Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Book: Red At The Bone

 Book: Red At The Bone

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Pages: 224

This is my 122nd read for the year

This is the story of a family.  The story opens in 2001 when Melody turns 16 and has her coming of age story.  As her mother, father, and grandparents share in the joy of this day, they recount in their own words what it was like when they found out that her parents were going to have her at the age of 15.  Each grandparent and parent take turns talking about that time in their life and how they each felt leading up to Melody being born and then shortly after.  The story travels even further back with this family tree - back to 1921 and weaves a story of one family memory by memory and even moving beyond Melody's party when tragedy strikes this family and how they will move forward.

I really enjoyed this book.  I listened to it during a long day of yard work and I got it all done in one day.  Each story is well told, and Melody's section is done by one of my favorite narrators for audiobooks - I was overjoyed to hear her voice.  The story has a nice flow, and as the puzzle pieces of Melody's family's past are woven together, you see the relationships of each member pulled in different directions but all leading back to one little girl.  Great read.

Stars: 4.5

Monday, July 22, 2024

Book: West With Giraffes

 Book: West With Giraffes

Author: Lynda Rutledge

Pages: 372

This is my 121st read for the year

This is the story of Woodrow.  In 1938 He is a young man that has been recruited to help get two giraffes across the country to the San Diego zoo.  Accompanied by an "old man" who is responsible for the delivering the giraffes to the first female zoo director, the two find a country in awe as they travel.  They draw crowds whereever they go, everyone wanting a peek of the two.  Followed by a woman who claims to be a photographer for Life Magazine and a dangerous circus master, they race against the clock to get the giraffes to safety before something happens to them.

This is an excellent book.  I have had it on my shelf for awhile and I finally got to it.  It is well written and a fast moving story of two men - both with pasts they would like to forget - taking a long and harrowing journey across the US.  The story is told in journal form from Woodrow who is now a 105 year old man at the end of his life - desperately wanting to get this story down into words before he dies.  There is good character development.  Woodrow and the old man are well developed and you root for them to finish their task before the circus steals the giraffes.  I like that there is back and forth between present and past.  There is a great epilogue where Woodrow's story unfolds and he is reconnected with the giraffes of his past.  Great book.

Stars: 5

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Book: Arch-Conspirator

 Book: Arch-Conspirator

Author: Veronica Roth 

Pages: 110

This is my 120th read for the year

This is the story of a family inside the last city on earth.  Outside of this city, the world is a wasteland.  Rules are tight in this city and when someone dies their genes are stored in an Archive so that humanity can continue.  Antigone and her siblings have watched their parents die and now they are in the care of their uncle Kreon.  His is a militant who will kill anyone who rebels to make an example of them.  Antigone realizes that his house is a cage and she and her siblings will be forced to conform.  

This was a really quick book so I really couldn't get into it.  I picked it up at a used bookstore recognizing the author of the Divergent series.  It wasn't a bad book - it was just too short for me to 1) care about the characters), 2) really get invested in the story.  It ends on a cliff hanger which was maddening.  The writing is pretty good  - I personally just needed more.

I read the author's notes at the end and this was a spin off the original Antigone story written by Sophocles written in 400BC.  Maybe I need to read it?  Not sure if it would help but what the heck.

Stars: 3

Book: Gerald's Game

 Book: Gerald's Game

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 400

This is my 119th read for the year

This is the story of Jessie Burligame.  She and her husband Gerald are on a romantic getaway at their summer home.  Gerald handcuffs Jessie to the bed for one of his "games" but has a heart attack and dies before he can uncuff her.  Jessie is trapped with no way to get help.  Voices in her mind carry her through as she tries to figure out how she is going to getout of the house.  As she becomes more and more delirious, she recalls events from her past that are some of her worst memories.  She is sure that there is someone in the house - a threat - and if she doesn't get out soon, she is sure to meet the same fate as her husband.

This was not a top King read for me.  I have made it my mission to own and read all of his books, and for the most part I have been glad I have.  But this one just didn't sit right with me.  Trigger warning for those who want to read his books:  this one has a back story with her dad that borders on incest and brought up over and over in the book.  It was way too much of the story and cringe worthy (in my opinion).  I couldn't get past it and therefore did not really enjoy the book.

Stars: 2

Friday, July 19, 2024

Book: Salt In My Soul: An Unfinished Life

 Book: Salt In My Soul: An Unfinished Life

Author: Mallory Smith

Pages: 336

This is my 118th read for the year

This is the story of the author.  Diagnosed at 3 years old with Cystic Fibrosis, she knew her time would be short.  She was determined to make the best of it and at the age of 15 she started to record her thoughts and feelings in a private journal.  She left instructions that after she died, she wanted her thoughts to be shared to help others living with CF, other families, and also people in general who didn't know what it was really like to live with this disease.  Mallory was an excellent student who excelled at Standford.  When she graduated, she was helping a local environmentalist write a book.  All of this was inbetween constant hospitalizations and treatments and trying to keep her healthy.  When it finally was time for her to get a lung transplant, her family knew this was going to be the last ditch effort to save her life.  She had a dangerous bacteria that made this surgery dangerous, but it was her only hope.

Mallory died in 2017 at the age os 25.  In the end, the infection she carried infected her new lungs and she couldn't fight it.  Her family continues her legacy today hoping that Mallory's story will help others.

This was a pretty good book.  It is the running thoughts of Mallory from ages 15-25.  At the beginning of the book is her instructions she left her parents in sharing her story and she wanted to share the good and the bad (at the discretion of her parents).  They didn't know she was keeping this journal.  What she went through would make your head spin and wonder how this bright young lady ever had time for college and a job with eveything she was dealing with.  She had a loving and very supportive family.  She had a boyfriend.  She had friends and a life.  But in 2017, Cystic Fibrosis was still a life ending disease around the ages of 18-20 for many patients.  (now there is a treatment that is on new that is unbelievable and you can read more about it HERE)

I took care of a lot of CF patients during my nursing career.  Many during my time at Johns Hopkins.  You grow close to them and care for them because they are constantly hospitalized.  And when they die you mourn for them.  It is an unforgiving disease.  With the new therapies there is hope for these patients that can possibly save their lives.  Incredible.  

I encourage you to read this book.  There is also a documentary (you can watch for free on YouTube) called Salt In My Soul that was equally as good.  

Stars: 4

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Book: Sociopath

 Book: Sociopath

Author: Patric Gagne

Pages: 368

This is my 117th read for the year

This is the story of the author.  Ever since she was a little girl, she made people uncomfortable.  She did not feel empathy, fear or guilt.  She would take things from people's houses or from friends because it made her feel better.  When her parents caught her, she did not feel bad about it, but did as she was told.  As she grew she realized how she felt wasn't like most people and she started to explore why.  It wasn't until she got to college that she realized she might be a sociopath.  Most sociopaths were criminals but she wondered about those who flew under the radar.  That didn't get caught.  Didn't kill anyone.  She started to do research all while trying to hold down a job in her dad's music business and balance a boyfriend.  She eventually got her Ph.D in psychology and wrote this book because she wanted to help other sociopaths.

This was a good book.  It was eye opening to hear from someone who was a sociopath but was trying to be an active member of society.  She has friendships, she is married now, and she has children.  She has found people who accept her, and she has learned how to live with her sociopathy rather than run from it.  She was frightening as a child and I worried that she was going to take a dangerous path as an adult.  And while she is destructive to a point, she also shows you how you can be sympathetic and compassionate to someone who struggles with Sociopathy.  

My one problem of this book is that parts of it seemed to stretch the truth.  As I imagine most people who write about themselves do - some things did seem unbelievable.  I think she mixed true story telling into her life story to fill the pages.  Otherwise - or if what she wrote was really true - it was a good read.

Stars: 4

Monday, July 15, 2024

Book: A Bridge Across The Ocean

  Book: A Bridge Across The Ocean

Author: Susan Meissner

Pages: 363

This is my 116th read for the year

This is the story of Annalise and Brette.  Separated by over 50 years, their stories merge in a very unusual way.  Annalise is a woman running from an abusive marriage right after the war in Europe.  She takes another passenger's spot on the Queen Mary to escape to America where she hopes she can start over.  50 years later, Brette - who can see ghosts even when she doesn't want anything to do with them - is called on by a friend to visit the Queen Mary.  Now a museum, a little girl of a high school friend thinks she saw her dead mother on the ship.  Unsettled the dad asks for Brette's help.  What happens when she gets to the Queen Mary is that she discover's Annalise's story and need to get to the bottom of what really happened as they crossed the Atlantic all those years ago.

This was a pretty good book.  I am a Meissner fan.  One of my favorite books ever is the Fall of Marigolds, but this one wasn't quite up to that standard.  It is well written for the most part - but I did not like the ending at all.  I liked Brette and Annalise.  There was a 3rd story that was part of this book (and does come together half way through the book) but it didn't make much sense at first.  Meissner usually does a really good job of tying her past and present together and the story is usually a terrific one.  But the ending of this one wasn't for me.  It was too fantastical and I didn't why she went this direction.

Stars: 3.5