Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, September 23, 2022

Book: The Long Walk

 Book: The Long Walk

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 319

This is my 80th read for the year

This is the story of Ray Garraty.  He and 99 other young men are about to start an annual stamina test called "The Long Walk".  The boys cannot go slower than 4 miles and hour and cannot stop for any reason - not even to sleep.  If they stop, they get a warning.  3 warnings and they are shot on the spot.  The winner - and there can only be one - gets whatever he wants for the rest of his life.  There is no finish line - it is whomever is the last one standing.  

This book was just okay.  I honestly do not understand the 5 star reviews, but to each their own.  I am a huge King fan, but this one was a miss for me.  It was a lot of rambling and then it just.....ended.  All this build up - 300 pages of these young men walking and nothing really getting explained as to WHY they chose to participate - just so I could see who the winner was AND what he was going to claim for his prize.  Maybe see into the future a bit on how the walk affected our main character, etc.  Kind of like Hunger Games.  Where the games was just the beginning.  That was not true in this book.  The last page was such a let down.  

This is a King I would skip.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Book: Zak George's Dog Training Revolution

 Book: Zak George's Dog Training Revolution

Author: Zak George

Pages: 240

This is my 79th read for the year

Zak George is a dog trainer with a newer approach to a happy dog.  His book covers the basics of dog training from the time you bring home your puppy - and even before as you decide what breed might be the best fit for your family.  His technique of positive reinforcement and training your dog from the inside out is a newer approach to the training world.  

This was a great book.  We have had a dog before, but it has been 11 years since we had a puppy.  My husband always had dogs growing up, and the techniques that he used and we used with our first dog are different than the newer approaches.  Science and research is starting to show that positive based training from the inside out to get the behaviors out of your dog is a much more effective, long term way to train your dog to fit your family.  I learned a lot in this book and from watching many of his videos that made me decide this was the approach we wanted to take with our new puppy.  Great advice in this book.

Stars: 4.5

Book: Bernedoodle: A Head To Tail Guide

 Book: Bernedoodle: A Head To Tail Guide

Author: Sherry Rupke

Pages: 192

This is my6 78th read for the year

A Bernedoodle guide written by the person who started the breed in the United States.  Sherry gives an indepth look on the history of the combination of this breed, what it means to have a doodle, and how to care for them successfully.  She talks you through deciding if this breed is right for you through picking your breeder, your vet, your puppy, your trainer, and beyond.  

This is a well written book.  Of the two I read about Bernedoodles, this was my favorite.  She has clear language and I learned a lot about the breed and what it is going to mean to care for a Bernedoodle.  It gave me some good insight while we wait for our puppy.

Stars: 4.5

Book: The Complete Guide To Bernedoodles

 Book: The Complete Guide To Bernedoodles

Author: David Anderson

Pages: 140

This is my 77th read of the year

This is a guide book for the care of Bernedoodle dogs.  The author interviewed the top Bernedoodle breeders to give the reader tips and tricks to raising these dogs.

As you can imagine - we picked this one up because we are getting a Bernedoodle puppy.  I thought this books was pretty great.  It has a wealth of information about the breed, training, grooming, and what it means to have this breed of dog.  We are not new to Doodle dogs, but this is our first doodle mixed with a Bernese Mountain Dog, so we were grateful for some tip and tricks.

Stars: 4.5

Friday, September 2, 2022

Book: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

 Book: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Pages: 416

This is my 76th read of the year

This is the story of Sam and Sadie.  Two friends that met by accident when they were kids - Sam was in the hospital recovering from a horrible car accident and Sadie was visiting her sister who had cancer.  Their love of video games sparked a lifelong friendship that ended in them working together in the world of game making.  They develop a game that is an overnight sensation, and it sets them on a whirlwind life changing path.  It is a story that spans 30 years filled with friendship, love, tragedy, and redemption.

First - I want to say - I loved Zevin's book "The Storied Life of AJ Fikry".  Loved it.  When I saw that she had another book out, I went on the long wait list at the library to read it.  And.....I was disappointed.  I think part of the problem is that the story itself just wasn't for me.  It is a gamer's dream, this book.  It is almost all about them making different video games and running a video game company and I just was bored with that story line.  I really didn't like Sadie at all.  Sam, and his roommate Marx are great characters so that helped redeem the story and keep me reading.  I felt myself skimming quite a bit which I hate to do in books.  But it just didn't hold my interest.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Book: Once There Were Wolves

 Book: Once There Were Wolves

Author: Charlotte Mcconaghy

Pages: 272

This is my 75th read for the year

This is the story of Inti Flynn.  She and her sister have moved to Scotland to help a group of biologist reintroduce wolves into the Highlands.  It is an ecological move, but the locals are less than happy about the threat wolves bring to their livestock and families.  Inti has traveled with her twin sister, Aggie, who has lived through a terrible tragedy and has not spoke since.  Inti hopes getting them both out of Alaska and working on this project will help Aggie heal.  The project takes off, and is starting to be successful when a local is found dead.  Inti decides to protect the wolves against the wrath she knows is coming but it may come at a terrible cost.   As she befriends the locals and even finds love, she risks everything to protect the wolves that have always been a part of her history.

This was a pretty good book.  To start - I felt it was well written.  The story of the wolves and their part in the ecosystem was the most interesting part to me.  I feel like I learned a lot about their part in nature.  However - it is a very dark book- a lot of tragic stories for every character, to the point of it being almost overdone.  There is a love story, but I did have a hard time finding it believable.  The murderer in the end and how they handled it didn't sit well with me.  I think the author wanted to wrap up the story neatly,  but it really didn't fit with how dark the story had been up until then.  Going the way you would imagine it SHOULD would have made more sense.

Stars: 3.5

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Book: The 100 Years of Lenni and Margot

 Book: The 100 Years of Lenni and Margo

Author: Marianne Cronin

Pages: 352

This is my 74th read or the year

This is the story of 17 year old Lenni and 83 year old Margot.  They meet under the most dire of circumstances in the hospital.  Lenni lives on the Terminal ward and Margot is in the hospital for surgery for her heart that may or may not prolong her life.  They meet in an art class and Lenni decides to start an art project with Margot to make 100 pictures to represent their two ages added together.  As they draw, Margot tells Lenni the story of her life.  As their lives dwindle, the stories of these two fill their days and form a unbreakable bond.   With the help of a doting nurse and the hospital's chaplain, the group fills Lenni and Margots last days with an amazing project that help them leave their mark on the world.

This book was wonderful.  I don't cry often with books, but there were certain sections of this one that brought me to tears.  I wish I could tell you the part that got me the most, but I don't want to give anything away.  The story is sweet, the characters witty and fun (especially Father Arthur), and Margot's stories of love, friendship, loss, and hardship brought the story alive.  Even though we all know how it will end for Lenni and Margo right from the begining, the plot focuses mostly on the life of these two women outside of the walls of the hospital.  

A great lesson about living with the life you are given.  Have tissues at the ready!

Stars: 4.5

Friday, August 26, 2022

Book: The Messy Lives of Book People

 Book: The Messy Lives of Book People

Author: Phaedra Patrick

Pages: 352

This is my 73rd read for the year

This is the story of Liv Green.  A maid for a high profile recluse author, and mother of two, Liv wishes for more.  When the author (Essie) invites Liv into her studio one day to ask her opinion on her newest book Liv gives her opinion that she feels that it isn't the author's best work.  A tenuous friendship forms, and Liv starts to feel more than just Essie's maid.

When Essie suddenly passes away, Liv finds out that Essie left instructions for her to finish the author's novel.  She also has to keep the author's death a secret for 6 months while the book is finished.  Liv starts to write the book and along the way starts to unravel the reclusive author's life and finds things out that she never expected.

This book was really awful.  Liv was a horrible character.  Completely unrealistic story line with a very selfish and self centered main character.  This is a maid who barely makes enough money to scrape by, has two children going to university and a husband and a low paying job.  Yet she uses some of her money to buy fancy clothes and getting pampered when they have a pipe that burst at home and a lot of bills to pay.  She gets mad at her husband for being reasonable.

Just silly.  I should have quit reading it, but I REALLY wanted to see what Essie left Liv in her will.  Trust me - not even a little worth it.

Stars: 2

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Book: The Measure

 Book: The Measure

Author: Nikki Erlick

Pages: 368

This is my 72nd read for the year

This is the story of what would happen if you knew when you would die.  One morning, everyone all over the world wake to a box on their porch that contains a single string.  The string inside - short or long - determines the length of your life.  Not what is left, but your whole life from beginning to end.  People don't know what to make of this strange arrival.  The boxes and strings cannot be destroyed.  Some people decide not to look.  Others cannot help it and quickly turn to the scientist who start to figure out what the string lengths mean.  At first they are able to narrow your life ending withing 2 years.  Then within a month.

Thus starts people deciding what they are going to do with their strings and what they mean - short or long.  The people with short strings start to form support groups.  People decide how they are going to live given the time they have left.  However - trouble also starts to arise when panic sets in with people who only have a small window of life left.  "Long stringers" start to tout that "short stringers" are dangerous.  Military and some jobs start to state that they must know the length of your string before you get certain jobs or can join the armed forces.  Short stringers are discriminated against in all aspects of life, and a small group of people decide to fight back.

This was a pretty good book.  I liked the concept and since these dystopian type books are part of my favorite genre, I was drawn to give it a try.  It is a thought provoking book for sure.  What would you do with this box if it showed up at your door?  Would you open it?  Would knowing change how you lived the time you had left?  The type A personality in me says I would definitely look.  But then my anxiety about knowing would make me think I shouldn't.  It would be a hard call.

The book is a bit cheesy in times, but not enough to deter my enjoyment of the book.  And the message is clear about discrimination and unity in tough times.  Overall a good read.

Stars: 4.5

Friday, August 19, 2022

Book: The Paris Apartment

 Book: The Paris Apartment

Author: Lucy Foley

Pages: 368

This is my 71st book of the year

This is the story of Jess.  She has traveled to Paris to meet her brother, Ben, and hopfully crash with him for awhile.  She hasn't seen him in awhile, but finds herself in circumstances where she really needs his help.  When she arrives in Paris, Ben isn't at the apartment, and Jess can't get him on his cell.  She enlist the help of neighbors, and someone who was working with Ben to try and find out what happened to him.  What Jess finds is an apartment building full of suspicious people who seem to know something but aren't telling.  As Jess delves into Ben's life in Paris and the people who knew him, she starts to think that something terrible happened to him.

This was an okay book.  I actually liked it better than the other book I read of hers: "The Guest List".  The chracters are all terrible people, but they are supposed to be.  I thought several times while reading this that the author really doesn't seem to like the French.  Her characters were prety stereotypical. You figure out pretty quickly who is involved in Ben's disappearance, but it kept me entertained well enough.  I listened to this one and while I didn't jump to keep listening to it, when I needed entertainment during yard chores, this kept me going.

Stars: 3 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Book: The Clockmaker's Daughter

 Book: The Clockmaker's Daughter

Author: Kate Morton

Pages: 496

This is my 70th read for the year

This is a book that travels back and forth through time.  In the 19th century, a young girl who is abandoned in London is taken in by a couple that teaches her to be a theif.  As she grows up, she catches the eye on a young, budding artist who wants her to be his muse.  Their relationship blossoms into love, but when the young girl's "family" comes looking for her, a tragedy strikes, and the girl disappears.  

Over time, Birchwood Manor where the tragedy struck ebbs and flows with people.  It is bought and sold - left to go into disrepair.  All the while it holds a dark secreat.  As the story unfolds over the course of more than a century and a half, the people who come and go have lives that entertwine and piece together what happened that one fateful night so long ago.

This was a pretty good book.  You have to be really paying attention as you read, so this one took me a longer time than I was expecting.  It was well written, but the back and forth through time and all the characters is hard to keep up with at times.  It would have been nice to have a layout of the timelines and characters somehwere to refer to so you weren't constantly trying to remember who fit where.  The ending wasn't great.  I have read several Kate Morton books and have liked them pretty well, but this one  - after 496 pages - have an ending I felt was lacking.  

I suggest if you pick this one up, you are ready with pen and paper to keep a timeline for yourself so you can refer to it as this books hops around quite a bit.  Also - it cannot be one that you read, like I did, over the course of a few weeks when you have time.  I would make the time to read this one a few days in a row to keep the momentum of all the characters straight.

Stars: 3.5

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

2022 Challenge: Duology: Vengeful

 Book: Vengeful

Author: V.E. Schwab

Pages: 480

This is my 69th read for the year

The second book in Villans Duology opens basically where we left off.  Victor is still struggling to keep his heart beating after Sydney brought him back from dying a second time.  As he searches for answers, and searches for Eli, new EOs come onto the scene.  Marcella Riggins' husband tried to murder her, but instead, turned her into one of the most powerful EOs in existence.  When she meets June, she thinks as a team they can be unstoppable.  Eli - now behind bars - and being tortured for science - is brought in to try and find Marcella and stop her.  However, his handlers are reluctant to let him out.  They want him to help them from prison.  Eventually Victor, Eli, and Marcella will face off and it is anyone's guess who will be left standing.

This was a good book.  I didn't like it as much as the first one - I was kind of hoping they would focus just on Victor and Eli and their own hunts.  But most of the story is about Marcella and June.  Marcella was not likable at all - although I am beginning to think that is the idea with this author.  A lot of time jumps.  I didn't find myself jumping to finish this one like I did Vicious.  It wraps up nicely - I don't think there will be a third. But who knows.  And if there is - we shall see if I pick it up.

Stars: 3

Friday, August 12, 2022

2022 Challenge: Duology: Vicious

 Book: Vicious

Author: V E Schwab

Pages: 400

This is my 68th read for the year

This is the story of Victor and Eli.  Two friends who met in college ad quickly hit it off.  They were both incredibly intelligent as well as arrogant, and they liked to challenge each other.  When Eli picks to do his final college thesis on how someone could develop Extraordinary (EO) abilities Victor becomes wary.  However when the experiment moves from the classroom to real life, things take a turn that neither saw coming.  

10 years later, Victor is on the search for Eli.  While Victor has been in prison for a crime, Eli has been on the search for EOs to erradicate them all for the abominations he believes them to be.  With the help of an unlikely sidekick, both Victor and Eli come head to head once and for all.  

This was a pretty good story.  A clever idea of people who get abilities after they die and are brought back to life by resucitation and the abilities they develop due to that resucitation.  Victor and Eli are on opposite sides when it comes to EOs abilities and if they should be allowed to exist.  Both of the main characters are extremely arrogant, and honestly - I didn't love either that much.  Victor is probably the better of the two as far as likability, but he still wanted these abilities for himself, so he isn't much better than Eli in the end.

I am anxious to read the second book in this series to see where it is going.  It was well written, and entertaining, and the first book did end on a cliff hanger.  If you are interested in the supernatural, this book is for you.

Stars: 4.5 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Book: The Wife Upstairs

 Book: The Wife Upstairs

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Pages: 336

This is my 67th read for the year

This is the story of Jane.  She is a dog walker in a rich part of Alabama.  She spends her days taking care of other people's pet and wishing she could have their brightly colored lives.  One day, she meets Eddie - a wealthy man whose wife has died in a tragic accident along with her best friend.  What happens next is a whirlwind romance that Jane never saw coming and before she knows it, she has moved in with Eddie and they are planning a wedding.  Jane cannot shake the feeling that she will always be in Eddie's wife Bea's shadow.  Soon, things start to unravel, and Jane can't shake the feeling that things are not as they seem.  How can she makes sure that Bea stays buried?

This book was just okay.  I listened to it and it passed the time while I was working in the yard.  But it is not good literature. I hated all the characters.  The twist you can see coming.  I felt bad for no one in this book - they were all awful.  Didn't care what happened to any of them!

Skip it

Stars: 2

Saturday, August 6, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set In A Foreign Country: The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

 Book: The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

Author: Lori Nelson Spielman

Pages: 400

This is my 66th read for the year

This is the story of Emilia.  She is a second born daughter in a family that has a legend that all second born daughters are cursed.  A curse that was set generations ago between two sisters that states that all second born daughters will live a life cursed to be single and never find love.  But Emilia has never been sure of this myth - feeling that it cannot possibly be true.  Even though she has never really found love, she states she has never really looked.  She is content to keep her head down working for her families business and doting on her nieces.  One day, her great aunt Poppy calls and invites her on an all expense paid trip to Italy for Poppy's 80th birhtday.  Emilia's grandmother has long stopped talking to her sister Poppy and tells Emilia she cannot go.  Emilia goes against her grandmother's wishes and heads out on a trip that will answer so many questions, reveal many family secrets, and hopefully break the family curse once and for all.

I did not like this book.  It is very poorly written.  I found myself eyerolling over the lines over and over again.  I almost DNF the book, but decided to push on to see if it ended the way it was heading.  And it did.  Very predictable and easy to figure out from the beginning.  I didn't like a single character, except maybe Poppy, but even she was just tolerable.  The story was just not good.  A lot of cliche writing, and jumbled plot.  It had some potential - traveling back and forth between the present and the past to piece the story together of Poppy, her long lost love, and her sister.  But the writing was just so poor that I just wanted to get through it.

Stars: 2

Friday, August 5, 2022

Book: Magic Hour

 Book: Magic Hour

Author: Kristin Hannah

Pages: 432

This is my 65th read of the year

This is the story of Julia.  A psyhiatrist that has been thrown into the public eye after one of her patients killed several people.  The media and everyone involved felt that Julia should have seen the signs.  When the court deems Julia innocent of any wrong doing, Julia hopes to get her life back on track.  Soon she discovers that this is harder than she realizes.  When her sister calls her to help with a little girl that was found in the woods, Julia jumps at the chance to get away and start fresh.  As Julia starts to work with the little girl, she rekindles old friendships and a relationship with her older sister, and discovers that she can still do some good when it comes to troubled children.

This was an okay book.  I am an on again/off again Kristin Hannah fan.  She has written some books that I really love, and some books that I just could not get into.  This unfortunately was not one of the good ones, in my opinion.  The writing was just so/so.  There were a lot of side stories going on, and so for me the main focus - the little girl and where she came from, who captured her, etc - got lost in the mix.  The characters and predictable and not all that likable.  The author spent too much time developing side love stories rather than focusing on the main objective of the book.  Ending was predictable.

Eh - not one to jump on if you are a fan.  Honestly - the only two books of hers I really liked were Nightengale and Winter Garden.  Not sure if i wil put up her stories in the future.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Book: Book Lovers

 Book: Book Lovers

Author: Emily Henry

Pages: 400

This is my 64th read for the year

This is the story of Nora.  A hard working literary agent that is passionate about getting her clients the best deals on their books.  Her sister, Libby, asks Nora to take a few weeks and go with her to Sunshine Falls to get away from it all before Libby has her 3rd child.  Nora agrees to go with the sister she has always felt responsible for since their mom died years ago, and embark on a sister trip with a "bucket list" that Libby has put together.  While there, Nora runs into editor Charlie Lastra whom she tried working with in the past.  Charlie asks to be the editor on Nora's client's new book, and Nora reluctantly agrees.  AS they are thrown together into this project, Nora starts to find out things about herself and let's Charlie glimpse a little into her past.  Meanwhile, Libby seems to be on her own mission in Sunshine Falls and Nora fears she is keeping deep secrets from her. 

This was a pretty cute book.  Sometimes in the summer I need a cute read just because and this one hit the spot.  I normally steer pretty clear from Rom/Com books (even though I do love a good Hallmark Christmas movie), but there was enough banter between the main characters here to make this book enjoyable.  It was fun writing - the lines clever and quick witted making me think of Gilmore Girls styl writing.  It is a slow burn as far as the romance was concerned, so much more of a "com" than "rom" but I was okay with that.  There were some plot holes (of my own making- like how did the mom die? Did I miss it?  Why was it a secret?) that could have been filled in, but overall - a cute read ful of fun and fluff.

Stars 3.5

Monday, August 1, 2022

Book: Upgrade

 Book: Upgrade

Author: Blake Crouch

Pages: 352

This is my 63rd read for the year

This is the story of Logan Ramsay.  On a raid, an explosion cuts through his Biohazard suit and a mysterious substance gets into him.  At first - nothing seems out of sorts.  But soon, Logan starts to notice subtle changes.  Little things at first - he is clearer, sharper, faster.  Soon, he knows whatever was in that explosion has changed his DNA.  It won't be long until the people he works for find out.  And knowing Logan's past, they are going to come after him because of it.  As Logan starts to uncover what has happened to him, he realizes that this is just the start of a bigger plan.  Logan knows he must stop it before the past is repeated.

This was a pretty good book.  I am a Crouch fan, and was excited to see he had a new book available.  I didn't like it as some of his past books (Dark Matter and the Wayward Pines series being my favorites) however I am glad I picked it up.  It is a fast paced book, but so technical that sometimes I felt it was too much.  A lot of overexplaining.  I never really felt connected to the main character, Logan.  You get tidbits of his past but not enough to make you care.  If the author would have concentrated more on character development and relationship development and less on technical descriptions that didn't propel the story forward, I would have enjoyed it so much more.

Stars: 3

Thursday, July 28, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book I Heard About From A Co-Worker: Lessons In Chemistry

 Book: Lessons In Chemistry

Author: Bonnie Garmus

Pages: 400

This is my 62nd read for the year

This is the story of Elizabeth Zott-a woman in the early 1960s who desperately wants to be a chemist.  Like most women at that time in history, she is having a hard time finding anyone who will take her seriously.  That is until she meets Calvin Evans- a famous scientist that just seems to get her.  They fall for each other through their love of science.  However - when tragedy strikes, Elizabeth finds herself a single mother trying to find a way to support her small family.  She is invited to be the host of a cooking show where she tries to incorporate chemistry into cooking with her audience and what happens is she starts to change the status quo for women.

This was a great book.  It has been a while since I have read something that I enjoyed so much.  The popularity of this book scared me, not going to lie.  Usually, I end up not liking those books.  But this time?  It was a fantastic read. It is well written, and I even found myself chuckling at the lines from time to time.  This is a book about women being seen. And the author does a wonderful job of balancing a good story with a great message.  Highly recommend!

Stars 5

Book: Misery

 Book: Misery

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 368

This is my 61st read for the year

This is the story of Paul Sheldon.  A famous writer who takes a drive one day, crashes, and ends up in a nightmare scenario he never would have imagined.  He wakes up in the home of Annie Wilkes with his legs shattered.  She has been nursing him back to health instead of taking him to a hospital or calling the police.  Paul quickly learns that Annie is a big fan of his books, and is upset on a direction he has taken his latest series.  Before she will release Paul, she needs him to make it right.  If Paul doesn't agree, things could get ugly, and he may never leave Annie's house.

This was a pretty good book. I have seen the movie, but can't believe I have never read the book since I read most of King's things.  Mat bought me the Folio Society version for my birthday, so I figured it was time to read it. There are a lot of cringe worthy moments where I felt myself clutching the book tightly.  Even though I knew how it ended, as you read, you are still drawn into the character and how desparate his plight is, and how impossible his situation seems to be.  It isn't a long book, so the agony is not drug out unnecessarily. Overall, a sold read.

Stars: 4.5

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book from a quote from your favorite author on the cover or Amazon page: Ninth House

 Book: Ninth House

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Pages: 496

This is my 60th read for the year

This is the story of Alex.  As a child a traumatic experience shaped her teen years.  She dropped out of school, got in with a rough crowd, and seemed to have lost her way.  She is a only survivor of a multiple homicide and while recovering in the hospital, she is approached by a gentleman that would like her to come to Yale as a student and get a second chance at life.  She is sure there is a catch, but she agrees.

At Yale she discovers the world of the tombs- houses that were homes to some of the most powerful people in the world - a place where Alex can finally be herself.  However, as she delves deeper into this world, she finds that there are sinister activities at play.  When a town girl ends up dead, Alex makes it her mission to find out who killed her.  Someone doesn't want Alex to find out what really happened and Alex finds herself in danger. But Alex won't quit until she gets answers.

This was a pretty good book.  I read the Author's popular "Shadow and Bone" novel, and didn't love it. It was fine, but more love story and teenage hormones than good story.  This was all story.  The author stays focused on the mystery, the magic, and solving the mystery.  It reminded me more of a Harry Potter type novel than a Twilight with its magic elements, and that was refreshing.

It is magical realism, and gritty, and leaning slightly toward Horror.  These are all pluses for me in a novel, so I think that is why I enjoyed it.  It is not YA.  The houses they talk about exist at Yale today.  There were a lot of story lines going on, but I liked that.  It is a cliff hanger at the end, so be warned.  There is a second book coming next year.


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Involving Water: The Night Swim

 Book: The Night Swim

Author: Megan Goldin

Pages: 368

This is my 59th read for the year

Rachel Krall, a reporter turned podcaster, has become a success in the world of True Crime.  She started a podcast called Guilty/Not Guilty and now she is a well known.  Her first two seasons were murder trials, but this season she has taken a different path and has latched onto a Rape trial in a small town.  As she travels to the small town, she stops to rest and when she returns to her car, she finds a note stuck to her windshield.  No one really knows her face, so she doesn't know how Hannah found her.  Hannah is asking for help in confronting the person who murdered her sister 25 years ago.  Hannah is from the same small town where Rachel is heading for the trial, and Rachel is not sure she wants to get mixed up in another story while working on her existing story.  Hannah contiues to send her letters and leave her notes telling her story and Rachel becomes more and more intrqued.  All the while, she delves into the Rape trial with her listeners to determine of Scott - a kid from a wealthy family and swimmer with Olympic dreams is actually guilty of the crime he is accused of.  As the trial goes on, Rachel learns more and more about the people involved not only in the current crime, but the one Hannah's sister was involved in all those years ago.

This book started out great.  I decided to listen to this one and I highly recommend that if you try this book.  The reader is excellent but mostly because this goes back and forth between Rachel speaking and her podcast, and the podcast parts deserve the audio to bring them alive.  I was quickly invested in both stories - the current trial and Hannah's past and Rachel weaves together the stories and we try to figure out who the guilty parties are.  Where she loses me is the ending.  I would have given this book a strong 4-4.5 stars, but the ending just left me flat.  Also - I could tell where this trial was going to end up by the lean Rachel had in her podcast.  She starts the story by saying she needs to stay impartial and non-bias, but that clearly took a turn one direction as she started the podcast.  So it kind of gave away where things were going to end up.  I love true crime podcast, and most of the time the really good ones DO stay impartial.  Make the listeners really think and form their own opinions.  This didn't quite do that.

It was a good listen.  I am glad I listened to it and it really did make for a good book for the most part.  I was always anxious to get back to it - spent long days outside working just so I could listen to it. I just wish the ending was a little stronger.

Stars: 3.5 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Book: The Moonlight Child

 Book: The Moonlight Child

Author: Karen McQuestion

Pages: 328

This is my 58th read for the year

This is the story of missing children.  The story opens with a family whose daughter, whom got wrapped up in a bad crowd with drugs and alcohol has been missing for years.  Her parents don't know if she is living or dead, and not having closure either way has been awful.  Sharon, a woman living a quiet life in a well off neighborhood looks outside on day and sees a very little girl, very late at night washing dishes.  This peaks Sharon's curiosity, and she cannot stop thinking about it.  When a young girl, Niki -who needs a place to stay - comes to live with Sharon, she and Sharon start to investigate who this little girl is and what her neighbors might be hiding.  What happens in that Sharon and Niki get deeply involved in a cold case and a neighbor's secrets.

This book was just okay.  I listened to it to pass some yard work time after I saw it mentioned on a book page I follow on facebook.  The characters are not very realistic considering the trauma that they have had.  The neighbor is over the top awful (although - that could be realistic......).  It is extremely predictable so that was disappointing since this was a mystery book.  I knew where it was going fairly early on.  No surprises found.  No depth.

Stars: 3

Saturday, July 9, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book About Health And Wellness: Get Up And Ride

 Book: Get Up And Ride

Author: Jim Shea

Pages: 202

This is my 57th read for the year

This is the story of the author.  He and his brother in law, Marty, decided to ride the Great Allegheny Passage one summer.  They traveled from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington DC over the course of a week on their bikes - staying and stopping in variouis towns along the trail.  The book covers their time on the trail, the history of some of the towns they passed, and the story of Jim, Marty and their families.  Jim spins the story of what it was like to travel in this part of the country - describing the scenery over the 335 miles they traveled.

This was a good book.  I love picking up books in my old home town of Connellsville, Pa when I visit.  Any book that mentions our small town is worth checking out and this one did not disappoint.  Jim does a good job recounting the history of many of the towns he traveled through - I even learned things that I did not know.  There are quite a few parts that gave me a chuckle as he recounted his relationship with his brother-in-law Marty.  And while Jim states right from the beginning that he isn't a writer, I still think he does a nice job with his story.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Extra Book: Our House

 Book: Our House

Author: Louise Candlish

Pages: 416

This is my 56th read for the year

This is the story of Fiona "Fi" Lawson.  She has a gorgeous house that has been her dream home since the first time she saw it.  Mother of two boys, she comes home one day to another family moving into her house.  Sure there has been a mistake because she has not sold her home, she starts to unravel what has happened.  She calls her ex-husband - the man she has made an arrangement with to share them home to minimally disrupt the lives of their children - and cannot get ahold of him.  What unfolds is the backstory of what lead Fi to this point and all the secrets that her ex-husband kept from her.  As things spiral out of control, Fi leans on her friend and neighbor to help figure out what happened and how she lost her home without her knowledge.

This was a pretty good mystery.  I enjoyed the building of the story of Fi and Bram (who is an awful person) hoping that Fi can get her home back the entire time the story unfolds.  However - the ending was horrible.  It just.....ends.  It was like the author couldn't figure out how they wanted to end the book so they just didn't.  I was furious.  Hours spend reading and becoming invested in Fi's story to have it end the way it did was ridiculous.  So upsetting.

Stars: 3

Friday, July 1, 2022

Extra Book: The Orchard

 Book: The Orchard

Author: Peter Heller

Pages: 229

This is my 55th read for the year

This is the story of Frith.  She lives with her mother in a rustic cabin in the woods.  Frith - age 7 - is mostly homeschooled, only attending a brick and mortar school once a week, and she and her mother live basically off the grid. Before moving to the woods, Hayley - Frith's mom - was a translator of peotry from the Chinese Tang dynasty.  Wanting to get away from the stress and pressures of the job, she took her daughter and all but disappeared.  Barely getting by, one day a woman named Rose happens upon their cabin and is quickly becomes a friend to both Hayley and Frith.  And when their lives are shattered by tragedy, Frith is not sure she will ever be the same.

This was a pretty good read.  I liked all three women - they are well developed and easily liked.  There is a back and forth a bit from future and past as Frith unfolds her story - now an adult - and how it led to where she is today.  It is eloquently written, but it doesn't really go anywhere for most of the book.  It is a bit of just the mundane story of these three women doing their everyday work.  Frith telling the story looking back and how it shaped the life she now had was unique, but all we get is a small snapshot of her childhood for basically this one year.  I could have used a little more.

I am not sorry I read it -it was a good summer read.  I just wish it had a bit more story.

Stars: 3.5

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Extra Book: One Second After

 Book: One Second After

Author: William Forstchen

Pages: 528

This is my 54th read for the year

This is the story about John.  John and his family live in North Carolina.  Johns wife died from cancer, and now he is solely repsonsible for his two daughters, one a diabetic.  His mother in law has been a source of comfort and help since he lost his wife and he is glad to have her support.  One day, the power goes out and all the cars stop.  It is soon discovered that America has been the victim of an EMP attack.  Thus begins trying to figure out how to survive without any form of communication on what is going on outside their small town.  John joins a small committee to help establish some form of order until help hopefully arrives.  He is ex-military turned History Professor and the town looks to him for leadership.  A country that ignored dire warnings of this one day happening is brought to its knees in an instant.

Thiswas just an okay book.  And that is probably being generous.  If you are a fan of military centered books then this is the book for you.  I did a lot of eye rolling.  The main character has a daughter who is a diabetic, and keeping her alive was not the main focus of this book.  He left her in the care of his 16 year old daughter and his mother-in-law and a woman he just met.  It was just bizaare.  This was written by a military man, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  It was just odd.

Eh - it was a good idea. I do love a good apocolyptic book, but I won't be continuing with this series.

Stars: 2.5

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Extra Book - Inside The O'Briens

 Book: Inside The O'Briens

Author: Lisa Genova

Pages: 368

This is my 53rd read for the year

This is the story about the O'Brien family.  The dad, Joe, is a police officer with a wife and 4 children who has suddenly been having trouble staying still.  He cannot concentrate.  He feels angry all of the time.  His wife convinces him to see a doctor, and soon he finds himself in a Neurologist office getting the worst news of his life.  He has Huntingdon's disease.  A disease that has no cure and slowly eats away at a person until they can no longer care for themselves or even speak, Joe cannot believe this is happening.  Even worse, he discovers that his children have a 50% chance of having it as well.

As Joe struggles to find his purpose, his children must decide if they want to find out their fate. Knowing that the knowledge could change how they live their lives and evolve their own families, each child weighs the pros and cons of finding out.  The youngest of the 4, Katie, grapples with the decision longer than any of her other symptoms not knowing what she should do.

This was an okay book.  First - I have read quite a few Genova books, and I enjoy the disease portion of each of her novels.  She covers tough subjects, and life altering (or ending) diseases that most of us know little about.  I did learn quite a bit about Huntingdon's Disease, which I appreciated.  I knew a family in my hometown whose mom had this (and then passed to two of her three children) and I saw in her a lot of the things that Joe grapples with.  However - the ending of this book floored me.  It ended on a cliff hanger which - after giving it some thought - I know why the author did it.  But I was furious.  I had been waiting the entire novel for the knowledge that seemed to be coming at the end of the book and then.....nothing.  It was my least favorite of her novels so far.

Stars: 3.5

Thursday, June 23, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With The Character On The Ace Spectrum: The Maid

 Book: The Maid

Author: Nita Prose

Pages: 304 

This is my 52nd read for the year

This is the story of Molly.  Molly loves being a maid in a fancy hotel.  She isn't like everyone else- she has trouble with social cues, trouble making friends, trouble with breaks in her routine.  But she is the best maid the hotel has.  Hardworking, always available and always on time, she takes pride in a job well done.  She lived with her grandmother until she died a few months ago, and now Molly is struggling to make ends meet with her small maid salary.  When working on a room for a routine client of the hotel, she finds him dead.  This starts Molly down a path she never imagined.  It upturns her routine,and she discovers who her friends truly are.

This was a pretty good book.  I listened to it, so that helped.  Molly is on the Ace spectrum, and the reader did a good job portraying that.  The beginning through about 3/4 of this book were good.  I enjoyed the story,and really liked Molly as a character.  But the last 1/4 of the book fell apart just a bit for me.  Molly struggles a bit with morality at the end of the book, which seemed out of character from what we got from her the rest of the book.  It just didn't make a lot of sense.  

If you are looking for a good book about someone on the ACE spectrum, I would recommend "A  Curious Dog In The Nightime".

Stars: 3.5

Monday, June 20, 2022

2022 Challenge: Book With A Pretty Cover: Remarkably Bright Creatures

 Book: Remarkably Bright Creatures

Author: Shelby Van Pelt

Pages: 368

This is my 51st read for the year

This is the story of Tova and Cameron.  Tova is a widow in her 70s who thinks it is time to make some changes in her life.  30 years ago her son disappeared, most people think he committed suicide but Tova has never believe it.  A few years ago, her husband died, and now Tova - a cleaner at a local aquarium - decides it is time to sell her house and put all these dark memories behind her.  Cameron is a 30 year old man who cannot seem to hold down a job.  His mother abandoned him years ago, he never knew his father, and he was raised by his aunt.  He decides he is going to return to his mother's hometown and find out once and for all who his father is.  He and Tova cross paths working at the aquarium and are brought together caring for an aging octupus named Marcellus that has an affinity for escaping his tank.  Cameron is feeling settled for the first time in his life in his mother's home town, and as he searches for his father, he finds out more than he bargained for.

This was an interesting book.  Tova was so sweet.  She has a great group of friends, and seems like someone I would love to know in real life.  She had a hard life, but has true kindness for all of those are in her life.  Cameron on the other hand was a horrible character.  A petulant child who at the age of 30 acted more like a 13 year old boy - was hard to like.  His constant whining and childishness was too much.  Even though he had a rougher life than most, his attitude was exhausting.  

It was easy to figure out who Cameron's father was about half way through this book, but the way that it all came together with the octpus was cute.  

If you know going in that Cameron's character is probably going to bother you (eh - maybe not - it might just be the generation X in me), then you might enjoy this book.  Tova and the other characters in the book are enough to make this book worth reading on the whole.

Stars: 4

Friday, June 17, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Protagonist That Uses A Mobility Aid: Left Neglected

 Book: Left Neglecte

Author: Lisa Genova

Pages: 352

This is my 50th read for the year

This is the story of Sarah.  Sarah has a busy mom with a high powered job that takes up 80 hours of her week.  She has three young children that, when she is lucky,gets home in time to see them off to bed.  She loves her job and her life, but sometimes feels a little guilty that she cannot be there as much as she would like for her family.

One day, Sarah's life changes.  She is in an accident that leaves her unable to see anything on the left.  Called Left Neglect, she doesn't know what she is not seeing.  After a month in a coma and weeks in rehab, she is sent home to try and regain her life.  While she heals, she starts to realize all she was missing out on with her larger than life job.  The accident that almost killed her, helped her learn to rebalance what was important in her life.

This was a pretty good book.  This is my third Genova book and I have liked them all.  Genova has a Ph.D in Neuroscience from Harvard, so she knows her stuff.  And she is a very good writer.  I didn't LOVE Sarah the character.  The way Genova wrote her about how she felt about disabilities did rub me the wrong way since I have a child with a disability.  Sarah's son is diagnosed with ADHD, and instead of talking to him about it, when he is put on medication they call them vitamins.  And even she refused to be labeed as a disabeled person.  While near the end of the story this turns somewhat, I already had a bad taste about it.  Sarah is also a self absorbed character, so it was hard to like her.  On the flip side, I learned a lot, like I always do with Genova's books, about a diagnosis I knew little about.  So that redemmed the book to a point.


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Off Challenge: The Shadow Wife

 Book: The Shadow Wife

Autbor: Diane Chamberlain

Pages: 432

This is my 49th read for the year

This is the story of Joelle.  When she was a baby, she almost died.  A woman who had been staying with a friend on the compound where her family lived, saved her life and then disappeared.  Years later, when one of Joelle's best friends suffers an aneurysm after she delivers her baby, her parents tell her to reach out to the healer that saved her life all those years ago.  Joelle is reluctant - as a Social Worker who deals with life and death of children every day, she doesn't believe in such things.  But she will do anything to save her friend, even as she deals with her own personal turmoil.

I am plowing through audiobooks right now with the amount of yard work we are doing. And I think a few light books are just what I need as I work.  This is definitely another beach read.  Fluffy, and short on depth, it passes the time. I liked the backstory of the healer and her family, and figured out the truth of that group of people pretty quickly.  The ending was just okay.  I didn't like the turn it took once the truth of the healer came to light - seemed a little too far fetched (even for a novel wiht a bit of magical realism).  

Stars: 3

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book That Takes Place During Your Favorite Season: The Perfect Couple

 Book: The Perfect Couple

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Pages: 480

This is my 48th read for the year

This is the story of the Otis-Windbury wedding.  A couple and all of their family and friends have gathered on Nantucket for a summer wedding that has stepped right out of a fairy tale.  That is until a body washes up on the shore the morning of the wedding.  The whole wedding party and their guest are suspects while the Nantucket police try to figure out what happened.  As the investigation unravels, so do the secrets of many of the family and friends at the wedding.

This was an okay book.  Great book to listen to for a fluffy beach read or - in my case - as I do enless yard work.  I did not like any of the characters - all of them except the mom of the bride were awful people.  IT is full of cheaters, and people who have deep dark secrets, and in the end the death of the person who was found was uneventful.  The whole "whodunit" was unsatisfying.  

I don't normally care for beach reads, but I will admit this passed the time.  If you are looking for serious fluff that is full of people who have deep dark secrets, then this book is for you.

Stars: 3