Overwrought at times, but still an entertaining read.

PROBABILITY ANGELS

BOOK ONE OF THE MATTHEW AND EPP STORIES

Hidden beings that help humanity unlock their true potential face a threat from within their ranks.

Walking unnoticed alongside the living are creatures known as testers, beings who push unknowing individuals through, and into, great hardships, so that those people may have the chance to improve themselves. But pure altruism is not what drives these influence peddlers, as their continued existence relies on the energy they take from each push, putting them in a karmic balance with humans in which, without one, the other can never achieve. Newest among them is Matthew Huntington, who joins this complicated world during a time of upheaval. His mentor, the powerful ex-Roman slave Epp, is about to become the center of a war between current and former testers, the latter of which now more closely resemble zombies than angels. A reluctant participant in this fight, Matthew travels from the bars of Manhattan to the summit of Everest, and meets a nun-turned-sexpot and an impoverished samurai, all to discover how much the possibility of greatness is worth. Devon’s (The Letter, 2000, etc.) world-building is exemplary, and he explores every aspect of the testers with unmatched attention to detail, even addressing the manner in which they tangentially interact with the land of the living. Most of this exposition is well-executed, particularly as it concerns the characters and their backstories, feeding seamlessly into the narrative for greater dramatic effect. The novel does have uneven moments, especially when the author explains the abilities of the testers and their zombie counterparts, too often stopping the story completely to introduce a new rule. The book starts slowly, but those able to weather the tedious exposition will be treated to an exciting modern-day fantasy tale.

Overwrought at times, but still an entertaining read.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2009

ISBN: 978-1441403865

Page Count: 282

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2011

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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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