Book 50: The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of WrathI did it. I completed a John Steinbeck novel!

Honestly, I think even in high school I only partially read The Red Pony and The Pearl (or maybe I did actually read them, because they’re both novellas and pretty short), but the point is I finished a BIG one! In addition to it being a “full” Steinbeck novel, it counts toward both my Classic Club list (32/100) and as part of my 30 x 30 list!

I’ve always felt a little guilty at the lack of American authors on my read list and not having Steinbeck seems like a big omission. I’ve read many American authors, mostly before I started this blog, but Steinbeck is one of those which really is synonymous with America. He is America, a very specific swath and very specific time period of America, but he is America none-the-less.

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Book 49: L’America – Martha McPhee

McPhee, Martha - L'AmericaHonestly, I’m sad I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would. Seriously, I’ve given it the lowest rating of the year so far. I bought it in one of my bulk buys at the 2011 Boston Book festival and haven’t thought of it since. It came up on my list when I used random.org to select my next book.

Even though I finished it, I just could not invest in this book, and that’s never a good sign. It started off slow, and thankfully did pick up a good bit, but still finished slow. Seriously go read the paragraph long sentence that was the final sentence of the novel. Not fun.

I think where I struggled to enjoy the book and where the author struggled to write the book was in converting an excellent idea into a manageable and digestible amount. Thankfully, the book wasn’t longer, but it really struggled through the first half. Beth felt like a whiny idiot (she was a teenager) and Cesare just felt frigid and unapproachable. This definitely changed toward the end, but it didn’t change fast enough or thoroughly enough to make me want to bump up my rating.

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Book 48: The Bookman’s Tale – Charlie Lovett

Lovett, Charlie - The Bookman's TaleGive me a book about a another book (missing, newly discovered, controversial, etc) and I’m happy. The writing could even be mediocre (this one was better than mediocre) and I can still deal with it!

I’m pretty sure this only serves to further verify I am a bibliophile, which isn’t at ALL shocking. I requested and received a copy of this book from the publisher after previewing it on NetGalley and received no compensation in return for my honest opinion.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel. It was a quick and fascinating read. However, I had some issues (and this may be from the fact this was a digital ARC copy) with the books structure. The book is set up as three intertwining stories: the original story/timeline of Robert Green’s Pandosto (1592-1879) (Wikipedia link), the beginning of Peter and Amanda’s relationship (early-to-mid 1980s – 1993/4) and the current events of the story (1995).You can imagine how this would be a bit confusing, especially as I never read anything about a book before I jump into it!

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Book 47: Confessions from a Coffee Shop – T. B. Markinson

Markinson, T. B. - Confessions from a Coffee ShopAnd she’s back! Now don’t get me wrong, Markinson (TBM)’s last novel, Marionette, wasn’t bad and was excellently written, it just wasn’t for me. However, Confessions from a Coffee Shop harkens back to A Woman Lost in humor and fun! I flew through this and couldn’t help but smile the entire time I read this novel. I received a copy from the author and received no compensation for my response. If this review sounds at ALL interesting you should request a preview copy from her here.

I said above that TBM is back and the reason I say that is because she’s return to what she knows and what I can assume is a comfort zone for her. I don’t fault her one bit for stretching her writing muscles in her second novel, but I’m so glad she returned to her strengths!

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30 x 30: #26 – Spend a weekend in NYC w/ Tara

2014 06-13 Oh Hey Chrysler BuildingAfter a long and exhausting, but fantastically wonderful weekend in New York City with Tara I am now done with 20% of my list! I did so much that this is only going to be a basic overview of what we did with a few amazing pictures and then when I do my Culture Corner post for this month you’ll get the rest of it!

Tara and I have known each other since second year of undergrad, where she knew me as chlorine boy (I came directly from swim instructor training) and I knew her as one of the other two sophomores in an upper level random history class! She’s been in New York for almost four years and I haven’t been down to see her yet even though she’s been up to Boston twice to see me. So when I started making my 30 x 30 list I knew NYC and a Tara visit would be included, especially as she is moving to Portland, OR at the end of the summer.

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Book 36: The Grifters – Jim Thompson

Thompson, Jim - The GriftersI hope you never get tired of hearing it, but books like this are why I’m so glad Caroline and I took the chance and joined the random book group at our local library. I know I would never have picked up this book (and most of the books we read). They’re so different and I’ve enjoyed almost all that we’ve read! Sometimes, I’m not so sure about the book or I’m hesitant about the movie, but this book was great and I can’t wait to see how they adapt it to the film!

Like usual going into this month’s book I had no set expectations and knew very little about it. I vaguely knew it was about con artists, but that was about it. When I picked up my copy from the library I was tickled to see the pulp-fiction cover, who wouldn’t be? But that cover definitely made me seriously look forward to reading it, not to mention it was under 200 pages, and I blazed through the book.

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Book 33: Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt

Babbitt, Natalie - Tuck EverlastingI first read Tuck Everlasting back in high school before the 2002 film came out as I didn’t want the story ruined by a movie (I was just as stubborn back then). Other than a general sense of wonderment and enjoyment I didn’t remember much about the book outside of the basic storyline. I was very glad this was the chosen book this month as it was super short, read it in one day on my T commute, and watched the 2002 film just before book group.

It’s hard to say what part of the story was the best part as there was something so incredibly simple and yet fantastical/magical in both the story and Babbitt’s writing. I definitely didn’t realize when I first read it that the book was almost 30 years old! Originally published in 1975, it clearly stands the test of time and I thoroughly enjoyed this reread. Babbitt did an amazing job of simplifying and writing about a concept as complex and all-encompassing as immortality

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