Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Read The World - Kurdistan - My Father's Paradise

 Book: My Father's Paradise

Author: Ariel Sabar

Pages: 369

Book takes place in the country: YES (just about 50%)

Author is from the country: NO - but his father was

I have visited: NO

This is my 87th read for the year

This is the story of the author's family.  Born and raised in the United States, Ariel Sabar sets out to discover his family's past in Kurdistan.  For 3000 years, Jews lived in Kurdistan, spoke Aramaic, and lived peacefully among the Christians and Jews who surrounded them.  However, in the earlier part of this century, all of that changed and the Jews in Kurdistan fled to Israle where Ariel's father spent a portion of his life.  His father finally moved to the United States and became a well known professor in Los Angeles.  Ariel never really connected with his father growing up - never understood his old world traditions he held on to.  Until Ariel had a child of his own.  Ariel journeys with his father to his old village in Kurdistan- Zakho - to discover who his father and family really are.

This is a very good book.  It is no doubt that I am a lover of non-fiction, but my favorite is storytelling from usually the author or about a particular person/family.  The books for me that should the loudest are the personal stories - not just a straight history.  Ariel weaves a story of his father's family and how they lived, their traditions, their flee, and finally the return to visit the land they once called home.  You get great insight into the Jewish story in this land.  It shouldn't be missed.

Stars: 4 1/2

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Extra Book - Clap When You Land

 Book: Clap When You Land

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Pages: 432

This is my 86th read for the year

This is the story of two sisters who knew nothing of each other.  Yahaira who grew up in New York City with her mother and father.  And Camino who grew up in the Dominican Republic with an aunt and a father who visits in the summers.  Camino is at the airport to meet her father when she finds out that his plane has crashed.  Yahaira is told the same truth about her father's death when she is pulled from her classroom and taken home.  The girls start to recolect on who their Papi was and soon discover each other.  Camino - more excited about the idea of having another relative than Yahaira is - reaches out to her on facebook to see if there is a chance they can get to know each other.  Yahaira decides that when her father's wishes to be buried in the Domincan Republic are granted, she would fly to be with him there and meet this long lost sister.

This was an okay book.  It has a large amount of 5 star reviews and I can see their reasons.  For me, I listened to it, and I think that might have been the problem.  The language of the book was okay, the story intriguing, but the way it was read was very choppy.  It is written almost in a poetry form, and so when it is read outloud, to me it was hard to develop feelings for the characters.  It is a personal thing more than about the book in general.  My thoughts would be to get the print copy and try it that way.  The relationship that forms between the sisters is the best part of this book, but overall - it was just....fine.

Stars: 3

omen reading it 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Read The World - Jordan - Leap Of Faith- Memoirs Of An Unexpected Life

 Book: Leap Of Faith - Memoirs Of An Unexpected Life

Author: Queen Noor

Pages: 480

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 85th read of the year

This is the story of the author and how she became the Queen of Jordan, and her work in that role.  Born in America, as Lisa Halaby, Queen Noor was a Princeton graduate who quickly found herself in love with King Hussein after a chance meeting 2 years after she graduated.  He was recently widowed, and after a whirlwind romance they were married.  They had 4 children together, and the book covers her time as Queen and the work that she and King Hussein did to bring peace to Jordan and the countries around them.  King Hussein died of cancer in 1999 and Queen Noor continued her work for Jordan long after.  

This was a very well written book.  I am always intrigued by stories coming from this part of the world because I know so little about it.  It is always interesting to hear personal stories and read their point of view.  Queen Noor gives a personal account of her time as Queen and also the unrest that took place during her rein from the 1970s through the late 1990s and how she and King Hussein fought to settle that unrest.  She was very involved with the political aspects of her country.  You can tell from her writing how much she loved her husband, her adopted country, and her life as a leader in Jordan.

Worth the read.  

Stars: 4 1/2

Friday, November 6, 2020

Extra Book: Practical Magic

Book: Practical Magic

Author: Alice Hoffman

Pages: 286

This is my 84th read of the year

This is the story of the Owens family - 200 years after Maria Owens lands in Massachusetts.  The family of witches is always blamed for all the bad things that happen in their area.  Sally and Jillian Owens have their own set of problems.  Sally falls in love and marries a wonderful man and has two beautiful children.  Jillian falls for a man that is awful.  In the end, both men's lives end as goes the fate of the Owen's family when it comes to love.  The sisters have a secret that they are trying to protect, but it soons catches up with them.  Jillian and Sally will do anything to protect their family.  So they call on their elderly aunts to help.  Their family bond cannot be broken no matter what the cost.

This was an okay book.  It is the 3rd book in the series.  I have read Rules of Magic and Magic Lessons recently, so had to finish the series with this one.  The other two had much more depth and character development with this one.  I listened to this one as an Audiobook and it was only 3 1/2 hours long.  So short that I never really developed feelings for any of the characters or really saw a development of the actual story.  It was fine - just not as good as the other two.  I know it was actually the first book she wrote and other other two, though prequels, were more recent.  However, I was just hoping for more.

I have never seen the movie and I have read that this is pretty different.  I might check it out anyway just because.

Stars: 3


Thursday, November 5, 2020

>xtra Book - Becoming Brianna

 Book: Becoming Brianna

Author: Terri Libenson

Pages: 320

This is my 83rd read for the year

In this graphic novel by Libenson, Brianna has decided to have a bat mitzvah.  At first she is doing it because her mom wanted her too, but she soon discovers she wants to do it for herself as well.  However, Brianna has terrible stage freight, and is struggling to learn the Hebrew language.  She doesn't feel that she will ever be ready.  At the same time, the whole school has gotten the idea that Brianna is having a huge Bat Mitzvah party with celebrities and musical guest, and she doesn't know how that started.  As she struggles with being ready for the Bat Mitzvah, and friendships, she starts to think none of this was worth it.

What a cute book.  Finley and I have read all of Terri Lbenson's books, and they never disappoint.  And they usually have a surprise ending that is quite clever.  I have to say for this one - the ending wasn't nearly as clever as past books, but cute none the same.  An overall great story and great read.  I recommend this one for your middle schoolers or late elementary kids.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Extra Book - New Kid

 Book: New Kid

Author: Jerry Craft

Pages: 256

This is my 82nd read for the year

This graphic novel is about a young middle school boy named Jordan who is starting at a new school.  His parents wanted to help him get ahead, so they are moving him to an exclusive private school.  Jordan doesn't want to go to this new school and meet all new kids.  He wants to stay at his old school, or go to an art school.

It is hard to be the new kid.  Jordan is assigned a buddy to show him around the school, and in the process he meets a few nice kids and a few not so nice.  He learned to find his way in his new environment as not only the new kid, but as a person of color.

This was a good graphic novel.  Finley and I read it together.  She had picked it out because we have recently returned to America and she is now the new kid in school.  It has been a hard transition for her.  We read it all in one afternoon, and it was a well thought out novel.  Highly recommend.

Stars: 4