Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Monday, June 24, 2019

Read The World - Liberia - The House At Sugar Beach

Book: The House At Sugar Beach
Author: Helene Cooper
Pages: 354
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 80th read for the year.

This is the author's memoir.  Helene comes from a powerful Liberian family.  As a decendent of some of the first people who founded the country, she spends her childhood in a 20 room mansion called Sugar Beach.  She has all the comforts - air conditioning, servants, cooks, and even a chilhood playmate that comes to live with them to help eliminate some of her fears of growing up so secluded.  She went to a prestigious international school, and enjoyed a lot of vacations all over the world.  

However, in April, 1980, Liberian soldiers killed the president and his cabinet.  Helene's family (who were from a Congo klan) now became the hunted.  After Helene's mother is brutally attacked in their home, her mother takes Helene and her sister to America where it will be safe.

At this point, her whole life changes.  A girl who grew up like a princess in Liberia is suddenly thrust into a culture she doesn't understand, and doesn't have the money or means that she had at home.  Her parents had gotten a divorce, but her dad also lived in the United States.  Helene had to learn how to be an American teenager.   Her mother, who longed to return to Liberia, did return a short while after they moved to the United States.  She sent Helen and her sister to live with their dad who - moving from job to job - was hardly scaping by.

Helene decided she wanted to be a journalist, and after graduating from college, she found herself working hard to get noticed by the big newspapers.  Her big break comes when she is offered a journalist position with the Washington Post.

She travels all over the world, and after September 11th, joins journalist in Iraq.  A near death experience sets her on a new path that leads her back to Liberia to find her childhood playmate and discover what has happened to her country that she left so long ago.

This was a great book.  It is a well written memoir covering much of Helene's childhood in Liberia, her time in the states, and then back to Liberia.  The book takes place about 80% in Liberia itself.  You get a good picture of what it was like for her to grow up without any wants and then to hear what she saw 20 years later when she returned to visit was astonishing.  Nothing was the same.

I am glad I read this one.  It was an easy and quick read, and I learned a lot about a country I knew nothing about.

Stars: 4

Friday, June 21, 2019

Extra Book: Fire And Blood

Book:  Fire and Blood
Author: George R. R. Martin
Pages: 736

This is my 79th read for the year.

This book was my "break" from my reading challenge.  I read about 25 pages a day, and although it took forever, I like having something outside of the challenge to read each evening.

This book takes place 300 years before his book series, Ice and Fire, began.  It starts with Aegon I's conquest, and moves through the Dance of Dragons.  Around 130 years total are covered in this book, ending with Aegon III's reign.  It still has quite a bit of time to go before we get to when Robert Baratheon takes over, so I assume there is going to be another prequel.

Most of the book is told from the point of view of a Maester and of a fool named Mushroom who both had written accounts of the Targaryen history.  

The book covers generation after generation of Targaryens, Valaryons, Baratheons, Lannisters, Hightowers, Starks, and the like.  While the main focus is on the ruling of the Targaryens, and how they and their dragons maintain power over the years, you do get a small peak into the other families that you love.

I really loved this book.  I am a huge fan of R.R. Martin, and  - while I wish he would finish the Song of Ice and Fire - this was a book that helped unlock several mysteries for me about what happened leading up to Robert Baratheon usurping the throne.  The start of the book is very easy to follow - from the Conquest and then when Aegon I's first child takes over the throne.  Then it starts to get complicated because Aegon I's first child gets married and has around 13 children and the branches sprout like mad.  You really have to be paying attention because - just like all of Martin's books - there are 1000 characters to keep track of, and so many side stories that it will make your head spin.

This book is genius, and incredibly well written, just like his others.  I enjoyed every word, and do hope he writes the second prequel to lead up to Robert Baratheon's conquest, and ALSO finishes Winds of Winter, so that the series will be complete.  

If you love Game of Thrones, you will LOVE this book.  It is worth your time.

Stars: 5

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Read The World - Rwanda - We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

Book: We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families
Author: Philip Gourevitch
Pages: 356
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 78th read for the year

I did listen to this one, and I think that was a mistake.  The person who read the book was REALLY boring.  I had to really concentrate to focus on this non-fiction book.

This book actually has a lot of recurring theme from "The Voice in My Heart" (reviewed yesterday).  The Rwandan government in 1994 called for all the Hutus to hunt down and kill all the Tutsis.  In the end some 800,000 Tutsi were killed in 100 days.  The author covers the time from 1994-1998 while Rwanda struggles to recover.  The author spoke to both victims and people who committed genocide in this book and does a good job getting both sides of the story.  He also spoke to military leaders and clergy.  

This is a pretty good book. I should have read it instead of listened to it, and I think I would have more to say about it.  The content was good and I was glad to hear the stories of these people who were involved in such a horrific event.

I would say this is a book you should take a look at and read.  The stories are worth knowing.

Stars: 3 1/2 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Read The World - Burundi - This Voice In My Heart

Book: This Voice In My Heart
Author: Gilbert Tuhabonye
Pages: 270
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 77th read for the year.

I counted them up and I have read books from 22 of Africa's countries to date (and am about to finish #23)

This is the true story about the Author.  Gilbert spent his first 18 years of life in Burundi.  He grew up with a loving, Tutsi family and extended family, attended school, was a good student, and a champion runner.  

All of that came to an end in 1993 when he was a high school junior.  The Hutu president was overthrown and killed and the Hutu people living in Burundi revolted.  They came after innocent Tutsi people and started killing them by the 1000s.  Gilbert was at school during an attack and he was the only student from his school that survived.  He had hidden under his burned classmates - was severely burned himself during the attack -  but he managed to escape while all of his friends and fellow students perished.

Gilbert is hospitalized for 3 months and starts the road to healing both emotionally and physically.  He finishes school and started to attend college, but goes after his goal of going to college in the United States and becoming a world recognized track star.  He achieves his dream, and now lives in Austin Texas with his wife and children.  He has long forgiven the people who wronged him and the Tutsi people, but he states he will never return to Burundi.  He still fears for his life there - sure that the Hutu would come after him and kill him if he returned.

I liked this book.  (which sounds weird considering the content).  The writing was fantastic and the story so intriguing that I kept reading even when I should have long gone to bed.  His book goes back and forth between his childhood and growing up in a Burundi that he loved and cherished, and the day of the attack.  He states that even now, he still looks back on his life in Burundi before the attack with much fondness and he cherishes the good memories he had from there.

Gilbert's book was written in 2007 when he was training for the Olympics (I looked him up, but it looks like he didn't go), and had won several awards as a runner.  He wrote this amazing book about his experience and continues to talk about his life in Burundi.  He has co-founded a non-profit called The Gazelle Foundation to help improve the lives of the Burundi people.

His story is inspriational and tragic, and I am so glad I had a chance to read it.  His quote "it is easy to light a fire and difficult to extinguish it" speaks to his perserverance despite everything he has been through.

Stars: 4 1/2

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Anticipated Reads for the 2nd Half of 2019

These Top Ten Tuesday list come from the blogger The Artsy Reader - and they are a lot of fun!

This week's Top Ten is about Anticipated Reads for the Second Half of 2019.  Here is what I am looking forward too.  Even though I remain deeply involved in a Read The World challenge, I am still looking forward to these releases and reading them when the challenge is done.

1. Rebel Born
      - This book has just recently come out in the Kindle edition (and if you have Kindleunlimited - it is FREE), but comes out in paperback in August.  So I put it on the list.
        - this is the 3rd book in the SecondBorn Dystopian Trilogy.  I have read the first two books this year, and did enjoy them (although the second one was a bit of a let down). I am anxious to read the third one and see how it turns out.
        - the jist of this trilogy is that all children who are born Second are bound to a life of service.  First borns get to inherit their parents lands, titles, wealth, etc, and second born children are made to join the army, or other forms of service.  The main character is Roselle St. Sismode who is the second born to one of the most powerful families in the fates.  And both the Fates leaders (except her mother) and the rebels want to use Roselle to change the world.
        - if you want to read my reviews of the first two - go HERE and HERE

2. Mrs. Everything
         -  This one just came out, but I am putting it on this list as well because it is new for the summer.
         - I love Jennifer Weiner's books.  It has been awhile since I have read something of hers, so I am looking forward to this one.  Seems like a great summer read.  Maybe I will find a way to fit it in.
       - If you are interested in reading what it is about, you can see the Amazon Review HERE

3. The Institute
           - This Stephen King novel comes out in September.  I read at least one Stephen King novel a year.  His big, thick, crazy novels are something I take when we go on our week long vacation to Lake Norman, North Carolina every other summer.  This one won't be out in time, so it will be something I pull out over our Christmas vacation.
         - I have read all of his books, and find them hit or miss.  Yet, because one of my favorite books of all time was "The Stand", I keep coming back to him.
        - if you want to read what the book is about, you can read the Amazon review HERE

4. Wayward Son
           - I have read most of Rainbow Rowell's books.  I still need to read Carry On.  This book, Wayward Son, comes out in September.  So it will go on the TBR pile.  I think I need to read Carry On before I read this one because it seems like it is the 2nd book in the series.
          - if you want to read the review, you can read Amazon's review HERE

5. The Giver of Stars
         - This Jojo Moyes book comes out in October.  So many author's I like are putting books out this year - it is very exciting.  I have read all of Moyes' books, and have enjoyed them all.  I have high hopes for this one as well.
         - if you want to read what this one is about, read Amazon's review HERE

6. The Toll
         - This Neil Shusterman book comes out in November and I can't wait.  It is the 3rd book in the Arc of Scythe trilogy.  I read the first two books at the end of last year, and have been anticipating the wrap up.  Shusterman is a talented writer, and I loved his Unwind series as well.
        - you can read my reviews of Scythe and Thunderhead (the first two books) - HERE and HERE
        - if you want to read what Toll will be about - the Amazon review is

7. Things You Save in a Fire
          - This Katherine Center book comes out in August.  The title was the first thing to draw me in - because this isn't an author I know.  It takes place in Boston (where we lived before our move to Switzerland).  And this is something I am always thinking about.  If we had a fire - what would I want to make sure we took if we could?  We have a strong box in our house - but what all would we grab?  Should we practice?  Should it all be kept in one place?
         - I am looking forward to this read.  If you want to see what it is about, read Amazon's review HERE

8. Recursion
        - This novel by Blake Crouch has just come out, but I added it because I am interested in reading it and won't get to it until the second half of this year. counts.
        - I have seen it all over my bookstagram pages I follow and it has drawn me in.  It sounds like it is right up my alley.
       - If you want to read what it is about, read Amazon's review HERE

9. The Testaments
          - This Magaret Atwood follow up to Handmaid's Tale is coming out in September.  I read Handmaid's Tale years ago, and didn't love it.  I think I didn't love it though, not for the writing, but for the conent.  It made me so mad.  And things I see happening in the United States right now - well - this book hits a little too close to home.  BUT - I am curious about the follow up book.  I have been watching the Mini Series on Hulu.  We will see.
          - if you want to read what it is about, read Amazon's review HERE

10. The End and Another Beginings
        - This Veronica Roth book of short stories comes out in October.  I did read Roth's Divergent series, and liked it okay.  I have high praise for her because she wrote that trilogy at only 24 years of age - something I could never do.
       - I haven't read anything else of hers, so I am looking forward to trying this.  I read the review and the stories sound interesting, so we shall see.
      - if you want to read what it is about, read Amazon's review HERE

That's the list!  What are you looking forward to?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Read The World - Mozambique - The First Wife (A Tale of Polygamy)

Book: The First Wife, A Tale of Polygamy
Author: Paulina Chiziane
Pages: 493
Book takes places in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 76th read for the year.

I really should go back and county how many African country books I have done so far.  I think I am getting close to finishing this continuent.

Rami is Tony's wife.  What she discovers is that she isn't Tony's ONLY wife.  She finds out that she is one of 5 women that Tony has had relations and children with.  At first she is angry - fighting each woman in turn, claiming that Tony is hers and hers alone.  She is, after all, the legal wife.  But with time, she comes to like these women and they learn to coexist together.

Rami plots to make him an honest man, but it doesn't work.  Tony's family forced him to marry the other 4 women.  Rami and the wives join together to demand their rights as a polygamist family.  Tony is overwhelmed with so many women to care for and disappears.  His family fears him dead, but Rami belives otherwise.  Tony eventually does turn back up, but by then, the 5 women have become independent of him.  Most own their own businesses and have taken other lovers, and start to drift away.  Rami ends up being the last one, and Tony begs her to stay and be his wife.  But Rami isn't sure that is what she wants any more.

This was a quirky book.  I am not sure how else to discribe it.  I liked it in a lot of ways.  The writing style was unique and flowy, and enjoyable.  Tony - didn't like him at all.  But I don't think I was supposed to.  I liked Rami and the wives for the most part, but they did go back and forth SO much about their feelings for Tony that my head started to spin.

Overall, it was good.  I am glad I read it and got a little insight into Polygamy that is popular in this country.

Stars: 4

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Multiple Reads Makes Life Interesting

Sometimes I have a few books going at the same time. I am doing a heavy Read The World reading challenge, so sometimes I have a few books on the side that I pick up for a change of pace. How many do you usually have going? Right now - my number is 4. BUT - before I get negative comments, here is the breakdown. (I will use the books in the picture as an example)

Main Book: "The First Wife" - this book is my main reading challenge book at this time. This is the book that gets the most attention at 100 pages a day, if I can manage it

Audio Book: "I Wish To Inform You" - this book is part of my reading challenge as well right now, but it is what I listen to on my daily tram (public transportation) trips and when I do yard work. I use this book for when I cannot have an actual book in hand, but want to still continue with my challenge.

Kids Book: "A Whole New World" I still read to two of my children each night. We read one chapter of a book together before bed. This book is a spin on Disney's Aladdin (where he didn't get the lamp) They are dark fairy tales, and the kids and I are really loving it (my two are 13 and 12 - just for reference - this isn't for little ones)

Fun Book: "Fire and Blood" Okay - this one needs another name because "fun" isn't always what I would call my choices. BUT - this is a book OFF challenge. Like I said, it is a heavy challenge, so I decided that each night before bed, when I can, I would read 25 pages of a book that had nothing to do with said challenge. Right now I am reading Martin's Fire and Blood (Game of Thrones is my favorite book series) and it is AMAZING.