Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

2021 Challenge: Over 300 Pages: The Grace Year

 Book: The Grace Year

Author: Kim Liggett

Pages: 416

This is my 62nd book of the year

This is the story of 16 year old Tierney.  Born into a society who believes that women have magic powers.  Girls during their 16th year are banished into the wild to relase their magic so that they can come back to society ready for marriage. However -not all girls that are released during their "Grace Year" return.

Tierney - who doesn't want to be a wife, but is destined to be one anyway - is told that the poachers who hunt the girls during their Grace Year is her biggest fear.  However, she soon realizes that isn't the biggest threat.  As Tierney starts to piece together what the magic really is, why the girls - who are forbidden to talk about the Grace Year  - look so broken when they return, and what all of this means for her own future, she sets to change things.  However, she soon realizes that this will be harder than she imagines.

This book wasn't great.  It was way too much like the Handsmaid's Tale (which is it touted for).  I was looking for some originality in my favorite genre, but got more of the same.  Another society where men see women as property.  The love story that develops escalated so quickly that it was hard to believe.  Instalove is never for me.  There wasn't a lot of character development.  I really never developed feelings for any character in the book - not even our heroine.  This isn't a slow burn, and that is possibly why.  

Handmaid's Tale and Hunger Games this is not.  For a 400 page book, I was hoping for more.

Stars: 3

Sunday, June 20, 2021

2021 Challenge: Author with 9 letters in last name: Half Sick of Shadows

 Book: Half Sick of Shadows

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pages: 448

This is my 61st read for the year.

I got this as an early copy through my Book Of The Month Club

This is the story of Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere, Morgana and Elaine.  Everyone knows the story.  Arthur who is to be king.  Guinevere who betrays Arthur with Lancelot.  Morgana who turns against them all.  And Elaine - who is cursed to know the fuure before the rest of them.

When the time comes for Arthur to claim the throne, the group accompany him Camelot.  Elaine tries her hardest to keep everyone together and everyone safe, but no matter what she does - the future never really changes for her closest group of friends.  She must decide how far she will go to change their fates.

This was an okay book.  I always love a good spin on a classic story.  It did move a little slower and more like a YA book (even thought these characters are in their 20s.)  The characters are a bit bland and I never really got fully invested in any of their stories.  The timeline was a bit of a mess, didn't really develop well.  And the ending - for me it just fell apart.  It left me wanting mor.  

I had high hopes for this one.  I loved the idea.  But for me it fell flat.

Stars:  3

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

2021 Challenge: Book You Think They Should Read In Schools: Hiroshima

 Book: Hiroshima

Author: John Hersey

Pages: 152

This ismy 60th read for the year

This is the story of the people of Hiroshima after the Atom Bomb was dropped on their town in 1945.  It is told in the memories of survivors.  IT follows doctors and a priest, mothers and fathers - all who survived and who suffered serious illness in the aftermath.  Over 100,000 people died that day and over the course of time another 100,000 died due to the after effects.  These six survivors and their stories weave a picture of what it was like that day and the years that followed such a tragic event.

This was a great book.  I finished it in an afternoon because it is so short.  I couldn't put it down.  I didn't know much about Hiroshima and an account of people's stories are always my favorite when learning about a place.  The story is unbelievable that one minute they were enjoying a warm summer day and the next their entire world was turned upside down.

Check this book out.  You won't be disappointed.

Stars: 5

Monday, June 14, 2021

2021 Challenge: And Educational Read: Van Gogh - The Life

 Book: Van Gogh - The Life

Author: Steven Naifeh and Gregory Smith

Pages: 976

This is my 59th read for the year

The authors delve into the life of Van Gogh starting from when he was a young boy all the way to his death.  Written from help from the Van Gogh museum and letters that were written between Vincent and his brother, Theo, they weave a story that few know about the life of this beloved artist.  Readers get a look into his life both personal and professional and how long he struggled before he was "discovered"  We get a better picture of his mental illness and his death at the age of 37.  

This is a fantastic book - one of the best I have read this year so far.  I listened to it (all 42 hours) to pass my endless hours of painting our house this week.  I was enthralled with this story from the start.  I actually visited the Van Gogh museum just a few years ago with my family and wish now that I would have read this book first.  It goes into so much detail of Van Goghs life and how he came about his paintings.  You become frustrated with this man (he relies on money from his brother for his entire short life - never getting a job yet always spending heavily) but you also feel sorry for him because he was truly tortured.  He does bring on many of his woes himself (he was always obstinate) but he is picked on by towns people wherever he went.  Not becomes truly famous until really after he died, I found his path to being one of the greatest artist we have ever know unbelievable.  I saw his work in person, and now I know what he was thinking when he made those paintings.  Truly amazing.

If you have a lot of time to kill but more importantly want to know more than you ever thought you did about Van Gogh - get this book.  It will be worth it - I promise.

Stars: 5

Our visit to the museum (you cannot take pictures inside)

Sunday, June 13, 2021

2021 Challenge: Books With A Green Cover: Range

 Book: Range

Author: David Epstein

Pages: 368

This is my 58th read for the year

A lot of people will argue that in order to be great at something - one must start early in life.  The book opens with the story of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer - two greats in their chosen sport - with two completely different paths.  What experts have found, however, is that starting early and becoming great is the exception - not the rule.

This book delvs deep into different stories of people who started late in their careers only to becomes some of the greats we know today (Van Gogh is talked about quite a bit).  Experts argue that the path to greatness is when those who on that path experience many interests along the way, not just one focus.  They weave a varied path to discovery of what they truly want to be.  And more often than not - crossing domains, instead of focusing solely on one area of study, leads to the greats in those fields.

This was a great book.  First - we lived in the same town that Roger Federer was from in Basel, and got to know a bit about him while we lived there.  What this book says about him (and the Swiss in general) - is spot on.  Roger was able to explore many sports and interest before settling on Tennis.  Even his parents really didn't want him to focus so much on one particular sport - encouraging him to not take things so seriously and just have fun.  He, and Van Gogh, and many other tops of the fields had similar courses to greatness which I found truly inspiring.  The message is - it is never too late to find a passion.  People who think broadly will increasingly thrive.  What a great message.

I encourage you to try this book.  I think you will be blown away by what the researchers found when they started to look into the past of famous and talented individuals, and it might encourage you to find your true calling in life.

Stars: 4 1/2

Thursday, June 10, 2021

2021 Challenge: Main Character Is A Librarin: The Librarian of Saint-Malo

 Book: The Librarian of Saint-Malo

Author: Mario Escobar

Pages: 384

This is my 57th read for the year

This is the story of Jocelyn during WWII in St. Malo, France.  Newly married when her husband gets called to the front, Jocelyn is left to protect her home and the library she works in.  She has to billet a German officer who is crude and takes great pleasure in beating the towns people.  Jocelyn looks for hope by writing letters to a famous author telling him how she plans to passively resist by doing her best to protect the towns people and her precious library.  Not wanting to leave her precious Saint - Malo, even when things look so dire, shows Jocelyn's will to protect what she holds most dear.

This is just an okay book.  I bought it for my mother and I because 1) I visited Saint Malo a few years ago to see the remaining devestation from that long ago war, and 2) my Uncle Joe was killed during the war in Saint Malo.  This is a small town in France, so not much is known about it, so imagine my excitement when I saw a book about the town AND a library all in one?  Except it is poorly written.  It is hard to follow because the book streams through 5 years in 300 pages with very little substance.  I didn't like any of the characters.  The writing was juvenille.  I was disappointed that there wasn't more about the city in general let alone a followable story.  Just a shame.

Skip this one
Stars: 2

2021 Challenge: A Character With A Disability: Out Of My Mind

 Book: Out Of My Mind

Author: Sharon Draper

Pages: 320

This is my 56th read for the year

This is the story of Melody.  A young girl with cerebral palsy.  She cannot walk.  She has never spoken. Yet she has hopes and dreams just like all other 11 year olds.  Her parents know how smart she is, yet it takes a kindly neighbor and a school aide to get her a voice so she can communicate.  Once she has a talking board, she can prove that she is smart and capable.  She proves that her disability does not define her and how much she has to contribute.

This was a pretty good book.  It is told in the voice of an 11 year old and would make a great book for teachers to read to students in the 3-5th grade range.  It is a book about tolerance and misunderstanding when someone sees someone who cannot walk or talk.  Melody proves that given the tools she needs, there is no stopping her.  She wants what most 5th graders want - cool clothes, friends, and to be included.

As a nurse I have taken care of countless kids with cerebal palsy - many who were just as capable as Melody.  I am a better person for knowing them.   I would encourage parents to read all kinds of books about all different kinds of disabilities to their children to help use become more understanding of those who are differenly abled.  It is a good lesson and this book a good place to start.

Stars: 4