Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Book: The Three Body Problem

 Book: The Three Body Problem

Author: Cixin Liu

Pages: 400

This is my 85th read for the year

This book begins during China's Cultural Revolution.  Ye Wenjie's father was just beaten to death for crimes due to his intellect.  Ye is captured and sentenced to hard labor.  She is a known astrophysicist and is soon recruited by the Red Coast to try and contact extraterrestial life.  She discovers a way to get a message - by using the sun - into outerspace and tells no one when she sends it.  8 years go by before she gets a reply from a planet called Alpha Centauri.  The message tells Ye not to respond or the aliens will find out where they are and will come for them.  Ye - dissatisfied with how things are on earth - tells the aliens to come.

What entails over the next 40 years is Ye building a following for the arriving aliens.  Still 400 years away from getting to earth, she and her followers begin preparations.  But soon the military finds out what is going on and that the alients of Alpha Centauri are on their way - using the time until they get here to stop earth from advancing more scientifically.  

 A nanotechnology professor - Wang Miao - is asked to join the efforts of the police to discover why a group of scientist have killed themselves.  When Wang's own research threatens his life, he and the police and world leaders come up with a way to stop communication with the aliens and prepare for war.  Wang begins to play a game called Three Body which is how the alients communicate and show earth why they are coming.  Due to their planet being in trouble by being consummed by one of their suns, they must now find another planet to inhabit.  This is the beginning of sunset for humanity.

This was a great book. It is well written and very smart.  I actually watched the Netflix show first and it was well done.  There are some big differences between the show and the book (show took Wang and divided him up into several characters) but overall it followed the story line well.  It is very technical in spots - I really had to pay attention while I read - but overall an interesting story.  There are 4 books total, so I plan on continuing to see where this is going.

Stars: 5

Book: Fourteen Days

 Book: Fourteen Days

Author: The Author's Guild

Pages: 380

This is my 84th read of the year

This is the story of a group of people stuck in a high rise building during the beginning of Covid 19.  The residents gather on the roof each night for an hour or two to tell each other stories to pass the time.  As they talk, they get to know each other and become real neighbors.  For 14 days they rely on each other to get through the pandemic.  Most have lost someone, have tragic love stories, or general worries.  Telling their stories they hope to get some peace.

This was an interesting book.  Each chapter is a different day and a different story told by a tenant.  The main character is the super of the building who comes to the nightly ritual, but stays on the outside - recording the stories for posterity.  Some of the stories got a little boring, but for the most part they held my interest.  There are a ton of authors that contributed to the writing of this book.  The ending I did not see coming and so I gave it another 1/2 star for that.

Stars: 3.5

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Book: Fall or Dodge In Hell

 Book: Fall or Dodge in Hell

Author: Neal Stephenson

Pages: 892

This is my 83rd read for the year

This story begins with Richard "Dodge" Forthrast.  A multibillionare who runs a gaming company.  When a medical procedure goes wrong, his last will is brought to the attention of his family  Dodge wanted his body to be given to a cryonics company and his brain scanned and stored in the cloud.  As the years go on, and technology advances, Dodge's brain is able to be turned on and an eternal world - called Bitworld - is created where humans can exist as digital souls.

This was an okay book.  I had high hopes for it, but it started to be a drag after awhile.  It started strong - the writing was good, the characters interesting.  Figuring out what the family was going to do with Dodge's body was intriguing.  But then Bitworld opens up and instead of it being equally as engaging (to me) as what was going on in the real world chapters, it fell flat.  I felt myself wanting to skip those chapters all together after while - I just couldn't get drawn into that part of the overall story.  It was just weird and felt completely disconnected from the rest of the book.

I looked at Stephenson's books - thinking I have read something from him before.  I read his book "Seveneves" and didn't like that one either so I guess this review is not that surprsing.

Stars: 3

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Book: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

 Book: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Author: Fiona Davis

Pages: 365

This is my 82nd read of the year

This story is about Laura Lyons and Sadie Donovan.  Laura - a mother, wife and hopeful journalist student in 1913 lives in the New York Public Library with her family.  Her husband works there as the superintendent and the apartment in the library is their home.  Laura applies to the Columbia Journalism school and gets in.  While a student her life is turned upside down when she is introduced to the Heterodoxy Club - an all female group who is fighting for women's rights.  When valuable books are taken from the library, Laura's husband is blamed and Laura is left trying to figure out what really happened.

83 years later, her granddaughter, Sadie, is a curator for the Library.  As books start to disappear, Sadie and one of her colleagues are blamed.  Teaming up with a private security officer, she is determined to not only prove her innocence, but solve the crime.  

This was an okay book.  I liked the mysteries of both time periods but the characters were just lacking for me.  I didn't find them very likable.  It is a pretty man hating book - very women centered.  Not that this is a bad thing, but i dislike when an author makes every man awful.  Stuck with it to the end to see how it resolved.

Stars: 3

Friday, May 3, 2024

Book: The Book Of Cold Cases

 Book: The Book Of Cold Cases

Author: Simone St. James

Pages: 350

This is my 81st read for the year

In 1977, The Lady Killer is arrested for several murders in the town of Claire Lake, Oregon.  Beth Greer - a then young woman whose both parents were dead - is eventually found not guilty of the crimes because there just isn't enough evidence.  Beth would like to tell the truth about what happened to those people, but knows she can't.  That is until 2017 when a crime junkie named Shea Collins comes into her life.  Shea has written a book about cold cases and has gotten Beth's attention.  Beth feels like enough time has past that the truth needs to come out - even if it means she goes to jail once and for all.

This book was not very good.  The writing was just so-so.  I did like the ghosting part of this book - held my attention in hopes that the story overall would get better.  But it never really did. The story is not griping at all.  And, my least favorite - too much keeping the reader in the dark for no other reason but to fill pages. 

Stars: 2.5

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Book: The In-Between

 Book: The In-Between

Author: Hadley Vlahos

Pages: 288

This is my 80th read for the year

This is the story of the author as a hospice nurse.  She recounts her time from when she became a nurse and how she ended up in Hospice as a career.  The tells the stories of some of her favorite patients over the years and how they changed her as a person.  And also how there are certain things at the end of life that are almost the same for all of us.  The author - who had a rough beginning to adulthood as a pregnant teen who made her own way through nursing school while juggling motherhood - found her calling by helping others be eased out of this world with compassion no matter what their beliefs.

This was a pretty good book.  She spoke clearly about her work and what it meant to her as a person and how she handled it at as professional.  The stories were great and will cause even the hardest heart to melt.  Her personal interminglings in this book should have been a bit shorter and she should have stuck to the patients stories for 90% of this book.  But overall a good read.
As a nurse myself, it brought up a lot of old feelings of my time working on a transplant floor at Johns Hopkins Childrens.  Hadley talks about how hard it was to separate her feelings from her job when she spends months with a patient as they transition through the end of their life.  For me - working with children who were frequently in the hospital and very sick - it was always hard when they died.  You became close to the families and being the child's main carer when they were in hospital meant separating your feelings from your job was very hard.  It brakes a lot of nurses.  However - I, like Hadley, think if we can find a balance as nurses, it can make us better and more empathetic to those who come next.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Book: A Day of Fallen Night

 Book: A Day of Fallen Night

Author: Samantha Shannon

Pages: 880

This is my79th read for the year

This is the story of 4 powerful women who must come together to fight an evil that is lurking in the shadows.  Tunuva who is a 50 year old women who has spent her life protecting the priory and its secrets.  Queen Sabran who is a mother who is trying to sculpt her only daughter, Glorian, into a someday queen by teaching her that it is more important to have iron in your bones than softness in your heart.  Dumai, who has spent her life in the mountains and among the dragons and whose life is about to be upended by an unknown father.  

These women and their people are put to the test when something called the Dreadmount errupts bringing with it world ending terror.  As their worlds collide to fight a common enemy, they discover truths about themselves that will be the power to stop it.

This was a pretty good book.  It is a PREQUEL to the Priory of the Orange Tree, and had I known that, I would have read it first.  I was confused from the start, and had to count on reviews on Amazon to help me realize that this indeed was a prequel because I wondered where all the old characters had gone.  The author does quite a bit of world building with endless characters.  I do love this type of book, but it does take a lot of concentration to keep everyone straight.  Like Game of Thrones, she delves deep into the corners of the world giving each chapter a clean look at each character.  I liked this set up because it helped with the flow.  For about 60% of the book-  I was hooked.  I found it better written than the Priory of the Orange tree, and was really getting into the battle and where it was all going to lead.  (by the way - you might find it each to piece together a story of a missing child pretty early on as I did).  However - then it takes a turn for the last 30% of the book to so much match making it became distracting.  It was like a switch was turned and she decided she needed more love story and less war, but instead of weaving it seemlessly throughout the book, it just kind of happened all at once.  I also saw a change in the writing as if she wasn't quite sure how to end the thing.  However - I did enjoy the very long epilogue - always a winner for me.

I am giving this book 4 stars mostly because it held up for me for a long time.  George RR Martin she is not, but she has the idea, so bravo.

Stars: 4