Fans will be happy to read Rev. Black’s further adventures, but this latest installment won't win him any new ones.



Five years after her mother passed away, Alexis Fletcher is still plunged into grief every Christmas season.

Alexis would much rather take a few sleeping pills and fall into oblivion than decorate a tree. Despite her depression, she does as Rev. Black asks and writes a Christmas prayer pleading for happiness. It’s hard to muster much sympathy for Alexis, who practices a rather self-centered version of Christianity. Prayer becomes simply a series of “requests to God,” who apparently wants nothing more than for his children to be happy and financially stable. Indeed, Alexis suffers in the lap of luxury. She has a ridiculously high-paying job as a motivational speaker, which allows her to make her own hours, to travel, to take care of those she loves without batting an eye. Saddled with an emotionally abusive slacker of a husband, her sister, Sabrina, is loath to ask for Alexis’ help. Alexis certainly has the financial means to pay their bills, but will her Christian faith be strong enough to turn the other cheek, letting bygones be bygones? Alexis’ fiance, Chase Dupont III, is a gorgeous and wealthy Prince Charming whom Rev. Black hand-selected for her. Chase’s mother, Geneva, hates Alexis, however, and plots to sabotage their engagement. Alexis spots Geneva’s tricks, but Chase is blind to them. How long before he will have to choose between his idyllic past and his future happiness? Roby’s (The Prodigal Son, 2014, etc.) latest romance in the best-selling Reverend Curtis Black series is unfortunately marred by stilted, clunky phrasing (“She would feel sorry for Alexis for having to live in such a paltry manner”). The tale itself resembles “Cinderella” wandering into A Christmas Carol.

Fans will be happy to read Rev. Black’s further adventures, but this latest installment won't win him any new ones.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4555-2604-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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