Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, May 27, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Music or Art Theme: Every Note Played

 Book: Every Note Played

Author: Lisa Genova

Pages: 336


This is my 42nd read for the year

This is the story of Richard and Karina.  Estranged and divorced, they are forced to work together when Richard is diagnosed with ALS.  Karina finds out from friends at a party that her ex-husband has canceled all of his piano concerts because he can no longer play.  When she visits him, she finds out that he is declining quickly and needs more help that he can afford.  At first she is reluctant.  But then she agrees to help him, and eventually moves him into her home so that she can care for him full time.  Richard knows he needs to make ammends with Karina and their daughter Grace, and time is running out.  He has much to apologize for but Karina feels she does as well.  Hopefully they will get the chance before Richard loses his ability to communicate everything he needs to say.

This was a pretty good book.  It is a quick read, and pretty well written.  I wasn't a big fan of either of the main characters - both selfish characters who couldn't see beyond the end of their nose that each had a play in the end of their marriage.  But the story in general was a good one.  Predictable, yes, but a good read none the less. The writer is gifted - and has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard.  She was the author of Still Alice.  So her books are always worth a read.  Glad a friend recommended this one.

Stars: 4


Thursday, May 26, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Color in the Title: The Green Mile

 Book: The Green Mile

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 400


This is my 41st read for the year

Paul Edgecombe is a guard on E Block - otherwise known as The Green Mile.  This is the last stop for the worst prisoners before they are sentenced to death by electric chair for their crimes.  After years on the mile, the biggest prisoner they have ever seen - John Coffey arrives on the mile.  Convicted of killing two little girls, the guards are not sure what to make of this man.  He cries constantly, he is afraid of the dark, and seems like the most mild mannered person they have ever met.  As the weeks pass, the truth about who Coffey really is comes to light as his interactions with the other prisoners and guards comes to light.  

This was a great book.  I have seen the movie a few times and it is one of my favorites.  The book is well written, and flows well from past to future as Paul recounts his time in the 1930s as a guard at this prison and what it was like to work with the worst criminals.  The author does a good job keeping the story moving - leaving just enough wonder about the smallest details while revealing the truth about Coffey right from the beginning.  The reader isn't kept in the dark unnecessarily.

It is a good one.  It is a horror novel, of course, so keep that in mind if you decide to read it.  But a well written novel like this is worth a look.

Stars:  5


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book You Know Nothing About: The Small Scale Poultry Flock

 Book: The Small Scale Poultry Flock

Author: Harvey Ussery

Pages: 416


This is my 40th read for the year

This book is a comprehensive look at having a small flock of chickens at your home. Harvey has a large flock, but does talk about what you need to get started from the brooder to moving them outside.  He covers birds that you keep as a source of food (both egg and meat) as well as incorporating a few other farm animals.  His indepth coverage talks about ways to incorporate a flock into all of your backyard activities - including gardening and composting. 

This was a great book.  I have read another chicken book since getting our 6 chicks, but this one was the one I started with when we went on this adventure.  It just took me longer to finish.  Harvey is a master in this area, and I learned quite a bit from his book.  There are a lot of sections of this book that will never apply to me (he lives on a large farm and we plan on having a few chicks enclosed at all times due to predators), but I learned so much.  I am impressed with how much he does to feed his chick naturally and how he makes them work in all aspects of his farm.

This is a great one.  If you have a flock or are thinking of getting some chicks, have this book on your self for reference.

Stars: 4.5


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set On A Holiday: A Boy Called Christmas

 Book: A Boy Called Christmas

Author: Matt Haig

Pages:256


This is my 39th read for the year

This is the story of Nikolas.  He lives with his father in the woods with very little to eat or play with, but he is happy.  His father tells him one day that he and a group of men are going to the North Pole to find a place called Elfhelm to prove to the king that Elves exist.  While he is gone, Nikolas' aunt is put in charge of him.  A hateful woman, she makes Nikolas sleep outside and cook and clean for her.  After a few months when his father doesn't return, Nikolas decides he needs to go and find him.  Thus starts his adventure to find his father, and the elves, and find who he was meant to be.

This is a very cute middle grade book.  I saw the movie at Christmas time and thought it would be fun to read the book.  The show followed the book nicely.  It is a well written book and a fun read for anyone in that 8-12 age range or older.  Glad I picked this one up.

Stars: 4



Friday, May 20, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book That Is At Least 20 Years Old: Books of Blood

 Book: Books Of Blood (books 1-3)

Author: Clive Barker

Pages: 507


This is my 38th read for the year

This is a book of short horror stories.  Combined together are the first 3 volumes in a 6 volume series.  Since these are short stories and not easy to give a summary, I won't.  I will just say that I really enjoyed this book.  These are "put the book in the freezer" level of horror stories, which was just what I was looking for.  I am a big Stephen King and Joe Hill fan, but Clive Barker is on a whole other lever when it comes to horror.  These stories will keep you up at night, but are extemely well written.  There is no doubt that Barker is a talented writer.

If you are looking for blood curdling stories - these are for you.  I am going to get the next set of stories to keep this going.  I have watched the show on Hulu as well.

Stars: 4




Wednesday, May 18, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Published in 2022: The Diamond Eye

 Book: The Diamond Eye

Author: Kate Quinn

Pages: 448


This is my 37th read for the year

This is the story of Mila Pavlichenko, a sniper from World War II.  Once the war is over, Mila has over 300 kills under her belt for the Russian Army, and is on a good will tour in the United States.  Before thewar, Mila was a history student who had a young son and was getting divorce.  She turned wanting to learn how to shoot so she could teach her son into a career in the Russian Armed Forces.  Those years she fought did not come without heartbreak, loss, and a love that would change her life forever.  

This was a great book.  It is historical fiction but based on the real Mila Pavlichenko who did kill over 300 people during World War II. The author did research into this young woman that a lot of people don't know about and spun quite the story of her time before, during, and after the war.  The author's note at the end of the book reveals how much of this books was based on truth (quite a bit of it), and gave you even more insight into this incredible person.  It is a well written book, and I would say the only thing that made me a little crazy was the amount of times it was mentioned how many people she had killed.  More often than was necessary - to the point that you felt that the author was using this as main thing to be known about this woman, when she was clearly so much more.

Check this one out.  I have read many of Kate Quinn's historical fiction books about the women during the war, and they have all be elightening.

Stars: 4.5

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

2022 Challenge: Book With A Female Protagonist: Fried Green Tomatoes

 Book: Fried Green Tomatoes

Author: Fannie Flagg

Pages: 416


This is my 36th read for the year

This is the story of Evelyn, Mrs. Threadgoode, Ruth, and Idgie.  Four Women spaning two timelines.  Evelyn meeting Mrs. Threadgoode in the 1980s when Mrs. Threadgoode is an old woman living in a nursing home.  Evelyn, a woman in her 40s, is feeling lost and alone, so Mrs. Threadgoode starts to weave the story of Ruth and Idgie who were two friends in the early part of the century.  These woman ran the Whistle Stop Cafe in a small southern town of Whistle Stop.  Thier lives, and the lives they touched while they ran that cafe, and even before.  Idgie and Mrs. Threadgoode's spirit help Evelyn find the person inside herself that was missing.

This was a good book.  I have seen the movie many times-it is one of my favorites.  The book has quite a few more characters than the movie which is to be expected.  The timeline flows nicely for the most part back and forth between the 1980s and the early part of the century.  The author does a good job building Ruth and Idgie's story.  There were chapters where I felt that they weren't really contributing to the overall story line, but not enough of a bother to take away from the story as a whole.

This is a good one.  And if you haven't ever seen the movie, I encourage that one as well.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Released The Year I was Born: Salem's Lot

 Book: Salem's Lot

Author: Stephen King's

Pages: 464


This is my 35th read for the year

Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem's Lot to write a novel.  A place he spent only a few years living when he was small, he decides to return when he wants to write a book around the history of the Marsten House.  He had planned to rent the house to get inspired, but when he arrives in town, he finds that the house has been sold to two men who hope to open a furniture store in town.

Once he settled into this small town, two young boys go missing in the words and only one returns alive.  Looking into what happens with the boy, Mears - and several other people in the town - realize something is amiss.  Soon, more people start to die mysterious deaths - far more than a small town is used to.  A group of people, including Mears, decide it is up to them to investigate what is going on, and to find out how these two men living in the Marsten House are probably to blame.

This was an excellent book.  It is no lie that I am a King fan - I have read most of his books.  I don't know how I missed this gem which came out in 1975.  It is well written, and the story holds your interest from beginning to end.  It has just enough horror and suspense to keep you on your toes and wanting to find out what the fate of this town is going to be.

Check this one out. 

Stars: 4.5


Friday, May 6, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book That Is A Murder Mystery: In Cold Blood

 Book: In Cold Blood

Author: Truman Capote

Pages: 343


This is my 34th read for the year

This is the true story of the murder of the Clutter family in 1959.  In November of that year two men entered the home of the Clutter family and murdered the 4 members that lived there, leaving no clues for the police to figure out who committed this terrible crime.  It took an inmate coming forward to catch these killers and bring them to justice.  

This was an okay read.  My husband informed me that Capote was one of the first authors of true crime novels, and I commend him for that.  The crime in this book is horrific and when the criminals describe what happened, you will tense up and hope for another outcome.  However - getting to what happened and why took a really long time in this book.  I enjoy a good set up, but I think if they would have explained a bit more about the crime in the beginning and THEN went back and built the story of how the ciminals got there, it would have been a more enjoyable read for me.  Instead, you are left weeding through the backgrounds of too many characters until you get to the point of the book.  Again -this is just my opinion.  Written in a different order, I feel this book would have been a true hit for me.

If you want to read one of the first true crime novels every written to see where it all began, then I can suggest this one.  If you are looking purely for entertainment,maybe look elsewhere.

Stars:  3.5



Thursday, May 5, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Constellation On The Cover/In The Title: The Dog Stars

 Book: The Dog Stars

Author: Peter Heller

Pages: 336


This is my 33rd read for the year

A flu has wiped out most of humanity.  Hig now lives in an airplane hanger with his dog and a guy named Bangley.  Their whole being is staying alive and fending off people who wonder into their space with hopes of taking it.

Hig, who is a pilot, takes flights for supplies on a regular basis.  A few years into the "after" he hears a voice on his radio and is determined to get back there one day to meet who was on the other end.  When he takes the plunge to find others out there 9 years into the after, he discovers that there is still humane people around.  It resets him to the point that he feels that living is worth it even after everything he has lost.

This book was okay.  I do like a good end of the world story.  The problem here is it was a little dry.  It is the slowest burn and it really never reaches a real peak.  Small things happen here and there, but in the end, it is mostly just about getting by after almost everyone else is dead.  And while this probably is the reality of how it would be, it doesn't make for interesting reading.  I did enjoy large parts of it, but mostly, it was just fine.  And then it just......ended.  IT ended on a high note, but no fan fair or great last words.  Just the end.

Eh.  It was fine.  Entertaining enough.

Stars: 3


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book That Starts With The Last Letter from You Last Book: The Beginniner's Guide to Raising Chickens

 Book: The Beginners Guide to Raising Chickens

Author: Anne Kuo

Pages: 192



This is my 32nd read for the year

A how to book for those who are raising their first flock of chickens.  It reviews everything from types of chickens to setting up a brooder and a coop, to helping when a chicken gets sick.  Has information on how to keep your coop and chickens happy and healthy along with tips and tricks for people who don't know anything about chickens.  

This is a great book.  We have just brought home our first 6 chicks and knew absolutely nothing about raising chickens.  We talked to everyone we know who has them, did a lot of internet research, but nothing helps like a how to guide that I can grab off my shelf as we go through the process.  I read this one over the course of two days and it is well written and easy to understand.  And it is highly entertaining.  The author is a backyard chicken-keeper, so if you want a small flock (and she means around 30 chickens or less) this is the book for you.

I learned a ton, and now I feel prepared to take care of our new chicks.  And I am grateful I have this to reference to when problems or questions arise.

Stars: 5




Tuesday, May 3, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set In The 1800s: A Study In Scarlet

 Book: A Study In Scarlet

Author: Arther Conan Doyle

Pages: 100 pages


This is my 31st read for the year

This is the first Sherlock Holmes book.  Dr. Watson has just returned from war and is looking for a flat mate.  A friend introduces him to Sherlock Holmes and these two start what will be quite the adventure together.  They move into 221B Baker Street - the famous address and settle into getting to know each other.  The story is told from Watson's point of view and how he quickly becomes facinated with Holmes and what drives him.  Holmes is called to help investiage a murder, one that the members of Scotland Yard are finding it difficult to solve.  Watson gets a first hand account into how Holmes works backwards to solve a crime and how he is going to outwite the detectives.

This was a pretty good book.  Well written like I knew it would be.  A lot of people feel this is the weakest of Doyle's stories, but it is his first one.  I am glad I started at the beginning - never having read any Sherlock Holmes stories before (My husband is a huge fan on the other hand), and now I feel that continuing through his books is necessary.  Getting to know how Watson and Holmes came together was essential to understanding their relationship.

I recommend this one if you have not read any Holmes stories. 

Stars: 4.5 


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book About Someone Leading A Double Life: Pieces of Her



 Book: Pieces of Her

Author: Karin Slaughter

Pages: 496



This is my 30th read for the year

This is the story of Andrea and Laura.  Andrea thought she knew everything about her mother, Laura.  That is until one day a shooting at their local mall where Laura takes down the suspect that has Andrea realizing she didn't know her mother at all.  This shooting leads Andrea down a path into her mother's past that she finds unbelievable.  In the end, Andrea learns how tough her mother really is, and learns that she can also stand on her own two feet.

This book was okay.  I liked the back story of Laura and how she became the person she is now.  Andrea (Andy) on the other hand was horrible.  Never liked her character.  Borded on hating her.  I know the author wrote her to be that way on purpose, but it was really too much.  I could never route for her because she was so awful.  

I am on the fence to recommend this one.  Out of the gate Andy drove me crazy that I almost didn't finish the book.  However, the backstory parts of this do make finishing the book worth it.  So......maybe?  I am going to watch the Netflix show and maybe that will pull it all together.

Stars: 4





Monday, April 25, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book You Can Read In One Setting: New Orleans Vampires

 Book: New Orleans Vampires

Author: Marita Woywood Crandle

Pages: 128


This is my 29th read for the year

This books cover some of the Vampire Legends that originated in the New Orleans area over the last several centuries.  From the casket girls to a pair of brothers that terroized the town, Crandle explains how these rumors got started and how tbey have held up in the area over the years.

This was a very short book.  It was fairly good - I honestly did not know this about the New Orleans area.  I have been there, but it has been almost 20 years, and at the time I had a young child so Vampire tours wouldn't have been on the list.  I might need to revisit the area now and take one of these tours.  Reading the book got a good sense of the people who claimed this lifestyle and what lead the locals at the time to believe they were actual vampires.  Glad I found this one.

Stars: 4


Sunday, April 24, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Recipe In It: The Recipe Box

 Book: The Recipe Box

Author: Viola Shipman

Pages: 336


This is my 28th read for the year

This is the story of Sam.  Sam comes from a long line of female bakers who have made their mark on their corner of the world.  Her great grandmother started an orchard that quickly grew ove the generations into a Pie Shop and large business in Michigan.  But Sam wants more.  She doesn't think she wants to stay in her small town and take over the business.  She moves to New York to become a pastry chef for a TV celebrtiy chef.  When that doesn't work, she quits on the spot and heads back home to lick her wounds.  While there, she discovers more about herself and her family that she ever knew and wonders if running away from history is what she really desires.

Told by many female voices in Sam's family, going back and forth from past to present, Sam's family history is weaved together through a beloved Recipe Box that is given to each girl in the family when they turn 13.  Sam discovers what matters most isn't necessarily what she expected.

This was a very sweet book.  It is a Hallmark movie from beginning to end - life lessons, love, family.  All of the main characters were likable.  The receipes that are in each chapter all sound delicious that I want to buy this book just for them.  And it even encouraged me to make my own recipe box for my kids to take with them out into the world.

It was a good read.  As we head into the summer months, if you are looking for something light and feel good - this one is for you.  Check it out.

Stars: 4


Thursday, April 21, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Written By Two Authors: Dry

 Book: Dry

Author: Neal Shusterman

Pages: 416


This is my 27th book for the year

Southern California has been in an endless drought.  People have been told to stop watering their lawns, stop filling their pools, conserve as much as they can anywhere they can.  However - in the end, it still isn't enough and the taps run dry.

Alyssa and her family run to the store to find out they are too late to get the last of the water.  This send their family - and many others - into a tail spin of panic about what they are going to do until help arrives.  Alyssa, her brother, and several other neighborhood teenagers are separated from their families and go on a hunt for water.  What they encounter is what civilization becomes when it is at its most desperate.  Choices are made that people can never take back.

This was a pretty good book.  I am a big Shusterman fan and this one didn't disappoint.  I found myself on edge the whole time I was reading this book - how real this scenario could be at any time for us.  How it was contained to one area of California yet those people were trapped and helpless.  After living through the pandemic, I can see how quickly anarchy would set in when the water is turned off.  It is a well written novel, flows well, and wraps up nicely.  Glad I read this one.

Stars: 4



Tuesday, April 19, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Memoir: A Very Punchable Face

 Book: A Very Punchable Face

Author: Colin Jost

Pages: 366


This is my 26th read for the year

This is the story of Colin Jost.  A boy who grew up on Staten Island in New York, went to Harvard, and became a writer and co-achor of the Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.  After spending 15 years on SNL, his book reflects on his life and what got him to this point and where he might like to go next.  Jost takes you on a wild ride discovering things about him that you might not have known mixed in with amusing antics about his friends, co-workers, and family.

This was a great book.  I am a fan of Colin Jost - the Weekend Update still being the one thing I tolerate on SNL.  (also he is married to Scarlett Johansen who plays my favorite Marvel character - Black Widow) He is smart and funny and his book did not disappoint in either of those two areas.  It is well written and will have you laughing outloud.  I learned a lot about Jost that I found surprising (he is a bit wilder than he appears) and also found him self -deprecating (which I expected).  The pace of the book is good, every chapter enjoyable and entertaining.  A good read overall.

Stars: 4 1/2


Monday, April 18, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set On A Plane, Train, or Cruise Ship - Sea of Tranquility

 Book: Sea of Tranquility

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Pages: 272


This is my 25th read for the year

++This book fitting this category is a bit of a stretch, but it does take place a bit on a ship and an airship, so I went with it.

This is a story that spans hundreds of years.  It starts with a young man who has been exiled by his family for bad behavior and is forced to take a steamship to Canada.  While there he has a strange encounter on a beach.  He hears a violin and a sound he cannot place - a whooshing - which leaves him realing.

Two centuries later a novelist named Olive is on her book tour on Earth, but her home is a colony on the moon.  While traveling there are signs that a pandemic is starting and she has to make a choice whether to stay on Earth or go home to her family.

Two centuries even further on a man named Gaspery leaves a menial job to become an investigator at the Time Institute.  His job is to figure out an anomly that appeared in the North American wilderness in the past.  However - in his travels to get there, he upends the lives of the people he was just to observe and is soon exiled himself.  He weaves the three timelines together but what will that do to the future when he decides to intervene?

This was a fair book.  I have read The Glass Castle and Station Eleven by this author, and when I saw she had a new science fiction novel coming out, I wanted to check it out.  It is quite short, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, until you get to the end.  It felt unfinished.  I would have liked to know more.  The writing is up to the author's usual standards, but the story for me fell a little flat. I wanted more!  Another 50 pages to wrap it up a little tighter would have been the ticket.

Stars:  3 1/2


Saturday, April 16, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book About A Man Made Disaster- Five Past Midnight In Bhopal

 Book: Five Past Midnight In Bhopal

Author: Dominique Lapierre

Pages: 432


This is my 24th read for the year

On December 3rd, 1984 toxic gas escaped from a pesticide plant in Bhopal that killed thousands.  The author brings together families and workers that were there during this disaster to rebuild the story and how it came to be.

There isn't much I can say about this one.  I was interested in the disaster because when it happened I was only 9 years old and I don't remember it at all.  However - this book is poorly written.  There is very little in the book about the disaster itself, the rest of it being "fluff" about some of the families and workers in the area leading up to the disaster.  Interwoven the author talks about the company that brought the pesticide plant to Bhopal, but it gets lost among clumsy phrasing.  This book could have been less than 200 pages - talk about the day or two before the disaster, the disaster itself and the immediate aftermath.  Then possibly where people are now.  But that didn't happen, and so I really cannot recommend this one as a good story to learn about what happened in Bhopal in 1984.

Stars: 2



Tuesday, April 12, 2022

2022 Challege: Book With An Animal In The Title: Pigs In Heaven

 Book: Pigs In Heaven

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Pages: 384


This is my 23rd book for the year

This is the story of Taylor.  Taylor has adopted a little girl named Turtle that was just thrust at her one night three years ago.  Taylor is living with her boyfriend Jax and enjoyed her little makshift family.  One day, a laywer for the Cherokee nation comes sniffing around and questions Taylor's adoption of Turtle and Taylor's life is turned upside down.  Taylor takes off with Turtle to hide - afraid that the little girl is going to be taken away from her.  With the help of Taylor's mom, the truth of how her life and the Cherokee nation are revealed and Taylor hopes that everyone can work together so she can keep Turtle.

This was a pretty good book.  I did discover it is the 2nd book in a series, but it really can be read as a stand alone.  There are a lot of small stories woven together.  I did find myself becoming frustrates with the Taylor character - she is maddening at times.  The author does a good job trying to shed light on the trouble with children who leave these Native American tribes and what life might be like for them when they look so different than their peers.  But the book meandered a bit to get to the point and at times that was maddening.  I listened to it and found myself wanting to put it on a faster speed just to get to the point.

I am a fan of Kindsolver books.  She is a good writer and always gives me a good chuckle with some of her clever lines.  Maybe if I had read the first one and got a better basis of Taylor and Turtle this one would have been a better read for me.

Stars: 3



Monday, April 11, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set In Victorian Times: The Forgotten Garden

 Book: The Forgotten Garden

Author: Kate Morton

Pages: 560


This is my 22nd read for the year

This is the story across generations of The (fictional) Blackhurst family.  Spanning from 1900 up to 2005, the women in this story are either keeping secrets or trying to get to the bottom of a family mystery.  Cassandra - a young woman in 2005 is the granddaughter of Nell.  Nell raised Cassandra when her mother took off, and when Nell dies, she leaves Cassandra a small cottage in England.  Cassandra travels from Australia to England to discover why her grandmother had a cottage no one knew existed and what made her buy it in the first place.  This starts to unravel Nell's past and leads Cassandra to find family she never knew she had.  The puzzle pieces start to fit together as the story weaves between the present and the past.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read one other Morton book (The Secret Keeper) and really enjoyed it.  I do like multiple timeline books especially when they pull all together to make a well rounded story.  I will admit, though, that this one lacked a good flow.  There was too much of "keeping the reader in the dark for no reason" that I always dislike.  Question without answers continued to mount, and in the end, I wasn't surprised to find out the big secret.  The threads of the story kind of came together without much explanation about how each character got there.  Overall it is well written, but the story was just a bit lacking. 


Stars: 4


Friday, April 8, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Becoming a Movie or TV Series in 2022: 5 Days At Memorial

 Book: 5 Days At Memorial

Author: Sheri Fink

Pages: 592


This is my 21st read for the year

This non-fiction novel covers the tragedy that struck New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.  Memorial Hospital ran out of power but still had over 100 patients stuck at the hospital in the days following the hurricane.  The author reconstructs those 5 days at that hospital and what the doctors and nurses did to try and get their patients - and themselves - to safety. She covers the doctor's choices to leave some of the sickest patients to be evacuated last and how that lead to the death of many people.  Some of those deaths were called into question and a doctor and two nurses are arrested for potential homicide.  The author reconstructs what went down but leaves the reader to decide for themselves if the staff was innocent or guilty.

This was a prety good book.  The author does a good job of constructing the scene probably spending 100s of hours of interviewing and reviewing paperwork from the staff and the trial to construct the story.  It does get a bit bogged down with over detail in some cases - especially of stories outside of Memorial.  I know what she is trying to do - to connect the dots of how other hospitals handle disasters, or even rules and laws that are in place in other places, but that distracted from the general theme of this story for me.  It did not help the flow.

Overall - a good story.  I am still on the fence about what happened there and if it was homicide or not.  However - I would never want to be in the shoes of that staff that had to make that decision.

Stars: 3 1/2


2022 Challenge: A Different Book By an Author You Read in 2021: Bonk

 Book: Bonk

Author: Mary Roach

Pages: 336


This is my 20th read for the year

In this book, the author looks at the history of sex.  She reaches out with her typical curiosity and asks questions you would never think of.  Why doesn't viagra work for women?  What is myth and what is true about orgasms?  She delves into the science of both male and female pleasure to see what is being done to improve sex for both sexes.

This is probably the most uncomfortable book I have read by Roach.  I do love her quirky sense of humor and her ability to just dig into a subject she is curious about and leave no stone unturned.  But this book is about sex, so  if you are a little "prudish" like I tend to be, you might be feeling a little uncomfortable with this read.  I would like to admit that living in Europe made me a little more open to sexuality, but alas, it did not.  HOWEVER - this book is very well written and very well researched, so I am glad I gave it a go.  I have read all of her other books, so I didn't want to miss this one.

Stars: 4



Monday, March 28, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Paladromic Title: Seveneves

 Book: Seveneves

Author: Neal Stephenson

Pages: 880


This is my 19th read for the year

This is the story of the end of the world.  The moon has exploded into several pieces and the scientist determine that in 2 years a great hard rain would end world.  The scientist use this time to get people into space in livable conditions to grow and evolve until the human races can return to Earth.  The dangers of space along with unexpected challenges leave very few people to carry on the future of humans.

5000 years pass, and it is time to return to earth.  The humans have become 3 billion strong against all odds.  They return to earth to discover that Earth wasn't the desolate planet that they thought it was.

This book was.......long.  I listened to it to help pass the time during yard work, and it was 27 hours of listening.   This book was a marathon, and a tedious one at that.  It started out strong - I was intrigued about how they were going to get humans off the planet - as much as possible - in a 2 year time frame to save the human race.  But Stephenson is like author Andy Weir but on speed.  It was much more textbook than novel, and if he would have left out the constant over explanation about everything space, this novel would have been a comfortable 350 pages.

I then was hoping once it jumped 5000 years into the future we would be entertained how that would look.  How humans - who spent 5000 years off earth evloved and changed.  What ACTUALLY happened was the author spent this section of the book talking about the Seven Eves (the 7 women who harrold the human race into the future) and how their "races" took on the characteristics of each of those women.  That would have been fine for a chapter.  But it was a constant thing, and the story went actually nowhere.

Disappointing.  And I did finish it because.....honestly I have no idea.  But I do not recommend this one

Stars: 2



Monday, March 21, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set In The 1980s: My Best Friend's Exorcism

 Book: My Best Friend's Exorcism

Author: Grady Hendrix

Pages: 336


This is my 18th read for the year

This is the story of Abby and Gretchen.  Best friends sice the 4th grade, they - along with two other friends Glee and Margaret- spend all of their time together.  All 4 of them excellent students with bright futures.  One night they decide to go skinny dipping and everything changes.  Gretchen starts to become unbearable.  Their friendship group falls apart.  Abby - the only one who can see that something isn't right with Gretchen, tries to help.  Abby starts to investigate and monitor her friends from afar even bringing in outside help to get to the bottom of what is happening to her best friend.  Soon Abby will find out if friendship is stronger than the devil.

This was an okay book.  A bit strange and the writing was just so so.  Entertaining enough - I was interested to see where it was going.  Ending was cliche and the story just was a bit choppy.  Characters were just alright - didn't really care about any of them.  

Stars- 3

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With a Reflective Image/Mirror on the Cover: A History Of Wild Places

 Book: A History of Wild Places

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Pages: 368



This is my 17th read for the year

Travis has been hired to find a missing author named Maggie.  His path leads him to a place called Pastoral - a secluded community that few know about.  Pastoral has left the world behind.  The people do not venture beyond its borders - knowing that there is a chance that they could get sick if they do.  The people who have been born and raised in Pastoral no nothing of the outside world.  Travis stumbles upon it one day and disappears.

Years later - Theo, a member of Pastoral- comes across Travis' truck and a blurry photo of a woman, and starts asking questions. The truck is beyond the border - past where the members of Pastoral are permitted to visit.  Theo's wife Calla, and her sister Bea start to unravel mysteries and discover where they live might not be the paradise they once believed.  When the truth is finally revealed, everything they thought they knew is lost.

This was a fair book.  You can figure a few things out pretty early in the book, but a few secrets that don't come until the end were well placed.  You don't feel the author is keeping the reader in the dark just for the sake of it.  The mystery uravels at a good pace, and while the ending isn't shocking, you never feel like the characters could have gotten there sooner with the information they had.  I would say the downside of this one might be the believability of how the people of Pastoral got to be the way they were.  I don't want to give anything away, but what I felt was lacking was more of the HOW this was accomplished.  It was hard to fathom.

If you have seen "The Village" by M. Knight you will think you are in almost a paraellel of that story for a little bit.  Secluded community that has forgotten all about the outside world.  

It is an interesting science fiction/magical realism type book, so if this is your thing, check this one out.

Stars:  3 1/2


Saturday, March 5, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book About A Found Family: Under The Whispering Door

 Book: Under The Whispering Door

Author: TJ Klune

Pages: 384


This is my 16th read for the year

This is the story of Wallace.  Wallace -a man who lacked kindness and empathy in life dies of a heart attack.  A reaper finds him at his own fundral but Wallace refuses to believe he is dead. It isn't until he meets Hugo - a ferryman - that is realizes it is really true.  Hugo promises Wallace that he will help him to cross into the afterlife when Wallace is ready.  All Wallace has to do is say the word and walk through the door.  But Wallace doesn't know if or when he will ever be ready.  So instead,he stays at the Tea shop with Hugo, his reaper, May, and Hugo's grandfather Nelson.   While in the tea shop, Wallace becomes a different person.  He becomes the person he wishes he had been in life.  When he is given one week before he is forced to cross by The Manager, Wallace does everything he can so that Hugo, May and Nelson always remember him.

This was a pretty good book.  I really enjoyed Klune's first book-The House On The Cerulean Sea - and liked that one a bit more.  I loved so many things about Under the Whispering Door, though.  Most of all - their thoughts about what happens when you die.  How each person gets assigned a reaper and a ferryman, and isn't forced to go until their are ready. No living person knows what is beyond the door-it is different for everyone.  The characters were all likeable-especially May the reaper and Nelson the grandpa. IT is well written like his other book.  The downside is really that it is overly sweet.  The sweetness is something I enjoyed about Cerulean Sea, but this was just a bit too far.  It started to lose meaning because it was a bit over the top.

Otherwise - if you liked Cerulean, you will like this one.  The story itself is a good one.

Stars: 4


Friday, March 4, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Booktok Recommendation: Circe

 Book: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller

Pages: 416


This is my 14th read for the year

This is the story of the goddess Circe, the eldest daughter of Helios and Perse.  Circe's parents quickly discover that she isn't what they had hoped for.  As she grows, her brothers and sister are all given powerful stations in life, but Circe is passed by.  Soon it is discovered that she is a powerful witch when she turns a rival into a monster, and Zeus banishes her to a desert island.

There, Circe's powers grow.  She makes a life for herself, and tends to sailors who happen across her island.  She fears the untrustworthy men who come to her shores until one day Odysseus and his crew appear.  She soon falls for him, and when he leaves her shores, he leaves a piece of him behind.

Now Circe will have to conjure all of her powers to protect what means the most to her.  She is torn between the world of the gods and the world of the mortals and now she must chose where her loyalties lie.

This was a great book.  It is beautifully written and I enjoyed the story from beginning to send.  I am a fan of mythology and was quickly drawn to the characters and their stories.  Circe is exiled for most of this book, but that did not slow the plot.  Telling a story from Helios' least wanted daughter gives you a different view into the world of the gods. It is a fresh perspective that did not disappoint.

Glad I findally read this one.  Miller is a talented writer that shouldn't be missed.

Stars: 4 1/2  

Friday, February 25, 2022

Book Challenge 2022: A Book Featuring the LGBTQ community: Razorblade Tears

 Book: Razorblade Tears

Author: S. A. Crosby

Pages: 336


This is my 13th read for the year

This is the story of Ike and Buddy Lee.  Both men have done hard time for crimes in their past.  Ike has been clean for 15 years, owns his own business and has a family.  Buddy Lee is also out of prison, but hasn't had an easy time.  When the cops show up at Ike and Buddy Lee's doors to say their sons have been murdered, the men know they need to make this right.  Neither father were good to their boys while they were alive so now they feel they own them redemption.  They set out to find out who killed their sons, however that going to come at a heavy price.

This was a pretty good book.  It is well written and the story moves fast.  Once I got into the story, I wanted to finish it to see where it was going.  There are a lot of characters and a lot of of POV throughout the book which can make for a tough read.  The two sons who were killed were not really brought to life in this book, which was probably intentional, but left me wanting more.  I wanted to feel the father's pain by knowing more about their boys and their lives.  HOWEVER - based on how these fathers were to these boys, that may be why we didn't learn much.  Alao a disclaimer-this book is very very violent.  The story is about two men who did hard time and outside gangs who killed their sons, so it falls suit- but just be warned.

Interesting story.  Glad I read this popular book.  I will be anxious to see if they turn it into a movie.

Stars: 4


Friday, February 18, 2022

Five Star Reads

 I have been asked in the past about books I rate 5 stars.  I read over 100 books a year,so you would think there would be more.  And, to be fair, there really should be.  Writers put everything out there for our enjoyment and judgement, but in the end- who am I to judge someone's hard work?  We are all entitled to our opinions, yes.  But in the end, I give every writer - even of the books I did not enjoy - a full 5 stars for the effort and the guts to write, sell it, and put it out there for public consumption.  Bravo.

I do try and reserve my 5 star reviews for books that stay with me.  The books I remember. The books that I would read again just for the joy of reading the story over.  Do I recommend them?  Sometimes.  However - everyone's taste is different and something I loved or enjoyed might be something that someone else hates.  I do put my reviews out there, and leave myself vulnerable to the "I cannot believe you didn't like that (or did like that)."  All I can do is shrug and move on.  To each their own.

In the 7 years I have kept this blog, I have reviewed over 750 books.   And in that time I have given a 5 star rating to a book 58 times.  4 1/2 stars and even 4 stars?  100s.  But I try to reserve those 5 star reviews because in the end-they are just for me.  I own each of those 58 books (I don't buy many) because a book that special deserves to be purchased and not just borrowed.

Reading in general is something that is such a gift.  Consuming a story and escaping into a different world for awhile is a joy.  And every one of the 1000s of books (reviewed and not reviewed) that I have consumed over my life time was worth every minute.  

5 Stars: (click on the title if you want to learn more about the book)

The Master and Margarita

All The Light We Cannot See

Kite Runner

Night Circus

The Martian

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Burial Rites

And The Mountains Echoed

The Elephant Whisperer

The Stand

Game of Thrones

Wonder

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

A Man Called Ove

Baby Catcher

Hillbilly Elegy

Life of Pi

Orphan Train

One Plus One

A Fighting Chance

The Book Thief

Artemis

Diary of A Young Girl

Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

Dad is Fat

The Misremembered Man

The Art Forger

A Fall of Marigolds

Salt To The Sea

The Bone Garden

The Shadow of the Wind

A Gentleman in Moscow

Dracula

Daring To Drive

The Little Prince

What is the What

The Astonishing Color of After

Fire and Blood

Bad Blood

The Only Plane in the Sky

When Life Gives You Pears

Each Vagabond By Name

Mindhunter

Mornings in Jenin

Eleni

Anxious People

Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Keeper of Lost Things

Smokes Gets In Your Eyes

Great Expectations

From Here To Eternity

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs

Van Gogh

Hiroshima

Cloud Cuckooland



Thursday, February 17, 2022

Book Challenge 2022: A Book By A Latinx Author: Mexican Gothic

 Book: Mexican Gothic

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Pages: 352


This is my 12th read for the year

This is the story of Noemi.  She and her family receive a troubling letter from her cousin,  Catalina, and Noemi's father wants her to go and check on her.  When Noemi arrives at High Place in the Mexican countryside, she finds a strange, recluse family who barely talks.  No one ever seems to come and go besides a doctor that is carring for Catalina. Noemi -after talking with her cousin - feels that a second opinion is needed as well as a psychiatric consult, but the family is reluctant.   When they finally agree,Noemi starts on a parth that she never expects.  The truth comes to light and Noemi realizes that she must get herself and Catalina away from the house before it is too late.

This was a pretty good book.  The beginning started strong, and I quickly found myself invested in finding out what was going on with the family at High Place.  I liked Noemi and Francis' characters.  The villanous characters are written well enough to make you dislike them.  As the book went along, the story got weirder and weirder.  As it neared the end, it fell apart for me a little, but wrapped up nicely.  

Overall a good read.  Glad I picked this one up.  I understand they are thinking of making it into a limited series.  I will be anxious to see how that goes.

Stars: 4