Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

After swearing off buying any new books this summer, the cover of this novel sold me, but the interrelated chapters detailing the lives of musicians and spanning several decades made it a difficult novel to follow. The biggest surprise of the novel was the Powerpoint presentation style of one of the last chapters. The novel is clever, the portrayal of aging rock stars is entertaining and the satiric wit is sharp.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

I enjoyed Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know so much that I was thrilled to score a copy of this novel to review. Although I felt pretty creeped-out by the story of a middle-aged woman who is contacted from prison by the man who she sent there decades before, I turned the pages of this novel pretty quickly to see how the story would unfold. Protagonist Eliza Benedict is busy mothering her own young children when she receives a disturbing message from Walter Bowman, a man who is facing execution for molesting and murdering young women, as well as holding young Eliza hostage back in her teens. Flashbacks propel this psychological thriller.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Lovers by Vendela Vida

This was one of my favorite books of the summer, perhaps because of the lovely descriptions of the coastline in Turkey where the main character, Yvonne, goes to try to recapture some of her honeymoon memories following the death of her husband. Although is begins as a story about travel, it quickly becomes a psychological character study and then abruptly turns into an examination of redemption after an accidental death helps Yvonne to reckon with her relationship with her own child. Vida is married to Dave Eggers, and as a literary couple, they are the ones to watch in the next decades.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One Day by David Nicholls

This novel follows the relationship of Dexter and Emma, beginning on the day they graduate from college in 1988 through 20 years of bad jobs, missed opportunities and love loss. Each chapter is set on July 15th of the next year, and their on and off again courtship made for an easy, entertaining summer read.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

If you are looking for a book to read on the beach or plane tomorrow, pick up this literary mystery. Fictitious author Octavia Frost is on her way to drop off a manuscript at her publisher's office when she sees the television news story about her rock-star son being taken in as a suspect in his girlfriend's murder. The novel is enhanced by samples of Frost's own fiction - endings and alternate endings of her novels between the chapters that advance the storyline of the murder investigation. Apparently, Octavia has a hard time selecting the right ending for her books - no so for Parkhurst.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

A high school music teacher is caught having an affair with a student. I wish I thought that was a novel idea. What made this book interesting to me was the character of the saxaphone teacher who functions as a manipulative force in the coming together of several student's lives. I was reminded of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Eleanor Catton's prose makes this read worth your time.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Tower, The Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart

I have finally found a way to score some advanced reader copies of books and this was the first to steal my attention this summer. What a wonderful little story. I had no idea that the Tower of London was used as a menagerie on several occasions throughout history. The novel focuses on the strain created in his marriage when one of the Beefeaters is approached to manage the tower zoo. My favorite part of the novel was the alternate story line concerning the Beefeater's disgruntled wife and her odd co-worker at the London Underground's Lost Properties Unit. Funny, warm and satisfying, this book will be available August 10 from Doubleday.