Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Multiple Reads Makes Life Interesting

Sometimes I have a few books going at the same time. I am doing a heavy Read The World reading challenge, so sometimes I have a few books on the side that I pick up for a change of pace. How many do you usually have going? Right now - my number is 4. BUT - before I get negative comments, here is the breakdown. (I will use the books in the picture as an example)



Main Book: "The First Wife" - this book is my main reading challenge book at this time. This is the book that gets the most attention at 100 pages a day, if I can manage it

Audio Book: "I Wish To Inform You" - this book is part of my reading challenge as well right now, but it is what I listen to on my daily tram (public transportation) trips and when I do yard work. I use this book for when I cannot have an actual book in hand, but want to still continue with my challenge.

Kids Book: "A Whole New World" I still read to two of my children each night. We read one chapter of a book together before bed. This book is a spin on Disney's Aladdin (where he didn't get the lamp) They are dark fairy tales, and the kids and I are really loving it (my two are 13 and 12 - just for reference - this isn't for little ones)

Fun Book: "Fire and Blood" Okay - this one needs another name because "fun" isn't always what I would call my choices. BUT - this is a book OFF challenge. Like I said, it is a heavy challenge, so I decided that each night before bed, when I can, I would read 25 pages of a book that had nothing to do with said challenge. Right now I am reading Martin's Fire and Blood (Game of Thrones is my favorite book series) and it is AMAZING.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Read The World - Albania - Chronicle in Stone

Book: Chronicle In Stone
Author: Ismail Kadare
Pages: 320
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO


This is my 75th book of the year.  

I have been slowing down a bit.  It is hard to keep my head in a book when the weather outside is so beautiful.  I have been spending a lot of hours in the garden, or just taking walks.  I have been trying to pick up a few audio books to fill in that time, but not many of the books on this challenge are available in that form.  They are a bit too rare for that.


This book takes place in Gjirokaster a stone town not far from the Greek border.  This story is told from the point of view of a young boy.  WWII is going on, and he is surrounded by a situation he does not fully understand.  There is a pull between the Italians and the Greeks invading the country - sometimes one day after the other, and the people of this small town in Albania can't catch a break.

This young muslim boy starts to pay more attention to the town around him.  He speaks of the people in his town who do not look kindly on those who are "different".  There is a hermaphrodite that is killed because he dared fall in love.  There is a girl that disappears when she is discovered with a boy she likes.  And a lesbian who is banned from the town based on just that.

The book reveals how tradition, culture, and outside forces can come to destroy a town that does not do well with change.  Beyond the devestation of the war and bombings, many people in the town felt the world was always coming to an end.  Their fantastical beliefs and superstitions cause as many problems as the war does.

This was a pretty good book.  It is written in a style that requires you to really pay attention.  The author does a good job telling the story from the eyes of a child, and I think it is overall well written.  The old ladies in this town do believe that the world is constantly ending - whether it be the war and bombings or the towns people that don't quite fit into their tiny mold.

I am glad I read it.  I understand that this small town is a UNESCO site, so I think I will put it on my list to visit someday.

Stars: 4


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Unpopular Bookish Opinions

These Top Ten Tuesday post come from the blogger - The Artsy Reader.  Check out her blog and participate each Tuesday in this fun game.

Today's Topic: Unpopular Bookish Opinions

Now, I might be misunderstanding what this means, so I am going with - books that might be popular that I didn't particularly like.  She might be thinking of something else, but she didn't say.  So.....there you are.

These are 10 books that people tend to rate highly that I didn't love.  I didn't necessarily HATE them, but they won't be making my favorite's list.  I am sure some of you will have something to say about this list, but to each their own, right?  There are so many books that I love that people don't like. 

1. 1984
        - starting out strong right out of the gate.  1984 - I just could not get into it.  I read it a few years ago, and it just was.....okay.  Although, I am thinking with the current state of the United States, I should pull it back out and try it again.  Or maybe it would hit too close to home. 
        - if you want to read my review you can find that HERE



2. Beartown/Us Against You
          - I love Backman's books.  Love them.  All......except these two.  Beartown I liked better than Us Against You, but not by much.  Why did I read the follow up book you ask?  I was kind of hoping that maybe the continuation of the story would bring it around for me.  It did not. 
        - looking back at my blog, I gave Beartown a higher rating than I should have considering.  You can find that review HERE
        - Us Against You - went downhill.  The book just wasn't good (to me).  Very disappointing.  You can read my review HERE




3. Crazy Rich Asians
       - this one is widely popular, and I gave in and decided to read it.  I could not have rolled my eyes more as I read this book.  Over the top, unrealistic, and just silly are my takes on this novel.  I did watch the movie, and I found that slightly better.  I won't be reading any more books in this series.
       - if you want to read my review - go HERE



4. Educated
      - This one I almost didn't put on the list.  But I did struggle with it and let me tell you why.  I felt like she wrote it too soon.  Meaning - if she would have waited a few more years - distanced herself from her childhood a little more - she could have written the book a bit better.  Had a better long range perspective.  I found the book poorly written, even though the story itself was intriguing.  She didn't have all of her thoughts collected, in my opinion, to write the novel and have it flow well.
      - if you want to read my review - it is HERE



5. The Girl on the Train
       - I am feeling pretty confident that I am not alone with this choice.  I have a feeling that there are a few people out there that disliked this book as much as I did.  This book was a train wreck.  (see what I did there?)  I hated the main character.  I hated most of the characters. The writing wasn't great.  Just overall a book I wish I would have skipped.
       - if you want to read my review - it is HERE



6. Where the Crawdad's Sing
         - Please don't stop reading my blog because I didn't like this book.  I tried to like it.  Honest.  I didn't HATE it.  I don't hate many books.  (because if you took the time to write something and get it published, I think you deserve some credit).  But this one was low on my list and below my expectations considering how popular it is.  The writing was....fine.  The characters fell flat.  The storline was all over the place.  The love story didn't draw me in.  It felt a little unrealistic.  Those are my big problems with it.
          - if you want to read my review - it is HERE



7. Outlander
             - if I didn't lose you with the last book, I probably will lose some people with this announcement.  Didn't like Outlander.  I only read the first book and even that was a struggle.  It wasn't the size.  It was the book itself.  It has been more than 5 years ago that I read this book, so I don't have it as a review on my blog.  But I have had no desire to go back and try it again.  My husband loves the TV show, but I haven't even been able to get into that.  It just isn't for me.



8. The Shack
        - This one I read because everyone else was reading it.  Gave in to the pressure of wanting to see what the fuss was all about.  I should have left it alone.  It was cheesy and it shouldn't have been.  The story was hard to read.  I felt the book was rambly and I could not get invested.
       - if you want to read my review - it is HERE



9. The Great Gatsby
        - I can tell you that my sister in law is going to stop talking to me after mentioning 1984 and The Great Gatsby in this list. (She is an English Teacher) I am not making friends today.  At all.
       - It wasn't terrible.  Gatsby was so shallow I couldn't really develop any feelings for him.  I did watch the movie and it helped a little, but not much.  But I read this classic.  And it is done.
        - if you want to read my review - it is HERE




10. Crime and Punishment
             - Last one!  This book was BORING.  It was long and complicated and I didn't like any of the characters.  I felt like I needed to take a shower after each time I put this book down because the main character was so dirty and sickly the entire book.  Now - in the books defense, I did read it while I was trying to move to Switzerland, so it COULD have been the timing.  My mind was in about a million different places. Maybe some day I will read it again.  Maybe not.
           - if you want to read my review - it is HERE









Saturday, June 8, 2019

Read The World - Ghana - Homegoing

Book: Homegoing
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Pages: 320
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO


This is my 74th book for the year.  I listened to this one.  


This book covers several generations of a family from Ghana.  It starts with two half sisters named Effia and Esi.  They are born in different villages and their lives take completely different paths.  Effia marris an Englishman and lives in a castle.  Esi is improisoned under the castle in the dungeons and then is sent to America to work as a slave.  Effia's family expands and grows in Ghana and Esi - her children and grandchildren into America where they spend generations as slaves.  

In Ghana, the Fante and Asante nations fight against British Rule.  Esi's family works through the Civil War, the Great Migration, and then through coal mines and jazz clubs.  Both families are followed through present day and moves at a record speed through the several hundred years of this family's growth and change.  8 generations in all - it spans the ocean between America and Ghana, ending in Africa with the latest decendents of these women.  It covers wars, slavery, drug use, and family struggles in 300 pages.  It is a heartbreaking story that is both beautiful and disturbing.

I liked this book.  I think it was pretty well written - considering the author is only 26 years old.  It did have a bit of an unfinished sense, just because she flew through 8 generations in a short....ish novel.  I don't often say this, but I felt it could be longer to develop the characters a little more, and to give me a feeling of connecting with them on a deeper level.

Overall, listening to the story from the 1700s to present day was fascinating.  I like stories that span generations so we can see where they started and how the tree branches grow.  How two very different paths lead to two very different outcomes.  

I would encourage you to try this one.  You will learn a lot about African history and American slavery that you might not have learned otherwise.

Stars:  4




Friday, June 7, 2019

Read The World - Oman - Earth Weeps, Saturn Laughs

Book: Earth Weeps, Saturn Laughs
Author: Abdulaziz Al Farsi
Pages: 240
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO


This is my 73rd read for the year


This story starts with Kahlid Bakhit who has returned to his home village after being in the city.  He is returning after a break up from a woman he truly loved. His return happens when the village is looking for a shift in leadership.  Old leaders are about the be forced out.

In the meantime, Kahlid as met a Saturine poet who stumbled upon the village whlie writing an ode.  This poet becomes Kahlid's closest friend and opens him to seeing himself in a new way.

Each chapter in the book in told from a different villager's point of view, but there is one central theme - the village is in trouble.   Everyone is spouting ideas of how the village should be run and alliances are being formed.  The villagers seem to have too much time on their hands and use it to pit one against the other.

This book was fine.  I felt that there were way too many points of view to find it easy to follow.  I wasn't able to get attached to any of the characters, and just got really lost in who belonged to whom, and who was pitting against whom.....it just didn't flow well.

We will see if I keep this book.  I may search for another.

Stars: 2 1/2




Thursday, June 6, 2019

Extra Read - Traitor Born

Book: Traitor Born
Author: Amy Bartol
Pages: 309


This is my 73rd read of the year.

I read Second Born (the first book) a bit ago, and really liked it.  It is part of a Dystopian Trilogy, and I was excited to read the second one as my "break from Reading Challenge" book.

Secondborn Roselle has been put in a position to overthrow her mother.  The leaders of the Fates and the leaders of the rebellion have reached out to Roselle to join them.  A plot is being devised to get rid of the caste system and this is sometime Secondborn Roselle would like to see happen.  Overthrowing her mother, though, would also mean killing her brother Gabrille, and that is not something Roselle is poised to do.

In the meantime, 3, first born males are finding themselves falling in love with Roselle.  This is against the rules, so they keep their desires for her a secret from the Fates.  However, all three are determined to protect her no matter what.  Roselle, who can handle herself,finds herself persued not only by potential suitors, but by assassins that are sent by her mother who wants her dead.

Constantly in fear for her life, Roselle is hidden in the palace of the leader of all the Fates.  However, during the second born trials, Roselle and all of her friends and protectors are put in immediate danger when her mother and her followers attack innocent members of the Fates.  Roselle is torn apart by the attack and is faced with death herself at the hands of someone she trusted.

This was a pretty good book.  It may be my age, but I did quite a few eye rolls at the constant suitors for Roselle.  The book seemed to be torn between making her a strong female fighter and a damsel in distress.  It got a little old after awhile.  And Roselle was confusing in herself because each time one of these boys showed interest in her, she was immediately taken by them.  It was distracting from what I felt should be the central focus of the story - the war and the rebellion.  Instead, this book was more love story.

IT was fine.  I will read the 3rd one because I want to see how it ends.  While there are great battle scenes, I could have done without all the love triangles (or whatever you call it with 4 people).  It just got silly.

Stars: 3 1/2

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Read The World - Martinique - Sugar Money

Book: Sugar Money
Author: Jane Harris
Pages: 400
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO


This is my 72nd read for the year and my first read for the month of June.  

I did listen to this book on the very long ride to and from Amsterdam, and it really passed the time


This book takes place in 1765 in Martinique.  Two slaves named Emile and Lucien are sent on a mission by their masters (who are French monks).  The monks run hospitals, and they are funded by farming cane sugar and distilling rum.  Emile and Lucien are charged with finding the monk's former slaves and convincing them to flee the British and come and work on the cane farm.

The mission is suicide and the boys take chances of getting caught. The story is told by Lucien who is a young boy who is trying to be brave.  He is an adult when he tells the story and recounts and the fear and misconception of the mission he and Emile are entrusted to.  When tragedy strikes, Lucien has to figure out how to go on and make decisions for his own life.

This is a good book.  I enjoyed listening to it.  The story is riveting and is based on true events.  It was hard to listen to slaves agreeing to be slaves for someone else - hoping that their lives would improve.....but yet still be slaves.  I had to keep reminding myself that this book took place in the 1700s because it was truly hard to believe.

I encourage you to read this one.  It is a good one to add to the shelf.

Stars: 4




Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Books From My Favorite Genre

Top Ten Tuesdays - by The Artsy Reader - is a fun little game to play.  This week is to name 10 top books from your favorite Genre.

My favorite genre is Dystopian Future.  So here are some of my favorite reads:

The Stand

 - yes, I have listed this one before.  Several times.  But it remains a favorite book of mine, and happens to be Dystopian, so I am going with it.  I have seen the mini series, and I hear there is talk of it being remade, which would be amazing.

- A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly super flu that wipes out most of the population within a few weeks.  Those who are left are looking for someone to lead them.  One on side is Mother Abigail - a 108 year old woman who urges the people to build a community in Colorado.  The other side is Randall Flagg - who sets up in Las Vegas.  As these two gather followers the survivors have to chose between them, and seal the fate of humanity.



The Hunger Games

 - another past listed book.  Have you read this one?  I am thinking most people have.  I have read it a couple of times, and have seen the movies, and it still remains one of my favorites.

- Panem - the future of North America - has a shining capitol and 12 surrounding districts.  The districts had long ago waged war on the capitol.  And lost.  As part of the loss, the districts must send one boy and one girl into "The Hunger Games" each year to fight to the death.  Only one victor may remain standing.

Katniss takes the place of her little sister in The Hunger Games as a volunteer.  She cannot let her 13 year old sister enter the games.  She and Peeta - the boy from her district - are left in the hands of their mentor, Haymich, (a long time drunk) to keep them alive in the arena.  Katniss and Peeta are from the poorest of the distrcits, and no one usually returns from District 12.  Katniss - an experiences hunter and Peeta - a soft baker's boy, are an unlikely team.  But Katniss is determined to return to her sister and mother alive.



The Testing

- I read this one a few years ago, and loved this trilogy.  It is about a 16 year old girl named Cia. who hopes she is chosen for The Testing which is where the best students become the leaders of the post-war civilization.  After Cia is chosen, her dad tells her what The Testing is really like and warns her to trust no one.



Silo

- I read this one just last year.  It was recommended to me by a friend, and when I found out it was a trilogy, I read all three.  In the future where the air is toxic, people live in an underground Silo.  There are 1000s of them in this society, and they have never gone outside.  Well - that is unless they break the law.  If you break a law and you are found guilty, the punishment is death by going outside.  Our heroine, Juliette, becomes the Sheriff, and she finds out exactly what is going on inside this Silo, and starts to discover the secrets that brought them to their underground world.



Matched

 - this one is a bit older, but still remains one of my favorites.  This trilogy starts in what seems to be a Utopia.  In this society, you are matched with who you will marry, your job is decided for you, as well as your death.  No one gets sick, and everyone lives to exactly the same age.  Cassia is matched with her best friend, but when she goes to look at her matched chip on her computer screen, the face of another boy flashes in front of her.  Her choice has not been made unclear.  Is she supposed to be matched with Xander -whom she has known her whole life, or Ky - the boy whose face appeared out of nowhere? What comes next is Cassia discovering that the world she lives in isn't as perfect as it seems.



Unwind

 - This book takes place after America has a second Civil War.  The Pro-Choice and Pro-Life groups come to an agreement.  Children cannot be touched from conception until the age of 13.  But between the ages of 13-18 a parent may chose to get rid of a child through a process called "Unwinding".  The child's life doesn't "technically" end, but the child is taken for his/her organs to be transplanted into various recipients.  The book follows runaway Unwinds who try to escape the system.



The 5th Wave

- There have been 4 waves of attacks, and the world is down to the last few people alive.  Cassie, is on the run from the aliens who only look human.  When Cassie is injured, a boy named Evan Walker takes her in and heals her.  Cassie thinks he might be her only hope in finding her little brother.  When Cassie finds out that Evan is "one of them" she doesn't know if she can trust him.  But he is dfferent - not like the others who have wiped out billions of people.  Together, they decide to fight back.



Razorland

- New York City has been decimated by war and a plague, and most of civilization has been forced underground where the life expectancy is no more than into the 20s.  Deuce, when she turns 15, becomes a huntress.  She is paired with Fade who actually lived above ground as a boy.  The underground monsters (the Freaks) have been growing stronger, and destroying underground Enclaves.  Duce and Fade try to warn the elders, but they refuse to listen and instead, exile them to Topside.  Now they must learn to survive above ground among a few dangerous gangs.



Penryn and The End of Days

- Angels of the apocolypse have decended onto the earth to demolish it.  When warrior angels fly off with a 17 year old girl, her sister - Penryn - will do anything to get her back.  This includes making a deal with Raffe and injured angel.  They journey to the angels strong hold where Penryn is determined to find her sister and Raffe puts himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies.



Scythe

- another Neil Shusterman series!  This one I just read last year.  There is one more book to come out in this series, and it will be released in November.  I cannot wait.

- In this world there is no war, no disease, no hunger, no misery.  Humanity has conquered it all - including death.  People can live forever, or not.  It is up to the Scythe.  Scythes are commanded to take life to keep population under control.  The Scythes are chosen - sometimes against their will.  Citra and Rowan are chosen, but neither wants it.  They must now master the art of taking a life.


That is my list!  I could go on and on.  What is your favorite genre?








Monday, June 3, 2019

May in Review

Another month has come and gone!  We just returned from a long weekend in The Netherlands and we had such a great time.  I love traveling:

Here is May in Review

This month I finished 17 books.  15 of those books were for my Read The World Challenge.  And then I read two off list.


I have decided I am going to read a book off list in the evenings just to sneak in a few reads on my ever growing TBR list during this challenge.  I limit myself to 25 pages each night before bed of that book, but I think it will satisfy me getting through this long challenge and also not miss a lot of other books I might like to read in the meantime.


Here are the books I finished this month.  If you click on the title, it will take you to the review:

The Kingdom of Roses and Thorns (Swaziland)

The Astonishing Color of After (Taiwan)

Round The Bend (Bahrain)

China Dream (China)

The Year of the Hare (Finland)

The Art of the Swap (Extra)

The Village of Waiting (Togo)

The Last (Extra)

The Whale Reader (New Zealand)

A House for Mr. Biswas (Trinidad and Tobago)

Persepolis (Iran)

The Book of Chameleons (Iran)

Half of a Yellow Sun (Nigeria)

The Ultimate Tragedy (Guinea Bissau)

Jamilia (Kyrgystan)

A Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich (Kazakhstan)

Surviving Paradise (Marshall Islands)

My top 5 favorite books from this month were:

The Astonishing Color of After
The Village of Waiting
Jamilia
Surviving Paradise
Round The Bend

My bottom  books were:

The Kingdom of Roses and Thorns
China Dream
A House for Mr. Biswas



It was a pretty good month!  Summer is slowly creeping in, but hopefully I can keep up the reading pace.  I am almost half way through the country list already, which is amazing.  I have been learning so much about countries I knew little to nothing about, so this challenge has been great.  I am so glad I am doing it.


What did you love best in May?  Maybe I can find another book to add to my TBR pile.