Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

In a bourgeois apartment building in Paris, we encounter Renée, an intelligent, philosophical, and cultured concierge who masks herself as the stereotypical uneducated “super” to avoid suspicion from the building’s pretentious inhabitants. Also living in the building is Paloma, the adolescent daughter of a parliamentarian, who has decided to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday because she cannot bear to live among the rich. Although they are passing strangers, it is through Renée’s observations and Paloma’s journal entries that The Elegance of the Hedgehog reveals the absurd lives of the wealthy. That is until a Japanese businessman moves into the building and brings the two characters together.

This book was excellent. It was a bit of a slow start as you meet Renée, who plays a stereotypical concierge for an apartment complex of wealthy folks. In fact, Renée is not your stereotypical concierge, she’s a rather intelligent and cultured woman who believes she should hide this from her tenants. The reason for Renée’s actions is not revealed until the very end of the book, and in the beginning she spends a lot of time acting unintelligent that you wonder if the other tenants cared about whether she was brilliant or not.

The other voice in the book is Paloma, she’s a 12 year old who is extremely intelligent and has decided that on her 13th birthday she will commit suicide as she does not believe life has any reason worth living. She speaks through her Journal and Profound Thoughts and you get a glimpse into her life and why she thinks the way she does.

The two are brought together by a new tenant, and their friendship quickly blossoms. If you can hold on pass the slow start you will find the book rather enjoyable.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jenny Pox by J. L. Bryan

Jenny has a secret. Her touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague. And she can’t turn it off.
She devotes her life to avoiding contact with people, until her senior year of high school, when she meets the one boy she can touch, and falls in love.
But there’s a problem—he’s under the spell of his devious girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.
Now Jenny must learn to use the “Jenny pox” she’s fought so long to suppress, or else be destroyed by Ashleigh’s ruthless plans.

J. L. Bryan is self published. I came across his book through Amanda Hockingwho promotes it from time to time. This novel contains a few things that might offend. First, Ashleigh plays a good little Christian girl and uses the religion to manipulate people to follow her will - which is the absolute opposite of what being a Christian is, so for those who might find this offensive this book is not recommended. 
Next it contains a lot of drug use and sexual scenes. These are used throughout the book either as an escape or a way to manipulate people. It also contains a few more things that I don’t want to get into for fear of giving the story away. The idea though is to be warned, this book might offend you. 
I’m not easily offended and was able to enjoy the book, however, there are a few things that I didn’t like. I loved the story itself, but it seemed to have taken a long time to wrap things up and I wasn’t a fan of the sudden twist in the end. It might have been better if we had those elements intertwined as the narrative unfolded. I also didn’t like the casual use of drugs, I might have missed something but it didn’t seem necessary to advance the plot. Finally, the initial relationship between Jenny and Seth seemed underdeveloped, I kept wondering why his interest suddenly shifted, there seemed no reason for the change.
Putting all these aside, I truly enjoyed the story and I am looking forward to the sequel. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking

Seventeen-year-old Alice Bonham’s life feels out of control after she meets Jack. With his fondness for pink Chuck Taylors and New Wave hits aside, Jack’s unlike anyone she’s ever met.
Then she meets his brother, Peter. His eyes pierce through her, and she can barely breathe when he’s around. Even though he can’t stand the sight of her, she’s drawn to him.
But falling for two very different guys isn’t even the worst of her problems. Jack and Peter are vampires, and Alice finds herself caught between love and her own blood… 

I bought this book because I appreciate Amanda’s stories. I like her plots and admire the fact that she publishes all on her own. However, since a certain vampire series I’ve had a hard time reading vampire books. To be frank, I can’t blame that series alone, I read a few more series after that one and I don’t know if it’s the lore, but of all the vampire books I’ve read only one wasn’t sissy. Ok, I digress … 
My Blood Approves is not like the other vampire books I’ve read, it has an interesting storyline, but my cynicism to this genre has clouded my views. Here are a few things I did not like about this book: 
  • From the description of the book we know that Jack is a vampire. Yet, the protagonist does not learn this until the book was over 50% complete. As a reader who already knows what’s going to happen it’s a bit frustrating to spend half of the book waiting for the lead to figure this out.
  • There were a few instances of telling instead of showing, and a few things we were told that didn’t seem necessary to move the story along. I think a good editor would have helped in minimizing those a bit. 
On the other hand, there are a few things I loved about the book:
  • The idea that your heart feels one way while your being feels another way is interesting and I’m curious to see how this is resolved. 
  • I like that the idea of being a vampire isn’t glamourous, that there are consequences. 
So overall this was a good book, but I think it had greater potential. I’m probably going to read the rest of the series, however, this is my last vampire series for the year.