Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Read The World - Romania- The Land of Green Plums

 Book: The Land of Green Plums

Author: Herta Muller

Pages: 257

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 10th read of the year

Here is what Amazon has to say about this book: 
Set it Romania at the height of Ceauescu's reign of terror, The Land of Green Plums tells the story of a groupd of young people who leave the impoverished province for the city in search of better prospects and camaraderie.  But their hopes are ravaged, because the city, no less than the countryside, bears everywhere the mark of the dictatorship's corrosive touch. All the narrator's friends - teachers and students of vaguely dissident allegiance - betray her, do away with themselves, or both.  As they do so, we see the way the totalitarian state comes to inhabit every human realm and how everyone, even the strongest, must either bend to the oppressors or resist them and thereby perish.

Herta Muller, herself a survivor of Ceausescu's police state, speaks from intimate experience.  Scene by scene, in language at once harsh and poetic, she constructs a devastating picture of a society and a generation ruined by fear.   In simple images of hieroglyphic power - policeman filling their pockets and mouths with green plums; girls sleeping with abattoir workers for bags of offal; a docile proletariat making things no one wants - Muller anatomizes a country and its citizens and the corruption that has rotted the core of both.

This was a pretty great book.  It took me a bit to get into it - having to turn everything off and just concenrate on reading it to follow the style of writing.  However, once I did that, I found who well this book was written and what a profound story she had to tell.  I can see why it won the Nobel Prize.  If you stick to this one, you will find an incredible story about a terrible time in Romania's history.

Stars: 4

Monday, January 25, 2021

2021 Challenge: Book Found on #bookstagram - Severance

 Book: Severance

Author: Ling Ma

Pages: 304

This is my 9th read for the year

  While I wrap up my Read The World, I have started a challenge with a friend.  I have been able to plug away two books so far for that.  Yay me.

This is the story of a pandemic that kills off most of the world.  Shen Fever has taken the world by storm - originating in China - and spreading and turning people into minless "zombies" once the fever hits.  People have barely a warning when the become sick.  These zombies do not see to attack or are after people or brains, or the common zombie world tactics.  No - these zombies, once they get the fever, are stuck in whatever routine they were last doing.  Over and over again until they finally just waste away.

Candance, a millenial who was in an average job in New York City, is one of the last people to leave the city once the fever takes out most of the population.  The book goes back and forth between life before the pandemic and her life right after it takes out most of the population.  Candance tries to figure out where she fits in with her new group of survivors and what she needs to do to take care of herself.

This was an okay book.  Candace drove me crazy.  She was overly stubborn and did dumb things considering she wasn't a kid, but an adult.  And the way she was written seemed like the author was an antimasker.  Constantly complaining about them.  I mean - right now we are ALL complaining about them, but she took it to the next level.  The worst part of the book was the ending.  It just stops.  There is no wrap up.  No Epilogue for what happens to Candace slight in the future.  Nothing.  Just a really weird ending where it feels like the author just didn't know where to go so she just wraped up the story.

The only saving grace for me with this book was the zombie take.  Something different.  Not canibals for once.  Peaceful people that didn't try to kill anyone else.  A refreshing change.

I would skip this one, though.  I listened to it and it kept me entertained on my drives around, but it wasn't great.

Stars: 3

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Book: Notorious RBG - The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

 Book: Notorious RBG

Author: Irin Carmon

Pages: 240

This is my 8th read for the year

This book need very little explanation as a summary.  This is a story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg told through interviews from her collegues, friends, family, law clerks, and even from RBG herself.  Written and published before the 2016 election, it brings up through her whole life - childhood to her years on the surpreme court, painting a picture of the life of the woman who made it her mission to fight for equality.

I listened to this book as I ran errands this last week.  I have the latest RBG book on my shelf, but was curious about this one as well.  Knowing that it stopped before Trump took office (and wondering if she knew what was coming if she would have retired so that Obama could have put another liberal judge on the bench) I was curious to get an introduction to the life of this pistol of a woman.  Reading about her life - even in this short form that really does just gloss over what she accomplished - made me anxious to read the more recent book about her.  She was a powerhouse.  She paved the way for women and we have a lot to thank her (and those around her) for.  

Check this one out.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2021 Book Challenge: A Book Mentioned In Another Book: The End of Everything

 Book: The End of Everything

Author: Katie Mack

Pages: 240

This is my 7th read of the year

2021 Book Challenge Has Begun!

Side note - I completely forgot I didn't blog this book.  I read it a few weeks ago - well listened to it as an audio book.  And forgot to put it in my catalog

This is a non-fiction book in the author's own voice about the end of the universe.  She sets out to answer "what happens at the end of the story?"  Will we go out with another bang?  A whimper?  A collapse?  Fire? Ice?  She delves deep into the science of the universe and what could lead to its eventual demise - because we all know there will be an end someday - and if we will get warning, or one day that will just be "the end".  With wit and humor she takes us through a few possibilites based on what we now know about the universe and its development.

This was a great book.  Hold onto your hats because Katie is brilliant.  She gets into a lot of detail about the universe and the science behind it, and it leaves you realing.  HOWEVER - I have to commend her on her ability to also bring it down to our mere human level to help us understand it on a broader sense.  Your mind will be blown.  You will be terrified and mystified all at once.  I am positive you will learn something you didn't know before.  So check this one out.

Stars: 4 1/2

Read The World - Sao Tome e Principe - Equator

 Book: Equator

Author: Miguel Sousa Tavares

Pages: 384

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

this is my 6th book for the year

Here is what Amazon said about the book (I KNOW - being lazy - but I am in the middle of moving and I just don't have time to blog like I want)

It is 1905 and Luis Bernardo Valenca, a thirty-seven-year-old bachelor and owner of a small shipping company, is reveling in Lisbon's luxurious high society.  But his life is turned upside down when King Dom Carlos invites him to become governor or Portugal's smallest colony, the island of Sao Tome e Principe.   Luis Bernardo is ill-prepared for the challenges of plantation life - used to a softer urban existence, he is shocked by the conditions under which the workers labour.

But with the English closing in on Sao Tome's cocoa plantations, the island's main means of survival, Luis Bernardo must endeavour to protect the island and its community.

This was a fair book.  I know this says it is Portugal's smallest colony, but it is its own country - off the border of Africa.  There is a nice mix of politics, romance, and conflict.  It also is full of history of Sao Tome intermixed with historical fiction that fulfilled my need of wanted to actually learn about the country itself.  It is an intense read - very wordy.  Women are painted as women probably were in 1905 - more like objects to be admired than actual people.  Although it could also be argued that the author has a lower opinion of women and didn't feel like developing any further than what he did.  Hard to say

Look - this is a book that takes place on a tiny island.  I was grateful to find something to read that had any substance that wasn't a text book about this country, so I am keeping it for now.

Stars: 3

Friday, January 15, 2021

Read The World - Syria - Damascus Nights

 Book: Damascus Nights

Author: Rafik Schami

Pages: 264

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 5th book for the year

From Amazon:

Upon this enchanting frame of tales told in the fragrant Arabian night,the words of the past grow fainter, as ancient customs are yielding to modern turmoil.  While the hairdresser, the teacher, the wife of the locksmith sip their tea and pass the water pipe, they swap stories about the magical and the mundane:  about djinnis and princesses, about contemporary politics and the difficulties of bargaining in a New York department store.  And as one tale leads to another, and another, al of Damascus appears before your eyes, along with a vision of storytelling - and take - as the essence of friendship, of community, of life.

This was a pretty good book.  I loved the stories that were told throughout the book - intrigued as always with short stories within a novel.  The main character - Salim - has lost his voice and requires 7 stories from his 7 friends to bring it back.  The book takes place in Damascus in 1959 when Syria was part of a pan-Arab nation.  The storytelling was not prohibited speech, so it was a way that Salim and his friends could get together and talk without chancing prison.  The book will draw you in so it is well worth a look.  Check this one out.

Stars: 4


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Read The World - Venezuela - The Haciedena

 Book: The Hacienda

Author: Lisa St. Aubin de Taran

Pages: 352

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO - but she lived there for 7 years with her husband

I have visited: NO

This is my 4th book for the year

This is the author's own story of her time in Venezuela.  She spent 7 years on her husband's family's Hacienda.  She was in her teens when she married a man in his 40s.  Her husband has fled the country as a political criminal, and once he was able to return, he wanted to run the Hacienda himself.  However - due to mental illness, or what could just be lack of care, he never did run the Hacienda.  Lisa barely saw her husband, and when she did, he usually had a fit of rage.  She spent 7 years trying to help run The Hacienda,and raise her daughter, before she finally escapes.  

This was a pretty good book.  I found it well written and was very intriqued with the story.  A very young girl who was swept away by an older man who chased her constantly to marry him and then just leaves her to fend for herself.  The trials she went through and the conditions she lived in will leave you bewildered and shaking your head.  I cannot even imagine sticking it out as long as she did considering what she was dealing with.  She didn't have the greatest upbringing or parental remodel so that could be part of it.  I also wish she would have written more from when she left Venezuela and her life after her escape and how she recovered.  But she didn't.  So it left me wondering.

Stars: 3

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Read The World - Turkmenistan - The Tale of Aypi

 Book: The Take of Aypi

Author: Ak Welsapar

Pages: 170

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 3rd book for the year

Here is what Google has to say about this book:  "The Tale of Aypi follows the fate of a group of Turkmen fishermen dwelling on the coast of the Caspian Sea.  The fear of losing their ancestral home looms over the entire village.  This injustice is being made to look like a voluntary initiative on the park of the fishermen themselves, while the ruling powers attempt to confiscate their land.  One brave fisherman from the village rises up to confront them and fights for his native shore, as a response to an act of cruelty inflicted on a defenceless young woman centuries ago.

This was a short, well written book.  It is told through dialogue of the characters, which did make it a bit jumpy and since my mind is all over the place right now with our move - it made it hard to focus.  I had to re-read parts several times.  It was fun getting to know the characters in the fishing village.  There is a bit of magical realism as well - with a ghost of the young woman.  The book examined old vs new ways of living, men vs women, and human powerlessness when it comes to government control.  

I am glad I found this one.  Widdling down the last of my Read The World books has been harder than I thought, but this was a good one.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Extra Book - Between Sisters

 Book: Between Sisters

Author: Kristin Hannah

Pages: 480

This is my 2nd book for the year

This is the story of sisters Meghann and Claire.  Meghann - who is quite a bit older than Claire - practically raised her little sister in their younger years.  Their mother - an actress that was gone more than she was home - left Meghann to figure out how to feed Claire and care for her.  Gone usually just a few days, their monther once disappeared for a much longer period and food ran out.  Meghann panicked and called Claire's father, Sam, to come and help.   Feeling more like a burden than a daughter, Meghann leaves Claire with Sam and disappears from their life.

Year's later, Claire calls Meghann because she is getting married.  Their strained relationship has a chance to be rekindled with Claire agrees to let Meghann be involved in the wedding plans.  Meghann begins to open up becoming a sister again to Claire, an aunt to Claire's daugher, and even finds love herself.  When tragedy hits, Meghann is there to take charge and save the family she has now come to realize she cannot live without.

This was a good book.  I enjoy most of Kristin Hannah's book, so this was no exception.  She is a talented writer.  The story kept my interest - I liked most of the characters.  Only a few eye rolling moments near the end of the book as Hannah tries to neatly wrap up the story.  It does have a great epilogue, which I always appreciate in a book.  Love to see into the future of the character's lives, so that was a redeeming quality for the story.

Check this one out.  I listened to it to help pass some time while we settled into our house, and I looked forwarded to listening to it each day.

Stars: 4

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Extra Book - The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

 Book: The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Author: Kelly Harms

Pages: 328

This is my first book finished for 2021!

And I didn't start with a read the world book - I should have.  I need to get that finished.  However - when driving a million miles back and forth between our rental and our house, audio books it is.

This is the story of Amy Byler.  Her husband left her and their two children 3 years ago - said he couldn't take it anymore.  Moved to Singapore - only sending the kids checks and money here and there.  Amy had to get a job, manage a house that was too big and too expensive, and tried to hold it all together.  Then one day - her ex-husband shows up back in town wanting to get re-acquainted with the kids.  Amy decided to let him back into their lives and when her ex asks her if he can spend the summer with them, Amy lets go and heads to New York City with a friend to have some much overdue alone time.

What it becomes is a life changing trip for her.  She starts to reinvent herself - become someone besides "someone's mother" and starts to live.

This was a pretty good book.  Kept me entertained.  It was humorous enough.  Her "momspringa" was overdetailed.  I didn't need to know about every food she ate and every man she dated in great detail.  There were relatable parts - a woman who had settled into a comfortable clothing lifestyle - becoming someone who put her children's needs before her own.  But it did stretch a bit into a fairytale beyond was a normal "mom on holiday" might experience.

Fine read for passing the time, though.  Light and didn't take a lot of concentration to keep up with the story line, so great for long drives.

Stars: 3 1/2