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review 2018-03-03 00:50
Of Mice and Men -- buddy read with a young man
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

I just reread this with my nephew - a buddy read. I was reminded how much I loved this book years ago. It's a short and somewhat simple story that leaves me aching and questioning myself about ethics and morals and what, exactly, does "right or wrong" mean? Lenny is one of the most endearing figures I've ever read. George can seem so brilliant in comparison, but he is also just a simple guy, doing his level best to figure out what is right in a difficult situation. Both men steal my heart.

 

It's not a simple book, not by a long shot. It just reads simply. The implications are huge. Amazing how Steinbeck could bring up so many questions in a two-hour read.

 

I've made up my mind about this book, but it's one everyone should deal with on their own.

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review 2017-12-20 13:28
The Pastures of Heaven - John Steinbeck

The Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck
Love hearing how this book came about and how he achieved writing it.
Starts in very old days of 1700's and the book explains who founded the area and who lived in the house through the centuries til Monroe's move in.
Love explanations of words as they appear, informative.
Enjoy the different households and the things that are important to them in this town.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).

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text 2017-11-09 17:14
DNF
East of Eden - John Steinbeck

Now I see why it's a classic.

 

I think it's beautifully written, and very interesting.

 

But I found it depressing and a bit of a downer to say the least. So I put it aside. I felt guilty- after all - it's a classic! 

 

But I hated picking it up to read it so I moved on.  

 

 

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text 2017-11-03 12:12
November TBR
I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius - Robert Graves
The Vor Game - Lois McMaster Bujold
Birdcage Walk - Helen Dunmore
Between Two Fires: A Novel - Mark Noce
Updraft - Fran Wilde
Cheddar Off Dead (An Undercover Dish Mystery) - Julia Buckley
Murder in the Manuscript Room: A 42nd Street Library Mystery (The 42nd Street Library Mysteries) - Con Lehane
Cane River - Lalita Tademy
The Memory of Us: A Novel - Camille Di Maio
East of Eden - John Steinbeck

So here are the books I'm planning to crack open this month. 

 

My goal is to shake things up with historical fiction and science fiction mixed in with some mystery. 

 

I, Claudius is off of the 50 Essential Historical Fiction Novels list done by Abe Books.  

 

Between Two Fires and Updraft are re-reads because it has been too long since I read them for me to read their sequels with any kind of authority.   I've been meaning to get into re-reads for a while. 

 

The Vor Game is the next book in the Vorkosigan saga for me. 

 

East of Eden is a classic I've been meaning to get to. 

 

I will no doubt switch this up. I am the moodiest reader I know - but this is the plan so far. 

 

I will enjoy looking at everyone's TBR for the month and,  as usual, count on your reviews to break my book budget. 

 

Happy reading! 

 

 

 

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review 2017-10-18 04:20
Review: The Pastures of Heaven
The Pastures of Heaven - James Nagel,John Steinbeck

In 1919, Sherwood Anderson published a collection of short stories centering around a town. The book was called Winesburg, Ohio. It remained popular into the 1930s. Around this time, a young journalist named Elizabeth Ingels developed an idea of interconnected stories similar to Anderson's work, but based in California. She mentioned the idea to a young writer named John Steinbeck. At the time, Steinbeck was struggling with his first novel (the later published To a God Unknown) and had managed to publish his second (the cringe-worthy Cup of Gold). He had yet to find his voice and his readers. So he did what any young, unappreciated artist has at least struggled with—he borrowed a good idea.

Now I've heard the argument from some of Steinbeck's devoted fans and scholars: Steinbeck's idea was unique from Ingels' original concept... Ingels wasn't ever going to do anything with the idea anyway... whatever. It doesn't matter and here's why: this book kind of sucks (relatively speaking, anyway). No, some people love it. Many do in fact. I didn't. I consider this one of the author's worsts. This is the twenty-second book I've read of Steinbeck's and, well, personally,Burning Bright made a bigger impact on me. Burning Bright? The experimental one about circus clowns and farmers and sailors? Yes, that one.

What the casual reader of Steinbeck may not know is that the author's earliest works are often far from the realism that Steinbeck is generally known for. The author repeatedly tried to separate himself from this label, a categorization that was cemented with works such as In Dubious Battle and The Grapes of Wrath. This spiritual, magical Steinbeck is most evident in the author's earliest books and latest books. Sometimes these subtle elements of magic worked for the author, other times they didn't; largely, they're either missed or ignored.

The Pastures of Heaven holds some of this early Steinbeck magic. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. Either way, the collection as a whole has a rather absurd feel to it. Curses, gnomes, and sex-dealing proprietors of a Mexican restaurant who take “buy one, get one free” to a new level... yet, it's all Steinbeck. The author didn't spend as much time with the setting as he did in later works, but his signature style of laying out the scenery and breathing life into it is intact.

But where The Pastures of Heaven succeeds most is in its characters. I would argue that, amongst Steinbeck's earliest works, this is one of his most character-centric books. These are brief character studies of the people who populate the valley. In these short pieces, no character is given the time to be developed fully, however. Aside from some of the characters, and a couple stories, there's nothing horribly exciting about this collection. Compared to Steinbeck's greatest works, nothing in these stories stands out. Compared to the town of Winesburg, Ohio, however, Las Pasturas del Cielo, California, is much more spellbinding.

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