Catty antics can't save the stilted dialogue, plodding plot and unsatisfying climax.

DRAMA IS HER MIDDLE NAME

THE RITZ HARPER CHRONICLES, VOL. 1

From shock-radio deejay Williams, the story of shock-radio deejay Ritz Harper, who made her fame by viciously destroying people's reputations on air and is gunned down in the streets.

Ritz has always been a hard-working good girl. But she is fed up with slogging through the night shift for WHOT in New York City. She wants to be a star. She finally gets her chance when she spills some titillating gossip about her old roommate, a famous newscaster. Suddenly, Ritz's star shoots to the top. She gets her own show in a prized time slot, and the mudslinging begins. Ms. Loose Lips will blab about anyone and anything that her spies can dredge up. If a rap star is on the down-low, you can be sure Ritz will be the first to bust down his closet door. If a young starlet has herpes, well, once she pays a visit to Ritz, her secret is safe no more. Soon Ritz starts waltzing down red carpets. She snaps at her friends and covets the limelight. She has become a true diva with a cold, calculating approach to life and success. Needless to say, by the time she is shot, there is a long catalogue of names from which to choose a suspect. However, dear readers, the gunman or gunwoman will remain a mystery until volume two.

Catty antics can't save the stilted dialogue, plodding plot and unsatisfying climax.

Pub Date: June 20, 2006

ISBN: 0-7679-2486-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2006

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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