Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was an emotional read.  It was one of those books that sucked me in from the start; I devoted an entire day to read the book from start to finish.  Victoria Jones, the protagonist, elicited instant feelings from me.  Victoria starts the novel fresh out of an intensely painful experience in the foster care system.  She is broke and angry, the only thing she cares about are flowers and their meanings.  The language of flowers is the only way she seems to be able to communicate with the world; it is the one bright spot in her past. As the story progresses it alternates between glimpses into Victoria’s past life, as well as her current, leading up to the collision of the two.  And it is an powerful collision that left me in tears, left me feeling wrung out, and ultimately thrilled. 

We see Victoria rebuild her life, or perhaps just build her life.  She succeeds, but she fights for her survival/success.  It’s not a pretty fight, and as I reader I was torn between being sympathetic toward her and being angry.  It is more than just rebuilding her life as well, she learns to take care of herself.  This theme that rang very true to me, because (while in a drastically different situation) I have learned to take care of myself, and I know how difficult that is to do. 

Ultimately, I would highly recommend this book.  Especially if you like to read stories that don’t have a clear happy ending, but end with happily ever after coming around the corner.  Or, if you really enjoy an intense emotional read. 

|| World Cat || Amazon || Indie Bound ||


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Book Review: The Children’s Book by AS Byatt

I tend to read quickly, and if I sit down with a book the size of The Children’s Book (provided I don’t have classes or work) I can finish it in two to three days.  I had the time to do that, but I ended up taking a month to read this book.  I had to read little snips and pieces at a time, a chapter here or there.  There were so many stories and little plots going through it that I found myself taking notes, just to keep track of my thoughts.

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Children’s Book follows a family and their friends through their lives leading up to the first World War.  It starts with a child living in the basement of a museum, and he is brought into the world of what feels like hundreds of strange characters.  A author of fairy tales and her family, with its many children and skeletons in the closet, an eccentric potter with a drug addicted wife and two blank children, various anarchists, socialists,  British bankers…the list goes on, until you become hopelessly confused as to who is who and what plot they are wrapped up with.  There seems to be no unifying plot to the novel, it wanders into one plotline to another.  As a reader, I was never satisfied, never given enough from the characters I liked most.

It was well written, gorgeously so, but that didn’t save it from dragging or being bogged down in the details.  I feel that if I did not have the strange background that I do in history and useless knowledge I would have needed to look up half of the references to the organizations and politics in the novel.  For example the main characters mostly come from a family of Theosophists, and if you don’t know the Theosophists, a lot of little nuances are lost.  Those little nuances make the book 100% easier to read.  Brush up on your Marxism and Anarchist history as well, if you want to make the most out of the history in this book.

Ultimately, I did enjoy reading The Children’s Book.  I loved and hated it by turns, but that kept it interesting for me.  However, I wouldn’t recommend it to a stranger.  Actually, I’d only recommend it if I had extensive knowledge of your reading tastes and your research and google skills/educational background.

So, if …this mangled review didn’t scare you away:

||  WorldCat Listings || Indie Bound || Amazon ||

New Job, new outlooks, new posts.

Image CC from CCAC North Library’s Flickr

Sadly I did not get the position where I was working temporarily.  I was simply too far away from my degree.  However, the head of the department gave me some wonderful feedback.  I was a top pick, I nailed the interview and the teaching segment.  I am looking at this is a learning experience and am thankful for my time there!

I was very lucky to get an internship in Adult Services at the Troy Public Library.  I’ll be doing all kinds of things, from working the reference desk, the tech desk, helping with classes, programing, and of course, other duties as needed.  I’ve just finished up my third day and I am really enjoying everything so far.  There is a lot to learn and my head is swimming, but I’m learning.

Today, my new boss told me she was pleased that I was a self-starter.  I would have never called myself a self-starter in the past.  It hit me that, yes, I am.  I’ve learned to be someone who self-starts.  After years of being hesitant and afraid of looking stupid (or worse, being told I’m stupid), I realized that I need to just do it.  It being whatever the task is, because if I let my fears get the worst of me I will never succeed.  Moreover, if I don’t start, I’ll sit there blankly and the only impression of me will be “that short fat girl with glasses, she does…stuff?”

I want to be the short fat girl in classes that is known for, if not knocking it out of the park, working hard and getting the job done.

In other news, in order to facilitate my desire to provide a better readers advisory to patrons, I am going to push myself to read outside of my normal genres and make review posts, so look forward to those!