Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, May 24, 2019

Read The World - Nigeria - Half of a Yellow Sun

Book: Half of a Yellow Sun
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Pages: 543
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 67th book for the year

I did listen to this book.  Passed the time on the tram and while I did my groceries, and while I worked in the yard......  It is nice to get in another book off my very extensive list when otherwise I wouldn't be able to read.

This book takes place in southern Nigeria in the 1960s.  There are 5 main characters: Ugwu - a house boy who works for Odenigbo (a professor).  His life changes when Olana,  Odenigbo's mistress, moves in.  Ugwu is very loyal to his employers.  Olanna has a twin sister, Kainene who runs their father's company.  She falls in love with Richard, who is an Englishman that came to Nigeria to explore Igbo-Ukwu Art.

4 years pass, and trouble starts between the Hausa and Igbo people and hundreds of people die, including Ilanna and Kainene's aunt and uncle.  A new republic, called Biafra, is created by the Igbo.  Olanna, Odenigbo and their infant daughter (whom they only ever call "baby") are forced to flee and end up in a refugee town called Umuahia where they suffer from lack of food, and air raids.  Baby's hair starts to fall out and she develops the tale tell signs of starvation.  

In a flash back we find out that the baby was not Olanna's daughter, but the daughter of Odenigbo's mistress.  Odenigbo slept with a village girl named Alana and she got pregnant.  Olanna is furious, but in the end, forgives Odenigbo.  Alana doesn't want to keep the baby, so Olanna agrees to take her in.

As the war goes on, Olanna, Odenigbo, the baby, an Ugwu end up living with Richard and Kainene (who are running the refugee camp).  The situation becomes dire and Kainene decides to cross enemy lines to trade, but she doesn't return.  The book ends with us not knowif if Kainene is alive or dea.

This was a good book.  I liked all of the characters and I thought that their enterwining flowed really well.  You learn a lot about the history of the area and what it was like during the war.  It covers a wide variety of subjects: genocide, war, relationships, infidelity, identity, loyalty, struggle between classes, etc.  

Check this book out.  You won't be disappointed.  And there is a movie as well!

Stars: 4 1/2

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Read The World - Angola - The Book of Chameleons

Book: The Book of Chemeleons
Author: Jose Eduardo Agualusa
Pages: 180
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 66th book of the year

This short little novella is told from varying view points, and one of them a lizard who, in another life, was a human.  It is a murder mystery involving the chameleon, an albino, a woman, and a mysterious foreigner.  Interwoven in the story is memories, fantasies, and realities.  The chameleon is central to the story and witnesses all the characters and their interactions with each other.

This is a cute little book.  It was a quick read - and like most novellas, it isn't long enough for me to get invested in the characters.  But it is well written and easy to follow and I enjoyed it.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Today's Read The World - Iran - Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Book: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Pages: 160
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 65th read for the year.

Leaving the hospital with my daughter today, so we are very glad!  It has been a long 5 days, but I did get a lot of reading done.

In this graphic novel, the author tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages 6-14 where she saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime.  She lived through the Iran war.  The whole story is her view as a child of what happened in Iran.  She learns a lot about the revolution and how her own family was involved.  Through stories and first hand accounts, she walks us through the human cost of war.

This was pretty good.  It was very short, and because it is a graphic novel, I read it within about 2 hours.  It is the author's own take on her own struggles and what she learned from her own family.  It is thought provoking and head shaking, and unbelievable that this happens to people in some of these countries under dictator regime.

I suggest to give it a read.  It is a two part story (there is a second book) and I think I will read it as well.  This book is showing up on summer reading list all over the US, and I think that is a great idea.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Read The World - Trinidad and Tobago - A House for Mr. Biswas

Book: A House for Mr. Biswas
Author: V.S. Naipaul
Pages: 576
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 64th read of the year

My eldest daughter has been in the hospital for the last 4 days due to a dog bite that got severly infected, so I have had a lot of time to read.  What I DIDN'T have until today was my computer.  So now it is time to catch up on the books I have been reading.

This is the story of Mohun Biswas (for most of the time he is called Mr. Biswas) who spent all 46 years of his life feeling inadequate.  The story begins when he is a child and his father drowns.  Things just seem to go downhill from there.  He spends his whole life looking for a home where he can settle and stay.  He marries into the Tulsi family who treats him terribly for the rest of his life.  His life and his 4 children never really care for him.  He bounces around from house to house, never settling, never having enough money to break away from the Tulsi family, and in the end, his life is cut short.  He spent his whole life looking for autonomy and never finding it.

This book was.....strange.  It is supposed to be a dark comedy, and I guess it a point.  I did chuckle from time to time.  And don't get me wrong, the writing was good.  It was well written and the story was easy to follow.  But the story in general I just couldn't get in to.  I did not like any of the characters in the book.  They are all awful.  Even Mr. Biswas.  He was constantly an "Eeyore" in this whole book - woe is me at every turn.  This book never took an upswing, and that made it a big painful to tacklet.


Stars: 3

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Read The World - New Zealand - The Whale Rider

Book: The Whale Rider
Author: Witi Ihimaera
Pages: 160
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 63rd book of the year.

I am on FIRE!  Truth be told, I have read a few short ones in a row, and then finished up a book with my kids and a "off list" book I was reading, so it is really just timing.

This is a story about Kahu, a girl born into the Maori tribe.  She breaks the lineage of a first born boy, which upsets her great grandfather.  He now thinks that the tribe will die out unless he finds a male heir to take over when it is time.

The rejection does not bother Kahu, and she grows up a happy girl surrounded by a large family.  She is doted on especially by her great grandmother and her uncle Rawiri (who is the narrator of the story) who watch her grow into a strong, capable girl who proves her worth to her tribe.  She develops the ability to communicate with whales - and becomes like the ancient whale rider whom she was named after.

This is a mythical novella that finds a balance between tradition and the path forward, with strong female characters and a good message.  

I enjoyed this book.  I read it in the corse of one day and got swept up in the story about a little girl who just wanted the love of her great grandfather.  She pined after it, even when he wanted nothing to do with her because she was not a boy.  It is a well written little book with an engaging story about the Maori legend.  I have never actually seen the movie, but I think I will try it now.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Extra Book: The Last

Book: The Last
Author: Hanna Jameson
Pages: 352

This was my 62nd book of the year.

I have decided to read 25 pages of a book that is not on my Read The World challenge list every night before bed.  I read my challenge book during the day, but right before bed, I decided I wanted to read something on my extrensive TBR list.  In my eyes it is a win/win to work my way through this challenge, which I am really enjoying, but get to read books that seem to keep popping up that I also want to read.

There has been a nucelar attack.  John is at a conference in Switzerland when it happens.  He is stuck in a hotel in a small town in the middle of nowhere.  The internet and contact with the outside world quickly disappears, and people start to panic.  Soon, most of the people staying in the hotel leave - hoping to make it to the city and to airports.  But the news is that most of the major cities have been evaporated and there is nowhere to run to.

Jon and a handful of other people decide to stay behind at the hotel and wait it out.  They have food, and some power, but there has been no sun, no rain, and the people are getting worried.  One day, the water pressure disappears and Jon and some of the hotel personel go to see what is wrong with the water tanks and discover a body of a little girl.  Jon is sure this little girl didn't get into the tank on her own, and now there is new panic about a murderer being in the hotel.

Jon becomes obsessed with the murder and starts to search room by room for clues.  In the meantime, supplies are running low and teams are being sent out to try and find what they can.  After a few months isolated and no leads on the murder, the team decides it is time to go for help.  They won't survive the winter if they don't get more supplies.

Now it is time for a decision.  Do they just venture a small way away from the hotel and come back?  Do they all leave and head toward the city and not return?  No one knows what is out there, so is it a risk they are willing to take?

This was a pretty good book.  It is quite new - just came out in April.  It was on a list of dystopian novels to read this year, so I took a chance.  The ending wasn't great.  I know books are hard to end, and this one failed.  I kind of liked where it headed, but it left a lot of questions.  Things I don't want to mention here because it will give too much away.  But it was disjointed.  It is too bad because overall, the book held my attention and made me want to keep reading to see where it was going.

Hmmmmmm - to recommend?  Maybe.  I mean - I could be alone with this line of thinking.  I just think it could have been better.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Page To Screen Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday!  Brought to you by "The Artsy Reader".

This weeks is Page to Screen Freebie:  Books that became books/TV shows, movies that became books, great adaptations, bad ones, books you need to read before you see the movie/TV shows, movies you love based on books you hated or visa versa, books you want to read because you saw the movie or vica versa.

Wow.  This list could be much deeper than Ten, so I will narrow it down the best I can

Now I know you are ALL going to eye roll because this first book series makes my Top Ten List a lot.  But what can you do?  It fits a lot of categories.  So tough.

1) Game of Thrones
       So this is a book that became a TV show on HBO.  I will tell you that my husband is the one that got me hooked on this series, but it was through the TV show first - not the books.  When we first started watching it, I was immediately lost.  There are 1 zillion characters, a lot of killing and a lot of sex.  (you have been warned).  I actually got to the point where I stopped really watching it - doing other things while it was on.  Then I found out there were books.  I saw the first one and its near 1000 pages and.....decided I would try the show again first.

I started the show over.  Watched the first two seasons and then felt ready to tackle the first book.  And I was blown away.  The writing is superb.  The story flowed well for me BECAUSE I had watched the show.  I could picture a lot of what I was reading from what I saw.  However - the books far surpased the show, and they continued to do so.  And now.....George quit on me.  The show is wrapping up and it is flailing all over the place and as a big R.R. Martin fan, I am PISSED.  I want to know the REAL ending.  Hurry.up.George.

2) Harry Potter

        I know.  Girl - branch out.  But when something is true, its true.  With Harry Potter, I started the books first.  My husband and I decided to start the series by listening to the audiobooks on our cross country move from Baltimore, Maryland to San Diego, California.  A friend had recommended it to me as a good way to pass the time and she was right.  We loved listening to those books.  I THINK, if I remember correctly, there were only 3 books out at the time.  It was 2001. 

After that, my husband and I kept up the tradition of reading these books together.  I know - how cute are we.  Every time one would come out, we would take turns reading out loud to each other.  (are you throwing up yet?)  We did this for all seven books.

     Now, I know not everyone would agree with me, but I felt that the movies were about as good as the books.  Books are ALWAYS better, in my opinion, but this was a pretty close race.  I have now read the book series to all three of my children and seen the movies multiple times, and I never tire of either. 

    Personally, I would read the books first in this series and then watch the movies.

3) The Martian
       One of my favorite stand alone books of all time!  Andy Weir is a genius.  This book is smart, and funny, and clever, and I tell everyone I know they should read it.  Especially if you are a science fiction fan.  This one is amazing.  My husband is the one who got me to read this one.  I normally don't take a lot of his suggestions when it comes to books (not TV) because he reads some really weird, deep, science fiction stuff.  But this was a great one.

        And then the movie came out and I was thrilled.  The movie is amazing!!  Mat Damon is the perfect actor to play Mark Watney.  It is a great film, which I suggest seeing AFTER you read the book.  I have watched the movie many times.  Never gets old.

4) The Stand
           This is my favorite Stephen King novel.  I did see the TV show before I read the book because the movie and book came out so long ago.  I watched the show before I was a really big reader, and the size of this novel would have made me immediately put it back on the shelf at the time.  It is a mini series and I watched it on TV.  And then every once in awhile I would catch bits of it on TV during re runs and would watch it again.  And then I got it on DVD so I could watch it whenever I wanted.

        So - after watching the show many times, I decided to tackle the book.  And the book is fantastic.  The book filled in some of the gaps that the TV show could not possibly add, and that sealed it for me as my favorite.  I have read all of Stephen King's books, but I still come back to this one as my top recommendation every time.

5) The Kite Runner

         There is no doubt that the author of the Kite Runner is a genius.  His writing is superb, and his stories magnificent.  I have recently just picked up his latest short story picture book Hosseini wrote "The Sea Prayer".  I have read all of his books, but Kite Runner is my favorite. 

         I was excited to find out there was a movie about this book.  I did read the book first, and I will say the book is better.   However, the movie is worth seeing to kind of put pictures to the story.  I do read a lot of books that come out as shows and movies because it is nice to see a story come alive.  Or not.  You know.....if the movie is bad.

6) The Help

         I read the book first for the Help.  I was blown away about how good it was.  The story was fantastic, clever, and strong.  I actually read it twice.  And then gave it to my eldest daughter to read.  It is not one you should skip. 

         Imagine my excitement when they came out with the movie.  And it included some amazing actors.  I was thrilled.  And the movie was good.  REALLY good.  I would say I enjoyed the movie as much as I enjoyed the book.

7) A Man Called Ove

         I know there is two camps for this book.  Which, honestly, I find surprising, but everyone has their own taste.  Backman is an incredible writer.  I have read all of his books.  Has he had some misses?  Yes.  Beartown - eh.  But for the most part, I love his books.  A Man Called Ove remains my favorite, and it is one of my favorite books I have ever read.  I dream of having that kind of writing talent.

         As I was reading the book and devouring its amazingness, I looked to see if it was a movie and it was!!  Truth - it was in Swedish, but it has subtitles.  The gentleman they had play Ove - he was perfect.  Exactly how I pictured the character.

        The movie was excellent.  I really enjoyed it.  And from what I understand is that an updated version with Tom Hanks is possibly coming out?  That has been talk for about a year, and I am not sure it will amount to anything, but it would be great if it did!

8) The Green Mile

        Speaking of Tom Hanks in movies, The Green Mile was a favorite.  This is one where I watched the movie first.  I have watched it several times because it is an incredible film.  It is well told and thought provoking, and worth your time to watch it.

         So, a few years after I saw the movie I knew I needed to read the book.  I was getting more into reading and Stephen King novels were something I read every summer (I figure why not - long books, long summer?)  so one summer it was this one.  And the book was amazing.  I liked it about the same amount as I liked the movie.  It was definitely worth the read, so check it out.

9) Wayward Pines

       This is one where I watched the show first, but wished I would have started with the books.  There is a big twist near the start of the show that would have been amazing to find out about in a book!  I love twist.  Especially when I don't see them coming.   The book and the show pulled this twist off well.

       With this series, I did like the books better than I liked the show, but not by much.  I watched just the first season of the show before I read all the books, so I knew what was coming (sort of) with the show.

10) Schindler's List

        I read this book years ago.  It has always stuck with me.  I read the book first and then I saw the movie.  I found that movie just as moving as the book.  It really brought the story full circle for me.

        This story is incredible.  The book is incredible.  And sad.  And devestating.  And one that needs to be read by everyone.  And then watch the movie because it was also incredible.

That is the list!  I have read so.many.books that were made into movies.  I went through my good reads list and I could go on and on.  Hunger Games should have made the list because I do love those books and movies, but I feel like I needed to branch out a little further. 

So instead, below are more I could review and recommend to read and maybe then take in the movie and TV show. 

What would you put on the list?

Hunger Games
Big Fish
Big Little Lies
Into Thin Air
Life of Pie
The Leftovers
The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lovely Bones
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Marley and Me
Lemony Snicket
Me Before You
My Sister's Keeper
The Neverending Story
Orange is the New Black
Ready Player One
Sarah's Key
Me Before You
The Shining
Still Alice
Water for Elephants
Watership Down
If I Stay