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, 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 na├»ve 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.