A sometimes-derivative but delightfully suspenseful thriller.


In this sci-fi novel, a young woman suffering from depression turns to time travel to save her murdered boyfriend.

After Kat Chambers’ significant other, Michael, is killed in a mass shooting, she drops out of the University of Colorado Boulder, hardly eats, and rarely leaves her room. After her best friend, Cathie, forces her to go outside and get some air, Kat feels inexplicably compelled to follow a mysterious stranger. He leads her to a physics lecture at the university, where Dr. Marcus Mallory discusses his project to build a time machine. Kat begins obsessively concocting a plan to go from her present, September 2017, to March 2016, so that she can kill the person who would later shoot Michael, and thus save her boyfriend’s life. She contacts Michael’s friend Jeff Newton, a physics graduate student, intending to use him to get access to the time machine. However, he’s convinced that time travel could have disastrous effects on the present. If Kat’s plan succeeds, she’ll have to locate the (future) killer, get him alone, and evade the watchful eyes of another physicist, and do it all within 11 days, or she’ll be trapped in the past. Kat also has to consider whether she’s truly willing to commit murder—even to save her own future. Bell’s (How Dark the Light Shines, 2015, etc.) depiction of her self-conscious characters occasionally seems to draw on millennial stereotypes, but the novel’s fast-paced plot builds suspense and is consistently entertaining. Also, early on, Kat’s inability to care for herself and irrational thinking patterns provide readers with an unglamorous and uncomfortably real glimpse of the aftermath of trauma. The young protagonist and conversational prose style will likely appeal to fans of YA fiction, as well. An unoriginal romance subplot is far less compelling, though, and although the mass-shooter storyline is gripping, it fails to investigate the killer’s motive in a meaningful way.

A sometimes-derivative but delightfully suspenseful thriller.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-12918-0

Page Count: 245

Publisher: MTB Publishing, Inc. LLC

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2019

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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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