Tag: Flowers

Aug 10

The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper

Family, Flowers 4

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve been a busy reading bee when I’m not out watering my flowers and getting bitten by mosquitoes. Seriously, the fact that I’m so delicious to bugs and also adore gardening is like a cruel, cruel joke. But, the fact that I’m such a flower nerd was a huge part of the reason I picked up my latest read, The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper. I actually heard about the book at BEA during speed dating, but there either weren’t copies there or not enough or something and I ended up procuring a digital copy through NetGalley. *Which means, of course, that I got the book at no cost from the publisher for review consideration. As per usual, I’ll give you my honest opinion because I’m really terrible at lying and even if publishers were to stop working with me tomorrow, I could still get free books from the library, so. I really have no motive to lie to y’all.*

antoinettemartinLily and Rose were as close as a pair of sisters could be growing up on a commercial flower farm in Kentucky (see? I heard the setting and I was sold. I’m so predictable.) They’ve been estranged for years, but as Rose’s health declines, she reaches out to reconnect with her sister. Rose’s 10 year old daughter Antoinette has special needs. Her diagnosis is murky, but it manifests through symptoms very similar to severe autism. She also has the ability to heal with her touch. You heard me. There’s some magical realism up in this piece. Or science fiction. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s definitely  a bit peculiar. The thing is, this gift of Antoinette’s comes at a price. The more Antoinette heals people, the more health consequences she faces herself. She’s begun to have dangerous seizures as a result of her gift, and Rose is desperate to find a way to keep her daughter safe.

The whole thing had a Sarah Addison Allen vibe, but with a little less quirk and a little more emotional gut punch.  It was a decent read, I just don’t think I was in the mood for something with quite so much emotional weight? I feel like a jerk for not being all effusive in my praise of it. Maybe I’m just a little too cynical for miracle stories, which DUH KATIE, “miracle” is in the title of the book. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up had it not been for the whole commercial flower farm thing, but I’m a sucker for flowers. So. Yeah. If you’re in the mood for a whole lot of feelings and a little big of magic, check The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin out!

Tell me something, Bookworms, do you find that your mood strongly influences your opinions on the books you happen to be reading?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jul 08

In Case You Were Wondering (Because I am a Lazy, Lazy Blogger.)

Flowers, Personal 18

Hey There Bookworms,

I know, I’ve been so MIA lately. I’m reading and tweeting and also (apparently) snapchatting (wordsforworms is my username!) but I just haven’t been able to gather my thoughts enough to write a blog post. I blame summer. I want to do nothing but stare at flowers and lounge and read. Computer-y things are really more conducive to cooler temps and earlier sunsets (not that I WANT those things, because I do not. I want to wring all the joy out of summer that I can. All that sunshine is FREE VITAMIN D! I have to take a supplement in the winter.) Anywho, I’m calling today’s blog post “In case you were wondering.” Just in case you were.

In case you were wondering where I’ve been, there’s been a lot of home improving going on at the Gingerbread House. Not that we did ALL the heavy lifting (we’re smart enough to know our limitations and pay people who know what they’re doing) but it’s been time intensive. We got new windows installed on the first floor and had a boatload of landscaping work done in the backyard. But even paying people to do the hard parts? You’ve still got to do the cleanup and odds and ends and play in the dirt and plant more flowers because OMG MORE FLOWERS. But BEHOLD:

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In case you were wondering what it’s like to be friends with me IRL, here’s a text exchange between me and my Bestie. (I also recently told her that she reminded me of garbage, since at one point she’d given me a set of penguiny bathroom accessories complete with trash can that I still use. Sometimes I wonder why she still talks to me…)

ME: I miss you. Here’s what I’d look like if I were a Yorkie.

Snapchat. I have no idea, you guys. Although, this is what my eyebrows look like in their natural state, more or less. Also my bottom teeth are crooked because I didn't wear my retainer.

BFF: Jesus. That’s kind of terrifying!

ME: I know, right? And yet, I am fascinated. Like in Mars Attacks! when they put SJP’s head on a chihuahua body…

BFF: Yeah, I think it’s the gigantic eyes that really push it over the top…

ME: The better to see you with, my dear.

BFF: You look like you should be on Zoobilee Zoo. The kids love it, by the way.

ME: Ha! Give them my love!

BFF: Your… Puppy love? (womp womp)

ME: Yep. Lick them.

BFF: Omigod, I just drooled coffee all over myself LOL-ing at that!

In case you were wondering if my eyebrows look like this Snapchat filter when left untamed? Yeah, basically. Also, I should have worn my retainer more. My bottom teeth are back to being kind of janky and crooked. Fingers crossed my Mom doesn’t read this blog or she’ll find a way to get me a new retainer…

In case you were wondering what I did on the 4th of July, we had family over to enjoy the new back yard and watch the parade that goes right past our neighborhood.

Aunting is my favorite.

Aunting is my favorite.

Alright, you’re officially all caught up. What have you been up to? Tell me everything, Bookworms!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 09

Vacation: All I Ever Wanted

Personal 37

Hola Bookworms!

I’m sorry I was so scarce last week. Actually, I’m not. I was on vacation at Disney World. Because that’s how I roll. (No, I did not go to the Harry Potter parks. Another time, I assure you!) I didn’t warn y’all in advance because I saw once of 20/20 that you should never tell the internet when you’re not home. Not that I don’t trust YOU, my lovelies, but the nameless faceless internet? Eeep! I’m nothing if not paranoid. In any case. Pictures!

Here’s what we were eating…

disneyfood

Here I am going selfie crazy…

disneyselfies

It was also Flower and Garden Festival time at Epcot and, well, you know I had to capture the insane beauty of the topiaries, right?!

epcottopiaries

 

So yay! I’m back and I’m refreshed and I got a lot of reading done en route. What happened with y’all last week, Bookworms?

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Jun 19

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

Flowers 22

Happy Thursday, Bookworms!

Sometimes after having read something outside of my comfort zone, I like to follow it up with a comforting read. My happy place is women’s fiction. I hesitate to call it “chick lit,” because I tend to think of chick lit as sassy, but my comfort reads are decidedly sweet. I was in need of some comfort after reading (and maybe being a teeny bit traumatized by) Hannibal: Enemy of Rome so I picked up another Sarah Jio novel, The Violets of March

violets of marchSarah Jio man. She never disappoints with the sweetness, I tell you. The Violets of March begins with Emily Wilson attempting to recover from her recent divorce. After her picture perfect New York life crumbles, Emily takes refuge with her eccentric Aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island (a mere ferry ride away from Seattle.)

As Emily settles in with her aunt, she discovers a diary tucked into the guest room night stand. Completely enthralled by the story told in the diary, Emily’s own writer’s block begins to thaw as she uncovers a mystery dating back to 1943. Of course, it’s a Sarah Jio, so her trademark dual narrative style is on display in full force.

Y’all I think this is my favorite Sarah Jio to date. I liked the story lines in both the present and the past. It had quirky old ladies, mystery, flowers, and (of course) romance! If you’ve ever harbored a desire to escape your surroundings or suspected that flowers have mystical healing properties, you and this book will get along famously!

Fess up, Bookworms. How many of you have daydreamed about leaving your grown-up existence behind and holing up on an island? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will put it into the “buy myself a private island” fund, but give up and just put a clod of dirt in my bathtub and call it my island.*

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Mar 06

Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall

Flowers, Memoirs 6

Greetings Glorious Bookworms,

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but it is STILL winter here. The eternal, never done snowing, frozen, messy, gray, icky winter is still holding on. That hasn’t stopped me from pining away for spring time and my garden, though. That’s part of the reason why I was super jazzed when I given the opportunity to read Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall. *Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

mrowitaMister Owita’s Guide to Gardening is a sweet memoir in which Carol Wall tells the story of her unexpected friendship with the man she hired to tend her garden, Giles Owita.Carol had ZERO interest in gardening (heartbreaking, really), but is embarrassed by her bedraggled yard. When she sees her neighbor has hired landscaping help, she swoops in to see if he would be willing to take on another project.

Giles Owita is a Kenyan immigrant. In addition to his work as a landscaper, he holds jobs at a supermarket and a garden center. Carol, despite her best intentions, makes assumptions about Mr. Owita’s background and is mortified to learn that her assumptions were incorrect. Luckily, her sincere apologies for the occasional faux pas pave the way for them to forge a meaningful relationship.

The friendship between Carol and Giles is heartwarming. Between health problems and family complications, Carol and Giles support and encourage one another. And, of course, there are flowers. Let’s not forget about the flowers, because FLOWERS.

The only complaint I had about this book is that the conversations sounded a little too pretty… Real speech is full of “um’s” and fragments and awkward pauses. The dialogue was written in beautiful well-formed prose, but it didn’t hit me as conversational. Of course, that’s a teeny tiny complaint and it didn’t hinder my overall enjoyment of the book. If you’re withering this winter the way I am, give Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening a try!

And while we’re here and I’m still pining, let’s look at some of my flowers. I miss them so desperately!

my garden

What about you Bookworms? What are you looking forward to come spring? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jan 27

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

Flowers, Historical Fiction 19

Hidey Ho Bookworms!

I’ve been feeling more blah than usual this winter. Perhaps the double dose of polar vortex is taking its toll, but I’ve got cabin fever something fierce. I’ve been finding refuge in my comfort fiction- short-ish novels with pretty covers and garden motifs. A while back, one of my favorite people in the UNIVERSE, Jennifer AKA The Relentless Reader, offered up some spare copies of Sarah Jio’s novel The Last Camellia. I said, “me, me, pick me!!!” into the twitter, and she sent me a book out of the goodness of her heart. (Shout out to Jen, she’s got winter way worse than I do, she’s up in Northern Wisconsin.)

thelastcamelliaThe Last Camellia is written in a dual narrative, which is delicious, because I love ping ponging back and forth in time. I’m a regular Marty McFly. The first part of the story is set on the eve of World War II. Flora is a young woman living with her parents in Brooklyn. She has a passion for horticulture (girl after my own heart) but her ambitions are stymied by her family’s poverty. Her parents are extremely kind and generous in the running of their bakery, but when you’re not getting enough dough for your, uh, dough, shady characters show up and try to shake you down for money. When Flora is offered the opportunity to go to England and hunt down the last remaining Middlebury Pink Camellia, she jumps at her chance to make some money for the family. Unfortunately. she’s stealing the rare flower for a crook who plans to sell it to the Nazis, but her conscience takes a back seat when it comes to her family’s welfare.

The second narrative is that of Addison… Addison married Rex, the son of a well-to-do family with connections to England’s aritstocracy… Or part of the aristocracy? Titles confuse me. Anyway, they two end up spending their summer in the very same manor Flora occupied 60 years earlier, and Addison is particularly entranced by the camellia orchard. Sadly for Addison, she can’t just get her garden on, because she’s being stalked by her scandalous past. This book has intrigue and drama and mystery. A few of the mystery elements seemed a little rushed at the end, but all in all, I found this book to be a nice little read. I think it’s impossible for me not to like a book about flowers.

Alright Bookworms. Let’s talk about comfort reading. Is there a genre of books you feel drawn to? What’s your happy place?

*If you choose to make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will not be spending the proceeds on camellias, because APPARENTLY, it’s too cold for them in central Illinois. Hmph.*

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Aug 26

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway

Blogging, Contemporary Fiction, Flowers 28

Holy Moly. Bookworms!

Do you remember that reading slump I was whining about last week? It is so freaking BUSTED. I finished reading The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway all of 10 minutes ago and I am positively agog. Like… If this book were a dude, my husband might have something to worry about. All these things I love were wrapped up in this dainty little package and WHERE is my fainting couch?! I do believe I have the vapors!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It’s a good thing I’ve written more balanced reviews of books from publishers in the past, or you’d never believe I hadn’t been bribed. Apologies for the forthcoming unbridled enthusiasm. 

IMG_2911Gal is a 36 year old biology teacher. She has spent her life battling kidney disease and undergone two transplants. Her current bout of dialysis has been going on 8 years. When she isn’t having her blood filtered by machines or desperately trying to get her students to study, she breeds roses. Ordinary gardening just won’t do for this budding horticulturalist. She creates her own breeds of roses by cross pollinating and making hideously stinky batches of specialty fertilizer. She lives alone, as she’s never dated, and enjoys her life of solitude. One day, out of the blue, her 15 year old niece Riley is unceremoniously dropped into Gal’s life. What follows is a story of emotional restructuring, growing together, and, um, the de-thorning of souls. Or something. I’m waxing poetic because it’s just too much!

I’ve explained my love of flowers to you before. In case you somehow missed it, check out my review of The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh or my excitement for this year’s planting season. When I was a senior in high school I got a job in a flower shop. I’d always liked flowers well enough. I mean, who doesn’t? But over the course of two summers and some holiday seasons (college breaks and the like) I fell HARD for horticulture. I am fairly useless at the artistry of arranging, but nothing thrills me more than fresh blooms. Combining my love of flowers with my love of reading is a heady mixture, but the best part about this book for me was learning so much about rose breeding.

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All art eludes me, floral arranging to photography. Still. You must admit the orange roses are stunning in the hands of my bridesmaids.

I suppose that won’t strike YOU as terribly funny, because you don’t, in fact, live in my head. My middle name is Rose, but roses themselves have never been my favorite. I think the biggest reason is that I like to root for the underdog. Roses are just so… Done. Even my unartistic self could put together a vased arrangement of red roses. Yawn. They’re beautiful, but I’ve always felt they get too much of the spotlight. In fact, my bridal bouquet had not a single rose in it. My bridesmaids’ bouquets had roses in them, because OMG those Chelsea orange roses were just impossibly gorgeous, but still. I was stingy with them. Perhaps if I’d realized all that goes into cross breeding these suckers, I’d have been a little more open to the awesomeness of the rose!

It’s not just the flowers, though. Margaret Dilloway crafted a gorgeous narrative. Flaky family members, chronic illnesses, and Gal’s unyielding academic integrity enveloped my from the first pages. I was already completely hooked and loving this story. Then? Then she went and threw a penguin into the mix! I very nearly threw down the book and shrieked with utter delight. Ms. Dilloway, your rose vines have grown all up around my snarky little heart. Please excuse me now as I start thrusting copies of this book into the hands of unsuspecting strangers.

Bookworms, have you ever encountered a book that felt like it was written just for you? How do you feel about roses? What book would you use to accost random pedestrians? Talk to me, wormy worms! (But stay off my roses. Because you will RUIN them with your worm juices! Don’t act like you weren’t planning on inviting the aphids to your feast. I know you…)

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May 17

A Rose By Any Other Name (Confession Friday)

Blogging, Confession Friday, Flowers 44

Forgive me Bookworms,

I must confess that I’ve been neglecting you. I am officially the crazy flower lady. I took time off of work to plant my flowers this year. Seriously. Staycationing is totally a thing and flowers are like therapeutic for me. I love them so, so much! However, since I was shopping and planting and all that good stuff, I didn’t get a lot of reading done. The fresh air takes it out of you, thus I kept falling asleep during my ritualistic pre-bedtime reading. Sorry. But! I’m going to make it up to you by listing a bunch of literary characters with flower names. Are you excited yet?!

It will be more impressive in a couple of weeks, but FLOWERS!

It will be more impressive in a couple of weeks when they’ve had a chance to fill in, but FLOWERS!

1. Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling- Floral names are all the rage among the wizard set. From Lily Potter and her muggle sister Petunia Dursley to Narcissa Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson, and Lavender Brown, JK Rowling LOVED her some floral names. Even the French weren’t immune to the foliage as everyone’s favorite Beauxbatons student Fleur (Delacour) Weasley’s name is, well, French for flower.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins– I had to look it up, but Katniss is, in fact, a real plant. It’s not just some made up hybrid thing like a mockingjay or a tracker jacker. Primrose and Rue are floral names, too. (On a side note, I’ve always assumed that Peeta’s name was a play on pita, like the bread, because he’s a baker’s son and all. Anybody else think that or am I nuts?)

3. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald– My word it is just Gatsby mania out there right now! Baz Luhrmann touches something and the world goes bananas! Everywhere I turn there’s more hype and parties and 20s inspired accessories. It just so happens that my list is not immune as everyone’s favorite blonde with money in her voice is named DAISY Buchanan.

You're beginning to forgive me, I can tell!

You’re beginning to forgive me, I can tell!

4. The Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris, in the later books, featured a pair of botanically named sisters who also happened to be part demon. Their names were Diantha and Gladiola. Not sure why the demons got floral names and the fairies were called Claudine and Dermott, but hey. We’ll take what we can get.

5. Atonement by Ian McEwan boasts a main character with a floral name. Briony, our misguided protagonist is named for a flowering plant in the cucumber family. I did not know it was from the cucumber family until I googled. Now I want cucumbers.

6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott– This one’s a bit of a stretch BUT. Laurie from Little Women could be construed as a flower name. Lawrence (which Laurie is short for) means “crowned with laurel,” and laurel, as we know, is a flower!

Flowers, you guys! So many flowers!

Flowers, you guys! So many flowers!

7. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer features resident cranky barren vampress Rosalie. Her name is an obvious take off of Rose. I’m having a horrendous brain fart trying to think of other literary characters named Rose, which is probably because zillions exist but my memory is refusing to let me access them as punishment for maybe sort of wishing I could be a vampire that one time…

8. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold– Susie Salmon has quite the name. Not only is it “Salmon, like the fish” but Susan actually means lily or lotus flower. Betcha didn’t know that one (unless your name is Susan. I mean, I know that Katie/Kathryn/etc. is of Greek origin and means “pure” so all the Susans out there probably knew this already.)

9. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See- Okay, the main character is named Snow Flower, so there’s that. Chinese names are ALL ABOUT the flowers. Lots of Lotus and Peony and such when reading books set in China. Beautiful.

Am I forgiven yet? Am I?

Am I forgiven yet? Am I?

10. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell– I am cheating here, because Margaret Mitchell was the author and not a character, but I’m using her as an excuse to be a know-it-all. Daisy is a nickname for Margaret. For reals. Some varieties of daisy are referred to as Marguerites, which is a version of Margaret. Boom. Nailed it.

I hope you’re not too mad at me for neglecting you and throwing together a random list post. Do any of you Bookworms have favorite literary characters with floral names? Share and share alike, my dears. Who did I forget?

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Apr 30

Word To Your Mother: Top Ten Tuesday Collaborates and Listens

Children's Fiction, Classics, Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Humor, Time Travel, Top Ten Tuesday, Young Adult Fiction, Zombies 45

Salutations, Bookworms!

I know you stayed up all night trying to guess the topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and The Bookish, didn’t you?! This week we’ve been asked to list off the top ten words or phrases that make us want to pick up a book. I’m a refined consumer of literature, see? JUST because a book says something saucy on the book jacket doesn’t mean I’ll buy it, but there are some terms that don’t hurt a book’s chances. I may be a snob, but I’m highly susceptible to marketing tactics.

toptentuesday

1. Time Travel- Awww yeah, I love me some time travel. I typically prefer accidental time travel, so if there’s a deliberate machine involved? Probably not going to be my cup of tea. However. Outlander, The River of No Return, and The Time Traveler’s Wife? Yes, yes, and yes. Break me off a piece of that time space continuum.

2. Penguins- Hi, I’m Katie. Have we met? If we have met in the past, oh, 22 years or so, you know that PENGUINS are my spirit animal. Sadly, they don’t make a ton of appearances in books for grown ups, but hey, kids books are a thing. Remember If You Were a PenguinMr. Popper’s PenguinsOr how about when penguins DO show up in adult books, like the awesomeness that was the trip to Antarctica in Where’d You Go BernadettePenguins can ONLY help you, I say! Penguins forever! (Seriously. Just ask Alfred. Or Josie.)

PENGUIN LOVE

PENGUIN LOVE

3. Plague- This probably makes me horrible, but plagues are fascinating! Reading up on the bubonic plague in Ken Follett’s World Without End was the shiz-nit. And the letumosis outbreak in Cinder? That’s where it’s at! And my heavens, THE STANDThe mother-loving Stand, people!!!

4. Flowers- I LOVE flowers. Darn near as much as I love penguins. It can be pretty intense. So, when flowers feature heavily in a story I do some serious geeking out. Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s Language of Flowers was amazing. More of this, please, author types. (Gardens are good, too, but I don’t grow vegetables. Has anyone else noticed that Alice Hoffman is maybe a little obsessed with growing tomatoes? No? Just me? Moving on then…)

5. Zombie- “What’s in your heeeeeeeeeeeeeeead, in your heeeeeeead, zombie, zombie, zo-omb-a-yuh-a-yuh-a-yuh!” Don’t pretend that you don’t rock out to The Cranberries. And if you legitimately don’t rock out to The Cranberries, don’t tell me, because, yodel-y Irish rock from the 90s kicks arse. But really. I like for real Zombies, too. World War Z and Warm Bodies are my JAM

6. History- I am a sucker for historical fiction. Chilling in ancient Greece like in The Song of Achilles or dabbling in the Underground Railroad and rocking a bonnet like in The Last Runaway or experiencing the scandalous world of the Tudor court in, well, basically anything by Philippa Gregory… It’s the only way I can time travel, and really the only way I WANT to time travel. Indoor plumbing is my favorite.

7. Dystopia- It’s almost ridiculous the amount I adore screwy fractured future scenarios. The Giver and The Hunger Games and Brave New World and 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale just make me feel warm and fuzzy about our effed up present. Let’s face it y’all. It could be a whole lot worse. Gratitude, brought to you by oppressive governments, lack of color, religious persecution, and kids fighting to the death for sport! 

8. Saga- Sweeping epics are right up my alley. The word “saga” implies length and drama and change and grand scale. Les Miserables and Gone With The Wind and The Pillars of The Earth are some of my favorites. If it couldn’t be made into a mini-series or a very long movie, I want nothing to do with it. (That isn’t really true. See this? Terrible liar. I tell you IMMEDIATELY when I lie. I also like books that couldn’t be long movies and mini series, but it didn’t WORK with my POINT there. Ugh. I’m a walking vial of sodium pentothal.)

9. Whimsy- I’ve mentioned how fervently I adore Amy Sherman-Palladino, head writer of Gilmore Girls and Bunheads haven’t I? Yes. I know. I obviously have. One of my all time favorite quotes came out of Kirk, Stars Hollow’s resident weirdo when he was describing his new Condoleeza Rice decorative mailbox: “Whimsy goes with everything.” Whimsy DOES go with everything, books in particular. Alice in Wonderland probably gets to wear the tiara for most whimsical title of all time, but Harry Potter, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, and The Night Circus aren’t in short supply on the whimsy front.

Curiouser and curiouser...

Curiouser and curiouser…

10. Awkward- I spent the weekend with some of the world’s most excellent friends, and we were discussing high school. They both said that they had enjoyed themselves. I said, “I was too busy being morose and wearing really baggy pants.” Both of those things are true, and both are reasons I have a serious soft spot for the awkward characters. Bridget Jones? Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Eleanor & Park? To paraphrase a song I heard far too often at wedding receptions, “These are my people. This is where I come from.” Teen angst is CHARACTER BUILDING, dangit!

Oh Bookworms, my Bookworms, what are some of the words and phrases that make YOU think you’ll like a book?

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Mar 04

We've "Reached" the End

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Young Adult Fiction 21

Hello Dear Bookworms,

I’ve been a bit grouchy with Ally Condie’s Matched series so far, so it is with great pleasure that I announce: I liked Reached! How is this even possible?! Read on my friends, read on.

Condie-Ally-Reached

When we last left the gang, Cassia, Ky, Indie, and Xander has all joined The Rising. Ky and Indie are sent to flight school while Cassia and Xander have been assigned to serve The Rising from within The Society. Now they’re double agents.

You know how The Rising decides to take over The Society? Biological warfare. A plague “mysteriously” breaks out that renders people comatose. If they’re left untreated, they die. Now, I’m not giving Condie a free pass here. The “plague” sounded an AWFUL lot like being petrified by the basilisk in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. The Rising plans to take over things by riding in on their white horse of a vaccine and cure. (Which, thankfully, is not made of mandrake root…) I realize The Society eliminated most pre-society history, but seriously. Why do people never learn? Viruses mutate! If you release a virus on a large population, you should expect it to mutate. For heaven’s sake, they have to make new flu vaccines every year! Ugh. People. No matter how much science they get, they still do dumb things.

So. Now there’s a plague. Cassia and Ky are separated. Indie is still kind of a sociopath. Xander is busy being a doctor and trying to do the right thing. I’m just so thankful that Cassia and Ky were separated because Cassia finally becomes her own person! She stops being the “OMG I LOVE KY” single minded teen-bot and starts writing poetry and organizing an art gallery and thinking thoughts. Thank heavens, because she was a few pages away from being thrown into the uninspiring heroine category with Ana Steele and Bella Swan.

How is it that I don’t even want to get all spoiler-y on you when I’ve been so mean to the rest of this series? Really, I didn’t HATE the other two books, they were just formulaic and seemed to “borrow” a bit too liberally from everything that had gone before. But then. THEN! Condie like, recognizes that and ADDRESSES it in one of Cassia’s “A-Ha” moments. She comes out and says something to the effect of “there is nothing original and someone has already done it better, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create.” Self awareness.

Leichtlins_Mariposa_Lily,_Yosemite

This flower SAVES THE WORLD. Well. Mostly anyway.

Remember the people who lived outside The Society? The farmers who were chilling in the Carving? The Rising has is flabbergasted by the mutation of the plague and is on the cusp of killing off the very people they tried to “liberate.” As a last ditch effort, the illustrious Pilot sends Ky, Cassia, and Xander out into an agrarian village to try and work on a cure for the mutated plague. Now, I love the idea that the antidote to the plague was a flower, but… I’m a big fan of Western medicine. Like, if you’ve got, oh I don’t know, LEPROSY, I think you should get thee to a doctor and get some antibiotics. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go digging up flower bulbs to try and cure ailments that have clear effective established treatments. However. When regular medicine isn’t working? Maybe trying some herbal remedies wouldn’t hurt.

I don’t know if it was the plague (because, HELLO The Stand) or the fact that the characters seemed to mature emotionally or the idea that a FLOWER saved humanity. Probably the flower part. Katie loves flowers.  But. The Matched series was saved by Reached. I feel a whole lot less hostile now, which is always a good thing. What do you think, Bookworms? Anybody else finish the series?

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