Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Read The World - Only God Can Make A Tree - St. Kitts and Nevis

Book: Only God Can Make A Tree
Author: Bertram Roach
Pages: 136
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 94th read for the year

This is mostly the story of Adrian - the son of a black mother from the Caribbean and a white, Irish father.  Though he works on the land as a highered hand, he longs for better social status.  He falls in love with a girl named Julia.  He feels that she is the love of his life, but she will not improve his social standing.  The other woman in his life is Alice - the daughter of his boss.  She is beautiful, and wealthy, and in love with Adrian.  But Adrian knows it would ruin him to be with her - he would never work again.  So they keep their relationship a secret.

Adrian's decisions with these two women, and their families, change the course of all of their lives forever.  The harsh realities of Adrian's background get in the way of him living the life he desires.

This book wasn't great.  It was not well written, and so it didn't hold my attention.  I found myself skimming certain paragraphs because it read more like a manual than a story.  It also jumped all over the place - too many small side stories that didn't really need to be introduced in such a short book.  Too many tangents.

There isn't a lot from this country, so it will probably stay at as my book for now.  But I may continue to search.

Stars: 2

Monday, August 19, 2019

Read The World - Senegal - So Long A Letter

Book: So Long A Letter
Author: Mariama Ba
Pages: 96
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 93rd read for the year

This was a short book, so I read it on a Sunday afternoon. 

This is the story of Ramatoulaye.  She is writing a letter to her friend, Aissatou.  In between we learn a little about why she is writing the letter - why Aissatou now lives far away.  Ramatoulaye writes as her husband has passed away from a heart attack, and recounts their lives together.  How they met, the children they had, and then ultimately how he betrayed her by taking a second wife.  When her husband dies, Ramatoulaye relays how she longs to be free of the customs of her people (polygamy) and longs for a different way of life.  She wishes for her children to have different futures.  As she hopes she will find love again, she realizes that she doesn't need a man to make her life fulfilled.

This is a very short, but very full novel.  I am always pleased when an author can pack a whole love of information and character development in under 100 pages.  That takes true talent.  I was able to make attachments to the characters she brings forth and become invested in their stories.  Bravo.

I recommend this book.  You will find it rewarding.

Stars: 4 1/2

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Read The World - Sri Lanka - Island of a Thousand Mirrors

Book: Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Author: Nayomi Munaweera
Pages: 288
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 92 read for the year

I have read 105 books in my Read The World Challenge so far (97 to go). I have learned incredible amounts about our world, and am reminded how lucky I am.  I encourage you to read about the world outside your own.

This is a fictional story based around the Sri Lanka civil war.  It is the story of the Tamil and Sinhala people and two women who grew up on either side of the war.  The main character - Yasodhara begins the story several generations before she is born to show the development of her family in Sri Lanka up until when Yasodhara is a grown woman.  She begins the story with her father as a child, and develops on how he met Yasodhara's mother, their move to the United States when the civil war begins to brew, and then Yasodhara and her sister's return to Sri Lanka to rediscover their roots.  A tragedy leads Yasodhara to return back to the United States to try and forget the past - knowing that can never be true.  When the civil war finally ends, Yasodhara starts to find peace with her past and knows that it is time to move on.

On the Tamil side there is Saraswarthi who takes a very different path after she is captured and tortured.  Once dreaming of becoming a teacher, Saraswarthi's path is changed due to her capture, and she joins the movement and becomes a soldier for the civil war.  The choices she makes will haunt both of these families forever.

This was a great book.  It is well written and well told.  It isn't a very long book, so I found myself reading late into the night to finish it.  You becomes very invested in the characters on both sides of this story as you watch their paths intertwine, separate, and then intertwine again.

I encourage you to read this book.  Though a fictional story, it gives you some insight into the Sri Lanka civil war and what the citizens went through during that time.

Stars: 4 1/2

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Read The World - Vanuatu - Getting Stoned with Savages

Book: Getting Stoned With Savages
Author: J. Maarten Troost
Pages: 239
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO (but he lived there)
I have visited: NO

This is my 91st read for the year.

This is the author's own story of the time he lived on Vanuatu.  He had lived previously in Kiribati, but moved back to Washington DC with his wife to resume the grueling life of a big city.  He continuously wanted to return to the South Pacific, and he finally got his wish.  His wife got a job transfer, and the two of them found themselves on the island of Vanuatu.

The author recounts his time on the islands - writing his book and learning about the people.  He indulges in the local hallucinogen, kava, finds out that a lot of people on the island used to be cannibals, encounters foot long venamous centipedes, and tries desperately to get swept up in island life once again.

When his wife gets pregnant, they leave Vanuatu for Fiji, thinking this would be a better place to raise a child.  The last 90 pages or so talk about their lives there before they return to the United States for good.

This book is hilarious.  I have another one of his books on my life (Sex Lives of Cannibals) and now that I have read this one - I cannot wait to read the other.  I found myself laughing out loud at some of the people or situations he encountered while deep in the jungles of Vanuatu.  

This was a great read.  It ticked off my box for Vanuatu (not a lot of books out there about this country) but I would have enjoyed this book regardless.  I encourage you to try it.

Stars: 4 1/2

Monday, August 12, 2019

Extra Book - Nine Perfect Strangers

Book: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Pages: 464

This is my 90th read for the year

We have been in the United States visiting family and traveling for 5 1/2 weeks and my reading went off the rails.  I had no time like I thought I would, and when we finally did sit down, I was so tired that I couldn't bring myself to read.

We returned to Switzerland this past weekend (After a canceled flight, then a missed flight due to a delay - don't get me started), and while traveling I did read a whole book.  And today the kids started back to school, so I should get back on track.

This is the story of nine people who arrive at a health resort.  They all have different reasons for joining this 10 day retreat.  Some want to escape their daily lives, some want to lose weight.  But they have no idea what is in store for them on this "life changing journey" they were promised.

Half way through the retreat, things take a terrible turn, and the strangers are forced to work together to make it out.

This book was just okay.  I do really like this author, but this book fell flat about 3/4 of the way through.  Just unraveled.  This story idea was a great one, but it wasn't executed well.

Stars: 3

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Read The World - Micronesia - The Island of the Sequined Love Nun

Book: The Island of the Sequined Love Nun
Author: Christopher Moore
Pages: 336
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 89th read for the year

I have been on vacation with the family for the last 7 days, and didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked.  But I did get this audiobook in on the way down and the way back from Lake Norman, NC.  So that was something!

This is the story of Tucker Case.  Tucker was a pilot for a big cosmetic company - that is until he wrecked on of the company's planes while drunk.  Unemployed, and without a pilot's license, Tucker is desparate to work.  He receives a suspicious letter from a missionary in Micronesia who knows who he is, but wants him to fly for them anyway.  The job would pay enormously well - flying medical supplies for 2 years.  Tucker - being desparate - accepts the job, and thus sets off on a whirlwind journey on this small island.  The medical supplies are suspicious, the work of the missionaries is shady.  Tucker plans on getting to the bottom of what is going on, and works to redeem himself by helping the people of Micronesia.

This is a cute book.  IT is silly and an easy read, and it really passed the 16 hours I had traveling in the car.  The audiobook version was a good one - the reader was excellent.  It really help my attention.  I enjoyed it and I hope to read a few more books by this author in the future.

Stars: 4

Friday, July 19, 2019

Read The World - Tanzania - The Snows Of Kilimijaro

Book: The Snows of Kilimijaro
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Pages: 154
Book takes place in the country:  BARELY
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 88th read for the year

Hmmmmm - this book.  I don't think it was every 50% in the country of Tanzania, but when you search for Tanzanian books - this is the first to come up.  I thought it would be good because....Ernest Hemingway.  But I think I am going to have to search for something else.

This is a collection of short stories.  The first story, and I THINK the last took place in Tanzania.  All the other stories were collections from around the world.  The stories were decent - typical short stories - but nothing that really thrilled me.  They were just fine.  I think I will be finding another book for this category.

Stars: 3

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Read The World - Comoros - A Fish Caught In Time

Book: A Fish Caught In Time
Author: Samantha Weinberg
Pages: 220
Book takes place in the country: YES (at least 50% I would say)
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 87th read for the year.

Well vacation is messing with me.  I am not reading near enough!  We are getting ready to go and sit by a lake for a week, so MAYBE I will have more luck then.

This is the story about a fish that was thought extinct.  The Coelacanth (see-lo-canth) was thought to have died out 400 million years ago with the dinosaurs.  However - in 1938, an ameteur ichthologist spotted a fish on a deck.  This coelacanth was 5 feet long and had limb like fins.  She saved what she could until she could get ahold of one of the best ichthyologist - JLB Smith.  He recognized it right away and wanted to get to Comoros to see if they could find more.  Over the years - through the 40s-70s - many fish were finally found.  It wasn't until 1998 that the fish finally made global news and became on of the biggest discoveries of the 20th centuries.

I really enjoyed this book.  Natural history is one of my favorite things, and this just blew my mind.  A fish that was thought to be gone for 400 million years?  WHAT?!?!  And now it is back?  Or - it was here all along?  Just amazing.  Many scientist believe that this is one of three fish that might be where man started.  Based on its fins, there is thought that it was one of the fish that came to land, and eventually, became human kind.  So it has a pretty cool .

I encourage you to read this one.  I was glad I did.

Stars: 4

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Extra Book: The Farm

Book: The Farm
Author: Joanne Ramos
Pages: 336

This is my 86th read for the year.

I am in the United States visiting family and friends for the summer, so my reading has really slowed down.  Even more than I expected, because we have been very busy!

This story is about....a baby farm.  The ultrarich do not want to carry their own babies, so they big money to have someone do it for them.  Women are placed in a facility with daily massages, and organic food, and they even get paid a very large bonus after they carry their babies to term.  However - they are not allowed to leave the grounds for 9 months.  They have very little free will - every second is monitored.

The story follows Jane - a young mother from the Phillipines who is desparate to make a better life for she and her daughter.  Reagan - a trust fund kid who wants to make a difference in the world.  Lisa - a repeat customer who is carrying a 3rd baby for a couple.  And Mae - who runs the facility.  

Jane starts to become desparate to see her little girl.  She is worried that she isn't being well cared for by an aunt, and she makes arrangements to break free from "The Farm" to see her child.  But this decision is going to have dire consequences that Jane may not be able to afford.

This book was pretty good....for awhile.  I would say that 3/4 of the book held my interest.  The ending was terrible.  She just kind of quit.  The Epilogue is about 20 pages long and really didn't go anywhere - only sort of wrapped up the story.  It was disappointing.

I don't know whether to recommend it or not.  3/4 good - 1/4, eh.  At least it was a quick read.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Childhood favorites

This Top Ten Tuesday game was developed by The Artsy Reader.  Check out her blog and play along!

Today's Top Ten list is : Childhood favorites

I am sure all readers can look back on their childhood and remember books that they loved the most.  Books that were maybe read to them, or books that they read themselves.  I am sure the list would be long.

I still read to my two youngest children each night (Even though they are 13) and while the book "types" have changed, the love of reading to them hasn't.  My mom read to me, and I hope that someday my children read to their children, and that it will be something that continues for generations.

Many of the books I loved as a child, I read to my own children.  I am sure many of you do the same.

1. Babysitters Club
         - I would imagine a lot of girls (and boys) loved this series.  I collected all the books on my shelf and read the over and over again.  Now they have Babysitters Club graphic novels in an updated form for today's kids.  My youngest daughter loves the graphic novels.


2. Charlotte's Web
       - This one I KNOW everyone knows.  A classic across the ages - I had it read to me, and I have read it to all of my children when they were small.  It sits on our shelf as a permanent fixture of one of the most beloved childhood books we own.

3. Where The Sidewalk Ends
      - I have fond memories of my dad reading this one to my brother and I when we were young.  He would do all these silly voices that would have us rolling with laughter.  We have all of Shel Silverstein's books, and I loved sharing them with my own children.  We will still take them out every once in awhile to read some of his funny poems to brighten our day.

4. Corduroy
       - who could not love a story about a stuffed bear?  A sweet little bear with a lost button - what could be better?  Another book that traveled right from my childhood shelf, to my children's bookcase.

5. The Cat In The Hat
         - There is no doubt that most kids learn to read from Dr. Suess.  His clever, silly, wacky books are a delight - each and every one. 

6. Winnie The Pooh
          - Silly old bear.  He is silly, and dim, cuddly and cute.  I always had such a giggle with his stories as a kid - always left smiling at his antics.  My youngest daughter's favorite character is Eeyore - she has a pretty good collection - so we are big fans in this house.

7. Sweet Valley High
           - This was a love during my teenage years.  Again - like the Babysitter Club books, I had them all.  Read them over and over again.  This is one that I have not introducted my kids too.  I don't think they have redone them to "modernize" them at all (not that this would necessarily matter), so I don't know if I could get them into this series.  But I read them ALL.

8. Superfudge
         - I am read many a Judy Blume book - remember many of them being a part of my later childhood.  Superfudge was probably my first.  This one I have read with my kids and they were fans as well.

9. Ramona
      - I love this girl.  She is hysterical on a million levels.  I loved reading her books when I was a kid, and she is back for today's kids.  I have read the books with all three of my kids and we all love her and her antics.  Best character.


10.  Little House on the Prarie
          - who doesn't love these sweet books?  I still have the large print book I had as a child - with the pictures.  I would read the books and watch the show and just fell in love with the whole world.

So - what childhood books make your top 10?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Extra Book: A Whole New World - Disney's Twisted Tales

Book: A Whole New World - Disney's Twisted Tales
Author: Liz Braswell
Pages: 400

This is my 85th read of the year.

This is a book that I read with my two youngest children.  We have been working on it for several weeks (we only read one chapter a night), and we finally finished it up.  I love that they still tolerate me reading to them each evening.  It is one of my favorite activities and it enables me to read books on their level that otherwise I might not have a chance to.

What if Aladdin never found the lamp?  What if Jafar got it instead?  When Jafar steals the lamp from the desert, he uses the genie to make two wishes:  To become sultan, and to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world.  His third wish is for Jasmine to love him, but luckily, the genie cannot force true love.  

Now it is up to Aladdin and his Street Rats to get the lamp and get rid of Jafar.  With Jasmine's help, the group comes up with a plan to do just that.  They must battle not only Jafar, but his "back from the dead" army.  It is up to Jasmine and Aladdin to unite the people of Agrabah to fight Jafar and win back their city.

I thought this was great.  What a clever spin on a favorite Disney book.   These are not for young children - fair warning - because there is a lot of fighting, and death involved (more than your typical Disney), so these are for older kids and adults.  I thought the book was well written, and well thought out.  The story started as the typical story of Aladdin, the one we all know.  IT took a few chapters for it to veer off course where Aladdin becomes trapped in the desert and Jafar gets the lamp instead.  And then it takes off on its own from there.

My two kids enjoyed it as well, and we are looking forward to reading the others.

Stars: 4 1/2

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Extra Book - Caraval

Book: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Pages: 416

This is my 84th read for the year.

This is the story of Scarlett and her sister Tella.  They have never left their tiny island where they live with their father.  Their father is cruel, and the girls would do anything to escape.

Scarlett's whole life, she has dreamed of going to Caraval.  It is a once a year show where the audience particiaptes, and it is on an island that is not her own.  Now Scarlett is grown up, and about to enter an arranged marriage to a man she has never met.  She feels she will never have a chance to see Caraval now.

By chance, an invitation to Caraval arrives for Scarlett and her sister.  A stranger - a sailor - agrees to take them there, if he can have the third ticket that arrived with Scarlett's letter (the ticket is for Scarlett's fiance).  Scarlett agrees, and she and Tella take off without telling their father where they are going.  When they arrive on the Caraval island, Tella is kidnapped by Legend - the leader or Caraval.  It is quickly revealed that finding Tella - by anyone playing the game - will be the winner of this year's event.  And the winner gets...a wish.

Scarlett has only a few days to find her sister, and get back to her island so she can be married.  She is told that the game is just that - just an illusion and nothing is real.  But Scarlett quickly finds that this isn't always true.  She is quickly wrapped up in the heartbreak and magic that is Caraval as she races to find her sister.

I thought this book was fine.  I got swept up in the bookstagram talk about Caraval, and wanted to see what the hype was about.  I should have left it alone.  The book wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great.  Again - this is just my opinion, but I just didn't like it.  If you are thinking that this is like The Night Circus - it is not.  This book had a lot that just wasn't well developed.  You don't really like any of the characters.  Scarlett talks about how Tella is her one reason for living, yet you barely get a back story on the two of them.  Nothing that would make you think their bond is amazing.  Tella is barely in the book.  The male characters make very little sense, and their plot lines are all over the place.  The love triangle is silly.  And Caraval itself?  You learn so little about the actual game, and you don't get a good picture in your head of what it even looks like.  Scarlett spends as much time in the hotel in her room as anywhere else.

Sigh.  Ah well. It is a really easy read.  If you are looking for true fluff with very little depth, then this book will be for you.  I had originally put that I will be reading the second book this summer, but I will not.  I am glad I only borrowed it from the library and didn't buy it.

Stars: 2

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Read The World - East Timor - East Timor, A Nation's Bitter Dawn

Book: East Timore, A Nation's Bitter Dawn
Author: Irena Cristalis
Pages: 384
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 83rd book for the year.

I am going to be slowing down my reading.  I am actually proud of myself for finishing this one because I can hardly concentrate while I get ready for our trip back to the United States for the summer.  We leave in a few days, and I am just trying to wrap my head around packing for 6 weeks.

Due to my lack of brain power, here is google's review for this book:

"Few new nations have endured a birth as traumatic as that endured by Asia's youngest country, East Timor. Born amid the flames, pillage and mayhem that surrounded Indonesia 's reluctant withdrawal in 1999, it has been struggling for years to rebuild itself from the ashes. The author, one of a handful of journalists to refuse to be evacuated during the nightmarish Indonesian withdrawl, stayed on to report East Timor to the world, and to keep faith with the East Timorese whose story she wanted to tell.Her book is a vivid first-hand account of the lives of individual Timorese during the long decades of Indonesia 's repressive occupation, their often heroic struggle for freedom, and their efforts to cope with the dramatic historic shifts engulfing them and their endeavours to rebuild their homeland.
Based on years of research, and lengthy interviews with East Timor 's leaders, priests, nuns, students and guerrilla fighters, this moving and extremely readable book is at the same time also an exploration of the complexities of the country's internal politics."

I liked the book.  It is a little dry, but overall pretty well told.  It took a bit to get into it, but the stories of the victims were gripping.  I am glad I read it.

Sorry for the short review.  Just too much going on!

Stars: 3 1/2

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Top TenTuesdays - Book Characters

Top Ten Tuesdays was developed by The Artsy Reader.  Check out her blog and join in the fun!

This week's list is "Book Characters"  No topic - just whatever you want to say about them.

I will list some here that are my top favorite characters.  They are in no particular order.

1. Katniss Everdeen
        - Book: Hunger Games
        - I am not ashamed that I am a fan of Katniss.  She is the kind of heroine I would like to be - smart, skilled, and a little bit mouthy.  An unlikely hero who just wanted to save her sister, and who you forget is only a teenager when all of this goes down.

2. Hermonie Granger
        - Book: Harry Potter
        - Another brainy, skilled heroine.  I would love to have Hermonie's brains, and magic abilities.  For sure.  Although, at my age, I would use those magic abilities to transport me on vacation, and do laundry and dishes for me.  Lame.

3. Tyrion Lannister
         - Book: Game of Thrones
         - I love me some smart alleck characters.  The whittier, the better.  I love sarcasm, dry humor, and smarts - and Tyrion is all three.  He had some of the best lines in the books and on the show.

4. Juliette
        - Book: Wool
        - I am starting to see a theme.  Another smart, capable, wise cracking heroine added to the list.  Juliette was a skilled mechanic just doing her thing when she is selected to be the sheriff of her whole silo.  And in putting her in that position, she brings down a whole, corrupt system.  Boom.

5. Louisa Clark
        - Book: Me Before You
        - I love Louisa.  She is everything I wish I COULD be.  Comfortable in her skin, and just a joyful person.  I love how easy she makes "being yourself" look, and how she turns Will's life upside down just by being a caring, genuine person.

6. Marie-Laure LeBlanc
        - Book: All The Light We Cannot See
        - Marie-Laure is blind.  Just like my daughter.  I watch my daughter struggle with certain aspects of her life, BUT I also see how amazing she is.  How strong and confident without having full use of her eyes.  What I take for granted every day.  Marie-Laure was a blind girl during the war who worked to get messages our in secret.  Amazing.

7. Jasmine Bashara
        - Book: Artemis
        - Ah, we are back to the witty, snarky, smart female protagonis.  Andy Weir is BRILLIANT, so of course he writes brillian characters.  I would LOVE a follow up to this book.

8. Pino Lella
        - Book: Beneath The Scarlet Sky
        - I know that Pino is a real person, but I threw him in anyway.  Because this was BASED on his story - it wasn't a biography.  Pino was a young, Italian man who risked his life in two ways.  1) by obtaining information when he was a driver for a Nazi who was right under Hitler.  and 2) by sneaking Jewish people over the Alps into Switzerland.  Over and over again.  Incredible.  I cannot wait to see the movie.

9. Aibileen Clark
         - Book: The Help
         - Aibileen is incredible.  She doesn't have the "snark" that Mini does, but she is a powerful woman in a town that wants nothing to do with her.  I love that she gets to a point when she believes in herself enough to leave a bad situation and go out and become a writer like she always dreamed.

10. Mark Watney
        - Book: The Martian
        - Okay - if you haven't read this book - you have to.  It is one of my favorites and Mark Watney in the book will leave you in tears from laughing so hard.  He is hysterical, and sarcastic, and brilliant.  The whole book is smart, but Watney's character is spot on.  I have seen, and loved, the movie, but the book explores so much more of Watney's chracter, that you must read it.

So what are your favorite characters?

Sunday, June 30, 2019

June in Review

Today is my 44th birthday!  I am not sure how I feel saying that out loud.  I don't FEEL 44.....most days. 

Another month has come and gone.  We leave tomorrow for a 6 week trip to the United States to visit family for the summer.  I am sure my reading will slow down while we are gone - too much visiting (and eating) to do.

I read/listened to 14 books in the month of June.  It was a pretty good reading month, considering the weather changed for the better and I was spending more time doing other things.

This month's books were the following:  (if you click on the name it will take you to the review)

Sugar Money (Martinique)

Traitor Born (Extra book - off challenge)

Earth Weeps, Saturn Laughs (Oman)

Homegoing (Ghana)

Chronicle in Stone (Albania)

The First Wife (Mozambique)

This Voice In My Heart (Burundi)

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed (Rwanda)

Fire and Blood (Extra book - off challenge)

The House At Sugar Beach (Liberia)

The Physics of Sorrow (Bulgaria)

Like A River From Its Course (Ukraine)

East Timor - Bitter Dawn (East Timor) - review later this week

Caraval (Extra book - off challenge) - review later this week

The top 5 books of this month were:

Fire and Blood
Traitor Born
Sugar Money
The Voice In My Heart
The House At Sugar Beach

The Bottom Reads were:

Caraval (sorry to whomever liked this one)
Earth Weeps, Saturn Laughs
East Timor - Bitter Dawn
The Physics of Sorrow

What were your favorites this past month?  Least favorites?