Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 Challenge - Book 39, Heart Shaped Box

Today's book I am reviewing is:

Heart Shaped Box

It was under the category:  Horror Book

This is the story about a rock star in his 50s who loves to collect macabre artifacts.  He buys a haunted suit online for $1000.  Jude (the rock star) thinks this is a joke, of course, but has to have it.  But it isn't a joke.  And the person that sold him the suit isn't a stranger.  The ghost appears in his house and tells Jude that he is there to kill him and anyone else he loves.  Jude calls the owner of the suit, and finds that it is the sister of the last girlfriend he had (who allegedly committed suicide).  The ghost is the step-father of the dead girlfriend, and he is out for revenge.

This was a pretty good book.  I am a fan of Joe Hill.  Being the son of Steven King, some talent from his father has rubbed off on him.  I think he ends his books better than his father......but I digress.

The book kept a steady pace of fear.  Anything about the dead that wreak havoc on the living gives me a chill.  I was reading it at night before going to bed, and quickly found that wasn't a good idea.  I also put it away for a few days while my husband was traveling.  It ALMOST ended up in the freezer.  Almost.

I say give it a try.  It stands up to Hill's other novels.

Stars: 4

Saturday, April 23, 2016

2016 Challenge - Book 38, Tuck Everlasting

Two books at once!  I finished the last review and this book in 2 days, so I figured.....why not.

This review is for

Tuck Everlasting

It was under the category:  A book that was turned into a musical

Did you know this was a musical?  In fact - it is a NEW musical on Broadway.  So it counts.

Tuck Everlasting is the story of the Tuck family that drank from a spring in the woods and now they can never die.  Even if they get injured, they cannot be killed.  They have hidden for the last 83 years because they do not age - they are eternally the age they were when they drank from the spring in the woods.  They meet a young girl named Winnie Foster who wanders into the part of the woods where the spring is located.  Sitting there is Jesse Tuck.  She sees what he is doing and asks about the spring.  He tells her she must never drink from it, but when she presses, he takes her to his home to explain their secret.  She does not believe them at first, but as she gets to know them, she finds that they are telling the truth.  Trouble comes when a stranger witnesses what happened at the spring and wants to profit off the water that makes a person immortal.

This book was really short.   It was decent.  I didn't like the ending one bit - wasn't expecting it.  The writing wasn't that great - very basic.  But it is for 10-14 year olds, so I guess I shouldn't expect a lot.  And I shouldn't judge too harshly because I cannot write a book.

Winnie is only 10 in this book.  The youngest Tuck is 17.  (well, really 104, but you know what I am getting at).  After knowing Winnie for 1 day, he brings her a jar of the spring water, and tells her that when she is 17 she should drink it and then they could get married and be together forever.  Uh....really?  This got turned into a movie by Disney.  Not surprising - that kind of love story is right up their ally.  A day.  And she loves this family and puts herself in danger for them after knowing them for a few days as well.  I have a 10 year old.  She would not be this trusting after 1 day - I am sure of it.

I also think that the book could have been longer and they could have stretched the story out more than a few days.  There wasn't enough time for character development and for you to really "pull" for one character or another in a 130 page book.

If you are a young kid - this is a cute book.  I say give it a try.  I will be anxious to see how the musical does on Broadway

Stars: 2

2016 Challenge - Book 37, Hark A Vagrant

Today's book review is for

Hark a Vagrant

It was under the category:  Non superhero comic that debuted in the last 3 years

This is a book of comic strips by a New Yorker cartoonist.  She uses humor to go through some of history's greatest figures, and gives a funny look at history, literature, and science.

I found it.....meh.  It had its funny parts, but it definitely wasn't laugh out loud comedy.  Maybe it wasn't supposed to be.  I did like that on many of the pages she had the background story of the person she was referencing in the comic.  That by far made it easier to read.  I got through it within about 2 hours, and that was that.

It was on our challenge list, so I read it.  Would I recommend it?  Nah.

Stars:  2

Friday, April 15, 2016

2016 Challenge - Book 36, And The Mountains Echoed

Today's book I am reviewing was

And The Mountains Echoed

This was under the category:  A Book that takes place in the Middle East

This is a story of several families in Afghanistan whose lives intertwine of the course of 50 years.  It starts with a father telling a story to his two children.  Little do the children know that this story he tells about an ogre that comes and takes children away would become a reality.  The family is very poor, and the children's mother has died, and the father has remarried.  They cannot afford to take care of all the children, and the father knows of a family in Kabul that is childless.  They agree to take the little girl, much to the dismay of her older brother.  What follows are stories that branch out from these two young children told through many different viewpoints and across many years.  It shows how one decision can affect his descendents and even his acquaintances for years to come.

Khaled Hosseini has become my favorite author over the last few years.  His writing is absolutely amazing, and his stories draw you in.  You cannot put the book down.  Most of his stories are full of heartache, and this one was no exception.  I was two chapters in and already very sad.  But I couldn't stop.  I had to know what happened to the little girl who was taken away from the only family she knew at the age of 4.  And what happened to her brother who was her most cherished one.

Run to get this book.  Run to get any of Hosseini's books.  He is exceptional.

Stars: 5

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Challenge - Book 35, A Midsummer Night's Dream

This review is for

A Midsummer Night's Dream

This was under the category:  A Play By Shakespeare

This is the story of several people.  In Athens - Egeus wants his daughter Hermia to marry Demetrius.  Or become a nun.  Those are her only two choices.  But Hermia is in love with another - names Lysander - and makes plans with him to run away and get married away from Athens.  In the meantime - Helena is in love with Demetrius, but he not with her.  Demetrius loves Hermia.  Helena finds out about Hermia and Lysander's plans, and tells Demetrius.

On the night that Hermia and Lysdander escape to the woods, a fairy king and queen are having a fight over a little boy.  To have some fun, the Fairy King decides to put some love potion in the eyes of his queen to make her fall in love with a local weaver named Nick Bottom (confused yet)?  The king's henchman, Puck, is also supposed to put that love potion in Demetrius' eyes so that he falls in love with Helena and leaves Hermia to be with Lysander.  But Puck gets confused, and puts the love potion in Lysander's eyes, and he falls in love with Helena.

In the end - all is righted with the couples, and the silliness ends

I am sure most people in the world have read Shakespeare at some point in their lives.  This is a comedy, and one of my favorites.  I have read this play many years ago (I have read them all, so a re-read was my only choice for this category).  But I read it only in Shakesperian, and I found a novel that translated it into modern English.  That made it much more enjoyable, and I had forgotten a lot about the play, so it helped.

This play has one of my favorite lines, and it hangs in my daughter's room here at our house:  "Though she may be but little, she is fierce".  My youngest is a teeny thing, so it fits her perfectly.

I enjoyed this book.  Shakespeare plays are tough reads.  Especially if you don't have some notes, or an easier version to read. least for me.  But I recommend this one because no one died - which is a nice change.

Stars: 4

Saturday, April 9, 2016

2016 Challenge - Book 34, The World According To Garp

This was a long one!

The book I am reviewing today is:

The World According to Garp

This was under the category:  A Contemporary Novel

This is the story of T.S. Garp (the T.S. don't stand for anything) who is a child born out of wedlock to a feminist named Jenny Fields.  This is the story of Jenny before Garp came along, all the way through to Garp's death.  Jenny was as asexual as Garp was sexual.  Jenny was a nurse who became a famous writer, and Garp was a write that became almost famous.  This book tells the story of these characters - and the characters they most interact with - whole lives.

I liked this book as much as I thought it was strange.  It started out strong and I was really enjoying getting to know Jenny and her story and her little boy, Garp.  Then around page 200 (in this 433 page book) it got a little strange, and stayed pretty strange for the next 100 pages.  Garp has a lot of sexual encounters with many (many) women over his young years, and even after he gets married - he has several affairs.  His wife is aware of them all, and they have a mutual affair at the same time, which just made me shake my head.  I mean, why?  He and his wife do stay together, have three children (one who dies at a very young age), and the affairs disappear from the story.  For the last 100 pages of the book, the story picks up again, and renews my interest, and ends strong.

There is a lot of death in this book.  There is a lot of sexual encounters.  There is a transgender person - which I found very interesting because of the time period this book took place.  Almost all of the characters in this book meet tragic ends to their lives.  It kind of reminded me of the Kennedys.

I would suggest this book with the warning of the above paragraph.  It will turn several people off.  And truly - about 100 pages of this book are really strange.  I don't get the point of the affairs except to maybe prove how sexual Garp is compared to his mother.  Otherwise - it was pointless.

Stars: 3 1/2

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

2016 Challenge - Book 33, Burial Rites

Today's book review is for:

Burial Rites

This book was under the category:  A Book that takes place over 100 years ago

This is a story of a woman who is sentenced to death in the early 1800s in Iceland.  She is accused of murder.  She is taken out of jail to live with a family in a remote part of the country until her execution date is set.  The family is not happy about having to house a murderess, and so they do their best to avoid Agnes when she first arrives.  She is assigned a priest, named Toti, that tries to visit her daily to bring her to God before she dies.  The longer Agnes is with this family, though, the more fond of her they become, and learn that there are two sides to every story.

I thought this was a very good book.  It is not a long book (around 300 pages), and it was easy to read.  The story flowed nicely, and you came to really love Agnes and hope that in the end, she does not have to be executed for the crime she has committed.  We hear stories of her life -which was hard.  (her mother left her with a foster family when she was 6, and after that she was moved around a lot to different farms in Iceland).  She falls for a man named Natan, and he becomes her master and she his housekeeper.  In the end, she finds that he never truly loved her, and never wanted to be with her, and this is where her story takes a turn.

I encourage you to read it.  It is based on a true story.  Iceland is on our bucket list of places to visit someday, and it would be neat to see the places this story took place.

Stars: 5

Saturday, April 2, 2016

2016 Challenge - Book 32, Stranger In A Strange Land

Today I am reviewing

Stranger in a Strange Land

This was under the category: A  Book With An Alliteration in the Title

This is the story of Valentine Michael Smith who was born on Mars and raised by Martians (even though he is human).  He arrives on earth knowing nothing about earth at all - has never met a woman, doesn't know earth's customs or religions.  He is an heir to a large financial empire, and need to be protected.  He meets an author named Jubal, and a woman named Jill and both work to protect him.  He has miraculous abilities and eventually he leaves the protective custody of Jubal, and he and Jill venture out in the world together.  He tries to become a magician based on his abilities, but it doesn't work out, so he becomes a preacher.  He doesn't preach religion - he preaches on the Martian way of life he knows.  There is a lot of nudity, and free love with his "religion"

This book was strange.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it.  I did like it.  I am not a huge fan of Science Fiction novels, but have read enough now that they are starting to grow on me.  The story jumped around a bit.  Sometimes I didn't understand why they were taking the direction they were - it was choppy in spots.  There wasn't a lot of flow.  The male characters are misogynistic (which I understand for when it was written, but this is a book that takes place in the future) and they still use the Encyclopedia Britannica to get their information.  So - we have colonized Mars, but we still are using Encyclopedias?   Interesting.

I knew this book wasn't going to be great for me because it took me a long time to get through it.  I would put it off and find anything else to do besides read it.

Eh.  If you like Science Fiction - you will probably love this book.  Or have already read it.

Stars:  2 1/2