Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver: Impressions

Kingsolver's Flight Behavior takes place in fictional Feathertown, TN, a rural community in Appalachia. The Monarch butterfly community mysteriously roosts in the woods on Dellarobia Turnbow's family's property, instead of the mountains in Mexico as usual. Kingsolver explores the clash of conservative rural beliefs and struggles with the undeniability of climate change, but not in a boring, preachy Ayn Rand sort of way. I enjoyed Poisonwood Bible earlier this year, and was eager to read Flight Behavior - it did not disappoint (well, except for the terrifying, looming consequences of climate change, that is).

It was an eerie read, especially after this past year (these past years) of noticeably strange weather, early springs, late falls, too much rain, not enough rain, strengthening storms and mounting destruction from natural disasters. But it's also a human read, somehow explaining the position of the "non-believers" in a way that almost makes sense.

And so, might you want to read this? I would say yes, though with caveats, because not every book will be the tea-filled cup you're looking for.

Read this if:
  • You adore poetic prose.
  • You don't mind literature with an agenda.
  • You are worried about climate change.
  • You aren't worried about climate change.
  • Your favorite song is "It's the End of the World as We Know It."
Don't read this if:
  • You are lepidopterophobic.
  • You think "science" and "science fiction" are synonymous.
  • You do mind literature with an agenda.
  • You are looking for a romantic comedy.
  • Your favorite song is "Don't Worry Be Happy."
*I received this book courtesy of HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours. See what others thought here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

List Fun! Book Riot Readers' Top 50

Happy Thursday! 

Over at Book Riot, they've posted their readers top 50 reads, and I thought I'd take a que from What Red Read and see how many I've read! 26 fully (okay, only half the Harry Potter series, but still counting it), with 3 half-completes (only one will I probably not finish - the others I put down because of life stuff getting in the way). And half the rest are somewhere on my TBR list.  Some of the choices were surprising. (The Night Circus? I really enjoyed it, but I wouldn't put it in my top reads.) 

How'd you fare? 

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (126 votes)
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  4. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  11. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  13. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  14. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  15. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  16. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  17. The Stand by Stephen King
  18. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  19. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  20. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  21. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  22. The PIcture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  23. The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  24. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
  25. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  26. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  27. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  28. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  29. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  30. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  31. 1984 by George Orwell
  32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  34. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  35. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  36. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  37. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
  38. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  39. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  40. Ulysses by James Joyce
  41. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  42. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  43. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  44. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  45. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  46. Dune by Frank Herbert
  47. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  48. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  49. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  50. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (13 votes)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day of the Dead: Gone Girl and Faithful Place

It being the Day of the Dead (and just after Halloween), I thought it an apropos time for finally posting about Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which was quite the riveting read, and Faithful Place, by Tana French, which I really enjoyed. I finished both about a month ago (I really need to get back in the habit of reviewing immediately, but I kind of wanted to let both stories sort of seep into my psyche before saying much) so the details are not as fresh in my mind as I'd like, but they both made quite an impact.

Gone Girl is the mother of all unreliable narrator tales, at least for a while. As a reader, you really have to trust the writer, who leaves several holes and clues to follow, but just enough so that you know you're not getting the entire picture, and not so much that you can easily jump to the right conclusions. Is that a spoiler? I'm not sure. Either way, it's definitely worth a read. One of my favorite sections was one of the character's definition of the Cool Girl, which is too long to quote here, but it's spot on.

To break it down for you,

Read Gone Girl if:
  • You want to eat the darkness
  • You ate the darkness years ago
  • You hate predictable tripe
  • Your favorite song is “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads
  • You can’t stand Cool Girls
Don't read it if:
  • Your favorite song is “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M.
  • You read endings first
  • You have to like main characters and must trust your narrators
  • You just got married and are still all gooey-eyed optimistic about your soul mate and your new perfect life together (“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”)
  • Your favorite flower is a daisy

Now for Faithful Place: I listened to the audio for this one and it was absolutely delightful. The narrator hasn't done too many audiobooks, but he was perfect for this one. No unreliable narrators here, just a nicely paced piece of crime fiction, set in Dublin. Though I'm not entirely sure why, I was very reminded of Dennis Lehane's Mystic River while I read this. It was more related in my mind in setting and tone than in plot, because the stories themselves differed dramatically. 

Listen to (or read) Faithful Place if:
  • You are keen on smart-sounding Irish accents
  • You’re in a cold case kind of mood
  • You’re feeling like winter
  • You are nostalgic about the 80s
  • You have an affinity for Guinness and whisky
  • You like well-rounded characters
Do not listen to (or read) this if:
  • You are afraid of poor people
  • You are looking for a light, amusing read
  • You can't understand Irish accents (it's really not that difficult here)
  • Your favorite sport is synchronized anything
  • You are too impatient to enjoy a good Scotch
  • You are currently planning to elope with your high school sweetheart (it’ll all end in tears)
Have you read either of these? Gone Girls is infinitely discussable, and Faithful Place also has several points to explore. I'd recommend them both, for different reasons, with the caveats mentioned above.

Buenos Dia de los Muertos! 
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