Category: Books

This book has been on my list for a long time… and then my marriage fell apart and it was pretty much the last thing I wanted to read. This evening I finished “The Scarlet Plague” by Jack London after just 3 sittings with it. I try to read something for leisure and not just my textbooks so that I don’t get to the point where I can’t enjoy picking up a book. I was scrolling through my list, and running my fingers over a few spines in my bookshelf, and I kept coming back to this one… So, I figured, “What the hell?”

Continue reading


While I’m Falling

4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining diversion, October 27, 2009
By  Mental Mommy "Mental Mommy" (Portsmouth, VA United States) – See all my reviews
Customer review from the Amazon Vineβ„’ Program (What's this?)

I read this in bits and pieces while house-sitting. I think if I had been able to sit and read it all at once, I may have enjoyed it more. I flip-flopped between 3 and 4 stars and decided on 4 only because I hate to give low reviews unless I really, really don't like something.

The book was a bit predictable for me. I enjoyed it well enough, but nothing that happened really surprised me. If it did, it wasn't a huge surprise, just a minor kink in the story line I'd already played out in my head. The main character, Veronica, at first seemed whiny and peevish to me. I found her hard to sympathize with initially because she seemed childish. As the story progressed, I did come to like her more and even feel sympathetic towards her. As things begin to deteriorate with her mother, Natalie, I feel for her even more. I enjoy role-reversals, even when they are predictable. As soon as things really start to shift from Natalie as the mother to Natalie as a child, or someone in need of mothering, I sort of warmed up to the book a bit more.

Overall, and without spoiling anything, if you're looking for a good weekend getaway read or a book to put at your bedside, this will do the trick nicely. If you're looking for something more in-depth or classic, this will leave you wanting. I always find popular fiction troublesome for that reason, as well – I always leave feeling like there should be more. If you're looking for something profound like Plath or Chopin, this isn't it. If you're looking for something entertaining like Picoult, you'll be pleased with "While I'm Falling."

Legends of the Fall

Legends of the Fall Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is another one of those books that I made the mistake of seeing the movie first. Again, didn’t know the book existed. However, I think if I had read the book first, I never would have bothered with the movie. The book is actually a novella. I picked it up as part of a collection of 3 of Jim Harrison’s works. After reading this and another Jim Harrison piece, I conclude that I am simply not a fan of Harrison’s writing style. I thought that Legends could have appealed to me, but it was written in such a dull manner that I found myself trudging through it. I do not like to trudge through anything I read! The best part of the story was actually the physical descriptions that were given about the land. My husband I and read this together and we both thought it was impressive and beautiful. It seems such a shame to waste such wonderful description on the scenery when the characters and their relationships, particularly to Tristan and Tristan’s growth throughout the story, are the primary focus. The movie really took this small piece and ran with it! I will take the movie over the book any day! Besides, with all those pretty faces, who wouldn’t mind a little visual stimulation? πŸ˜‰
View all my reviews >>

Big Fish

Big Fish Big Fish by Daniel Wallace

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Perhaps I have an under developed imagination, but this book was not nearly as interesting as I thought it would be. I did make a mistake by seeing the movie first, but in my defense, I didn’t know a book existed until I had already seen the movie about 3 times. Anyway, while the book and the movie shared similarities, I felt the book was a bit lacking. While there were some cool tall tales in there, I didn’t feel as though there were anything really amazing about the stories being told. I also didn’t really think the relationship between father and son was explained or developed in a way in which we felt bad for the son, or felt sympathy for the father; I actually didn’t care about their relationship. I didn’t care about the son’s quest to really know his father, nor care about his father’s inability to be serious with him and let his son get close to him. Had the author shown more things taking place between the two of them over the years, I might have cared… As it stood, there was very little character development as far as their relationship was concerned.
Overall, this was mildly entertaining. As I said, perhaps I just have an under active imagination, but I actually preferred the movie to reading the book. If you’re not sure you want to read the book, short and entertaining though it is, opt for 2 hours with Ewan McGregor and Tim Burton.
View all my reviews >>

Prodigal Summer

Prodigal Summer: A Novel Prodigal Summer: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Perhaps I am just not at a point in my life where this book hits me the way it should. Having just put an end to my own child-bearing years, perhaps I should have read this either 1 year or two earlier, or about 10 years from now. Whatever the reason, I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as I loved The Bean Trees or Pigs in Heaven. I loved those books so much that I bought copies and have read them at least twice since then. This is not a book I will be re-reading any time soon.
I found the scenery to be captivating – while not an enthusiast of bugs, or nature for that matter, I did enjoy the descriptions of certain animals and wood-life. I found the moths that recur in the sory to be pretty fascinating and it has made me look more closely at moths in my yard now. πŸ™‚
The characters were wonderful, which is one of the many reasons I love Kingsolver. I loved Nannie the most, though she wasn’t one of the main storytellers in the book. I loved that they were all so different, yet real. I wanted to hug her and tell her life-long rival to get over himself. Haha!
Overall, it was an engaging read. I really just think the timing was wrong for me, and will probably re-visit this book many years from now.
View all my reviews >>

Returning to Earth Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If I had known that this book centered around the death of a loved one, I would not have picked it up. As it was, I only chose it because it was the only thing on the shelf by Harrison and I was looking for “Legends of the Fall.” The book is about Donald’s death and the way it affects the lives of his wife, daughter, and other family members. For me, it was beyond mundane at some points. I mean, I know death has every day repercussions, but some of it was just a bit too tedious for me. There were other parts that I would have liked more details about (IE Donald’s father-in-law’s death) that were left a mystery. While the book is told from 4 viewpoints, the only voice I found truly unique was Donald’s. The other 3 were only slightly different from each other, which made it harder for me to keep track of who was talking. One thing I did appreciate was that there were not a lot of chronological jumps that aren’t super obvious. I tend to get lost in those kinds of things, but I did not have trouble figuring out what happened when. I liked the way it ended, though it was the way I had hoped it would end. Overall, a leisurely read, not completely without pleasure, sad though it was.
View all my reviews >>

From Sunny California…

Of Bees and Mist: A Novel Of Bees and Mist: A Novel by Erick Setiawan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don’t usually read fantasy-oriented fiction. I picked this because it sounded interesting, and I was not disappointed. It is told both in the recent present and the past (there are streets, but no cars, etc.). There are natural elements that take on supernatural characteristics. There are hallucinations that are real for more than one person, but invisible and unknown to everyone else. It was a very engrossing read! I have seen other reviewers who didn’t like the fact that English is not the author’s first language, but for this book, I felt that actually helped. It made the word choices seem more careful and meaningful.
The characters were believeable, even with their elements of fantasy woven in. There are no witches or goblins, but there are aspects of personalities made into tangible things, like bees and fireflies, that are pretty imaginative and make the story more interesting. The story focuses on 3 women and how they interact with each other, and the scenarios in which they are forced to interact in are all situations that would arise in most families. I think that makes them easier to relate to and identify with once you add in the fantasy elements of the characters.
I liked that the author didn’t waste time describing every room the charcters walked into, and that sort of thing. I like reading “to-the-point” books, and this is very much like that! It’s not filled with words and phrases that add nothing but minute detail to the story. While that can be nice to help paint a picture, it doesn’t progress the story, and for me, there was sufficient detail to build a new world in my mind without bogging me down with trying to remember what color every bedroom was.
I didn’t give it 5 stars only because of the mists. It took me a while to get that part. Aside from that, I loved the book. While some things were spelled out for me that I didn’t need, I could see where others would appreciate it. There was one part in particular that I would have missed had it not been for the “here it is!” explanation. Overall, a great weekend read!
View all my reviews >>

The Jungle

The Jungle The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I can see the shock and horror this book would have caused when it was first published. I don’t think I will ever be able to eat meat without thinking twice again, that’s for sure. Aside from that, I found this book to be rather dull. Jurgis didn’t surprise me, or really even interest me. For a work of fiction, it lacked dialogue for me. I like conversations between characters and this book is certainly limited in that department! Perhaps because there was so little about Jurgis that I could relate to, I felt nothing for him. Despite all the horrible things that happened to him, I couldn’t really feel pity or sorrow for him. For me, it’s hard to relate to a character when they don’t talk – talking and conversation makes them more real in my head. Anyway, I’m glad I knocked out another “classic” read and am on to others!

View all my reviews.

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies Lord of the Flies by William Golding

My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is another one of those, "Everyone read it in high school except me and I want to know what all the fuss is about!" books.
Had I read it in high school, I think I would have liked it a lot more. But now, having seen more people just revert to their basic or basest of natures, like "The Bell Jar," the shock appeal just isn't there.
Overall, a good, smooth, easy before-bed read. I liked it, but didn't love it.

View all my reviews.

*Day 48: I am grateful for cheap, and sometimes even free ways to get more books that keep my tiny little mind from chasing its own tail and going completely insane!

The Good Earth

The Good Earth (Oprah's Book Club) The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I liked reading this because it was an easy read – no jumps forward and backward in time, not too many characters or sub-plots to focus on, etc. It was very straight forward and easy to follow… I expected more. To me, it was more or less a tale of one man’s life. Perhaps it was one of those, “remarkable for its time” books and I’ve read too much before it for it to have the desired effect. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. πŸ™‚

View all my reviews.