Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Book: The WVU Coed Murders

 Book: The WVU Coed Murders    

Author: Geoffrey Fuller and S. James McLaughlin

Pages: 416

This is my 106th read for the year

This is the story of two freshman at West Virginia University who were murdered in 1970.  Mared and Karen were found in the woods beheaded after hitchhiking near their campus.  After 63 years their murder has never been solved.  The cops at the time worked with suspects that seemed to fit the murders, but they were all dead ends.  As the years went by, the case got colder and colder.  After 100s of interviews and looking into all the suspects, the murderer was never caught.  Enter Geoffrey and Sarah who thought they might be able to use the modern age to open the case and find out what happened to these young women.  In 2021, they started a podcast about the murders and then wrote this book and still came up empty handed in the end.

This was an okay book.  I am glad I read it because my parents actually were at WVU as students in 1970.  I was curious about the case, and was hoping that because of the podcast and book that the murder was finally caught.  But he wasn't.  The book is a bit dry - delving deep into the ins and outs of the case, but more interesting than dull overall.  I am glad I read it even if the ending was not what I was hoping for (the murder being solved)

Stars: 3

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Book: The Stand Graphic Novel: No Man's Land

 Book: The Stand Graphic Novel: No Man's Land

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 136

This is my 105th read for the year

Boulder Colorado is quickly becoming a home to those who have settled there.  The power is turned back on.  The people have started to clean up the town - burying all the dead and turning off all the appliances that were left on when the people died.  The leaders have chosen people who need to go west to spy on Randall Flagg and his crew.  Nadine approaches Harold to encourage him to follow his true self and come with her west to Randall.  But before they leave Boulder, they have one last task to perform.

This is the next to last book in this Graphic Novel series.  Still being well told through Graphic Novel form.

Stars: 4.5

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Book: The Stand Graphic Novel: Hardcases

 Book: The Stand Graphic Novel: Hardcases

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 136

This is my 104th read for the year

The next installment in the The Stand Graphic Novel series.  Mother Abigail and her group have arrived in Colorado and are starting to organize.  They form a committee that will help make the rules for their new settlement.  Meanwhile - Randall Flaggs group is also gathering in Las Vegas.  The Trashcan Man has burned Gary Indiana to the ground, and is now on his way to Las Vegas to help Randall Flagg burn the whole world to the ground.

Another good Graphic Novel in this series.  

Stars: 4.5

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Book: The Stand Graphic Novel: Soul Survivors

 Book: The Stand Graphic Novel: Soul Survivors

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 136

This is my 103rd read for the year

In the 3rd installment of The Stand Graphic Novel - we meet Tom Cullen.  A disabeled man that Nick comes across on his travels who he convinces to come along to see Mother Abigail.  People who have dreamed of Mother Abigail start to show up at her house in Nebraska and she tells them they must head west to Colorado.  Mother Abigail discusses how she is afraid of what Randall Flagg is up to and they are soon going to have to unite against him.  Meanwhile, Stu and Frannie realize they have feelings for each other which upsets Harold.  Larry meets Nadine Cross who, when Larry asks if she ever dreams of Mother Abigail, states she doesn't dream.

This was another good installation.  It didn't advance the story as much as I expected it to since there are only two more graphic novels.  I am wondering if it is going to start to skip ahead more.  But this one was again well written.

Stars: 4.5

Friday, December 22, 2023

Book: The Stand Graphic Novel Volume 2: American Nightmares

 Book: The Stand Graphic Novel Volume 2: American Nightmares

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 144\

This is my 102nd read for the year

The plague has wiped almost everyone out.  Stew Redman, Nick Andros, Larry Underwood, and Frannie Goldsmith start heading out to see if they can find answers.  But they are not the only ones looking for survivors.  Randall Flagg is starting to build his army.  He is starting by getting Lloyd out of jail.  Stew and his friends are having dreams of an old lady in a corn field and of a bad man who they fear.  Something is coming, and the sooner Stew, Nick, Larry and Frannie can find others to unite against Randall Flagg, the better.

This is the second installment of The Stand Graphic Novel series.  I liked it as much as the first.  They are quick reads, but nice to see one of my favorite books played out in graphic novel form.  Even though it is just touching the surface of the much deeper story, I don't find it is missing much with so much visual information.  Looking forward to the next one.

Stars: 4.5

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Stand Graphic Novel: Captain Trips

 Book: The Stand Graphic Novel: Captain Trips

Author: Stephen Kind

Pages: 160

This is my 101th read for the year

A accident at a secret army base in the desert has caused a plague that is killing people faster than anything that has ever been seen before.  eople think they have the flu and in a few days, they are dead.  There are some people, though, that aren't getting sick at all.  Stew Redman - one of the original people who was exposed - has never gotten sick and has been under observation at the base ever since.  Others - Like Larry and Nick and Frannie - are all burying those they love, but are not getting sick themselves.

Meanwhile - evil is waiting patiently in the shadows in the form of Randall Flagg.  As the world burns, Flagg is biding his time making his way to Las Vegas to meet those who will soon follow.

This is my favorite Stephen King novel, and when I saw they made a graphic novel version - I had to check it out.  I love seeing stories played out in art, and this one did not disappoint.  I am glad I read this one and look forward to completing all 5 graphic novels that make up the story.

Stars: 4.5

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Book: The Country of the Blind

 Book: The Country of the Blind

Author: HG Wells

Pages: 30

This is my 100th read for the year

"In the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king".  Or so thinks a mountaineer named Nunez who stumbles upon a completely blind community living in the mountains.  He believes that he can overtake them since he is sighted, and quickly finds out that isn't the case.  Before Nunez got there, the valley where the blind townspeople live was completey cut off from everything else.  A disease had struck them early on in their settlement and over time, every new baby that was born was blind.  As Nunez falls into the community, and falls in love, he starts to doubt if he really needs to be sighted or he is truly the disadvantaged one.

This was a pretty good book.  And really short.  I always struggle with short novels - as you have heard me say many times in the past.  Always leave me wanting just a little bit more.  Just as I was getting into the story with Nunez and his acceptance of the Bind community, it abuptly ends.  I would have liked the story to go on a bit more to be satisfied.

Stars: 3.5

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Book: The Wishing Game

 Book: The Wishing Game

Author: Meg Shaffer

Pages: 304

This is my 99th read for the year

This is the story of Lucy Hart.  A young teacher's aide who is struggling to make ends meet.  Lucy had a childhood where her parents gave her to her grandparents when her older sister got sick.  Never wanted by her parents or sister, she has been estranged from them her whole life.  When she was young, she found the Clock Island books to be a place she could escape.  Once she actually ran away to the real Clock Island in search of the author - hoping she could live with him.  

As an adult, Lucy has been reading the Clock Island books to another lonley little boy named Christopher.  A student at her school who is in foster care, Lucy wishes she could adopt Christopher.  However - she doesn't have the money or stable homelife to do so.  When the author of the Clock Island books invites a certain group of people to his island to participate in a contest, Lucy knows this is her chance to get the money she needs to adopt Christopher and get her life sorted.  But the contest isn't easy, and Lucy doesn't know if she will be the one who wins.  However - during the contest she finds that there are still good people in this world who have compassion for those are are less fortunate.

This was a pretty good book.  The best way I can describe it is as a warm hug from beginning to end.  There isn't really a bad guy.  The author tries to make a few people a little "off" but in the end, the main characters of this book are inheritenly good.  Lucy's parents are never more than mention in this book - never become characters.  So I think that is why the book stayed so light.  Even with the heaviness of her past, it never distracts from the main point of this book - Lucy and Christopher getting to be together.

I recommend this one.  I think it is well written, an easy read, and light hearted enough to sneak into your TBR pile.

Stars: 4

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Book: The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes

 Book: The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes

Author: Suzanne Collins

Pages: 528

This is my 98th read for the year

I want to start this review by saying that I read this book back in 2020 when it came out HOWEVER - I somehow never blogged about it.  We moved shortly after I read it, and maybe I just forgot?  I searched for it the other day to see how I felt about it the first time I read it and was surprised to find I missed writing about it.  So here we are.  I decided to read it again right before I went to see the movie and was pleasantly surprised that I remembered more about it than I thought I would.

This is the Prequel to the Hunger Games book and the story of Cornelius Snow.  It is the 10th Hunger Games.  The Capital is still trying to recover from the war.  This year, the game makers decide to bring in top students from the capital to be mentors of the tributes from the districts.  If the mentor's tribute wins the games, they can win a coveted prize, and Cornelius is desparate to win.  His family has struggled since his parents died and they need the money that is offered from the games.  When Cornelius gets assigned to Lucy Gray from District 12, he feels his chances of winning are slim.  He decides to do everything in his power to help Lucy win and in doing so, discovers something about himself  - that his desire to win trumps all.

I liked this book.  I am a big Hunger Games fan, and am always happy when an author takes us deeper into their world to help explain how characters became the way they were.  It is a well thought out story of Cornelius and the beginnings of the Hunger Games.  The way they were in the beginning is very different than they play out in the most recent books when it is 65 years into the future.  I actually would have liked to have seen Collins take Cornelius' story a bit further to when he actually becomes President and when he starts to treat the tributes "better" (for lack of a better term) in regards to the lead up to the games.

Great book - both times.  

Stars: 4

Book: Iron Flame

 Book: Iron Flame

Author: Rebecca Yarros

Pages: 640

This is my 97th read for the year

WARNING - If you did not read The Fourth Wing (and plan to) - skip review

When we left off in the first book, Violet had just discovered that her brother, Brandon is alive.  On top of that - Violet also knows the real secret that has been hiddne for centuries.  No able to share everything she knows with her friends at the War College, Violet sets out to find everything she can to keep everyone safe.  And alive.  Violet also needs to learn how to control her power.  The stakes are so much higher now that even thought Violet and her friends are still students, a real war is coming and everyone must work together.  Dain has betrayed Violet, but can she look past that to defeat what is coming?  Will Violet and Xaden ever trust each other fully?  

This book was just okay.  I mentioned in my review for The Fourth Wing that I might be a little too old for YA now.  The cliffhanger in The Fourth Wing was so good, though, that I decided I at least had to start the second book.  I did end up finishing it, and AGAIN - good cliff hanger.  What to do when the next one comes out?  Who knows.  I understand she is going to write 5 books so I think she will lose me eventually.  Anyway - the good for me in these books are the dragons and the banter between them and between them and Violet.  That is about it for the good for me.  I don't really care for Violet.  The sex is WAY over done (think 50 shades of gray smutty), and the dialogue and writing could be better.  Also - I didn't care much about the death that occurs at the end of this book.  Character never made an impact for me, but the book drew it out like this was the biggest deal to date.  I disagree, but that is just my opinion.

If you are a big fantasty fan, young, and like smut - this book is for you.  Otherwise - there are better written 600 page books.

Stars: 3

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Book: Never Enough

 Book: Never Enough

Author: Jennifer Wallace

Pages: 320

This is my 96th read for the year

The author takes a deep dive in the book into the pressures kids face these days related to getting ahead.  Some starting as early as elementary school - they feel like they are in a race to pack their schedules with top classes, tons of extra cirricular activites and multiple sports just in hopes of securing a spot in a top college.  What has happened is an increase of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and even self harm.  Parents are not helping.  Social media is not helping.  Kids are hearing from every angle that no matter what they do - it will never be enough.

I am glad I found this book.  I actually attended a talk the author gave in relation to college admissions, and then read her book.  I have two juniors in high school and we are in the thick of a college search.  And this book gave me a chance to take a step back.  Parents tend to get wrapped up in the college search right along with their kids and see the pressures that kids are under.  Kids have so much pressure today and feel they don't matter unless they do "xyz" - whatever that may be.  They feel like their accomplishments are what define them.  

One of my favorite quotes from the book is this: "“our kids are absorbing the idea that their worth is contingent on their performance—their GPA, the number of social media followers they have, their college brands—not for who they are deep at their core. They feel they only matter to the adults in their lives, their peers, the larger community, if they are successful.”

Parents need to stop putting kids on their shoulders to get them above everyone else.  I want my kids to know that where they go to college WILL NOT MATTER.  I want kids who decide not to go to college, or go into a trade, or go on to work that they are worth every bit as much as that kid who went to Harvard.  College, and life, are what you make it.  

My kids will find their people.  They will find their way.  And yours will too.  Check this book out to gain some perspective.

Stars: 4.5

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Book: The College Conversation

 Book: The College Conversation

Author: Eric Furda and Jacques Steinberg

Pages: 288

This is my 95th read for the year

This is a guide for parents from starting the college search with your kids through dropping them off for their first day of college.  It even goes through what happens when that decision doesn't work out and the kid wants to transfer.  It is a guide to help parents navigate when to step in and when to back off.  It lays out how to make the college list - what parents and kids should be looking for, as well as things to look for when you can take a college tour.  There is a section on financial aid and how to make smart choices before a kid gets excited about a college to make sure it is affordable for a family.

This was a great book.  It was recommended to me by a friend (her college classmate was one of the authors) and I am glad I read it.  I definitely see me going back and referring to some of their worksheets as we get deeper into the college process this year.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Book: Country of the Blind

 Book: Country of the Blind

Author: Andrew Leland

Pages: 368

This is my 94th read for the year

This non-fiction book is based on the author's experience going blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa.  As he deals with his continuing deminishing vision, he talks about how it is for him, and his family.  As he weaves his personal story throughout the book he interviews others who are blind due to various reasons - some from birth, and some from childhood or adulthood.  Through these encounters he discovers different views of blindness and how blind people view their own worlds and how others view them.  

This was a pretty good book.  It gets into the weeds a bit and a bit more dry than I was hoping for, but overall a good read.  He does a good job seeking out different people who are vision impaired and recounting their stories and how they view their worlds and their blindness.  He meets many very successful blind people but also touches on how many blind people still struggle with support and employment.  

With my own daughter having basically a childhood version of Retinitis Pigmentosa (she has Lebers Congenital Amaurosis) and we watch her vision deminish, these books always hit home for me.  I was glad to see so many happy, successful, fullfilled people who are blind.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Book: The Bookbinder

 Book: The Bookbinder

Author: Pip Williams

Pages: 448

This is my 93rd read for the year

This story is about Peggy and Maude - two twin sisters who work as bookbinders in 1914.  It is war time, and in between bookbinding, Peggy starts to volunteer at a local hospital for wounded soldiers.  Peggy aspires to be a student at Oxford and have access to all the books and use her intellect for more than just folding pgaes for other people.  With support from friends she met at the local hospital, she decides to apply to the college.  However - she has recently fallen in love with a wounded Belgium soldier and worried that their relationship will hold them back.

This was an okay book.  I liked the story of Peggy and her sister Maude (who is disabled).  I liked learning about the bookbinding that happened during the war, and the opportunities at Oxford for women at that time period.  However - the part where Peggy decides to study and apply for the college were way too drawn out.  And the ending was not at all satisfactory.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Book: Bag of Bones

 Book: Bag of Bones

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 544

This is my 92nd read for the year

This is the story of Mike Noonan.  A best selling author whose wife just died.  He develops writer's block after her death, and decides to escape to their cabin called Sara Laughs to try and begin again.  While he is there, strange things start to happen.  HE also meets a woman named Mattie and her little girl, Kyra, and gets involved in trying to help them escape Mattie's father in law who wants to take custody of Kyra.  As he falls in love with both of them, things take a tragic turn, and Mike is left to try and figure out how to stop the ghostly visions he keeps having.

This was a pretty good book.  It is well written and the story flowed a long nicely.  It, of course, is quite long and the ending was okay.  I appreciated the Epilogue, but would have liked to have seen it a bit more into the future than it was.

Stars: 4

Monday, October 30, 2023

Book: Duma Key

 Book: Duma Key

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 640

This is my 91st read for the year

This is the story of Edgar Freemantle.  He loses his right arm in a terrible construction accident, and it takes him months to recover.  As he recovers, his mind starts playing tricks on him and he attacks his wife.  His wife - unable to take how unstable Edgar has become - divorces him and Edgar decides he needs to get away to recover so he moves to Duma Key.  He rents a house owned by a woman named Elizabeth Eastlake and befriends some of the locals.  As he heals, he begins to paint, and local artist discover that he is really good.  His pictures, though, start to become a portal to ghost of Elizabeth's past, and as bad things start to happen around Edgar, he and his friends have to figure out how to stop it.

This was an okay book.  It took me a long time to finish because it is a very slow burn, and started to become a bit of a slog.  I am a fan of King, but sometimes I wish he would stop with the verbal diahrrea and get to the point.  This book could have been half the size and still wrapped up the point nicely.  I really liked Edgar's friend, Wireman, and Edgar wasn't a bad character either.  It just wasn't much of a "thriller" and lacked the depth I was hoping for in a King novel.

Stars: 3

Monday, October 16, 2023

Book: Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions

 Book: Who Gets In And Why - A Year Inside College Admissions

Author: Jeff Selingo

Pages: 320

This is my 90th read for the year

This is the author's story of following several students and several colleges admission process throughout one year.  Jeffrey Selingo visits a selective private university, an elite liberal arts college, and a flagship public college to get some insight on how admissions officers are choosing students to attend their institutions.  He also follows several students who have big dreams that change over the course of the year as they apply to schools.  He delves into how getting in is more than good grades and SAT scores - especially in a world now that schools are becoming test optional.  He shows that colleges do have an agenda - and meeting that agenda, and often their bottom line - is more important than the student.

This was a great book.  I have two high school juniors who are starting to make a college list.  The author follows these students in 2019, but he has updated the book with information as it relates to post-pandemic admissions and even the 2023 students who were enrolling.  He talks deeply about how getting into college has changes with a large uptick in students applying and school going test optional and how prooving that you are a well rounded but serious student is the name of the game.  It went from giving me great information also to giving me the cold hard reality that getting into college - especially the ones that kids dream about - is a shot in the dark. The author shares many stories of sitting in the admissions offices and listening to how students are picked (or not).  I also enjoyed following along with the students whose dreams of very elite colleges got a hard dose of reality come spring when their acceptance letters came.

For me it gave me some good ideas to help my kids narrow their search and ultimately help them find a place where they will be happy.  College is what you make it is the theme of this book and a good message.

Stars: 4.5

Friday, October 13, 2023

Book: The Dark Half

 Book: The Dark Half

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 431

This is my 89th read for the year

This is the story of Thad Beaumont.  He is a writer that once he started writing under the name "George Stark" became a best selling author.  Now that he is more succesful, and a married father of two, he wants to write as himself again.  So he does an article for People magazine burying George Stark.

However - George Stark will not be going quietly.  Thad is accused of murder of people who are closest to him in his literary world, and when his alibi checks out, he - along with the police - start to discover who is really behind the murders.  Thad knows that somehow he is responsible and only he can bring the murderer down.

This was a pretty good book.  I was interested to see where it was going right from the beginning.  It isn't terribly long - which is a rareity in the Stephen King world.  The story keeps moving, and has a decent ending.  The Epilogue was lacking - I would have liked more of what was happening with Thad in the future.  Overall - a good read.

Stars: 4

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Book: Chasm

 Book: Chasm

Author: Stacey McEwan

Pages: 384

This is my 88th read for the year

This is the second installment of the Glacian Trilogy.  Dawsyn has been captured by the Queens and is await execution.  Ryon - the hybrid Glacian is dead.  As she is metting her fate, she is rescued by her new friends in the village.  As she recovers from her imprisonment, the captain of the Queens guard decides to leave with Dawsyn to help her find the mage, Baltisse.  They know they will need her help if they are going to defeat the Queens and defeat the Glacians who continue to take people from the ledge.  What Dawsyn discovers about herself, though, will threaten to kill her before she can rescue a single person.

This was a pretty good second book.  I read the first one and thought it was good enough to see where it was going.  Stacey McEwan is a good writer - I like her character development and the wittyness of her characters that she weaves in a very serious story.  The love story between Dawsyn and Ryon remains tame enough not to distract from the real reason for the book, which I appreciate.  This one, of course, is left on a cliff hanger, so I eagerly await the third to see how it will all come together.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Book: The Other Passenger

 Book: The Other Passenger

Author: Louise Candlish

Pages: 400

This is my 87th read for the year

This is a story about Jamie.  He and his partner, Claire, live a quiet, child free life in England.  Jamie lost his job due to an incident a few years ago, and ever since has been working as a barista at a local coffee shop.  Claire has a good job and her parents bought her a wonderful house for them to live in.  Life is good until Jamie and Claire meet Kit and Melia - a younger couple who are envious of what Jamie and Claire have.  Kit and Jamie start riding a ferry to work each day with a few other friends and spending time together outside of work.  One day - Melia reports Kit missing, and Jamie becomes a suspect because he is the last person who saw Kit.  As the police try to unravel the mystery, Jamie tries hard to hold a secret he is keeping from just about everyone - including his wife Claire.  As he tries to prove his innocence, his life starts to unravel.  Soon he finds himself in a situation that might ruin his life.

This was an okay book. I was interested to see where it was going and how the mystery was going to unfold.  I didn't really like the characters Jamie, Kit or Melia.  Claire was a sweet character.  The set up to the final reveal was probably a bit too long - this book probably could have been about 50-75 pages less and we would have gotten the whole point.  There were some twists that were surprising, but the "who done it" really was easy to figure out.  But not a bad little mystery book.

Stars: 3

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Book: Good Bad Girl

 Book: Good Bad Girl

Author: Alice Feeney

Pages: 310

This is my 86th read for the year

This is the story of 4 women - Patience, Frankie, Clio, and Edith.  Their lives are about to enterwine in a way they never expected.  20 years ago - Clio's baby was stolen from her pram from a grocery store and never found.  Edith - Clio's mother, now in a personal care home, tries to get Patience (whom she calls Ladybug) to spring her and take her home.  Patience ran away from home and her mom, Frankie, when Frankie refused to tell her who her father was.  Frankie, who has so many secrets from her daughter, never gives up looking for her.  When the manager of the care home ends up dead and Edith missing, Patience, Frankie, and Clio all become suspects.  As their lives intertwine all their secrets come to life leaving them all realing.

This wasn't a good book.  I listened to it and should have quit.  But I didn't.  It was bad from the start.  One of my pet peeves - too many secrets and too much keeping the reading in the dark.  It was overdone.  I hated all the characters.  None of them had redeeming qualities.  The writing wasn't great - AND the author stole a line from "The Starless Sea" and Erin Morgenstern - and doesn't give her credit.  (Quote: We are all stardust and stories). The ending was subpar.

Don't bother with this one

Stars: 1

Friday, September 29, 2023

Book: Homecoming

Book: Homecoming

Author: Kate Morton

PageS: 560

This is my 85th read for the year

This is the story of the Turner-Bridges family - Nora, Polly and Jessica.  Jessica has been called to come back to Australia from London after her beloved grandmother, Nora - who raised her - had a bad fall and has been hospitalized.  Jessica has been gone from Australia for 20 years - making a way for herself in London nd she is at frist not sure she wants to return.  However, she felt she owed it to her grandmother to be there and help get her home.  While there, she returns to Darling House where she grew up under the watchful, loving eye of her grandmother.  Jessica's mother, Polly, had moved away when Jessica was 10 saying it was better for her to be raised by Nora, and Jess and Polly had drifted apart because of this.  Once Jess is settled, she thinks this might be a good opportunity to write about her grandmother and growing up in Darling House, and as she delves into her grandmother's past, she starts to uncover deep family secrets.  The pieces of the puzzle of who her grandmother was, and who her mother is come to light as Jess interviews people from her family's past.  What she discovers will change everything.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read quite a few Kate Morton books, and I keep coming back to her.  I do love a dual timeline book and watching the two timelines eventually overlap to make a final outcome.  This book is LONG.  Way too long, in my opinion.  Morton is quite wordy and overly discriptive and just seems to be filling pages with language and scenes that just did not move the plot forward.  And of course - we are kept overly in the dark for too long on this one.  You do figure out pretty quickly where the story is going and what the big secret is going to be, but a few mysteries stayed until the end for me until they were resolved.  You have inklings, but it takes Morton a long, winding path to get there.

Stars: 3.5

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Book: The Quiet Tenant

 Book: The Quiet Tenant

Author: Clemence Mchallon

Pages: 320

This is my 84th read for the year

This is the story of Rachel, Cecilia, and Emily.  Rachel has been kidnapped and has been held captive by a man for 5 years.  Cecilia - the kidnappers daughter - has no idea that the woman living in her house is not just a friend of her father.  And Emily - who has started to fall for the kidnapper (who we learned is named Aidan) does not know she is in danger.  Aidan - a kidnapper and serial killer of 8 women so far - is the picture perfect father and member of his town.  His wife has recently died of cancer, and no one has any idea that he has such dark secrets.  And if Rachel cannot figure out how to escape and get to the police, Aidan will kill again.

This was not a good book.  I listened to it, and I should have quit.  I don't get the good reviews.  There are a few plot holes (like when Rachel finds take out menus in the kidnappers house but never uses those to give her a clue where she is).  It is a drawn out story with way too much discriptive language where you just want to push the fast forward button to get to the point.  Emily is a terrible character - hated her the entire book.  Rachel also - she is given quite a few chances to leave and never takes them.  In the end things really just.....ended.  There wasn't a good epilogue to wrap up the story.  It could have used a future chapter where we find out what happened to Rachel and Cecilia.  Instead - the author chose to really end it with Emily.  

Skip this one.

Stars: 2

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Book: Run

 Book: Run

Author: Ann Patchett

Pages: 304

This is my 83rd read for the year

This is the story of the Doyle family.  Bernard family has had to raise his three boys since his wife's death.  Teddy and Tip were adopted as little boys and along with their older brother Sebastian, they have had to try and find their way without their mother.  Bernard Doyle - who used to be the mayor of Boston, takes his children to see speakers even when the boys don't want to.  The night that Jessie Jackson is speaking, Tip is frustrated because he has a lot of work to do.  Not paying attention, he steps into the street and is quickly pushed out of the way by a woman.  While Tip is saved from being hit, the woman is not.  While the Doyle family helps the woman who was hit, they are thrown into her life because she has a little girl who needs looked after while her mother is in the hospital.  What unfolds over the 24 hour period of this book enterwines these two families forever.

This was a pretty good book.  This is an older Patchett book that I found at a used bookstore, and I am glad I read it.  I liked the characters and how the story evolved and I liked the ending.  It is not an overly drawn out story so the point doesn't get lost in a lot of unnecessary language.  A good read.

Stars: 4

Book: None of This is True

 Book: None of This is True

Author: Lisa Jewell

Pages: 384

This is my 82nd read for the year

This is the story of Josie and Alix.  Both celebrating their 45th birthday in the same restaurant at the same time.  They found out that they were born on the same day in the same hospital.  Josie finds out that Alix does podcast about the lives of women, and decides their "Birthday Twin" situation would make a great podcast series.  Josie said she would like to tell Alix her story, and when she starts to reveal the details of her life, Alix is shocked.  Alix is unsettled about Josie's story, but knows that listeners would be intrigued, so they continue.  Soon Josie is incorporating herself more and more into Alix's life.  And when tragedy strikes, the women's lives take a dark turn.  Alix soon finds that Josie is not who she says she is.

This was a pretty good book.  I could not figure out where this was going.  It was clear pretty early on that something was wrong with the Josie character, but what we couldn't quite put our finger on.  It takes almost to the very end for the story to piece itself together.  Has a nice flow and kept me interested enough to see where it ended up.  The ending was satisfactory.  This is my first book from this author, so I might try out another in the future.

Stars: 4

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Book: Tom Lake

 Book: Tom Lake

Author: Ann Patchett

Pages: 320

This is my 81st read for the year

This is the story of Lara.  In the middle of the pandemic, her three grown daughters have returned to the family's cherry farm.  While they work, Lara is drilled by her daughters to tell them of her past when she was an actress.  It was just a short time in Lara's life, but during that time she dated the now famous Peter Duke.  As they work, Lara tells them of her summer at Tom Lake where she was in a stage play of Our Town, and how that began and ended her career as an actress.  Her children are captivated as the story unfolds changing their view of their mother and her past and how, eventually, she came to be the wife of someone who owns a cherry farm.

This was an okay book.  I did listen to it - Meryl Streep is the narrator so I thought that might be a good way to "read" this book.  And it was.  She is a great narrator.  I just didn't find the story itself especially interesting.  It was a slow read and I found a lot of Lara's past boring.  I just could not get invested in the story.

I did read The Dutch House by Patchett and really enjoyed that.  And right now am reading "Run" and enjoying that.  This one just missed the mark for me.

Stars: 3 

Book: The Only One Left

 Book: The Only One Left

Author: Riley Sager

Pages: 400

This is my 80th read for the year

This is the story of Kit McDeere and the Hope family.  Kit, a caregiver for 12 years, was tasked with caring for her own mother at the end of her life.  When an overdose happens, Kit is blamed, and is suspended until the invesitgation ends.  Once things settle, Kit is rehired, but only one job is given to her.  She is to care for Lenora Hope - a woman accused of murdering her whole family when she was 17 years old.  Lenora - also never proven to be guilty - is confined to a wheelchair after a stroke left only her left hand usable.  Kit moves into the enormous Hope mansion to care for Lenora but the unease of the remaining staff and the fear of Lenora herself makes it hard for Kit to settle in.  When Lenora shows Kit that she can type with the use of her remaining hand, the story unfolds of what really happened the night Lenora's parents and sister were killed.  As it unfolds, strange things start happening in the house that leave Kit ready to flee for her life.

This was an okay book.  I was curious to see where it was going, but I didn't find it overly well written.  The concept was great.  And I have to admit there were a few twists I wasn't expecting, although there were a few too many of those to make this plot enjoyable.  The book is overly long - I think there were sections that could have been eliminated or shortened.  I did enjoy the chapters of Lenora's typing out her story the best - learning what it was like for her growing up in this house.   The main character is just okay.

I have read of a few of this author's books, but I am not sure I will pick up another.

Stars: 3

Friday, September 15, 2023

Book: The Only Survivors

 Book: The Only Survivors

Author: Megan Miranda

Pages: 352

This is my 79th read for the year

This is the story of Cassidy Bent.  She and 8 other of her fellow students survived a tragic accident and for the last decade, those who are left get together at a place called The Shallows once a year.  Cassidy decided this is the year she is not going to go.  She blocks the numbers of the group in emails and texts and decides she is done.  But one night she gets a text that one of the group has died, and decides he needs to be with the others.  To find out what they know.  Something seems off from the moment she arrives at The Shallows, and soon suspicions arise that one among them has broken the promise to keep secrets that are 10 years deep.  As Cassidy works closer and closer to the truth she discovers that someone in their group isn't telling the whole truth.

This book wasn't great.  It wasn't a long book, but it still was overly wordy, and all over the place.  She hates them, she loves them.  She can't stand to be with them one more minute, but then she can't imagine being apart from them.  The story was pretty conveluded that if I had not bought this book (even though it was from a used book store) I would have not finished it.  The main character is really whiny and easy to dislike.  The idea of this story drew me in when I read what it was about, but the overall execution fell short.

Stars: 2.5

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Book: Only The Beautiful

 Book: Only The Beautiful

Author: Susan Meissner

Pages: 400

This is my 78th read for the year

This is the story of two women - Roseanne - a young girl who has lived her whole life on a vineyard where her dad was a vinedresser until he and the rest of her family were killed in an accident.  Rosie has a secret - she sees colors when she hears sounds - something that she only confided in a few people throughout her life.  She finds herself pregnant and soon banished from the home of the owners of the vineyard and taken to a place where "people like her" are dealt with.

The other woman - Helen Calvert - is the sister of the vineyard owners but has lived abroad for 40 years as a caretaker for other people's children.  When WWII starts, and a tragedy befalls the family she is minding, Helen finds herself back in the United States and unsure what to do now.  She inquires about Rosie and when she finds out what happened to the girl, she sets out to find her and her child horrified by what happened to her.  Hoping to find herself when she finds Rosie and her child, Helen will not stop until they are reunited.

This was a great book.  I am a big fan of Susan Meissner.  Her "Fall of Marigolds" remains one of my all time favorite books.  This book takes place between 1938 and the 1960s - the first half Rosie's story and the second half Helens.  Then, in true Meissner form, she pulls the parallel stories together for a very satisfying ending.  It is well written with likable characters (and characters that you definitely will hate for all the right reasons) and two women trying to make a horrible situation right.  Great Historical Fiction.

Check it out

Stars: 5

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Five Star Reads 2023 Update

 I have decided that I am going to keep the 5 star reads post going annually.  I think in the future I will move it to December of every year, but today a post I saw on facebook made me think that it has been 18 months since I last updated my 5 Star Reads List and I have a few more to add.

I started this blog in 2015.  I have now read 913 books since that time that I have blogged about.  Out of those, I have had 70 that I gave a 5 start review to.  As I have stated in the past - all authors are to be commended for writing a book, putting it out there in the public and dealing with people like me who give opinions on their hard work.  Bravo to them.

For the 70 books that I have given 5 star ratings to - I own them all.  I do not own every book I read (I would go broke), so I try to keep my buying to those that are the most special.

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 lifetime was worth every minute

In No Particular Order here are my 5 star reads (since 2015).  Click on the name if you want to read about the book and my review.

The Green Mile

The Art Of Raising Chickens

Lessons In Chemistry

Remarkably Ruby

White Bird

Our Missing Hearts

The Shawshank Redemption

Headhunters On My Doorstep


In The Lives Of Puppets

The Covenant Of Water

Dread Nation

The Master And Margarita

All The Light We Cannot See

Kite Runner

The 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 (all of them)


The Immortal Life of Hennrietta 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


Diary of a Young Girl

Everyday 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


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


Mornings In Jenin


Anxious People

Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Keepers Of Lost Things

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Great Expectations

From Here To Eternity

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs

Van Gogh


Cloud Cuckoo Land

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Book: Beyond The Wand - The Magic And Mayhem Growing Up A Wizard

 Book: Beyond The Wand - The Magic and Mayhem Growing Up A Wizard

Author: Tom Felton

Pages: 304

This is my 77th read for the year

This is the autobiography of the author.  Tom Felton was the actor who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.  In his book, he talks about how he got into acting, his life growing up in a normal, happy family, and how becoming Draco changed his life.  He talks about his life mostly on the sets of Harry Potter, but also his life before and after - including his stint in rehab when he realized he was barreling out of control.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read a lot of memoirs this year, and this has been one of the better ones.  From what I have always read about Tom is that he is one of the nicest guys in real life, which is hard to fathom considering who he played in the Harry Potter movies.  I would not say he is an exceptional actor by any stretch, but I did like learning about his life on the set and how he admits that the level of stardom for Daniel, Emma, and Rupert (who played Ron, Hermonie and Harry) is on a whole other level than his is.  Glad I read this one.

Stars: 4

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Book: The Escape Artist

 Book: The Escape Artist

Author: Johnathan Freeland

Pages: 400

This is my 76th read of the year

This is a non-fiction story about Rudolf Vrba (whose original name was Walter Rosenberg).  He was the first person to escape Auschwitz - and he was only 19 years old when he did it.  He wanted to reveal what was happening in the camp and stop the further movement of Jews into these camps.  It was hard to convince people on the outside that what he was saying was true.  It seemed so unbelievable as he unfolded what was happening in the camps and few headed his warning.  In the end he did save 200,000 Jewish lives but he believed to the end of his life that if people would have believed him it could have been so many more.  Once outside of the camp, he had a hard time adjusting to the outside world.  He remained vigilant from his time in captivity, and had a hard time with his temper and outside relationships based on what happened to him.  But he never stopped talking about what happened in the camp and to the Jewish people.

This was a great read.  I did not know the story of Rudolf Vrba, and what he did to save the lives he could was beyond brave.  This was a troubled man, though.  When he got out of the camp, he was forever changed and had a terrible time with personal relationships.  He was brilliant and testified in many trials - able to recount innumerable details. My guess is a lot of it had to do with the camp, yes, but also the guilt that he was not able to convince the higher ups outside the camps of what was really happening.  While he was recounting his time in the camp and his idea to bomb the railway to stop the trains from carrying more Jews - 600,000 more Jewish people went to their deaths.

I was blown away by the fact that all through his life as he explained what happened in Auschwitz and the Jewish camps was not believed.  People could not understand how Jews willingly got on trains to go to these camps.  They were supposed to be resettlement camps after all - not death camps.  His entire life he came across people who just could not believe that millions lost their lives this way.  It is hard for us  - who have instant access to any information - to understand what it would be like to truly be "out of sight out of mind" for so many and how frustrating that must have been for Rudolf and those like him,

Great book - check it out.

Stars: 4.5