Thursday, October 29, 2009

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery

Three lives seemingly separate, come together to help one another. Renee is a 54 yr. old concierge who hides her love/knowledge of culture because of her status. Paloma is a 12 yr. old girl who hides her immense intelligence because of the expectations of others. Her plan is to kill herself on her 13th birthday. These two are from two different, but not really so different, worlds. Kakuro Ozu is a Japanese gentleman in his 60's who is new to the building, but also a catalyst to help Renee and Paloma really discover themselves.

One of my favorite quotes is found on page 91. "tea is the beverage of the wealthy and of the poor; the tea ritual, therefore, has the extraordinary virtue of introducing into the absurdity of our lives an aperture of serene harmony."

It is easy to understand the way characters feel because of the stereotypes each brings to their lives or feels from others. I was caught up in the story of hiding intelligence and the love of culture. Why would people feel the need to hide these wonderful attributes? I was also caught up in the story of Paloma and her desire to kill herself on her 13th birthday. Why would she want to do this? Did she meet her goal of profound thoughts? How was Ozu helpful to each of them? I encourage you to pick up the book and discover the answers to these questions. You will find comedy, poignancy, and profound thoughts.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Green" by Ted Dekker

"Green" is the classic good vs. evil type of book. It is advertised as a book that can either begin or end the popular "Circle" series by Ted Dekker. Time changes quickly bouncing between the present and the future, with references to the past. One man, Thomas Hunter, tries to save his future world from corruption only to find that his son, Samuel, is rebelling against Elyon, their God, and the "Great Romance." As evil grows the problems seem insurmountable. Will Thomas be able to save his world from a descent into evil? Will Samuel get his heart right?

Meanwhile, Billy is trying to find answers to his own problems in the present time. His search for the vial of Thomas Hunter's blood escalates, as he tries to find the hidden books of history. The vial of blood is essential. Was the vial destroyed?

I found it difficult to get into this book. Maybe it is because I didn't read the other three books and had no real starting point with the characters. Eventually I found myself pulled into the story, picking the people I wanted to win. I found the parallels to Bible times interesting, but also felt a little uncomfortable. I will be getting the other books so that I read Ted Dekker's complete thoughts here. I would recommend that readers pick up the "Circle" trilogy first, then read this one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"The Postmistress" by Sarah Blake

“The Postmistress” is set in the years 1940-41, both on Cape Cod and in Europe. The reader follows the paths of three women – Emma, Iris, and Frankie – as Europe experiences Hitler’s fury and Americans wonder if they will enter the war. Emma has just married Will, a doctor on Cape Cod. She wants to make a good impression on the people there, and make a good home for her husband. Iris is the Postmaster of the same town Emma moves to, and watches over the people of the town. Frankie is a reporter in London during the Blitzkrieg, experiencing some of the horrors of war while trying to report on them. As the story moves along, the lives of these three women intersect around letters. It is up to the reader to decide if the decisions the characters make are good and wise.

I had the wonderful privilege of reading this book as part of Barnes & Noble’s First Look Book Club, and really enjoyed it. It grabbed, and kept, my attention. Sarah Blake painted vivid pictures of bombings, train rides, ocean views, etc., putting me in each spot, letting me hear the characters as they spoke. Her research brings this period of history alive. I especially enjoyed “traveling” along with Frankie as she told the story of the war and searched for the truth about the Jewish persecution. All three of the main characters in this book have compelling stories and they are people I will not soon forget. This is a book to read again!

I Got a First Look at Barnes & Noble.  Get Your Copy Now

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"The White Mary" by Kira Salak

Marika travels the world in search of war stories to bring back to her readers. Little does she know the toll it is taking on her and her life. One person stands as a shining example of success for her - Robert Lewis. He is her idol and she has studied him for years. After his unexpected suicide, Marika determines that she will write an autobiography about him. She will even stay home to write. But, there is an unexpected letter that makes her believe that Robert is still alive. Should she search? Can she get there? If so, will she survive Papua New Guinea? Is Robert Lewis really still alive? What about Seb? Will he continue to love her?

Kira Salak weaves a magnificent story about Marika and her demons. One of my favorite lines is found on pg. 337 and is spoken by Tobo. "Listen," he says to her sternly, "I will tell you a secret about your demons: they are never stronger than you." Come meet Marika, Seb, Tobo and the others. Take the journey to PNG. It is a journey that certainly captured my attention!