book reviews, crafts, cheap things…

Express Book Review

Express Book Review! Undead with Benefits by Jeff Hart

Undead with benefits

Zombies that you want to be friends with (if they’re not hungry)!

So this is the sequel to EAT BRAINS LOVE, which I briefly mentioned a little while ago. Book 1 ended in a precarious place, our protagonists on the run. Book 2 continued at the same speed and took us into new states, different kinds of societies, and a few new kills (duh. it’s a book about zombies). Book 2 got better at giving the female protagonist some dimension (her story was kinda flat in book 1), which was a good thing. I would complain that that there wasn’t enough closure, but I have the sneaking suspicion that another book might be on the way.

Check it out!

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Express Book Reiviews– YA Back From The Dead edition

EXPRESS Book Review: Noggin by JOHN COREY WHALEY

Noggin

Ridiculous plot: Teen boy tragically dies of a terminal illness– but is brought back to life 5 years later with his head attached to another person’s body. Everyone and everything –but him– has aged and changed. Despite the ridiculousness of the  situation and a multitude of comedic lighthearted moments and teenage antics, surprisingly deep instances often make it through. Totally recommended YA read. Check it out.

EXPRESS BOOK REVIEW: Eat Brains Love by Jeff Hart

Eat, brains, love

One protagonist has just “gone zombie,” and is now on the lam with the class hottie (who’s also gone zombie) after eating half the kids in the school cafeteria. Our other protagonist is a teen psychic who works for the government’s top-secret zombie hunting operation. Lots of fun, adventure, and cannibalism! (It’s quite endearing). Check it out!


Express Book Review: Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement

Widow Basquiat : a love story

Bummer that he was such a jerk (albeit with apparently charming moments). Being an arty person myself, and spending lots of time with artists, I have very little patience for people who feel like they can treat others badly just because they made rad art. But still, as I stood in Uniqlo looking at their brilliant and desirable SPRZNY line of artist shirts, I couldn’t bring myself to feel ok about buying the shirt I liked with Basquiat’s art on the front. He was just too mean to poor Suzanne. (Did I buy garments with other artists’ designs? Yes. Do I feel bad about the sweatshop factor? Yes. Will I probably continue to buy products from this line because it does a genius job of showcasing the artists I love? Probably. Siiiigh.  BUT there is hope! J Morrison is an artist who makes some really awesome artist themed shirts. Ethically. There are still a few left. I’ve bought  a few and they’ve made my life awesome. BUY THEM, cuz OMG. )

But back to Widow Basquiat— this is a beautifully written book. It poetically explores the lives of both Jean-Michel Basquiat and his longtime off-and-on lover Suzanne Mallouk. Even if you don’t care for the art, or weren’t in NY for the 80’s, you’ll love the story (if you go for that romantic artistic kind of stuff). Check it out!!


Express Book Review: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

We need new names : a novel

Everyone is going to love this book.

I thought it was awesome, and have been recommending it to library patrons like crazy.

The basic plot is that Darling and her peers grow up in a shantytown in Zimbabwe with memories of the past (when they had school and food and before their town got bulldozed to make way for fancy rich people houses) and dreams for the future (move to America or to the fancy rich people houses that were built atop their old neighborhood). The surprisingly plucky and resilient kids (despite some pretty gnarly circumstances) steal fruit from the rich, play games in the dirt, and have some surprising impressions of their sparse interactions with NGO workers. It’s simultaneously heartbreaking and warming, told in really talented writing.

Eventually Darling moves to America to live with her aunt. Her new life has shelter and indoor plumbing and plenty of food- but there is a whole slough of new issues for Bulawayo to skillfully tell the story of. For reals, just check out a copy.


Express Book Review: ECHO by Pam Munoz Ryan

Echo

If you want to talk about an epic 2015 children’s book that is simply SCREAMING to be taught at school so it can wedge its way into our culture just like The Giver did 20 years ago, start talking about Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. You may as well read it now, because you’re going to be hearing a whole lot more about it (if your daily life involves children’s/YA lit).

My only complaint is that the end isn’t super believable if you’re an adult– but that’s only like 30 pages of around 500. Ignore my complaint for now if you want to be surprisingly impressed with how far you will be taken the story of a sort of magical transcontinental harmonica (for real) that affected some kids’ lives at pivotal times in history. I was particularly impressed with the amount of historical research that seemed to go into this book.

Check it out!


Express Book Review: Corona by Bushra Rehman

Corona

This rad little (approx. 150 pages) book lured me in with its attractive cover. But it is so much more! Our protagonist, Razia, is Pakistani American and grows up in Corona, Queens. The reader is offered poignant little snapshots of life from childhood to adulthood. They range from tragic to hilarious, from childhood crushes to the complexity of adult relationships… OMG, read it.

Get it here or at the library.


Express Book Review: Yo, Miss A graphic Look at High School

Yo, Miss : a graphic look at high school

Rad!

Lisa Wilde taught for a bunch of years at a NYC high school for students who the mainstream system wasn’t working for. This zine series-turned-book is all about her time teaching and interacting with her students. Like any interaction with teens, there are moments that are hilarious or uplifting– and moments that are fucking tragic.

It’s nicely drawn and compellingly put together, and I found myself bummed when I reached the last page in less than an hour or two. Thematically, it reminds me a little bit of Truckface (which is a really great zine), but we don’t hear as much about the protagonist. Get it and read it!!


Express Book Review: When The Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright

When the black girl sings

Lahni’s black but has white parents and is the only black girl at a mostly-white school. As her parents’ relationship crumbles,the bullies at school are bitchy, and a creepy guy starts following her around, she simultaneously starts going to church and hears gospel music for the first time. It turns out that Lahni has an amazing voice and the music and church inclusion (with other black people) starts to fill in something that was missing and changes everything…

This is a well-written book that was clearly created with an agenda (teen problem novel) and lots of love. As a reader I found myself rooting for Lahni the entire time– even if there wasn’t as much description to Lahni’s personality or background behind her singing that I would have hoped for. Still quite good though! Check it out!


Express Book Review: Rebels by Accident by Patricia Dunn

Rebels by accident

Epic YA fiction! American Teenage Mariam is sent against her will to live for a while with her grandmother in Egypt. She is initially pretty bummed to leave the only life she knows (her peers at school have given her lots of crap about being Egyptian-American, so she carries a heavy dose of self- and cultural distaste). It turns out her grandmother isn’t bad and there’s lots of stuff to do (as well as some time for self-discovery, first love, first adultish independence, etc). But shit kind of hits of the fan due to the revolution going on (as well as some other stuff), and lots of growing has to be done. Amidst a great story, the book also subtly does lots of good work to dispel stereotypes about the Middle East and Arabs and Islam.

I haven’t seen one quite like this before; you should Check it out!


Express Book Review: Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis by Ali Smith

Girl meets boy : the myth of Iphis

There’s a lot going on in this short novel– and if I were Ovid-obsessed (it’s based on the myth of Iphis), I would probably even understand so much more! So there’s these 2 modern sisters, they work for a creative agency that’s promoting all kinds of capitalist corporate stuff, including bottled water (one sister’s serious, the other didn’t even want the job). There’s a protester, there’s a relationship, there’s slips of reality, all kinds of political commentary, and plot that is not quite linear. There’s the most beautifully written non-sex passages in one of the sex scenes, omg.

It’s weird but kinda genius and you should check it out.