Review- Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I finally finished it! What (you may ask) took me so long? Well. It's not that the book was dull, exactly, but neither was it riveting, and I picked it up at a time when I had too many other things vying for my attention.
I mentioned before that the only reason I picked up Prodigal Summer was because I had been told that I MUST read The Poisonwood Bible. But when I stopped by my local library, this was the only Kingsolver book on the shelf.
...To be honest, I hope that The Poisonwood Bible is not as pretentious as this was.
So. let's sum it up:

The Good-
Now, I've got to admit that the writing was lovely. Kingsolver has a way with words, that much is apparent. The writing is really what redeemed the book in my eyes. I will also admit that I thought many of her ideas about man's impact on nature were interesting (though, at times, inaccurate) and I was glad to see how the seemingly unconnected storylines converged in the end. The story was really just one intricate web built of the characters' lives.

The Bad -
It seemed that every character in the book had a soapbox that they were standing on. They all wanted to preach at you about one thing or another. Kingsolver obviously has a very 'green' agenda that she's trying to push with this book, and I found her delivery a bit annoying. I'm all for exploring serious issues through fiction, but you don't have to do it by hitting me over the head with a hammer again and again and again. Yes! We understand what you're trying to say! Pesticide bad! Hunters bad! logging bad! Enough already.
My other problem was that the only openly religious character in the book was a flat, stereotypical boor. It felt as if his only purpose in the story was to show the arrogance and self-righteousness of Christians. He couldn't ever seem to formulate a coherent argument. Actually, neither could any of the other 'antagonists' in the book, now that I think about it.

The Ugly -
There was one really weird sex dream. There was also a ridiculously awkward bit where a recently widowed woman admits that she's attracted to her 17 year old nephew. Um. Ewww. There was actually quite a lot of frank discussion about sex in the book, so definitely don't pick it up if that sort of thing bothers you.

My Rating -
Eh. This is a hard one, because the writing really was lovely, but I didn't care much for the book overall. Overall I'd give it 6/10 but I think that Kingsolver's prose deserves closer to an 8/10
Not the dialogue, mind you, just the descriptions.

Teaser Tuesday - Galveston by Sean Stewart

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I've read one other novel by Sean Stewart. It was a book called Cloud's End that was both beautiful and frustrating, a slow-paced read that plunged you deep into the characters and had you feeling every heartache right along with them. I was so immersed in the characters that when one of them made a bad decision I was tempted to fling the book across the room in anger.

I'm excited to read another novel by Stewart. Cloud's End was lent to me by my good friend Tanya, and so was Galveston. It's a good thing that I have a friend like her to lend me books, because otherwise I probably wouldn't have discovered his writing. If the lyrical, poetic diction that was present in Cloud's End is his norm, then I think I'm in for a good read.

I have JUST started the book, and haven't had a chance to really sink my teeth into it, but so far it has a wholly different feel to it. Here's the synopsis from the back of the book:

Galveston had been baptized twice. Once by water in the fall of 1900. Again by magic during Mardi Gras, 2004. Creatures were born of survivors' joy and sufferers' pain: scorpions the size of dogs, the Crying Clown, the Widow who ate her victims. And the Island of Galveston would forever be divided-- between the real city and a city locked in a constant Carnival, and endless Mardi Gras...

Definitely an interesting premise. This is my favorite kind of novel, the kind the blends the normal world, our everyday lives, with the fantastic. I think the correct term for it is 'Urban Fantasy'. So if Stewart can pull off this blend of fantasy and realism, I'll be a fan for life. I'll let you know what I think when I've finished the book.

Gloria frowned into the Fords' massive refrigerator. It had been eleven years since the Flood of 2004 had ended the industrial world, and with no spare parts available, refrigerators were becoming more precious-- but of course the Fords had a giant two-door Frigidaire that would squirt out chilled water or ice cubes in two different shapes, regular cubes or the little half-moons Joshua liked better.

Tomorrow: Finally! A review of Prodigal Summer.

Audiobook Review- The Hunger Games and Catching Fire

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This is the spoiler free part of the review -

The Hunger Games has been making waves all over the blogosphere lately, and this month I finally got around to reading it. I was lucky, because the second book came out while I was reading the first, so I didn't have to wait long to pick the story up again. You'll probably want to have the second book handy after you read the first, because the first ended in a way that had me itching for JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER, COME ON!
And now I am unlucky, because the third book is still being written, and I have to wait at least a year to read the conclusion. I hate that. The second book basically drops a bomb on you with the last sentence, so if you're a really impatient person, I would suggest waiting until the entire series has been published before picking up the first book.

A while ago I talked about how I was reading The Hunger Games for my book club, and at that time I wasn't really sure what I would rate the book. I still think that the first book isn't as strong as it could have been. The plot was somewhat predictable, and some parts of the narrative felt as though they had been put there with the sole purpose of playing with your emotions, rather than moving the story forward. I was also often frustrated by the seemingly thickheaded and overly-cynical Katniss and the almost 'Gary-sue' Peeta. But, overall, it was an enjoyable read, and one that I think would appeal to many teenagers and adults alike. BUT I would suggest that you reserve this book for the older and more mature teens, as there are some disturbing themes and situations throughout. I mean, it's a book about 24 teenagers trying to kill each other, so I would hope that that would be common sense, but... you never know.

MY RATING: by itself I would give The Hunger Games a 7/10
I enjoyed it, but thought that parts of it could have been stronger and less predictable.

Paired with Catching Fire, however, the grade goes up to an 8/10.
I thought that Catching Fire was more fun, because it was less predictable. There were a couple of good twists in there. I was still frustrated by Katniss' thickheadedness at times (get a clue, girl!) and also by the love triangle. But I think that, together, the books form one very entertaining package, and I await the next installment with eagerness.

THIS is where the review gets SPOILERIFIC, people! Highlight the text if you want to read the spoilers.

THE HUNGER GAMES - Specifically, for those of you who have read the book, I hated the wolf muttations at the end. I got the idea that they had used body parts from the dead tributes to make the werewolves, and I thought that the idea was used purely for the shock value, because there had been nothing leading up to it. I kept thinking "Did it mention before that The Capitol had used humans in muttation experiments? Is this going to be a major theme in the next book? Where the heck did this come from!?" It took me straight out of the book. I thought that if the theme of human/animal muttations was going to carry on into Catching Fire, then I would be okay with it appearing suddenly at the end of The Hunger Games. But, it didn't. As I read Catching Fire I began to see that the muttations were NOT made from the bodies of the tributes, but that The Capitol wanted the living contestants to think that perhaps they had been. So. I don't know if that's better, or not. For some reason, those creatures just bug me.
And, seriously, how could Katniss really be so thick headed as to think that Peeta was just acting?

CATCHING FIRE - Okay, the whole bit with the Game Maker showing Katniss the mockingjay on his watch? Again with the thickheaded thing! Though I admit that I wasn't really sure what the Game Makers and the rest of the tributes were planning. I wonder how long Heymitch has been planning this coup? And what's the deal with Peeta and Gale? I'm almost positive that Collins is going to kill one of them off, but I can't decide which one it's going to be. Either that or Peeta will be all perfect and self-sacrificing and still be Katniss' best friend even though she chooses Gale over him. Ugh. I hate it when authors yank you back and forth between love interests like that. And the cliff-hanger ending OMG.

I would love to hear everyone's comments about the books but please specify whether there are spoilers in your comments, so that we don't ruin anyone else's experience.

I would also like to add that I did listen to both of these books rather than reading them. The Audiobook is read by Carolyn McCormick, and she is a FANTASTIC narrator. It's amazing how much the person who is reading the book can affect your opinion of it. Carolyn was smooth and believable, and transitioned between characters with ease and clarity. Two thumbs up.

Winners! Also: blog makeover

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The winners of the BBAW giveaways have been chosen!

Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell goes to throuthehaze

Black Beauty goes to Sue

and The Last Juror goes to Rebecca N.

Congratulations to our winners, who were chosen by chance at! I have contacted them through email. If I don't hear from the winners within the next 48 hours, new winners will be chosen.

In other news:
I gave my blog a facelift today. I'm actually quite proud of myself for figuring out some of the code that I used to customize the template. ( I know next to nothing about Html.) One thing that I can't figure out is how to get the 'Newer Posts' button that I made to show up. I've messed around with every bit of code that I could think of, but that basically comes down to a lot of guess work and trial and error for me, since I'm pretty clueless. So. If anybody out there can help me out, I'd appreciate it!

later this week:
I should be able to write some actual book reviews! Can you believe it?

BBAW giveaway #3 (Us only)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The third item that I'm giving away today is a trade paperback edition of John Grisham's The last Juror. The book is gently used, and in great condition. I haven't read this one yet, but I loved John Grisham's novels when I was in high school, so he holds a little piece of my heart.

Since I haven't read this book myself, here is the summary from

In 1970, small town newspaper The Clanton Times went belly up. With financial assistance from a rich relative, it's purchased by 23-year-old Willie Traynor, formerly the paper's cub reporter. Soon afterward, his new business receives the readership boost it needs thanks to his editorial efforts and coverage of a particularly brutal rape and murder committed by the scion of the town's reclusive bootlegger family. Rather than shy from reporting on the subsequent open-and-shut trial (those who oppose the Padgitt family tend to turn up dead in the area's swampland), Traynor launches a crusade to ensure the unrepentant murderer is brought to justice. When a guilty verdict is returned, the town is relieved to find the Padgitt family's grip on the town did not sway the jury, though Danny Padgitt is sentenced to life in prison rather than death. But, when Padgitt is released after serving less than a decade in jail and members of the jury are murdered, Clanton once again finds itself at the mercy of its renegade family.

To enter, leave a comment with your contact information, and tell me why you would like to win this book. This contest ends Monday the 21st at 11:59 p.m EST

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways, too!
Giveaway #1
Giveaway #2

BBAW Giveaway #2 (US only)

Our second giveaway of the day is another thrift store find (I'll be honest, I couldn't afford to do giveaways if it wasn't for thrift stores). But once again, this book is in perfect condition.

This is an adapted version of the book, by Deidre S. laiken. I haven't read this version, so I don't know how good it is, but there are some lovely illustrations, and it looks as though it would be good for a child of about 8 years or so.

To enter, leave a comment telling me why you'd like to win this book, and make sure to leave your contact information, as well. The contest ends on Monday the 21st at 11:59 P.M. EST

Don't forget to enter the other giveaway, too!
Giveaway #1

BBAW Giveaway #1 (US Only)

Since most of the giveaways are going to be ending today, I thought I'd shake things up and start my giveaways today. CRAZY, I know.

First up is a hardcover copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

I bought a cheap paperback edition of this book on a whim to read during a long trip. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I've seen it billed as 'Harry Potter for adults', but I think that description is misleading. This is nothing like Harry Potter. It reads more like a 19th century novel. The focus is less on story or plot, and more on characters and style. There is little actual magic done in the book, and it's a hefty one, weighing in at 782 pages. But I thought that Clarke's writing was wonderful. Because of the length of the book, you really get to know the characters. One of my main problems with this story, though, is that while the male characters are multidimensional, the female characters are flat and uninspiring. But, I did enjoy the book, and since I found a hardcover edition of it( in perfect condition) at a thrift store for one dollar, I've decided to share it with you! Huzzah for thrift store finds!

To enter the contest, just leave a comment telling me why you think you'd like the book. I'm not going to make you jump through any hoops to enter, everyone gets only one entry. Just remember to leave your contact information in your comment. The contest ends at 11:59 P.M on Monday the 21st.

BBAW Reading Habits: Second verse!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What are you currently reading?
Oh, sheesh. Okay. Sometimes I get book ADD. I'm not always this bad. AND some of these are audiobooks, so I'm only listening to them when I really don't have time to be sitting and reading. Stop judging me.
1. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver( I can't believe I still haven't finished this...)
2. Audiobook of Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling ( I might not be able to finish this one, because the guy that reads it is pretty boring)
3. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen ( I just can't get into this book as easily as I have some of her other work)
4. Audiobook of Flight by Sherman Alexie ( I started this one because I found that my mind was wandering quite a bit while listening to #2
5. The Federalist Papers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and Isaac Kramnick (This is non-fiction, and thus it does not hold my attention quite as well. So while I do think it's interesting, it feels a bit like I'm doing schoolwork when I read it)
What is the last book you bought?
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (You can read my review here.)
Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
Um. Heh. Did you read the answer to the first question?
Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
At night, snuggled up on the couch, when the kiddos are sound asleep. No more interruptions!
Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
I don't think I really prefer either, but I do seem to be in the middle of quite a few series' at the moment. Why is it that fantasy books always come in sets of at least three? (Curse you, George R.R. Martin! Curse you, Patrick Rothfuss!)
Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? Ray Bradbury! Neil Gaiman!
How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

Wow, this question just makes me chuckle. Organize? Really? I TRY to organize them by genre, and then by author. But.. . they never stay that way long. I mean, really, look at this:

The left side looks kind of organized, right? Sort of? Well that's great, but those are mostly my husbands books and old text books that don't get looked at very often. The right side? Yeah. That's my mess. Okay, the top two shelves don't look too bad. I just organized those a few days ago, because someone asked to borrow one of my Harry Potter books, and I had to FIND it in the mess. And, I don't know if you can tell, but on the next shelf down, the books are stacked two deep. Yeah. I need more bookshelves. Now, to be fair, we did just move the bookshelves (and by just I mean... three weeks ago...) So the books got stacked haphazardly and then didn't ever get put back in any particular order. But, I mean, I'll get around to it one of these days.

Annd, here is a close up, because *drum roll* tomorrow, I'm going to be giving away three of the books in this photograph. Can you guess which ones? (Click to enlarge the picture)

BBAW - Reading Habits Questionnaire

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Because I can't choose just one question to answer, and I can't possibly answer them without RAMBLING... I'm going to do half of the questionnaire today, and half tomorrow. Or, you know. Whenever. Because I am a bad blogger.
leave your answers to these questions in the comments, or post the answers to your blog and leave a link here.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
I try to avoid snacking whenever possible! If I didn't, I would surely weigh about 600 lbs by now...

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of
writing in books horrify you?
WHY? Why in the name of all that is good in the world would you defile a book that way? I even hated marking my text books in college.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
I mark my place with any random piece of paper that I find lying around. Reciepts, tissue, a corner torn from a piece of notebook paper, whatever.

Laying the book flat open?
DO YOU WANT TO DIE? No? Then don't you dare do any of these things to my books. Seriously, people.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
I like to read Non-fiction occasionally, but I really love fiction. For non-fiction I would rather watch a documentary than read a book.

Hard copy or audiobooks? I always prefer a hard copy, nothing compares to the feel of a book in your hand. But since I had my second child I have grown to love audiobooks for their convenience. Who has time to actually sit and read every book that's on their TBR list? Not me.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you
able to put a book down at any point? I've had to learn to stop at any point, because sometimes poopy diapers just can't wait.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
No, I can usually figure out the meaning by the context. But if it's a really perplexing word then I definitely look it up.

BBAW - Bookalicious Interview

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If you haven't checked out Pam's blog yet, you should. She has an easy to navigate layout and a beautiful website. I hadn't seen her blog before we were paired up for the BBAW interviews, but now I've added her to my Google Reader. Seriously. Go take a look.

Here are Pam's answers to the interview questions. My answers to these same questions should be up on her blog sometime this week.

Why did you decide to start blogging about the books that you read?

I wanted an outlet to talk about the books I was reading, I was completely
unaware of the whole book blogging scene but was so happy to find so many
like minded individuals to discuss new and old titles with.

Is there a genre that you prefer to review?

I guess YA I really feel that genre is advancing now in a way it hasn't
before with authors like Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson tackling
issues that children actually deal with and not being afraid to dig deep
into the tough topics.

Do you like to participate in any of the popular book blog memes?

I like to read the memes especially the Sunday Salon but I do not
participate because I want my blog to be completely unschedlued and
random. I do not like feeling pressured to post on a certain day or on a
certain topic. It just doesn't work for me.

How do you feel the internet and blogging about books is changing the
publishing world?

I think it is a very exciting time for publishing houses. With the
advancements of EReaders and online bloggers they have a chance to grab
even more readers than ever. After all word of mouth is the best

Who is your favorite author, and why?

My favorite author has always been the Bronte Sisters as a whole. Their
style is easy readable while still having the old world feel.

What was the first book you read as a child that got you hooked?

I remember reading a simplified version of The Swan Princess with the
school librarian and thinking that was the coolest thing ever. After that
I spent a lot of my free time in the library with her and she was really
the person who encouraged my love of reading.

BBAW kicks off!

Monday, September 14, 2009

This week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Six months ago, I didn't know that BBAW exsisted, but, boy, am I glad that I found out about it. Through the BBAW website I've met some wonderful bloggers and learned that there is a googolplex of book blogs out there in the blogosphere.

I'm a day late in joining the festivites, but I'll do my best to catch up during the week.

The first thing that participating bloggers were asked to do for BBAW was to list a few blogs that you love, but weren't short listed for the awards. In the short time that I've been involved in book blogging, these are the ones that have stuck out to me:

Good Clean Reads: I love Kim's unique rating system! She gives each book four ratings: She rates the book as a whole, and then gives it a rating for sex, one for profanity, and one for violence. She reads a wide variety of subjects and genres.

Paperback Reader
: I just found this blog last week! She has a wonderful writing style, a good flow of information, and she also covers a wide variety of subjects and genres. Through her blog I also came across another blog: Book Snob. I don't know much about this blog yet, but I've bookmarked it, and it looks wonderful!

One librarians Book Reviews
: Melissa, as you might have guessed, is a librarian. She is also a fellow Utahn. She also has a lovely blog. She updates nearly every day and always has interesting content.

There are many more wonderful blogs that I follow, but I simply don't have the time to write about them all. Check these out, and then check the list of blogs that I follow in my profile.

Coming up Tomorrow: I swap interview questions with Pam of

Slow Language - The Essential Rumi

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yesterday I received a wonderful gift from my friend Tanya: The Essential Rumi, a book of poetry that I have been wanting to get my hands on for months. Here is one of my favorites, so far:

Jalaluddin Rumi

1207 -1272

Wean Yourself (Translation by Coleman Barks)

Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.

From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say, "The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.

At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding."

you ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.
Llisten to the answer.
There is no "other world."
I only know what I've experienced.
You must be hallucinating.

BTT and mini review - The Hunger Games

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Booking Through Thursday prompt for last week was:
"What’s the biggest book you’ve read recently?
(Feel free to think “big” as size, or as popularity, or in any other way you care to interpret.)"

This month, my book club is reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In case you don't follow any other book blogs, (or you've been hiding under a rock) The Hunger Games has been a pretty huge subject on the internet lately, especially because the sequel, Catching Fire, just came out last week. I just finished The Hunger Games today. Since I'm short on time at the moment, I'll only be giving a mini-review. I might write a longer review at a later date... but I'm a bad blogger, so I'm not promising anything.

Because I've been too busy to sit down and enjoy a book properly as of late, I decided to listen to the audio book. The book is read by Carolyn McCormick, who does a wonderful job. Now, I tried to keep my expectations low for this book, specifically because of it's popularity. I didn't want to go in expecting something fantastic, since I knew that it couldn't possibly live up to the hype. They never do.
But the book is really pretty good. I still need to mull things over a bit and decide what kind of a rating to give it, but suffice it to say that while I don't think it's one of the best books I've ever read, it's not bad; and I will definitely be reading the next book in the series.

I will also say that something about the ending just didn't sit right with me. I don't want to say much here, because I like to keep my reviews relatively spoiler-free. But, (for those of you who have read the books) I was not really fond of the use of certain 'muttations' that were introduced to us at the end of the book. The whole scene felt a bit out-of-the-blue to me, and as if the creatures were only put in for their shock value. If the muttations are used as a plot point later in the story, then I might buy it, but at the moment I am not impressed by Collins' use of them. Anyway. I hope that wasn't too cryptic for anyone.

Moving on:

Coming soon to The Reckless Reader: reviews for Prodigal Summer, Mansfield Park, and luck in the Shadows. Why is it that I can never read just one book at a time? Also happening this month is Book Blogger Appreciation Week (Sept 14-18). I will be interviewing Pam of . If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you should! It's beautiful!

under the cover of darkness

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Were you a 'reading under the covers' type of kid when you were younger? I certainly was. I didn't mean to be a rebellious child, but it seemed that I could never get enough of the stories and the characters and the WORDS, oh, wonderful words. I devoured whatever I could find, and then hungered for more. I read my father's westerns, my mother's mysteries, and the Reader's Digest Condensed Books. The local librarians and I were on a first name basis. With all of this glorious material available, who could go an entire night without a book?
Already, my oldest child is shaping up to be a 'reading under the covers' kid. She is only four, and not yet able to read; but I have often found her flipping through her picture books and making up stories about the illustrations (holding whispered conversations with herself), when she should be sweetly dreaming instead. It makes a mother proud.

because half of an hour before Wednesday still equals Tuesday...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

I've seen the Teaser Tuesday meme done on a couple of other blogs, but I'm not going to follow the exact same formula. What I'm going to do is this: If I have nothing else to share with you on any given Tuesday, I will pick up whichever book I happen to be reading at the time, and share a passage that I like, as well as a short synopsis of the book.

Book: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Synopsis: I picked up this book because someone recommended that I read The Poisonwood Bible, a different book by the same author. The Poisonwood Bible was checked out of my public library, and this one was not. So.
Prodigal Summer follows three different storylines, which all seem to have a pack of coyotes and a small town in the appalachian mountains as their connecting thread; but the characters in each storyline, so far, do not seem to have any other connection to each other. I will be interested to see how (and if) the various plots converge.
People in Appalachia insisted that the mountains breathed, and it was true: the steep hollow behind the farmhouse took up one long, slow inhalation every morning and let it back down through their open windows and across the fields throughout the evening-- just one full, deep breath each day.