Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #43 - Life of Pi

I forgot about one!  I read 8!

This book is :  Life of Pi

It was under the category:  A Book You Read ALoud to Someone Else

This is the story of a young boy from India who is moving with his family to Canada.  In Indai, his father owned a zoo, and they are transporting many of the animals that have been sold to Canada.  They are on a large ship sailing across the pacific when tragedy strikes and the ship sinks.  The lone survivor - Pi - is telling the story to an author who wants to write his story.  Pi tells the story of how he spent 277 days on the ocean with a 450 pound Bengal tiger before they hit land in Mexico and were saved.  He loses his whole family when that ship sinks, and now as an adult, he recollects his experience with a fantastic story of survival.

This is a great book.  I have seen the movie, but have never read it.  My eldest daughter - who is 14 - had to read this book for school, so we decided to do it together.  I enjoyed that as much as I did the book.

This book is well written.  It has funny parts, and the story is truly griping.  My daughter was sad when the story ended because it really is a fantastic tale.  A must read.

Stars: 5

2017 Challenge - Book #42 - Walden

Well - I only made 7 books this month.  Now that the weather has gotten nicer, I have a harder time reading.  My yard is huge and needs quite a bit of tending in the spring.  Once the kids are out of school, I hope to pick up again.

Today's review is for Walden

This was under the category:  A  Classic You Haven't Read Before

This book is Thoreau's reflections on the time he spent in a home he built on Walden Pond.  He lived in a cabin in the woods for 2 years, 2 months and 2 days.  He wanted to spend the time reflecting and learning to understand society.  He also wanted to see if he could mainly be self-sustaining on the land.  He was in the middle of Concord, Massachusetts, so not necessarily in the wilderness, but off the beaten path to the point where he was 2 miles from civilization.

This book was....interesting.  First of all, Thoreau is a rambler.  I would guess, though, that any of us keeping a journal of our day to day routine would be too.  I learned about every bird in the woods.  What temperature the pond was compared to other ponds near by.  When the pond froze for the winter, how he built his house, how he kept warm, and who he talked with while he lived in the woods.  The book could have been about half the size, but he liked to talk for paragraphs about each and every animal or situation to the point of my losing interest and wanting to skim.  I did finish it, but it was trying.  I do have to say, though, on the bits that I did enjoy, he was telling.  And interesting.  And sometimes even funny.  It had its moments.

I have never been very good with the classics.  I am starting to think it is a personal problem I have - I am just not in the mindset for this type of writing.  It isn't my cup of tea.  BUT - I will continue to struggle through them because I am interested in seeing what makes them classics.  Maybe one day, I will come by one that I truly love.

Still looking

Stars: 3

Thursday, May 25, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #41 - The Nest

Book #41 - Today I am reviewing

The Nest

It is under the category:  A Book You Picked Randomly off the Shelf of the Library

This is the story of 4 siblings whose father left them a sum of money.  He wanted his children to have just enough to take the edge of their own personal finances, but not enough for them to be greedy.  Their dad died before he realized that his investor had done so well that The Nest had grown to over 2 million dollars.  Split among the 4 of them, they could off set so many expenses.  Unfortunately, one nigh the eldest brother decides to leave his wife at a wedding party and get in the car with a young waitress and take off.  They are in an accident and the waitress is seriously hurt.  After the family pays off the waitress and her expenses and the ex-wife to keep her quiet, there is nothing left of The Nest.  The three remaining siblings fret because each one of them were counting on that money to offset expenses in their lives they needed help with.  Soon - the eldest brother disappears and the hunt for him, and how the families cope with knowing the money may be gone forever - begins.

This book was fine.  It was in a section of "Seven Day Loan" at the library because it was popular.  It wasn't well written, and an easy read.  But I didn't like any of the characters.  Well - most of the characters.  There were a few minor characters that were good.  The the 4 siblings were awful.  The three who were counting on the now non-existent money - were a bunch of whiners with first world problems.  (one was mad because he was going to lose his beach house)  The had counted on that money, so they had spent unwisely, and instead of saving in case the money never came, they put themselves in bad situations and mounting debt.  I didn't feel bad for them at all when the brother couldn't pay them back the money they felt they were owed.  

Meanwhile - the eldest brother didn't feel bad about it at all.  He was a recovering drug addict, and had hidden away almost 2 million dollars over the years so that he could run away.  No one in his family knew he had this money and one day he just disappeared.  He left a pregnant girlfriend and vanished.  What a douche.

I don't really recommend this book unless you want to read about people who don't really have real world problems.  It could be good for a beach read if you are looking for fluff, but otherwise -just pass.

Stars:  2

Monday, May 22, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #40 - You Are Not So Smart: Why you have too many friends on facebook, why your memory is mostly fiction, and 46 other ways you are deluding yourself

#40!  Another milestone

Today's review is for:  You Are Not So Smart: Why you have too many friends on facebook, why your memory is mostly fiction, and 46 other ways you are deluding yourself

This was under the cateogry:  A Book With A Really Long Title

This is the author's take on how we are deluding ourselves in several aspects of our lives.  The old saying "To err is human" comes to play as he explains how every thought and action we have comes from a story we tell ourselves to explain them.  Bottom line - we are easily fooled and we don't think we are.

I really liked this book.  It was humorous, and I could definitely see how I delude myself in believing I am better in some ways when actually I am not.  It was a great big dose of humble pie to know we are not the great thinkers we think we are - on the whole - but more just a collection of biases.  It takes a lot to admit that most of the things we think we know, or remember, are tainted by our own delusions.  It shows that in reality, it is better to shrug and assume you remember it differently, and calm the waters of an argument than to insist you are right.

I definitely say try this book.  You will enjoy taking a better look at yourself.

Stars: 4

Thursday, May 18, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #39 - The Name of the Wind

Today's review is for

The Name of the Wind

It is under the category:  A Book that was written 10 years ago.

This is the story of a man named Kvothe.  He has gone into hiding - presumed dead by many - until one day a Chronicler comes to town wanting to find him and hear his story.  Kvothe agrees, and such begins the story of his life.  He tells of being a little boy in a music troop.  How one night while he was playing away from the camp, he comes back to find the entire troop dead - including his parents.  The Chandrian - or evil spirits - have killed everyone "for singing the wrong kind of songs"  Kvothe escapes, and starts a life on the streets as a beggar, barely surviving day to day.  He eventually gets a small amount of money together, buys a good pair of clothes, and applies to learn at the local University.  At this University, they teach magic (what they call sympathy).  He is only 15, but he is among the youngest to be admitted and he excels quickly.  He spends a few years at the University honing his skills, and also trying to learn as much as he can about the Chandrian who killed his parents.

I liked this book.  It is LONG - almost 700 pages, but it held my interest.  I enjoyed the story of how this very poor boy who had barely a penny to his name got to the University and became a legend in his own right.  There were parts that didn't make a lot of sense to me - things I think the author could have left out to shorten the story.  For example - there was a long section of the book that he spends in the company of a young lady while he looks for the Chandiran.  He has heard a rumor that they are 60 miles north of where he is in school, so he just bolts, buys a horse on a loan, and heads out to find the Chandrian.  He seems.....out of place.  Sure - I get that he wanted to find them.  But he is a 15 year old boy - what was he going to do when he found them?  In the end - he didn't find them, but it was a wasted part of the book in my opinion.  Although - maybe the author was showing what a true 15 year old boy would do - take off without thinking.  So....whatever.  The book, also, is written in a fashion along the lines of The Hobbit.  It is a fantasy book - made up words, and made up coin......but not to the point of distraction.  There are books out there that make up words for the sake of doing it.  Here it was a nice balance.

Other than that - it was a good tale.  IT is the first book in a trilogy, but if each are 700 pages, the other books will have to wait until I finish my challenge to get to those.  If you like fantasy books, like Lord of the Rings, or the Hobbit....give this book a try.

Stars:  4

Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #38 - A Walk in the Woods - Rediscovering America

Today's review is for

A  Walk In The Woods - Rediscovering America

This was under the category:  A Book With a Country or City Name in the Title

This is a non-fiction story of the author's attempt to walk the Appalachian trail.  In 1996 he decided he was going to try this, after hearing about the number of people who complete it each year.  He didn't have much hiking experience, but felt that if he tried, he could complete the over 2000 miles of hiking in 5 months.

He was wrong.  He took a long an old friend on this journey.  He started in early March at the southern most tip of the trail and started to walk north.  (the trail goes all the way to Maine).  After walking for nearly 5 weeks, he came across a map that showed that they had barely touched the trail.  He felt discouraged, and decided to go about this a different way.  He wasn't FORCED to walk the trail - he was doing it for fun.  So he decided to go to the parts of the trail he wanted to see - areas he wanted to accomplish.

In the end he walked over 800 miles of the trail.  He was in better shape than he had ever been before.  He met many people along the trail who he came to admire.  He climbed tall mountains and got lost.  He slept in a tent in the rain and trudged through several feet of snow.  He said he hoped that during succeeding summers he would go back and see other parts of trail.

This was a great book.  He was a great writer with wit which made the book an easy read.  He talked candidly about the hardships he had on the trail, and the oddness of some of the people he met.  He talked about how the trails are slowly going into disrepair due to the limited budget and low staff of the national park system.  He talked about how different the trails look now to when they were first designed.  I loved the side stories he told about the cities he visited and the states.  Overall - he made me want to try it.  Would I ever?  No way.  But the idea is what he makes you excited about.

Check this book out.  It is one not to be missed.

Stars:  4 1/2

Friday, May 5, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #37 - The Age Of Miracles

Moving right along!  Trying to get back on track after a slow month of reading

Today's review is for  - The Age of Miracles

This was under the category: A Book With A Blue Covered

Life is going along as expected until one day, scientist realize that the days were starting to stretch.  It was minor at first - a minute longer, then two.  But by the time it is brought to the public's attention, the day has stretched by 10 minutes longer.  The scientist have discovered that the rotation of the earth has slowed.  Everything starts to change - days and nights grow longer, gravity changes, birds start to die off, the tides and human behavior change.  Scientist urge everyone to continue on as normal - to "keep to the clock".

There are people that try to say they are going to follow the days and nights - no matter how long they become.  But even those folks can no longer cope as the days stretch to 60 and then 72 hours long.  Schools and businesses try to stay open and it isn't until the power starts to turn off and on that people start to panic.  In the end, what scientist call the "syndrome" takes the lives of many people.  People can no longer go out during the day because of the radiation.  Crops start to die off and scientist still have no figured out how to grow them without the sun.  Time passes and relationship change and the earth turns slower and slower.  The scientist and experts have no idea how long it will last before it stops all together.

This was a really fast read.  I have read a lot of intense books this year, so this was kind of a nice "fluff" book.  And it is one of my favorites - dystopian futures.  Although just once I would like that future to be fantastic instead of "everyone is doing to die!"

I read this in a day and a half, and it held my interest.  The main character is 11 when the book starts - the age of my youngest daughter - and 23 when it ends.  It is an interesting concept - the earth's rotation slowing to almost a stop.  I was intrigued by the uniqueness of this idea.

Check it out.

Stars:  4 1/2

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #36 - Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Today I am reviewing

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

This was under the category: A Book With A Duplicate Word In The Title

This is the story of two childhood friends - Larry Ott and Silas Jones.  They both grew up in rural Missisippi - one a son of lower middle class parents and one the son of a poor single mother.  They would meet secretly in the woods to shoot and play together.  But tragedy struck when Larry took a local girl on a date and she never returned.  Larry was blamed for her death and disappearance even thought the girl was never found.  Their friendship fell apart and Silas moved away.

20 years later, Silas has returned to the same town as a constable.  Larry, who never got out from under the charges, is a mechanic with no friends and no customers.  Silas has been avoiding Larry, even though Larry continues to call to talk to him.  Then another girl disappears, and because her body is found on Larry's property, Larry is blamed again.  Silas is involved in solving the case so he is forced to relive his past that he has buried deep for so long.

This was a pretty good book.  I had a little trouble getting into it, but once the mystery of the girl's disappearance started to take shape, the book picked up.  It has some surprising twists that I didn't see coming, and that helped.  The name of the book comes from the way kids in Mississippi are taught to spell Mississippi.  (M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter - I- crooked letter-crooked letter-I-humpback-humpback - I).

I recommend the book.  Give it a try.

Stars: 4