Book: Kiss Me in New York

"Kiss Me in New York"

No one wants to be stuck at the airport during a blizzard on Christmas Eve. For Charlotte and Anthony, it’s a disaster.

She’s heading home to England after a horrible breakup ended the worst semester of her life. He’s just been dumped in the middle of JFK by the girlfriend he came to surprise.

On the spur of the moment, the two set out into the city together with a self-help book to guide them: Get Over Your Ex in Ten Easy Steps!

This romantic adventure is for anyone who sees the possibilities in a swirl of snowflakes at the top of the Empire State Building, and anyone who’s ever wondered if true love was waiting just at the other end of a ticket counter.

I bought this book impulsively because I was missing New York… and while I don’t regret reading it, I don’t know if I would’ve have bought it now that I know what’s inside. Not that it’s bad, it’s just…

Kiss Me in New York is a simple love story. Girl and boy meet. They get to know each other. They fall in love. And it all happens in a matter of hours. It’s a lot like Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but while also being… less.

Now, judging technically, there’s really nothing wrong with the book. Our two characters, Catherine and Anthony, are not stereotypes. They are completely whole, and they have a lot of baggage between them. Plot-wise, there are no illogical jumps in how the characters feel, or react. They all actually feel very natural.

And in terms of romance? Kiss Me in New York has a healthy dose of, as the kids nowadays say, “feels.” You can feel a warm sensation whenever the book delivers a moment where the characters fall deeper for each other, even when neither one has realized it yet. The transition from strangers to friends to lovers is smooth.

Everything is too smooth.

Kiss Me in New York feels like a kid’s coloring book that was filled in by Michelangelo; like an expert has found extra time in their hands and wanted to showcase a work that was perfect–but doesn’t really give anything new. Or anything other than what was needed. And in a time where we have access to the whole world’s available literature, is now really the time to be giving just the basics?

On the whole, Kiss Me in New York is a book I would only recommend to people I don’t personally know. It’s inoffensive, it’s well-written… it’s safe.

That said, it did satiate my longing for New York. For the few hours I spent reading the book, it felt like I was there again.

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Book: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

"Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist"

Nick’s just seen the girl who dumped him walk in…with a new guy. What else can he do but ask the strange girl next to him to be his new girlfriend for the next five minutes?

Norah would do anything to avoid conversation with the not not-friend girl who dumped Nick…and to get over the Evil Ex whom Norah never really totally dumped. What else can she do but answer Nick’s question by making out with him?

With one electric, unexpected kiss, the five-minute couple of Nick and Norah set off on an uncharted adventured called the “first date” that will turn into an infinite night of falling in and out (and in and out, and maybe in and maybe out) of love. Theirs is a first date of music, laughter, heartache, confusion, passion, taxi driver wisdom, and a jacket named Salvatore. And of course a killer soundtrack.

As Nick and Norah wander through the middle-of-the-night mystic maze of Manhattan, they share the kind of night you want to never end, where every minute counts and every moment flickers between love and disaster.

Can you fall in love in the span of one night? Do you believe you can? Because that’s what Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist will ask you to do. Fall in love with good guy Nick and misunderstood Norah. Both are nice enough people. Both are flawed. And both will take you to an adventure of love that takes the whole night.

Confession: I’m not a gig guy. I’ve never been fond of going to bars and clubs because of a band I support. I have, but I’ve always found a way to stand from a distance. I’ve never been the guy to scream within the throngs of people, swaying and jumping and screaming to the beat. Okay, maybe for Jason Mraz, but that’s the limit. And you wouldn’t want to scream a song during a Mraz concert. You sing along, you appreciate, you sway–but you don’t scream.

And I’ve gone off tangent.

So, not a gig guy. But I’ve been to. I sort of understand the thrill. I can definitely understand the energy. And the people described in the novel are just some of the characters you’ll encounter during a trip to the local dive.

I know a Nick. I wish I knew a Norah, but I’m sure we’ve already crossed paths without ever talking to each other. I know a Thom, I know a Caroline… Heck, I know a Tal. And this is why I liked reading Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

No, it’s not because I can attribute the characters to people I know. I like the book because the characters feel real. I like the fact that, even though there are two writers, it feels like the book is written by just one because the characters stay consistent.

And I love how Rachel Cohn and David Levithan show us how being neurotic can ruin a relationship even before it begins. I like how they use their characters to push their other characters into doing things that feel natural. Organic, even.

I like how it doesn’t mean that just because you two are the main characters mean you’re already set for life. I love how the obstacles don’t feel forced, and most of them come from our protagonists themselves, and not from outside forces–although they play a part.

I love how their friends act like real people, and not just sounding boards and plot pushers. I love how they have their own lives.

And although I’m iffy about the one night love story, I love the fact that it doesn’t end on happily ever after. The characters are young. Things will happen. And at the risk of spoiling, I love the fact that authors Cohn and Levithan don’t wrap it all up with a nice bow in the end.

There’s a promise. A maybe. But nothing is definite.

Because nothing ever is.

And that is the magic of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. It’s the now. It’s possible and the possiblity.

It’s brilliant.

Book: 666 Park Avenue

"666 Park Avenue"

Ever since fabulously wealthy Malcolm Doran walked into her life and swept her off her feet, fledgling architect Jane Boyle has been living a fairy tale. When he proposes with a stunning diamond to seal the deal, Jane can’t believe her incredible luck and decides to leave her Paris-based job to make a new start with Malcolm in New York.

But when Malcolm introduces Jane to the esteemed Doran clan, one of Manhattan’s most feared and revered families, Jane’s fairy tale takes a darker turn. Soon everything she thought she knew about the world–and herself–is upended. Now Jane must struggle with newfound magical abilities and the threat of those who will stop at nothing to get them.

I wasn’t a big fan of the television series, but this source book makes the adaptation look genius in circumspect.

I’m sure fans of the book would disagree. Save for the names of Malcolm and Jane, nothing from the book survives to the series. Well, maybe bits about Jane’s lineage. But the book and the defunct television series are definitely two very different things, who just happens that share the same title. And maybe two characters.

666 Park Avenue is a supernatural romance novel that seems to be bent on having a point. About women empowerment, maybe. But it’s not clear. The whole time we’re following Jane Boyle, our main character, she just seems to be very self-centered.

Yes, we do get a lot of instances where Jane is said to care about her friends, and the other people around her. But that’s the point. It’s just said. She does maybe three good things throughout the book, juxtaposed to the many times she’s complaining about her soon-to-be mother-in-law, or worrying about keeping her secret.

Oh yes, why don’t we talk about the secret.

Now, for the spoilerphobes, what I’m about to say is not a spoiler. Contrary to what the book’s synopsis says, Jane learns fairly early on that she’s a witch. And she’s not just any kind of witch. She’s the fabulous socialite type. Not familiar with that kind? Well, neither was I before I read this book.

Come to think of it, I’m still not sure what kind of witch Jane is, a few days after I’ve finished reading. Author Gabriella Pierce relies on readers’ stock knowledge of witches, focusing instead on the mythology of seven sisters–which is neither fully explained nor fully explored.

Basically, witches are a greedy bunch. Except for our three good guys. And maybe one not so good guy who doesn’t have powers to begin with.

If there’s anything good I can say about this book, it’s this: it’s an easy read, in that you don’t have to think hard about what’s going on. You can just go along with the ride. Unfortunately, nothing sticks with you afterwards.

This is not a book that changes perception, much less lives. It’s something to simply pass the time.

Of course, other people would have other opinions. Why don’t we check those out:
Dear Author
My Friend Amy
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