Customer Reviews: Odd Jobs
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Read even the first few pages of this debut novel by New York writer Ben Lieberman and then try to believe that this is his first novel! ODD JOBS is a quirky, entertaining, at times edge of the seat novel that is most impressive in the quality of writing that Lieberman demonstrates. He is always in the moment of the story, has created enough of a history for each of his carefully drawn characters that benefit the credibility of each of them when the asides happen, and most of all he understands architecture of knowing when to begin and end chapters that makes them like the connected cars on a moving train, a train so fast moving that the reader dares not jump off for relief. Yes, he really is that fine a writer.

The story involves a college kid, Kevin Davenport, who despite his attraction to drinking it up with the guys, is dedicated to paying his way through college: his father and sister were the victims of a hit and run accident, his mother is so depressed she cannot assist him, so Kevin must go on his own. He lands in a good paying job - hauling beef carcasses and other odious jobs at the Kosher World Meat factory - but has to prove himself (and opt for more income) by becoming the fighter for the factory. Once accepted by the workers and by the manager of the factory, Kevin climbs his way into the machinations of the truly illegal situation that entails not only the men of the Kosher World Meat Factory but the sidelines of crime involving men who he discovers are privy to the details of the accident of his father and sister. And from that point on he endures life threatening situations, uses his brain, and is driven by revenge on the order of a comic book hero.

Though stories of his type flood the screens of the movie theaters and the pulp fiction books one the stands at airports, few can compare tot he way Lieberman uses this action plot as a launching pad for his debut of his writing skills. Actually, Lieberman is better than this story: it feels as though he needed an entry into a well-loved terror drama format to get his feet wet. Unfortunately, the title ODD JOBS is followed by the designator 'A Kevin Davenport Novel' - and that usually means that the focus of his creativity will be devoted to 'the further adventures of' type books. And unfortunately he elected to have applauding quotes from James Patterson and Donald Trump on the cover of this edition. In reality, Ben Lieberman doesn't need gimmicks to launch his career - he is simply a very fine writer who doesn't need popular crutches to assist his potential as one of the rising American talents in literature. But all of this may have been publisher/editorial advice to sell this first book, and maybe they are right: endorsements and popular story tastes do a novel sell. But this reader would rate the story 4 and the skills of Ben Lieberman 5, and hope that he will branch out and rise to his potential. In that way Ben Lieberman (AKA Kevin Davenport) could make the best of the gifts given him. Grady Harp, August 11
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on December 15, 2011
I started reading this book with high hopes - lots of great reviews and what looked like a good story. I was really disappointed. It seemed like a terrific premise, but the whole book just seemed like a mess to me. It starts out with a story about a young guy with a tragic past trying to make it through school. Then it shifts to a story about the same guy becoming a drug dealer / bookie. Then it shifts again to him becoming a vigilante / covert operative. And those shifts seem to take place over just a page or two of narrative. Besides the trouble with the plot, I didn't like any of the characters. They didn't seem to have any core or depth; they were just plot devices. I don't want to give away any specific details of the story. Just because I didn't enjoy the book, I still hope that other readers might like it and I don't want to ruin it for them. But for me, this book was not enjoyable and I can't recommend it.
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VINE VOICEon January 17, 2012
This book has two distinct parts. In the first, Kevin is a hard-working college kid who lost his father when he was ten. He is working wherever he can to get money for college. This summer brings him into a kosher meat factory in Queens, NY. The owner gets him the job because he took care of the boss's son while in school. He's the college boy, resented by the union guys. When he learns the boss is less than clean, he is faced with the conundrum - sign in with the boss and a life with the mob, or try to fight it. How eh gets in good with the men and then risks losing it all looks to be a great moral play.

Abruptly, he learns something about the death of his father and everything changes. The book suddenly turns into a thriller. Not only a thriller, but a unique one. Watching Keven scheme and walk a deadly tightrope while also developing relationships is an excellent read.

Unfortunately, the ending is a bit weak. Too many things come together without Kevin's help that put him over the top as if a guardian angel were watching over him. That being said, the writing is taut, the twists and turns keep coming and there is one major unexpected turn near the end. This is a very good thriller.
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I'm surprised to see that this book hasn't drawn a wider audience. I received a review copy with the warning, "It's a gritty book. Not for the squeamish."

To my surprise, the book is extremely well-written and well-paced. Lieberman creates an unusual character in an unusual setting - a kosher meat factory - with a plausible story of how a bright guy ended up working there. The protagonist is sympathetic and three-dimensional. The author creates an environment that's almost too vivid. Meat factories aren't exactly places where most of us would want to hang out. The pace is fast and furious.

So what's not to like?

Somewhere around the halfway mark, we get the punch line. Then there's a lot of action but very little mystery. It's still well-written and easy to follow, but we can guess the main outcomes.
If I were stuck on a long plane ride, I'd keep reading. As it is, I skimmed.

Let's hope the book can draw a bigger audience and I'm looking forward to the author's next.
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on April 24, 2012
This book is much more than the title lets on. The main character is extremely relatable and easy to like. My mom had bought this book on her kindle so I decided to give it a try. Much better than expected. There is little down time in the book; constantly intriguing and entertaining. I'm in college and love tv and video games, this book was enough to make me put down the controllers and have a nice read instead. Would strongly suggest to anyone looking for a good fictional story. Hope to find more books like this in the future. Thanks Ben Liberman for making me want to read more again.
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on May 2, 2012
I happened to stumble onto "Odd Jobs" and had no idea what I was getting into. To my surprise, I discovered a terrific story written by a very knowledgeable writer. Lieberman definitely knows his craft. It was such a pleasure to read fresh ideas that were written in a very readable style. I am an avid reader (average 3 books a week for the past 10 years) and I enjoy reading "first time" authors. I find some good ones, but many self-published books are filled with typos and grammatical errors that detract from the story. In the case of Ben Lieberman, I had no idea that this was his first novel until I went to his web page to look for more novels he had written. Then I was really wowed by "Odd Jobs" as I discovered it was a "first"! He has the storytelling abilities of a Grisham or Baldacci. The future looks very bright for Ben Lieberman.
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on April 22, 2012
One thing I liked about Odd Jobs by Ben Lieberman is that it's the first book I bought for my Kindle that didn't have a typo (or at least not one serious enough to be noticed). I understand this is the authors first book, so I won't judge him just on this one, but it was a bit too long for my liking and at times, seemed to be adding side stories to extend its length. Not saying it's long as a book like like Atlas Shrugged, but it really might have been better if it just wasn't so long winded. The other thing I noticed was that the main character in the book jumps from working in a meat factory in the summer to being a drug dealer/bookie while in college. The way it was presented had me scratching my head, wondering where he had done that before. It just could have been set-up better to make it seem more legitimate.

Overall, not bad, the idea of the story is good. Tweak a change here or there, and it would be a much better book.
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on December 21, 2011
If you like suspense, action, love loss, gambling, the mob, good guys lossing and winning, twist and turns..well then this is the book for you.

There are times you love the main character and times you want to smack him upside the head. But you defiantly want to follow him through his madrid of jobs to find out if he gets what he wants/needs in the end. You will watch him grow in character as well.

Wont bore you, keeps you guessing, and turning those pages.

Thank you Ben for the chance to read your book.
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In ODD JOBS author Ben Lieberman uses his love of a great story and skills to craft a book that takes us into the mind and motives of Kevin Davenport. Davenport has had to deal with the death of his father and his own feelings of his worth because of his abilities (or lack thereof). Along the way of trying to prove himself and even discover what his purpose is, we also find a manner of making things right in the process.

Kevin wants justice for his family but also feels compelled to right a wrong that affects many. Some of those in his life become affected by the path he as chosen, but at the end of the day he has to make a decision whether he will go for what is right or do what seems to be easy.

What Lieberman has done is give us a character that is not perfect, that is modeled after so much of what all of us have to deal with and endure. In his powerful dialogue and reflections about why we are all here, for me the author gives us something to reflect upon seriously as we are enjoying a well-written novel.

Praised by individuals from all walks of life, ODD JOBS is just the kind of book that can be all things to all of us, meeting us where we are in our lives.
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This first book by Ben Lieberman received well deserved praise from many sources. James Patterson, for example, called the novel "a tightly-wound, well written mystery." Readers will find themselves being drawn more and more into the mystery as they read it, making it difficult to put it down. Patterson wrote that he read it in a single sitting.

The book is about Kevin Davenport, a 21 year old, whose father, a Deputy DA, died in an apparent hit and run accident. His mother was unable to face the calamity and sank into passive depression, leaving Kevin, then aged 11, to care for the two of them. They were soon quite poor.

But coincidences happen to Kevin that he uses for his advantage. Someone sees him playing basketball and gets him a scholarship to a prep school. While there he helps the son of a very influential man who promises to assist him later in life. He hurts his leg and is unable to get a scholarship to college, but he uses the opportunity to learn how to box. The man whose son he helped gets him a job at Kosher World, a meat processing business. He is mistreated at Kosher World, and given the worst jobs. He discovers an ex-CIA man working at the firm, who is hiding from the CIA. He finds out that the Kosher World employees are looking for a man to fight an illegal fist fights and volunteers. He discovers that crimes are being committed at Kosher World and a man is brutally murdered, his head is chopped off. He becomes mixed up in the crimes, and finds that they extend beyond the meat processing firm.

Kevin begins to realize that he has a conscience and is able to think. He decides that he will help stop the crimes even though he is placing himself in danger by doing so.
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