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.

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.