Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Sunday, September 30, 2018

2018 Challenge - Book #95 - Dead Wake - The Last Crossing of the Lusitana

Today's review is for

Dead Wake - The Last Crossing of the Lusitana
Author: Erik Larson
Pages: 450

On May 1, 1915, the Lusitana sailed from New York bound for Liverpool.  It has almost 2000 passengers on board.  Germany had declared the seas around Britain part of the war zone, but the boat went on its course anyway.  What the captain and passengers didn't know was that a German U-boat would be waiting for them when they got into the waters around Ireland and their fate would be sealed. 

This story tells the stories of some of the survivors, and goes back and forth between the passengers on board of the Lusitana and Walther Schweiger who was on the U-boat that would eventually sink the Lusitana killing 1200 people (many women and children).  The story recounts the time on the ship, and then what happened in the aftermath of the disaster. 

I enjoyed this book.  The Lusitana has come up in a historical fiction book I have read in the past, so I have been intrigued about what happened to the ship.  I have to admit that I was more drawn to the story of the passengers on board the Lusitana than the second half of this story which is about the U-boat leading up to it destroying the ship.  But I understand that one lead to the other, so it is a necessary part of the story.

The author ends the book with telling us what happened to some of the survivors of the boat, and also the captian of the U-boat.  It is definitely worth the read, and you can't help but feeling that this loss of 1200 lives could have been completely avoided on a lot of levels. 

Stars: 4 1/2

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

2018 Challenge - Book #94 - An Innocent Client

Today's review is for

An Innocent Client
Author: Scott Pratt
Pages: 372

Joe Dillard, a defense attorney, has spent his years as a lawyer defending the worst criminals.  He isn't well liked among the police and the judges but someone has to defend these people.  Joe is ready to get out of being a lawyer when a woman approaches him about a case.  A preacher has been killed and a young lady that works for her has been charged.  She gives Joe an offer he can't refuse if he promised to set her free.

Joe is also dealing with a sister who has lived a life of drug abuse and ended up in jail.  Due to a childhood trauma that Joe witnessed happening to her, she has never fully recovered.  Joe offers to take her in and try to get her help, but his sister isn't interested in making amends.  Having his sister in jail is just adding more fewel to the lawyers on the other side of the table.  And Joe isn't sure he can prove his client is inocent.

This was a good book.  It was recommended by one of the (many) book pages I follow and got over 11,000 Amazon reviews, so I had to check it out.  It is an easy read, and the characters are well developed.  The book held my interest the entire time.  Even though some of the story "twists" weren't necessary shocking, the author did a good job keeping the story flowing smoothly.

I understand there are many more books in this series about Joe Dillard, and I think I am going to keep reading them.  If you like crime novels, this is a good one to check out.

Stars:  4

Monday, September 24, 2018

2018 Challenge - Book #93 - The Road To Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People's Temple

Today's review is for:

The Road To Jonestown:  Jim Jones and the People's Temple
Author: Jeff Guinn
Pages: 545

This is the true story of Jim Jones who lead a church/cult.  He and over 900 of his members in Jonestown (in Guyana South America) killed themselves in November, 1978 because they thought (According to Jones) that the US govenment was after them.  Among the dead were over 300 children.

Jim Jones started his People's Temple with the idea that he was going to bring equality among minorities and whites in America.  He lived a socialist, communist style life with his followers - everyone sharing equally and giving back to the poor.  But over time, Jone's paranoia, drug use, and delusions of grandure lead to the downfall of the church and the loss of almost 1000 lives. 

This book follows Jones from even before his birth (there is extensive information about his mother and father), his childhood upbringing with a drunk disabeled father and a distant mother, and his beginnings as a minister.  Even from a young age, Jones became interested in religion but not from the standpoint of God being the center, but community.  His churches stretched from Indiana to California and then finally to Guyana.  The book goes into detail about his entire life from marriage to children to what he was trying to accomplish with his church, and it is eye opening.

This was a very interesting book.  I am sure at some point I was aware of Jim Jones and this story (I was only 3 years old when the suicides occured), but I don't recall it.  The author has done a good job in retelling the story from the FBI files and interviews he conducted related to Jim Jones, his followers, and the Temple.  The author is good at keeping a steady, unbiased telling throughout the book. 

It is a long book, but I encourage you to read it.  I am always a fan of a well written non-fiction.  So check this one out.

Stars: 4

Friday, September 21, 2018

2018 Challenge - Book #92 - The Day The World Came To Town

Today's review is for

The Day The World Came To Town
Author: Jim DeFede
Pages: 260

This book was written after the events of September 11th.  The story is about the people of Gander, Newfoundland (Canada), who got 38 planes that were grounded when American airspace was closed.  For a week the people of the small town fed, housed, and clothed 7000 people.  There generosity quickly got national attention and became a story of hope and resilliance in the wake of hatred.

This was a pretty good book.  I have seen the musical "Come From Away" that is about many of the heros of Gander and how they came together as a town to help stranded people.  There are 100s of stories of passengers who were given free clothes, medicine, groceries, shelter, and friendship when they couldn't get home.  The people of Gander took a terrible situation and gave Americans some peace.

To this day - 17 years after 9/11, the people of Gander are remembered and visited by the passengers that were there that horrible week.  The passengers have raised over 1 million dollars in scholarships for the Gander high schoolers and many have worked to give back what they could to a town that dropped everything for them.

It is nice to see a story about people who are truly selfless.  The people of Gander didn't think about what would be their "thanks" for taking in these people - they just did it because it was what they do.  Their generosity prooves there is faith still to be had in people.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

2018 Challenge - Book #91 - The Outsider

Today's review is for:

The Outsider
Author: Stephen King
Pages: 576

This story begins in a small town named Flint where a terrible murder of a child has taken place.  The two police detectives on the case feel like they have all the envidence they need to make an arrest - finger prints, eye witnesses and DNA evidence, so they decide not to pre-interview their suspect in case it tips him off and he runs.  There are a few problems though.  For one - the suspect is a well liked, well respected member of this small community.  And two - the suspect has a solid alibi of his own.

The police detectives aren't buyin his alibi and are set to take the suspect to court.  As the evidence expands, it is looking more and more like the detective's suspsect could never had committee this crime.  He would have been in two places at once.  More tragedy strikes affecting many of the families involved, and the suspects lawyer decides to hire a private detective to find out the truth once and for all.

But the truth is hard for anyone to believe and it will take a lot to convince the police detectives they have the wrong man.

This was a pretty good book.  I am a huge Stephen King fan, and this book didn't disappoint.  I liked that more than half of the book was more mystery than horror, and that kept the plot line moving.  The ending wasn't - great - felt like it was a bit "out there".  But that is typical of King.  He doesn't always wrap his stories up well.  This one ended in a bit of a mystery that I couldn't quite decide what to do with.

IF any of you read the Hodges Trilogy King wrote, then you won't be disappointed to see that a character from those stories is in this book.

If you are a King fan - check this one out.  You won't be disappointed.

Stars: 4

Saturday, September 15, 2018

2018 Challenge - Book #90 - I Let You Go

Today's review is for

I Let You Go
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Pages: 377

This story takes place after a horrible car accident.  Jenna Gray ends up in a small Welsh town trying to escape the memory of the accident, and the loss of her child.  She meets a few nice people but doesn't ever reveal her past to them.  She wakes in nightmares of the accident and can't seem to fully escape.  She starts to heal by walking along the beach and taking pictures of words she draws in the sand.

The other part of the story revolves around the Bristol police officers who were on the case of the car accident.  They have been searching for a year for the driver who fled the scene of the accident, but the case has gone cold.  One officer cannot let it go and continues to search for leads to mkght bring the town some peace.

This was a pretty good book.  After reading quite a few duds in a row, I was relieved for finally read a book that I wanted to stay up late to finish.  There are quite a few surprises in this book that you don't see coming and I think the story is well written.  (well - the author uses the word fortnight a few too many times, but I digress). 

The plot twist is worth this book.  It takes a while to get there, but I think that is what makes it so good.  You are SURE you know where the story is going turns completely around.  I was so intrigued and surprised, and I finished the book in 2 days just because I had to see what the end was going to be.

I encourage you to read this one.  It is a mystery, thriller and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2018 Challenge - Book #89 - The Light Of The Fireflies

Today's review is from another free Kindle book

The Light of the Fireflies
Author: Paul Pen
Pages: 338

This is a story of a family that was forced to live underground.  A young boy has never known anything but living in the basement with his parents, his grandmother, and his older brother and sister.  All of his siblings had been badly burned in a fire no one will talk about.  They tell the boy that the basement is all there is - that there is no where else for him to go.  The basement keeps them hidden and protects his family from a terrible secret that the young boy knows nothing about.

At the age of 11, the boy desperately wants to see the outside world.  But he lives in fear.  Fear of the "Cricket Man" and "The One Up There" that brings the family food and medicines but it never seen.  When his sister has a baby and no one is telling who the father is, the young boy plans his escape.  With his oldest sister's help, he finds out the truth and soon realizes he can no longer stay below ground.

This story was disturbing.  This is dysfunctional family at its best, and when the big reveal about where the baby came from, why they were in the basement, and other family secrets came to life - you just are left feeling disgusted.  I do like, though, how the authro went back and forth through time - to the time before the family was forced into the basement, and to the time the boy was young, and then 15 years into the future at the end of the book.  So I will give credit for that.

The story is not for the faint of heart.  There isn't much to like about any of the characters.  Their actions are unforgivable and in the end, you just want the little boy to escape and be done with the story.

It is hard to recommend it because the story is very disturbing.  So I would say skip it

Stars: 3

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

2018 Challenge - Book #88 - We Were Mothers

The next two reviews I am doing are not from books that were recommended to me.  They are free Amazon Prime books that I received as a member (we get a free Kindle book each month).

We Were Mothers
Author: Katie Sise
Pages: 311

This is the story of 4 women whose lives are entertwined by families and friendship.  Cora has discovered a journal in her baby daughter's room during her twin's birthday party.  The journal belongs to the daughter of her neighbor and friend, Laurel.  The journal entry that was left for Cora to see reveals an illicit secret.  Within days, Laurel's daughter is missing and the close families start to fight one another while they search for Laurel's daughter.  Secrets are revealed and the women discover things about their husbands that they never knew they could be capable of.

This book was okay.  Because it was free, I didn't mind reading it.  It is a fast read.  I did not like the characters very much, and I am thinking the author has a real problem with men.  Not one man in this book had good qualities.  They were all awful people.  It was a bit much - how all the men turned out to have horrible secrets.

Eh - I would skip it.  I don't think it is worth reading. 

Stars:  2

Monday, September 3, 2018

2018 Challenge - Book #87 - Future Home of the Living God

Today's review is for

Future Home of the Living God
Author: Louise Erdrich
Pages: 288

This is a dystopian future novel where the human race is reversing - going back to primitive days.  Evolution is reversing itself.  Women are giving birth to pre-primitive spiece and most don't survive.  26 year old Cedar is pregnant and now she has to hide.  She is sure her baby will be different, but all pregnant women are rounded up and kept in camps or hospitals until they give birth.  She doesn't know what the fate of these women or babies will be, so she hides.

I honestly can't write more about this book because I wouldn't encourage anyone to read it.  It was that terrible.  I should have done a better job reading the reviews before I chose this one, but this year's challenge is all about reading recommendations from others.  This idea of the book was what drew me to it.  I am a huge fan of dystopian future novels and it has been awhile since I have read one.  But this one I should have stayed clear of.  AND - I should have stopped reading it because I could barely get through it.

This novel went....nowhere.  It was random, and strange, and none of the characters were ever fully developed.  None of the characters were likable.  It was overly religious, but even that didn't make much sense.  And the ending just....ended.  Nothing was wrapped up, and it wasn't even a satisfying cliff hanger.

IT was just terrible.  Stay far far away.

Stars:  1