Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, December 6, 2019

Read The World - Turkey - 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds In This Strange World

Book: 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds In This Strange World
Author: Elif Shafak
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: YES (but just briefly)

This was my 153rd read for the year.
This was also the last book I completed in November!

This is the story of Leila.  She has just been murdered, and for 10 minutes and 38 seconds, her brain remains active.  In those 10 minutes, she recalls her life and the lives of her friends while she hopes to at least be found and given a proper burial.  We are taken from birth through death and learn where she came from, and how she came to be where she is now.

Half of this book was pretty good.  The other half was just okay.  During the first half of the book, I am intrigued to learn about Leila's life, and that of her friends and family.  As the minutes tick by, each chapter gives us another picture into who she was and how her life was shaped.  But after the 10 minutes are up, the second half of the book isn't as interesting, in my opinion.  It drags on as her friends try to give Leila some peace.  I think the idea was a good one, but it didn't need to be half the book.  I think this would have been a better read - for me - if the reflections during the 10 minutes would have been just about the entire story.

Again - this is just my opinion, and I think the idea of this book is a great one.  I really did enjoy the premise of what might go through one's mine in the minutes after the heart has stopped, but the brain hasn't.  

Stars: 3 1/2- 4

There is a great quote in this book that I wanted to save and share

"Childhood is a big, blue wave that lifts you up, carries you forth and just when you thought it woudllast forever - vanishes from sight.  You can neither run after it nor bring it back.  But the wave, before it disappears, leave a conch shell on the shore.  Inside the seashell is stored all the sounds of childhood."

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Read The World - Puerto Rico - Stories From Puerto Rico

Book: Stories From Puerto Rico
Author: Robert L. Muckley/Adela Martinez-Santiago
Pages: 192
Book Takes Place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 152nd book for the year

This is a collection of short stories and legends of Puerto Rico.  There are 18 stories in all - each only a few pages long.  The stories are short, but they are entertaining and easy to understand.  I love legend stories from these different countries.  I have found a few of these books for my Read The World challenge, and I think they make an excellent addition to the shelf.

This book is only half in English and the other half is in Spanish.  If you are learning Spanish, it would be a good side by side book in order to practice.  So it is less than 100 pages of one language of reading - something you can easily tackle in a few hours.   Check this one out.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Extra Book - The Babysitters Club Boy Crazy Stacey

Book: The Babysitters Club Boy Crazy Stacey
Author: Ann. M Martin
Pages: 176

This is my 151st book of the year

This is a book that I read with my youngest children.  They love the new graphic novel versions of this classic series.

Stacey and Mary Anne are invited to go along with the large Pike family on a beach vacation.  They will be babysitting and helping with the children to give the Pike's parents a break.  The girls are excited for a chance to spend 2 weeks on the beach and earn summer money at the same time.

The vacation starts off well, but soon Stacey starts to fall for a lifeguard she meets at the beach.  It starts to interfere with her babysitting duties which upsets Mary Anne.  No matter how many warnings Mary Anne gives Stacey, she just can't seem to stay away.  

This is a cute story.  My kids chuckles at Stacey's antics.  The graphic novel style of the novel gives life to the story and allows them to see what was going on - not just imagine it in their minds.  It is a quick read, and fun as well.  We have enjoyed all the books in this series and are hoping there are more to come.

Stars: 4 1/2

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Read The World - Belgium - A Tall Man In A Low Land

Book: A Tall Man In A Low Land
Author: Harry Pearson
Pages: 256
Book takes place in the country: YES
The author is from the country: NO
I have visited: YES

This is my 150th read for the year.


Yes - I have visited Belgium, although it was a brief stay.  We were just passing through on the way to and from The Netherlands.  We had planned a full weekend visit last December, but my daughter decided that she needed to have her appendix out instead, and the trip had to be canceled.  We are hoping to visit again in the near future.

This is the story of the author's own visit to Belgium in the late 1990s.  He and his wife and young daughter spent many months in Belgium - traveling all over the country visiting as many cities as they could.  He gives a recount of Belgium history, and speaks to many of the locals about their customs and cultures.  

This was a pretty good book.  It has a few funny parts, but I think it would have been funnier if I would have been 1) English and 2) up on English pop culture references of the 1990s.  So some of the humor was lost on me.  However - this did not really deter from the book - I enjoyed learning a lot about the different cities in Belgium and the history of Belgium as well.  It was a good find for my Read The World Challenge.  If you are planning on visiting Belgium, I would put this book on your list.

Stars: 4

Monday, December 2, 2019

November In Review

December has arrived!  This is my favorite month of the year.  I love the holidays, and we have been enjoying them even more now that we live in Europe.  The Christmas Markets here are fantastic.  I never tire of walking around the booths and eating the delicious food.  It is magical.

In the month of November I read 19 books - wow!!  I didn't have a chance to review them all yet, so some of those reviews will be coming in December.  It was a good reading month.  I had a few short books in there, so that helped.  Plus with the weather turning colder, and now my youngest daughter not needing me to pick her up from school any more (she can come home alone now), I have more time to read.  It is great!  Independence for her and for me.

I tried to read several nonfiction for the #nonfictionnovember challenge I was doing on Instagram.  I read 11 books for my Read The World Challenge, and 8 were extras.  More extras than I should have read, but some of those are books I read with my kids, so that doesn't really count.  I am going to work hard on my Read The World Challenge this coming month so that I get even closer to having that goal completed by the end of the year.

Here are the books I read.  Click on the title of the book and it will take you to the review (if I did one).

When Life Gives You Pears (Extra Book)

The Nomads, My Brothers, Go Out and Drink from the Big Dipper (country - Djibouti)

The Institute (Extra Book)

Mission to Kala (country - Cameroon)

Part Of Your World (Extra Book)

Cadence of the Moon (Costa Rica)

Call The Midwife (Extra Book)

The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw (country - Belize)

Beyond The Sky And Earth (country - Bhutan)

Dora Flor and Her Two Husbands (country - Brazil)

The Girl With The Hazel Eyes (country - Barbados)

Shadows Of The Workhouse (Extra Book)

Just Jaime (Extra Book)

Blood of Montenegro (country - Montenegro)

The Toll (Extra Book)

A Tall Man In A  Low Land (review coming soon) - country - Belgium

The Baby Sitters Club - Boy Crazy Stacey (review coming soon) - Extra Book

Stories From Puerto Rico (review coming soon) country - Puerto Rico

10 Minutes, 38 Seconds In This Strange World (review coming soon) country - Turkey

My top 5 books for this month where:

Call The Midwife
The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw
The Toll
When Life Gives You Pears
Beyond The Sky And Earth

The Bottom of the Pile where

Blood of Montenegro
The Girl With The Hazel Eyes
Cadence of the Moon

How was your reading month?

Friday, November 29, 2019

Extra Read: The Toll

Book: The Toll
Author: Neal Shusterman
Pages: 640

This is my 149th read for the year

I did put down my Read The World Challenge to work my way through this massive book.  I have been anticipating it for months - the 3rd in a fabulous trilogy - that I decided it deserved my full attention.

Endura has fallen.  Citra and Rowan are missing.  Scythe Curie has sacraficed herself, and Goddard is not in charge.  The Thunderhead has gone silent and everyone declared unsavory.  Goddard needs to be stopped, but by whom?  

I don't want to give anything away in this book because I know that many people have been waiting for this book.  It is a large book, and characters from all different directions are coming together to try and resolve what has happened.  Trying to rectify what has happened to Endura.  Getting the Thunderhead to talk to them again.  Figuring out where to go next and what role the Scythes should have moving forward.

The ending was a bit of a let down, but I think it was only because I was hoping for more.  He did wrap it up, and we know what is happening when he ends the book, but I wished for more none the less.  I am mostly just sad that this series is over because it has been awhile since I have found a good trilogy to be excited about.

Stars: 4

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Read The World - Montenegro - Blood of Montenegro

Book: Blood of Montenegro
Author: Bajram Angelo Koljenovic
Pages: 361
Book Takes Place in the Country: YES (but just about 50%)
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 148th read of the year

This is the story of the author and three generations of the Koljenovic family.  Intermixed with the author's personal story is history of Montenegro, the Bulkans and Yugoslavia.  The authro expresses his feelings of communist rule, and his quest to escape it.  He speaks of the blood feud that was going on on Montenegro in the mid 20th century.  

This was an okay book.  The story was kind of all over the place, and at times, I found it a bit bland.  There was some really good parts that kept me reading, but overall, it wasn't a great book.  And it only takes place 50% of the book in Montenegro.  I was hoping for more.  I did learn a bit about the country and the wars that went on in the 20th century, so I will hold onto this one for now.

Stars: 3

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Extra Book: Just Jaime

Book: Just Jaime
Author: Terri Libenson
Pages: 256

This is my 147th read of the year.

I read this one with my two youngest children.  We are big fans of Terri Libenson's books and her twist endings..

This is the story of Jaime and her best friend Maya.  It is the end of 7th grade for both girls, and Jaime senses something is wrong.  But she doesn't know what.  Maya has something she needs to tell Jaime, but she is having trouble getting the courage to do so.  When Maya finally confesses her secret, it sends Jaime and Maya on a new path that neither expected.  Maya and Jaime learn what true friendship is all about and how being true to yourself makes all the difference

This was another great installment in the Terri Libenson books.  These are graphic novels which are big hits with the kids, and a fun way to tell a story.  The stories are funny, enlightening, and always have an ending you don't see coming.  This ending wasn't nearly as surprising as the other books of hers we have read, but it didn't take away from the story.  

Great story.  Glad we found these books and my kids like them.

Stars: 4 1/2

Monday, November 25, 2019

Extra Book - Shadows of The Workhouse

Book: Shadows Of The Workhouse
Author: Jennifer Worth
Pages: 294

This is my 146th read for the year.

This is the second book in the Call The Midwife series that I bought.  I love the Call the Midwife books, and saw she wrote four books total, so I got them all.

This one is about the Workhouses that were in all over England in the 19th century.  Jenny - the author - recalls the people she spoke to who shared their stories of what it was like to grow up or work in these places.  From Jane - the quiet woman who works at Nonnartus house that can never make decisions.  To Frank - her brother who rescued her from the workhouse once he had enough money to support her.  Intermingeled in here is the story of Sister Monica Joan and her court trail when she is accused of stealing jewels.  And also Mr. Collett who is a patient of Jenny's that she grows to admire as she cares for him.  (all of these stories were a part of the TV series).

This book wasn't as good as the first, but I think it is becuase I just wasn't as interested in these stories as I was the midwife ones.  It was still wonderfully written, and I did learn quite a bit about the workhouse life while reading this book.  But it won't be my favorite among the pile.

Stars: 3 1/2

Friday, November 22, 2019

Read The World - Barbados - The Girl With The Hazel Eyes

Book: The Girl With The Hazel Eyes
Author: Callie Browning
Pages: 253
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 145th book for the year.

I have been to the Caribbean - a few times.  But Barbados is not an island I have had the pleasure to explore yet.  I look forward to a return trip and adding it to my itinerary.

Susan Taylor is a recluse author who had to leave Barbados for the United States after she writes a novel that is a whistle blower on people running the new Barbados government in the 1960s.  After 50 years, she thinks it is time to write her memoirs, so she hires a girl named Cordelia from Barbados to pen it for her.  Cordelia agrees because she needs the money, so she flies to Susan's house in Florida to spend the next few months listening to Susan's life story.  Susan has a tough skin and is off putting to Cordelia when they first meet.  But over time, Susan softens, and Cordelia begins to enjoy their sessions together.  As the story of Susan's life unravels, secrets are revealed, and Cordelia finds that she has more qusetions than answers.  She is bound to get to the bottom of who Susan really is before she writes this book.

This book was.....fine.  I didn't hate it but I didn't love it.  It isn't well written.  The characters are not really likable.  The ending felt very rushed - the "surprise" not all that surprising.  It was a short book, and I wonder if the author would have taken more time to develop the characters if it would have flowed better and been a better read.

I will keep it my Barbados book for now, but may be on the lookout for another in the future.

Stars: 3

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Read The World - Brazil - Dora Flor And Her Two Husbands

Book: Dora Flor And Her Two Husbands
Author: Jorge Amado
Pages: 776

This is my 144th read for the year

This is the story of Dona Flor.  Her husband, Vadinho, has just died.  According to everyone around him - he was a gambling, good for nothing, and no one was surprised to see him go.  After his death, Dona throws herself into her work and her life around her.  Soon - she is being encouraged to remarry.  She meets a pharmacist who is everyting Vadinho wasn't and soon they are married.  However - after their marrige, she finds herself dreaming of Vadinho.  Her new husband doesn't have Vadinho's passions, and soon his ghost returns to her to bring excitement back to her life.

This book was really hard to read.  I am not a huge fan of magical realism, yet I keep finding these books regardless.  I trudged through it, but it took forever for me to get into it and finish it.  It was a bit of a chore to read.  The second half was better thant the first, so I am glad I stuck with it.  But a book that takes 300 pages to get me interested isn't something I would recommend.

Stars: 3

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Read The World - Bhutan - Beyond The Sky And The Earth

Book: Beyond The Sky And The Earth
Author: Jamie Zeppa
Pages: 320
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO - (but she lives there part time)
I have visited: NO

This is my 143rd read for the year

Just for the record - I do not read a book a day.  Sometimes I get a few short books in a row and that catches me up to where I am blogging a book a day.  But not reading that quickly.  I stick to about 100 pages a day in the main book I am reading (sometimes I have time for a little more, but often not).  I read more than one at a time.  My 2nd book I usually read 25 pages a day (but may read a little more if I can't help myself).  I listen to audiobooks while I shop.  I still read to my kids.  I don't blog on the weekends.  All of these catch me up on the blog quickly.

This is the story of the author's time living in Bhutan.  In the 1980s, Jamie took a leap of faith and left the comforts of home in Canada - along with a fiance - and decided to take a teaching job in Bhutan. For two years.  She would be home only once a year during that time, but she felt she needed to explore and try this.

At first, Jamie was very homesick.  Within a few weeks, she felt she had made the biggest mistake of her life, and was going to try and return to Canada.  She was living basically in squalor in a third world country, and it was more than she bargained for.

What she didn't see coming was the help she received not only from the other expat teachers that befriended her, but the Bhutan people themselves.  Some of her students taught her how to cook on her propane stove so she would stop eating just biscuts.  Her students would come to her house at all hours around school - wanting to help, wanting to keep her company, and soon Jaime began to feel at home.  She opened up her eyes to the beauty of the country around her and realized there was no where else on earth she wanted to be.

I really liked this book.  It is very well written and an intriguing read.  I am always impressed with the teachers who take the leap to teach English in these very remote, third world areas, and fall in love with not only the area, but the people.  I have read several of these stories for this challenge, and each one has been better than the last.  I love to watch how real they explain the situation from the beginning - explaining exactly what it was like for them and how out of their depth they felt.  

We moved to Switzerland two and a half years ago on a leap of faith.  It was the biggest decision we have ever made for our family and we felt out of our depth for awhile living here.  And this is one of the richest countries on the planet.  We still struggle being outsiders here - I cannot imagine how it felt in a place like Bhutan.

Great read.  Highly recommend.  Glad I found this book.

Stars: 4 1/2

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesdays - Changes In My Reading Life

Top Ten Tuesdays was started by The Artsy Reader.  You can visit her blog and join in the fun!

This weeks' Top Ten is:

Changes In My Reading Life

This one is pretty easy for me, but I probably cannot come up with ten.

1) Reading Challenges.

      In 2015 I was in a rut in my reading life.  I was sticking to reading just a few books here and there.  And I was stuck on the same genre - dystopian.  I had always been a reader, but life had gotten busy and I was not devoting a lot of time to reading.  That all changed when a friend of mine introduced me to reading challenges.  We did them together for a few years and it changed my whole outlook on reading.  I was in sections of the library I had never visited before.  I read things that I would never had glanced at before.  And in doing these challenges, I realized how many great books I was missing out on.

2) Changings My Genre choices

     This goes pretty well with the Reading Challenges.  This forced me out of dystopian and into so many other things.  I have always loved history, but hadn't read many history books.  I found a new love for non-fiction and historical fiction.   I found many genres that I enjoyed.

3) Figuring out what Genres I really don't like

     As I figured out the Genres I did enjoy with my Reading Challenges,  I quickly found what I didn't like.  Mostly it revolves around romance novels.  I keep trying them, hoping that I will find one that really hits me.  But I really haven't.  I also struggle a bit with the classics.  Is that a Genre?  Maybe not.  But I like them and don't love them.  Glad I read them, but struggled with them.

4) Reading Pace has changed

     I used to read maybe 5-10 books a year.  My first reading challenge I changed that to 50.  And then I reached for 75.  Then 100.  This year I have read 145 books so far - my biggest reading year.  I am not trying to outpace myself each year.  I could go back to reading 50 books and be just as happy.  But I WANT to read this much.  I enjoy reading 100+ pages of a book a day. Or reading 2 books at a time.  Adding audiobooks when I run my errands.

5) Finding A Love For Stand Alone Novels

      Before 2015, I read mostly trilogies.  I hated to see a story end after one book.  I figured stand alone novels would never give me the satisfaction that a story with multiple books and developing characters did.  But I was wrong.  Now I hardly ever read trilogies.  I still love them, don't get me wrong.  But I find that I don't need them to get the satisfaction out of a story.

6) Traveling The World made easier

        We moved 2 1/2 years ago to Switzerland from the United States.  It as the biggest move we have ever made, and we are still very much out of our comfort zone.  But this move has provided for us many opportunities to travel throughout Europe and Asia, and I am forever grateful.  We have visited more countries and cities in these last two years than we have in the last 10.  I could live 1000 lifetimes and never see all the places I would like to see.  So that got me thinking.  If I "Read The World" - I could read about all kinds of countries that I may never have a chance to visit.  And it has been the best challenge I have ever done.  Truly.  There are 202 countries on our planet, and I have learned so much about over half of them so far.  I have read books - again - I would have never even looked at in the past.  There are so many amazing places on this planet, and I am loving learning about all of them.

7) Meeting Other Avid Readers

    Who knew there were so many people who devoured books out there?  I had no idea because it isn't really in my inner circle - people who read like I do.  But those people exist.  And with the power of blogging and instagram, I have found 100s of them.  And so many young people that love to read!  It is empowering and wonderful and gives me hope for the future.  That there are still so many people out there who love literature.

I think that is about it.  What about you?  What changes have you made to your reading life?