Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Another Book - The House of the Seven Gables

I am going to keep reading, so there for - keep posting!  Still several weeks left in 2015 before the new challenge can begin, so I am cleaning off my shelves with a few books I had wanted to read this year.

Today I am reviewing the House of the Seven Gables.



This is a story that takes place in Salem, Massachusetts at the famous House of Seven Gables.  The story is fictional, but the house is not.   The story takes place in the 1800s, 200 years after a tragic death of is original owner.  The story is about the (fictional) Pyncheon family.  The story is that the house was built on land that was swindled away from its rightful owner, Matthew Maude, by the local Colonel Jaffrey Pyncheon.  After he took the land from Maude, he had Maude executed for witchcraft.  (which is what Salem is known for).  However - before Maude was executed, he placed a curse on the entire Pyncheon family.  The Colonel wasn't phased by the curse and he built the house on the land.  The Colonel even hired Maude's son - who was a carpenter - to build the house.  At the grand opening, Colonel Pyncheon is found dead at his desk from an unknown cause.

Fastforward 200 years, and we meet Hepzibah, one of the last remaining heirs to the Pyncheon's fortune (which isn't much of a fortune at all at this point).  The Maude's curse continues to bring bad luck to the family with an alleged murder of Jaffrey Pyncheon IIs by his nephew, Clifford.  Clifford appears in the story after spending 30 years in prison for this accusation.  (which was a murder he did not commit)  He is the last of the Pyncheons that has first hand knowledge of the family's secrets.  He returns to the House of the Seven Gables to be cared for by his sister, Hepzibah.

Clifford supposedly knows of a deed that was hidden by the original Colonel Pyncheon for miles and miles of land in Maine.  An uncle appears - Judge Pyncheon - wanting to question Clifford on the deed and where it is hidden, so that he can take the land for himself.  The deed is never found, and the uncle is found dead in the same place Colonel Pyncheon was those many years ago.

In the end there is a wedding that seems to rid the house of evil spirits.  But in the end, the Pyncheons move away from the home to find peace.

This book was written in 1850, so if you have a hard time with language at that time, this book is not for you.  I found it difficult to read, but as long as I concentrated (and didn't try watching TV at the same time), I could get through it.  I tried to limit it to 20 pages a day so that I could take my time with it and truly understand its meaning.  The copy that I have has a notes section in the back, and that was very helpful.  It also has an after thoughts section to discuss the book on the whole, which I also liked.  Reading this book reminded me a lot of The Master and Margarita - without the added bonus to help you understand it, it would have been tougher for me to get through.

The reason I chose to read this book was because in October my family and I went to Salem, MA (which is only 45 minutes from where we live) to enjoy their Halloween festivities.  We toured the House of Seven Gables and it was fascinating.  Its true story can be found here:  http://www.7gables.org/ if you wish to find out more.  It is a great place, and I encourage you to put it on your list of "must dos".    We really enjoyed the grounds, and the house is huge.

If you are into romanticism writing, and writings from the 1800s, then I encourage you to try this book.  I understand it is not "A Scarlet Letter" (Hawthornes most famous book), but it was a good read.  I enjoyed it because I have visited the house, and loved to see what Hawthorne came up with.

Stars: 3 1/2


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Extra Book Reconstructing Amelia

Now that the 50 book challenge for 2015 is officially over, I have a chance to read a few things that I had laying around that didn't fit in any categories.

I just finished reading Reconstructing Amelia



This was a story of a girl who seemed to have committed suicide by jumping from her school's roof.  She was a good student, and a good girl, so her mom does not believe that she killed herself.  She demands that the police re-open the case, and she starts to discover a lot of things about her daughter that she never knew while she was alive.

In the end, the case is solved.  Things come to light about Amelia's friends, things she was involved in, and what really happened to her.

I did enjoy this book.  It was about 380 pages but it was a fast read.  It was a true page turners.  There were a lot of surprises throughout the book and it didn't drag.

I recommend this book.  Did it make me want to never buy my 12 year old a phone, and it opened my eyes to what a teenager having a phone could do.

Stars:  4 1/2

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2016 Challenge

I have started to put together the book I am going to read for 2016.  Last year, I ended up changing a few books in the categories in the end due to finding something that fit a little better, or something I really wanted to read that fit a category.....

But I like to start with an idea.  I am a Type AAA person, and I need to have a plan.  I am flexible in changing plans, but I have to have a plan.

If you click on the name of the book - it will lead you to the Amazon link for the book (if you are interested in reading what the book is about).  I am also open for suggestions, so if you have read any of the books and you hated them - leave me a comment).

The rules of the challenge are simple.  You pick the books, BUT - they have to be a book you have not read before and you have not seen the movie (if it exists).

A Book About an Alien InvasionIn The After by Demitria Lunetta 
A Book About MusicJuliet Naked, By Nick Hornby
A Book Based Around a Medical ConditionAn Absent Mind by Eric Rill
A Book Based on a Fairytale, Myth, or FolkloreElla Enchanted by Gail Levine
A Book Based on True EventsA Stolen Life - Joyce Dugard
A Book By an Author Your AgeThe Bluest Eye - by Toni Morrison
A Book Involving an AddictionCrank - by Ella Hopkins
A Book Involving PoliticsThe Righteous Mind - Jonathan Haidt 
A Book Involving WarSlaughterhouse Five - by Kurt Vonnegut
A Book on the Moden Library's 100 best novels listThe Great Gatsby - by F. Fitzgerald
A Book picked from you by Someone Else         WAITING TO ASK FOR THIS ONE!
A Book Published the Year You GraduatedTomorrow When The War Began - by Marsden 
A Book Set Somewhere You LoveSomewhere in Time - Matheson
A Book that takes place in a College/Univsersity SettingFangirl - by Rainbow Rowell
A Book that has Been Adapted Into a MusicalTuck Everlasting - by Natalie Babbit
A Book With a Magical CreatureThe Neverending Story - by Michael Ende
A Book With A Persons Name in the TitleJennifer Government - by Max Barry
A Book With a Simile In the TitlePeace Like a River - Leif Enger
A Book With An Alliteration In The TitleStranger in a Strange Land - by Robert Heinlein
A Book With Time TravelThe Time Machine - H.G. Wells
A Classic Children's BookThe Secret Garden - by Frances Burnett
A Controversial BookBrave New World - by Huxley
A Play By ShakespeareA Midsummer's Nights Dream
A Satirical BookLet's Pretend This Never Happened - Lawson
A Book About An AnimalWatership Down - by Richard Adams
A Book By a Nobel Prize Winning AuthorThe Plague - by Camus 
A Book By An Author that Writes Under More Than One NameI Am Legend - by Matheson
A Book Considered a Modern ClassicThe Alchemist - by Paulo Coelho
A Book Involving ReligionThe Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
A Book Made into an Animated FilmHow To Train Your Dragon - Cowell
A Book Published in the Year 2016                        HAVE TO WAIT!!
A Book Recommended by a Teacher or LibrarianEveryday - Levithan
A Book Set over 100 years agoBurial Rites by Hannah Kent
A Book That Came Out the Year you got MarriedInto Thin Air - Mt. Everest Disaster - by Krakauer
A Book That takes place on a Continent that isn't Europe/AmericaFollow the Rabbit Proof Fence - Pilkington
A Book Less than 300 pages LongLooking for Alaska - John Green
A Book More Than 500 pages LongThe Goldfinch - Donna Tarlt
A Book with a Metaphor in the TitleFish In A Tree - Hunt
A Book with a Word Play in the TitleOne for the Money - Stephanie Plum
A Book with a Point of View of More Than One CharacterA Little Something Different - by Sandy Hall
A Book with Two or More AuthorsWill Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green
A Book with Weather in the TitleA Thousand Splendid Suns - Hosseini
A Contemporary NovelThe World According to Garp - Irving
A Self Published BookThe Shack - Young
An Epistolary BookLife On The Refridgerator Door by Kuipers
An Award Winning Non-Fiction BookLaughing at my Nightmare - Burcaw
A Famous BookAnd Then There Were None - Christie
A Book You Have Been Putting Off ReadingAfter You - Jojo Moyes
A Book Written By a Man with a Female Lead CharacterBrazzaville Beach - William Boyd
A Book Written By An Author With Your NationalityCalabrian Tales - Peter Chiarella

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Review #50 (2015 Challenge), A Christmas Carol

Do you see that?  #50!  I made it to the end of my challenge with over a month to spare!  I am so proud of myself.

I am not done reading for the year of course (I have already started my next book).  I will continue to blog about the book I read until the end of the year and then the 2016

Today I am reviewing A Christmas Carol



It falls under the category:  A book that takes place at Christmas time.

I saved my Christmas book for last on purpose.  Wanted to read it as close to the holiday season as I could.  I am sure I don't need to tell a single sole what this book is about.  Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably seen at least one Christmas Carol movie over the years.

Normally I would not read a book where I have seen the movie.  But I have never read A Christmas Carol.  I really don't know how I have not read the book, but I wanted to at least see how closely the movies resembled the book.

They did a really good job.  There was not a lot in the book that was left out.  A few minor details that really did not affect the story in any way.  The book is written in the style of the time, but even then, it was not a complicated read.

I recommend reading it, even if you have seen the 100 versions played on TV.  A classic is a classic.

Rating:  4 1/2 stars

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A book not on the challenge - The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime

I am going to veer from the challenge in this post because I read a book in October that wasn't part of my 50 book challenge.  I read it because my husband and I were taking a trip to New York City at the beginning of November to see this book performed as a stage play.

The book was called:  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time



Here is what Amazon says about this book:

Christopher Boone, the autistic 15-year-old narrator of this revelatory novel, relaxes by groaning and doing math problems in his head, eats red-but not yellow or brown-foods and screams when he is touched. Strange as he may seem, other people are far more of a conundrum to him, for he lacks the intuitive "theory of mind" by which most of us sense what's going on in other people's heads. When his neighbor's poodle is killed and Christopher is falsely accused of the crime, he decides that he will take a page from Sherlock Holmes (one of his favorite characters) and track down the killer. As the mystery leads him to the secrets of his parents' broken marriage and then into an odyssey to find his place in the world, he must fall back on deductive logic to navigate the emotional complexities of a social world that remains a closed book to him.

I loved this book.  It was smartly written, and really gave you an idea of what it would be like inside the mind of a person who is autistic.  At one point Christopher says "this book will not be funny.  I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them".  I have cared for several higher functioning kids over my nursing career, and this has been true for all of them that I know.  These kids didn't get jokes.  And they didn't understand sayings like "that is water under the bridge".  Those kids had me thinking on how to communicate to them so they would understand and be comfortable.

The autism world is complex.  There is side a spectrum that I would never begin to believe that you could lump all autistic people into a certain set of characteristics.  But this book did a great job in showing what it was like for Christopher - a person with autism.  And the play was fantastic.

Stars: 5


Friday, November 13, 2015

Book Reveiw #49 (2015 Challenge), Catch 22

Do you see that?  #49!!!  I have one more book to read and I will have completed my challenge this year.  Whoo hoo.

Book #49 was Catch 22



It was under the category:  A book that got bad reviews

Now for those of you who know this book, you are thinking, "uh Jennifer?  That book didn't get bad reviews".  Believe it or not - it did.  When it first came out 50 odd years ago.  It was not well reviewed first go around.  So - I used it in this category.

This book takes place in Italy during World War II.  The main character is a bombardier named Yossarian.  His biggest issue is with his own army that keeps increasing the number of missions they have to fly before they can go home.  (It started at 30 something and at the end of the book it was 80 missions).  If Yossarian attempts to excuse himself from these missions, he will be in violation of a Catch-22.  This rule is:  A man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.  The book deals with several complex issues in a funny way such as loss of faith, death and tyranny.

I really thought I was going to hate this book.  Mat had read it and felt that I would not find the humor in it.

But I ended up enjoying it.  It had humor that reminded me of the movie "Airplane".  The dialogue went round and round and no where forward many times in this book, but that was the beauty of it.  It was classic satire.  I found myself smiling, if not giggling, several times during the book.  (especially at the character Major Major Major Major).  The absurdity of this novel has quite an appeal, and I am glad I had a chance to read it.

It is silly.  It is old fashioned.  It is a war novel.  But you simply must try it.

Stars:  4 1/2

Friday, November 6, 2015

Book Review #48 (2015 Challenge), High Rise

The book I am going to review today is High Rise  (read in November, 2015)



This book was in the category:  A Book that came out the year you were born (1975 for me)

Here is what Amazon said about this book:

When a class war erupts inside a luxurious apartment block, modern elevators become violent battlegrounds and cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on “enemy” floors. In this visionary tale, human society slips into violent reverse as once-peaceful residents, driven by primal urges, re-create a world ruled by the laws of the jungle.

This book was......strange.  REALLY strange.  The writing was good, but the story was just weird.  The characters morals and personalities decline so quickly that is becomes ridiculous.  I assume this has a bigger meaning - class system, etc., but I just didn't get it.  It was so unlikely.  Why are they trapped? Why don't they leave?  The go to their jobs every day - but yet no one will move out or leave the building when things get bad.  Are there no other stores outside of the high rise for them to get food?  It just is so.....silly.  And it ends so abruptly it is like the author just ran out of ideas.

It wasn't for me.  I would not recommend it.  There weren't that many reviews for it on Amazon, but it was one of the few books that looked half decent that were written in 1975, so I gave it a try.

Eh.

Stars: 1 1/2

Book Review #47 (2015 Challenge) Songs of the Humpback Whale

Today I am going to review:  Songs of the Humpback Whale (read in November, 2015)



This is under the category:  A book by an author you love but haven't read yet.

Here is what Amazon has to say:

"Jodi Picoult's powerful novel portrays an emotionally charged marriage that changes course in one explosive moment....For years, Jane Jones has lived in the shadow of her husband, renowned San Diego oceanographer Oliver Jones. But during an escalating argument, Jane turns on him with an alarming volatility. In anger and fear, Jane leaves with their teenage daughter, Rebecca, for a cross-country odyssey charted by letters from her brother Joley, guiding them to his Massachusetts apple farm, where surprising self-discoveries await. Now Oliver, an expert at tracking humpback whales across vast oceans, will search for his wife across a continent -- and find a new way to see the world, his family, and himself: through her eyes."

Ah Jodi.  I am giving her a break because this was her first book.  It was written in 1992.  At least I can only hope because it was all over the place.  Characters developed too quickly, the ideas in the book seemed completely unrealistic.   She told the story in a style she still uses today - many voices - and normally I love that about her.  But this one - nope.  I rolled my eyes about 500 times during the reading of the book.  The ending was blah.  I won't hold it against her, though.  She has written some amazing books.  This just wasn't one of them.

Stars: 1 1/2

Book Review #46 (2015 Challenge), The Golden Compass

Today I am going to review The Golden Compass (read in October, 2015)



This was under the category "A Banned Book"  (really)

This is a story of a young orphan named Lyra who lives with her uncle.  In this world, people's souls are on the outside of their bodies and take the shape of an animal.  They are called Daemons.   Children's Daemons change until they get old enough and then the animal takes one permanent shape (usually to reflect their personality).  Lyra meets a woman, Mrs. Culture, who takes her to the North on an adventure.  Lyra goes because she wants to find her friend who was stolen by a group called the Gobblers.  Along the way she meets Gyptians, Bears, and learns about mysterious Dust.  She finds out what the Gobblers have been doing and how she is going to save her friend.

The book is great.  It is a Young Adult novel, but I think it is a bit complicated to be in this section.  I could see high schoolers getting the ideas behind the book, but below that might have a hard time.  I could be wrong.  It is definitely not a fluffy novel.  It has its fair share of surprises along the way, and there was a cliff hanger at the end of the novel.  I watched the movie when I was done watching it, and Arlington and I have decided that we are going to read the second book to see where it goes from here.

I recommend it.  It has a few parts that were a little dry, but overall, a very good read.

Stars: 4

Book Review #45 (2015 Challenge), Wait Till Helen Comes

Review for: Wait Til Helen Comes (read in October 2015)


This was under the category:  A Book from your childhood.  (It was written in the 80's)

Here is what Amazon had to say about this book:

Twelve-year-old Molly and her ten-year-old brother, Michael, have never liked their seven-year-old stepsister, Heather. Ever since their parents got married, she's made Molly and Michael's life miserable. Now their parents have moved them all to the country to live in a house that used to be a church, with a cemetery in the backyard. If that's not bad enough, Heather starts talking to a ghost named Helen and warning Molly and Michael that Helen is coming for them. Molly feels certain Heather is in some kind of danger, but every time she tries to help, Heather twists things around to get her into trouble. It seems as if things can't get any worse.

This book was cute.  It is a kid's book, so there's that.  And it was written in the 80's, so it was funny to read the main character say "got out my walkman and listened to some music before bed".  (she also used cassette player - which Arlington had no idea what that was).  It kept my attention, even though it was for the 8-10 year old range, and it was a quick read (less than 200 pages).

I recommend this book for the younger group.  Sure it was written awhile ago, but besides the mention of the walkman, they would not know that.  

Stars: 3 1/2

Book Review #44 (2015 Challenge), Before I Fall

The book I am reviewing is: Before I Fall (read in October


The book was in the category:  A Book that takes place in High School

Here is what Amazon Has to say about this book:

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.
However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

It was a half decent book.  I liked the story and it was well written.  It ended how it was supposed to, yet I hoped it would end differently.  True, it is a mimic of the 100 Goundhog's Day stories that are out there.  I could see this book being good for my daughter, though, who is going to be 13 soon.  I see these high school clicks developing all the time - the girls who make fun of anyone they deem below them.  How wondering if they were given a second chance would they change how they treat the people around them.  

Stars:  3 1/2

Book Review #43 (2015 Challenge), The Moon Dwellers

This review is for: The Moon Dwellers (read in October 2015)


This was under the category: A Trilogy

This is the first book in this series (which, in reality - there are actually 4 books which I did not know until recently).  I am thinking about reading the rest, but we will see.

Here is Amazon's take on the book:

"In a desperate attempt to escape destruction decades earlier, humankind was forced underground, into the depths of the earth, creating a new society called the Tri-Realms. After her parents and sister are abducted by the Enforcers, seventeen-year-old Adele, a member of the middle-class moon dwellers, is unjustly sentenced to life in prison for her parents' crimes of treason. Against all odds, Adele must escape from the Pen and find her family, while being hunted by a deranged, killing machine named Rivet, who works for the President. She is helped by two other inmates, Tawni and Cole, each of whom have dark secrets that are better left undiscovered. Other than her friends, the only thing she has going for her is a wicked roundhouse kick and two fists that have been well-trained for combat by her father. At the other end of the social spectrum is Tristan, the son of the President and a sun dweller. His mother is gone. He hates his father. Backed by only his servant and best friend, Roc, he leaves his lavish lifestyle in the Sun Realm, seeking to make something good out of his troubled life. When a war breaks out within the Tri-Realms, Tristan is thrust into the middle of a conflict that seems to mysteriously follow Adele as she seeks to find her family and uncover her parents true past. In their world, someone must die."

As for me?  The book was okay.  The writing is pretty cheesy.  Proving again that just about anyone could write a book if they just take the time to sit down and do it.  The story is a neat idea, which is what attracted me to the book in the first place.  I could see this future actually happening.  The surface of the earth is destroyed and those who survive learn to live beneath the surface.  True, there are quite a few holes in the book (like where does water come from?  How do they keep the walls from collapsing in?)  It was hard to picture it in general - the miles and miles of underground.  All lit by artificial light.  The cheesiest part, of course, was the two main character's "love story".  They are drawn to each other by physical pain.  This was never explained why in the book, and from reading the next book's set up - doesn't look like it will be there either.  

I say judge for yourself.  It is entertaining enough - good beach read or when there isn't much else on your shelf.  I read it for free on my Kindle through Amazon Prime, so no money spent.

Star Rating: 2 1/2

Book Review #42 (2015 Challenge), Still Alice

This review is for: Still Alice (read in October 2015)


This was under the category: A Book Based entirely on its cover.  (okay this was a bit of a stretch, but I wanted to read this book, so sue me)

Here is what Amazon had to say about the book:
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever.

This book was amazing.  It was an easy read, and I couldn't put it down.  I finished it in just a few days because I was really enjoying it.  It is told from Alice's point of view, so you get to experience what she is going through as she loses more and more of her ability to know what is going on around her.

After I read the book, I watched the movie which I also enjoyed.  It followed the story pretty well (they changed some minor details).

I encourage you to read this book.

Stars: 4 1/2

Book Review #41 (2015 Challenge), Choke

The book I am reviewing is: Choke (read in October 2015)



This book was under the category: A Book with one word in the title

Here is what Amazon has to say about this book

Victor Mancini, a medical-school dropout, is an antihero for our deranged times. Needing to pay elder care for his mother, Victor has devised an ingenious scam: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be “saved” by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor’s life, go on to send checks to support him. When he’s not pulling this stunt, Victor cruises sexual addiction recovery workshops for action, visits his addled mom, and spends his days working at a colonial theme park

My thoughts?  This book was BIZARRE.  Strange, perverted, dark - are other words that come to mind when describing this book.  This is a very sexually explicit novel, so if you are offended easily - stay away.  The title is deceiving.  Very little of this book is about him "fake choking" on food to make money.  He is a very disturbed person with many issues who just HAPPENS to choke on food to make money.

This is the author who wrote Fight Club.  And this book was not Fight Club.

Stars: 2

Book Review #40 (2015 Challenge), Who's Afriad Of Virginia Woolf

Today I am going to review:  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (read in October 2015)


It was under the category:  A Play

This is a play that is set in 3 acts, in one room of the main couple's house.  The play tears apart both marriages. The older couple seems to hate each other, and the younger couple seems to be perfect.  But in the end, things change for both couples.

This was a very, very strange book.  Plays are not particularly easy to read and this one was no exception.  I really don't think there was much of a plot, and it didn't have much direction.  It did have some funny parts, but mostly it was wild and all over the place.  



Star rating:  2 1/2

Book Review #39 (2015 Challenge), Unearthly

This review is for: Unearthly (read in October 2015)


It was in the category: A Book with a Love Triangle

This is the story of a girl named Clara who is an "angel-blood"  (part human, part angel).  As some part in a young angel-blood's life, they get a purpose.  They get this purpose in the form of a vision.  Hers is to save a young man named Christian.  Her mom moves she and her brother to Wyoming where Christian lives.  She has no idea when her purpose will come about, so she has to get close to Christian and try and figure out how she is supposed to save him.  In the meantime, she falls in love with another boy named Tucker.  She likes Christian, but loves Tucker.  In the end, she has to save one.

I thought this was a pretty good YA novel.  It was an easy read, and considering what I have been reading lately, it was refreshing.  I finished its 400 pages in 3 days because the story kept my interest.  This is a trilogy, so I plan on finishing it (once my 50 book challenge is over)



Stars: 4

Book Review #38 (2015 Challenge), Sarah's Key

This book review is for: Sarah's Key (read in October 2015)



This book was under the category "Book Your Mom Loves"

This story is about the holocaust, and a little Jewish girl and her family.  The story takes place in Paris.  Her family is taken away by the French Police and taking to the concentration camps.  The other characters in the story are from the present time who are living in Paris.  The woman character is a writer for a local American newspaper and she is assigned a story of the 60th anniversary of the Jewish roundup at the Vel d'Hiv and she discovers the story of this young girl and her family.  And then their stories intertwine.

The "Key" part comes in because when the family is rounded up, Sarah locks her little brother into a hidden cupboard in the house to keep him safe.  She is sure they won't be gone long and she can come and let him out.  The truth is, that no one - except Sarah and one of her friends - ever returned from that concentration camp.

I really liked this book.  I have read several Holocaust books this year, and I had no idea about this round up in Paris.  Since we were recently there, I recognized several of the places they talked about in the book.  I wish I would have known before we visited so that we could pay our respects to those lives lost (I think it was over 14,000) from that small section of Paris.

I encourage you to read it.  It was the first story I have read this year that was told from a child's perspective (the main character is 10) of what was happening to her and her family.

Stars:  4

Book Review #37 (2015 Challenge), Pride and Prejudice

This review is for: Pride And Prejudice (read in September 2015)


This book was under the category: A Classic Romance

From Amazon:  "Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet's five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr Darcy, have moved into their neighbourhood. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth. "

I am probably one of that last people alive that has not read this book.  I am not a big fan of old literature (I know - for shame!).  To me it is boring, and I don't particularly like the style of writing, so I generally avoid them.  This one was.....okay.  I know, I know.  It is great literature and I should have loved it.  It was silly.  It is a comedy, yes, but so SILLY.   I am going to watch the movie, in hopes that it ties everything together.  I found myself skimming several parts where it just droned on and on with fluffy wording.

I don't know.  Don't count it out.  There were parts that I really enjoyed and read deeply.  It ended well, which helped a lot.

Stars: 3

Update:  Watched the movie.  The miniseries, really.  That changed my mind greatly.  It put the book into better perspective.  Is it still silly?  Of course.  But the movie was good and better helped me understand the book.

Book Review #36 (2015 Challenge), Dubliners

The book I am reviewing is: The Dubliners (read in September 2015)


This was in the category: A Book More Than 100 years old

This was really a book of short stories.  It is an oral history of some of the people in Dublin Ireland.

There isn't really much to say about this book.  Except I didn't like it at all.  It was hard to read, and all of the stories ended without being "wrapped up" which I found annoying.  The stories were not interesting at all.  I am sure it is all me - I just don't think that James Joyce is for me.  I cannot recommend it, because I truly did not like it at all.  But someone who loves James Joyce might want to give it a try.  It isn't a very big book, so it wouldn't take long to tackle.

Stars: 1 1/2

Book Review #35 (2015 Challenge), Not What We Were Expecting

The next review is for: Not What We Were Expecting (read in September 2015)



This was in the category:  "A Book Based on a True Story"

This was a story of a husband and wife who tried for over a decade to have a family.  Several attempts at in-vitro, child loss, and then finally adoption.  The story is full of one heart break after another as these two people try to have a child of their own.

I liked it okay.  I did feel for this couple.  They tried everything and they buried several children due to being born too early.  You could feel how much they longed for a baby.  The problems I had with it were mostly the writing (again I know this is a story being told by a non-writer, but she should have had some help) and some of the decisions they made.  But that is just my personal issues.  You will feel for these people if you read this book.

So - give it a try.  I really like true story books.

Rating:  3 Stars

Book Review #34 (2015 Challenge), The Bell Jar

The next book I am revewing: The Bell Jar (read in September 2015)


This book was under the category:  "A Book Written By Someone Under 30"

This was a story of a young girl, Esther, in the 1950s who was interning at a junior editor for a NYC magazine.  She does the internship, and then finds out that a story she submitted to get into a special writing class has been rejected and that seems to be the beginning of her downfall.  She slowly has a mental breakdown and has to return to living with her mother after the internship instead of returning to school.  She attempts suicide and lands herself in a mental institution.  She has electroshock therapy while she is there and a friend of hers is also admitted.  Her friend ends up killing herself and this seems to turn something in Esther and help lead her to recovery.

I liked this book well enough.  It was a little confusing at times.  To me it seemed the Esther went from being perfectly fine to attempting suicide rather quickly.  But the overall book was well written.

The notes at the end of the book were the most helpful and understanding the book.  Sylvia Plath, the author, killed herself at a very young age.  Many people speculate that the story of Esther rivals Sylvia's own path with depression.  This is the only book she ever wrote.

Stars:  3 1/2

Book Review #33 (2015 Challenge), A Child Called It

A Child Called "It" (read in September 2015)


This was in the category:  A Book that will Make You Cry

This is a true story book about the author, David, who was severely abused as a child from about age 6 to age 11.  It tells the story of a child that spent most days starving, living in a cold basement, working chores until he couldn't stand, and not even being called by his name.  This became the 3rd worst case of child abuse in CA history.

I had a hard time with this book.  I was so angry reading it.  I could not even imagine how this could go on for 5 years and he couldn't get away.  He was in public school.  He was forced to wear basically the same outfit everyday.  He stole food.  He was covered with bruises.  His mother burned him and stabbed him.  And yet, it took 5 years for him to be rescued.

The "happy ending" is - David Pelzer is a full functioning adult with a family and children.  He has spoken all over the country about the abuse and promoting reporting child abuse.  But this book.  I just could not get over how awful it was.  I have been extra kind to my own kiddos because I would never want them to feel anything but love from me.  He didn't deserve what happened to him.  No kid deserves that.

Star rating:  4

Book Review #32 (2015 Challenge), The Martian


The next book I reviewed was: The Martian (read in September 2015)


This book is in the category:  A book based or turned into a TV show or movie.

This movie came out in October and it was GREAT GREAT GREAT

This book is about a group of 6 astronauts that are sent on a mission to Mars.  A dust storm throws one astronaut off, away from the others.  They hunt for him, but can't find him.  The dust storm is so bad that the mission is aborted, and they have to leave the astronaut - our main character, Mark Watney - behind.

What happens next is that the astronaut spends the next 18 months on Mars trying to survive, hoping to be rescued.  He is a mechanical engineer and a botanist, so he has the skills to survive - if he can grow food. And figure out how to get word to NASA that he is alive.

This book was amazing.  I thought I was going to hate it because Mat raved about it.  And most books Mat raves about and I read - well they are awful.  Or so above my brain level, I can't get through them.  But after he mentioned it 8 billion times, I caved and read it.  I am so glad I did.  The main character is hilarious.  (Matt Damon is playing him in the movie and he is a perfect fit).  It is a little techy and "sciencey", but not enough to make me want to stop reading.  Actually, I found it all pretty fascinating.  The book is written with this video logs that he is keeping each night, and I laughed out loud several times at what the main character was saying.  

I really encourage this book.  If you are a mostly romance novel reader - skip it.  Otherwise - read this and then go and see the movie.

Stars:  5