The Language of Flowers

The Language of FlowersThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was not at all what I was expecting. With no time period mentioned in the description, I was expecting a historical novel – Victorian or early 20th century. I would put this in the ’60s/70s or perhaps 70s/80s since there is mention of a microwave oven, but no cell phones or computers. Hard to say for sure. I was also expecting a love story, and it really was more about coming of age and dealing with a painful past. It alternates between Victoria at age 9-10, and age 18-20 something. It is also about an older woman, and her quest for reconciliation with her estranged sister, and what it means to be a family. Themes of foster care, abuse and recovery, motherhood, post-partum depression, worthiness, and family. A solid three stars, but not outstanding. Parts of it dragged for me but all things considered it was a good read, and would be a good choice for book clubs.

Description: The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

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The Wine of Angels

The Wine of Angels (Merrily Watkins, #1)The Wine of Angels by Phil Rickman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have FINALLY finished this book! Started it a couple years ago, borrowed from the library the next county over. It’s a chunkster and I had to return it because of holds. So then I bought the ebook and started over, and made it more than halfway before I got bogged down with other things I had to read, and just never seemed to pick it up again. However, I liked it. I like it a lot – the setting, the characters, all the threads of the mystery, with some paranormal events, the themes of good vs. evil, religion vs. pagan beliefs and folk customs, a woman vicar (okay – “priest in charge”), a teenage daughter with WAY too much freedom – let’s just say she doesn’t lead a sheltered life!

I knew if I wanted to finish this book, I would have to get it on audio. Well, the library didn’t have it. Interlibrary loan didn’t have it. So I took the plunge and decided to join Audible. Will it be worth the $15 a month? Well, I already bought the sequel and looking forward to it. I just don’t read the way I did when I was young. And I drive. A lot. So yay for audiobooks! The narrator was very good.

Oh yes, I should also say, this takes place in Herefordshire on the Welsh border. I have ancestors from there (Wales and Herefordshire…) The author is from that area and knows his “people.” The book is very atmospheric of both the place and the people. Loved it! Took off a star, because I like to give a series room to grow, and because I got bogged down in the length and the exposition in the print version. The tension really ratcheted up at the end and almost became a thriller. Then the ending… seemed anti-climactic. But I will definitely go on with the series. I need to learn how Merrily becomes an exorcist in the next book….

Description: The new vicar had never wanted a picture-postcard parish—or a huge and haunted vicarage. Nor had she wanted to walk into a dispute over a controversial play about a 17th-century clergyman accused of witchcraft, a story that certain long-established families would rather remained obscure. But this is Ledwardine, steeped in cider and secrets. A paradise of cobbled streets and timber-framed houses. And also—as Merrily Watkins and her teenage daughter, Jane, discover—a village where horrific murder is a tradition that spans centuries.

Narrated by Rebecca Lacey.

 

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales 1

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales 1FukuFuku: Kitten Tales 1 by Kanata Konami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 rounded up. I love Chi’s Sweet Home, so when I saw this I took it to read on my lunch break. Same cute illustrations that really capture what being a cat is all about. But the story, a Japanese grandmother reminiscing about her cat’s kittenhood, lacks the emotional impact of the Chi stories. Very low key, just a kitten and new owner getting to know each other. We follow FukuFuku through her first year. I liked the segments based on holidays – Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, etc. And the dream sequence as FukuFuku (Alice) in Wonderland was cute.

Description: Vignettes in the life of a kitten and her doting owner, wherein even the most mundane things appear exciting and fresh (and sometimes unpleasant or scary), as we discover the world from a tiny cat’s point of view.

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was an absolute delight. Laugh-out-loud funny, with interesting characters, but it will also tug at your heart. Ove has lost his wife, the love of his life, and all sense of purpose. In his grief and despair, he plans to kill himself, (but only if conditions meets his sense of what is proper). Needless to say, he gets interrupted repeatedly by neighbors needing him for one thing or another. He even becomes something of a local hero when he plans to jump in front of a passing train and ends up rescuing a man who has fallen on the tracks. We alternate between the present day and episodes from Ove’s past that explain how he became the man he is, and he learns to find the man that he WAS.

Description: Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon – the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Audiobook narrated by George Newbern.