Book 53: Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - Stone MattressAtwood is an incredible writer and story teller and there’s really not much more that needs to be said, so when I saw her newest collection of short stories I knew I had to request it! I received a copy from the publisher, in return for my honest opinion:

Spectactular.

That would be a little cruel, to leave it just at that even though it would still describe it perfectly. Below, you’ll find a one-to-two sentence review of each of the nine tales and a single quote from each.

On a different note, if you haven’t heard Margaret Atwood is the first author of the future library! This is a project where authors are asked to write a work and it won’t be read for 100 years. This makes me both incredibly happy, as she writes such fantastic speculative/near future fiction, but also sad that I won’t be able to read it! It’s a fascinating project and I could go into it in detail, but really you should just read about it at The Guardian.

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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 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 46: The Hangman’s Revolution (W.A.R.P. #2) – Eoin Colfer

Colfer, Eoin - W.A.R.P. #2 - The Hangman's RevolutionIf it weren’t for the strength of the last book and Colfer’s series in general, the opening line of this novel might’ve made me turn back! I originally requested a copy of this from the publisher and you can read about my issues here (last paragraph under Books and Bookish – yes I’m naming and shaming now).

However, given the opening lines “meh” and the fact this is a second book in a series (almost always “meh”) this book turned out to be almost as good as The Reluctant Assassin the first of the W.A.R.P. series.

Part of the struggle, for me, with this novel is that the first one came out early last year and I’ve read so many books since then! Add in that this book starts in an alternative present and it took a few chapters to really start remembering characters and what happened in the previous book. I’m not sure if every book will be like this and I’m pretty sure not with the way this ended but there was a Chekhov gun introduced that I’m assuming will span the series (or at least another book)!

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Book 45: The Art Restorer (Enrique Alonso #2) – Julián Sánchez

Sánchez, Julián - The Art RestorerI’m always happy when I discover an author new to me. As I said on Monday in my response to The Antiquarian, I stumbled across Sánchez’s work on NetGalley and requested a copy of this novel. I received a copy of The Art Restorer from the publisher and received no compensation for my honest opinion.

Whereas in the first novel of this series, The Antiquarian, Sánchez completely sold me on his writing and story telling, this novel fell a little short. The story was still fascinating and excellently written, how the story was told bordered a bit too much on the Hollywood/Dan Brown scale. However, I can’t decide if this is a part of Sánchez’s writing style for the story within this story, or if it is something that happened in his own processes.

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Book 44: The Antiquarian (Enrique Alonso #1) – Julián Sánchez

Sánchez, Julian - The AntiquarianI stumbled across Sánchez’s work on NetGalley when I requested The Art Restorer, reviewed later this week. The publisher was incredibly accommodating and provided a galley of this for me to review as well! (Damn me and my completion-ist tendencies!) I received no compensation in return for my honest response to the novel.

Although it started off a bit slow, maybe as a result of the translation?, I quickly fell into the book and ended up loving it! The closest thing I can find to compare it to is Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series (I’ve reviewed the two most recent here and here)! I won’t spend too much time comparing the two works/authors, because I want to give Sánchez his due, but suffice to say this novel (and what I’ve read of The Art Restorer) are SO much better.

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Book 43: The Bridge Over the River Kwai – Pierre Boulle

Boulle, Pierre, - The Bridge Over the River KwaiAnother great selection from my library’s Books into Movies book group. I’m not the biggest fan of war novels and I wasn’t convinced I would enjoy this one, but the writing was simple and easy to read and the juxtaposition/tension between the captured/surrendered British troops and the British commandos was enough to keep me flipping sides about the bridge throughout!

The book centers around the building of the Burma-Siam railway during World War II and specifically around the building of the bridge over the river Kwai, a fictional river in Thailand. I could not remember which modern country was Siam until this past weekend when we walked past a Thai restaurant called House of Siam! I should probably be embarrassed I couldn’t remember that, but let’s blame it on my American-ness and complete lack of knowledge around most Asiatic countries and cultures.

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