Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

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?




Monday, November 18, 2019

Read The World - Belize - The Last Flight Of The Scarlet Macaw

Book: The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw
Author: Bruce Barcott
Pages: 313
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO


This is my 142nd read for the year


This is the true story of Sharon Matola - the "zoo lady" who has devoted her life to the safety of the wild animals in Belize.  When she discovers that a big power company plans to build a dam right where the last remaining Scarlet Macaw's nest in Belize, she knows she is in for a fight to stop the build.  

The story follows how she, and a pieced together team, flight the dam all the way to court to try and save these endangered birds.  The author pieces together how globalization and a growing demand for power are killing off species all over the globe.  He shows how one woman risks everything to save this bird and the land around it.

This was a pretty good book.  It had some dry parts, where it gets very involved with the history of some of the government and power companies involved in the fight, but the parts revolving around Sharon and the animals were very interesting.  She is a power house in the world of animal conservation and the zoo she has built for injured animals.  She is an American that picked up her life 36 years ago and hasn't looked back.  She had a mission and a passion and she stuck with it - even when hard times hit.

This was a great find, this book.  I am intrigued to visit her at her zoo and Belize in the future.  I would like to meet someone who had that much passion for our ever disappearing wild animals.

Stars: 4




Friday, November 15, 2019

Extra Book - Call The Midwife

Book: Call The Midwife
Author: Jennifer Worth
Pages: 376


This is my 141st read for the year

I watch this TV show and am definitely hooked.  When I found out that it was not only a true story, but a book series, I knew I had to have it.

This is the story of the author's time as a midwife in the 1950s in the poor East End of London.  She lived at a convent and worked with the poorest women of the area delivering hundreds of babies in her time there.  She speaks about the harsh conditions these families lived in, what it was like to take care of families who had 10 children or more, and even when she cared for the older folks who lived in condemned conditions of the area.  

It is a great book.  I stayed up late at night finishing chapter after chapter.  It is a facinating tale, and - as a nurse myself - I tried to visualize what it would be like to work in this area at this time in history.  A lot of the stories in this book were covered in the TV show, but it was great to read the true details of what happened and get further in depth with the lives of the people she worked with.

I am anxious to read the next book in the series.  There are 4 books total, and I plan on reading them all.  This is a series you should not pass up.

Stars: 4 1/2




Thursday, November 14, 2019

Read The World - Costa Rica - Cadence of the Moon

Book: Cadence of the Moon
Author: Oscar Nunex Olivas
Pages: 262
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO


This is my 140th read for the year


This is a story of a serial killer who was lose in Costa Rica.  IT is based on a true story of the first known case of a serial killer in the country.  The murders are committed with sadism.  The police and the press try to uncover who the killer is because no traces are ever left at the crime scene. Between the story of finding the murderer, are a few love stories that evolve between a few characters.  

There isn't much else to say about this book becuase it truly did feel like two different stories were happening but they never really meshed together well in the book.  It was like the author had two tales he wanted to tell, but couldn't quite figure out how he was going to get them to work well together.  It would have been better if he would have stuck to just the story of trying to catch the serial killer and how the press and police worked together to try and solve the case.  The love story part of this book made it a less likable read.

Stars: 2 1/2




Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Extra Book - Part Of Your World

Book: Part of Your World
Author: Liz Braswell
Pages: 480


This is my 139th read of the year

I do still enjoy reading to my children - even though my youngest is 13 years old.  I don't think they will tolerate it much longer, but I do hold out hope that we can get through this Disney Dark Fairy Tales before they quit on me.

This book takes place 5 years into the future from when Ariel lost her voice to the sea witch.  Instead of the happily ever after ending like we see in the film, Ariel never regained her voice and Ursula (as Vanessa) is now the Princess of Trulia.  Prince Eric has remained under her spell for 5 years - as well as members of his staff.  Ursula is trying to rule the Dry World and trying to figure out how to destroy the Mer World.  She still has King Triton as her prisoner.

Ariel - now Queen of the Sea - has ruled in silence for 5 years.  With the help of sign language, Sebastian and Flounder, she has kept the peace.  But the time has come for her to try to return to the Dry World and rescue her father, and defeat Ursula.  She has to figure out how to do all of this without being able to speak.  Wtih the help of her friends - both on land and in the sea - she has a real chance of defeating the Sea Witch.

This was another great installment of Disney's Dark Fairy Tales.  This author is a great writer and story teller.  We have really enjoyed the spin of some of our favorite Disney Classics.  This one - at almost 500 pages - took us awhile to read (we only read a chapter or two a day) but it was worth it.  It ended beautifully after a clever tale of heroes, friendship, and love.  We are so glad we read it.

Stars: 4 1/2

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Bookmarks

It has been awhile since I did a Top Ten Tuesday from The Artsy Reader.  Check our her blog and join in the fun!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is:

Favorite Bookmarks

I don't have 10 of these, but I have a few.  Normally for a bookmark I use whatever is lying around or is closest. Sometimes it is a gum wrapper or a receipt.  Doesn't matter.   I should be collecting bookmarks on our travels - make that a quest in the future.

Here are the few I do have that have special meaning.

1) Bookmark I picked up recently in Barcelona



This on I picked up after seeing this very cool building by the architect Gaudi.  We visited La Sangrada Familia and it was incredible.  This stone was on the outside of the building.  In any direction, if you add up the numbers, you get "33".

2) Bookmarks handmade by my friend Larry Orlando



These beautiful bookmarks were a gift from our friend and caligrapher Larry Orlando.  Filled with amazing quotes about books and reading, I treasure them greatly.  I love picking one each time I start a new book, and reading the quote each time I open the book to get me in the right mindset to read.

3) Handmade bookmark made of wood



I found this company that makes personalized wooden bookmarks, and ordered one.  I could pick which books they placed on the bookmark, and this one is filled with many of my favorites.  It is small and delicate, so I don't use it when I read.  Instead I have it displayed on my shelf.

4) Bookmark I picked up in London



This is a bookmark replica of Rosetta Stone.  We saw the real thing at the London Museum a few years ago.  What a fantastic bucket list item that stone is.  Now that the stone is able to be translated, it becomes all that more intriguing.

5) Bookmark from Italy



This one is actually a favorite of my husband's.  He picked it up on our trip to Venice a few years ago because he liked it.  La Bauta are amazing handmade masks.  They were incredible to see.

6) Bookmark from my last stomping Grounds: Littleton, MA



We moved to Basel after living for 6 years in this small town outside of Boston.  While we were there, the town turned 300 years old, and the town gave out these great bookmarks.  I use it often and think about all of our friends there and the wonderful times we had living in that town.  AND - the town just voted to build a much needed new library, and I cannot wait to see the finished product.

Do you have a favorite bookmark?






Monday, November 11, 2019

Read The World - Cameroon - Mission To Kala

Book: Mission To Kala
Author: Mongo Beti
Pages: 201
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO


This is my 138th read this year.

This short novel about a young man named Jean-Marie Medza.  He has just returned home after failing his baccalaureat exam.  He is sure his town would be upset, but instead, they greet him as basically a hero.  They send him on a trip to Kala to find a woman who has deserted her husband.  When Jean-Maria arrives in Kala, he is greated like royalty.  He stays with an uncle who lives there while he waits this woman to return to town.  While he is there, he spends time with his cousin, finds a woman that he likes (and then becomes unexpecedtly married to), and is showered with gifts and attention.  He does complete his mission and returns home.

This was a pretty good book.  It is well written and entertaining.  I found it amusing how a failed scholar was treated in a small village where no one could read or write.  He was their hero for just going to school and getting an education - even though he wasn't extemely successful.  The ending did get a little confusing and I felt the author was trying to tie up the story too quickly.  But overall - a good read about this African country.

Stars:  3 1/2



Friday, November 8, 2019

Extra Book - The Institute

Book: The Institute
Author: Stephen King
Pages: 576


This is my 137th read for the year.  

I listened to this book over the last few weeks while I ran errands.  It was well done as an audio book

I know what you are thinking - "Jennifer, are you still doing that Read The World Challenge?"  Yes...yes I am.  And I do need to be better at focusing on that. It is so hard when there are so many good books that have shown up this fall!  I have no guilt.

This is the story of Luke Ellis.  One night, intruders broke into his house, killed his parents, and kidnapped Luke.  Luke is knocked out and he wakes up far from home in a place called "The Institute".  He is greeted by other children around his age with similar stories, and adults that are keeping them locked in.  Soon he discovers that all the kids have special abilities like telekinesis or telepathy, and they start to tell Luke that they are there to make those abilities stronger.  They don't understand why, but the children are subjected to countless tests, and shots, and electric shots - all against their will.  IF they resist, they are hurt.  And soon the children are taken to "The Back Half" of the institute and never seen again.  

I liked this book.  It wasn't his best writing, but it was entertaining.  It was interested to see where it was going, and what the reason was for The Institute taking the children.  It did seem to take a long time to get to the peak of the story and then it was quickly wrapped up.  It was fair in the suspenseful category, but not overly scary.  

It was fine.  Glad I read it, but it isn't his best work.

Stars: 3



Thursday, November 7, 2019

Read The World - Djibouti - The Nomads, My Brothers, Go Out to Drink from the Big Dipper

Book: The Nomads, My Brothers, Go Out to Drink from the Big Dipper
Author: Abdourahman A. Waberi
Pages: 96
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO


This is my 137th read for the year

I had no idea where Djibouti was before finding this book.  And of course - it is another country on the vast African continent.  


This is a very short book of poetry.  The author gives us a look into this small country.  He writes about the country's landscape throughout the book and paints a picture of what he felt when he looked at his country side.

This book only took me 30 minutes to read - it is really really short with really short poems on each page.  They give you a small taste of the country, but not as much as I would have liked.  I am not one to fully be able to appreciate poetry, but it was a good enough read.  I think it will stay as my Djibouti book because there just aren't many things out there for this tiny country.

Stars: 3 1/2







Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Extra Book - When Life Gives You Pears

Book: When Life Gives You Pears
Author: Jeannie Gaffigan
Pages: 320


This is my 135th read for the year

This is the story of the author after she discovered she had a pear sized tumor in her brain.  While it was benign, it still needed to come out immediately because of the damage it was causing.  She talks about the symptoms she had that lead to the discovery, and how her recovery was after.  How she changed her whole outlook on her life after her diagnosis and survival.  

This was a fantastic book.  I am a huge Jim Gaffigan fan - I watch all of his stand up shows, and he is the funniest clean comic there is.  Hands down.  I had heard about Jeannie's tumor through one of his specials, and when this book came out, I knew I had to get it.  It gave me even more insight into what went on with her and how this family banded together when Jeannie had a trach and a feeding tube, and couldn't eat anything by mouth for months.  It was a great reminder of how we always sweat the small stuff, and how quickly our lives can be turned upside down.  How worrying about the little things seem so much less important when you are facing the chance of dying.  Jeannie used this tumor as a second chance to make changes in her life.

I highly reommend this one.  She is genuine, and forth coming and honest about her plight, and how she dealt with this upheaval to her life.  Get it now.

Stars: 5

Monday, November 4, 2019

Read The World - Uganda - Kintu

Book: Kintu
Author: Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Pages: 446
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO


This is my 134th read for the year

Still rolling through the never ending countries of the African continent!


This multigenerational novel begins in 1750 in Uganda with the Kintu clan.  It starts when Kintu Kidda, who is a governor, sets out to pledge his alligance to the new ruling family.  On his way he sets in motion a curse that follows his family for generations.  The book follows the family as they try to lift the curse generation after generation, trying to keep their family bound together even as they spread out and away from each other.

This was a good book.  You really have to pay attention because the amount of characters are astounding.  And trying to piece together whom belongs to whom is harrowing.  It is a well told story, and well written, and gave me insight into some of the customs that take place in Uganda to rid families of what they believe is a curse.  The story was captivating right from the beginning and worth a read.

Stars: 4





Friday, November 1, 2019

October Wrap Up

Another month has past.  And today Mat and I celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary!  Time to bring on November, and the start of the holidays - my favorite time of year.

This month I finished 15 books.  Eight of them were from my Read The World Challenge and the rest were extra reads I couldn't stay away from. I have got to stop looking at Instagram for book ideas because I need to work harder on this Read The World challenge to keep.  There have been so many books that have been recommended to me or that I see in the pictures, and I found it hard to stay away.

I have read 134 books so far this year, and am well over half way in my Read The World Challenge.  I have truly enjoyed this challenge.  It is a monster of a thing, and of course it will not be completed by the end of this year, but I am so glad I did it.  I am also enjoying buying the books I read to add to my permanent bookshelf, something I don't normally do.  But I felt that having a book that took place in each country could be a great add to the shelf.

Here are my reads for this past month.  If you click on the book title, it will take you to the review.

The Glass Palace - Illusions of Freedom and Democracy in Qatar (Read The World Challenge - Qatar)



The Art Of Racing In The Rain (Off Challenge Book)



Empty Mansions (Off Challenge Book)



Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (Off Challenge Book)



The Bolivian Diary (Read The World Challenge - Bolivia)



I Didn't Do It For You (Read The World Challenge - Eritrea)



Delirium (Read The World Challenge - Columbia)



The Testaments (Off Challenge Book)



The Blue Lagoon (Read The World - Fiji)



Please Look After Mom (Read The World - South Korea)



We Need New Names (Read The World Challenge - Zimbabwe)



The Only Plane In The Sky (Off Challenge Book)



The Silent Patient (Off Challenge Book)



Kintu (Read The World - Uganda) - review soon



My  favorite reads for the month were:

Empty Mansions
Please Look After Mom
The Only Plane in The Sky
Bad Blood

My bottom of the pile were:

The Silent Patient
The Bolivian Diary

What did you read this month?  What were your favorites?