Saturday, February 21, 2009

Everyone Is Beautiful

Back in December, I was contacted by Laura Ford, who is an editor at Random House Publishing. She must have come across my review of Katherine Center's first novel, because in her email, she asked if I would like to receive an early edition of Katherine's second novel. Her exact words were, "May I send you a galley?" My words back to her (although not exact) were "Hell yeah!"

So, I had the honour of having a reader's edition of this book. I would be lying if I said that I didn't excitedly wait for this book to arrive on my doorstep. The book itself didn't officially come out in bookstores until February 17th. And of course I urge you all to go to your nearest book store and purchase the book if you haven't already done so.

Without giving too much away, this book is about Lanie Coates who is a young wife and mother to three children. Her life is uprooted across the country when her husband gets accepted to a grad program for music (his dream).

Ever the supportive wife, she willingly packs up her life's belongings into a U-Haul to make the big move. Things are changing and it's never more apparent when she finds out that her parents have not only sold her childhood home, but are moving to a different country/time zone.

In an effort to make sense of her life (and find herself while she's at it), she decides to make some changes, including joining a gym and signing up for a photography class. While she is snapping photos of the world around her, her own little world is beginning to slowly come back into focus.

Of course this doesn't come easily. There are a few obstacles that she'll have to overcome ...

This was a great read and yet another winner by Katherine Center.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Wonder Spot

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank

I found this book for $1.50 at a used book store. Having previously read Bank's other book, I was tempted to buy it, especially at that price. It was, quite bluntly, not a good choice, even at $1.50. Sophie Applebaum is our heroine, an everyday Jewish girl. The book illustrates small parts of her life from age 12 through 30-something. Each piece has a different impact on her life and is important in one way or another. The thing is, you never know why they're important. I suppose I expected everything to come around, for things to be explained, but they never were. Sophie kept going with her job she hated and love life that never went her way, but she never changed. Instead, she complained. She never grew or became someone better. And because of that, I really didn't like her. The ending left me confused and wondering what, exactly, the point of the book was. To give Bank credit, though, her writing is good. Her descriptions are fantastic and the book is engaging. It's just not worth it in the end.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Released within the same year as The History of Love, there was a minor controversy started when this book came out. Both have young and naive starring characters, both have influential older Jewish characters who've been through traumatic events relating to the Holocaust, both have the characters searching for something, someone. And, most importantly, they're written by husband and wife. Foer, who is previously famous, crafted with this novel one of the most interesting looks at 911. The story follows Oskar, who's father died in the World Trade Center. As the novel starts up, Oskar discovers a key in his father's closet. Thinking it will bring closure to his father's death, he is determined to find the lock. And thus starts the epic story that has him all over NYC, meeting people and finding his way. At the same time, Oskar's grandmother is writing letters about her life growing up and how she had to flee after the bombing of Dresden. How she falls in love. How she falls out of love. Much like The History of Love, Extremely Loud... takes you on a journey through different lives, all of which come together in the end brilliantly. Told with pictures and various typographies, the book is an adventure and highly addictive. It has one of those endings where everything hasn't changed, however it gives you an interesting feeling of hope. I really liked it.

The History of Love

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl. The History of Love is far from what you expect it to be - it is not a simple love story about two people falling in love, breaking up, getting back together and living happily ever after. It's far from that , actually. The History of Love is a beautifully written intricate tale of the fate of two very different strangers and how their lives connect. It takes you from Nazi invaded Poland, to current day New York City. Story number #1 centers around Leo Gursky, an old, old, old Jewish immigrant just trying to live until tomorrow. He reflects often about a girl he loved back in Poland and wants to be remembered. Story #2 shows young Alma who is trying to make her mother happy and fall in love. Her mother, a book translator, lost her husband, Alma's father, many years ago and her only companion is an old book called "The History of Love." Knowing that, Alma tries to find information about the book. The story is heartbreaking and beautiful. You're involved in it up to the very last word. In a book where many stories take place, all separate, it's amazing how they all connect together lovingly in the end. I'm really excited to read every other book Krauss wrote and will write.