Spoiler Warning

Book reviews and discussions may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Revival

Let's revive the SRBC!! The first book will be: Shadow and Bone: By Leigh Bardugo



Not as much pressure this time around!! Just post reviews on the SRBC page the last weekend of September and we can discuss through the comments at our own convenience! Did anyone else miss this as much as I did? I am seriously excited :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Discussion for The Language of Flowers will be rescheduled.  Please make a comment on when would be a good time for you.  I will be out of town next Sunday so I'm not sure when you all want to discuss this book.  Or maybe we want to move on to the next book?  Let me know!

And may the odds be ever in your favor.  Oops, wrong book.

The Language of Flowers

If I were a flower I would be a poppy because I desire eternal sleep, I live in blissful oblivion, I have an over-active imagination, and my dreaminess is apparent the first time you step into my house.  



If I were meeting my first love for the first time I would give him bamboo because he is strong and loyal.

At our wedding we did not know about the language of flowers but in my bouquet I had stephanotis which is happiness in marriage, desire to travel, and good luck.  I guess we started out on the right foot!

The Language of Flowers touched my heart on a personal level.  A little back ground on me.....in college I thought I wanted to be a social worker so I took the classes and did a practicum with a social worker.  I was with her on many visits to families and witnessed the complexity of human relationships.

I never did become a social worker, I knew I would care too much and burn out.  Then, as a young mom, the opportunity came for me to take in someone who had no place else to turn.  Our family took her in.......well, I've done it again and haven't left enough time to finish writing this.  I will have to come back to it as it is 9:00.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hello Smart Remarkers,

A warm welcome to our newest member , Teresa, who joins us from ...... I don't know, where you are from Teresa?  You'll have to tell us about yourself when you write your review.  So welcome aboard, we are so happy you will be reading and discussing with us.

I hope you all have snagged a copy of The Language of Flowers either via audio book, paper and glue hardback, or digital download by now.  I would like to set our discussion day and time for Sunday, April 1st, that would be April's Fools Day for those of you who are a little slow, at 9pm MST. 

Please have your reviews written prior to the discussion (Amanda, I am talking to you) and your essay questions completed.  If you choose not to do the essay questions, well, then it won't be as fun, and I may have to send you a bouquet of geraniums.  You will also receive a zero on this assignment.

The questions again are :  "If I were a flower I would be  _______ because _________  .  And "If I were meeting my true love for the first time I would give him or her _______ because __________. 

Here is a website to help you with the language of flowers.  http://www.perfect-wedding-day.com/flower-meanings-bridal-flowers.html 

I am looking forward to discussing this book with you all on Sunday, April 1st, and that's no joke.  


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wanna read this for March?

Looks like someone dished out the big bucks to have the place remodeled.  I like it!  Beautiful book shelf, all very nice and straight this time, some new books swished in there -- looks good.

I think it's time for a new book.  What do you think?  Besides being incredibly moved, you might learn something from this one.  I know I did.  You see in elementary school I learned Pig Latin and in high school I learned
Sarcasm and Spanish.   In college I thought I'd like to learn Italian because I thought it was cool,and I was in love with the Renaissance, but I never did learn the Language of Flowers.  Yeah, there was a touch of it in that one book The Age of Innocence, which I know you all are groaning about right now, but not enough to make you feel like you could pass a test on it afterwards.  Trust me, after you read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh you are going to be itching for a #2 and a bubble sheet.  You are going to be the sensei of sunflower speak.

So be ready, because this month we are going to learn more about the language of flowers.  And what exactly is the language of flowers?  Well, according to Wikipedia,  "The language of flowers, sometimes called floriography, was a Victorian-era means of communication in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages, allowing individuals to express feelings which otherwise could not be spoken. This language was most commonly communicated through Tussie-Mussies, an art which has a following today.

The nuances of the language are now mostly forgotten, but red roses still imply passionate, romantic love and pink roses a lesser affection; white roses suggest virtue and chastity and yellow roses still stand for friendship or devotion." 

Coded messages?  I wonder what the Victorian coded message would be for "I really want to get in your pants but I totally can't because I'm kind of engaged to your cousin?"  Oh, that's right, we know that one from The Age of Innocence.  Didn't Newland send Countess Elenska yellow roses?    Ding, ding, ding.
Ok, I have a little assignment for you this month.   1)  Read the book  2) Write your review 3) Answer the following questions, "If I were a flower I would be  _______ because _________  and "If I were meeting my true love for the first time I would give him or her _______ because __________.

Although I love flowers, it wasn't the title of the book that got me to read its pages.  I heard the author on NPR one night and was mesmerized by the interview.  It was the phrase "attachment disorder" that caught my attention first.  I listened to Vanessa as she recalled mentoring a foster child that she loved yet felt she never truly connected with.  She spoke of her experiences with many foster children who struggled to find their identity when they were born without one.

Finding yourself in this world is hard enough when you come from two parents, I can't imagine coming from none.  This debut novel is a fictional work with a foundation in real experience.  The disconnect that Diffenbaugh explores is the impetus for the language of flowers and crucial to the narrative and what got me interested in reading the novel in the first place.

If you are a sucker for dysfuction (and I am NOT talking the Jace-and-Clary kind of dysfunction) I highly recommend The Language of Flowers.  The writing is excellent with strong characterization, steady pacing and depth, and the protagonist isn't a whiney-girl for a change.  Every word counts in this novel so I recommend reading it S L O W L Y, especially the conclusion, which was too brief for me the first time I read it.  I had to go back over and reread it to savor the ending.   (The audio book is also excellent).      

The NPR interview can be found at this link: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/27/139985995/speaking-of-foster-care-in-the-language-of-flowers

Amazon link is here and Goodreads link is here

Monday, January 30, 2012

Le Curse of el Tigre!

The Tiger's Curse review by Jespy Espy


Dangnabbit.


I wanted to be obsessed with this book, like everybody else. I wanted to devour the first book and then rush out and get the next two books in an obsessed frenzy. But I’m starting to realize that I don’t always get everything I want, no matter how much I scream and fail my arms.


The author did an excellent job of describing the tiger(s). The tigers felt real and I would find myself getting lost in the story particularly when Ren was in Tiger form. ßI wrote that because I felt bad about the rest of my review. Ahem.


I know a lot of people were feeling Kelsey and Ren’s relationship, but I felt no chemistry between them. In the beginning, when Ren was still in his tiger form, their relationship felt like that of a young girl and her pet tiger. Then, when he finally took his human form, their romantic relationship happened quite simply and without tension.


Whenever Ren would go back to his tiger form, their relationship would regress to that of child/pet, making it hard to get a good feel for Kelsey because she would act/speak very immaturely and treat Ren like a silly pet. But then Ren would take his human form again, and Kelsey would become an uptight, middle-aged librarian with a crush. I didn’t care so much how she acted, I just needed consistency. I couldn't figure out who she was.


The instant physical attraction between them whenever Ren was in human form did not have any effect on me. Ren was endlessly caressing her check with his knuckles, brushing hands with her, touching the tip of her nose, calling her beautiful, etc. That crap might work if there had been any tension, but otherwise it’s just words on a page.


Then about 2/3 into the book, it was as if the author suddenly realized this was all progressing too quickly, so she put the breaks on the relationship the only way she knew how: by simply making Kelsey reject Ren. The reason was pathetic. I don’t stand for that “I’m not worthy of your love, you’d be better off without me, because I’m not as attractive as you” nonsense. Then, as Kelsey’s logic follows, she painstakingly began to push him away in the meanest possible way, and treated him terribly for the rest of the book in order to accomplish this (except for a couple of three-page kisses that happened after the fact). Couldn’t there have been a better way to break up? Maybe a nice text message?


This reminded me of the end scene in Harry and the Hendersons, when John Lithgow’s character employed the same “go on, get outta here, we don’t want you anymore” technique on Harry, because it was for his own good.



(I always hated that part. Was the slap really necessary? And no, that quiet, “my friend” he added after Harry left did not soften the blow.)


Another negative for me were the long Q&As between Kelsey and Mr. Kadan. Unfortunately for us, Mr. Kadam was like a human Wikipedia, so we were subjected to page upon page of information regarding tigers, airplane engines, Indian myths, the caste system, etc. Kelsey (inconveniently) found it all so fascinating and encouraged him to continue his lectures quite frequently. It got to the point that I’d start skimming whenever Mr. Kadan walked onto the page. And Kelsey was equally guilty of doing this. She would oft. wax poetic about her many likes and dislikes, her favorite poems, her childhood, what she does for fun, etc. It felt like an attempt to help the reader get to know Kelsey better. The most uncomfortable was when she would start info-dumping on Ren when he was in tiger form, and he couldn’t respond.


Finally, (and this is just me being picky) I have a short list of things in books that drive me crazy to the point that I can’t let it go and enjoy the story. I tried to ignore it in The Tiger’s Curse, but it got to be too much. This is my fictionalized example:


“Look at this, Ren.”

“What is it, Kells?”

“Ren, it looks like a statue. What do you think it means, Ren?”

“I don’t know, Kells.”

“Ren?”

“Yeah, Kells?”

“I like your name, Ren. I’m gonna say it almost every time I speak to you. Even when we are the only two people in a room and it’s clear I could only be speaking to you, Ren.”
“Thank you, Kells. I like yours as well, so I will say yours no less than two times per page. When I’m feeling playful, I’ll call you Kells, and when I’m feeling passionate, I will address you by your full name. Kelsey.”

“Ren?”

“What is it, Kelsey?”

“Do people in real life say each others names this much?”
“No.”


I should end with something positive! I feel bad. Um, the descriptions of the tigers were so good!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tigers Curse Discussion

Lets discuss Tigers curse here tomorrow night @ 8:30pm PT.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Discuss?

Is there anyone out there to discuss tigers curse? I put this up just in case.

I have the tigers curse

Well I guess I have the tigers curse because I love these books. I must have seen right through Colleen's "bad writing" because I didn't see what was wrong with it. I loved her descriptive writing even though it may have all been pulled from Wikipedia. She really did a good job making you feel like you were in India with her research. Kelsey wasn't too annoying for me, I've read books with more annoying girls. Dont get me started on ren and Kishan. I can see why there is a love triangle. It is hard for me to choose what one I would rather have her end up with. Anyway I better see if there is anyone to discuss with. I'm a sucker for twilight knockoffs guys. I could read a million of them, good or bad and never get sick of it :o)

Trussssst in Meeeee...

"I don't know any hot Indian men"... ha ha, nice one Flem. I'm afraid I had the same thought. To me all Indian men wear big cotton diapers and weigh as much as a small child. I also can't keep from doing the Simpsons Apu accent whenever any of them are speaking... even Kelsey sometimes, 'cause... you know... she wouldn't be able to help herself, it's just so fun to talk like that.
There were several annoyances for me. First of all, I missed Baloo, Bagheera, the wolf pack, and the marching elephants. Also I didn't fall in love with Kelsey like everyone else did. Other than apparently having some ability to help break the curse I didn't see anything in her that would make me want to give her sports cars, homes, credit cards, and college tuition. It was particularly annoying how she kept pushing Ren away because she felt she just wasn't in his league. I also thought Kishan was a jerk and didn't get how Kelsey liked him. I stopped reading this series about a third of the way through book two when it became apparent that the author was setting up a love triangle that made no sense to me whatsoever.
Despite the annoyances, I didn't hate it. It was light entertaining reading, a nice diversion from tech manuals and textbooks. I actually think the movie version has the potential to be even better than the book; especially if they have the budget to do Avatar-like effects, 'cause tigers are just so cool.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tiger's Curse

The Tiger's Curse is real you guys.

You know how I know?  Because I listened to the three books on audible, what I thought was a trilogy, and when I got to the end and realized it wasn't finished?  That is when I felt it.  The curse.

Because really, most of the way through the book(s) I was like "come on now!!" for so many reasons.  Like:

--Low self-esteem girls, I just don't get them
--Totally predictable moments, I was hardly ever surprised
--Too much focus on the body. Okay we get it, hot Indian men!  But can we focus on the charm and the how they made you feel emotionally too?  That didn't come until WAY too late for my liking.  Then again, I don't know any hot Indian men.
--Are we seriously bringing in every possible mythology ever?

In spite of those elements, I was fairly devastated it was over.  I felt so, so sad.  That is when I realized that this little vixen of an author is tricky.  She did her homework about a TON of crap:  SCUBA, Tigers, Indian lore, boats, and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember. She must have read and studied constantly while working on this.

She did a good job of building up a little sultry romance, even if the amount of conflict they encountered was a little over the top.

Original--an Indian prince, half-tiger/half-man, a brother duo, and a grandfatherly figure.

She described food and clothing in extensive detail, made you feel like you were there.

Lastly, I thought the main character was a nice balance of courage and reliance on the male leads.

In the end, I have to say I really enjoyed reading these books and I look forward to the 4th one.  Even if I have to put up with all those annoying little elements.

Tiger's Curse, a mixed review

This will be quick since the discussion is about to begin.  I have mixed feelings about the book and the series.  The first three nights I read the book as a bedtime story as it quickly put me to sleep each night.  On night three I decided to skip ahead to see if I wanted to continue reading this book or let it go the way of that one book about the short lady, oh what was it called?  Exactly.  When I found the words "kiss" and "kissing" I continued.  Aw, this is more like it.  I  read a little bit of the kissing scenes, okay all of them, and then went back and read the book.  Then I read the next book.  Then the next book.  Books Two and Three I finished in a matter of days.  So as you can see for I devoured the books.  

Now did I like them?  Well, yes I did, but I'm not sure why.  There are so many reasons not to like them.  Kelsey was completely unlikable -- really flat, uninteresting, selfish, and shallow.  The potential to go really deep with her was there, with her being orphaned and everything, but I never really felt the loss of her parents.  I never connected or sympathized for her which is a red flag for me.  I know I'm never going to connect in the way I like to connect when I can't FEEL for the characters.  Reading about them is one thing, but feeling them is another.  The books that are my favorites are the books in which I can feel the characters.  I know.  I'm weird.  

Often when I read a book I get a sense of the author.   It's not that I dislike Colleen, I think she's great (I especially like that we graduated from the same college) it's just that I can tell we are really different in the way we view the world as she is more of a "ST" and I am a total "NF" if you'll remember back to our personality discush.  ;)  I only mention this because I love "NF" books.  Funny that INFPs often love the same books.  "The Giving Tree" being high on the list.  Anyhoo, I didn't mean to get off topic.

If I may have a word with some people for a second, I have a few unanswered questions.

Kelsey-- Who are you, girl?  What makes you special?  Why, out of all the young women in the world, are you the only person who can break the Tiger's Curse?  Why, oh why, oh why?  I seriously don't get it.  You frustrate me, you bore me, you're kind of a jerk, you lack direction, and your creator has yet to show me why you aren't just like any other girl out there.  And if that's the point, then that's really lame.

Mr Kadam--  Oh Mr. Kadam, why are so flat?  You bored me to tears.  ::shaking my head::

Ren.  I like you.  Underneath that hot bod you actually have a personality.  The trouble is I would really like to know you but I can't.  I'm stuck in Kelsey's head when I'd much rather being in your arms head.  I get the feeling there is more to you than just your looks.  Wanna have lunch?  I'll wear my saree.    

Kishan.  I like you as well.  So why are you being completely and totally emasculated in Book Three?  Push back against the author's agenda and stop being a fool.  Hello.

Collen.  Overall I found your writing to be okay, but not good.  In fact, at times it was really elementary.  I would love to see varied sentence structure, improved vocabulary, more figurative language, more feeling infused into the thoughts, words, and action, more showing and less telling, and either a third-person point of view, or a least alternating first-person points of view between Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan.   Develop and strengthen the characters.  (Don't get me wrong with this feedback;  I'm not any better, I just see room for improvement).  Kudos to you for doing a lot of research, but I often felt Wikipedia sitting with me as I read, a constant weight on my shoulder.  Research is great for research papers, but for novels I've always heard it's good to write what you know.  (Just my take on it).  Also, a word about the food.  Don't these people ever eat anything other than carbs?  Come on.  You are totally pushing the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) on these Indian characters and I'm afraid they'll all be type 2 diabetic by the time we reach Book Four.   (You're lucky I've decided to save my Paula Deen rant for another day).  I know this is a fantasy book but it does need to be a bit more practical in the food department.   May I suggest more natural, whole, raw foods (think fruit, veggies, greens) for these characters and less talk about it?  

Okay, now on to what I liked.  I liked the way I was completely A.D.D. the week I read the series-- reminded me of my love affair with Twilight.  I couldn't give the kid a bath without the book right next to the tub or sit at the stoplight without the book in my lap.  I'd find excuses to go to bed early, feign sickness, or sneak into my bedroom book in hand.   When I wasn't reading, and my kids were talking to me, I couldn't hear a word they said as I was too busy thinking about how/when I'd get my next Tiger's Curse fix.  I even PAID FOR (which I never do) the third book because the waiting list at the library was much too long and I had to read it NOW.  Thank you Amazon for your quick delivery.  I felt so undone without it.   The other thing I loved was how the author credited Twilight for being the inspiration for the book. From the interview that I watched, Colleen explained how she enjoyed the Edward/Jacob dichotomy and wanted to re-create something similar.  So Tiger's Curse may be yet another Twilight knock-off but it's the best knock-off I've read and the author gives credit where credit is due.      

Overall, I enjoyed this page-turner of a book and have recommended it to fiction-loving friends.  Can't wait to read about what they eat in Book Four.  ;)