An entertaining tale of a gay writer and would-be chef in Toronto.

BROWN SUGAR & SPICE

A romantic sequel continues the story of an African-American foodie’s misadventures in love.

Though they are no longer together, Pierre Jackson still harbors a strong attraction to his former fiance, the closeted CNN news anchor De’Andre “Dre” Harris. That’s why Pierre accepts his invitation to come to a party at Dre’s wealthy parents’ house. But later, Pierre finds out that Dre is currently dating a woman. Pierre’s work life in Toronto isn’t much better. He’s struggling to earn a living writing freelance reviews of local restaurants while sharing an apartment with his friend Zola Washington. Zola escaped an abusive relationship in Atlanta and is frustrated with the lack of soul food in Toronto. She has decided to try to open her own restaurant to fill the niche and wants Pierre, who moved to Toronto from Detroit, to be her business partner. Pierre is unsure. It sounds like a desperate step for both of them, as even Zola seems to admit: “Seriously, Pierre, you aren’t getting any younger, and neither am I. We both must do something different with our lives.” Pierre ultimately decides to help Zola out, though it means courting patronage from Dre and his parents, including agreeing to cater the anchor’s upcoming wedding to his new fiancee, Kendra Devonport. An unexpected trip to the Bahamas to attend his grandfather’s funeral—with the Caribbean-curious Zola in tow—gives Pierre the opportunity to get back to his roots and maybe find a path through the madness of his life. Bailey’s (Confused Spice, 2016) prose is warm and engaging, particularly his figurative language: “He wielded his words like a dull kitchen knife. His wife stared at him blankly but ate it up like a warm sweet potato pie. My mother smacked her lips and flicked off his hollow words like pesky ants.” Pierre, sensible but sensitive, is a relatable protagonist attempting to navigate the rapids of his 30s, caught between his pragmatism and his desire to dream big. The book more or less stands alone from the author’s previous Pierre novel—Bailey includes everything readers need to know—and it satisfies both as foodie escapism and as a messy story of love and friendship.

An entertaining tale of a gay writer and would-be chef in Toronto.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9959193-2-7

Page Count: 271

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

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.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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