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, February 28, 2016

#292 Cat & Mouse by James Patterson


I read this as part of our project to read Karen's list. I think she added everything Patterson ever wrote to her to-read list, and I (bonehead) offered to read all the Patterson books on her list.
These books have some good points - Alex Cross is a likable character (as are most of the other recurring characters), and there are some good surprise moments in the books. But there are plot points that don't add up, and dialog that doesn't make sense, and just basic things like a police detective and a school principal being able to afford hotel rooms at the Astoria in New York and fancy dinners. Sure, it was a beautiful, romantic scene that works really well for the book, but is it actually feasible in real life? Cross says he hasn't felt towards a woman the way he feels towards Christine since his wife died; as another reviewer points out, he said something similar in regards to the women he was with in the other books in this series. And finally, he's a high profile detective, a profiler of serial killers, and (apparently) his home address is easy to find out. Gary Soneji actually broke into his house and almost killed his children and his grandmother in a previous book. But does he move? Does he invest in a security system or, I don't know, some better locks on the doors? Obviously not, since someone BREAKS INTO HIS HOUSE, AGAIN, AND ALMOST KILLS HIS ENTIRE FAMILY, AGAIN!

There are two storylines going on in the book, two murderers - Gary Soneji and "Mr. Smith". The Soneji storyline is actually wrapped up about two thirds of the way through, and the Mr. Smith storyline gives us the big climactic scenes at the end of the book. It makes things a bit confusing, jumping back and forth between the two plots, especially with Patterson's style of switching from first- to third-person storytelling, and of switching from one narrator to another. The reader can figure out who is speaking, but it does slow down the flow of the story. Some reviews have complained about Patterson's short, 2-3 page chapters, but I actually like them. It gives you an easy stopping place if you're only able to read for short periods of time.

One last thing - I'm still not sure how I feel about the sort of sexual banter between Cross and Sampson. It's intended as good-natured ribbing, sure, and I realize Cross and Sampson have been friends since childhood, but I can't tell if it's supposed to be the sort of anti-gay joking-that's-really-a-warning that straight men often do. I really hope I'm misreading this, because it seems like in all other ways, the friendship between these two men is a really cool thing.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

#381 Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


This is my second time reading this book.  Well, this time I listened to it instead of reading it and I liked it slightly better than the first time.  I think I liked it more because her voice is quite soothing so as I walked to pick the kids up and listened to her tell her tales I felt relaxed.  However, her story, I just could not relate to.  I mean, I love to travel and experience other cultures, but her views and self-deprecating ways felt so arrogant to me she just rubbed me wrong. 

Elizabeth travels to Italy and eats her way in pasta and gelato to heal from a painful divorce and break-up (from a boyfriend after the recent divorce) and then she travels to India and meets a Texas guy and the two of them practice yoga together and heal together through humor and meditation.  She ends her story with traveling to Indonesia and she falls in love with an older man.  The book comes full circle.

I really don't think Karen would have enjoyed this book.  I don't think she would have finished it as she would have been bored with it (and she hated not finishing a book). 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

#99 Gone Girl Gillian Flynn


Wow. There really are no heroes in this book. Amy, the "gone girl" of the title, comes across as this sweet New York girl who gave up her fun New York life to move with her husband to Missouri and help take care of his dying mother. But underneath, she's not sweet at all. It's difficult to say more without giving away the plot, but suffice to say that when Nick's father calls her the b-word, he's not far off the mark.
Nick's no catch either. He's angry about losing his cushy New York job, he's depressed about his mother and his new business and worried about money, so he does a stupid thing and has an affair.
When Amy disappears, we don't know if she ran away, or if someone killed her. (Nick? His sister? His new girlfriend? A stalker from Amy's past?) The book's chapters alternate between Nick's and Amy's points of view, with Amy's lagging a bit behind, and then the author hits us with a bombshell. And, a few chapters later, another. The hits, as they say, just keep on coming. It's then that we find out just how horribly crazy Amy is, because it turns out that she knows about his affair, and she wants him to PAY. Ladies and gentlemen, if your spouse starts reading true crime books, or watching a lot of CSI, be afraid. Be very afraid.
I can see why a lot of my friends didn't like this one. There's a lot of crazy, a lot of trashy stuff going on. And people being just downright awful to each other. There's a lot of sex, most of it between people who truly hate each other. And like I said, there are no nice people in this story. When the book ends, you feel like you need to take a shower. (And the book doesn't end well, by the way. )
So why the three stars? Because, for all the faults in the people in the story, the book is well-written. The fact that the reader feels such strong hatred for the characters is a testament to Flynn's writing skills. And the bombshells and plot twists and wheels-within-wheels are well-crafted. If I had liked the ending more, I probably would have given this four stars.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#184 Baby Proof Emily Griffin


This is the second book by this author, of Karen's books, that I've read.  The first one I didn't know what to think....however, I liked this one better.  It felt like I just binged watched a dramedy on Netflix.  It has that feel to it.

It's about a girl that marries a boy and they both decided beforehand they would not have children, however, the boy changed his mind and wants children.  Pride ensues, things happen and drama unfolds and many subplots are going on which keeps the reader reading.  I enjoyed it.  Nothing great, but a fun read.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

#423 Leadership and Self-Deception by Arbinger Institute


Out of all the books I've read from Karen's list, this one I am most curious in knowing how it ever ended up on her list.  Who recommended it to her?  Where did she hear of it?  Why was this one on her list?

This book is told in a story, so easy to read, however a bit confusing too.  A lot to take in.  It talks about the concept of being a good leader by "getting out of the box" and not allowing oneself to "self-betray" and/or blame others, but seeing people as people and not objects. When we see others as people we will treat them differently/better.  Like when driving and we are annoyed by other drivers, are we seeing them as objects or real-life people.  If we are seeing them as people chances are we would be more patient with the other drivers.  And so on.  It is a good read, a lot to take in and think about.