Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

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