Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Thursday, March 30, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #31 - Maus - My Father Bleeds History

31 baby!!

Today's review is "Maus - My Father Bleeds History"

This was under the category: A Book About a Historical Event

This was a graphic novel and the story of the author and conversations with his father.  His father and mother has survived the concentration camps of WWII, and he wanted to tell his story.  Because he was a cartoonist, he decided to draw the Jewish people as the mice and the German soldiers as cats.  During the interviews with his father he learns what it was like during the war.  The author had a brother that was born during that time, but was taken away and killed.  His mother committed suicide when the author was in his 20s.  Now his father, remarried and unwell, relives for his son was it was like during the years the Nazis had control.

This was a good book, and a great way to tell yet another WWII story.  I read at least 2-3 WWII novels a year, so it was nice to read something a little different about that period of time.  And because it was the true account of a family and how they survived, that made it all the better.

I enjoyed it, and I encourage you to check it out.

Stars: 4 1/2

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #30 - Daughter of Time

30!  YES.   And I have time to get one more in before the month ends.  A new record!

Today's review is for "Daughter of Time"

This was under the category:  A Crime Novel

This story is about Inspector Alan Grant who is laid up in the hospital with a broken leg.  During his boredom, he discovers Richard III and become fascinated with his story.  He sets out to find out the truth about him.  Did he really kill his two nephews to secure the crown?  Or was he framed?  Alan sets out to find out the truth of who really killed the two princes in the tower.

This book was boring and stupid.  It was listed as one of the "greatest mystery novels of all time" but I did not like it.  There was too much chatter and it just droned on.  You had to be a true historian to understand this book and follow the author's ramblings.  Just....blech.

I don't recommend.  I don't even have a lot to say about it.  I was disappointed and was hoping it was going to be so much better than it was.

Stars: 1

Friday, March 24, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #29 - Three Cups of Tea

Today's review is for

Three Cups of Tea

It was under the category:  A Book About a Culture you are Unfamiliar With

This is the story of Greg Mortenson who has built over 100 schools in Pakistan.  He was a climber who was climbing K2 and failed.  He became very ill, and ended up in the village of Korphe where they cared for him until he was well.  While he was there, he got to know the people and their need for a school.  Inspired and outraged, he went home to figure out how he could raise the $12,000 needed to build a school.  As a single, registered nurse, he didn't have any money to do this himself.  He wrote over 500 letters, but finally one person offered to fund the school in its entirety.  He returned and built the school.  When his generous giver died, he left Greg 1 million dollars to start a foundation to build more schools and help the people of Pakistan.  The need for good schools - especially for girls - was large.  So were bridges and running water.  Great set out to do all of those things and succeeded.  Girls are not going to school and going on to college because of what he did.  He set out to prove that knowledge is power and it can change a society.

This was a great book.  I was fascinated by the Pakistan culture and also by the kindness the people showed a white man from America.  I learned more about the true meaning of what it means to be a Muslim (kindness and giving and brotherhood) and the different between those who are truly religious and those who are not.  It was interesting to see how what we would consider cheaply built schools could change the lives of 1000s and 1000s of children and change their futures.

Great book.  I encourage you to read it.

Stars: 5

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #28 - The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

Today's book is

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

It was under the category:  A Book That Take Place in Summer

This is the story of Art Bechstein who is the son of a mobster.  He lives in Pittsburgh, and just finished his studies at a local university.  He doesn't know what he is going to do with his life, so he takes the summer to spend time with friends, get into trouble, and figure things out.  He falls in love with a girl, then a guy, and in the end he is alone.  Still no clearer to his path in life.

This book was just okay.  I was anxious to read it because it was about Pittsburgh.  I grew up in a small town right outside of Pittsburgh and went to college there myself.  It was neat to read about the places in this book.  But beyond that - the story was rambling and a bit boring.  Characters were really whiny and all over the place.  I really had to concentrate to keep reading.

I don't recommend it.  It was FINE.  There were parts that were good, but it wasn't great.

Stars: 2

Saturday, March 18, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #27 - The Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

Getting close to 30 books!  Love it.

Today's review

The Baby Catcher:  Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

This was under the category: A Book About A Career You Admire

This is the story of Peggy Vincent and her career as a midwife.  She has delivered over 3000 babies in her career, and in this book she shares some of her favorite birth stories.  She marvels how at each birth, one person becomes two, and all of the pain gives way to joy when parents hold their new baby for the first time.  Each story tells of a mother and the way she labored and how she chose to birth her baby - each story extremely different from the next.  Peggy shows how little help is needed to bring a child into the world- how a woman's body knows just what to do.  There are complications for a few home births, but for the most part - babies enter the world naturally and without much intervention.

This book was fantastic.  I am a sucker for non fiction books.  Give me a documentary over a rom-com any day.  Delving into people's lives and hearing their stories is what I like best.  This book did not disappoint.  The stories were amazing.  And the book was well written.  I didn't want it to end.  I could have read about the birth stories forever.  I did not have a natural birth - wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole at the time.  But after reading this stories - Peggy made it sound so.....natural.  What other word could be used?  I am sure it hurts like nothing else (I was an epidural girl), but in the end - most of the women labored and gave birth at home.  They had complete control over their situation, and I was in awe.

I encourage you to read this book.  I am sure you will find it as fascinating as I did.  Kudos to Peggy and all of the midwives out there.  As a registered nurse myself, I have always been in awe of what they do.

Stars: 5

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #26 - East of Eden

Today's review is for

East of Eden

This is under the category: A Book That Is A Saga

This is the story of two families - the Hamiltons and the Trasks.  It takes place in and around California's Salinas Valley (which is actually where John Steinbeck was born) in the mid to late 1800's through the 1900s.  This story spans multiple generations of these two families introducing many characters along the way.  The Hamiltons were a large family of many children who lived and worked on a farm and barely got by.  The Trasks were a more well off family with two sons that were raised by their father.

Over the course of the book - both families have children, they grow, get married, move away, start their own families.  Their families continue to interact over the years - each weaving into the other among various avenues.  There is sadness and happiness, marriage and death, and everything in between.

I enjoyed this book.  It was.....long.  I thought the writing was excellent.  It might have been a little wordy - most in the story than needed to be to get his point across, but for the most part, it flowed nicely.  The characters were likable and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen to them.  Sagas make great books because from where it starts to where it ends, entire lives pass through and you become invested in their stories.

Check it out.  You need to invest in this book - this is not a light read, or something you can do and watch TV at the same time.  But it is worth it.

Stars:  4

Saturday, March 11, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #25 - Solomon's Curse

Today I am 1/3 of the way through this year's reading challenge.  Go me.

This review is for

Solomon's Curse

This was under the category:  A Book About A Curse

This is the story of a married couple - the Fargo's - who are archaeologists.    They have traveled to the Solomon Islands to help a fellow archaeologist uncover a lost city.  They discover it off a deserted coast.  It has been tampered with since it has sunk into the ocean, and this leads the Fargo's to try and investigate its past further.  As they start to uncover the mystery of the lost city, they are caught up in a rebel attack on the island where several islanders turn up missing.  They are lead to Australia and to Japan to try and uncover the truth about the island and its past, and they end up discovering something horrible.

This was a pretty good story.  From what I can tell - the main characters are used in other Cussler books.  They seemed to be well developed, but it didn't detract from the story.  I could follow it.  There wasn't a lot of back story or past stories about these characters, so it didn't matter I haven't read any of his other books.  It is a well written story, and well thought out.  I liked the characters, and enjoyed their adventurous spirit.

I recommend this book.  It was an easy read, and the story was definitely a page turner.

Stars:  4 1/2

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #24 - Friday Night Lights

Today's review is for

Friday Night Lights

This was under the category: A Book About Sports

This is the story of the Permian football team in Odessa Texas.  They are the winning-est high school football team in Texas history.  The book follows the year long journey of the 1988 football team.  The author moved to Odessa with his family so that he could be engrossed in the local culture and really get to know the team, coaches, and the town.  Odessa is a depressed, recently desegregated town in West Texas.  Known for being one of the worst cities to live in of all America, the town cares for little else besides football.  Drawing crowds up 15-20 thousand people for a Friday Night game, you were a local hero and star if you ever played on the Permian High School Team.  This team knows that their only goal is to win at all costs, and find that sometimes that cost it too high.

I really enjoyed this book.  I shook my head several times at the stories I read about how much stress these kids were under to perform high school football.  How education took not only a backseat, but basically wasn't even on the radar as long as their best players didn't have to sit out due to grades.  One school took it all the way to the judges in the court to make sure that an Algebra grade could be over looked so that the kid could play on his football team.  There were a few kids on the team who were as naturally bright as they were talented - one even went to Harvard.  But while they were in high school, football was king, and no matter where you were in class rank, it didn't matter if you couldn't perform on the field on Friday night.

I encourage you to check this book out.  I am going to watch the movie and TV show next to see how it compares.

Stars: 4 1/2

Thursday, March 2, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #23 - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

Today I am reviewing:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

This is under the category:  A Book About Native Americans

This is the story of a 14 year old boy named Arnold who lives on an Indian reservation in Spokane.  He is a good student, so his school on the reservation is troubled, so his parents send him to the local school off the reservation.  He doesn't fit in there either, because he is the only kid who isn't white at the school.  Arnold had been born with a lot of fluid on his brain and was constantly bullied on the reservation.  When he gets to his new school he does start to make new friends and even joins the basketball team.  During the story, he has to deal with the death of his grandmother, his dog, and his sister.  He has parents that spend more time drunk than not, and often forget to pick him up at the bus stop - which is 20 miles from his house.  But his humor and resilience help him continue to believe someday he could leave the reservation and make something of himself.  He feels caught between the world he grew up in and the white world he joined when he went to high school.  He struggles to figure out who this makes him.

This was a pretty good book.  I listened to it, and I really don't like when the authors read their own books.  This is one of those books, and the author did an okay job, but it was a little choppy and no changes in voices for characters which made it a bit weird.  But beyond that - it was a pretty good story.  It is a short book, and written for the teenage crowd (but be wary - there is talk of sex and masturbation in the book, even though it is very little).

Check it out.  The author took some details from his own up bringing as a Native American on a reservation to develop this story, and it gives a good look into the life of being a Native American who lives on a reservation but attends school and exists in a world outside of that as well.

Stars: 4