Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My take on: We'll Always Have Paris

An obsession with death led author Jennifer Coburn to embark on the journey of a lifetime with her daughter, Katie. From Paris, to London, to Italy, to Spain, to Amsterdam, and Paris again, We'll Always Have Paris details their eight-year odyssey of love, laughter, and family.

Ever since the death of her father, Jennifer has always had a fear dying young. In the book, her dad comes off as a little eccentric. He seemed to dream big, even if those dreams weren't realistic. He also seemed like a person you would want to have a drink with and just listen to him talk. I can see why Jennifer missed him so much. Jennifer was still in college at the time of his death, leaving her with a fear of dying young. A fear that remained with her even after giving birth to her own child.

How does one conquer that fear? Of course the answer is to go to Paris, London, Italy, Spain, Amsterdam, and Paris again. To some it might sound impulsive. When I first heard about this book, I thought it was impulsive. Her husband, William, reminded her that the bathrooms and the kitchen in their home needed repairs. According to William, Jennifer has always had "kitchen envy." I can relate to "kitchen envy." Whenever I see a fancy kitchen on TV, I always imagine myself cooking in it. But if I had a choice between a new kitchen and a trip across Europe, it would be a very difficult choice. After reading the book, I don't think this journey was a choice for Jennifer, it was something that had to be done.

Katie was only eight when they made their first stop in Paris. My first thought, how many eight year olds would or could appreciate a trip like this? Katie didn't come across as a typical eight-year-old. She comforted her mother with the tenderness of an adult and made witty comments on cue. How many kids her age would say, "I get Paris"? I've been to Paris twice, and don't know that I could say that. She's very much an old soul, but still had the exuberance of a child when speaking about Harry Potter books.

My favorite moment? When Jennifer and Katie are on the train to London and they end up sitting across from English actress Thandie Newton. They had a very nice conversation, and one moment made me bust out laughing. Let's set the scene, Katie is reading the latest Harry Potter book and makes an observation. What? .... "Ron Weasley just ejaculated!" Of course Katie misspoke, but it was certainly a cute moment.

I don't normally read books like this, but I'm glad I did. I can see the appeal people have for travel memoirs. It's not so much about the physical journey as it is about the emotional one. Jennifer Coburn's writing has an easy and engaging flow to it. With each chapter, I wanted to keep reading. I wanted to know where Jennifer and Katie ended up. To all the mothers and daughters, let Jennifer Coburn take you on a journey of love, laughter, family, and of course Paris!

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Sourcebooks) at the request of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Please welcome Jennifer Coburn !!

Here are a few questions I had for Jennifer Coburn, author of We'll Always Have Paris.
A review of the book will be posted tomorrow!

The cover is so cute, did you get to have input on the cover?

I didn’t have any input, but I absolutely love the cover.

If you had to do it over again, is there anything you would change? Travel to a different city? Wait until Katie was older? Etc.

I have very few regrets, but I do have two, both from our Italy trip. And both regrets were over what I didn’t do, which I think is a good thing for me to remember.

When Katie and I were in Florence, I skipped the Gucci-Prada factory tour, and I can’t imagine what I was thinking! I could have gotten some real steals, but I was so scared of overspending that I didn’t even go. I wish I’d given myself a little more credit. Surely I could have limited my spending. Then a week later in Venice, I decided not to buy tickets to see Elton John in San Marco Square. For the life of me I can’t imagine why I was so stingy. Katie and I now use the term “Elton John” for a situation when you should buy something, but don’t and will surely regret it later. I was looking at some jeans recently and when I put them back on the rack, Katie asked, “Are you sure this isn’t an Elton John situation?”

Which destination was your favorite and why?

I think I liked Florence the best because the city is so walkable – and every day was a new surprise. On our way to see Michelangelo’s David at the Academia, we came across a music school that was conducting final exams for opera students. We spent the next two hours watching twentysomethings with pierced eyebrows and Motley Crue t-shirts singing Puccini. And the David … gasp!

Does your husband feel left out of this bonding time or does he like having the house to himself?

I think he enjoyed his time alone at home. He did a lot of hiking and spending time with friends.

On a lighter note, do you still have kitchen envy? Or are you ok with all the traveling you and Katie have done?

In an ideal world I could have my beautiful kitchen and travel, but I feel I made the right choice for us. We have a beautiful home because there’s a lot of laughter and joy. But we also have a ton of repairs to make still.

In five words or less how would you describe your travels with Katie?

Lessons from a young Buddha.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

BookExpo America: I will miss you this year!

I have come to a decision. As much as I want to, I can't go to BookExpo America this year. In previous years past BEA has been a great experience for me.

For the past four years, the coming of spring meant I would get to meet interesting people, sit in on interesting panels, and get A LOT of great books.

But a lot of things have changed for me in the past four years. I was laid off at the end of 2011, leaving me to wonder what the next chapter would be for me. I have always been a big time bookworm, so I decided to go back to school. Getting accepted into a Masters program for book publishing was a big triumph for me. If I didn't get into grad school, I didn't have a backup plan. Fortunately, I did not need one. Career-wise, things have finally started to turn around for me. After three internships, the last one has turned into a full-time position. Can you imagine how I felt after hearing I had been hired?

A new job, also comes with new choices. I really, really, really, want to go to BEA, but it's too early for me to be taking time off. I have a lot to learn about my new position. So......maybe next year BEA. (update: Aisha I see your comment!! Thank you! I guess with all the extra stuff in this post, it's hard for me to comment in the section below!)