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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

#8 That Night by Chevy Stevens


A thriller about a teenage boy and girl being accused of murder and spending 15 years behind bars for a crime they never committed.  The couple was determined to clear their names once they got out and it was not easy dealing with small town politics, but after another murder and more crimes were committed their names were finally cleared.

The book was very dark with the use of drugs, drinking and just lying, cheating, sex and sneaking around.  The entire time I listened to the book I just felt, yuck.  So grateful I don't live the lifestyle and when I was a bit more ornery in my teenage years I was able to walk away and not look back.  Even though the couple was innocent, their lifestyle was so dark and it felt like it was just a matter of time before they would be behind bars, even though they didn't commit this crime. 

The bully in this book also hit close to home.  I could totally relate to having to deal with someone that is psychologically messed up and how this person messes with others people's lives and how they are able to control so many people.  I found it very interesting and right on as far as bullies go. 

I really didn't like the book.  It was way too dark for me.  It was sad and miserable and even the ending didn't make a person feel relieved.  So much bitterness and hatred and just sadness.  I read to escape, learn, grow and this book didn't do any of those things for me. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

11/22/63 by Stephen King "Currently Reading"


As I've mentioned before, this is my first ever read of anything by Stephen King. My sister passed recently, and a group of us are reading her to-read list as a tribute to her. Her list had lots of Beverly Lewis and Jodi Picoult, a couple pages of James Patterson, and a few gems - mostly things I'd recommended to her. ;) Everyone else in the group either had read this already, or was put off by the sheer size of the book, so I was nominated to read it. Ironically, since I'm a huge fan of historical and speculative fiction, this was right up my alley.

The premise here is that the narrator has access to a "rabbit hole", a gateway to the past. The rabbit hole always takes him back to the same day in 1958. He is convinced by a friend to go back in time and stop Lee Harvey Oswald from killing John F. Kennedy; since he can only go back to 1958, he has to live through the intervening five years while he waits for Oswald to arrive in Dallas, and these five years are the meat of the story.

One of the most common less-than-positive comments I've heard about this book is that it's so immense, and I do feel that there are parts of the story that were not crucial to the plot and that could have been trimmed down or removed altogether. The narrator performs two "trial-runs" to see what effect his actions in the past will have on the future. While reading these parts of the book, I couldn't help feeling that, while they were interesting, they were mostly just keeping us from getting to the heart of the story.

I have a couple other issues with King's handling of certain characters - specifically, Jake's ex-wife, who is an alcoholic, and Sadie's ex-husband, who is mentally ill. But in the narrator's eyes, these aren't bad people who also happen to have these other flaws; Jake's ex-wife is a bad person because she's an alcoholic. John Clayton is a bad person because he is mentally ill. Ergo, all alcoholic women are conniving b*tches and all mentally ill persons are deranged stalker-killers.

After going to so much trouble to explore some of the characters, I was disappointed that King's portrayal of Oswald was so one-dimensional. There was no attempt to explain the reasoning Oswald employed for killing Kennedy; Oswald is just portrayed as a sociopath bent on getting the attention he felt society owed him.

I did like two concepts related to time travel that King uses well - the idea of the "obdurate past", which is the idea that the past resists being changed; the greater the change, the stronger the resistance. Coupled with that is the concept that changes to the past will have repercussions beyond the specific changed event: the "butterfly effect". While Jake thinks some of his actions are small and inconsequential, he comes to realize that, just by even being in the past, he's creating ripples of change in the future.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

#69 Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green


This book is about a two high school boys named Will Grayson.  Both boys go to different schools and just so happen to meet each other in Chicago at a porn shop.  Yeah.  One Will Grayson is best friends with a large young man named Tiny that happens to be gay and the other Will Grayson is a moody, depressed gay young man that dates Tiny.  Tiny is a lovable character.  Tiny writes a musical about his life and love and that is how the book ends.

I really disliked this book and tried to pawn it off to my friends to read as the language was so bad and the sexting was way out of my comfort zone.  However, they would not read it so I endured the book and skimmed through the bad language and ignored the sexual parts. 

I did like the ending though.  It actually brought me to tears. Very sweet ending.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma #36

I'm not going to lie. Really didn't care for this book. The premise of the book sounds like it will be a lovely story. It is about a father who makes a promise to his daughter at the age of 10 that he will read aloud to her every night for 1,000 hours. He ends up reading to her every night until she is 18 and moves away. Sounds sweet right? 

Well it ends up being a book more about how this father is bragging about how he did this great thing and other parents didn't and what a shame (guilt trip much). The funny thing is this seems like a great thing but he seems to blow over bigger things that are going on in his daughters' lives. Yes he has two daughters the other asked him to stop reading to her early on. Hmmm interesting. The one daughter actually leaves the house and there is no mention of her again. Other serious things seem to be happening but we just continue to talk about the reading of the books. Wait did you mention a suicide attempt nope lets not just blow over that and make sure we read tonight. Strange. 

Not a fan. And it's a shame because the premise of this book held lots of potential.

Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly - # 76

There were many things about this story I loved. The lovely relationship that this young girl Calpurnia was forging with her grandfather and he shared (rather reluctantly at first) his great love for science and nature. Also the time period in which it was told you could feel yourself there and through the eyes of a young adolescent girl of that time period. 

I enjoyed a story about a girl learning to follow her passion even though it didn't fit the norm of what a girl of that time period should be doing. But I really didn't enjoy how much she demeaned the position of a homemaker. I know it isn't for everyone but it bothers me to be looked down upon. Yes there is a lot of monotony to the job but there is so much job as well. Being the mother and wife of a loving family is quite rewarding in so many ways. Sad that she didn't seem to understand or grasp that. 

I think Karen would have enjoyed this if for nothing else than the girl reminded me a bit of her youngest daughter Erika and her great love of bugs and little critters. Calpurnia definitely was an Erika kind of girl!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

#127 Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

I just loved this book!!!! I read it before and when I saw it on Karen's list I was so happy, that I quickly signed up to read it again. I normally don't read books multiple time, in fact this is the first book I have ever read  twice. I wouldn't have read it again but knowing I was reading it for Karen this time made me so excited. As I would get to a part in this book that I had remembered and enjoyed I would feel anxious as I envisioned Karen reading it and then I would hope she liked it as much as I did. This was fun, I may just have to reread some of my other favorites!!

This story is about a 12 year old girl who is basically caring for her mentally ill mother. The book begins with the mother dying in a horrible accident. CeeCee then finds herself in a new life, a life where for once she is taken care of and she truly feels love.
The story takes place in Atlanta Ga in the 1960's there is just something I love about the old south. 

Some of  my favorite quotes:

People is wise 'cause they get out in the world and live. Wisdom comes from experience - from known' each day is a gift and accepting it with gladness. you read a whole lot of books, and readin' sure has made you smart, but ain't no book in the world gonna make you wise."
"It's how we survive the hurts in life that's brings us strength and gives us our beauty."
“That's what friends should do. cherish the good and pretend not to notice the harmless rest.” 

And this one just cracked me up and I hope I get the chance to say this sometime in my life.

"We just cleared up twenty years of bad karma. I feel thoroughly cleansed. This has been a spiritual enema."

#462 The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks


It's no secret I am not a fan of Nicholas Sparks.  I feel he is over rated and writes the same story with the same characters, just different names.  This book was no different; we have the bad ex-husband/cop that mistreats his wife (cliché), the apparition or ghost that helps the wanderer along his/her path (both characters overly used in Sparks books) and even the location, the small town that helps the downtrodden turn their lives around by falling in love with the small town girl (or boy, depending on the book). Oh, and don't forget, there is always a death.  Always. Sparks books annoy me as they are redundant and lack originality. 

Karen and I had this conversation many times and she would laugh with me and even would agree, but she still enjoyed the stories.  So, I read this one for her because I do love her and will sacrifice my time and enjoyment by reading this book for her.  That's what friends do for each other. 

#215 Honolulu by Alan Brennert


As I just titled this blog post it hit me this book was written by a man, that's amazing, as the story was told by a Korean woman.  Never once did I think a man might be telling this story.

Karen and I both had this one on our to-read list as it was from our online book club we participated in together.  One round of reading everyone in the book club picked a book where they were from or had lived and one of the members chose Honolulu.

Neither one of us got around to reading it that month for whatever reason so when I saw it was still on her to-read list I knew I should read it. 

The story is about a girl, born in Korea to a family that only wanted sons.  Her father named her "Regret".  She wanted to make her father proud of her so thought she would surprise him and learn how to read, however, when he did find out he was more disappointed in her and expressed his disappointment with a slap across the face.  This was just the start of her life.  Once Regret got a taste of education she wanted more.  She found out about Hawaii and how men were sending for Korean women to be their picture bride.  She was told the women in Hawaii were allowed to have an education and would have more rights so she signed up and became a picture bride amongst several friends.  Once she moves to Hawaii we are introduced to many more characters and the challenges Regret had to face only escalated.  However, she endured these trial and grew and became an amazing woman. 

I learned so much by listening to this book (I chose to listen instead of reading it) such as what Korean women had to face, what is considered the norm in this culture, the early times of Hawaii and the injustice the natives must have felt at that time and so forth. 

Honolulu was a very good book.  It is long and every character and story we learn what happens to them. No page is left unturned.  (heehee!)  One will not leave the book with questions as there is closure, however, if committing to read this one, it is not a light read.  Take ones time and enjoy the rich history and culture that comes out through the pages.

Friday, February 6, 2015

#153 Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems


This was a cute story about how this naked mole rat decided he wanted to wear clothes.  He was mocked and chastised by his fellow naked mole rats until they all went to the wisest naked mole rat, their grandfather, and discussed it with him.  The grandfather listened to both sides of the story and thought about what he heard and then he surprised them all by telling the clan there's nothing wrong with being different and wearing clothes and he wished he thought of it earlier as it's kinda fun wearing clothes (as grandpa is now in a suit). 

#136 Time to Pee! by Mo Willems

Karen loved Mo Willems!  She has a whole stack on her to read list and we are all trying to divvy up books from the same author so this is one I chose from the Mo Willems pile. 

It's a pretty straight forward book sharing how kids, "when they get that funny feeling" need to use the bathroom.  It goes step by step with what to do and even explains how the kids will not miss anything when they leave to go to the bathroom.  The illustrations were great with mice helping out through the book. 

A cute book for those dealing with potty training.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wonder by R. J. Palacio book #29

This was a story of a boy that was born with a genetic defect that made him pretty hard to look at. He didn't start attending school with other children until his 5th grade year due to many medical procedures. As we all know middle school is a super tough time to even have a pimple so having a kind of condition that this August was born with I cannot imagine. 

The story is told through many different view points from Auggie, to his sister to the friends around him. They were each effected in one way or another by Auggie. It was lovely to see this boy had such an amazing support group. 

If you are looking for an underdog story that will warm your heart this book will do it. I just know Karen would have finished this book and texted me right away to add it to my list!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom #75


One of the things I like about Mitch Albom is how he understands life has meaning, however, this book missed the mark.  It was so, so bad.