Friday, November 23, 2012

The Language of Flowers

Rating: 4 out of 5 Lisianthus (for Appreciation)

The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable young woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past. (from

Diffenbaugh's debut is stunning and heartfelt. Going into it, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into. I am usually annoyed with stories that start out so depressing and emotional as though I'm being force-fed or cajoled into sympathy and, as a reader, that is never a good thing. However, Diffenbaugh managed to swindle me into Victoria's story quite easily. I think what did it for me was the relationship between Victoria and Elizabeth which becomes a central piece of the whole story. 

This book is about relationships and communication, about what makes a family, and redemption and forgiveness. Victoria is a child who feels she will never belong with anyone because no one has kept her around long enough to love her. Elizabeth takes a chance on her and takes her in. Thus we see the blossoming of this unwanted girl into someone's daughter. We also see Victoria as a young woman, homeless and on her own. Diffenbaugh builds up the mystery of what happened between Victoria and Elizabeth with deft professionalism and nice storytelling. I found myself enthralled (I finished it in two days). 

I think the powerful part of this book is the message of redemption. Not only does Victoria seek redemption, but so does Elizabeth, in their own ways. Catherine is a ghost figure in the book, but she plays a huge role in all of it, as most of the mystery revolves around her. I won't give too much away.

Grant is a strong character and the romance between him and Victoria is built up nicely. 

I think where Diffenbaugh almost lost me was when Victoria has her baby, but I understand why Victoria had to become a mother. She had to experience what it was like to care for another human being. 

This book has it all. It plays out like a chick-flick movie. One of those I'm Woman, Hear Me Roar type movies. But the message it carries is valuable to anyone who reads it. I loved the underlying Language of Flowers, learning about that, and how the characters used flowers to say things when they could not communicate.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Every Day

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Inhabited Bodies

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

I read David Levithan's latest book in one day. Granted, it's not a mammoth of a novel, but it isn't short by any means either. To me, this is an indication of how good it is. 

The plot is strange. It recalls to mind Stephenie Meyer's The Host and Quantum Leap and Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall. Despite the strange premise, Levithan makes it believable and his protagonist is sympathetic and you want him to succeed and to figure out a way for things to work. 

It starts off without any messing around. A, our protagonist, is in the body of Justin. Right away he meets Rhiannon and finds himself connecting and attaching to her when he used to keep himself within the confines of his host's daily lifestyle. With Rhiannon, A starts breaking his own rules. She even becomes the first person he tells about what he is and what he does. Their mutual attachment is believable because Rhiannon doesn't give in right away. Her reactions are just what I would expect a normal person to do if faced with this situation. Disbelief, fascination, disgust, and so on. 

When it comes down to it, Every Day is a fantastic commentary on the human condition. This person sees life through the eyes of a different person every day. He understands bodily limitations because he's felt every single one. He understands addictions. He understands attraction and how it is not limited to gender. At the core of this is a love story. A and Rhiannon's love transcends rules and order, defies what we believe, because it shows that you can fall for what's inside a person, not what's inside. One of my favorite quotes from the book illustrates this point:

"What is it about the moment you fall in love? How can such a small measure of time contain such enormity? I suddenly realize why people believe in deja vu, why people believe they've lived past lives, because there is no way the years I've spent on this earth could possibly encapsulate what I'm feeling. The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations--all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise remarkable intersection could happen. In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is, you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be."

I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a unique love story with incredibly surprising depth and really good prose. It's a fast, quick-paced read so don't be scared to pick it up. I gave it a generous 4.5 out of 5 Inhabited Bodies. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Beautiful Creatures

Rating 3 out of 5 Magical Lollipops

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything
. (from

I always find that when I start skimming in a book that it is a sign of a merely mediocre, or less, book. Beautiful Creatures started out really good. The mystery was intriguing and the setup was nice, but then something stopped for me. Maybe it was just the style of writing. Maybe I just got tired of hearing everything from Ethan's point of view. I don't know what it was. The imagery is nice in the story and it has potential. I'm still very excited to see what they do with it for a movie (I can already tell you that the book and movie are NOTHING alike just from the previews) and the concept is, well, beautiful. There just seemed to be something missing. Depth, maybe?

Lena and Ethan aren't the worst couple I've seen in YA literature. There is actually enough tension and meaning behind their relationship that I was satisfied, but it still felt like they fell in love really fast. Call me old and cynical, so much so that I can't believe in young love anymore, but I was skeptical. If you're going to put two people together in a story and have it come down to life-and-death that they stay together, then make their love so solid and believable that I want them to be together. This, sadly, was just another case of "Hey, we're writing them this way so you have to go with it." I hate being forced to want two people together. However, I'm not entirely against it. I think what would have helped is to have interchanging points of view between Ethan and Lena. Ethan is reliable but, at times, he's too far removed from the central points of the story to be a main voice. Lena doesn't really fully develop and, even by the end, I don't feel like I fully understand her. I just see Ethan's view of her and that is skewed a little.

There are also scenes with rituals (Lena's birthday and Halloween) where it gets confusing. The descriptions, while sometimes beautifully written, are so shifty that it left me spinning. I didn't know what was going on so I'd lose interest because it was hard to figure out. The visions with the locket was interesting, but that line of the story gets dropped early. I liked the whole Civil War backdrop of the story and the old Ethan and Genevieve's story that parallels Ethan and Lena's. That was nice.

I don't know. This book was decent and I might read more, but I'm also okay with not. I'm interested to see what happens with Lena and her mom (a big part of the storyline that doesn't really get fully developed) and to see the continuing saga of Ethan and Lena and how their love develops. But, for now, I will probably leave Gatlin and return another time.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I'm Back!

Hello, my affectionate readers! I have returned from the black hole I disappeared in for the last three months. I was at basic training for the US Navy since August and have now returned to civilization, reappearing in the warm and sunny world called Florida. Pensacola is a great place; it feels like summer here. I've decided there are only two seasons in Florida: summer and cool summer. It seriously feels like an Idaho summer here right now and this is their "winter." It supposedly gets cold here, but I have yet to feel it. Ok, at night it does cool down a lot and I have felt chilled, but I will take this over the frigid, frozen tundra I left in Idaho.

Basic was interesting. Not gonna lie, it was not what I was expecting. At all. Lots of folding clothes. Lots of sitting around. Lots of standing. Lots of getting yelled at for no reason. Basically 8.5 weeks of feeling like I'm worthless. I kept waiting for the "building up" period everyone told me about, but it never really came. Graduation was cool. There were some memorable moments and some moments I would love to forget.

Now I am at "A" school at Corry Station in Pensacola, FL. This is a small base compared to the NAS next door, but it is nice to have a more tight-knit group. Plus, it is a little more chill over here. I have been here almost a month and my classes will start this week.

I thought I'd give an update of where I'm at. My blog will continue! I will try and do more book reviews as I read. Granted, I will not have as much time to read as I used to, but when I do finish a book, expect to see a review on here. I am always taking suggestions on books to read, so please feel free to make recommendations.

Oh! Flyleaf just released a new album and I bought it. It is fantastic! I'm listening to it right now. They don't seem to do wrong.

Until next time...

Oh and this is me, today, at the Blue Angels Homecoming airshow!