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.

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.