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.

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.