Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, April 19, 2024

Book: Brick Lane

 Book: Brick Lane

Author: Monica Ali

Pages: 384


This is my 74th read for the year

This is a story about Nazneen.  As a young woman, she is forced into an arranged marriage to a man 20 years older.  Once married she is moved from Bangladesh to London where she doesn't speak the language, doesn't understand the culture, and is away from everyone she knows.  However, she focuses on being a wife and eventually a mother and finds there are times she loves her husband.  However - an affair with a person her age makes her realize that leaving London and eventually going back to Bangladesh might not be what she wants.

This was a strange book.  I never did really get into it.  There were long drawn out chapters that were written in letter form - jumping months at a time.  It was in the middle of the book and such a left turn from the plot it was startling.  Then it went back to the plot.  It was a long meandering book with a plot that was all over the place and the ending was unsatisfatory.  I was reading this for the Rory Gilmore Challenge (which I am starting to question if I should continue) and just did not enjoy it.

Stars: 2



Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Book: Sorry I'm Late I Didn't Want To Come

 Book: Sorry I'm Late I Didn't Want To Come

Author: Jessica Pan

Pages: 272


This is my 73rd read for the year

This is the story of the author who - as an extreme introvert - decided to spend on year trying to extrovert. She obtains some guidance and she starts small - talking to strangers.  Then moves on to improv, stand up comedy, traveling alone, and finally hosting a dinner party at her house where she knows she will be the center of attention.  She is hoping to learn some lessons to improve her quality of life - hoping to not run out of an overly crowded room or restaurant when she felt overwhelmed.  She tries to become braver.

This was an okay book.  I found some of the choices the author made to extrovert a bit strange.  Improv? Stand up comedy?  I get what she was trying to overall improve, but aren't there more general approaches to being an extrovert than these?  I know a lot of extroverts, and not one of them does either of these activities.  I am not sure that Jessica is a TRUE introvert.  I mean - there has to be a level up from talking to strangers before you get to improv.  

Stars: 3


Monday, April 15, 2024

Book: Firestarter

 Book: Firestarter

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 512


This is my 72nd read for the year

This is the story of Andy McGee and his daughter Charlie.  Andy and his late wife, Vicky, had volunteered in college as test subjects.  While they developed psychic abilities, their child Charlie developed pyrokinesis, and has become extremely dangerous because she cannot control it.  Charlie and her dad are on the run from "The Shop" - the folks that ran the experimental testing on her parents - to end Charlie's life because they fear that she may set the world on fire. 

This was a weird book.  King is a gifted writer, but the story itself was a bit strange.  It started out strong, and then it started to drag a bit.  There was so much dialogue, that I found myself wanting Mr. King to just get on with it and get back to the point.  It was a good novel (and an old one) but not his best in my opinion.

Stars: 3.5


Friday, April 12, 2024

Book: Thursday Murder Club

 Book: Thursday Murder Club

Author: Richard Osman

Pages: 384


This is my 71st read of the year

This is a story of four friends in a retirement village in England who meet each week.  They discuss unsolved crimes and call themselves the Thursday Murder Club.  Now they are involved in their first live case - one that takes them beyond the village and their discussions and right into the middle of an investigation.

This was a cute book.  It was an easy read, and I liked most of the characters.  It had a slow start, but did pick up as it went along, so I am glad I stuck with it.  Might be a bit too wordy for a short novel - an editor could have helped tighten up the plot. Believe it or not - there is a small dialogue in this book that bumped it a star for me - brought me to near tears with the sentimental bit, so there is that.

Stars: 4


Thursday, April 11, 2024

Book: Terms of Endearment

 Book: Terms of Endearment

Author: Larry McMurty

Pages: 416


This is my 69th read for the year

This is the story of Aurora and her daughter Emma.  Aurora - whose entire world needs to revolve around her - is a widow how has had many suitors since her husband died.  Her grown daughter, Emma,is who she worries the most about.  Worried Emma married the wrong man, and when Emma is diganosed with caner - worried of what will become of her daughter's baby if Emma dies.

This was an okay book.  I remember watching the movie years ago, and the books seems very different from what I remember.  I have it in my head that the movie was mostly about Emma's cancer, but I might not be correct about this.  So the book was startling when it was mostly about Aurora and her relationships.  The book is rambilng.  Emma's diagnosis is a quick part at the end.  Just different than I expected.

Stars: 3




Book: X Saves The World

 Book: X Saves The World

Author: Jess Gordinier

Pages: 224


This is my 70th read for the year

This is a non-fiction book where the author looks into the lives of Generation X.  The Generation between Baby Boomers and the Millenials - he discusses what made this Generation what it was.  From movies to music to stars of the day, he points out how this generation has had to move at a faster pace then any before it.

I liked some things about this book, but overall the author spent so much time just name dropping and discussing music genres that I quickly lost interest.  There are some good lines and interesting parts, but overall it wasn't much of a novel about Generation X.  Too much talk about bands - not enough talking about the generation itself and its regular people.

Pass

Stars: 2


Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Book: All The Little Truths

 Book: All The Little Truths

Author: Debra Webb

Pages: 344


This is my 68th read for the year

This is the 3rd book in the Finley O'Sullivan series.  Finley's new client has a shady past, and her firm has taken on his case to clear him of a crime.  13 years ago a teenager named Lucy was killed and Ray, Finley's client, is believed to be the murder.  But Finley isn't so sure.  The case went cold, the father of the girl died, Ray's brother disappeared, and the girl's mother disappeared.  As Finley investigates the case, more questions than answers start to appear.  And somehow, Finley's dad seems to be involved and Finley thinks that he isn't telling her everything she needs to know to figure out who murdered Lucy all those years ago.

This was a good book.  I have read the other two, and started the series because my daughter's name is Finley.  I thought this book moved along pretty nicely.  It is an easy read, and I do get a bit frustrated when the author keeps secrets from the reader that seem to be dragged out too long, but I liked the twist in this one.  Glad I finished the series.

Stars: 4


Monday, April 8, 2024

Book: Just A Couple Of Days

 Book: Just A Couple of Days

Author: Tony Vigorito

Pages: 400 pages


This is my 67th read for the year

This is the story of Blip Korterly and Flake Fountain - a professor and a doctor.  Blip is arrested and Dr. Fountain is brought into a secret government organization developing a biological weapon which makes the person unable to communicate with speech or writing.  Dr. Fountain is hired to try and find the antidote.  Before that can happen, the virus is released to everyone on earth and Dr. Fountain starts to record everything that is happening.  Will he finish his writing before he gets the virus himself?

This book was weird.  It wasn't good or bad - just odd.  It does read a lot like a Kurt Vonnegut novel and in the end I should have read this one instead of listening to it.  I found it hard to listen - too much going on and language was harder to follow on audio.  The beginning was good, the middle took a dip, and then it picked back up again in the end.  So overall - okay.

Stars: 3.5

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Book: The Good Nurse

 Book: The Good Nurse

Author: Charles Graeber

Pages: 434


This is my 66th read for the year

This is the true story of Charles Cullen.  Charles was a nurse that from 2003-2006 killed up to 400 people before he was caught.  Brought to trial for the around 40 people the prosecuter could confirm he killed, Charles in now serving multiple life sentences for his crimes.  He was a nurse in the Pennsylvania Lehigh Valley area and NJ hospitals - working in 9 different hospitals before he was caught.  His method was injecting either digoxin or insulin into patients directly or in their IV bags.  He targeted patients of all ages - young and old.

This was a really good book.  It is well written and well researched.  It is shocking to me that it took so long for Charles to be caught.  That the hospitals he worked for never put it together.  That even when he was fired or let go from a job he was able to get another one and start over.  I am a nurse, and I have worked with the Pyxis machines that are mentioned in this book where Charles was pulling medication.  Those things have incredible records.  And a lot of time they are monitored by two nurses to open or there might be a camera in the med room.  IT is incredible to me that none of those things caught this guy let alone the fact that he would kill several people on one unit within a matter of months and they didn't piece it together.  

Anyway - this was a great page turner if you are into true crime. 


Stars: 5


Friday, April 5, 2024

Book: Tell Me Everything

 Book: Tell Me Everything

Author: Erika Krouse

Pages: 288


This is my 65th read for the year

This is the story of the author.  She has just accepted a new job as a private investigator.  Mostly hired because she has one of those faces that causes people to tell her things, a lawyer named Grayson hires her to investigate a sexual assult case at a college campus.  Erika knows she shouldn't take this case with her own past with sexual violence.   Over 5 years she investigates the case and as it gains national attention her own life implodes.  She becomes consumed with the case and the relationship she has with her mother that is hanging by a string in hopes that solving this case with give her some meaning.

This was an okay book.  It was going pretty well until Erika took a dive into her own personal story that took up a large part of this book.  While I know she was trying to tie her personal experience with what is happening with the victims in her case, it seems out of place.  To me that should have been its own book and the focus of this book should have been on the case and the victims instead of Erika's own past.  So for that it lost a star.

Stars: 3.5



Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Fat Land

 Book: Fat Land

Author: Greg Crister

Pages: 256


This is my 64th read for the year

This is a non fiction account of how America became one of the fattest countries on earth.  Starting in the 1970s and moving forward to the early 2000s, this book goes over diet fads, increases in food portions, childhood obesity, excercise, and how the the country has dealt (or not dealt) with the crisis.

This was a good book.  It is a bit older - it came from the Rory Gilmore reading challenge list, so that is not suprising.  I would be anxious to read a more current book on how the health landscape has changed in the last 20 years.  It was interesting to see how McDonald's decided to start its Super Size meals (it stemmed in part from people not wanting to order two small fries).  It was also interesting to learn about the different advice that was given to people over the years to help them become healthier and more active.  How exercise amounts varied and how the industry worked to get people off the couch, away from the TV and more active.

Good book.  I might look for something more recent to see what has changed.

Stars: 4


Book: Argylle

 Book: Argylle

Author: Elly Conway

Pages: 384


This is my 63rd read for the year

This is the story of Aubrey Argylle.  A young adult who has been living a quiet life in the jungle finds himself a CIA agent sent on a very important mission. He needs to get to a Nazi hoard before a rich Russian magnate reaches it.  Argylle's parents have a troubled past but Agent Coffey of the CIA knows that Argylle's potential contribution to the mission is more vital.  Argylle is thrown in with a team who are not sure what to make of him.  And as the mission evolves, Argylle realizes there is a spy among them feeding information to the Russians.  It is a race against the clock to see who gets to the hoard first.

This was a pretty good book.  I picked it up on a whim while visiting my local library.  The show is coming to Apple TV soon so I thought reading it first might be fun.  (then I found out the movie is very different that the book - ah well).  However - the book was interesting.  I liked Argylle the character as well as several other of the characters in his CIA group.  The story moved along nicely, however the twist wasn't that exciting.  But overall a solid read.

Stars: 3.5


Saturday, March 30, 2024

Book: All The President's Men

 Book: All The President's Men

Author: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

Pages: 400


This is my 62nd book for the year

This is the story of Watergate as told by two reporters (the authors) who investigated the story and published this book right before Nixon resigned.  It started with the Democratic headquarters being robbed and ended with one of the biggest political scandals in our nation's history.  (until recently)

This was a pretty interesting book.  I read it as part of the Rory Gilmore challenge, but glad I found it.  There are a zillion people in this book and it is hard at times to keep them all straight, but it was interesting to learn about how the Watergate scandal unfolded.  The volume I read had a recent forward from 2020 after the January 6th storming of the capital and how Trump and his presidency mimics Nixons yet still blows it out of the water.

Good book - check it out.

Stars: 3.5


Thursday, March 28, 2024

Book: The Women

 Book: The Women

Author: Kristin Hannah

Pages: 480


This is my 61st read for the year

This is the story of Frankie.  She is a young woman who just finished nursing school and is trying to figure out what to do with her life.  Her older brother, Finley, is getting ready to go to Vietnam and her parents are so proud.  Frankie decides to join the Army Corps as an Army nurse to follow her brother.  When she is arrived she is overwhelmed and under prepared.  Each day she is faced with men who are wounded severly and often beyond help.  And when her tour ends and she has to return home, she cannot figure how she can go back to her sheltered life after what she has seen.

This book was just okay.  I know I know - people are in love with Hannah and her stories, but I just cannot get behind this author's style.  I tried, but I think I might need to be done.  First the good - I like that she decided to write about the Vietnam war instead of WWII area, and focused on the women who served as nurses during this war.  Topic was a good choice and I knew very little about it.  AFter that - there is not much I can say.  The characters were awful.  The parents where ridiculous.  Frankie was not likable.  The writing - not great.  And the love story?  Ridiculous.  I mean, she fell in love with two married men.  One she spent about 5 minutes with before she stated that he changed her.  Come on Hannah.  Do better.

Do not recommend.

Stars: 3 (and that was generous)




Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Book: Vanity Fair

 Book: Vanity Fair

Author: William Thackeray

Pages: 750


This is my 60th read for the year

Here is what Amazon says about Vanity Fair: 
"No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia, however, longs only for caddish soldier George. As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles—military and domestic—are fought, fortunes made and lost. The one steadfast and honourable figure in this corrupt world is Dobbin with his devotion to Amelia, bringing pathos and depth to Thackeray's gloriously satirical epic of love and social adventure."

I am sure I am the last person on earth to read this book.  I tend to shy away from the hefty classics, but I am doing a Rory Gilmore challenge this year and that girl loved a good classic.  I didn't love or hate this book.  It just....was.  It was long and a bit tedious and meandered its way through a story that never really went anywhere.  

Stars: 3


Book: Deenie

 Book: Deenie

Author: Judy Blume

Pages: 208


This is my 59th read for the year

This is the story of Deenie - a 7th grader whose mother has high hopes for a modeling career for her.  Deenie just wants to be a normal teenager and make the cheerleading squad and hang out with her friends.  When a teacher notices that Deenie seems to have a problem with her spine, Deenie is on a path she never expected.  Forced to wear a large brace for 4 years while her spine straightens, she learns to navigate junior high school with her "specialness" and what that means.

This was a weird book.  Shocking since it is Judy Blume.  I read it for a challenge.  Deenie is a huge whiner.  Yes I know she is 13 years old, but still.  It was over the top.  The mother is terrible.  The older sister, Deenie's friends and her dad are the only good characters in the book.  It is a really short book and it kind of just ends.  Not her best.

Stars: 2.5




Book: Counting The Cost

 Book: Counting The Cost

Author: Jill Duggar

Pages: 288


This is my 58th read for they year

This is Jill's own story about growing up in the Duggar family and part of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting.  Once she got married and realized that there was a life outside of her family that she wanted to lead, she tried to break ties from her family and the show.  However - this improved to be almost impossible.  The second daughter, 4th born of this enormous family always fell in line.  But now she decided that what was her life as a child is not the life she wanted anymore.  As alligations against her oldest brother got worse and worse and continued to throw her and her family further into the spotlight, Jill tried to make a life of her own.

This was a pretty good book.  I admit I watched this show years ago when it was on TV.  And as the alligations against Josh Duggar mounted, the truth of this family reared its ugly face.  I watched the documentyar "Shiny Happy People" about the Duggars and their religion as well.  Jill spins the story from when she was young and in charge of some of her siblings to when she married and moved to South America for mission trips.  I think Derrick, her husband, is a big part of her getting out of this life she was in and finding her own path.  Good read.

Stars: 4


Friday, March 22, 2024

Book: Out Of Africa

 Book: Out of Africa

Author: Isak Dinesen

Pages: 416


This is my 57th read for the year

This is the story of the author's time in Kenya.  (Isak is her pen name - her real name is Baroness Karen Blixen who was Danish).  She owned a coffee plantation there from 1914 to 1931 and this book covers her tales from the locals, the people who worked for her, and even a visit from the Prince of Wales.  Tales are woven among descriptions of the landscape around her.

This is a pretty good book. I love a good non-fiction and this one spun a good story about the author's time in Kenya.  There were some dry bits, but overall a fascinating tale in the early 20th century about a very capable woman running a plantation.  She saw a young boy shot and killed and the fall out from that.  And then finally the collapse of the cost of coffee where she had to sale the farm.  It was a heartfelt memoir overall and I am glad I read it.

Stars: 4




Book: The Joy Luck Club

 Book: The Joy Luck Club

Author: Amy Tan

Pages: 352


This is my 56th read of the year

This is the story of 4 women and 4 daughters.  In 1949 the women beginning meeting to talk and coin themselves The Joy Luck Club.  Together their collective tragedies and loss bond them over the years.  And 40 years later, when one of the women has passed away, them come together to share moments from their mother/daughter relationships.

This was an okay book.  IT is more a book of short stories that intertwine a bit rather than one long story.  At times I had a hard time keeping track of who was talking.  I did listen to this book, and that might have been its downfall - I didn't love the narrator.   Whole thing didn't flow well for me but some of the stories were interesting.

Stars: 3


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Book: Good Omens

 Book:Good Omens

Author: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Pages: 400


This is my 55th read for the year

This is the story of angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley who have lived on earth since its creation.  Over all the years together they have formed a friendship and a liking to humanity.  Crowley is informed he must deliver the Anitchrist to unsuspecting parents to be raised until it is time for Armageddon.  Aziraphale and Crowley now have 11 years to figure out how to stop Armageddon and the end to their precious humans.  

With the help of a Witch and a Witch Hunter, Aziraphale and Crowley come up with a plan to stop this war.  However the powers that be in Hell and Heaven want the war and will do anything they can to make sure it happens and earth is destroyed.

I love a good Neil Gaiman book.  I don't know how I have missed reading this book.  I did see the TV show (two seasons on Amazon Prime) and it follows the book quite well - at least the first season which is where the book ends.  The book is funny, and clever and a good read overall.  My only critique that lowered it a star was that at times I found it too wordy.  There were large sections of the book that didn't really move the story along that I felt could have been shortened.

Stars: 4


Book: The Devil In The White City

 Book: The Devil In The White City

Author: Erik Larson

Pages: 447


This is my 54th read for the year

This non-fiction story centers around 2 men at the end of the 1800s.  Architect Daniel Burnham who has been tasked with designing the World's Fair in Chicago, and H.H. Holmes who became a notorious serial killer in Chicago while the fair was being built and run.  As Burnham rises to fame for his development of the fair and the people it attracts (notably Buffalo Bill, Susan B Anthony and Thomas Edison) Holmes uses the fair to lure young women to their deaths.  It isn't until after the fair is over that a Sherlock Holmes type detective finally brings Holmes to Justice.

This was a fascinating book.  The blend of these two stories was an interesting take.  I was actually much more drawn to the story of HH Holmes only because I could not believe that a man who ended up killing at least 27 women and children went unnoticed during this time.  The fair was taking so much of the towns resources and energy that this man was able to kill all these people without stirring many questions.  On the other hand, Burnham's fair was not something I new quite a lot about.  I did not realize they basically built a city.  It must have been something to see.

This was the debut of the Ferris wheel (Ferris was from Pittsburgh which is near my hometown), and reading about his designs and first wheel was great.  What this fair lead to: Disney (Walt's father was party of the building of the White City), Oz (Frank Baum and William Denslow visited the fair), Franklin Lloyd Wright visited and was inspired for future designs, and it is where we got Columus Day.  Of course - the Ferris Wheel is now a staple at every carnival.  The end of the book was my favorite where Larson wrapped up the stories of many of the main characters to close out an interesting tale.

Glad I read this one

Stars: 4.5


Saturday, March 16, 2024

Book: The God Of Small Things

 Book: The God Of Small Things

Author: Arundhati Roy

Pages: 333


This is my 53rd read for the year

This is the story of twins Estha and Rahel who live in India.  At 7 years old their world is trned upside down with a tragedy concerning their young cousin, Sophie.  At the same time, their mother has also in the midst of a scandal that will change them all forever.

This was an interesting book.  I can see why it won a prize.  It is crafted literature, and as one reviewer said "too brilliant".  The story got lost in the language style she uses for this book.  I had a hard time caring about the characters.  Or keeping up with her constant change in nicknames for different characters.  Overall it is an interesting story that you need to really be in the mood for and can read without distraction.

Stars: 3


Thursday, March 14, 2024

Book: Under A White Sky: The Nature Of The Future

 Book: Under A White Sky: The Nature Of The Future

Author: Elizabeth Kolbert

Pages: 272


This is my 52nd read for the year

In this non-fiction novel, the author explores the world we are creating.She interviews biologist, climatologist, engineers and researchers who are all trying to figure out what we are going to do as the globe gets hotter.  The interventions that are being explored are what are our hopes for salvation.

This was a pretty good book.  Unless you have your head in the sand, you are aware of the changes to our earth that are happening with climate change.  What is being done to address is a race against the clock.  As scientist explore ideas, the population of the earth continues to grow and along with it - a lot of problems.  Overall it is an interesting read - maybe a little dry from time to time, but I am glad I read it.

Stars: 4




Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Book: Kitchen Confidential

 Book: Kitchen Confidential

Author: Anthony Bourdain

Pages: 312


This is my 51st read for the year

This is Anthony's own story about his start in the restaurant business up until the publishing date of this book in 2000.  Anthony delves deep into the underbelly that is the kitchens in famous and not so famous kitchens.  He talks about who he learned from, and how that shaped him as a chef and a person.  What you read about his culinary world (sex drugs and bad behavior) may or not surprise you.

This was a pretty good book.  I really liked watching Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" on TV and that is how I came to know him.  He died not far from where we were living abroad in 2019, and since there I have continued to look into his culinary career.  This was the first book of his I have read (believe it or not he wrote a few fiction books as well) and I enjoyed it.  What I read about him didn't really surprise me.  He lived rough, loose, and on his own terms.  He is more humble in this book that I would have expected, but I think all people feel a bit "aw shucks" when talking about themselves.  

Overall a good book that will make you hungry for the delicious food he talks about.

Stars: 4


Book: Babel

 Book: Babel

Author: R.F. Kuang

Pages: 560


This is my 50th read of the year

I am going to just plop the Amazon review here for this book to save time
"828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation—also known as Babel.
Babel is the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver working—the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars—has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire’s quest for colonization.
For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide…

Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? "


I could not get into this book. I tried - I REALLY tried.  I had read Yellowface by this author and did not like it at all, so I probably went in thinking I wasn't going to like it.  Which isn't fair.  My problem with this book was it seemed to have way too many words to say very little.  It started out pretty good, and I was hopeful, but then it just went downhill.  I know what she was trying to do.  But this has been trope in a lot of recent novels and honestly - soap box in a novel that isn't non-fiction isn't my thing.  I just want to read a story.  And when the story gets lost and the soapbox takes over, I become disinterested.  This is a personal thing.  

Stars: 3


Sunday, March 10, 2024

Book: Freaky Friday

 Book: Freaky Friday

Author: Mary Rodgers

Pages: 144


This is my 49th read for the year

This is the story of Annabel.  She is tired of her mother telling her what to do.  She believes that when she is an adult she can do and think as she pleases.  When she wakes up on a Friday morning in her mother's body and her mother in hers, she finds out what it is really like to be not only a mother, but a mother to a child like Annabel.

This book was quite bad.  I borrowed it from the library for a reading challenge and read the original 1972 version.  It is not well written, and the story was a bit odd.  I KNOW this is a children's book.  But it just wasn't good.  There are a ton of Freaky Friday movies, but this was nothing like those.  Not that those movies are terrific, but they were more entertaining than this strange book.

Stars: 2


Book: Starter Villain

 Book: Starter Villain

Author: John Scalzi

Pages: 272


This is my 48th read for the year

This is the story of Charlie. He is a broke substitute school teacher who lives alone with his two cats  His older siblings are pressuring him to sell his dad's house so that they can move on from his death.  One day, Charlie gets a visit and told that his uncle Jake has died and left him his supervillain business.  Charlie is then swept into a life he never imagined fending off enemies of his uncle.  As Jake learns how his uncle Jake had started a war against the other supervillains and now it is Jake's turn to win it.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read one other Scalzi book (Redshirts) and really liked it.  This book is amusing and well written.  Silly, fun and entertaining, I sped through this easy read enjoying each page.  The ending was actually pretty good - even with some surprises I didn't see coming.

Overall a good book I am glad I read.

Stars: 4.5


Friday, March 8, 2024

Book: Mother Daughter Murder Night

 Book: Mother Daughter Murder Night

Author: Nina Simon

Pages: 368


This is the 47th read of the year

This is the story of Lana, Beth and Jack.  Lana - Beth's mother - has recently found out that she has cancer.  A high powered business woman who hasn't had a great relationship with her daughter, finds herself asking for help.  Beth has Lana move in with she and her daughter, Jack, so she can help her manager her chemo.  While Lana is staying wiht Beth and Jack, a man is found dead in the water.  Jack is a suspect because this man was supposed to be on one of her kayak tours.  As the investigation unravles, Lana finds herself deep into trying to solve what happened and to clear her granddaughter.

This is one of those books that I would say is not memorable.  It wasn't incredibly entertaining, and it was just a bit dull.  It wasn't a bad book, but it is going to be one of those books where I won't remember it far into the future beyond just having read it.  You can figure out the murderer pretty quickly, and honestly I really did not feel anything for any of the characters in the end to care that much.

Stars: 3


Book: Leave The World Behind

 Book: Leave The World Behind

Author: Rumaan Alam

Pages: 272


This is my 46th read for the year

Amanda and Clay take their kids on a vacation into a remote part of Long Island.  They are staying in a big, beautiful house with a pool and near the beach to relax and unwind.  A few days into their stay, the owners of the house show up at their door saying something they don't understand is happening in New York City and want to wait it out in their home.  Amanda is very suspicious of the couple, but comes to find that they are the genuine owners.  They never lose power at the house, but they lose cell service and TV access.  There was just a small blip on the phones before it went out that a catastrophic event has happened.  The four try to figure out what is going on and shield the children from any information they receive and discuss if they should stay put or try and go back home.

This book was okay.  I did watch the movie on Netflix and also found that just so/so.  The book was unforgettable, and a bit boring.  It never really went anywhere except around and around.  Nothing big ever really happens - the events that are happening in New York never escalate for our characters, so it really wasn't that interesting of a read.  While I believe the dialogue is excactly what would happen to us if we were in this situation, it didn't make good reading.

Stars: 3


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Book: Call Us What We Carry

 Book: Call Us What We Carry

Author: Amanda Gorman

Pages: 240


This is my 45th read for the year

This is a collection of Poems by Amanda Gorman.  This young lady was the youngest poet to speak at a presidential inagural event.  Her poem at Biden's inaguration introduced her to the world and this collection appeared after she spoke.  Poems that span history, identity, and a global pandemic with a closeout of the book with the poem she recited at the inaguration.

This was a pretty good book.  I am not a big poem person, but I read this for a reading challenge.  My mom had gotten me this book when Biden became president and I have not opened it until now.  I am glad I read it.

Stars: 4


Book: Blockade Billy

 Book: Blockade Billy

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 132


This is my 44th read for the year

This is the story of William Blakeley known as Blockade Billy.  A young man who was discovered working a farm that turns out to be one of the best catchers ever to play the game of baseball.  However - Billy has a secret.  And this secret is what caused his name to be wiped from the history of baseball and for no one to remember who he was.  His time in baseball was short - and for good reason.

I liked this book pretty well.  It is quite short - even at its 132 pages - there is another story in the back - the story of Blockade Billy is about 70 plus pages.  There wasn't much depth to the story - we didn't get much background into why Billy did what he did, but overall, it didn't make a difference.  Some reviewers say the ending was a twist, but to this I say - come on.  This is Stephen King.  Of course people died.

Stars: 4


Book: The Talisman

 Book: The Talisman

Author: Stephen King and Peter Straub

Pages: 784


This is my 43rd read for the year

This is the story of Jack Sawyer.  He and his dying mother have just moved away from everything he knows so she can die in peace.  However, Jack isn't ready to let her go. In order to save his mother, he must cross the United States between his world and a parallel world called the Territories.

In the parallel world - there is a struggle of good and evil and "Twinners" - people who look like the people he knows on earth.  This even includes his mother who, in the parallel world is known as Queen Laura.  As he journeys, he is constantly put to the test and hopes that he can reach his goal before his mother on earth dies.

This was not a great book.  I found it slow and dry.  IT was actually boring and I really struggled to read it each day.  This book is almost 40 years old, and it has not aged well.  I never really got into the story of Jack's travels.  This is a 12 year old boy that crosses the United States.  His mom knows he is doing it and he just lets him go?  What?  It really goes off the rails about 3/4 of the way through the book to the point that I should have just stopped reading.  

I don't know who to blame for this one - King or Straub.  There is a sequel to this book, but I think I will skip it.

Stars: 2



Friday, March 1, 2024

Book: The City of Mirrors

 Book: The City of Mirrors

Author: Justin Cronin

Pages: 624


This is my 42nd read for the year

In the last book of the Passage trilogy, we open with The Twelve being destroyed.  But The Zero still remains.  Amy has left the walled city to hunt for him knowing that until he is destroyed, humans will never be at peace.  Zero waits for Amy - knowing she will come and try to kill him.  But while he waits, he starts to raise an army against her. 

However - 20 years pass and the humans have not seen virals for many years.  They have opened the gates to the walled cities and started to branch out into the country.  Just as they start to breathe, people and animals start to disappear.  The folks who were there when The Twelve were at their peak know what is coming and they are woefully unprepared.

This was a fantastic book.  I have really enjoyed this trilogy.  The writing was fantastic and the story just draws you in.  This story was a back track to when The Zero was human and his life story and how he became who he was.  It kept me page turning late into the night and it was probably my favorite part of this book.  I did have to subtract a half a star because of two reasons.  1) there was a little too much "sweetness" in this book compared to the others.  A few too many things working out and flowery language that didn't really fit.  My assumption is how much Cronin loves these characters and if there was a death of a character he probably felt it personally.  2) The ending - not my favorite.  I LOVED that it went far into the future and kind of wrapped up how the book starts (which is from reading notebooks from the past) but he introduced a few new characters that just through it off for me.

Overall - excellent book and excellent series.  Well worth the read.

Stars: 4.5

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Book: The Scarlet Pimpernel

 Book: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Author: Baroness Orczy

Pages: 330


This is my 41st read for the year

This is the story of Marguerite Blakeney and trying to figure out who is the daring Scarlet Pimpernel that is rescuing French aristocrats from being hanged.  He gets them out of France and into England safely.  Marguerite is approached by Chauvelin who is trying to capture the Scarlet Pimpernel and bring him to justice.  Chauvelin promises her that no harm with come to her brother - who has been sentenced to die in France - if she helps him.  She agrees until she finds out the true identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  Then it is a race to see if Marguerite can save him and her brother in time.

This was a pretty good book.  It isn't a hard read, and the reader can probably figure out who the Scarlet Pimpernel is pretty early in the book (before Marguerite does).  However - if you go on Amazon you will know before you even read the book, so you are warned.  The writing is not bad but the ending could have been better.  

Stars: 3




Sunday, February 25, 2024

Book: The Twelve

 Book: The Twelve

Author: Justin Cronin

Pages: 608


This is my 40th read for the year

This is the second book in the Passage Trilogy.  The story opens in the past when the infection was just starting to spread.  Lila, a doctor, has seen something horrible at the hospital and now has locked herself in her house, refusing to believe what is happening outside her walls and going about her life as nothing has changed.  As other survivors find each other and start to trek to safety, they all hope that whatever is happening is over quick.

Years in the future (and 5 years after the timeline of book one), we meet our crew from the first group struggling to hold things together.  Amy is on her own mission.  The crew are mourning the loss of some of their own. Amy is changing, even though at 103 years old and one of the original 12, she shouldn't be.  She has powers that come in handy.  The other virals are discovering that they can die if they cannot feed, an so the original 12 make a plan for world domination and control their numbers.  Meanwhile the insurgents have infiltrated a prison that has been built by the 12 and have plans to pic them off one by one.

This was a great book. I think I liked it even better than the first.  I really liked that Cronin backtracked in the beginning of this book to the beginning of the infection and told the story from other points of view.  I like how he used that as kind of a "recap" but also a prelude of what was to come with some of those characters in the "here and now" of the characters we became aquainted with in book one.  He is a superb writer.  This is a slow burning story, but like The Stand it has the perfect pace.  He doesn't have a ton of characters so we get in be heavily involved in their lives in these books which makes it wonderful.

Great series.  Cannot wait to read the third and see how he finishes the story.

Stars: 5


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Book: Loki

 Book: Loki

Author: Melvin Burgess

Pages: 272


This is my 39th read for the year

I am borrowing from Amazon for the synopsis (I am on vacation and don't want to paraphrase)
"Starting with the Norse creation myths, the trickster god Loki takes the reader on a wild ride through Norse mythology, from the era when the gods—the founders of Asgard—defeated a race of monsters, and then hurtles through legendary stories, including Odin hanging himself on the World Tree, the theft of the corrupting gold ring, and the murder of Baldr, the god of love and the sun.

Born within the heart of a fire in the hollow of a tree-trunk, Loki arrives in Asgard as an outsider. He is a trickster, an unreliable narrator, the god of intelligence and politics. In spite of his cleverness and sparkling wit (or, perhaps, because of this), Loki struggles to find his place among the old patriarchal gods of supernatural power and is constantly at odds with the god of thunder—Thor.

Alongside the politics of Asgard, the novel charts the course of Loki's many loves and families, from his mothering of Odin's famous horse to his intense, turbulent, and, eventually fatal relationship with Baldr the Beautiful—a tender and moving story of a love that goes wrong.

This is a retelling that is contemporary in tone, at once amusing and relatable. It is a heartfelt plea to overthrow the old gods of power and authority and instigate a new era ruled by love and intelligence"

My husband got me this book for my birthday.  I do love Norse Mythology, and I was interested in the story of Loki.  There are so many twist in turns in myths, and with this world, and I thought the author did a nice job with Loki's story.  I have read about him and Thor in the past, but this Loki view book was interesting.  The story is short and doesn't get into the weeds like Norse Mythology can do with all of its "cast of characters" which I appreciated.  Fun read.

Stars: 4