Book Review: Naked in Eden

Robin Easton did an admirable thing.  Robin had been mildly autistic her whole life and, like many people, she recognized that something wasn’t quite right with her life.  She lived her life trying to “do the right thing.  Being polite.  Orderly.  Don’t rock the boat.  Never contradict anyone or break the rules, and always ‘think before you act.'”  She recognized she wasn’t happy living like that.

“Most days, I walked in a dark shadow of vague fear, lost and detached from all that most people hold dear: friends, family, and a sense of home and belonging.”

She believed if she didn’t “somehow awaken to life” she would die.

Then she met Ian.  Ian, an Australian and Robin’s soul-mate, is her complete opposite.  Where Robin was a rule follower, Ian was a rule breaker.  Where Robin was cautious, Ian was adventurous.  Where Robin cared what others though, Ian didn’t give a thought to it.   They instantly fell in love and moved into together.  One day, after taking several jobs as a model and finding herself miserable. Ian asked Robin what she did like doing.  Without hesitation, she said what she loved most was being in the mountains camping and hiking.  He promptly took her to the mountains, in the middle of the night, seeing it was what she needed.  And it was.  Ian taught her to follow impulse.

It is impulse that sends the pair out into the Australian Rain Forest.  To life.  Just the two of them.  And it is there, despite the dangerous animals, the insects, the deadly poisonous snakes, the stinging trees, the mud and the muck and the filth, and the Loss of Modern Day Conveniences that Robin becomes acutely aware of herself and the things around her.  To sound cliche, she becomes ‘one with nature.’

Sounds like a great book, doesn’t it?  For the most part, it was, there were just some parts.  Some parts that were… out there.  Like the whole talking with (not to, WITH) the trees and the animals.  The instantly knowing that the man you just met is the man you’ve known you would marry ever since you were four years old.  And I am all for love, butthis?

The first day I met Ian complete recognition washed over me. I felt I had always known him. I knew he was the person I’d waited for since I was four and a half years old. … When I met Ian, my life finally became real. (pg 21)

I’m sorry.  I love my husband but he did not make my life real.  I do not believe any one, man, woman, but perhaps child, could make my life real.  I make my life real.

But these are minor quibbles.  In the end, I admire Robin for taking control of her life.  I  had a hard time, initially, with her writing style, especially the dialect Australian.  I mean, what the heck does “strewth” mean? Anyone?  Marg?  And I am a creature of comfort.  As in, I like my chairs, my air conditioning and my oven, so the whole giving it all up and going wild went a little over my head.  Yet I can definitely see where some people would love this.  There were parts I enjoyed!  But in the end, it just wasn’t quite for me.  Definitely give it a glance though, perhaps you will be inspired to follow a few impulses of your own.

Naked in Eden: My Adventure and Awakening in the Australian Rainforest
Written by Robin Easton
Published by: HCI
Format: Hardback
Pages: 264
On Sale: September 1, 2010
ISBN: 978-0757315121

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Saturday Farmer's Market

Well. I finally did it.

Yep. I ripped it (almost) all up.  Just the small jalapeno plant is left and I don’t think it will make it much longer.  Looks kinda lonely, doesn’t it?  The poor jalapeno plant is the only thing left!

I got up all the herbs that won’t come back.  The basil, the tarragon, the parsley.

And check this out.  All that honeysuckle and stuff I ripped out from beside the carport?  It had choked off my rose bushes.  I thought they were dead.  But look!

It has grown almost a foot in the two weeks since I cut all that back.  It was barely 2 inches off the ground!  And that, my friends, is why plants are awesome and will outlive us all.

How does your garden grow this week?  Or, rather, not?  Tomorrow I will plant my collards, spinach and perhaps carrots?  You’ll see next week!

Book Review: Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire

At first glance, this sounded like the perfect book for me.  I mean, it’s about plants.  Hello?  So me, right?

I don’t know what happened, but I knew next to nothing going into this book.  I know I’ve seen reviews, several trusted bloggers loved it, but somehow, none of the descriptions of the book stuck in my overcrowded brain. Big surprise, right?  But it was cool, sometimes I like to come into a book completely blind.  It reminds me of the old, pre-blogging, days when I picked up books on a whim.  Ya know?

So, anyway, this book is about finding yourself.  Or, rather, it’s about Lila Nova finding herself.  Fresh off a painful divorce, Lila is taking baby steps.  She has her own place and, now that she’s feeling a little stronger, she thinks it’s time to try taking care of something else.  So, she buys a plant.  But not just ANY plant.  No, New York City living, advertising executive working Lila buys a tropical plant.  It’s a bird-of-paradise and she is instantly attracted to the seller, David Exley.  Exley is hot and it isn’t long before, well, you know how it goes.  David introduces her to the my of the nine plants of desire.  The legend goes that whomever owns all nine plants will have their wildest dreams fulfilled.  Then, how convenient!  She meets Armand, who claims to own all nine plants.  As you would imagine, obsession seems to follow this myth wherever it goes and Lila is quickly just as obsessed as everyone else.

Lila is naive.  She trusts EVERYBODY and as a result, she’s off on an adventure of a lifetime, in the Yucatán.   Alone.  In the rain forest.  And here, things get pretty exciting.

Don’t let my flippancy fool you.  I really enjoyed this novel.  I thought it was great fun!  And wow, I never quite realized how, well, sexy plants could be!  There were a few blush-worthy moments in this book, let me tell ya.  Quite a few sexy-times!  But don’t let that put you off; nothing is really heavily described or anything.  I loved the characters.  Lila was more than just a New York City Ad Executive looking to find herself.  Berwin gave her personality beyond that.  What could have been a caricature was not.  Exley was more than just a plant salesman, more than just a lover, friend, and bad guy.  Armand was, by far, my favorite character with his lovely laundry, his lovely home deep in the wilds of the rain forest, and with his robust sense of humor.  And Diego.  Oh, Diego.   Want to know more about him?  You really should read the book.  But, if I was a cat, I would purr.

What’s more,  Berwin has a wonderful way with words.  It is like poetry!  Her descriptions of the different plants, of the rain forest, of everything are so lush and gorgeous.  For instance:

“Plants need roots because they can’t move on their own. Their roots serve them well, stopping them from getting blown all over the place by the wind. But we humans can move around at will, and our roots hold us in place unnecessarily. Usually in a place we don’t want to be. Then, when we try to move, we rip our roots, and it hurts, so we end up staying right where we are.”


“It was a color I didn’t realize the earth could make without the help of human beings. I knew the water would be blue, but I had in mind a tamer, more pastel blue: a light color through which all the sand and fish underneath would be clearly visible. This water was like super-wavy, lit up turquoise, and so beautiful I could hardly take my eyes off it. The moment I was spellbound by the color of the water was the moment I knew I had been in New York for to long and my decision to leave was a good one.”

Gorgeous!  I’m so glad I was able to join the tour for this book.  It wasn’t everything I expected, it was more and less, but it was a wonderful read.

Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire
Written by Margot Berwin
General/Literary Fiction
Published by: Vintage
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
On Sale: June 1, 2010
ISBN: 978-0307390547
Rated: 4/5

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event to list the books  finished last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books.!

Wow, what a week we had last week, huh? BBAW reached new levels of fun for me and I am so glad I got to take part in it every day.  Thank you My Friend Amy, for giving us another week of love!  🙂

I had a pretty good last week, despite struggling with a small reading slump after finishing the excellence that was The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I finished White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black, read by Jesse Eisenberg which was really fun.  Jesse Eisenberg (actor; Zombieland, Adventureland and that new film about Facebook) made listening to this book a LOT of fun. I can’t wait for the next one.  I also zipped through Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin, which I reviewed today.   It was fun too.   I read one Angela Carter short story for the Short Story Peril.  It was the first story in Saints and Sinners, but I can’t remember the name of it.  It was about Lizzie Borden though and quite good.  I do so love Angela Carter!

The biggest news however, is, that I am reading and LOVING and I mean LOVING Dracula by Bram Stoker.  This is such a shock to me.  I have promised to read Dracula the last FIVE RIP challenges and, despite making it through Jonathan Harker’s first section last year, I haven’t read it yet.  I am over 150 pages into it as of right now and it is very hard to put it down.  It is just so astonishingly brilliant!  I don’t know what my problem has been the last 4 years, but I’m so glad I straightened myself out and really STARTED it. 

I also started Naked in Eden this past Friday.  I’ll be reviewing it next Monday.  I’m listening to How to Buy the Love of Reading, even though I have a print copy.  I’ve been desperate to read it, but, with so many other books to read, it felt like listening was the best way to fit it in.  I really like the reader, Renee Raudman, so I think this one will be a lot of fun.  I’m hoping to get to Jennifer Donnelly’s new book Revolution later this week.  I absolutely adore Donnelly’s writing, I’ve read all her books, so I particularly anxious to get to this one!

How was your reading week?

Saturday Farmer's Market

Saturday Farmer’s Market is a new feature I started to showcase, well, gardens!  This summer especially, I have really come to enjoy everyone’s garden posts and I selfishly want to see them all, every week!  And as you all know, I’m all about the sustainable living!  So give me your garden photos, your gardening books you’re reading, even give me pictures of your Farmer’s Market loot from the week!  I want it ALL.

Lookie what I gots for me today!

They are so awesome!  I was ripping out corn root beds (dude, do you know how big those things get? I HAD NO IDEA!) and tomato plant roots and grass and weeds and the dirt.  The dirt fell right off!  It didn’t soak in like on my old gloves, I just dusted it off!  I am in gardening heaven!!

My garden looks a right sorry state at the moment, hence no picture.  I am just too embarrassed.  And it’s so dang hot out there, I just couldn’t work on it any more today.  Maybe tomorrow.  I will show you what is growing wild in the very back of my yard.  I really need to get it all out of there, but there is something appealing about having a wild corner of the yard, ya know?

What about you?  Have you done anything interesting outside this week?  Read anything good? Tell me about it.

BBAW – Day 5 – Future Treasures

Friday—Future Treasures

We’ve been visiting each other and getting to know each other better…now is your chance to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year!

I think the question should be what DIDN’T I love about BBAW, the answer to which would be NOTHING!  I love BBAW and the strong sense of community and love that flows all around us this time of year.  Sounds lame, but it’s true!  I love you guys!

The future of blogging for me is a constantly evolving thing.  I see myself steering in a new direction, something I’ve been pondering for many months now, but seems to be finally coming to a head.  I have stress on me in my life, in work, and I don’t need it here.  Reading and blogging is my escape, my pleasure, and I don’t need the added pressure of deadlines and such.  I want to read what I want to read, when I want to read it!  Once I finish up the blog tours I have lined up and catch up on the ARCs I have requested, I doubt I will be accepting many.  There may be the occasional offer that I know I can get done, but it will be rare.

I also see that this YA drought isn’t going to be over for me any time soon.  I’m not exactly sure where I am going, but I seem to be drawn to classics and literary fiction more lately.  Which is weird, but I’m reading such awesome stuff that I am going with it!  I am even 60 pages into DRACULA and ye gods, I am loving it!  Never thought I would say THAT!

BBAW – Day 4 – The Book I Want YOU to Read

Thursday—Forgotten Treasure Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction. This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!

Ah.  There are so many!  It’s so hard to pick!  I usually answer The Princess Bride to this question, but I’m going to pick another book this time, one that is perhaps just as special to my heart and a near yearly reread. 

The Graveyard Book.  This is what I said about it the first time I read it.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy.He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy-an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.

But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family. . . .

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, the graveyard book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

 What a delight this book was.  It’s weird to say that a book where the most of the main characters are dead and populate an ancient, practically abandoned graveyard, but it was.Just so you know, this will definitely be in my top ten this year and I am so glad I went with my instincts and went ahead and bought it!

Frequent Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean again contributes illustrations, which from the very first page lend this tale a shivery, deliciously creepy feel.  Are they not gorgeous? The opening illustration, of a bloodthirsty knife, in a bloodthirsty hand, tells you right away you are in for a tremendous story.

Bod, for reasons I will definitely not reveal hear, is being hunted.  His entire family is being hunted and Bod is the only one to get away.  A curious, and extremely precocious toddler, Bod escapes to the nearby graveyard as his family is being murdered.  As the murderer pursues him, the ghosts of the graveyard come together to protect the boy, with Mr. and Mrs. Owen’s stepping in to be his parents (at the behest of Bod’s recently murdered mother) and Silas, a being neither living or dead, as his guardian.  By bequeathing him Freedom of the Graveyard, the protect him from his wouldbe murderer, and give him other unexpected talents. 

Bod comes of age inside the graveyard, learning tricks of the trade as it were (basically, how to be a ghost) from his many neighbors and friends. He goes on many adventures, with the living and the dead (and slightly in between).  He makes friends.  He looses them.  He learns poetry.  He learns history.  He learns about witches.  In some ways, this book is rather like a book of short stories, with one story arc that ties them all together.  It makes for quick, enjoyable reading. It makes it hard to put the bloody book down!It all comes to a head a few years later with a marvelous ending that I dare not spoil here.  You will just have to read it.

Bod is an endearing little guy.  From diapers, through first loves, first heartbreaks and first haunts, to starting out on his own, you can’t help but come to care for this character.  He is one of those one-of-a-kind characters, the kind that never really leave you.   His story is haunting, it is familiar, it is a must read.  For me he takes up a spot with Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Coraline, and other such unforgettable characters. 

I have read it twice again since then and I continue to adore this book.  It is not one to be missed and is perfect, absolutely perfect, for this time of year.