This Blog is Dedicated to our dear friend Karen.
When she left this life she left a hole in our hearts as well as several to be read books.
We, her friends, will read these books for her.
This blog will be a sort of book club for us to post our thoughts and feelings about the stories and feelings we have of Karen while we read.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#46 Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks


Any book that leaves me crying in the bathroom at work can't be all bad, right?

I'm not going to say I really enjoyed reading this book, because - like I said - it left me crying at points. I don't enjoy crying, don't like being made to feel all the feels, make the ugly cry face, etc. But I'm such a jaded old grump that most of the usual heartstring-tugging that authors use to get you to feel the feels doesn't usually work on me. I recognize it for what it is - a cheap ploy to sell books and get people to talk about how the book made them feel (and, thereby, sell more books). So when a writer is able to push past my defenses and make me feel true emotion, I have to give credit.

Max is a young boy on the autism spectrum (though I don't think they ever come right out and say it in the book); Budo is his imaginary friend. (And, really, as Budo puts it, probably Max's only friend.) Most imaginary friends last only as long as their boy or girl needs them to help navigate being a kid; because Max is "special" and needs Budo to get through the routine things that most kids have already mastered, Budo has lasted a lot longer than most imaginary friends.

Something very much out of Max's routine happens, and Budo is forced to decide between leaving things alone (in which case Max will continue to need him, and he'll continue to exist) and helping Max overcome the problem (which could mean that Max grows enough that he won't need Budo any more). The Very Important Lesson in this book is that doing what's right isn't always the same as doing what's easy, or doing what's fun.

Dicks does a really good job of not only showing what life is like for an autistic person, but also showing how hard autism is for that person's family, teachers, etc. to understand. Max's mom is torn between smothering him with affection, which makes him uncomfortable, and giving him the space he needs, and his father thinks everything will be alright if they just ignore it and if Max just tries a little harder to be "normal". My only quibble here is when Max is put into a situation where he is forced waaay out of his comfort zone and he's forced to break his "rules" (like crossing a street, going outside when it's dark, walking on the sidewalk, etc.). I don't know that an autistic child would have been able to make these decisions and "break the rules" as easily as the author has Max do it.
The other area where Dicks has really done well is in creating this whole concept of what being an imaginary person means. The story is told from Budo's point of view; while Max is the only real person who can see Budo, Budo introduces the reader to an entire menagerie of imaginary friends.
Because these imaginary friends are created entirely out of their real person's imaginations, they run the gamut from basic concepts like a smudge on a wall to a two-dimensional paper boy to a spoon with eyes to a fairy princess to Budo, who is like a regular boy in (almost) every detail. Dicks has created an entire list of "rules" about imaginary friends - things they can or can't do, based on how their real friends imagined them. For instance, Budo can't run very fast, because Max never imagined him needing to run fast, but he can walk through doors and windows, because Max was worried he'd be trapped in a room or closet (one of Max's biggest fears). Budo doesn't sleep, because Max imagined Budo watching over him while he slept. And of course, the biggest part of this is the idea that an imaginary friend only exists as long as their real person continues to think of them. Which (without giving away anything) is where the whole "crying in the bathroom at work" thing comes in.
I loved just about everything about this book, from character descriptions, to the final plot resolution, even (especially) the way Budo and Max and the other kids talked, with "washer machines" and "bonus poops".
One last note: I read this as part of our "Reading with Karen" effort to read all of my late sister's to-read list. I know Karen would have loved this book as much as I did, and she would have posted on here that it had her "bawl-bagging" at the end.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

#270 Smile by Raina Telegemier

My daughter has been reading this series and she was telling me about them so I picked it up and was surprised to find certain content in it! For example, crushes, spin the bottle, frenemies, and so forth. Needless to say we had a nice chat after I finished the book and I got to hear her thoughts and feelings on these subjects. I really didn't think I would be having a talk about spin the bottle at age 10, but glad we did! The books ends nicely.

#64 Second Honeymoon by James Patterson


I... have nothing bad to say about this book. The dialog is great, there are no plot holes, and it was an enjoyable read. If I were to have one little quibble, it's this: the story deals with two serial killers - one who is killing newlywed couples on their honeymoons, and one who is killing men named John O'Hara (and is, obviously seeking revenge against the narrator). There are times I got the two plot lines mixed up a bit, but that was through no fault of the authors; I take full blame for not paying closer attention. Otherwise, as I said, this was a great read.

I don't know if it's the fact that Patterson has a co-author on these two honeymoon books, or if - these being written far more recent than the Alex Cross books I've recently read - but these have been far and away better than most of the other Patterson books I've read. The female FBI agent in this book was a pleasant, fully-developed character, similar to Lindsay in the Women's Murder Club books, and not some two-dimensional damsel-in-distress or ice queen like so many other of Patterson's female characters. The constant, gratuitous sexual situations that were so much a part of the first Honeymoon book (and many other of Patterson's books) are missing from this second one, and the book doesn't suffer for it.

This book gives me renewed hope for my mission of reading all the Patterson material that was in Karen's to-read list. I'll jump back into that material soon, but first, I'm taking a short break to read some things by other authors.  


Friday, December 11, 2015

#465 The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank


I remember when I was young, probably the age Anne Frank was in this book, I went and saw the play that was written off this book at the Lyceum theater in Arrow Rock, Missouri.  I was moved and touched by her story then and even more so after reading her story.  She is such a wise young woman and it amazes me.  I really loved the book although, there were parts I was bored with (like the descriptions of the annex or their daily chores).  I'm glad I finally read this one.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#299 Jack and Jill by James Patterson

Jack & Jill (Alex Cross, #3)

Finally finished this one. It took a long time to read - not because it was badly written, but just because I've had a lot of other things on my plate.

I actually enjoyed this more than the first two Alex Cross novels. There's still a lot of killing going on, but it didn't feel as gory and intense; it wasn't as emotionally draining as the other books, because the Jack and Jill killers are politically motivated, not motivated by sick, twisted psychology like Gary Soneji or Casanova.

Unlike the first two books, which were part mystery and part psychological thriller, this one is more a spy thriller. We know who's doing the killing. (We don't actually find out the identity of Jack till the end of the book, but we do know he and Jill are the ones doing the killing.) The book is less whodunit, and more can-they-be-caught-before-they-kill-again. A couple of really good plot twists at the end of the book, too.

The Jack-and-Jill storyline alternates with another story where there's a person killing kids at Cross's son's school. This storyline is a lot more like those in the first two Cross books - the creepy psychological aspect of the murders, the gory details. Either of these plot lines could have been enough to base the entire novel on, but by having them in the same book, Patterson can show Cross's frustration at being pulled away from what matters more to him (the student murders, in his own backyard) to work on the more high profile case.


Monday, November 23, 2015

#305 Kiss the Girls by James Patterson


So... yeah...
Parts of this book were ok. It's a mystery, and the mystery part is pretty solid. Women are disappearing from the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina; Alex Cross's niece is one of them. Alex leaves Washington DC to investigate his niece's disappearance. He has absolutely no jurisdiction, but what the hey, the local cops end up inviting him in on their investigation. Because he's that guy that was on the tv, that caught that guy that kidnapped that girl. Also, that one FBI guy vouches for him.
Cross spends I don't know how long down in North Carolina, away from his job, because what the hey, there's probably nothing going on in Washington that requires his attention, right? ( After the case is resolved, the kidnapped girls are found, etc., he spends some more time away from his job, lounging oceanside with his maybe - girlfriend. Maybe I should be a police detective in DC, so I could take a bunch of time off whenever I want.
The main thing I need to say about this book: parts of it are very graphic. The kidnapper is a serial rapist (and murderer, although the murdering is kind of an afterthought); there's a pretty graphic description of him raping one of his victims, and another scene that involves milk, a snake, and a woman's anus. The point Patterson is making, I think, is that this guy feels society's rules and norms don't apply to him. Which could probably have been established without the (sometimes literally) gory details.
Overall, the book was a decent read, an improvement over the first one. Patterson still stumbles when writing from the point of view of a black man, but he does better than previously. I still can't understand how there can be a fully functional piano on the front porch of a house in Washington in the middle of winter, but whatever.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

#306 Along Came a Spider by James Patterson


James Patterson has written, or co-written, nearly 150 books, some of them really good examples of the mystery/suspense genre. This is not one of them.

The plot of this book centers around the high-profile kidnapping of two children - the son of the US Secretary of the Treasury, and the daughter of a famous actress - by the math teacher at their posh private school. Only it turns out that their math teacher is actually a sociopath and serial killer. Due to his previous training as a psychologist and FBI agent, Washington DC detective Alex Cross (and his character, Sampson) are called on to work with the FBI and the Secret Service on the case. (I mention Sampson in parentheses, because Patterson seems to forget him sometimes, putting Cross into investigative situations where his partner would should be with him.)

One of the main issues I have with this book is in Patterson's method of jumping from one point of view to another, and from one story thread to another. He has done this well in other books; it's something he's known for doing. Here, though, he doesn't do a good job of making clear to the reader that, ok, now we've moved from Alex Cross's p.o.v. to that of the killer, and now we're moving to Jezzie (really? Jezzie?) Flanagan's p.o.v. The transitions from one part of the story to another are confusing at times.

Another area of contention is in Patterson's writing of characters who aren't white men. I've mentioned this before regarding his writing of Lindsay Boxer in the Women's Murder Club books, as a weak-willed woman controlled by her woman-parts. At the beginning of Along Came a Spider especially, and (to a lesser extent) throughout the book, Patterson's portrayal of African American characters is pretty stereotypical. This is especially in evidence when he's writing dialog for Cross, a trained psychologist and highly educated man, who speaks at the beginning of the book exactly like the hoodlums and drug dealers in his neighborhood, peppering his dialog (and his asides to the reader) with "brotha" and "nigga" and other fun words. This "street talk" gradually diminishes by the end of the book, but it's insulting to consider that Patterson thinks all African Americans talk this way.

Aside from these issues, and a few smaller issues (Cross has a piano on his front porch. In Washington D.C. In the middle of winter.) the actual mystery is pretty interesting. There's (of course) a major plot twist (somebody kidnaps the little girl from the kidnapper!), and in the end the villain gets his comeuppance (sort of).

One other quirky note: in my library copy, someone has taken it upon themselves (bless their heart) to scribble out every instance of the word "fuck" and all of its various forms. The quirkiness comes in the fact that they did not deem it necessary to scribble out any other curse words. Or any of the somewhat graphic sex scenes between Cross and one of the other characters.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#254 The Mechanical Cat by Torey Hayden


I really don't even know where to begin with this one. I guess I could start with a general observation about the author: Hayden is an American (grew up in Montana), writing about events taking place in the United States, but moved to Wales in 1980 and (I believe) still lives there. Although her fictional characters and the real people she writes about are all from the United States, she still peppers her books with British words. I'm not just talking about spelling color "colour", or saying "socialising" instead of "socializing", although she does do that; I'm talking about having American children refer to their "Mum" or using "boot" instead of "trunk", etc. This Anglicizing begins to feel like an affectation, and it can be a bit jarring to the reader. An American author writing about American characters for an American audience, I feel, should be using American English; otherwise she comes off as a bit pretentious. A small quibble, true; but if it's scattered throughout the book, and I cringe a little bit each time I see it, it slows the reading down.
Update: I just read that Overheard in a Dream is actually the English title of the book; the American title is The Mechanical Cat. So apparently, I've read the English edition of the book, and that would explain why this particular book is filled with "English-isms". But Hayden has done this in most of the other books I've read as well.

To be honest, I've gotten a bit burned out on Hayden. Not because she's a bad writer; while she comes across as a bit naive, she does an excellent job of describing the harrowing conditions her clients have gone through. And really, that's what has me burned out - the rough, incredibly violent and emotionally exhausting situations these children have been through. I tried to break things up a bit by reading some lighter fare (James Patterson) in between Hayden's books, but when I would return to her work, I was faced by yet another example of adults destroying children's lives. I need to take a break, so I'll be holding off on reading and reviewing any more of Hayden's work for a while.

I started reading the book quite a while ago (October 12); I don't know if it's the book itself, or being burned out on Hayden, or the fact that this is fiction, while most of her other books I've read are not, but I just could not get motivated to continue reading. I thought of putting it to the side and coming back to it later, but knew I wouldn't return to it if I left it. So I soldiered on, and things started to get better.

This book is about four intertwining stories. The narrator, James, is a child psychologist who has recently divorced his wife and moved from Manhattan to the Badlands of South Dakota. His interactions with his ex-wife, his children, and his co-workers are one of the stories (and really, probably the least necessary to the main plot). Conor, one of James' clients, is a young boy who has been (possibly incorrectly) diagnosed with autism; James' sessions with Conor and Conor's treatment are a second part of the plot. As part of his methodology, James requires the parents and siblings of his patients to participate in counseling as well; these sessions are a third part of the story, especially Conor's mother, Laura's recounting of her childhood and early adulthood. In counseling, Laura confides to James that she can see into a different world, that of a woman called Torgon; Laura's stories of Torgon's life are the fourth and final part of the story. Hayden switches back and forth among these four story lines, and in fact, there is a point where she spends so much time with Laura's and Torgon's stories, that I thought she had forgotten about what was supposed to be the central issue in the book - Conor's treatment. But by the end of the book, I realized (or realised) that the stories of Torgon and Laura actually explain the defining moments that caused Conor's withdrawal and autistic-like behavior.

I enjoyed reading James' interactions with clients like Conor and other children; it was interesting to compare that to how he spoke with and treated his own children. Hayden also did a good job of giving Conor his own, different way of speaking - referring to himself in the third person, making statements or requests via his stuffed cat, and his way of making observational statements: "Here is a window.", etc.

So, really, I did enjoy parts of this book. And the book, as a whole, wasn't bad; Hayden's writing style is smooth and (usually) easy to follow, and she doesn't bury the reader under a lot of technical lingo. The characters were, for the most part, interesting, but I didn't care about them as much as I had those in her nonfiction. And maybe, at the end of it all, that's why I didn't like this book as much as I did her nonfiction - I didn't have that emotional investment in the characters.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

#229 The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Why haven't I read this before? I remember everyone talking about it, saying it was great! I agree!!!
after the last book I read I needed a quick feel good book. Mandy suggested this one and it delivered!! I read this book in two days! I could have done it faster than that but I do have other responsibilities- darn it!!! 
This book really made me think if this is the process of getting to heaven really like, then who would I meet, what lessons would they teach me? I also find myself pondering who I would wait for to teach them. 
It makes me aware of everyone I come in contact with, how am I contributing to their life? So many thoughts this book provided for me. 

#34 Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Oh Gosh!!! Seriously the title says it ALL!!!! I have put off writing this review because I try to be a positive person and I have struggled with what I wold say about this book. Honestly I wish I could pretend I never read this book. I HATED it!!!! I took me 3 months to read. Every time I picked this book up to read I'd get grumpy, therefore I stalled in finishing it. I almost quit, but I committed to read this for Karen so I finished it. 
With that being said I think Karen would have enjoyed this book, I think she would have got the humor that was intended. The writer, is witty, has a great personality, and deals with a lot in her life. 
I will say the book did get better near the end. But just not enough for me!
That is all I've got to say. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

#25 The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings

I really enjoyed this story.  I had no idea going into this book that it was based on the true story of the Grimke sisters.  The Grimke sisters were feminist and abolitionist way before it was popular or common. Their history has been pretty much erased as so few have heard of them and the work they pioneered in freeing slaves and women's rights. 

This is southern literature about a wealthy family, the Grimke's, that run an urban household of slaves and a large family.  Two of the daughters go against their families belief and embarrasses them and shames them when they start fighting for the equal rights of slaves. 

We also learn to love Handful and her family, slaves of the Grimke's. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

#257 The Tiger's Child by Torey L. Hayden


There's a point in this book where the author returns from vacation to find a letter from Sheila, the subject of this book; Sheila writes that she's planning to commit suicide. The letter had been sent at about the same time as Hayden had left for vacation. She tries to figure out how she can find out whether Sheila was still alive, but can't think how she would phrase the question to the staff of Sheila's group home; in the end, she does nothing and gets caught up in her other clients and activities. Reading this, I thought, "Call the group home, tell them Sheila had written to you, and ask if she can have visitors. Even if they don't tell you whether Sheila committed suicide, they'll at least tell you whether she's there."

I've realized that's the thing that bugs me about Hayden - she has all this formal training, but so much of the time she doesn't know how to react to a situation. A student breaks down? She sits and watches instead of reacting. A child disappears? She and a coworker stand and argue for 15 minutes about whose fault it is before looking for him. So much of the success Hayden has with clients in these books seems to be made up of lucky breaks and stumbling onto a method that works. In fact, she admits as much in several of the books.

That being said, I enjoyed reading this book. Hayden originally had Sheila as a student at the age of 6 (a story written about in her book "One Child"); "The Tiger's Child" retells that story, then picks up when Hayden reunites with Sheila eight years later. In the interim, Sheila has had a pretty rough life; her addict father basically pimps her out to support his habit, she moves from one foster home to another, etc. Hayden is operating a summer program for some of her child clients and offers Sheila the chance to work as an aide in the program. Sheila's interactions with the children and with Hayden, and her coming to terms with all the things that have happened to her, make up the rest of the book.
Reading Hayden's books, and her accounts of the horrible things that have happened to these children, is emotionally exhausting. The fact that people, often the children's parents themselves, could do such terrible things, makes me incredibly sad. I'm thankful that there are people like the author who are driven by a need to help these children work through the severe emotional trauma they've been subjected to.


#315 Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass


I really did not enjoy this book.  I was just so bored throughout the entire read.  Although, saying that, I would be fine if my 10 year old picked up this book and decided to read it.  It is clean and cute for that age group.

It's about 3 kids that have to face change in their life and they are thrown together and help each other through it.  It takes place in the middle of no where at some star/eclipse siting place where people drive or fly to go so they can see the skies without any light pollution. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#296 The 5th Horseman by James Patterson

The 5th Horseman (Women's Murder Club, #5)

I didn't get the same feeling of cheesy dialog I had from the last couple of Patterson books I've read. In fact, I haven't really felt the dialog in these Women's Murder Club books was bad at all. Yes, I think that sometimes there's an attempt to make the female cops and lawyers/prosecutors sound over-the-top tough, but that's a problem with a lot of stuff in this genre - it's like the authors think people won't take a woman in law enforcement seriously if she's not a ballsy tough-as-nails broad.

I had a couple minor complaints about the book. It's a women's murder club, and the concept is that these women pool their skills and resources to figure out whodunit. But that wasn't the case in this book. Claire was there, of course, being the chief medical examiner, but Cindy, the reporter, and Yuki, the lawyer, don't contribute much at all to working out the mystery. They're there, but mostly as supporting characters (especially Cindy).


Saturday, October 3, 2015

#261 Somebody Else's Kids by Torey L Hayden


These books are just so emotionally draining. Not because of the kids themselves; their stories are sad, but the way they handle their lives, often with such positivity, is amazing. No, what exhausts me is the fact that there are such horrible people in the world, that would do such horrible things to children.

The author, Torey Hayden, is a teacher of special -needs children; in some cases, that means giving extra homework help to a kid struggling with math, but in other cases (as in this book ) it means trying to reach out to a kindergartener with autism, or helping a 10 year old manage severe anger issues, or providing a safe learning space for a pregnant 12 year old. A pregnant. 12 year old. Whose parents refuse to discuss her pregnancy or her post-delivery plans.

The majority of my anger and frustration centers around the story of Lori, a young girl who, as a result of child abuse, has suffered brain damage. In most regards she's a typical little girl, but she's physically unable to read; her brain is unable to recognize the different letters and words. She comes to Torey's class for extra help, mainly because her main 1st grade teacher is an idiot who doesn't understand the difference between someone who's being lazy and not trying, and someone who has a physical freaking handicap and cannot freaking do reading, no matter how hard she tries! This idiot teacher makes Lori stand in front of her entire class and read; when she can't read a book, her teacher moves to a lower level book and tries again, gradually moving to ever lower skill levels, the entire time berating Lori for her "stupidity" and "laziness", until Lori vomits from nerves and runs from the room.

While reading this book, I had to consta
ntly remind myself that it was taking place in the 1970s, when special education was a completely different animal. Mainstreaming, or involving special - needs children in the regular classroom as much as possible, was apparently a big thing, and kids who couldn't keep up were (apparently ) out of luck.

When I read these books from Karen's list, I try to think how she would have reacted to them. I feel pretty sure that she would have been yelling at the 1st grade teacher and throwing the book in disgust. And crying a little when Tomaso has a breakthrough, or when Boo, the autistic boy, interacts with Torey. I know that's what I was doing.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

#146 The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too! Mo Willems


Another board book that my sister Karen had on her to-read list. This one was actually more enjoyable than the first one I read; it has more of the humor I love in Willems' books, and the Pigeon is a fuller character here, too. The bus driver uses tricky tricks to get the pigeon to show his happy face to the readers. Very cute, very entertaining.


#139 The Pigeon Loves Things That Go! Mo Willems


Why is Kris reading board books? Has he finally gone 'round the bend? No, this is just one of the books my sister had on her to-read list when she passed away. I think she had just about everything Mo Willems has written on her list.

I flipped back and forth between giving this book 3 stars and giving it 4. Let's call it 3 1/2. While it did have a couple funny or cute moments, I wasn't thrilled. But let's face it, I'm not exactly its target audience. I like Willems' other books for his weird sense of humor, and for his ability to tell an entertaining, emotional story using such basically drawn characters. With a board book, the writer has a very limited number of pages (this one had 8), so it's hard to tell much of a story in such a short amount of space. And besides, I don't think board books are about telling a story; I think their purpose is more about introducing very early readers to words (and images) in print. If a basic board book has pictures and a few words, Willems has gone well beyond that. The pigeon from his other books identifies several "things that go" and comments on each thing, and there's a surprise ending with that annoying little duckling.

So, not really my cup of tea, but for what it is, it's pretty good.

Monday, September 28, 2015

#255 The Very Worst Thing by Torey L. Hayden


I think I like Torey Hayden better as a writer of fiction. I don't get mad at her philosophy of psychology (or lack thereof), since that doesn't come up in this book.

David is a boy of 12, who has lived most of his life with his older sister, Lily, in various foster homes. Now Lily has been sent to live in a "home" (read "facility for juvenile delinquents"), and David is living in a new foster home on his own for the first time. He has learning disabilities and a stutter, so he's picked on at school, and he keeps a list of "The Very Worst Things" - the worst things he can think of to happen to a person. At the very top of the list is having no one - no family, no friends, not belonging anywhere. Then he meets Mab, another social outcast, and they develop a friendship as they work to hatch an owl's egg.

I really liked the character development in this story. Hayden obviously knows what it feels like for a foster child like David, for a girl like Mab, who's stuck in a class with kids older than her. Even some of the secondary characters like Granny and the caseworker, Mrs. Mellor, are well-written, interesting people. Some of the other characters, like the bully, Rodney, are less developed, and that's really the only major thing I didn't enjoy about the book; it felt like the story would have been even more enjoyable if Hayden had taken the time to develop these other characters more, drawing out the story a bit more. But overall, a good book for teaching younger students about friendship, and forgiveness, and dealing with disappointment and loss.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

#190 Don't Blink by James Patterson


Having read Patterson's Kill Me If You Can, I thought at first that this book was going to be more of the same. The first few chapters are filled with the sort of ham-fisted dialog that makes English teachers cringe and Hollywood producers drool. The entire section of the book where Nick Daniels is in Africa are full of guns and action and car chases (well, jeep chases)... and such literary gems as "We're being attacked. I'm serious, man." "Faster, Alan! We've got to go faster! You can go faster, can't you?" Somebody alert the Nobel and Pulitzer people, we have a contender!

But as soon as Daniels returns to New York, and the main story arc begins, the quality of the dialog (and the writing in general) improves. It's clear-cut and obvious when one of the co-writers passes the story on to the other. (Do we have Patterson to blame for the Africa story? His co-author Howard Roughan? Perhaps we'll never know...) I'm not saying that Patterson shouldn't write with co-authors; it's obviously worked well for him, and I've been happy with the team efforts on the Women's Murder Club mysteries. But when one part of a book is really pretty good, and another part is so terribly bad, it says one of two things: either Patterson is writing the crummy stuff, and his lesser-known co-author is the one that should be making the big bucks; or Patterson is writing the good stuff, and he (and his agent) needs to do a better job of choosing co-authors. And, maybe, do a little bit of clean-up editing?

Overall, I did enjoy this story. It's not a mystery; I mean, there are some whodunit aspects to the story, some questions that need to be answered. But the book is more about the action and suspense, with mobsters and hired killers and little girls with bombs tied to their chests, for crying out loud! That brings up another point that needs to be made: this book has some pretty gruesome moments in it. When the prologue of the book has a mob lawyer getting his eyeballs cut out at a New York steakhouse, you kinda get a feel for the gore factor. Suffice to say that some people are killed (some in really grotesque ways - I'll never stick my head out of a limousine's sun roof); some mobsters' plans are foiled, the little girl is saved from blowing up, and Nick gets the lady in the end.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

#260 Murphy's Boy by Torey Hayden


Say you were a mental health professional, well-respected, a leader in your field. Well-liked by your peers, your opinion is sought on their cases, and they often ask for your assistance with their trickier clients. Now, say your boss calls you into his office and tells you that you're fired. Not because you can't do your job, not because you're difficult to work with, but because it's 1980s Florida, and Dade County has just passed sweeping anti-gay legislation, and it's been discovered that you and your roommate, Hans, are more than just roommates, and the board of directors at your clinic has decided they don't want a homosexual working for them.

This scenario actually happened to the author's colleague. They were working together to help a teenage boy work through some of the horrible, awful things done to him by his own stepfather, with his own mother's consent, and they were making real progress. But suddenly, one of his two lifelines to normalcy is no longer around. He feels abandoned, feels like it's his fault because he's worthless, because who would want to have anything to do with a worthless boy like him? And six months of real progress is down the drain, to say nothing of all the psychiatrist's other patients, abandoned by the one person they can trust, all because some board of directors feels icky about someone's sexuality. Sometimes the world just makes me sick, you know?

Believe it or not, a lot of other stuff happens in this book, some of it good, a lot of it bad. Kevin, the "Murphy's Boy" of the title, makes headway and loses ground and gradually comes to terms with the terrible things done to him in his past. And by the end of the book, he's able to live in a group home, go to school, get a job, and have a normal life.

I really liked this book. I marked it as 5 stars, but I would probably rate it at 4.5 or 4.75, and only for one thing: for all that Hayden is a licensed psychologist, with years of experience working with children, she can seem a bit naive or oblivious when it comes to dealing with a teenaged boy. Also, Hayden takes pride in the fact that she doesn't subscribe to a specific school of psychological thought, but just kinda goes with the flow, trying things out until something works. The problem with this is that, as she herself says, sometimes progress is made and she doesn't know why. It's like if you were cooking with someone and you let them just throw whatever into the pot, and you don't know what the end result will be; if it turns out great, you have no idea how to duplicate the recipe for next time, and if it goes poorly, you just shrug your shoulders, throw it out and start all over. But these are children's minds and lives she's working with here; there's no room for screwing up, shrugging one's shoulders and starting over.

I have no doubt Karen would have loved this book; she would have balked at some of the scarier moments, like when Kevin is describing some of the abuse he and his siblings endured, but she would have cried like me when the big moments of progress happened.


Friday, September 18, 2015

#300 4th of July by James Patterson


Another pretty good entry in the Women's Murder Club series. Lindsay Boxer is put on administrative leave while she's being sued for killing someone in the line of duty. She decides to take some time off at her sister's house outside of the city... and gets involved in a murder investigation. Just can't let go and relax, can you, Boxer?

The mystery in this book was really well-done. I had my suspicion about who the murderers were, and I was dead wrong (well, mostly). The motives for the murders were a grisly, sad subject; that doesn't excuse murder, obviously, but I could definitely understand the killers' hate.
One last note - Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer needs a minder or some re-training or something; I can't count the number of times in these four books that she's forgotten her phone, or her weapon, or she forgot to put gas in her car, or charge her cell phone.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

#301 3rd Degree by James Patterson


Pro Tip: If you in any way value your life, do not become friends with Lt. Lindsay Boxer. I'm only three books into this series, and already multiple friends, coworkers and lovers have been attacked, shot at or killed, not to mention the harassing emails. (In fact, I'm only 40 pages into the 4th book, and another Lindsay - connected person is shot - two, if you count Lindsay herself. )

In this 3rd volume in the Women's Murder Club series, someone is killing people (ostensibly ) to make a political statement. The victims all have connections to businesses or organizations that are taking advantage of the poor or otherwise disenfranchised. Statements are left with each victim, signed "August Spies", detailing the victim's crimes against the disenfranchised. Who or what is August Spies? Is this the work of a terrorist group, or is that just a smoke screen to cover up the murderers' true motives?

While I enjoyed this book, I didn't like it as much as the previous volume. Lindsay Boxer has a new boyfriend, and you know, being a woman and all, she can't focus on her work, because c'mon, boys! I also didn't care for Patterson's seeming portrayal of all social activists as dirty hippies, ne'er-do-wells and opportunists. Believe it or not, there are some good people out there, fighting to expose criminal acts by governments and corporations without resorting to murder and bombing.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

#390 The Reader by Bernhard Schlink


I thought I had read this one in the past, but I guess not.  It's a very short read about a young boy that has an affair with an older woman and how it affects his life.  This book received rave reviews, was a successful movie with A-list actors and loved by many.  I guess I just don't fall into that category.  I felt the story was disturbing. The boy is my son's age and the woman is my age.  The affair the two had together disgust me and just so inappropriate. 

The woman leaves the boy one day without a word and he blames himself for years for her disappearance.  He feels he must have done something wrong for her to leave without saying a word.  He later finds out why she felt she needed to leave, but not soon enough to have ruined his life.  He was never able to have a normal relationship after she left and distanced himself from everyone. 

The book was well written.  I did enjoy that part, but the story....just depressing. 

#152 Knufflebunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion


I'm not crying; you're the one that's crying. This is just... allergies.
Such a sweet, touching end (?) to the Knuffle Bunny series. Trixie goes on a trip overseas to visit her grandparents, and accidentally leaves Knuffle Bunny on the plane! But she's a big girl now, and she dreams about all the adventures Knuffle Bunny is having, and all the other kids he's meeting, and she feels better. On the trip home, Trixie finds him again, and makes a Very Grown Up Decision that makes everyone happy (but a little bit sad too).

Like I've commented before, I really like Willems' artwork in these books; the combination of his drawings and the photographic backgrounds (especially on the plane and in Holland) are really cool. I also like how, when Trixie is reading, she's reading an Elephant and Piggy book, and one of the other toys in her bedroom is a stuffed Leonardo. I like when authors put little self-references like that in their books.

The story is a little longer in this book than in the other volumes, but that shouldn't prevent a child from staying engaged. The excitement of travel and the lost bunny will keep them entertained, and the lesson about saying goodbye to childhood friends is well-written.


#159 Knufflebunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity


Trixie is so excited to take her one-of-a-kind Knuffle Bunny to show all her friends at school. But when she gets there, she discovers that another girl has a Knuffle Bunny too! This leads to bad feelings, arguments over whether the "K" is silent, and finally, a teacher - instituted bunny timeout. After the girls get their bunnies back and go home, after they are (not so) sound asleep, they realize that they both have the wrong bunny! This leads to 2 am phone calls and a bunny transfer worthy of any spy novel.

I like the art in these books, with a mixture of drawings and photographs of what I assume is New York. And, as always, Willems can show so much range of emotion in such simply drawn figures. I'm not as big a fan of these as I am of the Elephant and Piggy books and the Pigeon books, because the humor is different, but this was still a cute, fun book to read.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

#302 2nd Change by James Patterson


It's weird, the first Patterson book I read was Kill Me if You Can, and I really didn't like it. The dialog was stiff, the action was formulaic, and the "surprises" weren't very surprising. I was sure I wasn't going to like any of his other work. But since I'm reading these for our project where we're working through my sister's to-read list, I soldiered on. And I'm glad I did, because I'm really enjoying the Women's Murder Club series so far. The characters are interesting, the dialog is authentic (and fun!) and the plot twists at the end really do catch me by surprise.
I note that, as he often does, Patterson has cowritten this book with someone else; in fact, it looks like all the rest of the Women's Murder Club series so far have been cowritten with other authors. I assume that Patterson writes the skeleton of the story, and lets his cowriter flesh it out. If they continue to be as entertaining as this one, I have absolutely no problem with that.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

#11 My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner


This was Karen's last book she added before passing away.  I had added it to my own list awhile back (as I am a fan of Nancy E. Turner) and was excited to read her latest novel.  When I saw it was Karen's last entry I wanted to read it even more.

First, what a book.  So rich with history and the way Turner develops these characters one can't help but feel close to them.  She brings them alive like no other author I have ever read. 

The book is long.  Nearly 600 pages and it's not a quick read.  It's not meant to be, but one to be read slowly so the reader can digest it all and think about each character and the happenings of the specific era.  There's so much going on from the early 1700's to the late 1700's.  There are pirates, kidnappings, slavery (buying and selling), Indians, war upon war and name-dropping such as John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington (to name just a few) and as you read about all of these things you develop a fondness for Resolute and her large family. 

As I read this book I found myself totally sucked into history and wishing I had learned so many of the trades the women knew and I also wanted to bake more!  Ha!  I don't even enjoy baking.  I just love how they took care of their own, but saying that, I'm so thankful to be born in the present time.  The things the people of the 18th century had to deal with and all of the early deaths due to lack of antibiotics and sad. 

It was interesting learning what the women did at the time of the Revolutionary War and how they contributed to it, too. 

Nancy E. Turner is truly a gifted story-teller. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

#303 1st to Die by James Patterson


This is the first book in Patterson's popular "Women's Murder Club" mystery series. A homicide detective, a medical examiner, a reporter, and an assistant district attorney, all women, all far better at their jobs than their male bosses, join forces to solve a series of "bride and groom" murders.
The book is well-written, the dialog is smooth, and there are no big holes in the mystery aspect. The identity of the killer is hidden right up to the end; there are a couple good red herrings leading you to other suspects, but the identity of the true killer and the motive, etc., are plausible. There were a couple small holes in the detective work, but nothing that affected figuring out the mystery itself.
I do have one fairly major quibble with the book, the one thing that keeps me from giving a five-star rating: the whole premise of the Women's Murder Club is that these four very capable women are being held back by their (often misogynist) male superiors. The "moral of the story" here is that these women don't need a man's help to get by. But the main character, Lyndsey, is saddled with this totally unnecessary romance, where she gets all weak in the knees and fluttery when her new male partner shows up. What kind of sad message are we giving women here? "You can do anything you want, be anything you want, you don't have to have a man to excel in life - except you do, because of your girl parts." There is actually a point in the book where the heroine (a police detective) is in the middle of a "liaison" with her man, and there's an earthquake (it's San Francisco), and she seriously considers not responding to the emergency call because she can't control her female horniness? For real? I'd really like to read a female character that isn't either a quivering mess around men or a ball-breaking man-hater.

After all that, believe it or not, I did really enjoy the book. Short chapters, with lots of often funny dialog, and as I said, the mystery part was well written as well.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

#73 BZRK Michael Grant


This had an interesting premise - the use of nanotechnology for not only assassination, but also to tamper with people's minds. Nexus Humanus is an organization that plans to use the mind-tampering concept to create a world of complacent, obedient citizens; BZRK is a group trying to prevent that outcome. These two groups battle in "the macro", that is, on the regular level, but also "down in the meat", that is, on the cellular level. And that's where I lost interest. The technology and science in this book is so detailed, and the combination of the macro and micro-level battles going on simultaneously, it was pretty confusing. Add this to the introduction of quite a large number of (granted, mostly interesting) characters, and I spent a lot of time going back and rereading segments of the book just to clear up some of the confusion. Some of the action parts were pretty exciting, but the climactic scene of the book was, well, a bit anticlimactic. Overall, a decent story, with interesting characters, but too confusing to follow.

Monday, August 24, 2015

#14 What My Mother Gave Me by Elizabeth Benedict


I really enjoyed this book. 

Thirty-one authors were asked, "What did your mother give you?".  I recognized a few of the authors and many I did not, however, after reading their stories I looked them up and wanted to learn more about them and/or read some of their work.

Each story ran 3-6 pages long so the book was a fast read.  Some stories were dull, but most of them I really enjoyed.  I loved the ones that didn't focus on a material item, but shared their mother's background and what they learned from their mother.  I was fascinated by so many of the stories.  It was like getting to see how other people live, what happens behind closed doors, and such. 

While reading the stories one can't help but think of their own mother and what one has learned from them or what was given.  It sparked many memories for me and I wish I would have written each memory down as I read the book so I can go back and share later.  Hopefully, I can remember them. 

I think this would be a great Mother's Day gift with an attachment of your own story about your mother.  I don't think my mom reads these reviews so I can share I am thinking this is what I will do for her one year. 

I do believe Karen would have enjoyed this book and I wish she would have read it with me so we could discuss our favorite stories together.  Which ones really stuck out and which ones we could have skipped and then share stories about our own moms. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#7 Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight


Well, I went back to check and see why Karen might have added this one I see a few of her goodreads friends gave it high-praise.  Once I finished the book I had the thought Karen would say to me, "you will not like this one Mandy.  Don't read it."  And she would have been right.

The story takes place in Brooklyn at a prestigious private school.  You have the secret clubs with the hazing and bullying that goes too far.  Amelia ends up dead and her mom (which is a single mom that worked 80 hour weeks at a law firm as an attorney) is trying to figure out what happened to Amelia.  The school tries to hide everything and make it look like Amelia committed suicide. As Amelia's mom is pealing away the secrets of her daughter (and the school) she discovers so many heart-wrenching things that were hidden from everyone.

As I read this book my first thought was, this reminds me of Gossip Girl (even though I've only seen one episode of Gossip Girl).  It had that kind of feel to it.  Lot's of back-stabbing and just evilness from a handful of rich kids.  However, the further I got into the book I just felt sick and disturbed by all the bullying that was going on and overlooked.  I just don't read books like this for enjoyment.  I felt stressed and upset while reading this one.  I'm so glad I finished it and now will move onto something a bit more uplifting.

Monday, August 17, 2015

#94 Cinder by Marissa Meyer


An interesting concept - a retelling of the Cinderella story, but set in a futuristic New Beijing. And with androids and cyborgs and other science fiction-y stuff. And Meyer does a pretty good job of maintaining the basics of the fairy tale - wicked stepmother, glass slipper, prince and ball, even the pumpkin coach and the fairy godmother. If you wanted to, you could read this as just another retelling of the Cinderella tale, and it would be good.

But, to be honest, I wasn't even thinking of Cinderella through most of the book; the fairy tale aside, this is a good science fiction dystopian future young adult novel, especially when you consider that it's the first book in a series. I do have a couple of quibbles about the amount of technical information on cyborgs and servo-motors and whatnot, and other reviewers are correct that the story is short on details about this future Earth, and about the history between Earth and the Lunars (moon dwellers). I hope future books in the series will fill in some of these gaps. But overall, this is a well written, entertaining piece of dystopian fiction.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#19 Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge


I really disliked this book.  I felt it was trashy and just gross.  I don't typically read murder/mystery books and if this is the typical murder/mystery I think I will keep it that way. 

So, we have a serial killer that kidnaps two people and locks them up without food and water and leaves them a gun with one bullet and a message saying, "one will live, you choose."  (Something like that.)  So, after so many days of dehydration and starvation we find out who the survival of the fittest is, although, the survivor never gets over the murder the commit so they suffer, too. 

The main "copper" (British term for police officer/cop) finds herself in the middle of these murders as she knows these people being murdered/kidnapped, but why?  What does it have to do with her?  Who is doing this and what do they have against her? 

Again, I just didn't enjoy this book.  It was like watching a reality show after watching the BBC, I just felt it was a waste of my time.  It's a very fast read, no-brainer, and some how on the best-seller list.  That makes me worry...

Monday, August 10, 2015

#26 The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker


I'm not even sure where to start with this book.  It's a love story told like fairy tale.  That's the best way I can explain it.  Several of my friends raved about this book and said it was the sweetest love story they ever read.  I don't fall in that category, but it was a sweet story.  I felt the author was/is a great story-teller as so many stories were woven into one.  I don't feel like I can share much about the story without giving parts away so I will just leave it at that.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

#57 Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas


Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Ilgunas does a good job showing how he developed his life philosophy - broke college student gets opportunity to spend a summer in Alaska, pays off debt by living frugally, decides to go back to graduate school without going back into debt, so he decides to live in a van (down by the riv-) no, just in a van in a parking lot.To no one's surprise, he quotes Thoreau and Emerson a lot, but toward the end points out that Thoreau was a poseur, since Walden Pond was only a couple miles outside of town and his mom did his laundry for him (but Ilgunas did his own freekin' laundry, and wouldn't accept money from his mom, so take that, Mr. Thoreau!)
I was disappointed that, after developing this frugal life philosophy throughout the book, the author backtracks at the end and says, well, maybe it is ok to live in an apartment and take out a loan to buy a house and let your mom give you gifts of money. But only because you don't want to hurt her feelings. I was also disappointed that some of the best descriptive nature writing I've ever read was often followed by sophomoric poop humor. Some of Ilgunas' writing feels like it's straight out of English Comp 100, but at other times - usually when writing about the Alaska wilderness - it feels like it's been written by a man with 20 or 30 more years of writing experience.

I should caution the reader that, while the book is promoted as being about the author's experience living in a van ("vandwelling", he calls it), a little less than half of the book covers that topic. The remainder of the book deals with Ilgunas' time in Alaska, as a voyageur in Canada, hitchiking across the US, and working in post-Katrina Mississippi. But for the most part, it's all beautiful, and it makes me want to work harder on paying off my debts, so I can go on a wander of my own. But I'm not living in a van.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

#466 - Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I did not hate this book. But I didn't love it, either. (Duh, Kris, that's pretty much what the 3-star rating is all about.) This was a good multi-generation story about a Greek family emigrating to the US, and it's also a personal history of early 20th-century Detroit, detailing the beginnings of the auto industry as well as other early history of Detroit. Eugenides does a good job of detailing the rise and fall of the Motor City, showing how parts of the city fell into ruin, and how a city with such promise became the urban wasteland that much of it is today. One of my big interests is how a city grows physically, architecturally, and I enjoyed that aspect of the book.
I really couldn't get invested in the story of the main character, Cal, though. Which is surprising, because we had some things in common. No, not the hermaphrodism; the interest in foreign cultures. I really didn't understand the purpose of bringing the subject of hermaphrodism into the story. I don't have a problem with the subject, I just didn't see how it advanced the plot or drove home the theme of the novel. In general, though, I did enjoy many of the characters in the book.

-read by Kris 7/26/15

Friday, July 10, 2015

#177 The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I am not sure what to say about this book. It was an amazing story with really well developed characters that you think you hate until you get to know them and then you feel for them even thought they are pretty much terrible. But the reason I am not sure what to say about this book is it was a tough read. It is soooo dense. It took quite a bit for me to get into it and it didn't help that my copy of the book had very tiny print. (maybe I'm getting old nahhh that can't be it) But I had to push and I mean REALLY push through on this book. But once I did I have to say it was worth it.

The main character in this book gets involved in quite an adventure is the best way I can describe it. It goes from learning about a lifestyle in history and trying to reenact it and then it just gets weird to put it mildly. I feel like I need a light right after this one. . .

-read by Abby 7/10/15

Sunday, July 5, 2015

#123 Same Kind of Different by Ron Hall and Denver Moore


Here's a story of two men; one, a very wealthy art dealer from Texas and the other a very poor, homeless man from Louisiana. 

The poor man, Denver Moore, grew up on a plantation in Louisiana way past the times when slavery became illegal.  Apparently there are/were many plantations using black labor for cheap (they would never get paid, but were "allowed" to live in shacks on the "man's" land and buy clothes from the man by their labor and they could never get ahead as the "man" had control of the cost of everything and with no education for the modern-day slaves they didn't know any different).

One day Denver Moore got tired of living this lifestyle so took off.  He hopped trains and eventually found himself in Texas.  Along the way he got himself in all kinds of trouble with the law and became very angry and bitter.  I had a hard time reading his thought and entitled behavior the first half of the book.  He felt like he was doing people a favor by allowing them to help him.  He would make comments such as: I will let them shelter me through the night (and so on).  He had way too much joy in conning people out of money, too, because he felt if people had money it was their duty to share it so he was helping them make the "right" choice.  It was so repulsive and disgusting for me to read. 

The wealthy art dealer was married to a very spiritual woman that decided her and her husband were going to start helping out at a homeless shelter.  Well, that's where Denver and Ron met.

They developed a true friendship and Denver's attitude changed tremendously (and so did Ron's).

The woman that brought them together gets diagnosed with terminal cancer and this brings them even closer together.  It was so heart wrenching reading the chapters of cancer as it was all too familiar hearing the terms and rituals and reading the family heartache and such. I will admit, I did shed tears through these chapters.

The book is "Christian Literature" so it does come across preachy at times and to be honest, I felt they over shared some very sacred things which made me uncomfortable and even question them.  Sometimes those sacred times are private because once shared they become less-real and less-sacred.  Although, I am certain Karen would have loved this book.  I was sad she never got to read it as I think she would have really connected to this story, but I am glad I got to read it for her.

Friday, July 3, 2015

#415 Where are you Now? by Mary Higgins Clark

This book was a pretty good mystery that I did not predict the ending to go the way it did. It starts out as the brother went missing 10 years ago from college and he calls his mother every year on Mother's day but they have no idea what happened to him. Then there are some mysterious deaths of young ladies occur that seem like maybe the brother may be tied to them. It is an interesting inside view of what it is like to grow up in a very wealthy New York city community.

My biggest complaint about this book is that there were so many characters being introduced that it became hard to keep track of who was who in parts of the book. I didn't really grasp who the main players were until 3/4 of the way through the book.

But the end had me saying ooooh yeah that one I wouldn't have expected. It was a pretty quick read that I think would be perfect for a plane ride or sitting by the pool.

-read by Abby 7/3/2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

#336 A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

I am so excited to post about this book. I had started to read it a few years ago. I put it aside as it was hard to get into. I knew it was one of Mandy's favorites, I knew it would be good. When Lori, Mandy and I were in Brooklyn together Mandy made mention of the book often. Oh how I wish I had read it before our trip together. It would've been fun to walk around Williamsburg together and imagined Francie walking the same streets we walked on. The stories we could've made up while we were there. While reading this I was caught up in imagining where their apartment, the schools, the church, were. I want to go back --what do ya say Mandy??

This is a story of a girl who grows up in Williamsburg,  a neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn, NY, in 1916. Her life is not an easy life, her father who she adores struggles to earn enough to support both his family and his drinking habit. Her mother works herself ragged  cleaning apartment buildings.
Francie and her brother Neeley, collect scrap metal to turn in for pennies.
All Francie wants is to go to school, and become a writer. When tragedy strikes their family her dreams are dismissed as she realizes what she must do in order to help where she can.

The story for me had many different themes, I'm curious what others come up with as they read this.
I think Karen would have enjoyed this book.

Dark Places #40 by Gillian Flynn

This book is based in rural Kansas. Such a SAD story! It is told from the point of view from what is to believed the only survivor of a murder that took place of a family in an old farm home. The teenage brother is convicted of the murder of his mother and two of his sisters. Libby his only sibling that survived ran and hid in the field until the police arrived the next day.

Libby grows up with this horrible day pretty much defining her life as the survivor/victim. She lives off of the money well-wishers had given her in a fund after the murder took place. Now 25 the money has run out and she is forced to figure out what to do with her life. She is then contacted by a group that is convinced of her brother's innocence. This was such a weird concept to her because she has always believed her brother to be guilty but then begins to question her entire view of that night especially considering she was very frightened 7 year old girl that night.

As per usual with Gillian Flynn books this one takes some twists and turns that you do not see coming. This one had a way better ending than Gone Girl I have to say though.

-read by Abby 6/29/15

Monday, June 22, 2015

#237 The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne


I'm glad I finally got around to reading this one.  It's listed under BBC's 100 must-read books so I always enjoy checking off one, however, I am not a fan of the Pooh books.  They are just okay for me.  I do love the size of the book and cover and just the feel of the book, but I was bored throughout the stories.  I think kids today would find themselves quite bored with them, too, which is too bad. 

I was surprised to find out Eeyore is not the character Disney created.  He is a very sarcastic, negative, depressed, mean and very unlikable character!  I can see why Disney would change it as no one would like him in the cartoons if he was the same character as the books.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

#66 The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls


Finally, a book that I just really enjoyed.  Perfect story telling. 

Takes place in 1970's, two sisters pretty much on their own as their mom (which had signs of bi-polar, but was not diagnosed in the book) kept taking off and abandoning her girls to care for themselves.  The girls were 12 and 14.  The girls took a greyhound all the way from California to Virginia to live with their Uncle leaving a note behind for their mom, just in case she showed up later.

The story really takes off once they move in with their reclusive uncle.  He cares for them the best he can while the girls do the rest.  They are faced with many challenges and trials and find comfort in each other. 

I just really enjoyed this book.  It was a fast read, really nothing special, but like I said, nice story-telling. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

#130 The Duckling Get a Cookie Mo Willems


This poor little pigeon.  He thinks he has it so bad and is surprised by some kindness from this little chick. 

#133 Whats Your Sound Hound the Hound? Mo Willems


Out of all of Mo Willems books (which I am a fan) this series is my least favorite.  I just think they are silly, however, they may be perfect for the early-readers. 

#158 The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! Mo Willems


I read this book to my daughter and she laughs at all of Mo Willems books.  Willems has the ability to make young and old laugh with his illustrations and stories.  This one the pigeon wants a puppy, but the description he is giving is closer to a plant.  It made us laugh.

#132 Let's Say HI to Friends Who Fly! Mo Willems


An easy-reader with bright pictures and repetitive words with a dash of humor for the beginner reader.

#143 Can I Play Too? Mo Willems


I think this one was meant to show just because people are different doesn't mean they should be treated differently.