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, April 29, 2015

#459 The Covenant Beverly Lewis


As I mentioned before, this is definitely not my usual cup of tea. I'm not usually into the historical romance, or the Christian romance, type books. Or any kind of romance, to be honest. When it comes to romance and relationships, I'm pretty much your standard stick-in-the-mud, grumpy-old-man kind of guy. But for what this is, it's pretty good. I'm not saying this book caused me to reevaluate my anti-romance stance, but it was a fairly pleasant read.

Things I enjoyed: the glimpse into Amish culture, especially post-WWII Amish culture. The little bits of Old-style Pennsylvania Dutch language. Aunt Lizzie. The way the book changes point of view between characters, but makes it clear which character you're reading about. The way that the Amish characters recognized that their religious way-of-life was not for everyone - while they kept themselves separate from the "English", they didn't judge them for following a different path. In fact, that's another thing I liked about the book in general - it has a religious theme (and is published by a Christian publishing company, Bethany House), but it's not preachy.

Things I didn't enjoy: the bits told from the doctor's (Derry's father's) point of view. These felt like they were written by a completely different person. The dialog in these sections was stilted and stiff. The fact that several plot lines are left unresolved. I should have thought of the fact that this is the first book in a series of books about the same family. Hopefully the following books cover what happens with Leah and her beau, and answer what happened with Lizzie, Ida and Abram in the past. I might be tempted to read another of these books just to find out!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

#183 Something Blue by Emily Griffin


This is the type of book I call a  written soap opera.  So much unnecessary drama, but it keeps you reading.  The main character has to be one of the most shallow characters I have ever met through a book.  It was almost painful to keep reading as I would cringe over and over at the insanity of her lack of values.  However, once she has to deal with a real-life issue she is forced to reevaluate her life and she starts to see her past mistakes and slowly begins to change. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

#81 Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Image result for miss peregrine's home for peculiar children

This is a book I had picked up to read long ago, but never got around to it. I did enjoy the beginning of this story, but my dislike of fantasy killed it about half way.  
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children in a story about a boy (Jacob) who grew up listening to his grandfather's stories from growing up in a children's home with very peculiar children. He loved these stories until he grew older and convinced by other family members that it was just make believe. After the death of his Grandfather, he decides to find out for himself if there is any truth to these childhood stories. there his adventures begin.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

#59 One for the Money by Janet Evanovich


The first book in Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, and my first Janet Evanovich read. This was a pretty decent book; it's a mystery, but for the most part, it doesn't read like a formulaic mystery: murder, clues, resolution. It reads more like a book about Stephanie's life, and her new job as a bounty hunter and all the dangers that go along with that.

No, it's not "classical literature", but it was a fun read and I'll probably read at least a couple more from the series


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

#393 Time Is a River by Mary Alice Monroe


It starts out explaining the main character had breast cancer and had a mastectomy.  She goes on this retreat for breast cancer survivors where they learn to fly fish.  She had such a great time, but decided to come home a day early as she wanted to surprise her husband.

She finds her husband in bed with another woman.  Her husband admits to being in love with this other woman and wanting to marry her. 

A quote in the book goes something like this: husbands of breast cancer victims do one of two things, they stand by their wives and make them feel beautiful even though they are losing a piece of themselves (their breast) or the husband can't take the change and leaves.  Her husband was the latter.

She runs off to North Carolina and stays in a cabin for the summer and becomes fascinated with the previous owner of the cabin (that has since passed) and her infamous life.  She does research and finds out the truth behind all the stories and during the process comes to term with her new life.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

#3 - Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

This is an interesting story of what it is like for a family originally from Panama traveling to live in Delaware. This book is mainly about what it is like for immigrants to live in our country. They come here with big dreams and often think just getting here the dream will happen. They come to soon realize there is still a lot of work to be done. You learn how our American society treats immigrants and how hard these people have to work just to keep going. 

The story is also about a young man (the Mayor's son) who has a big crush on the teenage girl Maribel who has brain damage due to an accident. Very sweet Young adult type read but for me the characters could have been developed better and story line as well. But then again it was a YA read.

Friday, April 17, 2015

#4 The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks


I'm not too proud to admit, I actually liked this Nicholas Sparks book.  It didn't have anyone die or have cancer; although it was filled with clich├ęs and some moments I had to sit back and roll my eyes.  However, I enjoyed the story of the bull rider falling in love with the fine art's student.  Two people from opposite ends of the world, with little in common, other than they just clicked and made it work pretty much sums this story up.  It also shared the story of a Jewish couple, during the 1940's to present and how both couples ended up crossing paths or playing a role in each other's lives.

I read this one because my friend wanted to see the movie so I quickly read it (didn't get it read in time) and watched the movie.  The movie was just okay and of course, way different.  I was disappointed in how they turned the story around and made Ira and Sophia have this deep connection when in (book) reality, they only spoke one time.  Just so many differences that it bugged me. 

Anyhow, this is my last Sparks book on Karen's list.  The rest will be covered by my fellow readers.  I do think Karen would have loved this one.

#162 Kill Me If You Can by James Patterson


This book is filled with every cliche I could possibly think of - Russian mobsters, "oo-rah" Marine buddies, cougar professor girlfriends, German "ice-queen" former model turned assassin, crooked cops, you name it. The descriptions of sex between Matthew and his professor girlfriend were gratuitous and cliched as well.(And entirely unnecessary to the plot.) Most of the dialogue is cliched, as well. There is a major plot twist halfway through the book, and the story starts to get better then, but not enough to make up for how bad the first half was.

I had wanted to try out some James Patterson, because my parents are big fans, but I held off until now. This particular book was on my sister's to-read list, so I read it in her memory. I don't think she would have liked it much more than I did. I talked to my dad about the book yesterday, and based on the synopsis on the cover, he doesn't remember reading it. Probably just as well, as it might have turned him off of Patterson before he had the chance to read one of his better books.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

#316 Gregor and the Code of the Claw by Suzanne Collins


An impressive end to the five-volume series. Definitely some surprises as far as who survives and who doesn't. This final volume includes the big war we've been leading up to between the humans and the rats. We get to see a couple characters we thought were long gone, and Gregor's sister Lizzie finally makes it down into the Underland.

I'm a little disappointed with the ending, I have to admit. As Gregor realizes, he can't stay in the Underland, but he won't fit in the Overland anymore. I feel like the author didn't realize the dilemma this created until she was wrapping up this final book, and her solution to the problem really doesn't sit well with me.

Other than that, though, I've really enjoyed this series. Not on a Harry Potter level, where I'm desperately wishing the story would continue, but it was definitely enjoyable while it lasted.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

#85 Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke


I remember Karen was introduced to this series by a book club member when she had chosen one of Fluke's books to read as a group.  Karen and our fellow member both enjoyed the books and continued to read the series. 

I have only read the first book in the series (with the book club and Karen) and never read anymore until this one.  These books remind me of "Murder She Wrote" or some other mystery show on perhaps Lifetime television.  A family friendly detective story with recipes to boot!

Since I have only read one other of her books I didn't follow the relationships that I assume were developed in previous books (such as one of the murder victims that that the entire town hated, I didn't know why she was hated, it was just alluded and assumed that the reader would know from the previous books). 

It's a cute yet cheesy story.  Everything ends perfectly and the town is happy and everyone praises the small town hero.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

#370 The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick


"I look down at the book, and think about the heartbreak that I know is waiting for the March family and their friends.  Just like real life, not all stories end happily.  Sometimes friends betray us, and the people we love don't always love us back. Sometime people die or leave us.  I don't know yet if there will be happy ending for me and my family.  If life were a book would I want to skip ahead to the ending?  Or would I rather wait and read along to find out, like Emma said? I'm not sure.  I close Little Women and set it on the table."

Karen would have loved this book.  I am just certain she would have and then she would have messaged me and told me that I too, would love this book.  We both are fans of Little Women (me probably more so than her, but I know for sure she loved them, too). 

This book is about 4 girls that read Little Women with their moms for an entire year.  All 4 girls are different and unique from one another, very much like the March/Alcott girls and how they all had different likes and personalities.  It shares their stories and what they are going through and each girl is a little alike one of the March girls in the book.  It takes place in Concord, Massachusetts, where Little Women was written so the location played a role in the book, too. 

The book is a sweet juvenile read.  I will pass it down to my daughter and have her read it so we can discuss it, too. 

#317 Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins


"My heart is so crowded already," whispered Hazard. "But I'm sure the others will make room for Thalia. She is not a very big bat."
All the feels!


Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb - #404

Holy moly I am glad to be done with this book. It was over 700 pages and there were days I thought this would not end. . .like ever.

Seriously though Wally Lamb has a way of telling a story that you keep thinking what, what, WHAT? And you realize you have been reading for hours and just have to find out where he is going. There were definitely parts of this book like that but others I just had such a hard time pushing through.

This book was the life of a couple the husband being a teacher and the wife a nurse. They were both working at Columbine during that awful day. It was A LOT for me to read about the mourning process. I was having such a hard time with it. There were also other national tragedies this couple endured. Kinda reminded me of Forest Gump but in way of being present for all the worst days in history.

The story was mainly about the husband Caelum and his life story. And wow what a life. He was born during the 50s and in that time it was much needed to have a very normal looking household you grew up in. So the stories people told to explain how the children in their lives were all family sadly become part of family history or folklore whichever way you want to look at it.

Anyway interesting and deeply difficult at times but that is Wally Lamb for you I think.

-Read by Abby 4/5/15

Thursday, April 2, 2015

#318 Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins


This book was better than previous books in the series in some ways. The return of a couple characters we thought lost, plus the introduction of some new (to us) characters, and the fleshing-out of some characters we already knew, giving us some more insight into what makes them tick. We get a more in-depth look at Gregor's Overland life - school friends, Mrs. Cormaci, and his parents - and more history of the Underland, especially the animosity between the humans and the rats. I especially liked the author's descriptions of the plants in the jungle, and Boots' interactions with other creatures like the tree frogs.

There were a few areas, though, that could have used some more detail. I felt that things ended in the jungle pretty abruptly, and the situation with Neveene happened all too fast, with Gregor (and the reader) not even witnessing most of it. Overall, I was not pleased with the way this book ended at all.

Other than that, though, this was a pretty good continuation of the series. And... I've already started the next book.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

#51 Orphan Train

I needed this book. After struggling through my last book this was a page turner. I finished it in just over 24 hours time.
Molly and Vivian would seem to be unlikely friends, Molly age 17 and Vivian age 91 they are placed together for Molly to complete 50 hours of community service. As they work together they find their lives have taken very similar paths.
From1854 to 1929 orphans from New York were loaded on trains and taken to the mid-west where families would pick children from the train to be farm hands, house help or the lucky ones were chosen to be raised and loved as their own. Vivian is not one of the lucky ones.
Molly has jumped from foster home to foster home and is about to be kicked out of her present one.
These two unlikely friends find that they have a lot to learn from one another.

Favorite quotes:

“I like the assumption that everyone is trying his best, and we should all just be kind to each other.” 

“So is it just human nature to believe that things happen for a reason - to find some shred of meaning even in the worst experiences?” 

“It is good to test your limits now and then, learn what the body is capable of, what you can endure.” - this quote actually made me think of Mandy :)

“you can’t find peace until you find all the pieces.

“you are only as interesting as you are useful to someone”