Category Archives: California

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-20-17 #IMWAYR

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It’s a beautiful, sunny day here in Massachusetts. It’s also Presidents’ Day, which is a holiday for me, so I’m looking forward to spending the day at home except for morning yoga class (my new exercise obsession) and a quick run to the supermarket this afternoon.

cover imageI’m currently reading Crosstalk by Connie Willis, and This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (which I started when I couldn’t find my copy of Crosstalk.)

cover imageThey are favorite authors of mine, and I own both of these books. So I can read without worrying about the books expiring, which happened with the downloaded library audiobook I was listening to last week (The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close.)

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While I wait to come to the top of the list to get The Hopefuls again to listen to the second half of it, two more audiobook holds came through from the library, including The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly, which I’ve been waiting a long time for and hope to get to listen to before it expires!

I audiobook cover imagestarted The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson, narrated by Cassandra Campbell first, to see what it was like; I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this debut novel set in a private high school in an upscale suburb of San Francisco.

At first I thought I might not listen to it all the way through because the school bullying described in detail from an eighth-grade girl’s perspective, at the start of the book, made me so sad and angry. When the perspective switched to a new high school teacher’s three years later, I decided I’d give it a few more chapters to see if I could stomach the subject matter. By the time the perspective switched back to a student’s again –about a third of the way in – I was hooked.

Game of Thrones character "Brace Yourself, the President memes are coming.

Happy Presidents’ Day! What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in, everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

East of Eden Read-Along — Final #estellaproject

East of Eden Readalong BadgeThere are no discussion questions to answer for the final installment, and as you can see from the readalong badge, I’m almost two weeks late finishing the book, anyway. For other discussion posts by others in the East of Eden Readalong, visit The Estella Society here. There are no spoilers here, but there will be some in other discussion posts so if you haven’t read East of Eden, watch out for spoilers (as well as for your brother)!

East of Eden is currently my nomination for the Great American Novel. (Is it better than The Grapes of Wrath? I don’t know, because I read that so long ago.) The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939, won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. According to Wikipedia, East of Eden, which was published in 1952, was “not well received by critics, who found it heavy-handed and unconvincing, especially in its use of Biblical allusion.” The Wikipedia article about East of Eden goes on to say, with a thumb of the nose to contemporary critics of the day: “Nevertheless, it became an instant bestseller in November 1952, a mere month after it was released, and is now considered one of Steinbeck’s finest achievements.”

Of course, in any book discussion, we want to talk about the ending with someone who shared the reading experience along with us, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it. The beauty of online readalongs is that I can just share this link to a blog post I stumbled across that says everything I would have said here and has saved me all the trouble of writing it myself:

You Must, You Shall, You May: The Ending of East of Eden written by Alex on the blog I Might Be Wrong.

East of Eden struck me as true to life, even with all the biblical allusions and parallels, because of the way that the lives of the main characters – Adam, Aron, and Cal – are shown to us with the attendant characters playing a large role and then disappearing from the story – even dying – or going away and eventually coming back. Most of us don’t go through life with the same people playing the same role the whole time, right?

I think East of Eden would appeal to family saga readers for the way it shows the passing of generations of a single family and its moments of high drama and long stretches of calm. Readers who like to delve into the psychology of the characters would also like it, with all the passages about personality traits, behavior, and heredity.

If you haven’t read it, don’t let the length of it scare you off! It’s a pretty fast-moving story. The biblical aspects we all keep mentioning are “bible as literature”-type references, so don’t let that scare you off either. The tone of East of Eden is agnostic, not at all preachy.


East of Eden Read-Along Installment #3 #estellaproject

East of Eden Readalong BadgeFor other discussion posts by others in the East of Eden Readalong, visit The Estella Society here.

Now, on to the discussion questions for Chapters 28-40. There will be some spoilers if you haven’t read this book, but not too many:

1. What do you think of the twins since they’ve grown up quite a bit? They seem to take after both Adam and Charles. How do you explain that? My book club had fun with some theories recently.
Well, Adam and Charles shared a father so they may have inherited some of the same traits from him that got passed on to the twins. Since the twins Cal and Aron don’t look alike, is it biologically possible that sperm from two different fathers could have fertilized the eggs?

2. Any surprises in this section? Lee, Dessie and Tom, Adam’s business dealings? Just some ideas. :)
I was surprised by Cal’s reaction to meeting his mother and then by Adam’s response to Cal’s reaction. Lee is still the glue holding the family of men together, and he knew when to step aside and let Adam talk with Cal one on one. I was also surprised by Aron’s religious leanings and that he might be willing to give up his first love for the church.

3. Ugh, Kathy/Cate. Is there anything redeemable about this woman?
The pain of arthritis is far less than she deserves!

4. Share a quote!

This is the end of the passage about Cal’s conversation with Lee about Cathy/Kate at the end of Chapter 38:

“Cal drifted toward the door, slowly, softly. He shoved his fists deep in his pockets. ‘It’s like you said about knowing people. I hate her because I know why she went away. I know – because I’ve got her in me.’ His head was down and his voice was heartbroken.
Lee jumped up. ‘You stop that!’ he said sharply. ‘You hear me? Don’t let me catch you doing that. Of course you may have that in you. Everybody has. But you’ve got the other too. Here – look up! Look at me!’
Cal raised his head and said wearily, ‘What do you want?’
‘You’ve got the other too. Listen to me! You wouldn’t even be wondering if you didn’t have it. Don’t you dare take the lazy way. It’s too easy to excuse yourself because of your ancestry. Don’t let me catch you doing it! Now – look close at me so you will remember. Whatever you do, it will be you who do it – not your mother.’
‘Do you believe that, Lee?’
‘Yes, I believe it, and you’d better believe it or I’ll break every bone in your body.’
After Cal had gone Lee went back to his chair. He thought ruefully, I wonder what happened to my Oriental repose?”