Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review

Well - I didn't make my challenge of 75 books this year.  I came close and read 67.  Moving does in fact impact my ability to get reading done.  Lesson learned.

I am going to point out my top 10 books of 2017.  I will link them to the pages I reviewed them so if you are interested in learning what they are about, you can check that out.

Here we go -in no particular order

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #67 - A Storm of Swords

Finally finished Game of Thrones book 3 - A Storm of Swords.  It was 1100 pages, so it took awhile.

I love these books.  George R.R. Martin is an incredible writer.

Category - none!  Wanted to read it

This is the continuing saga where the 5 contenders of power have become 4.  Joffrey - of house Lannister - is the king of King's Landing and sits on the Iron Throne.  He is a boy of 13, but is vicious and mean.  He was engaged to Sansa Stark to unite the north and the south, but after Eddard Stark is considered a traitor and is killed, the engagement is broken off.  Joffrey becomes engaged to Margery of house Tyrell from High Garden.  Lord Stannis has been defeated.  King Robb of Winterfell and house Stark holds the north and is winning all his battles.  Daenerys of house Targareyn is making her way across the continent with her three dragons.

In the mist of the battles, another rages beyond the wall.  Jon Snow and the Black have found the king beyond the wall, the wildings, and the Others.  The Others are the living dead who seem to be unstoppable.  King Robb and Catelyn must attend a wedding at the Freys to make amends when Robb marries someone other than who he is told to.  Arya is trying to make her way back home, but she continues to be captured.  Jaime Lannister is being taken back to King's Landing in exchange for the safe return of Sansa to Winterfell. 

Who will be left standing?

I loved this book.  It was action packed.  Death everywhere.  Two more kings will fall.  Alliances are forged.  John Snow is no longer just the Bastard of Winterfell, but the head commander of the Wall.  Even though it was 1100 pages, there were days I would read over 100 because the sequence was just too good to stop.

If you love the TV series, you will love the books even more.

Stars: 5

Saturday, December 2, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #66 - Diary of Anne Frank

Today's book:  Diary of Anne Frank

Category:  I read it to my kids so it counts

This is the story of a Jewish girl who hid in an Annex in Amsterdam during WWII.  She and her family went into hiding.  She was 13 at the time she started the diary and went into hiding.  For two years, her family and several others, kid in a small Annex until they were betrayed.  The diary is almost a daily account of Anne's life in the Annex and her feelings about all the people that are there with her. 

This, of course, is a classic.  I haven't read it since I was in the 8th grade.  I still find it amazing that it is required reading among middle schools in the US, and - of course - here with us here in Switzerland.  The kids have been really into the story, and asking a lot of questions.  And our plan will be to take them to Amsterdam in the spring to see the Anne Frank house.  It is great that we can take a story from a book and show them in real life.

If for some reason, you have never read this book - or it has been a long time since you have - pick it up.  I think it is good to be reminded - especially in today's climate - what can happen when power falls into the wrong hands.

Stars: 5

Thursday, November 30, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #65 - Artemis

Today's review is for:  Artemis

Category:  New book by Andy Weir (who wrote the Martian.  Which was a great book)

This is the story of a girl named Jazz who leaves in the Lunar town of Artemis on the moon.  She has lived there since she was 6 years old with her father.  She is brilliant but a slacker.  She lives in near poverty because she refuses to get a steady job.  Right now she moves contraband and does odd jobs for money.  She has become friends with a Billionare who wants her to sabotage a Lunar business so that he can take over.  It is risky and dangerous, but she wants the money, so she agrees to do it.

The heist starts her down a path that uncovers a conspiracy that has been in the works on Artemis.  It puts her life, and the lives of people she loves, in danger.  She gets in way over her head, but with the help of her friends she helps to bring down a cartel that could have ruined her existence on the moon forever.

This was a good book.  Andy Weir, no doubt, is a great writer.  The book is smart, and funny.  It isn't a hard read, and it kept me entertained until the end.  I didn't want to put it down.

If you read the Martian, read this book.  If you didn't read the Martian, read that AND this book.

Stars: 5

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #64 - The Book Thief

Another book off list - I am a maniac!

Today's review is for:  The Book Thief

No category except it was on my list to read last year and I didn't get to it.

This is the story of Liesel Meminger who is living in Munich Germany in 1939.  Her mother took she and her brother on a train to a foster family to keep them safe during the war.  Her brother got sick and died on the journey, so Liesel is all alone when she shows up.  Her foster father is kind and generous, and her foster mother is hard and stubborn.  Each night, Liesel wakes with nightmares and her dad comes in to comfort her.  Eventually she shows him a book that she stole when they buried her brother called "The Grave Diggers Handbook".  This starts Liesels love of books and her father starts to teach her to read.

Over the course of her years with her foster family she steals several more books, is invited to the Mayors house to read whenever she wants, watches bombs fall on her city, and helps her parents hide a Jew.  In a time when all books were being burned by Hitler and the Nazis, Leisel was trying her best to save them.

I loved this book.  LOVED it.  Probably one of the best reads I have read this year.  It was well written, and had a great message.  I have read a lot of WWII books, and this was among the best.

Don't miss it.

Stars: 5

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #63 - Norse Mythology

Okay -time for me to go rogue.  I am going off script for the rest of the year because 1) I do not have easy access to many of the books I had on my list now that I am in Switzerland and don't really want to buy them and 2) because I want to.

The books that are left on my challenge are not possible at this point in the year.  And frankly - I don't know how much I REALLY wanted to read them - they were just fitting snuggly into some of the categories I chose.  But this move has taught me one thing - I cannot get many English speaking books in a German speaking country, so I am going to have to improvise.

And here we are.

Todays' review is for:  Norse Mythology

No category.  Unless you call it :my son had this book on his shelf and it looked interesting.

This is a collection of short stories true to Norse pantheon.  The stories center around Thor, Loki, and Odin.  The stories are about forming the world, creation of Yggdrasil, how Odin lost an eye, the god's treasures, Loki's children, Thor and the giants, Balder's death, Ragnarok,   The author puts his own twists on the old myths, but stays true to the stories.

This was a pretty good book.  It is a good book for the 11-17 age range, and if your child is a fan of Thor, then it is definitely a good choice.  Thor is definitely the comic relief of these stories.  They are silly, over the top, and enjoyable. 

I say try it out!

Stars:  4

Sunday, November 19, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #62 - Three Wishes

Today's review is for:  Three Wishes

It was under the category:  A Book You Borrowed from Someone

This is the story of a set of triplets named Cat, Lynn and Gemma.  The 33 year old women all live close to each other, but their lives could not be more different. Gemma - who has never been in a relationship longer than 6 months - thinks she might have found "the one".  Lynn - who has a young daughter and a step daughter - is trying to balance a full career and being a mom and a good wife.  And Cat - who desperately wants to have a baby - just found out her husband is sleeping with someone else and wants a divorce.  They are the product of divorced parents who have never quite gotten along.  Their mom was only 17 when she found out she was having triplets, and the marriage didn't last long after that.  The girls grew up splitting their time between two parents whom they never felt close to, and always relied on each other for comfort.  

This was a sweet book.  IT was an easy read, and fun.  Liane Moriarty is a great author and I have enjoyed many of her books over the last couple of years.  The characters were likeable and well developed.  It does have a recurring theme from her other books (divorce, cheating spouses, infertility), but that didn't make it less enjoyable.  

If you are looking for a Chick-Lit book, this is a good one.

Stars:  4

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #61 - 100 Years of Solitude

Whoops!  Missed blogging about another one.

This book review is for:  One Hundred Years of Solitude

It was under the category:  A Book Whose Story Spans Generations

I am pretty sure I read this one near the beginning of the summer.  This is the story of a fictional town called Macondo.  It is the history of a family named Buendia.  All the characters have names that are similar.  The founder of the town is Jose Arcadio Buendia.  It covers the lives of his children and his grandchildren.  Jose and his wife are first cousins, and they leave their village to search for a new home.  The town stays pretty secluded, but is often visited by gypsies.  Over time, Jose Buendia goes insane, starts speaking only Latin, and is tied to a chestnut tree for many years until he dies.  Generations of Buendias eventually leave the town into a near abandoned state.  There are only two people left in the town, and they enter into a relationship - not knowing that they are aunt and nephew.  The wife dies in child birth and the child is devoured by ants (what?!?!) leaving Aurelino - the nephew - as the last living Buendia relative.  Aurelino finds a manuscript that was left by the gypsies years before that tells of all the Buendia misfortunes.  While reading it, the town of Macondo is wiped off the face of the earth by a hurricane.

This book will make your head spin.  While I enjoyed the book, I had to keep referring to the family tree at the beginning to keep all the names straight.  There are a lot of Arcadios and Ursulas and Joses that you start to forget whom is married to whom.  The book is written in a magical realism style and will have you chuckling and shaking your head all at once.  It was WEIRD.  And silly.  And just fun.

I think I will recommend it.  It is an acquired taste - that is for sure.  You just never knew where the story was going!

Stars: 3

Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #60 - A Fighting Chance

Looks like I forgot to blog about this one a while ago!  I listened to this book while we were getting our house ready to rent, and I somehow missed it.  I listened to it back in July.

The book was called:  A Fighting Chance

And it was under the category: A Political Memoir

This was the story of Elizabeth Warren, who is the senator from my great state of Massachusetts.  This wasn't her newest book (she had one come out in April of this year), but it was the one I wanted to read.  Elizabeth Warren grew up in a small town in Oklahoma.  She wanted to become a school teacher.  But she got married young and got pregnant quickly, and that dream was out of reach.  The marriage ended in divorce, and Elizabeth was left with young children and a passion for the low and middle class.  She quickly started to see how people get into financial trouble, and started a fight for bankruptcy laws.  She fought big banks and big Washington for 10 years....and lost.  Finally - at age 62 - she ran for public office and won.  Now is fights in Washington for the people and against big banks who have become predators to working class Americans.

I MAY have a girl crush on Elizabeth Warren.  We lived in Massachusetts for 6 years, and she has been the Senator for most of our time there.  She is a powerhouse.  She is an amazing person who is passionate and not afraid to speak her mind.  She does not hide behind politics - she fights against them.  I watched her show up in the middle of the night at the Logan Airport in Boston when Donald Trump starting denying Muslims entrance back into our country even though they lived here.  She stands with you and for you.

Okay -soap box out.  The book was GREAT.  She covers her life from childhood to present (2015). She got remarried later in life to a wonderful man.  She talks just as passionately about her dogs as she does bankruptcy laws, so we get to see two sides of her.  She is deeply devoted to her family and to her job.

This was a good read.  I am hoping to read more about her in the years to come.

Stars: 5

Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #59 - Alexander Hamilton

Whew.  Moving to Switzerland is really getting in the way of my reading.  I am wondering if I will pull off a challenge next year.  Still debating even starting it.  I am not going to make my 75 books this year, which is a bit of a bummer.  Too much Europe exploring.

Today's review is for the monster book:  Alexander Hamilton

It is under the category:  A Nonfiction Book about History

Alexander Hamilton - is there much I need to say about this man that you don't already know?  Thanks to the musical "Hamilton" - a large part of the world is more familiar with him than ever.  But in case you aren't - here is a quick recap:  Orphaned boy whose mother was from Nevis and father who was Scottish.  He was brought to America by a cousin and eventually ended up with a merchant family.  He was known as an intellect from an early age.  He studied at Kings College (which is now Columbia) and became a lawyer.  He married Eliza Schulyer and they had 8 children.  He worked very closely with George Washington, and fought on the front lines of the battle with Britian.  He wrote the federalist papers.  He cheated on his wife.  His eldest son died in a duel.  And then Alexander died in a duel with Andrew Burr at the age of 49.

That about sums him up.  Just kidding.  That barely scratches the surface, so you should read the book.  All 900 pages of it.  The author very much idolizes Hamilton, and paints just about every other founding father as people who did everything wrong.  Hamilton was no saint.  He was brilliant - no doubt - but no saint.  He was hot tempered and a womanizer.  He spent long amounts of time away from his wife and children chasing battles and defending his Federalist papers.  You do wonder - had he lived - what else he might have accomplished.

It is going to be winter soon.  If you are like us and need to hunker down to get through the cold, wet, snow driven months, then this would be a good book to pass your time.

Stars: 4

Friday, October 20, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #58 - Christ in Concrete

Today's review is for a book called:  Christ in Concrete

It was under the category: A Book About an Immigrant/Refuge to the US

This book takes place in the 1920s.  Although it is written as a fictional story, it is based on events that happened to the author as a boy.  The main character is a 12 year old boy whose father dies in a horrific building collapse and is entombed in concrete on Good Friday.  The father has a brother, Luigi, who promises to help the family, but he goes to work and is injured to the point that he can no longer work.  The 12 year old boy, Paul, has to go to work as a bricklayer to support his mother and his siblings.  He has to leave school and work construction - not the life he had envisioned.  Because Paul is so young, he gets paid very little as a bricklayer.  He soon overworks himself trying to make enough money, and has to leave a job.

Soon he finds a better paying brick-layer job and then later beings working on skyscrapers.  He talks about working above "the toy world below".  A close friend of his, and mentor falls to his death while working at one of the job sites and Paul decides at this point he no longer believes in God.  With the death of his father and then of a close friend, he finds no reason for faith.  His mother is upset with his decision, and Paul tries to make it up to her.

This book is labeled a classic, and I tried to like it.  I liked the idea of it, and a lot of the story.  I had a hard time with the writing.  I keep coming back to these books - written in the late 1800s and early 1900s and think I can make it work, but I can't.  I struggled with this one, even though it wasn't even 250 pages.

My grandparents were Italian immigrants.  They came here and worked in the mines and in the mills of Pennsylvania.  There lives were hard, so it did ring true to me how hard immigrants who come to America have it.  Some make it - like my grandparents - and some don't.  All work was dangerous, low pay, and unforgiving.  So I was drawn to this story because of my own background.  However - that darn writing style.

Anyway - if you aren't a big baby like I am, and enjoy the writing style of the early 20th century - don't pass up this book.

Stars: 3

Monday, October 9, 2017

2017 Challenge- Book #57 - The 500 Years of Resistance

Today's review is for a little book called

The 500 Years of Resistance

This was under the category:  A Book About an Indigenous Culture

This book was about the Indigenous people's resistance to the Europeans coming to America.  It covers the time from Christopher Columbus to the year 2006.  It is a graphic novel depicting the Native Americans fighting back against the white settlers who took their land.

Not much to say about this short 80 page graphic novel.  The author - who is Native American - glosses over 500 years of Indigenous people history.  He moved so fast from one event to the other, it was hard to make sense of the book.  I think if he would have broken it up into several graphic novels, it would have held more weight for me.  I didn't get much out of it, or learn much about the history he was trying to depict, because there just wasn't enough detail.

Stars:  2

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #56 - One Plus One

Today's review is for

One Plus One

This was under the category:  First book you see in the bookstore

This is the story of a family in crisis.  The main character, Jess's husband left her, her step-son has been abandoned by both his father and his mother and left in Jess' care and he is constantly getting beat up by the neighborhood bullies because of the way he dresses; her 10 year old daughter is a math prodigy who doesn't fit in anywhere.  Jess cleans houses and works at a bar just to get by, and she is barely doing that. 

Then a chance for her daughter to go to a prestigious school comes along, and Jess wants to make it possible for her daughter to attend.  Her daughter gets a chance to go to a math Olympiad where she can win $5000 which would pay for her daughter's tuition.  Only problem is - the Olympiad is in Scotland and they don't have anyway to get there.  Along comes Ed who owes Jess a favor.  Ed, a wealthy businessman needs to escape his own problems, so he agrees to drive Jess, her two kids, and their dog to the Olympiad.  What happens on the trip changes all of their lives.

This was a great book.  I love Jojo Moyes - she is a great writer.  The story was well written and very sweet.  She developed the characters well.  It is a thick book, but the story was so good, that it only took me a few days to read it.

Grab this book.  Even though it has a lot of pages, it is an easy and enjoyable read.

Stars: 5

Saturday, September 30, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #55 - Ready Player One

Today's review is for

Ready Player One

This was under the category: A Book That is Becoming a Movie This Year

**Side note - when I picked this, it WAS becoming a movie in 2017.  Now it is being moved to 2018

This is the dystopian future story that takes place in the year 2044.  The world is in terrible shape.  Most people are very very poor and live in "stacks" which are mobile homes one on top of the other.  The main character - Wade - doesn't live with his parents.  He was taken in by an aunt after his parents left him.  The aunt could care less about him - sees him as just another mouth to feed.  To escape his reality, Wade does what most people do these days - escape into a computer world called the Oasis.  He even attends school there.  This world has 1000s of planets and lets people be anonymous and anyone they wish to be.

When the developer of the Oasis dies, he leaves his entire fortune to a winner of a game he has designed.  The first person to finish the game in the Oasis, wins billions of dollars.  The trick is - the developer was fascinated with the 1980s, so the player has to be knowledgeable of everything and anything in that decade.  It takes 5 years for someone to finally break through the first clue of the puzzle the developer has set up, and then it is a race to the finish line.

This was a pretty decent book.  My husband really liked it, so he encouraged me to read it.  AND, since it is being made into a movie, I decided to give it a shot.  I like the idea of the book, and I liked the characters.  The flaw I found was - everything works out for Wade.  His character in the Oasis always escapes problems, gets enough money, becomes invincible.  There really wasn't a challenge, per say, for Wade because he could do anything he wanted inside the Oasis.  It just seemed to be a bit of a far stretch.  Other than that - good read.  If you are a fan of the 1980s, I say you should give it a try.

Stars:  4

Sunday, September 24, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #54 - Promise Not To Tell

Today's book is called: Promised Not To Tell

This was under the category: A Book With a Protagonist That Has Your Occupation

This is the story of Kate Cypher (who is a me).  She has returned to her childhood home when she gets a call from folks who live near her mother saying her mom is sinking into Alzheimers and can no longer care for herself.  Her mother set her house on fire, and so Kate is not faced with the task of putting her mom in a nursing home.  On the night she arrives, a little girl is murdered, and it mirrors a murder that happened to one of Kate's friends when she was a child.  The killer of Kate's friend, Del, was never found, but now the police are searching for either a copy cat murderer or Del's killer.  Kate becomes wrapped up in finding out who killed the little girl figuring it will lead her to Del's killer.

This was a pretty good book.  It is a really quick, short book.  The story flips back and forth between 1971 - the year Del was killed, and 2002 - the year the other girl is killed.  Kate is remembering her friendship with Del and the guilt that she has thinking it was her fault that Del was killed.

I encourage you to read this book - it was well written and wrapped up nicely in the end.  Check it out!

Stars: 4

Thursday, September 21, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #53 - Choosing To See

Today's book review is Choosing to See

This is in the category:  A Book You Saw Someone Reading in Public

This is a book about the life of the author, Mary Beth Chapman.  She is the wife of Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman.  They adopted 3 girls from China and one of the girls was tragically killed when she was just 5 years old.  She wrote the book about 2 years after Maria's death to help her through the grieving process.

I was hoping to like this book more than I did.  We adopted our Cainan from Hunan in 2007, and I followed Mary Beth Chapman's journey and blog during that time.  I kept following for awhile after her daughter Maria was killed, but then life got in the way, and I lost track of her.  I saw someone reading this book on the subway in Boston one day, and I thought I would see what it was about.

It had its good parts.  It talked about the accident and how their family was working through it.  But it was an overly religious book, and not well written.  I have read other books that were religious, but this one was just......not good.  It was over the top and just made me roll my eyes constantly.  So - I don't recommend it.

Stars: 2

Friday, September 15, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #52 - Born a Crime

Today's review is for

Born a Crime

It was under the category: A Book Written By a Celebrity

Trevor Noah grew up in South African during the end of apartheid.  He was the son of a black mother and a white father, which - at that time - was a crime.  His parents never were married, and he lived with his mother, but his father was always in his life.

Trevor talks a lot about how it was growing up in a house with a strict mother who wanted him to have everything she didn't.  Trevor was a mischievous young boy and young man who even spent a week in jail for petty crime.  But he got out and made something of himself and he says he owes that all to his mother.

This was a good book.  Mat and I watch Trevor Noah nightly on Comedy Central.  Now that I know his history and how he grew up poorer than poor in South Africa and what it was like to be half black and half white in a world that didn't know what to make of him.  Today he identifies himself as a black man, but when he tried to enforce that identity as a young man, it backfired.

I encourage you to read this book.  Unlike most celebrity books I have read where the people had pretty decent childhoods and lives, this one was devastating to read.  The stories are truly unbelievable.

Stars:  4 1/2

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #51 - Fly Away

Today I am reviewing - Fly Away

This was under the category:  A Book By One of your Favorite Authors

This is the sequel to Firefly Lane.  It is 4 years later.  Katie has died, and Tully has lost her job and her fame and is drinking heavily and taking Xanax for panic attacks.  Johnny's eldest daughter, Marah, has run away from home at age 20 and he hasn't heard from her in a year.  The families have not recovered from Katie's death and realize that she was the glue that held them all together.

It takes a life threatening accident that Tully has to bring the families back together and realize what they meant to each other.  They start to mend old wounds and stitch their lives back together in Katie's absence, knowing this is what she would have wanted.

This was a pretty good book.  I do like Kristen Hannah's writing, and Firefly lane was one of my favorite (yet soul crushing) books.  I was excited to find this sequal in our local public library here in Switzerland, because I wasn't aware that there was one.  I did roll my eyes a few times at the "love and hugs" sections near the end when everything worked out well.  But for the most part, it was a well written story.  I think a lot of it could be reality when a family loses their strongest family member and doesn't know what to do in their absence.  What happens when all the well wishers have expected you to be over your grief, and moved on with your life, and you are not.  You wouldn't want to think that your difficult teenage daughter would run away and basically be homeless because she couldn't deal with her mother's death, but the reality is - without good support, that could happen easily.

I say check it out.  If you read Firefly Lane, you will love this book.

Stars: 4 1/2

2017 Book Challenge - Book #50 - The Girl With All The Gifts

50!!  Thought I would make this number about 3 months ago, but it is hear at last.

Today I am reviewing:  The Girl With All the Gifts

This was under the category:  A Book You Couldn't Fit Into Last Year's Challenge

This is the story in a post-apocolyptic world where there are zombies.  (Or as this book calls them - Hungries).  The story starts when it is 20 years since the outbreak of the virus came that caused people to turn into Hungries.  At this time, if you are bitten by a hungry, you turn into one.  The book opens with a little girl named Melanie.  She is waiting in a cell to be taken to her classroom so she can learn.  Each morning two armed offices strap her head, arms, and legs into a wheelchair and wheel her into a classroom with 20 other kids in the same situation.  They they work on math and reading and hear stories.  What Melanie doesn't know is that she is a Hungry.  These children are in a test facility to find out why they never fully turned into the man eating monsters that live outside the facility.  The director is hoping to learn from these children's brains a cure that can stop the virus.

Instead, the facility gets run over by Hungries and Melanie, her favorite teacher, the scientist, and two armed guards escape.  The guards are not pleased to have a Hungry with them, and they keep Melanie tied up and a mask over her face.  Even though she can learn, she has a hard time resisting the smell of humans.  The group starts a long journey to a facility they believe is still standing and still safe from the Hungries.

This was an okay book.  I read it because I knew it was coming out as a movie and I thought it would be fun to watch.  The book and movie were pretty dumb.  The ending was really stupid.  I think part of it is that we read tons and tons of zombie stories, and they are all basically the same.  The only way this one stood out is that some Zombies didn't actually turn into mindless man eating monsters.  They kept their minds.....but they still craved blood and flesh.

It  It was entertaining enough, and it was okay with it for awhile, but the end was just so...out there.

Stars: 3

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

2017 Book Challenge - Book #49 - Crime and Punishment

Today I am reviewing the book  Crime and Punishment

It was under the category:  A Book You Think Looks Boring

This is the story of a man named Raskolinkov a poor student that is caught between good and evil.  He kills a pawn broker because he believes he is above the law.  Guilt finally eats at him and he confesses and goes to jail.  In jail he realizes his mistakes and realizes that suffering is his only means to happiness.

This book was boring.  I was right - I thought it was boring.  It was long and complicated.  I didn't really like any of the characters.  Rodya always seemed dirty and sick, his mother clueless, and his sister just nonchalant about his whole situation.  It was just....blah.  I was glad when it was done.

Stars: 2

Saturday, September 2, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #48 - Columbine

Today's review is for the book Columbine

This was under the cateogry:  A book someone says "Changed Their Life"

This is the story written from the point of view of the author - who was a journalist on the scene the day the shooters attacked Columbine high school.  He spent 10 years going through 1000's of pages of notes, interviews, videos, and talking with the families and victims.  He spoke to the families of the killers.  He wanted to bring out the truth and debunk some of the mysteries behind "why" the boys killed their classmates, and what happened to the victims who survived.

This was a great story.  For me - I remember the shooting - it was the worse school shooting in history at the time.  Now, 18 years later, you mention Columbine and everyone knows what you mean.  There were things that I believe about the stories the media told that were not true.  It was well worth the read.  I learned a lot about the killers and their motives and it opened my eyes to how easily warning signs can be missed or overlooked when they are spread out to lots of people.  It made me angry that a family that reported the criminal behaviors of one of the killers no less than 14 times to the police and they were almost always ignored.  You wonder if the whole tragedy could have been avoided if the police would have followed up and put the killers in juvenile hall.

Check out the book. I guarantee you will learn things that you thought you knew about the situation were not what they seemed.

Stars: 4 1/2

Saturday, August 26, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #47 - Orphan Train

Today's Review is for

Orphan Train

This is under the category: A book recommended by your oldest family member

This is the story of two people - Molly (a foster care kid that has been troubled her whole life) and Vivian (a kindly old woman who is looking for some help around the house).  Molly gets caught stealing a book from the library and is sentenced to community service hours.  Her boyfriend gets her a job helping Vivian clean out her attic.  During the clean out, Vivian begins to tell Molly her story of being an orphan on the orphan train in the 1930s.  Her entire family was killed in a fire and she was sent on a train to the midwest to be adopted by a family.  What ended up happening is she basically became a slave for families who were looking for help.  She meets a young boy her age on the train and helps care for a small baby.

Her life for a few years is very hard.  She finally is adopted by a nice family and marries, has a baby, and has a wonderful life.  But she never forgets what happened to her.  Molly and Vivian share a common background, and Molly soon finds a deep friendship with Vivian that she has never had with anyone else.

This was a fantastic book.  I love true stories, and this is a historical fiction story related to the actual orphan trains of the 20s and 30s.  Most of those kids who were not babies were taken into families to be laborers, maids, or store workers.  They were not adopted to be loved and cared for and they had hard lives.  Many ran away or were killed or abused.

I highly recommend this book.  Check it out.

Stars: 5

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017 Book Challenge - Book #46 - A Clash of Kings

Holy Moly it has been a long time since I have posted.  We spent the entire month of July getting our house ready to rent and then we moved to Switzerland.

But now I am back on track.  So today's book I am reviewing is

A  Clash of Kings

This was under the category:  A book over 500 pages

This is book two in the Game of Thrones series.  At this point, King Joffrey is the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.  Because he is still a boy, his mother remains Queen Regent.  Joffrey remains cruel and is holding Sansa hostage at King's Landing.  Now that Sansa's traitor father is dead, Joffrey and his mother refuse to let her go home.  Sansa's sister, Arya is posing as an orphan boy and trying to get back to Winterfell.  Sansa's brother, Robb - King of the North - is battling to rein the seven kingdoms.  Danerys is trying to get to Kings Landing so she can become the rightful Queen of the seven kingdoms.

This book was as good as the first.  RR. Martin is a very talented writer.  There are 1000 characters, and you sometimes get a little lost on who belongs to you, but it doesn't distract from the story.  Even though he writes about a fictional world, he doesn't make up words just to make them up.  He makes those 1000 pages fly by.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next.  If you haven't tried this series yet, I highly recommend it.

Stars: 5

Friday, June 30, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #45 - The Fifth Letter

Today's review is for

The Fifth Letter

This was under the category:  A Book Published in 2017

This is the story of 4 best friends who have been together since high school.  Every year they get together for a long weekend - just the 4 of them - to enjoy time away from life, kids, husbands....and to just rekindle their friendship.  At the beach house, Joni decides it would be fun if each woman writes a letter - anonymously - about a secret that none of them know.  They would read one letter a night at dinner.  There wouldn't be any judgement, just advice from friends.

As each letter is read, the women try their best not to judge and to just give advice and support.  Joni, though, when cleaning out the fireplace discovers the left over pieces of a letter.  She does some tracing on the house computer and finds that someone wrote a fifth letter and then destroyed it.  This letter is filled with hate for someone in the group and it worries Joni.

When the girls get back home, Joni tries to discover who wrote the letter.  It wasn't until one of the girls in the group hosts a party that the truth comes out and Joni knows their friendships will never be the same.

This is a great summer read.  It was easy to read and moved a long nicely.  I like how this author wrapped up the characters at the end - showed them a few years in the future since their friendships changed.  I always want to know what characters might be doing a few years in the future when the story "officially" ends, so this was great.

Add this to your list this summer - you won't be disappointed.

Stars:  4 1/2

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #44 - At Home In Mitford

So....we are moving so I have had to slow my reading.  It is making me crazy that I can't take these lazy days of summer and just read and read.  Instead I need to pack and paint and do boring stuff.

I am sneaking in a few minutes to read, so today I am going to review

At Home In Mitford

This was under the category: A Book With A Map In The Front

This is the story of Father Tim who lives in the small town of Mitford.  He is the beloved pastor of a local church who cares about everyone in town.  He often is left feeling that he wants something more.  Soon a homeless dog becomes his closest companion, and a young 11 year old boy comes to live with him while his grandfather recovers from being sick.  He meets an attractive new neighbor that he quickly becomes smitten with.  All of this while trying to manage a thief who had been living in the bell tower of his church, and helping to build a nursing home for the town.  Father Tim soon lets his own health go and almost dies in the process.

This was a really cute book.  It was an easy read and a sweet story.  Every town needs a Father Tim - someone who they can count on to help them when they are in need and to tell their problems to.  Most of the characters were likable and the author did a good job fitting them all together.


Stars: 4

Thursday, June 1, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #43 - Life of Pi

I forgot about one!  I read 8!

This book is :  Life of Pi

It was under the category:  A Book You Read ALoud to Someone Else

This is the story of a young boy from India who is moving with his family to Canada.  In Indai, his father owned a zoo, and they are transporting many of the animals that have been sold to Canada.  They are on a large ship sailing across the pacific when tragedy strikes and the ship sinks.  The lone survivor - Pi - is telling the story to an author who wants to write his story.  Pi tells the story of how he spent 277 days on the ocean with a 450 pound Bengal tiger before they hit land in Mexico and were saved.  He loses his whole family when that ship sinks, and now as an adult, he recollects his experience with a fantastic story of survival.

This is a great book.  I have seen the movie, but have never read it.  My eldest daughter - who is 14 - had to read this book for school, so we decided to do it together.  I enjoyed that as much as I did the book.

This book is well written.  It has funny parts, and the story is truly griping.  My daughter was sad when the story ended because it really is a fantastic tale.  A must read.

Stars: 5

2017 Challenge - Book #42 - Walden

Well - I only made 7 books this month.  Now that the weather has gotten nicer, I have a harder time reading.  My yard is huge and needs quite a bit of tending in the spring.  Once the kids are out of school, I hope to pick up again.

Today's review is for Walden

This was under the category:  A  Classic You Haven't Read Before

This book is Thoreau's reflections on the time he spent in a home he built on Walden Pond.  He lived in a cabin in the woods for 2 years, 2 months and 2 days.  He wanted to spend the time reflecting and learning to understand society.  He also wanted to see if he could mainly be self-sustaining on the land.  He was in the middle of Concord, Massachusetts, so not necessarily in the wilderness, but off the beaten path to the point where he was 2 miles from civilization.

This book was....interesting.  First of all, Thoreau is a rambler.  I would guess, though, that any of us keeping a journal of our day to day routine would be too.  I learned about every bird in the woods.  What temperature the pond was compared to other ponds near by.  When the pond froze for the winter, how he built his house, how he kept warm, and who he talked with while he lived in the woods.  The book could have been about half the size, but he liked to talk for paragraphs about each and every animal or situation to the point of my losing interest and wanting to skim.  I did finish it, but it was trying.  I do have to say, though, on the bits that I did enjoy, he was telling.  And interesting.  And sometimes even funny.  It had its moments.

I have never been very good with the classics.  I am starting to think it is a personal problem I have - I am just not in the mindset for this type of writing.  It isn't my cup of tea.  BUT - I will continue to struggle through them because I am interested in seeing what makes them classics.  Maybe one day, I will come by one that I truly love.

Still looking

Stars: 3

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #41 - The Nest

Book #41 - Today I am reviewing

The Nest

It is under the category:  A Book You Picked Randomly off the Shelf of the Library

This is the story of 4 siblings whose father left them a sum of money.  He wanted his children to have just enough to take the edge of their own personal finances, but not enough for them to be greedy.  Their dad died before he realized that his investor had done so well that The Nest had grown to over 2 million dollars.  Split among the 4 of them, they could off set so many expenses.  Unfortunately, one nigh the eldest brother decides to leave his wife at a wedding party and get in the car with a young waitress and take off.  They are in an accident and the waitress is seriously hurt.  After the family pays off the waitress and her expenses and the ex-wife to keep her quiet, there is nothing left of The Nest.  The three remaining siblings fret because each one of them were counting on that money to offset expenses in their lives they needed help with.  Soon - the eldest brother disappears and the hunt for him, and how the families cope with knowing the money may be gone forever - begins.

This book was fine.  It was in a section of "Seven Day Loan" at the library because it was popular.  It wasn't well written, and an easy read.  But I didn't like any of the characters.  Well - most of the characters.  There were a few minor characters that were good.  The the 4 siblings were awful.  The three who were counting on the now non-existent money - were a bunch of whiners with first world problems.  (one was mad because he was going to lose his beach house)  The had counted on that money, so they had spent unwisely, and instead of saving in case the money never came, they put themselves in bad situations and mounting debt.  I didn't feel bad for them at all when the brother couldn't pay them back the money they felt they were owed.  

Meanwhile - the eldest brother didn't feel bad about it at all.  He was a recovering drug addict, and had hidden away almost 2 million dollars over the years so that he could run away.  No one in his family knew he had this money and one day he just disappeared.  He left a pregnant girlfriend and vanished.  What a douche.

I don't really recommend this book unless you want to read about people who don't really have real world problems.  It could be good for a beach read if you are looking for fluff, but otherwise -just pass.

Stars:  2

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #40 - You Are Not So Smart: Why you have too many friends on facebook, why your memory is mostly fiction, and 46 other ways you are deluding yourself

#40!  Another milestone

Today's review is for:  You Are Not So Smart: Why you have too many friends on facebook, why your memory is mostly fiction, and 46 other ways you are deluding yourself

This was under the cateogry:  A Book With A Really Long Title

This is the author's take on how we are deluding ourselves in several aspects of our lives.  The old saying "To err is human" comes to play as he explains how every thought and action we have comes from a story we tell ourselves to explain them.  Bottom line - we are easily fooled and we don't think we are.

I really liked this book.  It was humorous, and I could definitely see how I delude myself in believing I am better in some ways when actually I am not.  It was a great big dose of humble pie to know we are not the great thinkers we think we are - on the whole - but more just a collection of biases.  It takes a lot to admit that most of the things we think we know, or remember, are tainted by our own delusions.  It shows that in reality, it is better to shrug and assume you remember it differently, and calm the waters of an argument than to insist you are right.

I definitely say try this book.  You will enjoy taking a better look at yourself.

Stars: 4

Friday, May 19, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #39 - The Name of the Wind

Today's review is for

The Name of the Wind

It is under the category:  A Book that was written 10 years ago.

This is the story of a man named Kvothe.  He has gone into hiding - presumed dead by many - until one day a Chronicler comes to town wanting to find him and hear his story.  Kvothe agrees, and such begins the story of his life.  He tells of being a little boy in a music troop.  How one night while he was playing away from the camp, he comes back to find the entire troop dead - including his parents.  The Chandrian - or evil spirits - have killed everyone "for singing the wrong kind of songs"  Kvothe escapes, and starts a life on the streets as a beggar, barely surviving day to day.  He eventually gets a small amount of money together, buys a good pair of clothes, and applies to learn at the local University.  At this University, they teach magic (what they call sympathy).  He is only 15, but he is among the youngest to be admitted and he excels quickly.  He spends a few years at the University honing his skills, and also trying to learn as much as he can about the Chandrian who killed his parents.

I liked this book.  It is LONG - almost 700 pages, but it held my interest.  I enjoyed the story of how this very poor boy who had barely a penny to his name got to the University and became a legend in his own right.  There were parts that didn't make a lot of sense to me - things I think the author could have left out to shorten the story.  For example - there was a long section of the book that he spends in the company of a young lady while he looks for the Chandiran.  He has heard a rumor that they are 60 miles north of where he is in school, so he just bolts, buys a horse on a loan, and heads out to find the Chandrian.  He seems.....out of place.  Sure - I get that he wanted to find them.  But he is a 15 year old boy - what was he going to do when he found them?  In the end - he didn't find them, but it was a wasted part of the book in my opinion.  Although - maybe the author was showing what a true 15 year old boy would do - take off without thinking.  So....whatever.  The book, also, is written in a fashion along the lines of The Hobbit.  It is a fantasy book - made up words, and made up coin......but not to the point of distraction.  There are books out there that make up words for the sake of doing it.  Here it was a nice balance.

Other than that - it was a good tale.  IT is the first book in a trilogy, but if each are 700 pages, the other books will have to wait until I finish my challenge to get to those.  If you like fantasy books, like Lord of the Rings, or the Hobbit....give this book a try.

Stars:  4

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #38 - A Walk in the Woods - Rediscovering America

Today's review is for

A  Walk In The Woods - Rediscovering America

This was under the category:  A Book With a Country or City Name in the Title

This is a non-fiction story of the author's attempt to walk the Appalachian trail.  In 1996 he decided he was going to try this, after hearing about the number of people who complete it each year.  He didn't have much hiking experience, but felt that if he tried, he could complete the over 2000 miles of hiking in 5 months.

He was wrong.  He took a long an old friend on this journey.  He started in early March at the southern most tip of the trail and started to walk north.  (the trail goes all the way to Maine).  After walking for nearly 5 weeks, he came across a map that showed that they had barely touched the trail.  He felt discouraged, and decided to go about this a different way.  He wasn't FORCED to walk the trail - he was doing it for fun.  So he decided to go to the parts of the trail he wanted to see - areas he wanted to accomplish.

In the end he walked over 800 miles of the trail.  He was in better shape than he had ever been before.  He met many people along the trail who he came to admire.  He climbed tall mountains and got lost.  He slept in a tent in the rain and trudged through several feet of snow.  He said he hoped that during succeeding summers he would go back and see other parts of trail.

This was a great book.  He was a great writer with wit which made the book an easy read.  He talked candidly about the hardships he had on the trail, and the oddness of some of the people he met.  He talked about how the trails are slowly going into disrepair due to the limited budget and low staff of the national park system.  He talked about how different the trails look now to when they were first designed.  I loved the side stories he told about the cities he visited and the states.  Overall - he made me want to try it.  Would I ever?  No way.  But the idea is what he makes you excited about.

Check this book out.  It is one not to be missed.

Stars:  4 1/2

Saturday, May 6, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #37 - The Age Of Miracles

Moving right along!  Trying to get back on track after a slow month of reading

Today's review is for  - The Age of Miracles

This was under the category: A Book With A Blue Covered

Life is going along as expected until one day, scientist realize that the days were starting to stretch.  It was minor at first - a minute longer, then two.  But by the time it is brought to the public's attention, the day has stretched by 10 minutes longer.  The scientist have discovered that the rotation of the earth has slowed.  Everything starts to change - days and nights grow longer, gravity changes, birds start to die off, the tides and human behavior change.  Scientist urge everyone to continue on as normal - to "keep to the clock".

There are people that try to say they are going to follow the days and nights - no matter how long they become.  But even those folks can no longer cope as the days stretch to 60 and then 72 hours long.  Schools and businesses try to stay open and it isn't until the power starts to turn off and on that people start to panic.  In the end, what scientist call the "syndrome" takes the lives of many people.  People can no longer go out during the day because of the radiation.  Crops start to die off and scientist still have no figured out how to grow them without the sun.  Time passes and relationship change and the earth turns slower and slower.  The scientist and experts have no idea how long it will last before it stops all together.

This was a really fast read.  I have read a lot of intense books this year, so this was kind of a nice "fluff" book.  And it is one of my favorites - dystopian futures.  Although just once I would like that future to be fantastic instead of "everyone is doing to die!"

I read this in a day and a half, and it held my interest.  The main character is 11 when the book starts - the age of my youngest daughter - and 23 when it ends.  It is an interesting concept - the earth's rotation slowing to almost a stop.  I was intrigued by the uniqueness of this idea.

Check it out.

Stars:  4 1/2

Thursday, May 4, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #36 - Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Today I am reviewing

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

This was under the category: A Book With A Duplicate Word In The Title

This is the story of two childhood friends - Larry Ott and Silas Jones.  They both grew up in rural Missisippi - one a son of lower middle class parents and one the son of a poor single mother.  They would meet secretly in the woods to shoot and play together.  But tragedy struck when Larry took a local girl on a date and she never returned.  Larry was blamed for her death and disappearance even thought the girl was never found.  Their friendship fell apart and Silas moved away.

20 years later, Silas has returned to the same town as a constable.  Larry, who never got out from under the charges, is a mechanic with no friends and no customers.  Silas has been avoiding Larry, even though Larry continues to call to talk to him.  Then another girl disappears, and because her body is found on Larry's property, Larry is blamed again.  Silas is involved in solving the case so he is forced to relive his past that he has buried deep for so long.

This was a pretty good book.  I had a little trouble getting into it, but once the mystery of the girl's disappearance started to take shape, the book picked up.  It has some surprising twists that I didn't see coming, and that helped.  The name of the book comes from the way kids in Mississippi are taught to spell Mississippi.  (M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter - I- crooked letter-crooked letter-I-humpback-humpback - I).

I recommend the book.  Give it a try.

Stars: 4

Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #35 - Hillbilly Elegy

I did fit one more book in before the month ended

Today I am reviewing Hillbilly Elegy

It is under the category:  Free Choice

This is a true story of the author who grew up in the Rust Belt between Kentucky and Ohio.  He tells the story of a culture in crisis - white working class Americans.  He has a biological father he didn't know until he was older.  A slew of men in and out of his life while his mother - who abused alcohol and drugs - barely could raise him.  His was basically raised by his grandparents who he credits for saving him and turning him into the man he is today.

He is now a marine veteran who went to Yale Law School.  He talks how it took him a long time to trust people and let his guard down due to his upbringing in such an unstable environment.

I really liked this book.  I grew up in a VERY stable family, but in a very UNSTABLE town.  A town full of families just like the authors (I grew up in Western Pennsylvania near the Appalachian mountains).  I watched families struggle every day and watched the cycle repeat itself generation after generation.  And when a kid broke the cycle, like the author did, it was amazing to see.  The author talks extensively how the support and stability of his grandmother's home saved him.  That seems to be the bottom line.  A kid needs stability and love to break a cycle.  The author could have ended up like his mother - a drug and alcohol abuser with a very bleak future.  But due to the grandparents, his broke away.

Great, great book.  Highly recommend!

Stars: 5

Saturday, April 22, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #34- Christine

I have been on vacation for 2 weeks this month, so reading took a dip.  Since I wasn't sitting on a beach, but touring endlessly around Italy, we were too exhausted each evening to do much.

The book I am reviewing today is:  Christine

It was under the category:  A Book From Rory Gilmore's Reading List  (Gilmore Girls!!)

This story is mostly told from high school senior, Dennis, whose friend, Arnie, has just past a car he cannot live without.  It is an old 1958 Fury that he saw sitting in the front yard of an old, retired army man named Mr. Lebay.  The car hasn't run in year and needs tons of work but Arnie has to have it.   The car has a name - Christine. Dennis helps him get it to a car storage garage where Arnie begins to work on it.  He makes miraculous progress on it over the summer - much to his parents dismay (who would rather him be concentrating on college and school) and has it running by the time school starts.  Arnie also starts to change himself - he goes from a geeky kid with lots of pimples to a handsome young man who attracts the attention of the pretty new girl in school.

By Christmas time, Arnie is completely obsessed with the car and has very little time for his friends, his family or his girl.  The car is not liked by anyone else - it gives everyone a bad feeling.  It also gives off a really weird smell that everyone says smells like death.  The school bullies start to pick on Arnie and try and destroy his car.  But Christine has a plan of her own.  The car gets revenge on the bullies and starts to pick off all the people in Arnie's life that don't like him or the car.

Soon his friend Dennis and Arnie's now ex-girlfriend, Leigh, have decided it is time for Christine to go.  Something is wrong with that car and it has destroyed the person they once new.

This was a pretty good book.  I try to read at least one Stephen King a year.  I have always been curious about this one.  It had some parts where I rolled my eyes - I hate when authors stray off course with "filler" text.  But for the most part, it help my interest, and I am glad I read it.  I am anxious to see the movie to see it played out.

Stars: 4

Thursday, April 6, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #33 - Endurance - Shackleton's Journey

This book is the last I will get in before we leave on vacation.

Today I am reviewing - Endurance - Shackleton's Journey

It is under the category - A Book Set On Another Continent

This is a non-fiction book about the voyage of Ernest Shackleton in 1914.  He traveled to Antartica with 27 men with a plan to cross the continent on foot.  After going through 1000 miles of packed ice, the Endurance got stuck in a patch of ice and could not get free.  Eventually, the ship sunk and the men were stranded.  The floated on ice for over 850 miles in a harrowing journey to be rescued.  This journey took 5 months and they survived by eating their sled dogs, and various seals and penguins that came upon their drift.  The entire group survived.

This was a pretty good book.  I cannot believe this entire group of men survived these 5 months in the freezing cold off of the coldest continent in the world.  They had very little shelter and very little food.  They spent most of those 5 months wet and cold.  Every minute must have been torture, but they stayed level headed and survived,

Try this book.  It is amazing what lengths people will go to for survival.

Stars: 4 1/2

Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #32 - The Story of My Life

First book of April in the books

The Story of My Life

This was under the category: An Autobiography

This is a composition of Helen Keller's diaries, notes, and observations from her childhood up through her time in college.  She talks openly of what it was like to be blind and deaf, to finally learn once a teacher was brought to her that could help her learn to communicate, and how she decided what she was going to study in college.  She talks openly about her disability and how hard it was for her to go to college knowing her professors could not communicate well with her and it would be hard for her to access the curriculum.

The story of Helen Keller is near and dear to me.  Having a daughter who is legally blind, Helen Keller is an inspiration.  I see what she was able to accomplish at the turn of the century, and how far accessibility has come for the blind.  Helen was reliant on her teacher so much more than students today are.  Technology for the blind plus the development of cochlear implants for the deaf has changed the world for these two classes of disabilities.

As for the book, was fine.  IT was a little boring - as I am sure more people would find reading anyone's diary a bit boring.  I wanted to hear more about her story and and her struggle, but what it mostly was - was her mundane day to day activities.  Almost to a fault she would explain visits from people in great detail.  It was constant positive spin from Helen's point of view.  She seemed to live an extremely normal life according to her account.  What was revealing was actually notes at the end that spoke more of the truth about Helen and her daily life.  (as in - she still had a very difficult getting around even her most familiar environments).  I would rather it has been more truthful than all rainbows and sunshine.

Stars: 2

Thursday, March 30, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #31 - Maus - My Father Bleeds History

31 baby!!

Today's review is "Maus - My Father Bleeds History"

This was under the category: A Book About a Historical Event

This was a graphic novel and the story of the author and conversations with his father.  His father and mother has survived the concentration camps of WWII, and he wanted to tell his story.  Because he was a cartoonist, he decided to draw the Jewish people as the mice and the German soldiers as cats.  During the interviews with his father he learns what it was like during the war.  The author had a brother that was born during that time, but was taken away and killed.  His mother committed suicide when the author was in his 20s.  Now his father, remarried and unwell, relives for his son was it was like during the years the Nazis had control.

This was a good book, and a great way to tell yet another WWII story.  I read at least 2-3 WWII novels a year, so it was nice to read something a little different about that period of time.  And because it was the true account of a family and how they survived, that made it all the better.

I enjoyed it, and I encourage you to check it out.

Stars: 4 1/2

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #30 - Daughter of Time

30!  YES.   And I have time to get one more in before the month ends.  A new record!

Today's review is for "Daughter of Time"

This was under the category:  A Crime Novel

This story is about Inspector Alan Grant who is laid up in the hospital with a broken leg.  During his boredom, he discovers Richard III and become fascinated with his story.  He sets out to find out the truth about him.  Did he really kill his two nephews to secure the crown?  Or was he framed?  Alan sets out to find out the truth of who really killed the two princes in the tower.

This book was boring and stupid.  It was listed as one of the "greatest mystery novels of all time" but I did not like it.  There was too much chatter and it just droned on.  You had to be a true historian to understand this book and follow the author's ramblings.  Just....blech.

I don't recommend.  I don't even have a lot to say about it.  I was disappointed and was hoping it was going to be so much better than it was.

Stars: 1

Friday, March 24, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #29 - Three Cups of Tea

Today's review is for

Three Cups of Tea

It was under the category:  A Book About a Culture you are Unfamiliar With

This is the story of Greg Mortenson who has built over 100 schools in Pakistan.  He was a climber who was climbing K2 and failed.  He became very ill, and ended up in the village of Korphe where they cared for him until he was well.  While he was there, he got to know the people and their need for a school.  Inspired and outraged, he went home to figure out how he could raise the $12,000 needed to build a school.  As a single, registered nurse, he didn't have any money to do this himself.  He wrote over 500 letters, but finally one person offered to fund the school in its entirety.  He returned and built the school.  When his generous giver died, he left Greg 1 million dollars to start a foundation to build more schools and help the people of Pakistan.  The need for good schools - especially for girls - was large.  So were bridges and running water.  Great set out to do all of those things and succeeded.  Girls are not going to school and going on to college because of what he did.  He set out to prove that knowledge is power and it can change a society.

This was a great book.  I was fascinated by the Pakistan culture and also by the kindness the people showed a white man from America.  I learned more about the true meaning of what it means to be a Muslim (kindness and giving and brotherhood) and the different between those who are truly religious and those who are not.  It was interesting to see how what we would consider cheaply built schools could change the lives of 1000s and 1000s of children and change their futures.

Great book.  I encourage you to read it.

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