Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

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