Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Saturday, November 18, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #62 - Three Wishes

Today's review is for:  Three Wishes

It was under the category:  A Book You Borrowed from Someone

This is the story of a set of triplets named Cat, Lynn and Gemma.  The 33 year old women all live close to each other, but their lives could not be more different. Gemma - who has never been in a relationship longer than 6 months - thinks she might have found "the one".  Lynn - who has a young daughter and a step daughter - is trying to balance a full career and being a mom and a good wife.  And Cat - who desperately wants to have a baby - just found out her husband is sleeping with someone else and wants a divorce.  They are the product of divorced parents who have never quite gotten along.  Their mom was only 17 when she found out she was having triplets, and the marriage didn't last long after that.  The girls grew up splitting their time between two parents whom they never felt close to, and always relied on each other for comfort.  

This was a sweet book.  IT was an easy read, and fun.  Liane Moriarty is a great author and I have enjoyed many of her books over the last couple of years.  The characters were likeable and well developed.  It does have a recurring theme from her other books (divorce, cheating spouses, infertility), but that didn't make it less enjoyable.  

If you are looking for a Chick-Lit book, this is a good one.

Stars:  4

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #61 - 100 Years of Solitude

Whoops!  Missed blogging about another one.

This book review is for:  One Hundred Years of Solitude

It was under the category:  A Book Whose Story Spans Generations

I am pretty sure I read this one near the beginning of the summer.  This is the story of a fictional town called Macondo.  It is the history of a family named Buendia.  All the characters have names that are similar.  The founder of the town is Jose Arcadio Buendia.  It covers the lives of his children and his grandchildren.  Jose and his wife are first cousins, and they leave their village to search for a new home.  The town stays pretty secluded, but is often visited by gypsies.  Over time, Jose Buendia goes insane, starts speaking only Latin, and is tied to a chestnut tree for many years until he dies.  Generations of Buendias eventually leave the town into a near abandoned state.  There are only two people left in the town, and they enter into a relationship - not knowing that they are aunt and nephew.  The wife dies in child birth and the child is devoured by ants (what?!?!) leaving Aurelino - the nephew - as the last living Buendia relative.  Aurelino finds a manuscript that was left by the gypsies years before that tells of all the Buendia misfortunes.  While reading it, the town of Macondo is wiped off the face of the earth by a hurricane.

This book will make your head spin.  While I enjoyed the book, I had to keep referring to the family tree at the beginning to keep all the names straight.  There are a lot of Arcadios and Ursulas and Joses that you start to forget whom is married to whom.  The book is written in a magical realism style and will have you chuckling and shaking your head all at once.  It was WEIRD.  And silly.  And just fun.

I think I will recommend it.  It is an acquired taste - that is for sure.  You just never knew where the story was going!

Stars: 3

Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #60 - A Fighting Chance

Looks like I forgot to blog about this one a while ago!  I listened to this book while we were getting our house ready to rent, and I somehow missed it.  I listened to it back in July.

The book was called:  A Fighting Chance

And it was under the category: A Political Memoir

This was the story of Elizabeth Warren, who is the senator from my great state of Massachusetts.  This wasn't her newest book (she had one come out in April of this year), but it was the one I wanted to read.  Elizabeth Warren grew up in a small town in Oklahoma.  She wanted to become a school teacher.  But she got married young and got pregnant quickly, and that dream was out of reach.  The marriage ended in divorce, and Elizabeth was left with young children and a passion for the low and middle class.  She quickly started to see how people get into financial trouble, and started a fight for bankruptcy laws.  She fought big banks and big Washington for 10 years....and lost.  Finally - at age 62 - she ran for public office and won.  Now is fights in Washington for the people and against big banks who have become predators to working class Americans.

I MAY have a girl crush on Elizabeth Warren.  We lived in Massachusetts for 6 years, and she has been the Senator for most of our time there.  She is a powerhouse.  She is an amazing person who is passionate and not afraid to speak her mind.  She does not hide behind politics - she fights against them.  I watched her show up in the middle of the night at the Logan Airport in Boston when Donald Trump starting denying Muslims entrance back into our country even though they lived here.  She stands with you and for you.

Okay -soap box out.  The book was GREAT.  She covers her life from childhood to present (2015). She got remarried later in life to a wonderful man.  She talks just as passionately about her dogs as she does bankruptcy laws, so we get to see two sides of her.  She is deeply devoted to her family and to her job.

This was a good read.  I am hoping to read more about her in the years to come.

Stars: 5

Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #59 - Alexander Hamilton

Whew.  Moving to Switzerland is really getting in the way of my reading.  I am wondering if I will pull off a challenge next year.  Still debating even starting it.  I am not going to make my 75 books this year, which is a bit of a bummer.  Too much Europe exploring.

Today's review is for the monster book:  Alexander Hamilton

It is under the category:  A Nonfiction Book about History

Alexander Hamilton - is there much I need to say about this man that you don't already know?  Thanks to the musical "Hamilton" - a large part of the world is more familiar with him than ever.  But in case you aren't - here is a quick recap:  Orphaned boy whose mother was from Nevis and father who was Scottish.  He was brought to America by a cousin and eventually ended up with a merchant family.  He was known as an intellect from an early age.  He studied at Kings College (which is now Columbia) and became a lawyer.  He married Eliza Schulyer and they had 8 children.  He worked very closely with George Washington, and fought on the front lines of the battle with Britian.  He wrote the federalist papers.  He cheated on his wife.  His eldest son died in a duel.  And then Alexander died in a duel with Andrew Burr at the age of 49.

That about sums him up.  Just kidding.  That barely scratches the surface, so you should read the book.  All 900 pages of it.  The author very much idolizes Hamilton, and paints just about every other founding father as people who did everything wrong.  Hamilton was no saint.  He was brilliant - no doubt - but no saint.  He was hot tempered and a womanizer.  He spent long amounts of time away from his wife and children chasing battles and defending his Federalist papers.  You do wonder - had he lived - what else he might have accomplished.

It is going to be winter soon.  If you are like us and need to hunker down to get through the cold, wet, snow driven months, then this would be a good book to pass your time.

Stars: 4

Friday, October 20, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #58 - Christ in Concrete

Today's review is for a book called:  Christ in Concrete

It was under the category: A Book About an Immigrant/Refuge to the US

This book takes place in the 1920s.  Although it is written as a fictional story, it is based on events that happened to the author as a boy.  The main character is a 12 year old boy whose father dies in a horrific building collapse and is entombed in concrete on Good Friday.  The father has a brother, Luigi, who promises to help the family, but he goes to work and is injured to the point that he can no longer work.  The 12 year old boy, Paul, has to go to work as a bricklayer to support his mother and his siblings.  He has to leave school and work construction - not the life he had envisioned.  Because Paul is so young, he gets paid very little as a bricklayer.  He soon overworks himself trying to make enough money, and has to leave a job.

Soon he finds a better paying brick-layer job and then later beings working on skyscrapers.  He talks about working above "the toy world below".  A close friend of his, and mentor falls to his death while working at one of the job sites and Paul decides at this point he no longer believes in God.  With the death of his father and then of a close friend, he finds no reason for faith.  His mother is upset with his decision, and Paul tries to make it up to her.

This book is labeled a classic, and I tried to like it.  I liked the idea of it, and a lot of the story.  I had a hard time with the writing.  I keep coming back to these books - written in the late 1800s and early 1900s and think I can make it work, but I can't.  I struggled with this one, even though it wasn't even 250 pages.

My grandparents were Italian immigrants.  They came here and worked in the mines and in the mills of Pennsylvania.  There lives were hard, so it did ring true to me how hard immigrants who come to America have it.  Some make it - like my grandparents - and some don't.  All work was dangerous, low pay, and unforgiving.  So I was drawn to this story because of my own background.  However - that darn writing style.

Anyway - if you aren't a big baby like I am, and enjoy the writing style of the early 20th century - don't pass up this book.

Stars: 3

Monday, October 9, 2017

2017 Challenge- Book #57 - The 500 Years of Resistance

Today's review is for a little book called

The 500 Years of Resistance

This was under the category:  A Book About an Indigenous Culture

This book was about the Indigenous people's resistance to the Europeans coming to America.  It covers the time from Christopher Columbus to the year 2006.  It is a graphic novel depicting the Native Americans fighting back against the white settlers who took their land.

Not much to say about this short 80 page graphic novel.  The author - who is Native American - glosses over 500 years of Indigenous people history.  He moved so fast from one event to the other, it was hard to make sense of the book.  I think if he would have broken it up into several graphic novels, it would have held more weight for me.  I didn't get much out of it, or learn much about the history he was trying to depict, because there just wasn't enough detail.

Stars:  2

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #56 - One Plus One

Today's review is for

One Plus One

This was under the category:  First book you see in the bookstore

This is the story of a family in crisis.  The main character, Jess's husband left her, her step-son has been abandoned by both his father and his mother and left in Jess' care and he is constantly getting beat up by the neighborhood bullies because of the way he dresses; her 10 year old daughter is a math prodigy who doesn't fit in anywhere.  Jess cleans houses and works at a bar just to get by, and she is barely doing that. 

Then a chance for her daughter to go to a prestigious school comes along, and Jess wants to make it possible for her daughter to attend.  Her daughter gets a chance to go to a math Olympiad where she can win $5000 which would pay for her daughter's tuition.  Only problem is - the Olympiad is in Scotland and they don't have anyway to get there.  Along comes Ed who owes Jess a favor.  Ed, a wealthy businessman needs to escape his own problems, so he agrees to drive Jess, her two kids, and their dog to the Olympiad.  What happens on the trip changes all of their lives.

This was a great book.  I love Jojo Moyes - she is a great writer.  The story was well written and very sweet.  She developed the characters well.  It is a thick book, but the story was so good, that it only took me a few days to read it.

Grab this book.  Even though it has a lot of pages, it is an easy and enjoyable read.

Stars: 5