I received The Naked Gardener at the start of November. It came direct from the author as a giveaway to participate in a book discussion over at The Next Best Book Club. The book came and immediately made me smile with its extra touch of including a package of flower seeds attached to the book with a pretty ribbon. I began to wonder...are these flowers so that I too can garden naked? The thought of it made me giggle. There is no way I am doing THAT. I may have a tall fence but there is also an apartment block towering over my neighbourhood and who knows how far their “peeping Tom” eyes can reach :D I began to read almost immediately, wondering what was in store for me in what seemed on the outside a crazy little book.
Well, the book surprised me in such a great way. Both the writing style combined with the interests and the voice of the book’s main character, Katelyn, spoke to me in a way that seemed incredibly close to life. Within the first few chapters I began to wonder if I was really reading fiction or if I was somehow mistaken and reading non-fiction instead. I even went so far to check the back of the book and online as well. It was indeed fiction and this really impressed me. One of the things I enjoyed most at the beginning of the novel was the description of gardening and Katelyn’s summer home. The gardening scenes reminded me much of both my mother and grandmother in their own gardens (okay, leave out the naked part, and there you go). However, as the book continued and Katelyn’s group of friends went on a weekend-long canoe trip this burst of reality came to life on a whole new level for me. The conversations these women have and their reactions to each other were yet again faithful to the way (I believe) many women actually act in real life.
On yet another level, L.B. Gschwandtner brings up the issues of equality in women’s lives, the importance of being one’s own person, and finding a place in the world (in a woman’s own life, with her own wishes and own circumstances). I’m not sure I quite understood everything she was doing here while I was reading the story or if I necessarily agreed with every detail of it. However, I really enjoyed how this was done. I really started to think about the issues of feminism and the downfalls of being “too preachy” with feministic agendas (the issue of equality really stands out here) in fiction. When I think of feminism I tend to think of a lot of negativity towards men or women trying to act like men to get what they want. I like LB’s gentle approach instead – lifting women up, allowing them to feel great about who they are (rather than trying to change them) and not trying to downplay too much the importance of men in women’s lives. I can’t be sure if this is the reason or if there is another I have not thought of, but I felt a constant air of joy while reading this story. There are some “complaints”, some tough decisions, and a few predicaments the women get themselves into. Somehow throughout all this I managed to have a constant smile on my face while reading – a joyful smile. Periodically – giggles.
But before I get too deep into what I liked most about this book I’d like to point out one small problem I had – and the only thing really holding it back from me considering this a perfect read. I did find it hard to relate to some of the characters. I’m not sure if this is because four of the characters backgrounds and physical descriptions are given to the reader one after the other and my memorizing skills just don’t work that way or for the following reason. L.B. points out in our discussion that she purposefully tries to show women at various stages of their lives. Looking back, it does make sense that the women I connected to most were those closest to my own age. I think this was a very clever way to create difference in her characters as well. I just wish I could have connected to all of them, but perhaps this just goes to show how much I loved the overall story that I actually cared about wanting to connect with the characters at all.
I would highly recommend this book. For anyone reading my review and thinking they would like these things also – I urge you to seek out this book. Then you too may have a smile on your face!(less)
**spoiler alert** BAD POINT 1: This book has a vampire that eats childrens balls. Balls. For dinner. Seriously. He cuts off little boys balls and eats...more**spoiler alert** BAD POINT 1: This book has a vampire that eats childrens balls. Balls. For dinner. Seriously. He cuts off little boys balls and eats them for dinner. For dinner. Ser.i.ous.ly. I still can`t get over it !!!!!!!!
BAD POINT 2: This book has a scene with a newly `undead` man with a constant erection attempting to rape one of these castrated boys who had already had his privates eaten for dinner. Ser.ious.ly!!!
BAD POINT 3: Halfway through this book you find out that the person the author was calling a girl is actually a boy. Make up your mind man!
BAD POINT 4: Characters have a big thing about speaking in broken sentences. There are whole converstations like this. Not enough to be part of the writing style, enough for a person to notice and start getting annoyed after the tenth or so time. Seriously, whole converstations go something like this: ``...did you...`` ``...but then...`` ``...well what...`` Then she walked out of the room.
Other converstations go like this: ``talking talking talking. A few sentences. Okay now lets stop in the middle of a sentence here and then say...`` The rest of the converstation went this way.
So obviously, all four of these things really bothered me. It actually wasn`t going so bad in the beginning. I could have dealt with some annoying writing techniques. The story wasn`t good but not terrible either. I was going to give it three stars meanig ``average``. But then the book started to crash and burn right around the time Eli`s name is short for Elias and the girl is actually a boy. Then the whole castration thing and then I think I read the rest of the book with a frown on my face.
But there were some unique-ish things to this book that I really enjoyed. Like how Eli was not only 12 physically but stayed 12 mentally as well even 200 years later. Like the way he dealt with having to kill people to survive (``I deserve to live too``, ``I`m no different from you``, etc). Like he relationship between Oskar and Eli - two little children who have no friends and find each other. How the author dealt with what I guess you could call vampire suicides. How fragile the vampires bodies actually were even if they could only actually be killed certain ways. Like the way a kiss on the lips from the vampire could allow them to get into the other person`s head, show them memories. Like the way I could see everything written on the big screen.
All in all though I felt this book was just too messy. There were way too many characters (I could have dealt without any of the drunk gang scenes), way too many storylines, etc etc. It kind of felt like the author wanted to fit all his ideas into this one book. Some of them were great and actually made we want to keep reading despite all the bad stuff. And others were just sick fantasies. (less)
Where do I start with this book? The writing is beautiful and it has a very distinct voice. The story is told from the perspective of four very different women during the summers of the 1920s to 1940’s. We know that some sort of tragedy occurred during this time period but we aren’t given the whole picture. In this way we are taken on a journey that allows these four women to come to terms with what has happened and the roles they played. Here is what makes the writing voice so distinct. The story really isn’t told as if it is a series of events that start at point A and end at point B. Instead it’s very psychological in nature. Basically, imagine a story where the events in a person’s life are told exactly as they are thought about. Imagine a story where when you question “what is that person thinking?” or “what’s that person’s side of the story?” or “does he/she ever think about that time?” we get to see exactly that. As said, the writing was beautiful, but this wasn’t just for the lyrical quality of it but the glimpse of raw emotional and psychological peril we are thrown into. The story was captivating and the characters are ones you will love to hate when you get to the core of it.
The problem I have with this book is – who do I recommend it to? I have a very hard time coming up with an answer to this question. I know that I thought the book was great, but will others? The story can be very repetitive at times both within the same person’s perspective and crossing into all four of them. The characters were very hard to get a hold of in terms of who’s who at the beginning of the story (thanks to the writer for including a character list at the beginning of the book!). The writer also does something that I know a lot of readers are not fond of – telling instead of showing. Don’t get me wrong, I want to recommend this book. I want to hand over my copy to family and friends so they can read it too. But I can’t be too sure that repetition and ‘telling’ won’t be bothersome to them.
If you like experimental writing styles, lyrical qualities, and family stories with mysteries to them you may like this book. But just beware of the potential that this book may not be an easy read.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the writer in order to participate in a September book discussion over at The Next Best Book Club (Goodreads group)(less)
I found the first few essays were really weak for me. Not funny at all. After that it really picked up and surprised me how much I really ended up lau...moreI found the first few essays were really weak for me. Not funny at all. After that it really picked up and surprised me how much I really ended up laughing. I'm not sure if I'd read more of his books but I'm glad I ended up enjoying this one in the end.(less)
I'm 50% through and just can't frustrate myself anymore with trying to understand Austen's writing. The story doesn't thrill me either, although I do...moreI'm 50% through and just can't frustrate myself anymore with trying to understand Austen's writing. The story doesn't thrill me either, although I do really like the characters Elizabeth, Mr & Mrs Bennett, Mr Fitzwilliam, and Mr Darcy. I am determined to finish this somehow so I'll be trying to read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. The writing does seem more accessible and the zombies fun based on the samples I've read.
And just to note, one star is what I give ALL books I tried SO hard to finish but couldn't. I'm just trying to be fair here. *goes to cower in a corner from her GR friends who ALL gave P&P five stars*(less)
Oh my. It seems like I'm giving up on books more and more lately. But after picking this up a second time from the library to see if I could finish it...moreOh my. It seems like I'm giving up on books more and more lately. But after picking this up a second time from the library to see if I could finish it, I have to admit to myself. I just don't get it. Not that I don't understand. I just don't see the point - for me, anyways. Most of the plot is nonexistent and any 'lesson' the book is trying to teach - well, I already learned those lessons in my four years majoring in anthropology. So what's left? I finally learned what people mean when they say 'life's too short to read books you don't like'. Now this seems kind of harsh. But seriously, it's just not for me. There's no getting around it this time. It didn't take me six weeks to read 100 pages for no reason!
I was hoping this book would be mostly about Mary Boleyn since I already knew the story of Anne. And so in that way it made me disappointed. The narra...moreI was hoping this book would be mostly about Mary Boleyn since I already knew the story of Anne. And so in that way it made me disappointed. The narrator, Mary spends much of her time gawking at Anne, describing her clothes, her moods, and all her scandalous deeds and in the process loses much of her own story. I loved the parts with William Stafford but those always seemed cut too short.
It's not a bad book about Anne Boleyn. In fact, it's so flushed out (especially with scandal) that I feel it's the only fiction book about her I'll ever have to read. It's just not a good book about Mary Boleyn. There is too much left unanswered and her character seemed too much Anne-obsessed. I would have liked also to read about her years with her children and William after her family fell from power which does not happen here.
I would like to see Gregory's treatment of the others (like Katharine, Princess Mary, and Elizabeth). Maybe I'll give those a try and see if I like them any better.(less)
This isn't the kind of book that is easy to say "Yes, I liked it" or "No, I didn't like it". At times it's light hearted, other times so sad and depre...moreThis isn't the kind of book that is easy to say "Yes, I liked it" or "No, I didn't like it". At times it's light hearted, other times so sad and depressing, the characters get on your nerves, or you feel like - that person -you know, and you love. Sometimes you want to lull and stay in it forever and other times you just want to finish it to get it over with. The way Elizabeth Strout has made the most simple things in life into something to really ponder and reflect on can really get to you if you let it. It's really kinda brilliant if you think about it.(less)
It's worth reading if for nothing else, at least what it teaches the reader about how rich and interesting the history of historical documents and art...moreIt's worth reading if for nothing else, at least what it teaches the reader about how rich and interesting the history of historical documents and artifacts can be. I did find it frustrating to read the mini stories though because just as I would figure out who all the characters were and get attached enough to want to know more about them, the story would end. It was sort of like reading the beginning of a book over and over but never getting to find out what happens once you finally reach the interesting bits.(less)
Loved the story and the way it was written. It was hard to put down at times. I wanted to find out what happened to Hanna and how their relationship e...moreLoved the story and the way it was written. It was hard to put down at times. I wanted to find out what happened to Hanna and how their relationship ended but the trial and Michael's realizations about her were very interesting too. (less)
I'm disappointed I didn't like this book more. I felt this feeling the whole time though - unconvinced. Not sure why. Maybe it was Juliet's character...moreI'm disappointed I didn't like this book more. I felt this feeling the whole time though - unconvinced. Not sure why. Maybe it was Juliet's character or maybe the letters format or both.(less)
I didn't enjoy all of them but overall a pretty good collection. Poe is a great author. I'm glad I read this.
Contents/thoughts: The Gold-Bug, (NOV 19/2...moreI didn't enjoy all of them but overall a pretty good collection. Poe is a great author. I'm glad I read this.
Contents/thoughts: The Gold-Bug, (NOV 19/2009): An interesting story to begin with. It has great promise with an actual gold bug and this crazy lunatic looking for gold. But halfway through it pretty much just turns into an instruction booklet for deciphering codes.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue, (OCT 23/2009): This is my favourite by far. The manner in which the main character comes to his conclusion is a fascinating look into a person's thought process and the outcome is just classic.
The Balloon-Hoax, (AUG 2/ 2009): It doesn't seem plausible to me (despite all the detail!), but I think I'd still be angry at the newspaper for publishing a story as news!
The Purloined Letter, (AUG 1/2009): A lot of pointless blabber and then an ending that makes no sense?
A Descent into the Maelström, (OCT 23/2009): I found the first half of this one a little dull with extensive description of what the maelstrom was but the last few pages were really interesting and I thought, worth it.
The Black Cat, (AUG 1/2009): Definitely decided I can't bring myself to read this one. Sounds just too horrible.
The Fall of the House of Usher, (OCT 22/2009): Their shock at the end of the story was surprising. It seemed from earlier on with the mention of "the experiment" that they knew what they were doing. I think the two of them were NUTS!
The Masque of the Red Death, (OCT 22/2009): Something about this one seemed different than the rest. Less deceitful at the ending I think. There wasn't any really big reveal at the end that got to me.
The Cask of Amontillado, (JULY 3/2009): It was a good story. I didn't quite get the ending though. I had to look it up to see if what I thought it meant was really what it meant (would have helped if I knew Latin I guess).
The Pit and the Pendulum, (JULY 8/2009): Parts of it were interesting, but overall not as good as the previous two I read.
and The Tell-Tale Heart (JULY 1/2009): Very intense! Must watch episode of Simpsons with Lisa and her little display now. (less)
There are over 2000 reviews of this book on GoodReads right now. So let me do this a little less conventionally. Here’s a little look into my mind as...moreThere are over 2000 reviews of this book on GoodReads right now. So let me do this a little less conventionally. Here’s a little look into my mind as I read this tale.
* Beginning - Blomkvist is boring…why do I care about all this background info? What does it have to do with the prologue at all?!? *Beginning - Salander is interesting…the book is titled after her character….why so much Blomvist and so little Salander?!? * I want to literally reach into the book, grab Bjurman by the throat and squeeze as tight as possible. * So the tale finally begins…and then…oh crap…MORE background info? I thought we were done with this. I don’t mind so much the background info. But does it have to go on for pages and pages at a time without any movement or action to split it up? * Thank goodness Salander figured that crap out. I’m not so sure I could handle any more of that creep. * OHHHHHH!!!!! The interactions with the Vanger family are so interesting. This mystery I must see solved now. * OH CRAP OH CRAP OH CRAP….I can’t put it down…I try, but it doesn’t work. Hmmm…good thing my husband is currently also obsessed with his own entertainment. Otherwise I’m not sure how I’d resist reading more… * Wow…this book dealt with some pretty insane issues. * I’m thinking now how profound this storyline actually is. How many women in the world have been sexually abused , raped, or molested? It’s pretty hard to go through life without knowing at least one person. * I want to cry! Salander is right though, about how to deal with things in the end. I have to agree with her 100%. Why should any victims suffer more. Not that people shouldn’t be punished…but why should EVERYONE have to know about it? It’s not fair to the victim. * I’m not so sure I care about the ending and the whole Wennerstrom thing. But at least it was interesting and fun to read.
The benefits of reading a book by a Swedish man when this is your heritage: - Your name gets spelled correctly….It’s with a K people!!! Although…I think I would have hated being called Ricky. - Your family name gets spelled correctly…it’s Nilsson NOT Nelson people! (not that it matters any more…my grandfather gave in anyways and it’s not my last name anymore) - Getting another taste of the geography which you researched as a kid but you had since forgotten. - It’s a modern story and not all nostalgic which is what people do here when you remember your heritage but forget that the country actually has a life of it’s own.
5/5 for giving me much to think about, dealing with important societal issues, and writing which makes it absolutely impossible to put the book down.