The novel hobbles itself with excessive details, but Lance’s journey is a lively, satisfying one.

SEEDS IN THE CONCRETE

CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION, CHANGE YOUR REALITY

Debut author Joevon presents an urban novel about an aspiring songwriter’s quest to transcend his surroundings.

When the reader first meets Lance Adams, he’s not happy. Lance wrote a smash song for the rapper J-Money and, although Lance received $10,000 for his efforts, he feels he deserves more (“He’s making MILLIONS off of my LIFE!”). As the reader learns, Lance’s life certainly makes for good hip-hop copy. He grew up in the Marcus Garvey Projects in Brooklyn surrounded by drug abuse and violence. He spent three years in prison and is quick to throw a punch. Now that he’s a free man, he dreams of making music and spends long hours at Barnes & Noble writing lyrics. At the bookstore, he meets the thoughtful Ayana, and they eventually have a son together. Lance looks to be on the right path, but his old troubles haunt him. His is a world where slighting the wrong person can end poorly, and drugs can drain resources and end lives in a flash. Lance points out the stupidity of stealing an iPhone, saying that the $700 phone isn’t worth the risk: “A crackhead can smoke that away in ten seconds!” Halfway through the story, following an incident with a gun, Lance enters a strange realm where he is taught various life lessons. He emerges as someone who has journeyed to the recesses of his own mind. He also emerges as a very different person. The excitement for the reader comes in finding out how Lance will succeed now that he is both physically and mentally changed. And there is plenty of excitement to be had: bullets fly, egos collide, and music is made even if the storyline sometimes sags with mundane details, including Polonius-like advice Lance gives his young son about borrowing money. The reader need not know so many specifics, but the payoff is with the protagonist. Lance is often down but will he ever be out? It’s a question that keeps the story moving until the very end.

The novel hobbles itself with excessive details, but Lance’s journey is a lively, satisfying one.

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5136-1473-1

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Movement Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2018

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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