Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, January 24, 2020

Read The World - Monaco - Once Upon A Time: Behind The Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier

Book: Once Upon A Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier
Author: Randy Taraborrelli
Pages: 498
Book takes place in the country: YES
Auhtor is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 9th read for the year

This is the story of Grace Kelley's life and how she became the Princess of Monaco.  Grace came from a privileged backgound with parents who were not always kind.  She became a beloved Hollyood Actress, and while at an awards ceremony made an appearance at the Palace in Monaco as part of a publicity stunt.  What occured is that Prince Rainier became fond of Grace.  Their chance meeting eventually lead to a marriage, 3 children, and a life that Grace never expected (or really wanted).  Grace was forced to give up her career in Hollywood to become the Princess of Monaco.  This left her with a lot of regrets.  After her children were born, her life - according to her - became one full of lonliness and boredom and not what she had thought it would be.

Grace Kelley died in a car accident in 1982 right around the time she was starting to feel contented with the life she was dealt.  She left behind a distraut husband and children and a legacy that is known around the world.

This was a pretty good book.  It is simply written, but the story flowed well.  My take away from the book was that Grace was very unhappy as the princess of Monaco.  She really missed being a Hollywood star and felt that she gave away too much to be a princess.  Her children were not well adjusted - the youngest child having many problems.  Her husband not very warm or comforting.  Her parents - terrible people who only cared about their status in the world.  Overall- the whole lot of them seemed miserable.  What a way to live.

The story was interesting and entertaining and eye opening.  I knew very little about Grace Kelley and her time as the Princess of Monaco beyond the fact that she WAS the Princess of Monaco.  So I did learn quite a bit.  Glad I found this book.

Stars:  4

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Read The World - Gambia - Folk Tales and Fables From The Gambia

Book: Folk Tales and Fables From The Gambia
Author: Dembo Fanta Bjoang and Sukai Mbye Bojang
Pages: 136
Book takes place in the country: YES
Authors are from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 8th read for the year

This is a short collection of Gambia's folk tales.  Silly stories about moral lessons all told from the points of view of animals (hyenas, hares, lions, cats, etc).  It is a quick read that gives you a small insight into tales that were passed down through the ages.  It is a fine book.  Nothing that really captured my attention.  Not especially well written, but I have read folk tale books before and that is my general take.  Maybe that is the point.  They are simple, and silly, and random because that is the way they were passed.  Ever changing and growing as one generation told the next.  So maybe that makes it hard to put them down onto paper.

I will keep it as my Gambia book.  There is not much out there for this small, African country.

Stars: 3

Monday, January 20, 2020

Read The World - Greece - Eleni

Book: Eleni
Author: Nicolas Gage
Pages: 480
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 7th read for the year

My husband has been to Greece for business since we moved to Switzerland, but I have not gotten there yet.  It remains on my short list of places to visit.

This is the author's own story of his mother, Eleni, and their family in the Greece civil war.  In 1948 Nicolas and his family were trying to escape the war.  Eleni defied her village and arranged for her and her children to escape to America, where her husband was waiting for her.  Eleni was able to get 4 or her 5 children out with a friend and neighbor before she was sent to work detail.  While there, she was able to help her 5th child to escape before Eleni was tortured, imprisononed and eventually killed.  

Eleni lived her whole life in this small village in Greece, met and married a man who had a business in America, and raised her children basically on her own in Greece.  She kept promising to join her husband in America, but then the Civil War happened, and she was cut off from him for 2 years.  He could not get to her or get them out, and by the time it was over, Eleni was dead.  Nicolas immigrated with his sisters to America when he was 9 years old, and grew up to be a New York Times Reporter.  He was determined to find out what happened to his mother and face the people who executed her, so he went back to Greece to find out the whole truth.

This was an amazing book.  It is very small print and a very long book, but it is so captivating, you won't want to put it down.  It traces Eleni's life and the Civil war - taking place almost exclusively in Greece.  Nicolas starts the book with how he decided to take on his mission for the truth, and then ends it with his return to Greece and facing the people who were responsible for his mother's death.  Nicolas is an amazing writer, and the story flowed one chapter after the other seemlessly.  The ending of the book is nicely wrapped up with details about his sisters lives, and the lives of those from the war - gives great closure to a story you are going to be very invested in.

Highly recommended book.  I am so glad I found this one.  

Stars: 5

Friday, January 17, 2020

Read The World - Central African Republic - Making Sense of the Central African Republic

Book: Making Sense of the Central African Republic
Author: Tatiana Carayannis
Pages: 343
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 6th read for the year

This book is a collection of many people bringing together the nations history of rebellion and instability.  The author's collected information from just about everyone who has written about this country in the last 20 years and told the story of the country's successes and failures.

This book was dry.  It read like a manual, and I really had a hard time wanting to pick it up and keep going.  There is not much out there from this country, so I did read the entire thing.  And it was very factual and I learned quite a bit.  The way it is written though just didn't draw you in to wanting to keep learning more.  It is definitely a broad introduction to the Central African Republic.  I just wish it held my interest a little more.

Stars: 3

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Extra Book: Then She Was Gone

Book: Then She Was Gone
Author: Lisa Jewell
Pages: 384

This is my 5th book for the year

I listened to this one and I highly recommend that for this book.  Great audiobook

This is a story of a mother named Laura.  Laura's 15 year old daughter died mysteriously 10 years ago, and in the past decade, Laura has tried to rebuild her life without her child.  Divorced with two other children she is basically estranged from, Laura knows she needs to put her life back together.  A man has come into Laura's life and he changes everything.  He and his little girl - Poppy - are just what Laura thinks she was missing in her life.  Seeing Poppy, who reminds her so much of her deceased daughter, Ellie, it opens things up again for Laura to try and figure out what happened to Ellie.  Did she really run away?  Or did something terrible happen to her?  As Laura starts to dig for answers, the mystery of Ellie's death come to light.  Laura feels that soon she will receive the closure her family desparately needs.

This was a great book.  I liked it so much more than I thought I would.  It is well written and the story flowed well.    I found myself searching for time to listen to it so I could see how it would end.  It is a disturbing book and the details about Ellie's disappearance and death are hard to read/listen to.  Just as a warning.  You will probably figure out how it is going to end by about 3/4 of the way into this book, but that didn't bother me.  Sometimes it does, but it truly didn't take away from me wanting to see how the story was going to wrap up.  There was good character development and I liked almost all of the characters in this book.  It is a good psychological thriller that makes me want to read other books by this author.  She is a gifted writer.  Highly recommend.

Stars: 4 1/2

Monday, January 13, 2020

Read The World - Gatecrashing Paradise - Misadventures in the Real Maldives

Book: Gatecrashing Paradise- Misadventures in the Real Maldives
Author: Tom Chesshyre
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 4th book of the year.

Visiting the Maldives is on my short list.  I have friends who have been there recently and it sounds like heaven - to a visitor.

This is the story of the author's time traveling around the Maldives many islands.  He is a travel writer, so he wanted to get an inside look of life in the Maldives beyond the beautiful oceans and resorts that tourist see.  He sailed around almost 600 miles of islands on his trip to the Maldives discussing jobs, cuisine, politics, religion, and general life with the locals.  

I really liked this book.  There aren't a lot of books about the Maldives that aren't travel books for tourist, so I was happy to find this one.   Over the last year I have read quite a few books like this where journalist talk to locals and get a different perspective on a country.  It is quickly becoming a favorite way for me to learn about a country.  Chesshyre spent a long time with the locals around many of the islands that make up the Maldives.  I learned a lot about the history and culture of this country thanks to his book.  I am glad I found it.

Stars: 4

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Off Challenge - The Women At Hitler's Table

Book: The Women At Hitler's Table
Author: Rosella Postorino
Pages: 352

This is my 3rd book of the year

I know - I am off my challenge already!  So early in the year.  But this book had popped up on Instagram and I was drawn to the title and the beautiful cover, so I had to read it as soon as it arrived.

This is a historical fiction novel based on the real life of Margo Wolk who was a food taster for Hitler during the war.  The book tells the story of 10 women in East Prussia who were pulled from their homes during World War II and forced to taste Hitler's food before it was served to him.  For more than a year, three meals a day, the women sat under armed guard in a room and were forced to eat food they didn't know was poisoned or not.  The main chracter - Rosa - has lost her parents, and her husband is presumed dead on the front.  She lives with her in-laws whose lives would also be in danger if Rosa refused to be a food taster.

During Rosa's time as a taster, she befriends the other women.  All have their own terrible stories and fears which brings them closer together.  None of them know how or when this will end and their only instinct is to survive and return to their families.

This was a good book.  I stayed up late into the night reading chapter after chapter, wanting to see how it would end.  I did enjoy the book overall and it was beautifully written.   The ending was a little unraveled, as most endings are, but not bad.  I am glad I found this one, and I recommend giving it a read.

Stars: 4