[Review] Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. 1993. First published in 1937.
Genre: Fiction. American literature. Classic literature.
Pages: 112 printed pages.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Library.
Audience: Readers of young adult through adult. Readers of American literature.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Further links on John Steinbeck.

  1. The 15 Best John Steinbeck Books Everyone Should Read, from Reedsy Discovery.
  2. The Steinbeck Institute.
  3. Nobel Prize.
  4. Book Analysis. This site is heavy with pop-ups and ads.


The time period is the Great Depression, the 1930s.

Two men are traveling together to work at a new job as laborers on a farm. They are in California, on the valley side of the Salinas River.

The men are George and Lennie. George is a small man. Lennie is a large man.

They stop beside a green pool to take a drink. They are hot from the walk. They’d rode a bus to a certain point and must walk the rest of the way.

While beside the green pool they have a conversation that they have had other times. So many times, George is tired of it.

George reminds Lennie often of staying quiet at the jobs. Don’t say anything. Stay out of trouble. If he gets in trouble, George will find Lennie.

Trouble seems to find Lennie.

It is never fully explained, but Lennie has an intellectual disability (I think.) George, at some point in the past, became a caregiver of Lennie. This caregiving role is stressful.

George feels responsible for Lennie. He looks after him.

At the new job, trouble erupts.

My Thoughts:

I first read Of Mice and Men in the 10th grade. When I began reading it yesterday, I remembered a little about the storyline.

It is a novella. A short story. A sad story. A story that makes an impact. It is a story that I had to remind myself that these people don’t think like me, and they don’t live in the society and culture I live in. For example, animal abuse is never okay. To abuse another person because of their skin tone or intellectual ability or income level is never okay.

And a big question that is gnawing at me. What can be done in response to a person (the daughter-in-law of the boss) who is sexually suggestive, lonely, and will not stop bothering the working men in the bunkhouse? My first thought is “Run Forest, Run!” However, these men need the job. They need to work. The situation is precarious.

As an adult, I understand so much more about this story. I picked up on things (aha moments.) For example, Curley is the adult son of the boss of the farm. However, throughout the story his main task is looking for his wife. He walks into the bunkhouse, “have you seen my wife?” The situation is pitiful. Is his wife bored? Lonely? Does she have unmet needs or expectations? Why did she marry Curley? Doesn’t she have farm wife things to do? Taking care of a farm is hard work. Being a farm wife is hard work.

Another question I have: George knows Lennie is strong and can hurt someone or kill them. Why did he command Lennie to respond with violence? Did George regret this action? Is this why the book ended as it did?

Lennie at some point, knows good from bad. What is going on with him that he knows the bad only after it happens?

Of Mice and Men is a book that encourages discussion. But as a kid, I don’t remember conversation in class about the story except from the teacher.

I love, love, love, the setting of scenes which includes more than just descriptions for the reader’s sake, it is the setting of the tone and mood or a pulling away from the dire situation to a place of calmness (for example pages 92-93.) Steinbeck’s descriptions, even of a barn is brilliant.

It is a story with strong inward and outward conflicts.

Some themes in the story: dreams, self-control, grief, justice, injustice, hope, tolerance, deception, shame, sacrifice, suffering, and judgment.


[Book Blast] The Romanov Heiress by Jennifer Laam @hfvbt @jenniferlaam.writer @hfvbt @JenLaam @hfvbt @JenLaam

Publication Date: March 20, 2023.
Genre: Historical fiction. Russian. Early 20th century.
Pages: 351.
Format: Available to pre-order a Kindle copy @ Amazon.

#TheRomanovHeiress #JenniferLaam #HFVBT

At Goodreads: The Romanov Heiress.

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours is the host for the Book Blast.


Four sisters in hiding. A grand duchess in disguise. Dark family secrets revealed…an alternate future for the Romanov sisters from Jennifer Laam, author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar and The Lost Season of Love and Snow.

With her parents and brother missing and presumed dead, Grand Duchess Olga Romanova must keep her younger sisters safe. The Bolsheviks are determined to eliminate any remaining holdovers from the tsarist regime, hunting down the last Romanovs and putting them to death. Now living in England, the Romanov sisters remain hidden to protect their identities, even as isolation strains their relationships.

But they can’t distance themselves from the world forever.

Olga learns that a peer of the realm has accused the late Empress Alexandra of betraying Russia and her allies during the Great War. Under the spell of the scheming Grigori Rasputin, Alexandra disclosed military secrets to the enemy and pursued a separate peace with Germany. If this rumor becomes history, it will destroy her legacy and her family’s future.

Disguised as “Olivia,” a wartime nurse turned maid, Olga accepts a position in Lord Hammond’s household. There, she works to discover the truth about her mother. When Olga meets his lordship’s heir—an alluring, enigmatic war veteran—her situation grows even more precarious. Could she fall for the son of her new enemy? As she learns more about the tragedies of his past, Olga realizes the connection between their families is more complicated than it appears.

About the author:

An avid history nerd long fascinated with the Romanov sisters, Jennifer Laam’s next books, including The Romanov Heiress (March 2023), will explore their stories with several “what-ifs.”

A proud native of Stockton, CA, Jennifer currently lives in Sacramento with a spoiled tabby cat named Jonesy. When not reading or writing, she enjoys planning cosplay for the next San Diego Comic-Con, experimenting with vegetarian recipes (to mixed results), and obsessing over House Targaryen or Baby Yoda.



Enter to win an eBook of The Romanov Heiress by Jennifer Laam!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on March 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Direct link to the giveaway.

[Review] Garbo by Robert Gottlieb

Publisher and Publication Date: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2021.
Genre: Narrative nonfiction. Biography.
Pages: 438.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Library.
Audience: Readers of biographies, especially those interested in classic Hollywood era.
Rating: Very good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

I discovered the photograph and bio on the Goodreads author page is incorrect. I am unable to correct it. I have contacted the publisher.

Robert Gottlieb is a writer and an editor. He is a big name in the editor world of book companies. He was the editor-in-chief of Simon and Schuster. He was the editor of The New Yorker. And previously in charge of Alfred A. Knopf.

A review of Garbo from the New York Times.


Greta Lovisa Gustafsson was born September 18, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden. She attended the Royal Dramatic Theater Academy and performed on stage and in film while in Sweden, and later Germany. She arrived in Hollywood at the age of 19 (1925) accompanied by her Swedish director and friend, Mauritz Stiller. She went to work at MGM without the ability to speak English.

After Greta arrived in Hollywood, she appeared in several silent films. Most of her portrayals are as a vixen and vamp. Garbo’s first talking film is Anna Christie in 1930. She retired from acting in films in 1941. She moved to New York City. She died in 1990.

Greta Garbo’s reputation was a cool, sometimes tepid, Hollywood built image. The camera and lightening enhanced her beautiful evocative face.

She has been linked romantically to both men and women.

Robert Gottlieb has written Garbo’s story to share who she really was or is this possible considering how private a life she led.

My Thoughts:

I first want to express how lovely this book is. It is a visually appealing type of book reminding me of a coffee table style book.

The book also reminds me of a magazine in the way it is a lay out of both images and writing distributed artistically on white pages.

Greta Garbo is not an easy person to write a bio. She liked it that way. She was shy, private, and probably an introvert. She did not like people talking about her and she did not like people talking about others. She preferred casual type conversations. For example, what the person did that day, their routine. And even though she did not have children of her own, she adored children, especially in conversations with them about simple things.

Garbo’s childhood is brief, the focus of the book is her film career, and life afterwards. Gottlieb tries to capture who she really was as a person, but this is difficult, and he knows this. I am thankful he is honest. I am thankful he documents the stories from those people who knew her.

This is a biography that after I read the last page I have to mentally shuffle and assimilate nicely everything I read in order to get a perspective about the person.

Additional reasons why I enjoyed reading Garbo:

  1. A brief summary and review of films, and the costars and directors of those films.
  2. The author’s writing style is casual, with small bites (tiny) of sarcasm.
  3. It is explained Garbo needed privacy. She on purpose hid. And by hiding this projected an image of an obscure mystery person, a person who surely must be doing something tantalizing.
  4. A tell-all book was written in the 1930s by two people who had taken care of the running of Garbo’s household. It shares Garbo as an everyday living, unpretentious, miser, and the opposite of what was expected of a celebrity. I love it that Gottlieb included several pieces of information from those who had observed her away from film making. One of the last sections of the book includes several brief sketches of Garbo from those who knew her.
  5. Also at the end of the book is an interesting synopsis of Marlene Dietrich’s problem with Garbo. One of Dietrich’s hobbies was criticizing Garbo, and often in a coarse public way. I believe this is called “giving a false testimony.”
  6. Gottlieb does not include hearsay. He documents facts about Garbo. She did have a romantic relationship with the actor John Gilbert. It has not been found to be fact that she had a romantic relationship with a friend of 30 years, Mercedes de Acosta. In Acosta’s paperwork found after her death nothing is mentioned in regard to their relationship being anything other than friendship. However, it is acknowledged throughout the book of Garbo’s need for privacy.
Doesn’t Robert Montgomery look uncomfortable and nervous?

I’ve added an additional item to my bucket list. I want to watch Greta Garbo films-maybe all of them.

[Review] Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren

Publisher and Publication Date: Simon and Schuster. 2019.
Genre: Narrative nonfiction. Biography.
Pages: 400.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Library.
Audience: Readers of biographies, especially people who are well-known in Blues music, and the 1960s era.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Links for further reading about Janis Joplin.

  1. Britannica.
  2. Official website.
  3. Janis Joplin YouTube channel.
  4. An article from 2019 on Janis Joplin from The NY Times.


Janis Lyn Joplin was born in Port Arthur, TX, January 19, 1943.

She is the eldest child in a family of two other siblings, both younger. Laura was born in 1949, Michael was born in 1953.

She grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in a working man’s town of refineries in the Gulf Coastal area of East Texas.

The story backs up to tell brief bios of her parents, and how they came to live in Port Arthur. The story will also share how her parents felt about Janis’s music career, lifestyle; and the public dialogue about her parents which was not always correct.

The book gives a chronological story of her life from childhood to her young adulthood, and all the progressive steps (sometimes side-steps or zigzags) that led to her successful music career.

Janis died of an accidental heroin overdose on October 4, 1970.

My Thoughts:

It has been on my bucket list to read a biography of Janis Joplin. I have another book about her life written by her sister Laura. I hope to read it soon. Love, Janis by Laura Joplin.

I was born in the mid 1960s. I have 4 siblings that were all teenagers in the 1960s and early 1970s. The brother closest in age to me is 10 years older. He was a Janis Joplin fan, maybe he still is. So, I remember very well hearing the music he played, and this included Janis Joplin.

It’s interesting that each of my siblings liked different singers and groups from that era. So, I had an opportunity to hear different types or variations of music but all of them in the rock and blues areas.

I’m late to enjoying the music of Janis, maybe I needed to live life a little before appreciating her.

Reading a biography of Janis Joplin can bog a reader down in the minutia of psychoanalyzing why she did this or that. In addition, what created the emptiness in her heart that she tried so hard to fill?

She had a varied or dimensional type personality and character that displayed differently to people.

This is my opinion: but I believe she is a tough person to state in one sentence who she was. People who really knew her did not have a short answer. However, she had a powerful voice and a strong stage persona and the unique ability to push and pull emotions into her songs. There are many people who can carry a tune. There are many people who can stand up and sing a song to a large group of people. But it is a rarity to hold an audience’s attention to the point of a wow factor!

I love several things about this book:

  1. I love how the father of Janis has his perspective in the book. Several people are interviewed for the story, but to hear the words from her father, and shortly after her death, this is an important feature of the book.
  2. Janis had said negative things in public interviews about her parents and the town she grew up in. At least the parents have a part in telling how they felt, and their financial help and support.
  3. Several times in the book it is expressed Janis wanted attention. She did not care if she got attention from being good or bad. She needed affirmation and approval from her peers. She had strong insecurities. She often made decisions without thinking. She had an addiction to drugs and alcohol. She also deeply loved her family and close friends. She worked hard in the music industry. She wrestled with ending relationships. She was creative and intelligent. She loved reading. She had a boisterous laugh. My reason in expressing all the above is she was human, and humans are complicated beings. She had positive and negative traits. She had hard life experiences. She had hope for success and love. All of this is displayed brilliantly in the book.
  4. I enjoyed reading about the culture and society in the 1960s.
  5. I enjoyed reading about other musicians from the 1960s.
  6. Certain parts of her life are expounded on more than other parts in social media but not in this book. I’m referring to her sexuality. She had sex with men and women. If she wanted to be with that person, she did. One of the women she had a relationship with was asked if Janis considered herself a Lesbian. The woman answered that Janis did not take it seriously. And it is stated in the book she wanted to get married to a man. My point is this book shows the whole of her life, not just her sexuality and music. I love this. She was so many things: a daughter, sister, friend, lover, reader, artist, singer, songwriter, musician, trail blazer, fashionista, and a small-town Texas girl with dreams of more.

I was born and raised in Houston, TX. Port Arthur is considered small (at least back in the day.)

I read Janis in 24 hours.

Quote of the Week

“For winter’s rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten.
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.”

Algernon Charles Swinburne [1837-1909]

Atalanta in Calydon. Stanza 4.