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Posts tagged “romance

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: 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!

Book Review: Are We There Yet by David Levithan

Are we there yet?

It’s crunch time. About a week ago I decided that I wanted to read 100 books by the end of the year, and right now I’m only at 80-something. I’ll be lessening the output of my reviews in hopes that I can somehow(!) make my last-minute goal! Must take more time to read!

Two estranged brothers are tricked by their parents into taking a vacation to Italy together. The book beautifully highlights that weird but too-common way that people can fence themselves off from others without a solid reason (and then it grows into something much larger and wordless).

If you typically like David Levithan’s writing, you’ll probably like this book.I didn’t find it quite as gorgeous and sentimental as his other stuff– but it’s still a good read.

check it out!

Book Review: Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Between here and forever

You see the cover? That’s kind of the mood of this book.

Mellow, introspective, and no big climax– but interesting enough to get me through the 250 pages.

It’s a YA novel about teenage Abby, who’s big sister (the radiant, charming, and beautiful) Tess is in a coma following an accident. Average Abby’s always felt overshadowed by Tess, and does a lot of internal processing while Tess is comatose. There’s a cute boy with issues, a surprising-to-Abby (but not to the reader) revelation about Tess, and an obnoxiously bad self-esteem that improves.

This is, indeed, a YA book. It wasn’t as lovable as Stealing Heaven, but that’s ok.


Check out a copy here


Book Review: How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

How my summer went up in flames

Things have been a little wild in my real life lately, and this book was just the comfort that I needed. Our teenage protagonist Rosie got cheated on by her boyfriend, and while burning a box of their memories in his driveway, she might have accidentally set his car on fire. Oops. And she might have also accidentally followed him and maybe called his phone a few too many times… So Rosie ends up with a temporary restraining order. Her court date is in a few weeks.

This is the over-the-top premise that lands Rosie on a parentally-forced cross-country road trip with her goody-goody neighbor and a couple of his friends. Her parents figure the time away from home (and her ex) will be a good thing to ensure that she obeys the restraining order. I found this a little unbelievable, but whatever.

Ultimately this is a teen road trip novel. It’s pretty good, and made me want to travel to see some of the things that were mentioned. Though not particularly lyrical or floridly written, the plot takes a few non-traditional curves that will keep you entertained. Rosie is stubborn, smart, and likable, and the boys who she’s on the trip with have a bit of dimension too. The story is engrossing and comfortable– but not entirely predictable.


Find a copy here


Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


So I read Eleanor and Park  by Rowell a bit back, and liked it pretty well. After a long wait on the reserves list at my library, Attachments finally came in. I liked it even better.

The pace is really good and the wit is super clever. The premise is very modern: Lincoln and Beth work in the same office, but never see each other, as Lincoln’s job is as a graveyard shift “internet security officer” (a.k.a. a person employed to read staff emails). But they find a way to fall for each other anyway…

Generally speaking, it’s a love story. But it’s also about coming of age (even if it’s happening a little late). I’m not sure what to write without giving away too much, but it’s really enjoyable, so taking the time to read it won’t ruin your life or anything.

Find a copy here

Book Review: Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Wish : a novel

The cover of this book is so fairytale blah, but don’t let that deter you!

After her popular and outgoing twin’s death, shy and awkward Olivia and her parents have moved to an old Victorian in San Francisco to start fresh. Alas, the tragedy brings out the worst in each of her parents, their family structure continues to crumble, and Olivia feels terribly sad and alone.

BUT a bit of magic enters her life in a surprising way, and suddenly Olivia has some of the support she needs to start moving on. In addition to the magic, there’s a good deal of real-life stuff that is fairly interesting– and readers who know San Francisco will be amused by identifying different subtle landmarks (and piecing together the sometimes “creative” merging of them). The story is reminiscent of something that Francesca Lia Block might write, but the language is completely different.

In my opinion the mention of clothing brand names weaken the story a bit, as does the too-tidy ending. But all in all, it was a solid amusement that had me looking up the author as soon as I finished.

Book Review: JANE by April Lindner


I didn’t actually read Jane Eyre until sometime near the end of college, and would you believe that they’re trying to get 12 year olds to read it these days? I would have been bored to tears.

But in college it was one of the books that turned out totally awesome in some women’s lit class (and was followed up by Wide Sargasso Sea), and so clearly I had to read Jane (a modern YA retelling of the classic) as soon as I found it. In this version 19 year-old  college student Jane Moore’s parents have died a sudden and tragic death, her siblings take their inheritances and run (and leave Jane with nothing), and so Jane drops out of college (her parents had been footing the bill) to take a job with a nanny agency.

Our Jane is sensible and unphased by fame so she gets placed taking care of the daughter of Nico Rathburn, a formerly raging “bad boy” rock star who is on the verge of making a comeback. Oh, there are so many parallels! Bertha! Sensibility! running away!

I really enjoyed this book. It was modern, had lots of dimensions, and did an awful lot with plot in its 400 pages.

get it here!

Book review: Bitter Melon by Cara Chow

Bitter melon

The cover picture is totally anachronistic.The story takes place in the 80’s, and somewhere in this YA novel’s 3o9 pages, it mentions big bangs and Aquanet (whereas the model has reasonable hair and totally 2000’s eyebrows). And what’s up with the ocean in the background? The meat of the story is in San Francisco’s Richmond District, and the ocean is only fleetingly mentioned like once. But gripes aside.

So Frances attends all-girl Catholic school and lives in a 1-bedroom apartment with her mom in the Richmond in SF (totally exciting fame moment if you live in the City). She’s super sheltered, and at 17, has really only been to the Richmond, Chinatown, and Downtown maybe a little bit. Her mom’s pretty strict and intense (and abusive), and plan is for Frances to take Calculus, get straight A’s, and go to Berkeley to become a doctor. The plan goes into action without much fanfare until oops, quiet, obedient Frances takes a public speaking class instead of Calculus and starts winning competitions. Her mom is pissed. In classic YA novel fashion, everything else collides too…

It’s a pretty typical coming of age story, the protagonist is reasonably likable, and she makes choices that you’ll support. Some of the plot was kind of meh, but you know. It won’t necessarily change your life– but the 1980’s san francisco scenery will make you happy.

get a copy here

Book Review: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Stealing Heaven

Great YA book; I think that even the anti-YA people would be into it. You’ll read it in about 2 seconds and then you’ll want more.

So 18 year old Dani’s spent her entire life as a traveling burglar with her mom. They move from town to town, and clad with fake identities, blend in with the locals and stealthily steal silver and other valuables– and then leave for the next town. But recently they’ve arrived in a town where Dani makes friends– and there’s a guy. Who’s a cop… And she starts to second-guess her line of work…

The dialogue is really smart and I’m surprised that the book hasn’t been turned into a movie yet. I thought the end was a little rushed and maybe some of the chapters (re: Dani and Greg) were a little clunky– but the amusement factor outweighed any of that.

Find a copy here