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 28, 2016

#411 Be The Pack Leaderby Cesar Millan


(Read as part of our "Reading with Karen" project. I'm kind of surprised she had this book on her to-read list, since her Yorkie Chubbs is such an incredibly good dog. Maybe she watched some of Cesar's show and wanted to learn more about him.)

So many people try to deal with their dogs (and other animals) from a human reference point. They think animals think of things in the same way as humans, and that's just not the case. For example, dogs are pack animals, and they approach things from that pack animal mentality - where do I fit into the pack? What is my "job" in the pack? Who is the pack leader?
On his television show, Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan helps people address problems with their dogs by approaching the problem from that same pack mentality - whether it's a dog not recognizing the "alpha dog" status of its owner, or a dog who's stressed out about conflict among the humans in the household, for example. This book is essentially Millan explaining how pack animals think, and showing readers how to establish themselves as the pack leader in their dogs' minds.
One of the main points made throughout the book is that dogs respond to the energy and non-verbal communication put out by their owners. You place yourself as the pack leader, and keep your dogs from being stressed out, by putting out calm, assertive energy. Millan gives lots of great examples of how this helps you to work out problems with your dogs, but I wish he had done a better job explaining how to project that calm-assertive energy.
There are a few other minor issues that I have with the book, but for the most part, it's a good resource for people trying to establish a strong, respectful relationship with their dog.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

#287 Button Button Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson


As with any collection of short stories, there are some that really shine,and others that... don't. "Button, Button" is classic Matheson, with that Twilight Zone feel that made him such an important contributor to that show. "Shock Wave" has a similar feel to it. "A Flourish of Strumpets" was a funny take on door-to-door prostitution. "Tis the Season to Be Jelly" was just... strange. But the best piece, in my opinion, was the only poetry piece in the book: "The Jazz Machine".         

Monday, December 5, 2016

#419 Sense and Senibility by Jane Austin


Finally finished this, after over a month of reading it. I read Wuthering Heights not long ago, and it didn't give me *too* much trouble, so I thought this one would be relatively easy. I was so wrong.
First off, Austen's writing is so difficult to follow. Each sentence must have a minimum of eight commas, and there are so many instances of adjectives or clauses not being put anywhere near the word they're describing. There is also Austen's annoying habit of referring to people as "Mrs. So-and-so", but providing no clue as to which of the married women with that surname she is referring. For instance, there are two Mrs. Dashwoods, three Miss Dashwoods, two Miss Steeles, two Mr. Ferrars, etc., etc. This makes things so confusing for the reader. And as I mentioned in my review of Wuthering Heights, I needed a scorecard to understand the interrelationships among the various families: The Dashwood sisters' half brother is married to the Ferrar brothers' sister, and the Steele sisters are somehow related to someone, and Sir John is somebody's cousin, and I don't know what else. And understanding all these relationships is crucial to understanding the plot.

To me, the only redeeming factor was the sense of satisfaction I got when I understood one of Austen's little jokes. And, of course, the satisfaction of finally finishing the book.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#362 The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot


I enjoyed Anne Hathaway's audio version of this book.  A girl didn't know she was a princess until her father found out he couldn't have anymore children (heirs) so they decided to tell her she was a princess.  The drama unfolds of a teenager finding out she is a princess.  It's a cute book for tweens.

Monday, November 7, 2016

#220 Heart of the Matter by Emily Griffin


This is the first of Karen's books I couldn't finish.  It was just so bad.  And I began this project saying no matter what I would finish the books for her, and I plan to try and keep that promise, but I guess there will have to be some exceptions.  If anyone wants to pick this one up and finish the last quarter of the book, please do so.

Anyhow, we have three main characters.  The bored housewife, her husband which happens to be a very successful plastic surgeon and Valerie, a single-mom who's son was severally burned and is a patient of the plastic surgeons.  The plastic surgeon and Valerie end up having an affair.  The bored housewife questions her choice of staying at home and how she feels different than all the other stay at home parents and perhaps if she didn't stay at home her husband would not have had an affair.  Gah.  I can't even take it.  It was a self indulgent soap opera.  I wonder if this book would be one left on Karen's nightstand with a bookmark in it with intentions of getting back to it....never. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

#74 The Kill Order by James Dashner

The Kill Order (Maze Runner, #.5)

When I started reading the book, I kept waiting for the characters from the original trilogy to show up. Who are these people, Mark and Trina? Where's Thomas and the other Gladers? Of course, if I'd just read the book jacket, I'd have realized that this is a prequel; all the events in this book happen long before the Maze Runner events.

I really enjoyed the original trilogy, but didn't care for this one as much. It seems like Dashner's whole plan for this book was to throw Mark and the others into crisis scenario after crisis scenario. And so much violence, especially after the virus starts making everyone go crazy. So, not just protecting-our-territory violence, but crazy, smashing-someone's-head-into-a-wall-because-why-not violence. Over and over again.
The book does have some redeeming qualities: we get to find out what happened right after the solar flares that started the whole thing, for instance. And Mark and Trina's kinda sorta romance is sweet.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

#24 The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson


A pretty decent read overall. Yes, there is some teen angst, and some teen everyone-is-zombies-and-I-hate-the-world, but the book also gives a very clear (and, it seems to me, accurate) depiction of both Andy's war-related PTSD and Hayley's anxiety attacks. I would have liked a little more of Finn's storyline - maybe a Hayley/Finn alternating chapter thing - but really the emphasis is on Hayley and her father and the heavy emotional and psychological issues they're dealing with.
I definitely think Karen would have liked this one. Not only for the big issues covered, but also just for the nerd love between Hayley and Finn. I wanted to wrap them up (with a big unzipped sleeping bag) and protect them from everything.


#304 Sam's Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson


Let me get a couple little quibbles out of the way, because I really, truly liked this book.

First, and I know I keep harping on this, but James Patterson is not a great writer of dialog. Some of the lines he gives these characters, especially toward the beginning of the book, are full-on hack writing.

Secondly. You know the thing in the movies, product placement, where the film company gets money from a company for showing its product in the film? Like Bruce Willis is fighting the bad guys in a Die Hard movie, and he stops to pop open a delicious frosty can of Coke? I swear Patterson has a similar kind of deal going. He not only tells us that Jennifer drives a Jaguar, he tells us it's a midnight blue '96 Jaguar Vanden Plas (whatever that means), with dual gas tanks. Jennifer smokes Newport Lights, drinks Uncommon Ground takeout coffee, and listens to Ella Fitzgerald, not just on her stereo, but on her Bose. Patterson tells us all this in the space of 2-3 pages, most of it in 2-3 lines of the first chapter of the book. Luckily, he cools it with the product placement later in the story, because the blatant product name-dropping would have been soooo annoying right in the middle of what turns out to be a beautiful love story. Actually, a pair of love stories, because (as the title suggests), Jennifer's grandmother Sam has written her a series of letters (that are interspersed among the regular chapters) telling her own tale of true love.

I know, "telling her own tale of true love" - sounds pretty sappy and saccharine sweet. Luckily, and a little surprisingly, the two love stories shared by Patterson are not sappy and saccharine sweet; they're beautifully written, a little funny at times, with moments that made me smile and moments that (almost) made me cry.

As with most books I've read over the last coupla years, this was part of our Reading with Karen project, where we're reading the to-read list of my late sister. Would Karen have liked this? No. She would have loved this! It would have left her (to use her own expression) bawl-bagging, crying big

tears and sad tears both.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

#43 Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study (Study, #1)
Although I found this book in my library's Adult Sci Fi/Fantasy section, it had a very Young Adult feel to it, for the most part. However, there are a few places where I was reminded that this is an adult-level book - including the point where Yelena and consummate their relationship. There's no explicit sex in the book, but it's clear from the text that they do have sex. Also, since Valek is an assassin and a spy, there's an above-average amount of killing in the book. Add to that the fact that one of the main characters had been raped (prior to the events in the book), and the psychological torture committed on one of the characters, and this is possibly a bit too adult a book for young teens.

Of course, this was right up my alley - not the rape and torture and maiming and killing, but the magic and swords and whatnot. Yelena, condemned to be executed for murdering the son of her benefactor, is given the opportunity by Valek to become the food taster for the Commander, the country's leader. Since plots and intrigues abound, there is a very real chance that she will be poisoned, so by saying yes, she may have only postponed her death. Working for Valek, she is soon caught up in all the aforementioned plots and intrigues, while also trying to avoid attempts on her own life by people hired by her former benefactor. Add some magicians, some nasty-sounding spiders, a snow cat or two, and it's pretty exciting stuff


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

#95 The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Wow it's been too long since I have been on here to write a review. That's because it's been too long since I've completed one of Karen's books. I do have to say that when I logged on to the blog and saw her beautiful face over there on the right, it took my breath away then pained my heart. Then felt peaceful and happy as I said to her picture, "one more book done." I wish I could talk to her about this book. I saw from her list she has several WWII / Holocaust books. I didn't know she was so intrigued by this era.
This book was well written, very detailed, perhaps a bit too detailed for someone like me. I was happy to see the end of this book. However I did find myself wrapped up in the story once I got into it which seemed to take too long. If I was reading this for myself I probably would have given up on it. Once I did get into it I felt my emotions swell with hurt and compassion when I read about the struggles in the concentration camp.

In this book there are several stories going on, at the same time. Keeps you on your toes and interested in each person and how they contribute to the overall story and how their stories weave into each other.
I learned a lot while reading this.
some of my favorite quotes from this book:
"Inside each of us is a monster; inside each of us is a saint. The real question is which one we nurture the most, which one will smite the other."

"Power isn't doing something terrible to someone who's weaker than you. It's having the power to do something terrible, and choosing not to."

"When a freedom is taken away from you, I suppose, you recognize it as a privilege, not a right."

"Forgiving isn't something you do for someone else. It's something you do for yourself. It's saying, You're not important enough to have a stranglehold on me. It's saying, you don't get to trap me in the past. I'm worthy of a future."

Also if you are a bread junkie like I am and trying to stay away from said food, I might suggest holding off on this book as there is lots of references to baking breads. YUMMMM

Sunday, October 2, 2016

#227 The Pearl by John Steinbeck


This story has been told in many different ways.  The story of a person that comes into a large sum of money and then is cursed.  I've heard similar stories of people who won the lottery and then wish they never had.  It was short read.  Just okay for me.

Friday, September 30, 2016

#445 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte


This is one of those books that everyone is supposed to have read, a literary classic, blah blah blah. It's been on my to-read list for ages, but I finally got around to reading it because it was on my sister's list as well.

Because it was written in the mid-1800s, I thought for sure I would have difficulty with the language, but it was actually a fairly smooth read. Several of the characters speak a North England dialect, but luckily, this edition of the book had a section of notes at the back that translated most of those characters' dialogue. And there were a number of places where I had to rely on the context to figure out a line or two.

The toughest part of reading this, really, was figuring out why anyone would give a damn about Heathcliff. He is one of the most unpleasant, thoroughly horrible literary characters I've ever met. A terrible, mean-spirited ogre from childhood straight up (almost) until death. His and Catherine's love is held up as one of the great loves in literature, right up there with Romeo and Juliet, but the feeling I got was less star-crossed lovers, and more two thoroughly unlikable egomaniacs that deserved no better than each other. Bill Sykes and Nancy from Oliver Twist were a more sympathetic couple.
Really, there were so few likable characters here; even the sometime-narrator Ellen made me angry. The only one I had even a little sympathy for was Hareton Earnshaw.

That brings up my other main difficulty with reading this book: the inter-marriage of the Earnshaws, the Lintons, and the Heathcliffs. I honestly could have used a scorecard or chart to remember who was married to whom, and how they were all related. And those relationships are really the crux of the whole story - the relationships, inheritances, and how Heathcliff manipulates them.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

#448 Sanctuary by Beverly Lewis


This was very Lifetime/Hallmark channel worthy.  You have a girl raised by a single dad that was a member of the mafia that stole money from the mafia that killed him off and then this girl went into hiding, changed her identity and later falls in love with a guy and thinks she is safe.  The girl later realizes the mafia is after her too so she escapes Lancaster and hides with a Mennonite woman and then comes to Christ.  I'm not real sure what that means exactly?  She decides she's a follower?  Anyhow, the mafia is all turned in and she escapes happily ever after.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

#41 Push by Sapphire


I'm not sure what to say about this book.  It's horrible.  It's sad.  I felt like it was a mixture of porn and an after school special (with crude language). 

Precious was sexually abused by her father and mother.  The mother is angry with Precious for "stealing her man" and beats her often.  Precious has a couple kids by her own father.  Precious is sent to an alternative school where she meets other misfits, having gone through struggles of their own, and they become their own family so to speak.  They encourage and help each other and support each other.

I don't know why some people are born in such horrible circumstances and some are born in such happy circumstances.  I'm not naïve enough to think these things do not happen.  I know these things happen, however, I really don't want these images in my head.  And this book goes into a lot of detail and descriptive of what happens to the characters.  I definitely would not recommend this book to anyone and think Karen would not have enjoyed it either.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

#15 Hattie Big Sky by Kriby Larson


In her "Author's Note", Larson says that she began writing this story during the Iraq War, and that she could see similarities between the World War I Era and that of the Iraq War. Patriotic fervor, distrust (or outright hatred) of foreigners, the "liberty cabbage" (sauerkraut) of 1918 and the "freedom fries" of 2003. And it was interesting to read the book in 2016, with some of the same themes prevailing.
Although I found it in my library's Young Adult section, the book reads at more of a junior high or middle school level to me. That's not to say it wasn't a good read; I enjoyed it, but the language and the themes seemed geared toward a younger audience


#206 Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand


I've read a substantial amount of material about World War II, but the majority of it covered the European war or the Holocaust, so this book about an airman in the Pacific theatre was somewhat new territory for me.

To be honest, though, this is less of a history of World War II than it is a somewhat-biography of Louie Zamperini - grade school troublemaker, Olympic athlete, World War II bomber crew member and Japanese POW-camp survivor. Hillenbrand does an excellent job of explaining such diverse topics as track and field, WWII aircraft, the Japanese code of honor, POW camp conditions, even mid-century Christian evangelism, but where this book really shines is in how it shows those subjects through the eyes of Zamperini, how it takes him from hoodlum to track star to airman to POW, and especially how it shows the effects his experiences in Japan had on him post-war. This was easily one of my favorite historical reads.

A (not so) quick final note: It did take me almost three weeks to read the book, which is quite a bit longer than my average book time. One shouldn't assume from this that the book was difficult to read; on the contrary, the author's writing style lends an almost narrative feeling to the book (except in sections filled with statistics on airplane accidents or POW survival). I found myself involved in several other outside projects and had little time at some points for leisure reading. It's a testament to Hillenbrand's skill that I was able each time to quickly jump back into the action of the book.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

#112 Reached b Ally Condle


Overall, I enjoyed this book so much. The last few chapters definitely passed the "crying in Wendy's" test.

I had a few issues, of course. This volume is substantially longer than the first two books in the series. I know, that's because there were so many things to wrap up at the end, and it's common for the last book in a series to be longer than the others (Harry Potter, anyone?). But this book also seems to slow down in the middle, as if Condie was trying to decide if she could wrap things up in this book, or if she needed to expand to a fourth book.

My other main quibble with the book (and really, the series in general, but especially this book) is that a couple things weren't explained clearly enough: the process of "sorting", and the whole biology/genetics/virology mess with the Plague. I'm still not completely understanding the whole bit with the immunity to the original plague versus the immunity to the mutation, and how the mutation happened, etc. I'm sure it's not as complicated as it seems in my mind, but I feel the author could have done a better job explaining it.It did seem that the conversations about the Plague in the book were a bit too technical for the average reader (or at least this reader).

I still don't subscribe to the popular idea that the idea for this book was stolen from Lois Lowry's The Giver. As I said elsewhere, it's been a while since I read the first book in that series, and I never did read the rest of the series, so maybe there's more to it than I'm seeing.

So, a good ending to a good series, although with a few rough spots. I think my sister would have enjoyed the series, especially the romance between Cassia and Ky, and the emphasis on Cassia's loving family, but I think she would have had some of the same issues with understanding the science.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

#113 Crossed by Ally Condle


This second book in the Matched trilogy is better than the first. The first book takes place entirely within the very structured, controlled world of The Society, so nothing exciting happens. While it makes for an interesting set-up to the story, it doesn't make for a very exciting story. In this second book, Cassia and Ky find themselves on the outskirts of Society life, and they even venture out into the caves and canyons outside. So there's more action, and some unexpected things happen, to show that hey, when you venture outside The Society's rules, you just never know what's gonna happen. But it's still pretty slow-moving. Cassia pines for Ky, and Ky thinks a lot about Cassia, and how much of his story he should let her know. And that's another problem with the book - secrets, and hints at secrets, and references to secrets that may be the reader knows about, but do we I don't know and it's all so confusing. We need a synopsis at the end of the book to say, here's all the stuff we definitely told you definitely happened in this chapter.

The point of view alternates back and forth from chapter to chapter between Ky and Cassia, something I often find annoying, but don't mind in this case. James Patterson does this a lot, but he'll have one character carry the point of view for several chapters, then switch to another, and so on. Condie only switches back and forth between Cassia and Ky, and they alternate from chapter to chapter, so you know that, if Cassia was telling last chapter, Ky is telling this one. Makes things a lot less confusing.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

#114 Matched by Ally Condie


A strong 3 stars. A pretty decent YA dystopian novel, although it moved pretty slowly for a lot of the book. There's a definite teenage-romance feel to the story, with Cassia worrying over which boy to choose, and a lot of general agonizing over dresses and boys and whatnot, that turned me off; I just wanted her to get on with whatever she was going to do.
A lot of other reviewers have commented on the similarity to called this a rip-off of Lois Lowry's The Giver, and while it's been a while since I read that book, I'm not seeing the rip-off. There are definitely some similarities, but it's mostly things that all dystopian novels have in common - the drab clothing, the job assignments, the government officials "encouraging" compliance. I didn't really see anything that appeared to be stolen from Lowry's book.
I read this as part of our "Reading with Karen" project. I could see my sister enjoying the series, though I think she would have some of the same complaints I have - the slow pace, the lack of any real action.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

#193 Tick Tock by James Patterson


The first in the series of Michael Bennett books by James Patterson, and a really good way to start off the series. Patterson co-wrote this with Michael Ledwidge, and it shows. I have a bad habit of bad-mouthing Patterson's writing skills, and I should stop that. But it is nice to have a book like this, combining his plotting abilities with Ledwidge's smoother prose. The point of view changes back and forth from chapter to chapter, between Bennett and the murderer, but Bennett's chapters are in first-person, while the other chapters are in third-person, so it's not as confusing as it has been in other Patterson books.

I was a little bit confused by references made to Bennett's past cases, especially those where he partnered with FBI agent Emily Parker, which made me think that this was not the first book in the series. It's not that these references made me feel like I was missing pieces of the Michael Bennett puzzle; I just assumed from the references that there were other, earlier books featuring Bennett. I'm curious to see if later books in the series dig deeper into those past events.

Without a doubt, the best part of the book is when Bennett, on the verge of death, is visited in a dream by his dead wife. They talk about their children, and she praises his work in raising them without her. He assumes she's come to be his guide into the afterlife, and she has to tell him it's not time yet. This definitely passed the "crying in public" test - if I'd been in public when I read this chapter, I wouldn't have cared who saw the tears pouring out of my eyes.

I had a few small quibbles; I wasn't satisfied with the resolution of the family's problem with the Flaherty clan, and the climactic scene between Bennett and the murderer was a bit... anticlimactic. But overall, this is a really good, exciting read.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

#70 Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Dad Is Fat

I kept getting the feeling that I'd read this book before. I mean, granted, the subject (comedian writes book about being a parent) is not new - Bill Cosby, Paul Reiser, and I don't know who else have covered the topic in writing, and many other stand-up comedians use their children and their family life as the basis of their comedy. But I honestly felt like I'd read these particular jokes before. Either Gaffigan was recycling some of his stand-up material, or I have actually read this book. At any rate, my sister had this on her to-read list, so I figured it would be interesting to re-read the book from her viewpoint.
Gaffigan and his wife have five children and, to plagiarize Cosby, the reason they have five children is because they do not want six children. He also grew up in a large family. One of the best parts of the book is the chapter titled, "Six kids, Catholic", in which he relates that this was his standard response (and explanation) when people asked him about his large family; he uses the same response now when people ask him about his kids, but he said religion had nothing to do with him and his wife having so many kids. (wink, wink; nudge, nudge) A lot of the comedy in the book is based not only on their children, but the special problems involved with having such a large group of kids - outings to the park, family vacations, dwindling lists of babysitters. Because the family lives in a two-bedroom apartment in New York, even getting all the kids to bed at night is a major undertaking.
There were several laugh-out-loud moments, and quite a few chuckles, but overall I wasn't wowed by the book. One of the other reviewers said she listened to the audiobook, which Gaffigan himself narrated, and I think that would have been better; I really like Gaffigan's stand-up, and delivery is a big part of his comedy. But, like with a lot of other books written by comedians, this one left me feeling disappointed.


#308 The Beach House by James Patterson


Another James Patterson book I read as part of our "Reading with Karen" project. I think she had just about every book by him on her to-read list. I only have a few more of his books to read and I'll be done - well, done with that part of the project.
I've said it before, Patterson is a great idea man, he comes up with great book ideas and has the whole thing mapped out with all the plot twists and climactic scenes, but his best books are cowritten with another author. Peter de Jonge is one of his go-to coauthors, and their books are always a pleasure to read.
I only had one big issue with the book, and it may be just a lack of knowledge on my part, and not a fault of the book itself. An inquest is held to determine cause of death; I'd assumed there would be a judge, and that witnesses would be called, but that there wouldn't be a prosecutor or a defense lawyer, because they're just determining cause of death; no one is on trial. But the inquest held in this book has an assistant DA on one side and the high-priced lawyers of a powerful businessman on the other - as if the businessman is on trial. Again, I don't know if this was shoddy research on the authors' part or a misunderstanding of the legal system on my part. Ultimately, though there's a lot of legal action in the book, it's not like something by John Grisham where you can be sure all the legalese has been heavily researched.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

#13 Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea


A strong 3.5 or 3.75, rounded up to 4. This book passed the crying-in-public test, which means I had the chance to show strangers my ugly crying face while reading.

The book has an unusual format, where different members of a 5th grade class take turns relating the events that happen; in fact, we often get the chance to see the same event from several different viewpoints. I did like how each of the kids' chapters was written in a somewhat different style. I didn't care for the obviously contrived valley girl style used for Alexia. I did enjoy the more eloquent style given to the big reader, Jessica, and the very structured, logical style used by Luke.
I would have given the book a higher rating, but while it covers several very emotional and serious topics (and deals with them well), I felt like the buildup to these events was too sudden. I guess I feel like the book should have been a bit longer, and should have taken more time to develop the characters and set the scene for the major event in the last part of the story. (I hesitate to say more for fear of giving away spoilers.)

All of that being said, this is a good book for juvenile readers. It deals with issues like family and death in a straightforward, but not sensational, way. It teaches strong lessons about friendship, teamwork, and forgiveness, but not in a preachy way. And it tugs at your heartstrings something awful.


Friday, June 24, 2016

#297 Cross by James Patterson


This had the potential to be a really good book - finally, we were going to get the backstory on the death of Cross's wife, Maria, and finally, Cross was going to meet (and take down) the man who killed her.

Unfortunately, while these things do happen, the storytelling itself is lackluster. Cross leaves the FBI, and returns to his psychiatric practice, so there's not as much of the exciting action that we've seen in some of his other books. The serial killer in this volume (every Alex Cross book has at least one), the Butcher, is somewhat interesting, but not as interesting as some of the killers in the other books. We do get more of Cross's family life than usual, which is nice, but once again, Patterson brings up a potential love interest for Alex, only to take it away (as usual) toward the end of the book.
I did like the fact that we got to see more of John Sampson, and that he wasn't just trotted out to be Cross's sidekick when it was convenient. One of my biggest pet peeves in the books where Cross is on the DC police force, is that Sampson, his partner, is only involved in the action on a very limited basis.

This is one of the last Patterson books I'll be reading for our "Reading with Karen" project. Although Karen had a ton of Patterson books in her to-be-read queue, I think she would have got tired of Cross early on, and wouldn't have read everything in the queue. Now, the Women's Murder Club series, that may have been a different story!


Friday, June 17, 2016

#42 BZRK Reloaded by Michael Grant


Significantly better than the first book in some ways. While the macro/micro levels are still there, it doesn't seem nearly as confusing in this second book. Grant does a fantastic job of describing what objects (skin cells, a wound, the drain in a shower) would look like at the microscopic level. The scene with Bug Man trying to shower the nanobots off his skin is incredibly well written. And I still shudder when thinking of the hydra bots digging into Billy's skin.

With the first book, I also complained about the number of different characters and simultaneous storylines, and that's still an issue in this volume. In addition to the main story of Plath and Keats and the rest trying to stop Bug Man and Bukofsky, we also have a young Okinawan girl with OCD, a Scandinavian spy, a teenaged Lebanese hacker, Billy the Kid (no, not that Billy the Kid, a different one), and of course, the Armstrong brothers. Each of these characters has a separate storyline; granted, they all do appear to join up into a handful of main stories by the end of the book, but for most of the novel, I was wondering how each of these plots was going to be connected to the main story.

Normally, I loathe authors who insert (obligatory) romance into their action stories, but I can see the purpose here for Plath's and Keats's relationship - both are somewhat loners, not sure who to trust, and when someone can literally enter your brain (without you knowing it!) and mess with your mind to make you feel emotions you don't want to feel, you tend to question any feelings you may have for other people. It brings up an interesting point that runs through most of the book - how much of what we feel is true emotion or thought, and how much is being controlled or manipulated by someone else?

As I said, I did enjoy this book more than the first, and although it appears that Karen didn't put the third (and final?) book on her list, I do plan on going back and reading it when I get the chance.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

#289 Once Upon a Day by Lisa Tucker


Basically, one day can change a person's entire life. 

This book was told by several people's different perspective.  We have Lucy that was orphaned as a teen and raised by an abusive aunt and uncle and then homeless for a bit and then taken in by a man that would allow her to live there for sex.  She eventually left for LA, homeless, a person took pity in her and housed her and became her close friend.  They went to a party together, Lucy meets her future husband at the party.

Stephen, a wealthy movie director and producer fell hard for Lucy.  He loved her Midwestern (from MO) innocence and background.  They wed and have kids and everything seems to go smoothly, but then something happens and everything turns bad.

Stephen kidnaps his 2 kids with Lucy, moves them to New Mexico and no one can find them.  Lucy looks for them for 19 years but can never find them.  These two kids never leave this home in New Mexico until they reach their 20s and start to question things.  They find out their mom wasn't dead (although Stephen their father told them she was) and they find their mom.

So much happens through the book.  We learn what happened in Stephen's life that would make him think this was okay, to take his kids away from their mom and how he thought it was the right thing (even though he was clearly in the wrong).  It's an interesting book as you are taken in their lives and can see how a child will love the parent even though they deceived and hurt them (or the other parent) as well as how quick to forgive they can be.  Also, interesting to see all sides and why/how people can react the way they do.

Friday, June 10, 2016

#325 Graceling by Kristin Cashore


Strong 4.5 out of 5. There were some parts that dragged a little, and the story was less about plot than about relationships (Katsa and Po, Katsa and her uncle) and showing a strong female lead character.
Parts I really liked: Katsa crossing the mountains with Bitterblue; Katsa showing up some tough guys who think they can pick on a girl. The are-they-or-aren't-they relationship between Raffin and Bann. (Others have commented negatively, saying Cashore shouldn't push the "homosexual lifestyle" on impressionable teens; I say that a lot of teens reading these books are figuring out their own sexualities, and need an example of a good, stable relationship. I also say that Cashore never says these two are gay, or in a romantic or sexual relationship, so maybe you all are projecting a little bit?)


Cashore does a beautiful job of describing the seven kingdoms, the scenery, the elements, the mountains and the ocean. I also enjoyed the dialog between Katsa and Po, and really her ability to write sarcastic, playful, humorous dialog.

I read this as part of the project to read Karen's list. I think she would have really enjoyed the book, although she would have been unhappy with the fact that Katsa and Po decide to become lovers without getting married. I definitely plan on reading more of this series when we're done with our project.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

#405 Skyward by Mary Alice Monroe


If you like birds, probably a good read

If I wasn't so terrified of birds, I probably could've enjoyed this more than I did. I had a hard time wanting to read it, and it was a very slow start. But, the ending definitely picked up and kept me interested.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

#228 Private by James Patterson

Private (Private, #1)
A strong 4.5, rounded up to 5. Really a top-notch effort by Patterson and his co-author Maxine Paetro. (She also co-wrote many of the Women's Murder Club books, which I also really enjoyed.) I really have a hard time coming up with anything negative to say; the writing is strong, especially the dialog; the characters are solid and complex; the whodunits and why-dun-its are well thought out and well-hidden - that is to say, I didn't have this one figured out well before the story was over.

I like the concept of an ensemble cast; even though Jack Morgan is the head of the agency, and the main character (and the only one with first-person dialog), the other members of his staff are well-rounded, realistic characters. I can see any one of them being the central character in future books in the series.

There have been other of Patterson's series where, after reading the first book, I've vowed not to read any more; this book actually has me looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

(Read as part of our "Reading with Karen" project. I can't say whether she would have liked this one, but it would have been interesting to talk to her about it

Thursday, May 26, 2016

#48 Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves


I picked this one up from library because I didn't have to reserve it.  It was sitting right on the shelf which is unusual as far as finding Karen's books at my library.  I had no idea what the book was about and for some reason thought it was going to be a Christian/fiction type book.  It was not.

The main character and her husband are college sweethearts.  She has type one diabetes and wears a pump to help maintain the disease.  This does play a role in the book.  She lives in surburia, right outside of Kansas City, on the Kansas side (this did intrigue me because I am very familiar with that area) in a middle to upper middle-class neighborhood.  The other characters felt cliché to me as far as surburban housewives go.  We have the alcoholic mom with the cheating husband, the compulsive gambler with the clueless wife, the nearly perfect couple that is dealing with infertility and then the main character and her hard, over-worked husband that is not in tune with his wives needs.  The book dives into how Claire, the main character, truly loves her husband but is so lonely so seeks refuge with a "gorgeous cop" that just happened to pull her over.  The two have an emotional affair together and it is justified through the book. 

Honestly, I didn't get the point of the book.  I kept waiting for something to happen but nothing did.  That's the entire story. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#259 Just Another Kid by Torey L. Hayden

Just Another Kid

In each of Hayden's books (or at least the ones that take place in a classroom), you're introduced to the kids, and all of them have their specific issues; throughout the book, Hayden talks about helping each one of them improve (as much as they can). But there's always one kid that the crux of the story focuses on, and so I started this book trying to identify which kid is the "just another kid" of the title. We're introduced to Leslie, a barely functioning, possibly autistic little girl, along with her parents, but Leslie's not "the kid". We're introduced to Mariana, a precocious, overly sexualized girl, and Dirkie, an autistic boy, but neither of them is "the kid"; later on, we add Geraldine and Shemona, two sisters, and their cousin, Shamie, all of whom are refugees of "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland, but none of which is "the kid". Eventually, Leslie's mother begins helping Hayden in the classroom as an aide, and we learn that she is the kid - she and Hayden begin developing... if not a friendship, then at least a work-based camaraderie and she begins revealing to Hayden some of the serious emotional issues she (and her husband and Leslie) are working through.

This is another one of the better books written by Hayden; I seem to enjoy her books that are based in classrooms better, because (in part) they don't rely so much on her hit-or-miss method of child psychology. There's a structure to a classroom that precludes just sitting around waiting for something to happen, which sometimes appears to be Hayden's style of therapy. It's also fun and interesting to see how these kids, all at different levels of maturity and development and intellect, interact with each other. I'm surprised, again, by how physical Hayden and the other adults are with the kids, picking them up by their collars or (essentially) tossing them into the "timeout" chair. These are actions a present-day teacher would probably get sued over, but then, these books are set in the 1970s and 80s.

The ending is bittersweet, with an end-of-school-year picnic and an epilogue that gives a little information about what happened to (most of) the kids. I think my sister would have really liked this one, more than most of the other Hayden books, partly because of the interaction between Hayden and Ladbrooke (Leslie's mother).


#102 The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

The Best of Me

I like to have an audio book always available for those times I am stuck waiting on someone, driving or walking and it seems like all of Nicholas Sparks books are always available.  This doesn't surprise me.  So, that explains why I continue to read these books, or listen to them.  Because they are always available.  I have many on hold and I am looking forward to listening to them as I don't think I can handle another Sparks book.

Sigh....I really dislike these books.  They are so awful.  So predictable.  Tear-jerkers, however, not really as you know it's going to happen so you sigh and roll your eyes and endure it. 

This one is about a teenage couple, "true love", that went different paths but found themselves together 20 years later.  They have an affair and it's justified because they are each other's true love.  smh.  I love when people justify infidelities.  << sarcasm. 


Friday, May 20, 2016

#120 The City of Ember by Jeanne DePrau


Such a fun little read. A bit Hunger Games style without the violence! A good read for the kiddos.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

#351 The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs


I had a hard time finishing this one.  It felt so similar to so many other books I've read, nothing original, so I was bored with it and felt it was filled with cliché's.  It's about a group of women who become friends over knitting. The main character owns a knitting shop in Manhattan, funded by a wealthy Manhattanite who becomes her surrogate mother and works for her.  The shop has several regulars and they eventually form a Friday Night Knitting Club.  The book shares a bit about each character and their back story, but so little.  It felt like a movie version of the book, just enough to know who's who, but no depth.  The ending is a tear jerker but not shocking.  I was happy to finally finish this one. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

#97 Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson


Surprisingly, this was not that bad. Not over-the-top hilarious, as some of the juvenile readers at my library have said, but not cringingly (is that a word?) bad like those of Patterson's other books for a younger audience that I have read. (I would read more of this series; I have absolutely zero interest in reading more of the "Witch and Wizard" or "Maximum Ride" series.) Patterson does have a tendency to rely a little too heavily on stereotypes - the "dragon-lady" teacher, the good-for-nothing stepdad, the bratty kid sister, the no-neck bully - but he threw in a few good curveballs as well. (The truth about Leo's identity - did not see that coming!)

Rafe is a brand-new 6th grader, and he's decided (with Leo's help) that he's going to break every rule in his middle school's rule book by the end of the school year. Not because he's a "bad kid"; just because school is boring, and things are bad at home. Scattered throughout the book are illustrations, cartoons really, seemingly drawn by Rafe's best friend, Leo. The cartoons, while not integral to the story, make it more enjoyable and, since they resemble the kind of artwork a lot of us drew in class ourselves, add a sense of middle-school authenticity to the story.
If - like in a lot of other books of this sort - the mission was to teach kids that it's good to be good, and that truancy never pays, I think Patterson fell short. While Rafe does suffer some consequences for his actions, in the end his situation is vastly improved. All in all, this was an enjoyable book, but nothing earth-shatteringly great.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#258 Ghost Girl by Torey Hayden


Definitely the most readable of Hayden's books that I've read. Which is not to say that the subject matter was pleasant - far from it. But the narrative flowed a lot more smoothly, and I didn't find myself as frustrated with the author as I have in her past books.

The book was written in the 1980s (first published in 1991), and there are some things she was able to get away with then that would definitely not fly in a public school today - picking an unruly boy up by his belt and shirt collar, lifting a six-year-old girl's shirt up (in the classroom) to check for signs of scoliosis, locking yourself and that girl in the cloakroom because that's the only place the girl feels safe enough to tell about the abuse she's been subjected to. There's a scene where Hayden and the girl are locked in the cloakroom, and the girl (who hasn't spoken at school in ages) suddenly starts yelling at the top of her lungs (because she can, because she's safe). A teacher in the next room comes running, tries the door and finds it locked; Hayden tells her everything is ok, and that's good enough for the other teacher. (This after Hayden had only been at the school lest than a semester.) If that happened in today's schools, the principal would be knocking the door down to be sure the teacher wasn't abusing the child herself.

I was disappointed that the book didn't have a solid resolution of Jadie's (the girl's) situation. Hayden finally gets her to tell the authorities about the abuse, and her story is checked out, but no definitive evidence is found. The book isn't really about having that resolution; it's more about Jadie working through her emotional and mental issues to get to the point she can talk and participate in life. But it would have been nice to know what, exactly, actually did happen. Hayden kept in contact with Jadie and her sister, so she was able to let the reader know that Jadie went on to graduate from college and do well in life, but we never do find out if the abuse and everything that went with it were real, or if they were products of Jadie's mind, created to deal with all the bad things that were happening to her.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

#126 The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


I never thought this would be as good as it was, but I was completely captivated from start to finish. It's not fast paced, but the story spoke to me in a way I never thought it could.


#179 The Magicians by Lev Grossman


This book was on my sister's to-read list, and I think I know why. Karen absolutely loved the Harry Potter books, having read them to my nephew as he was growing up. At first glance, The Magicians has a similar premise - boy discovers a whole new world of magic, and is invited to attend a school for magicians. But whereas the Harry Potter books were about a sweet, young British boy attending a nice British school for young kids, this book is about Quentin, a horny, mopey, angst-y American teenager from Brooklyn attending a college-level school in upstate New York. There's a lot of college-level antics in this book - drinking, cussing, sexing - that you wouldn't have found anywhere remotely near Hogwarts.

While Rowling's descriptions of performing magic were full of the romantic aspects - waving wands and saying pretty words, Grossman focuses more on the journeyman type aspects of magic; if the teachers at Hogwarts look at magic as painting or sculpting, the faculty of Brakebills consider it more along the lines of baking or carpentry.

But Quentin's education at Brakebills is only the beginning quarter of the book. As a child (and. let's face it, as a teenager) Quentin read over and over a Narnia-esque series of children's novels depicting a land called Fillory. After graduating from Brakebills, Quentin and friends discover that Fillory actually exists, and they set off on a Magical Quest to find it. The remainder of the book relates that quest, and what happens with the friends when they discover that Fillory-of-fiction and Fillory-in-real-life are not necessarily the same thing.

I think Karen would have enjoyed this book, once she got past the disappointment of it not being (at all) like the Harry Potter series. There are some definite "adult situations", and Grossman makes it clear pretty early that these are not cute little kids in a cute little magic school. There are deaths, and hook-ups, and imbibing of various drugs and alcoholic beverages. But it's an exciting, well-developed story complete with Important Messages that make us Think about Life.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

#463 The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks


I typically wouldn't read any of Nicholas Sparks books, but since there are only 3 of us left reading Karen's books I knew I had better start reading them.  Plus, this one had no hold on the audio version so I just started listening to it on my walk to school.

This story is not unique.  Same story, different names.  A guy stalking a girl in a small town in North Carolina.  The girl has a guy protecting her as well as a dog as well as the bumbling idiot/police officer.  I feel like I've seen this movie one too many times.  I debated about even finishing it as I knew how it would end and if I was reading it for myself I probably wouldn't have finished it, but I did for Karen. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#31 Just One Day by Gayle Forman


Karen would have loved this book. It's the YA type book she preferred.  It had me putting all my other books down so I could see what happens when I just planned to skim the first chapter while eating breakfast. 

It starts out with Alyson and her childhood best friend being sent to Europe as a high school graduation present. The girls are trying to figure life out.  One reinventing herself over and over and the other stepping out of her comfort zone and surprising herself.  While in London Alyson meets a boy and the boy talks her into going to Paris for the day.  So, she goes.  The two have adventure after adventure and then the next day she wakes up and he's gone.  She goes back to London and eventually to Boston, where she goes to college, and she is haunted by that one day in Paris.  She can't let it go. (which actually got on my nerves.  Let it go.  Move on already! But she needed closure.)  So, after a year of college she ends up gong back to Paris to find that boy and to try and figure things out.

The book is about self-discovery, I suppose.  It is filled with cliché's and unrealistic scenarios, but I enjoyed it.  Maybe I just needed a light, nonsense page-turner right now.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

#293 Mary Mary James Patterson


What's this? Kris gives a James Patterson book a positive review? Yeah, I was as surprised as you were. Overall, the writing was tight, the ending was believable (though a bit anticlimactic), and unlike most of the other Cross books, there's an actual mystery. There were a few things I didn't like - the sex scenes and Cross's entire interaction with females in general, for instance. What was the point of having the LA detective come on so strong? It wasn't continued in the rest of the book, and it added nothing to the plot. Was it to show how ridiculously irresistible Cross is? And how long will the relationship with his new lady friend last? And please, what the heck is going on with Christine?

These issues (which all seem to relate to Cross's enormous ego) aside, this was a solid addition to the Alex Cross series - better, in my opinion, than most of the others.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

#331 Maximum Ride by James Patterson

The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, #1)

This was a bit better than the last Patterson book I read, Witch and Wizard . Both are in my library's Young Adult section, but this one feels like it was written for young adults, while the other felt like it was written for a younger audience (or for the mentally challenged). Basically, this one doesn't have the condescending tone that I was picking up from the other; it seems to treat the reader like a normal (if younger) adult.

The book does have the same annoying thing where Patterson takes a known entity - in this case, a well-known toy store and a ritzy New York restaurant - and changes its name slightly. FAO Schwartz becomes AFO Schmidt, and Tavern on the Green becomes Garden Tavern. I have no idea why Patterson does this, and it's possible the average teen reader wouldn't catch it, but it's annoying nonetheless.

To be honest, I was a little bit bored with the story. The "flock" does a lot of wandering around, lost and clueless, broken up occasionally by being attacked by the Erasers. I'm intrigued by Jeb and what his relationship is to the kids, especially to Max, and I'm a bit curious to know what happens next. But am I curious enough to read more of the series? I'm not sure.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#274 Witch and Wizard James Patterson


So many things. The dialog was mostly atrocious; the villains sound so blatantly, stereotypically villainous, as if their lines were pulled straight from the Villain Writing 101 textbook, and in fact, so many of the characters sound like tropes of their various character types. The sniping between Wisty and Whit is annoying. The random point-of-view switching between Whit and Wisty is confusing. There is really very little character development at all.

One of the most annoying things, to me, is the authors' reference to musical groups, authors and books, and celebrities - but changing a letter here, a word there, to create fictitious celebrities, etc. In fact, my edition of the book had an actual index of these items, "provided" by the New Order as a list of banned books, musicians, etc. Especially egregious examples: "The Pitcher in the Wheat"; Irish band B4; artist Margie O'Greeffe. I mean, why? What was the point?


Sunday, April 3, 2016

#294 Violets are Blue James Patterson

So, in the previous book, there's a bad guy, named The Mastermind, who's organizing all these crimes,and then handing them off to other criminals to actually commit. And right at the end of the book, we're told who The Mastermind really is - someone we've known for all the Alex Cross books, someone completely trusted by Cross, someone who, apparently, has been pulling the strings in Alex's life this whole time. And we, the readers, are told the identity of this person. Seriously, mind blown.

But then, with the beginning of this next book, it's like that whole big issue is set on the back burner. Yes, the Mastermind continues to call Cross, challenging and taunting him. But Cross is kept busy with a whole new serial killer (or killers) and Patterson strings us along for the majority of the book, teasing us about what, obviously, should be the main thing on Alex's mind - identifying, locating and eliminating the Mastermind.

The whole vampire killing story, the are-they-real or are-they-wannabe's question, even Cross's (inevitable) romance with his female partner - all secondary to what should have been going on between Cross and the Mastermind. And that's what bugged me most about this book.
There were a few other problems - where's his partner, Sampson, while Cross is gallivanting cross-country? Why is Nana pushing him so hard to find a woman? Why (please, why) does Cross fall into bed with every female cop or FBI agent he meets? For a clinical psychologist, Cross sure does have some issues he needs to work through.

I enjoyed the scenes with Cross spending time with his family. I like the playful banter between Cross and Nana, although she can be a bit of a jerk (and a racist) at times. But I'm glad that I won't be reading too many more of these Cross novels. 


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

#403 Sisterchicks on the Loose by Robin Jones Gunn


Oh boy,,,sigh,,, this book....I want to be careful because I think this book was recommended to Karen by a good friend (not sure, but think so).  I will just say I did not like it.  And I see she has 8 more on her TBR pile that goes along with this story.  This is one of those times I wish she was here so I could say, really?  What did you think of this one?  I imagine she would laugh and say, yeah, I knew you wouldn't like this one, but it wasn't THAT bad. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

#33 All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry


I'm not sure what I think of this book.  A friend on goodreads said it right when she said the cover of this book is very misleading.  This is a historical fiction book yet the cover shows a modern day girl which confused me.  The book goes back and forth from past to present which also confused me because I listened to the audio version so it didn't read smoothly.  I finally got a hang of it, but was so confused and felt like I had already missed some important parts while trying to get used to the flow of the book. Basically a teenage girl was kidnapped for 2 years by an insane man, the love of her life's father, and the man cut out her tongue so she couldn't share where he was, what happened, etc....

She eventually was able to return to her village, however, she was shunned by many including her own mother.  She was eventually able to share her story and redeem herself, but not without many trials along the way.

Monday, March 21, 2016

#295 Roses are Red James Patterson


I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it suffers from some of Patterson's usual issues - contrived, unlikely situations, unnecessary sexual situations (Cross's fiance breaks up with him, so he almost immediately falls into a sexual relationship with an FBI agent), a lack of understanding of the financial situations of police officers, teachers and the middle class in general. But this book doesn't have the gory scenes and psychological horror that some of his previous ones have had.
The last few chapters have several unexpected twists and turns, and the book ends with a surprise bombshell that actually has me waiting with anticipation to read the next book!


Friday, March 18, 2016

#298 Pop Goes the Weasel by James Patterson


Here's a strange coincidence (at least I hope it's a coincidence...) - the bad guy in this book is nicknamed (by the Washington DC PD) as The Weasel. I have, in my to-read list, another book with the title "Pop Goes the Weasel" (Pop Goes the Weasel), wherein the apparent bad guy is the main character's step-father... nicknamed (by him, apparently) The Weasel. One book is a gritty crime novel, the other is a not-so-gritty gay romantic comedy.

As a general rule, these Alex Cross books are not mysteries - that is, Patterson doesn't try to keep us from figuring out whodunit, and often lets us (and Cross) know early on who the killer is. That's the case in this book; our killer is identified (to the reader early on, to Cross about halfway through the book) as a staff member at the British embassy. The kicker in this one is a) finding concrete evidence, and b) navigating the "diplomatic immunity" maze in order to try and convict him. And, of course, preventing him from killing again.

Our killer, Shafer, is a former intelligence operative who is playing an online game called The Four Horsemen; obviously, in the game he plays the role of Death. With the book first being published in 1999, it's interesting to read about some of the earlier uses of cell phones and the World Wide Web; Patterson, who likes to scatter pop references throughout his books, makes reference to several internet-related companies and services that don't exist anymore in 2016. But aside from these references, the books usually don't feel outdated.

One final note: As I've mentioned before, these books are generally much more gory and violent than the other Patterson books I've read. Alex Cross is an expert in mass murderers, so a lot of the killings are committed by the mentally deranged, and this definitely shows in the Cross books in general, and in this one specifically. Without giving away details from this book, it's interesting to see how Cross's family and friends react to his job, and how they are affected when the killer decides to involve himself in Cross's personal life.

So, to wrap up: another decent entry in Patterson's Alex Cross series. Definitely more violent than the average police novel. Interesting, often positive looks into Cross's personal and family life. Patterson still shows himself to be somewhat oblivious to the financial lives of police officers and teachers. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

#350 Columbine by Dave Cullen


I listened to the audio version of this story and it reminded me a lot of In Cold Blood.  Both stories were in-depth details of horrible acts of violence and read by intense actors. 

I felt Columbine, the book, was well done.  Dave Cullen did so much research and did not leave anything out.  I really liked how he told us what has happened to all the survivors since the massacre.  I haven't read much about Columbine so went in knowing very little other than remembering seeing it on the news and hearing rumors/media share details I later learned were not true.  I felt the book was well done.

Friday, March 4, 2016

#71 The Great Gatsby F. Scott. Fitzgerald


This was my first time reading this story and I liked it, but didn't love it.  It is very well written.  I loved how he shared the death scene, his choice of words, poetic in a way.  I saw the movie awhile back and have to say they did a great job with the movie as it went right along with the book. 

It's a story about a wealthy man, made his money (not a trust fund baby), started out poor, but wanted to live the life of the wealthy to woo Daisy back.  He did everything to try and fit in the crowd of the wealthy but never seemed to quite fit in.  You have the life of the east coast during the 20's, the parties, the drinking, the affairs.... it's a good book.