Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, August 30, 2019

Extra Book: The Wall

Book: The Wall
Author: John Lanchester
Pages: 288

This is my 98th read for the year.

I know, I know - what is with all the "Extra books, off challenge" lately?  Honestly - it isn't on purpose.  I listened to this book, and it was really, really short and for the last few days I have been working out doors and running boring errands, so it came in handy.

This is the story of a soldier named Joseph Kavanagh who is working on the wall on his first tour of duty.  The wall was put in place during "The Change" - rising sea levels are causing havoc.  The wall was put in place to protect coastal England from "The Others" who threaten the land.  If the soliders fail to defend the wall, they risk being put to sea as a punishment.  (one Other in means one Soldier out).

For the most part, nothing happens - he spends his long days sitting in the cold, watching the sea.  But the constant threat of The Others breaching the wall is there, and the elite have warned the soldiers that a big threat is coming.  Everyone needs to be ready.

This book was terrible.  Utterly terrible.  First of all - the person that read it, read it like he was reading a mechanics manual.  No inflection of voice - low, monotone reading.  Just dull.  Second of all - the story when no where.  Truly nowhere.  Nothing happened for 3/4 of this book.  The story was ridiculously slow.  No explanation or back story on how they got there, what caused the wall to finally go in place, who the Others truly are.  I mean - they could have been zombies for all we knew, because they were not explained.

Some reviews said that this was a plus because it left the whole vision up to the readers imagination.  I guess I can appreciate that to a point.  But really to me it just seemed like a cop-out idea.  Like "here is this Wall, here are these Others- I am not going to tell you anything about either - good luck".  

Don't bother with this one.  I should have quit it.  Even the ending did not save the story, as I was hoping.  I kept thinking that it was going to go somewhere.  When in reality - it was just dull.

Stars: 1

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Extra Book: Thin Air

Book: Thin Air
Author: Lisa Gray
Pages: 288

This is my 97th read for the year.
Another "Extra Book" - off challenge.  Don't usually like to have them so close together - concentrating getting through this Read The World Challenge.  But this one was short, so it didn't take me that long to finish.

This is the story of private investigator - Jessica Shaw.  She is sent a photo of a missing little girl and is asked to help solve the girl's whereabouts, and Jessica is stunned to receive a picture of herself.  She had no idea she was a missing child.

Jessica heads to LA to try and find out what happened to her family and her real past.  She discovers that her mother was murdered on the night Jessica disappeared.  Jessica is determined to solve her own case, and starts to ask questions.  But asking questions proves to be a dangerous business.  While trying to hide her true identity, Jessica finds that people are piecing together who she really is and Jessica is warned that someone is after her.  Not knowing who to trust, she decides to not take the advice to leave town, and get to the bottom of her own past.

This was a pretty good book.  The book wrapped up a little faster than I think it should have.  Came to a peak, and then quickly came down the otherside without much suspense.  That would be my biggest criticism.  But overall, it was a decent story and an easy read.  

Stars: 3 1/2

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Read The World - Uzbekistan - A Carpet Ride To Khiva

Book: A Carpet Ride To Khiva
Author: Christopher Aslan Alexander
Pages: 336
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO (but lived there for many years)
I have visited: NO

This is my 96th read for the year

This is the non-fiction story of a British man named Chris Alexander.  He traveled to Khiva to write a guidebook and ended up being mesmerised by the area and staying.  He become facinated by the ancient Silk Road, and ended up opening a shop to weave intricate carpets that were native to the area.  The story is his journey of living as a foreigner in this part of the world - how he fell in love with the people, the struggles he had living there (and what he saw around him - like frequent power outages and constant bribes to get things done), and finally the heartbreak when he had to leave.

This story was incredible.  First - the book is very well written.  Non-fiction for me can go only two ways - extremely interesting, or extremely dull.  I hardly ever find just a middle of the road book.  This one, thankfully was extremely interesting and I found myself reading late into the night just to finish the book.  The stories he shared, and the situations he witnessed will draw you in.   I am always impressed with people like Chris - who takes a leap like the one he did in a country that can be tricky for expats.  Yes - we moved to Switzerland as expats, but this is Uzbekistan.  Totally different ballgame.

You will love this book.  I learned an incredible amount about a country I knew nothing about.  Please take a chance to read this book.  You will not be disappointed.

Stars: 4 1/2

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Have Read That I Would Like In My Personal Library

Top Ten Tuesdays were started by That Artsy Reader Girl.  Check out her blog HERE

Today's Top Ten is books I would like in my personal library.

Hmmmmm.  This is an interesting category.  I do tend to buy books that I really, really like.  If it is something that was at least a 4 1/2 to 5 level for me - I usually buy it.  And right now I am buying a book that takes place in every country in the world to make a book shelf of those.  So that it taking up some significant funds.

So I am going to spin this just a bit.  I am going to go with "Fancy" copies of books that I would like to have in my library.  I am starting a collection of leather bounds, and those I am picking and chosing on a slow bases so I can get high quality books for the permanent shelf.

1) Edgar Allan Poe Collected Works:

Look at this beauty.  I am a big Poe fan, and I am looking forward to having this one on my shelf.  I own a few leather bounds of short stories/poems of other authors, and this one will go very nicely with those.

2) Moby Dick

I read this story quite a bit ago, but I really want the leather bound classics for the permanent shelf.  I am hoping a pretty book will make my kids want to read it.  Yes?  Probably not

3) The Phantom Of The Opera

Great book  and even greater musical on broadway.  This is a definitely for the shelf

4) The Wizard of Oz

I have read all the novels wtih my son a few years ago, and we really enjoyed the story.  It is so much more in depth than you realize, so if you have not read it - you should.

5) Les Miserables

There is no doubt this is an incredible classic.  Unbearably sad?  YES.  And not my favorite musical on Broadway.  (so depressing.  Ridiculously so).  But I do want the story on my shelf.

6) Jurassic Park

An extremely talented author and an incredible story.  Looking forward to this one being up on the shelf.

7)  To Kill A Mockingbird

I have read this book many times over the years, but have never owned even the paperback copy.  When I saw this beautiful leather bound hard back?  I put it on the list of must haves.

8) Gray's Anatomy

Okay - I know this is a weird one, but look at this gorgeous book.  I am a nurse and this one is a must have for the shelf.  Even if I am the only one who ever dares to open it

9)  The Devine Comedy

I am putting this one on the list even though I have yet to read the whole thing.  this book is an incredibly hard read in my opinion.  So I put it down and am saving it for later.  I did buy a cliffs notes book to go along with the read, and I think a beautiful leather version might push me to finish it.

10) Little Women

I love this story.  And again - it is one I have never owned, but read.  I think a leather bound is exactly what the shelf calls for.

So that is my list!  What would you put on yours?

Monday, August 26, 2019

Extra book: Things You Save In A Fire

Book: Things You Save In A Fire
Author: Katherine Center
Pages: 320

This is my 95th read for this year.

I listened to this book, which passed some hours on the tram and working in the yard.

This is the story of Cassie.  She is a firefighter who is at the top of her game.  She receives an award for her bravery, and knows that a promotion is right around the corner.  But an incident at the ceremony changes her path completely.

In the meantime, Cassie gets a call from her estranged mother asking her for help.  Her mother is sick and would like Cassie to come and live with her for awhile to help her get back on her feet.  Cassie sees this as an opportunity to start over fresh, and agrees to go.

Now she is in a new firestation in a new town, and trying to find her way as the only woman firefighter this station has ever had.  She and the new rookie firefighter are thrown together and made to find their way without much help from their crew.  She then again finds herself in a situation where she has to make a tough choice and doesn't know if her career will survive it.

This was a pretty good book.  It was a bit on the cheesy side, and sickingly sweet in a lot of ways.  Things seem to always work out for Cassie.   I did like her character.  She was sassy and I could picture the faces she would have been making when she delivered her cleverest lines.  Was it top literature?  No.  BUT - the book was an easy, summer read.  And I listened to it, and the reader of this book was perfect.  It held my attention and I found myself looking for opporutnities to listen because I wanted to see how it was going to end.  

I think a lot of people would love this book.  Like really love it.  I will stick strictly in the like column because it wasn't deep literature, but a fun, sweet read.  I am glad I read it.

Stars: 4

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