A lively but profane comic tale.

A well-endowed dilettante seeks to turn around his train-wreck life in this debut picaresque novel.

Painter Puchy Mushkin’s identity is entangled with his prodigious phallus (“Big Puchy”). “Truth is, my penis is the perfect metaphor for my talent,” he explains early in the story. “I was born with too much of it and have been dragging it along like a box of rocks ever since.” He’s an artist who doesn’t believe in sharing his art with the world, which is why he works a “straight” job as a caterer. When his wife leaves him as a result of his myriad anti-social qualities, the bisexual Puchy decides to date men for a while, beginning with an ill-fated courtship with a handyman named Robby. That relationship ends with Robby crucifying Puchy to a wall using a power drill and three-inch screws. The resulting scandal leaves Puchy a laughingstock, disowned by his parents, and without any reasonable way to make a living. In response to his state of failure, Puchy decides his problem is that he’s been trying too hard to succeed. He needs to start quashing his own desire so as to never be disappointed. After Robby attempts to murder Puchy in the hospital, the hero flees to Los Angeles to crash at the home of his former college roommate Shane Addams, hoping to lay low until he can testify against the handyman in court. LA is a hard place to forsake desire, it turns out, especially since Shane wants to make a movie about Puchy’s life, and every woman he meets wants to take his famous appendage for a spin. As he dips his toes in the city’s seedier corners—including the mayoral race—will Puchy be able to kill that oppressive tyrant, desire? Or will his appetites lead to the destruction of everyone around him?

The energetic novel presents a wide variety of adventures starring Puchy. But the tale rests somewhere on the more offensive end of fratire, and Shallman seems eager to challenge readers’ senses of decency whenever possible. Puchy has few redeeming qualities, and he narrates his story as though he’s deliberately trying to be as off-putting as possible. Here, he describes being recorded by strangers while having sex with one of his co-workers at a rave: “When Gretchen noticed we were being filmed, she immediately decoupled and ran off screaming, like the little Vietnamese girl in the painting, leaving me alone in the cabana with Big Puchy. This is not good, I thought to myself, scanning the crowd, hoping someone might take the hint and finish him off.” Despite the initial graphic description of sex with Robby, the vast majority of Puchy’s escapades are with women, running the gamut in terms of fetishes and transgressions. Beyond a kind of sophomoric ribaldry, the author’s artistic aims are unclear. There are a lot of jokes about Judaism, some jabs at electoral politics, and an unexpectedly violent third act, but readers are left without much of a sense of what any of it was for.

A lively but profane comic tale.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2023

ISBN: 979-8-9863548-0-4

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Flying Bed Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2022



A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.

Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780062406651

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

Close Quickview