Sunday, July 31, 2016

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

This didn't fit into the 2016 Reading Challenge, but it DID fit in the Rory Gilmore reading challenge and it was short and on the bookshelf at the library when I happened to be there looking for something. So I grabbed it. All I could remember was that my friend Carolyn read it in high school for an honor's English book report. And she didn't like the ending.

It's interesting, all these books that are high school reads, but my high school self did not have enough life experience to fully understand, comprehend, or even begin to appreciate these things. In freshman honor's English, we had to read The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I hated the ending SO much I have never picked up another one of his books since then until now. NOW I can appreciate what he was trying to portray and have an ability to attempt to see a different point of view. I know I was limited in that capacity as a youth, even though I know I truly tried.

Anyhow, this book is interesting because it's told from the objective third person, which isn't common for a novel. It reads almost like a play, and I guess it was turned into a movie, though I haven't watched it. But because of this perspective, you never know what's going on inside of anyone's head. That's one reason it adapts so well to screen; because there are no thoughts to try to figure out how to show or things being left out because they are only thoughts. But it's also hard to draw conclusions because you can't tell for sure what's going on inside minds unless they're verbalized.

So the main characters, Lennie and George are together. Lennie is a really big guy and is mentally slow. George looks after him. You don't find out why they are always together for awhile, which was a bit curiosity for me. And it's interesting, because it was George realizing the depth of Lennie's capacity to understand and his own cruelty towards him before this epiphany that causes him to decide he will take care of Lennie and make sure he's all right. But then something happens and George can no longer do that. In that time (Great Depression era), mental illness was handled in a much different way and many times people who were institutionalized were not treated well. And also, the man who wanted revenge on Lennie was really bent on torture. Something Lennie would have no understanding of. He knew he had done something bad, but he had no comprehension REALLY about what had happened and he wouldn't have connected his actions with cruel punishment. So in that sense I can understand George's ultimate choice. But I still wish there had been a better way.

I tried to find more explanation for this book online, and didn't come up with a whole lot. The purpose was just to show the hard times and the injustice of some people's lives. There wasn't anything about Steinbeck protesting the treatment of mentally ill people, but it could certainly be perceived as that as well.

I gave it 3 stars, but truthfully, I give it a solid 3.5. I just didn't enjoy it enough to bump it up to 4.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Drawing the Ocean, Carolyn McCullough

This was for the 2016 Reading Challenge A Book with a Blue Cover.

Honestly, I just roamed the YA novel section looking for a short blue covered book that looked interesting.

I give this book 2.5 stars. It just felt so stagnate. It was enjoyable, I had no trouble being motivated to read more. There was a little more swearing that I like. There was a nonchalance about drug use (recreational) that I didn't appreciate. The main character was likeable enough and she makes some critical right decisions towards the end, but I just felt like it was just following this girl around.

Her twin brother died, you don't know how at the beginning, which helps with the intrigue a little. She's moved across the country, her parents are a little quirky (and a little clueless). She meets kids from her new school who run in different crowds at different times and then has to decide where she wants to fit in. The one gem of wisdom I got from this book was something Sadie's mom told her about her new boyfriend "Just make sure you like who you are when you're with him." And I think that can be true for any relationship or friendship, you really should like who you are when you're with people, otherwise maybe you shouldn't be around them to begin with.

Still Life, Inspector Gamache #1, Loise Penny

This was for the 2016 Challenge "Murder Mystery". One of my FB friends recommended it (said the community reminded her of Stars Hallow and I was hooked).

Lucky for me it was also available right away on Overdrive for my kindle.

I really enjoyed this! It's been awhile since I read it, so it's not fresh in my mind anymore, but I remember being quite impressed with Inspector Gamache and his intuition and observation skills. I also found some incredibly profound thoughts about life through some of the other characters. For instance, the idea that "life is loss" and once we accept that, loss doesn't debilitate us as much. I highlighted a ton of stuff, but since my kindle updated I haven't figured out where all of my "clips" are....

Anyhow, one of the only TV shows I've gotten into since Gilmore Girls is Castle and it just ended last spring. Castle is a murder mystery writer who ends up finding his muse in one of NYPD's finest female homicide detectives after being brought on to consult on a case with a copycat murder from one of his books and since it gives the PD really good PR, Castle is granted permission to tag along indefinitely. So pretty much every episode is a murder that needs to be solved. We got better at figuring out how to pin the guilty one day as the seasons progressed. But I always loved how they planted seeds of doubt about nearly everyone involved. This was the case with Still Life. I had hunches, many of them, but Penny keeps you guessing by giving you only just enough information until the big reveal. And I loved having that process again. Sometimes I get worried with murder mysteries because they can get gruesome, but this book didn't get gory or anything. It was perfect comfort level, which characters you care about outside of their role in the story line.

The one girl...what was her name...the greenie helper detective, her last name was Nichole...anyway she was the WORST. I don't think you can get a person more dense than her. There are more books with Inspector Gamache, and while they don't need to be read in order, each one can be a stand alone book, I understand there is a character development arc that would be noticed if you read them in order. So I wonder what will happen with this particular character. I can't believe that Penny would introduce someone so antagonistic in the first book and then abandon her all together, especially when she went through all the trouble to give her backstory and tidbits of information even the character doesn't know.

The one thing that was a little confusing is that sometimes characters (detective primarily) would be referred to their last name, but in other instances referred to by their first names, so sometimes I got confused about who was who because I hadn't linked first and last names together very solidly.

I gave this one 4 solid stars.