While unapologetically gross, the book is ultimately motivational in its own peculiar way.

FARMER TICE

Donley’s (Farmer Tice #2, 2017, etc.) collection of illustrated stories chronicles the mishaps of an ill-fated farmer named Tice.

Farmer Tice can’t seem to do anything right. He tried to see the movie Snow White and the Seven Farmers only to find himself wedged between two awful theater patrons. During a stint in the Army, he was nearly court-martialed for wearing a colonel’s uniform. Then there is the fact that nearly everyone he encounters seems to want to get money out of him. Take for example when Tice was caught fishing without a license and received a $100 fine for the error. Sadly, for all of the abuse the Job-like farmer receives, he doesn’t get much in return. His obese wife, Honeybunch, despises him (“You should have known better, you idiot!” she says when he is fined for grilling hot dogs on the beach although she packed the hibachi), and it is many a night that Farmer Tice has to sleep in the barn (where he should feel himself fortunate if some animal does not eat an article of his clothing). All told, Tice is a dimmer Wile E. Coyote if there ever was one, falling off cliff after cliff only to appear again for more torment. The fun of the book comes in seeing how high the next cliff will be and when exactly old Tice will stop falling. Albeit all those falls are not for the squeamish. The stories make frequent use of bathroom humor (as with a New Year’s Eve misadventure: “the result of guzzling prune juice—the backdoor trots!”), and the accompanying illustrations only help to clarify where all those bodily fluids wind up. On the positive end, nothing seems to keep Farmer Tice down for long. Despite all the barf, fines, and his own intolerable marriage, he still has fields to plow and a barn roof under which he can rest his weary head. Regardless of one’s station in life, one can learn a lot from a farmer who won’t let his consistently poor luck keep him down.

While unapologetically gross, the book is ultimately motivational in its own peculiar way.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5304-3410-7

Page Count: 108

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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