"" The Relentless Reader

July 29, 2014

The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman

The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman
Publication Date: July 29, 2014


The Tiger's Wife meets A History of Love in this inventive, lushly imagined debut novel that explores the intersections of family secrets, Jewish myths, the legacy of war and history, and the bonds between sisters

When Eli Burke dies, he leaves behind a mysterious notebook full of stories about a magical figure named The White Rebbe, a miracle worker in league with the enigmatic Angel of Losses, protector of things gone astray, and guardian of the lost letter of the alphabet, which completes the secret name of God.

When his granddaughter, Marjorie, discovers Eli's notebook, everything she thought she knew about her grandfather--and her family--comes undone. To find the truth about Eli's origins and unlock the secrets he kept, she embarks on an odyssey that takes her deep into the past, from 18th century Europe to Nazi-occupied Lithuania, and back to the present, to New York City and her estranged sister Holly, whom she must save from the consequences of Eli's past.

Interweaving history, theology, and both real and imagined Jewish folktales, The Angel of Losses is a family story of what lasts, and of what we can-and cannot-escape.

My Thoughts:

The Angel of Losses was somewhat of an up and down read for me. There were strong elements that I thoroughly enjoyed and there were a few aspects that didn't work for me. Let me be clear and say that it was mostly an UP read and in the end I found it to be a very strong work.

About the Author
The Jewish myths were incredibly interesting and beautifully written. While reading those sections I found myself completely immersed in the story. I'm interested in religious history and the tales of the White Rebbe were fantastic. I could have read the mythical tales all day long.

Unfortunately the modern relationships in The Angel of Losses weren't quite up to par with the ancient ones. I didn't find the current relationships as deep or as believable. Keep in mind that I almost always prefer the historical aspects in books to modern ones. Part of my dissatisfaction with these parts of the book are on me.

With themes including love, loyalty, theology, and folk tales, The Angel of Losses is a very entertaining debut that I can recommend to almost every reader.

You don't have to take my word for it, please see the rest of the TLC tour stops here

July 10, 2014

Tiny Reviews of Twisted Reads

Every now and then I enter the creepy zone. I'll find myself in the mood for darkness and I'll read a number of twisty tales in close succession. Maybe it's because these sorts of books remind me that all is not peachy in the world? Maybe it's because they make my own life feel so sweet? Maybe it's because I'm a psychopath. I don't know!

Here are my most recent disturbing reads and my quick thoughts about each:

Goat Mountain by David Vann

WARNING. This book is not for the faint of heart. The story takes off right at the start. There's no waiting around for the big happening. It happens and you spend the rest of the book wondering why. WHY? Goat Mountain is painful, beautiful, and shocking.

Closed Doors by Lisa O'Donnell

Seeing a tragedy through the eyes of a child might be depressing to some readers. I found it refreshing. O'Donnell lets us experience a traumatic event in an original way by showing us what Michael sees and hears. Children are both smarter and more innocent than we give them credit for. Closed Doors is a fantastic coming of age story with a tragic bent that shows just how clever children can be.

This is another winner from Herman Koch, who also wrote the deliciously tense The Dinner. He writes characters that you want to hate but can't help feel a niggling bit of empathy for. He writes characters that do things the rest of us only fantasize about doing on our darkest days. This wasn't an easy read but it was an absolutely worthy one.   

Do you enjoy the darker side of literature? Is there a spine-chilling book you consider a must-read? Tell me about it in the comments!