ecstasy, dancing until dawn. Soon, he starts selling his beloved records to fund his new lifestyle. But when one night out goes awry thanks to a tangle with some small-time drug dealers, Tom decides to go straight and starts working full-time so that he can rebuild his collection record by record. Yet his concern for his old friend Gary, still caught up in that troubled, drug-addled world, throws another complication into his efforts to lead a simpler life. Fans of Nick Hornby’s English-accented musings on music, obsession, and growing up will find much to love about Reeves’ debut novel. Tom is an insanely likable Everyman—he might not be an intellectual, but his smart-alecky sense of humor will endear him to most readers, especially when he spouts such gems as: “But then other things had positive names but weren’t always good. Take heroin, for instance, the name for a heroic lady but also something that makes you look like Gordon’s wife.” While the madcap climax is a bit too absurd and involves too many well-placed coincidences to be believable, it doesn’t stop this story from being enjoyable down to the last syllable.

A frank and funny coming-of-age story with a rousing soundtrack.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5049-9334-0

Page Count: 232

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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