Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Extra Book: The Guest List

 Book: The Guest List

Author: Lucy Foley

Pages: 320

This is my 112th read for the year

This is the story of several people who are part of a wedding on a remote island in Ireland.  - The bride, the groom, the plus one, the best man, the bridesmaid, the wedding planner.  When the bride and groom invite their friends and family to their exclusive wedding, the last thing they expected is that it would end in murder.  The story begins with the discovery of a body and then goes backward to bring about what caused the murder.  Jealousies, old loves, and secrets are all brought to light with the 6 narrators of the story.  In the end - someone loses their life and trying to figure out why.

This book was okay.  It has 20,000 reviews on Amazon and is a Reese Whiterspoon Book Club Pick (which is my guess on why so many reviews), but it wasn't a good book.  It is one of those books that keeps the reader in the dark for no reason what so ever.  I didn't really like any of the characters.  And once it was discovered who was murdered and why - I didn't even care.  I listened to this as an audiobook to pass some time while I did some painting in our house, and that would be the only reason to pick this one up - to pass time.  

Stars: 2 1/2

Monday, December 28, 2020

Read The World - Mauritania - Travels in Mauritania

 Book: Travels in Mauritania

Author: Peter Hudson

Pages: 250

Book takes places in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 111th read for the year

This is the story of the author's visit to Mauritania.  He starts off in the capital, but the travels widely across the country to meet people from all corners.  He doesn't rush from place to place - lesiurely taking in the daily life of the towns he visits.  Learning what he can about the people.  He is greeted with hospitality even among the poorest of the country.  

This was a fine book.  Not much happens, he mostly wanders around and just takes it in.  This doesn't make the book bad, but I did feel like I was slogging through it at times and had a hard time really getting interested in the book on a whole.  There were some great photos, some terrible drawings, and over all interesting facts about the country that made the read worth it.  The writing is decent, and I got a general idea of what life is like in Mauritania.

Stars: 3 1/2

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Read The World - Namibia - The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

 Book: The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

Author: Peter Orner

Pages: 336

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 110th read for the year

Here is what Amazon has to say about this book (hey - it is the end of the year - I needed a break from summarizing)
Though physically isolated in semi-desert beneath a relentless sun, the people of Goas create an alternate, more fertile universe through the stories they tell each other.  The book's central character is Mavala , a combat veteran who fought in Namibia's long war for independence against South Africa. 

She has recently returned to the school - with a child, but no husband.  Mavala is modern, restless, and driven, in sharp contrast to conservative Goas.  All the male teachers try not to fall in love with her.  Everyone fails - immediately and miserably.

The book is well written, but there wasn't much of a story.  Some of the chapters were only a few paragraphs.  It jumped a bit and then would come back to Mavala.  Then jump some more.  Choppy reads like this are hard to hold my attention.  I was engrossed in the longer chapters - trying to get deeper into the story.  But then a small, choppy chapter would follow and I would lose my flow.  It was a good one for this past week because we were so busy getting ready for the holiday, so it worked well enough.

Stars: 3

Friday, December 25, 2020

Extra Book: Verity

 Book: Verity

Author: Colleen Hoover

Pages: 331

This is my 109th read for the year

I am on an audiobook kick right now.  So much running around in the car.  And present wrapping.  And painting in the house.  I am tearing through audiobooks right now.

This is the story of Lowen Ashleigh.  She is an author of subpar thriller novels.  Out of money and not sure what her next move will be, she is approached by Jeremy Crawford - the wife of bestselling novelist Verity Crawford.  Verity has been injured in an accident and isn't able to finish her book series, so she needs a ghost writer to help.  Lowen needs the money, so agrees.  She moves into the Crawford's house to start to go through Verity's novels and any notes she may have that will help Lowen complete the series.  As Lowen gets to know Jeremy, and see what state Verity is in, the more she wants to stay with him.  She is beginning to fall in love with him.  As she looks through Verity's office, she comes across a disturbing manuscript that shows who Verity truly was and Lowen starts to fear for her life and the life of Jeremy and Jeremy and Verity's son, Crew.

This book wasn't my cup of tea.  I heard quite a bit about it through my BOTM club, and I do love a good thriller.  But this book was trashy.  I didn't read 50 Shades of Grey for a reason.  It is so vulgar that I found myself thinking I should just put it aside.  But I kept listening hoping it was going to be this fantastic thrilled novel that would keep me up at night and that would redeem it.  But it was not.  I was disappointed that I wasted a credit from Audible on this one.  This is mostly sex and very little thriller, so if that isn't for you - pass this one up.  Despite the 12,000 reviews it got.

Stars: 2

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Read The World - Poland - Flights

 Book: Flights

Author: Tokarczuk

Pages: 416

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 108th read for the year

This is a collection of short "stories" - or maybe just essays - of things all over the board.  Travel, human body, history, psychology, life, death, and just some stories.  The author wants you think:  Where are you from?  Where are you coming in from?  Where are you going?

This was a weird book.  Very weird.  I had a hard time getting into it because it is really all over the place.  It wasn't that it was bad - it was just......different.  Not my cup of tea.  I didn't understand what was happening at first.  Once I realized what it was, I just went with it.  Interesting book for the shelf.  

Stars: 3

Monday, December 21, 2020

Extra Book - A Promised Land

 Book: A Promised Land

Author: Barack Obama

Pages: 768

This is my 107th read for the year

This is Obama's first half of his autobiography.  It covers the time before he was in office, but mostly covers his first 4 years as president- leading up to when Osama Bin Laden was killed.  Deeply covering the ins and outs of the presidency, the people he met, the challenges he faced, he shares what it was like to be the first African America President of the United States.

I loved this book.  I did listen to it as an audiobook, and 21 hours of listening filled my hours of driving kids around, driving back and forth to work, and painting our house.  He gets into the nitty gritty of the presidency, so some parts were a little dry.  For the most part, I found it extremely interesting.  He talks about the relationship with his mother and grandmother, his wife and his daughters.  He talks about what it is like to be Black in America.  But above all, he covers the challenges that a world leader faces when he is put in charge.  He is candid about mistakes he made and things he wished he could change.  But above all, you can tell he was proud of his presidency and the job.

I encourage you to check out this book.  If you are interested in the audio version, it is President Obama who reads it, and I cannot tell you how nice it was to hear his voice again.  How we have missed his leadership these last 4 years.

Stars: 4 1/2

Friday, December 18, 2020

Read The World - Papua New Guinea - Four Corners

 Book: Four Corners

Author: Kira Salak

Pages: 401

Book takes place from the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 106th read for the year

This is the story of the author's journey to Papua New Guinea.  A woman who has spent her whole life running away - hoping to find where she belongs, she has chosen many dangerous countries to lose herself in.  After working all summer long in a factory to save for this trip, she hops a plane and lands herself in the middle of a jungle.  She travels the country - hoping from village to village meeting dangerous men, kind women, and strangers who were also traveling the country.  She picks up illnesses, and countless bug bites.  She takes chances on a boat in a dangerous part of the country with complete strangers.  And as she searches for herself, she tries to remember why she came on the trip in the first part.

This book was fine.  It is pretty well written - Salak is a pretty good writer.  But I didn't really like the author personaly.  Again - like other books I have read where people travel to the countries and then write about them - she wasn't there to do good.  Yet she put herself in precarious situations, and could have been killed.  And for what?  I didn't find her particularly wise and I didn't find her journey heroic.  I found it stupid.  The redeeming qualities were only that I did learn a fair amount about Papua New Guinea and its people.  But as for her own personal journey - it made no sense at all.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Read The World - Lesotho - Basali

 Book: Basali

Author: K. Limakatso Kendall

Pages: 136

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 105th read for the year

This novella is a book of short stories about the women of Lesotho.  Told in their own words - and then translated into English by family and friends - it gives insight into the lives of women living in this small Country in South Africa.

These were interesting stories.  They are a little rough - as stories are when told second hand and then translated.  But I do love first hand accounts, especially from women, in any of these countries, so this book is a treasure.

Stars: 4

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Book: Match Making For Beginners

 Book: Match Making for Beginners

Author: Maddie Dawson

Pages: 379

This is my 104th read for the year.

We are working so much at moving and painting in our house that I am drilling through these audio books to pass my time!

This is the story about Marnie.  She thinks she has found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with.  At a party to meet his wealthy parents for the first time, she is humiliated.  An older aunt named Blix, pulls Marnie to her and they quickly become allies.

When Marnie's marriage falls apart, she moves home to her parents to try and figure out what she wants to do with her life.  As she starts a relationship with an old boyfriend, she receives a letter from Blix's lawyers that she has left her New York house to Marnie in her will.  Bewildered on why a woman she met twice would do this, Marnie travels to New York to try to figure out Blix's reasoning and to figure out what she wants to do with her life.  There she meets the renters in Blix's building and starts to realize where she wants to belong.

This book isn't literature.  Not even by a long shot. It is as cheesy as a Hallmark Christmas movie.  It isn't deep and Marnie is just an okay character.  The things she does in this story aren't great.  Some of the lines that are written in this book are so bad, you can't help but shake your head.  However - it kept me painting and kept me entertained while we were remodeling, so I will give it that.

However - if you are looking for a story about love and life changing decisions - skip this one.

Stars:  2 1/2

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Read The World - Moldova - Playing The Moldovans At Tennis

 Book: Playing The Moldovans At Tennis

Author: Tony Hawks

Pages: 256

Book takes place in the country: YES - around 75%

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 103rd read for the year

This is the author's own story on a bet he made with a friend.  He bet this friend he could beat the 11 football (soccer for Americans) players from Moldova.  His friend - feeling that even footballers from Moldova would been atheltic enough to beat a 38 year old comedian at any sport - took the bet.  So Tony set of on a 18 month journey to find and convince all 11 Moldova footballers to play him in tennis.  He didn't even know where to start.

Tony takes us on a journey to a little known country - weaving bits of Moldovian history in with his odd quest.  And in the end either Tony - or his friend - would lose this bet and have to dance naked in London when the loser is confirmed.

I really, really, really wanted to like this book more than I did.  I am usually drawn to these silly stories.  I love stories of people who pick up and move or pick up and travel with little clothes and money and make it work on the kindness of strangers.  Where they don't let language barriers or fear of the unknown stop them from going.  And I thought - even with something as silly as this bet - it would be an entertaining, silly, charming story from a guy who is a stand up comedian.

Alas - it wasn't meant to be.  Tony was not a likeable person in this book.  He complains about everything and everyone (except the sweet 11 year old girl in the book).  Everyone.  He traveled gloomily and with a sour attitude even though he wasn't trying to cure cancer, or teach education to a third world company.  He was on a quest for a stupid bet.  And yet he was still miserable.  

So disappointing.  It wasn't awful - I did learn a lot about Moldova, and the Epilogue redeemed the book some in the end.  And I have learned that he did give a large part of his profits from the book to charity in Moldova. But not enough for me to give it more than 3 stars.  

Stars: 3

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Read The World - Malta - The Great Siege Malta 1565

 Book: The Great Siege Malta - 1565

Author: Ernie Bradford

Pages: 260

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited:NO

This is my 102nd book of the year

I hav slowed down so much since we started to work on our house.  I really wanted to finish this read the world challenge before the end of this year, but I don't think I am going to get that wish

Here is what Amazon had to say about this book:

In the first half of the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Empire was throught to be invincible.  Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman sultan, had expanded his empire from western Asia to southeastern Europe and North Africa.  To secure control of the Mediterranean between these territories and launch an offensive into western Europe, Suleiman needed the small but strategically crucial island of Malta.  But Suleiman's attempt to take the island from the Holy Roman Empire's Knights of St. John would emerge as one of the most famous and brutal military defeats in history.

Forty-two years earlier, Suleiman had been victorious against the Knights of St. John when he drove them out of their island fortress at Rhodes.  Believing he would repeat this victory, the sultan sent an armada to MAlta.  When they captured Fort St. Elmo, the Ottoman foces ruthlessly took no prisoners.  The Roman grand master La Vallette responded by having his Ottoman captives beheaded.  Then the battle for Malta began in earnest:  no quarted asked.  None given.

I love these types of books.  This is well written, well told, and well researched.  I was worried that it might be dry and slow, but it was neither of those things.  I knew nothing about Malta before reading this book, and this was a great intoduction to the country for me.  It is a complex story, but the author does a great job making it easy to read.

Stars: 4

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Extra Book - Sold On A Monday

 Book: Sold On A Monday

Author: Kristina McMorris

Pages: 352

This is my 101st read for the year.

I| listened to this as an audio book.

Struggling reporter Ellis Reed needs a break.  While out one day, he sees two boys sitting with a sign that said "Children for Sale".  He snaps a picture of them never imagining it would take him anywhere.  When the picture is discovered it leads to his big break, and devestating consequences that take him somewhere he never thought he would be.

This was an okay book.  With 9000+ reviews on Amazon, I expected it to be spectacular.  The first part of the book is slow and disjointed from the picture and story of children who were sold in the early part of this century.  It spent a lot of time with the story of Ellis Reed, which would be fine, but that isn't what I thought the book was going to be about.  I thought it would be more of a historical reflection of children who were sold because families were too poor to care for them.

The second half of the book did pick up, but it still was a bit frustrating.  I didn't love any of the characters.  Some of the interactions seemed over the top and disjointed.  The story choppy.  This could have been so much better, in my opinion.

I would say skip it and maybe find a non fiction or a more focused historical fiction on children who were sold.

Stars: 3

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Read The World - Latvia - Among The Living And The Dead

 Book: Among The Living And The Dead

Author: Inara Verzemnieks

Pages: 288

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: No - but her whole family is

I have visited: NO

This is my 100th read for the year

I made it!

This is the story of the author's family.  Inara was raised by her grandparents in America.  But her grandparents, and her dad, fled Latvia when her dad was very small.  Inara wants to discover her family's roots and learn more about the struggles that went on with the Latvians in the early part of the century.  After her grandmother passes away, she locates her distance family members in Latvia and speaks to them about the past.  What she learns is a story of heartbreak and strong will to survive the most dire situation.  

This was a really good book.  I love reading personal stories about families who survived what we would consider an almost impossible situation.  Inara does a great job piecing together her family's history and rebuilding relationships with her family in Latvia that she will treasure for the rest of her life.  

The only negative for me - and it is a small one - is that the language was a bit over decorated.  I have never been drawn to that type of writing and this book is full of it.  However - the story is worth weaving through that.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Extra Book - The Book Charmer

 Book: The Book Charmer

Author: Karen Hawkins

Pages: 368

This is my 99th read for the year

This is the story of Sarah Dove and her family.  Sarah always had a way with books.  When she was young, she visited the library and a book spoke to her.  Actually spoke.  She grows up to be the town librarian, handing out books based on who needs to read them.  The books tell her that they are to help a certain person, and Sarah lends them the book.  The towns people come to rely on Sarah and her way of knowing exactly what they need and never turn down a book they get from her.

One day Grace and her small family show up in Sarah's town.  Grace is in charge of her young niece and her mother who has fast progressing dementia.  She is looking for a calmer job and life so that she will have the time she needs to look after her family.  Sarah quickly latches onto Grace and feels that Grace was sent to the town for a reason.  Grace isn't so sure and doesn't plan to stay in town long.  Sarah and her group of friends will do everything in their power to change that.

This is a sweet story.  I have been working for hours on end at our house and so this was a great audio book to pass the time.  It is a sweet story and the characters are all very likable.  I was drawn into the story of Grace and her past and Sarah and her small town.  It is a story of friendship, love, and trials in a well written book.  I didn't love the ending only because it wrapped up so quickly!  I wish they would have taken the story just a little further.

Stars: 4 1/2

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Read The World - Liechtenstein - Ludmila

 Book: Ludmila

Author: Paul Gallico

Pages: 53

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: YES

This is my 98th read for the year

I have visited Lichtenstein, if only briefly.  Living in Switzerland, it was easy to venture inside the border from time to time.

This sweet little novella is about a cow that desparately wanted to be the most milk producing cow of the season.  She wanted to wear the crown and lead the parade, but she was weak and never produced enough milk to win the coveted prize.  One year, she stops at the shrine of Ludmilla and prays to be the chosen cow.  What results is a miracle and the cow gets her wish.

This is a cute story.  Switzerland does a similar ceremony each year with its cows that go into the Alps for the summers.  It is a fabulous tradition but I had no idea of all the meaning of the head dresses and the order the cows come down the mountain in the fall.  I also didn't realize that the owners spent the summer with the cows in the mountains making the cheese, etc. right there on site.  

Great little book.  I am glad to have this one for my collection.

Stars: 4

Friday, November 27, 2020

Read The World - Macedonia - Macedonia: What Does It Take To Stop A War?

 Book: Macedonia: What Does It Take To Stop A War

Author: Harvey Pekar

Pages: 176

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 97th read for the year

This graphic novel is about a peace activits named Heather Roberson.  She sets out for Macedonia that tends to refrain from violence.  During her month long visit she explores the country and meets many shady characters among new friends and allies.  She talks to government officials, and professors, and academics, and ordinary citizens to figure out how Macedonia remains at peace.

This was a pretty good graphic novel.  It was a bit choppy in the writing and some parts were just so so.  But I did learn an incredible amount about Macedonia.  The book if full of facts and information related tothe countries past and present (at the time of the writing in 2007), and those parts were well written.  There is also an epilogue at the end of the book that is well written that wraps up the information nicely.

A good find.  Most books you find related to Macedonia are about Alexander the Great.  However - most of thos books don't take place in the country, so they didn't qualify for my Read the World challenge.  I am glad I read this one and will add it to my collection.

Stars: 4

Extra Book - The Book Of Lost Names

 Book: The Book of Lost Names

Author: Kristin Harnel

Pages: 400

This is my 96th read for the year

This is the story of Eva - a Jewish girl during WWII.  She and her parents are living in parents when her dad is rounded up and arrested for being Jewish.  Eva and her mother are not at home at the time, so only her father is taken.  Eva and her mother set out from Paris to try and find him and end up in a town in France.  There Eva is recruited to be a forger after they discovered her ability to replicate documents.  She is to help children who have been separated from their families, escape into Switzerland.  Here she meets Remy - a man who has been working as a forger for awhile and is also in charge of moving the children.

A few days turns into a few weeks as Eva and Remy - and eventually others - work to get the children to safety.  She and Remy hide the real names of the children in a book that is kept hidden in a church library.  The hope is that someday the children can be reunited with their real families.

The book bounces back and forth between Eva - 60 years after the war - and Eva as a young woman during the war.  The story unfolds after the Book of Lost Names is discovered in Berlin and the person who found it wants to reunite it with its rightful owner.

This book is fine.  I saw the almost 2000 reviews on Amazon - most 4/5 star reviews and wondered what I might be missing.  It wasn't terrible.  I liked the idea of the story - and my understanding is that this is based on something that actually happened.  I was drawn in by the idea of the names of children being hidden in a book and that book being discovered in the future.  However - there were so many other parts of this story that weren't great, that I cannot give it a good review.  There is a heavy love story and is predictable - esepcially in the end.  Also Eva's mother is AWFUL.  They made her character way over the top.  The things that Eva's mother says and does don't fit at all with what Eva is doing, and the excuses they make for Eva's mother's behavior are weak.  The writing was just so so.  I have read better historical fiction WWII books.  I listened to it as an audio book and the reader wasn't great.  She had a halting voice that made everyone sound like they were on the verge of tears all the time.

It was entertaining enough as an audio book - something for me to listen to as I did yard work this last week.  But as for quality?  I would say skip it.

Stars: 3

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Read The World - Hungary - The Dukays

 Book: The Dukays

Author: Lajos Zilahy

Pages: 404

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 95th read for the year

This is a historical fiction noval about an aristocratic family at the turn of the 20th century.  Istvan Dukay and his wife and children live a privledged life in the early part of the century.  His children all grow and most of them grow away from the family and leave the country all together.  Their eldest son who is mentally disabeled, is the only one who truly doesn't ever leave the next.  The book covers from 1919 to 1939 covering both world wars.  Most of the story focuses on the youngest daughter, Zia.

This was an okay book.  I enjoed a lot of the story, and the writing was quite good.  However, too much of the book was about the daughter, Zia, and not about the family as a whole.  I felt that too much time was focused on this one child and could not really figure out why.  The book would have been a much better read if it would have focused on each of the children equally, or the famkly in Hungary at this time.  

I am not sure I can recommend it because it took place only 50% - and just barely - in Hungary, and the rest was while Zia was in Cyprus.

Stars: 3

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Extra Book: Class Act

 Book: Class Act

Author: Jerry Craft

Pages: 256

This is my 94th read for the year.

This is the follow up book to Craft's "New Kid".  This story centers around Drew, whose Grandmother has always told him that he will have to work "twice as hard to be half as good".  He goes to the privledged school of Riverdale Academy, but he isn't privledged himself.  He attends the academy on an academic scholarship and isn't sure how he fits in among his peers.

He is invited to his friend Liam's house for the day and finds out how wealthy his friend really is.  This puts a strain on their friendship and their mutual friend Jordan tries to figure out a way to bring them back together.

My daughter, Finley, and I have been really enjoying reading this middle grade graphic novels together.  We enjoyed "New Kids" quite a bit, so when we discovered this book on an outing the other day, we had to have it.  IT was just as good as Craft's first novel.  It has a nice message, some good humor, and some good talking points.  I hope he continues to write more, because we are now fans.

Check it out.

Stars: 4 1/2

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Read The World - Libya - In The Country of Men

Book: In The Country Of Men

Author: Hisham Matar

Pages: 246

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: No (but his parents are)

I have visited: NO

This is my 93rd read for the year

This is the story of Suleiman.  In the late 1970s, in Libya, who is quickly caught up in a world that is beyond his nine year old understanding.  His father - who is frequently away on business trips - is spotted in town when he was supposed to be away.  Soon, things start to change in his household.  The phone is constantly ringing, a neighbor disappears, his mother burns all of his father's books.  Soon Suleiman's mom realizes it is too dangerous for him to be in Libya, and he is sent to Cairo with a family friend to keep him safe.

This was a well written book.  It isn't very long, and flowed nicely.  Suleiman is a bit infuriating, but what nine year old boy isn't.  There were times where I felt the character was a bit too naive.  You get an insigth into Qaddafi's Libya from the few of a little boy, and it is an interesting take.  All the things a child would not understand about the seriousness that was going on around him.  He witnesses the execution of the neighbor and it sticks with him for the rest of his life.

A good read.  I am glad I found this one for my Read The World challenge.

Stars: 4

Friday, November 20, 2020

Extra Book: The Babysitters Club - Logan Likes Mary Anne

 Book: The Babysitters Club - Logan Likes Mary Anne

Author: Ann Martin

Pages: 176

This is my 92nd read this year

The 8th graphic novel in this series is about Mary Anne.  The babysitters club has put out an ad to the PTA at their school that they can offer their services.  What they got was a lot of responses and realize they need help.  Logan, a new kid at the school (and a kid that happens to look like a famous boy that Mary Anne has a crush on) says he loves to babysit.  The girls pair he and Mary Anne up on a job and they discover that they do like each other.  Mary Anne - who is shy - struggles on what to do when Logan asks her to the school dance.  With the help of her friends, she comes out of her shell and realizes how much fun they have together.

Another sweet book in this series that my daughter, Finley, and I read together.  She has really enjoyed these graphic novels (and the TV show that was on this summer) and I love reading them with her.  One of my favorite series growing up, and I am glad to enjoy them once again with her.

Check it out.

Stars: 4 1/2

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Extra Book: The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury

 Book: The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury

Author: Marc Levy

Pages: 278

This is my 91st read of the year

This is the story of Alice.  A 30 something single woman living in London.  She has good friends, a good job, and a great apartment.  Around Christmas one year, her life begins to change.  She and her friends take a trip to a carnival and Alice decides to sit for a reading with a fortune teller.  The Fortune teller tells Alice that she will soon meet the love of her life.  In order to do so, though, she must travel to Turkey.

Alice, returns to her apartment and tries to put what the fortune teller says behind her.  Her neighbor - who is usually biligerant, gives Alice a candle and matches on the night of a blackout, and to Alice - seemed strangely kind.  Soon the two of them are talking and keeping each other company.  Alice tells him about the fortune teller, and he drives her back to see her again and find out the rest of the story.  After the meeting - and the long drive together - Ethan (the neighbor) decides that Alice must take this trip.  He agrees to fund it and go along with her to get her started on finding Mr. Right.

On the journey, Alice has strange dreams, and deja vu when she sees certain places in Turkey.  Even though she is convinced she has never been there before.  What she discovers about herself, and Ethan, will change her life forever.

This was a sweet book.  I listened to it as an audiobook all in one day.  An 8 hour day of yard work and errands by myself and I had this one finished.  It was a great story, well told, and just fun.  Ethan has a funny side and I found myself chuckling often.  The ending is predictable - you know what is coming right from the beginining, but it didn't distract from the story.

Fun read.  I recommend trying this out.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Extra Book: The Keeper of Lost Things

 Book: The Keeper of Lost Things

Author: Ruth Hogan

Pages: 288

This is my 90th read for this year

This is the story of Lost Things.  Anthony lost his wife and a favorite keepsake on the same day.  Now he has spent the last 40 years without her, but collecting things that are lost everyday.  He records them and catalogs them, and hopes that one day, he can return them to their rightful owners.  Laura has wored for Anthony as his assistant for the last 6 years.  Anthony - a famous writer by trade - brought her on the help with the typing and housekeeping, but lately, she has just been the housekeeper and carer of the house.  Anthony - knowing that his time on earth is growing short - needs to decide if Laura can carry out his last wish - return as many of the lost items to their rightful owners as possible.

Laura - with the help of the gardener Freddy, and the young next door neighbor - Sunshine - work together to fulfill Anthony's wish.  Along the way they find people whose stories twist among Anthony's and discover that life is full of losing and finding, and how objects hold stories about all of our lives.

This was a terrific book.  I listened to it wthin a few days because we have been working on moving and it is keeping me entertained.  That is two in a row of me of truly wonderful books.  This book is full of back stories of the lost things that have ended up in Anthony's possession, and Laura figuring out how to return them.  It is a bit of magical realism. Sunshine - a young girl with down syndrome - seems to have a second sight when it comes to the objects and their past.  And the ghost of Anthony's dead wife haunts the house.  But the magicial realism in this book is so slight compared to most books in that genre, that I would be hard pressed to catalog it as such.  The story is beautifully told.  Most characters easy to like.  

Shouldn't be missed.  Check it out.

Stars: 5

Monday, November 16, 2020

Extra Book - The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

 Book: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Author: V.E. Schwab

Pages: 448

This is my 89th read for the year.

I started by listening to this book as an audio book about a month ago.  Scribd - my go to audiobook subscription site - had it and I was THRILLED.  I got to the end of October, had about 2 hours left to listen and Scribd removed it from their library.  I have never had that happen before.  I was crushed.  It is such a popular book that I would have been a long list to wait.  So when my Book of the Month club had it, I scooped it up.  It arrived Friday, and this morning I read the last pages to finish this story once and for all.

This is the story of Addie LaRue.  In the year 1714 Addie is to marry a man she does not love.  Growing up in a small town in France under a doting father and mother and a wonderful neighbor, Estelle, Addie is afriad of what will happen if she marries this man.  So on her wedding day she runs into the woods and begs someone to save her.  She has always been warned to never beg for help in the dark, but Addie is desperate.  Her begging in the darkness brings the devil who promises he can save her from an unwanted marriage - as long as he can have her soul.  Addie agrees.

What happens next is Addie spending 300 years invisible from the world.  Anyone who meets her - immediately forgets her once they are out of her sight.  She cannot hold a job, a home, a relationship.  She cannot leave a trace.  Cannot say her name, write, leave a footprint.  Yet every time Luc (her name for the devil) visits her and asks her to turn over her soul to him, she refuses.

After 300 years, Addie walks into a bookstore and takes a book, knowing that no one will remember her even being there as soon as she is gone.  But what she discovers is.....this time, that isn't true.

This is a great book.  The writing is superb, the story intriguing.  The books bounced back and forth between the past - creeping forward through the decades - and the current year, 2014.  The story follows Addie as she tries to make a life for herself and what that would be like if no one ever remembered you.  How she can't really have a love.  How she cannot rent a room because as soon as the person is out of sight, they won't remember she was ever there.  That she has more lows and hard times than good times.  I enjoy watching her fight to stay alive, keep her soul, and find flaws in the devil's system.  Finds suttle ways to try and leave her mark over the years.

It is really great and one of the best reads I have had this year.  I highly recommend it.

Stars: 5

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Read The World - Jamaica - Here Comes The Sun

 Book: Here Comes the Sun

Author: Nicole Dennis-Benn

Pages: 352

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 88th read for the year

I have 24 books left to read in my Read The World Challenge.  I should be done by now, but the move and "still moving" has really stopped me.  Plus I did take a big break from it and read some off challenge books.  Just needed a break.  My HOPE would be to have this challenge done by the end of the year, or if not - soon after.

This is the story of two sisters - Margot and Tandi.  Margot - who is about 15 years older than Tandi - has never cared for anyone more.  Their mother - who barely gives them the time of day - relies on Margot to work to support the family.  Margot works at a hotel on the island but has to perform sexual favors in order to give Tandi everything she needs.  She wants her sister to go to school, get good grades, and get away this place.  She does everything she can to make that happen.  Tandi, though, has other ideas.  She wants to be an artist.  She wants to fall in love with a boy.  She wants to be lighter skinned.  All things she doesn't dare share with her family knowing they are looking to her to make something better for herself.  Margot wants financial freedom and to spend the rest of her life with Verdene.  Their love must remain a secret and Margo must continue to sell herself so that she can escape as well.

This was a pretty good book.  It is written in the Jamaican language, so you have to read slowly to get through the dialogue.  It sets you in the space even further - picturing the people among the Jamaican scenery.  You become involved in the lives of these two sisters and can picture their struggle.  I cannot say that I particularly liked either of the girls - Margot who seemed to be mostly out for herself with her sister's best interest as second in line.  Tandi - who wanted to be anything but herself - not willing to accept the gift of schooling and ability to make things better for herself.  But I felt for them.  Which I think is what the author was trying to do.  They were both in desperate situations and could see no way to get what they really wanted.

I would recommend this one.  I don't get to read many fiction novels for my Read The World challenge, so I am glad I found this one.

Stars: 3 1/2