Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

For my second read in September I read, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  The story begins when nine year old Rose Edelstein discovers she has a secret gift (or curse?) of being able to taste people's feelings in the food they cook.  This secret allows her to learn much more about her family, friends and world than she really wants to know.

I'm giving this book a bit of a mixed review.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.  It's a bit of fantasy mixed with realism, which made it hard for me to really enjoy.  Rose deals with real life issues, but the way in which she discovers them is strange.  Her family while seeming normal is quite flawed, which is never really addressed and I found frustrating.  Her brother is a main character whom we don't really get a sense of until the book is nearly finished.  Parts of the story felt undone to me and there was a lack of character development.

I'm also going to have to go all punctuation police and point out there are no quotation marks on any of the dialogue.  Sometimes whole conversations feel wrapped confusingly into a paragraph that you have to re-read to figure out what was said and what was thought.

I did like the character of Rose, she is interesting and despite her gift, often relatable.  We follow her character from age nine to twenty-two, so it's kind of neat to grow up with her and see what happens to her character over time.

Overall, I don't think I would have read this book had I known it's style before hand.  It just wasn't my cup of tea.  However, if you like fantasy mixed with realism and dash of bummer you might like it.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Murakami

OK, I"m implementing a moratorium on murakami for the next year.  This one was good.  It wasn't great, and the genera wasn't quite me.  I like science fiction, but this was a little to much more me.  INKlings living under the city, muting all sound, encrypting information by running it through your subconscious... all a little extreme.

The story is fairly straight forward.  It seems to be two separate stories being told in alternating chapters, but it's really the mans conscious and subconscious self living simultaneously.  The main character is written well, but all supporting characters lack any depth at all.  His girlfriend, the scientists he works for, the daughter of the scientists (yes, yet ANOTHER underage object of desire... oh Murakami...), all have only one purpose to the story.  They fill that role well, but there is nothing more to them as people living in the same world.  

And, the ending was a bit disappointing.  You're told how the story will end maybe 100 pages from the end, and there are no more surprises.  It ends exactly how you expect it to.  This is why it took me two months to read just the end... yawn.

So yes, Murakami is a good writer, and I generally like his plot lines.  This one was just a bit off for me and a break is needed.     


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Language of Flowers

For my first read in September I read, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  An old college facebook friend recommended this book and I'm so glad she did.  The story is about a girl named Victoria Jones.  Victoria grows up in the foster care system and finds herself at eighteen "aging out".  She is alone except for the comfort she finds in flowers and their secret meanings.  She bumps into a person from her past and starts to question her life and what it is missing.

This book was a page turner from beginning to end.  Victoria is a character you love, despise, want to shake and want to hug.  Her personality is so difficult, yet you want the best for her and you want to see how her life turns out.  All of the main characters in this book have seen so much sadness but also so much joy, I became invested in each one.

The really fun thing about this book is what it's title refers to, the language of flowers.  You'll learn a lot about the meanings of flowers and the messages they can convey.  It left me wanting to find out what my favorite flowers meant and to get some bouquets of the ones whose meanings I particularly liked.

The book goes back and forth in time (from Victoria in the present and Victoria at age ten) but it does so seamlessly and you may be be like me, longing for the next section in each respective time period.  I highly recommend this book, especially to all the lady readers out there.