Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Read The World - Portugal - The Book Of Disquiet

 Book: The Book Of Disquiet

Author: Fernando Pessoa

Pages: 544

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 61st read for the year

This is a collection of Pessoa's writings which were found after he died.  It is made up of 100s of little "chapters" full of thoughts, poetry, and narrative brought all together in one little book.  So many thoughts and feelings are poured out among the pages.  You get a deeper understanding of how he felt about the world, about himself, and about his surroundings.

This book has taken me a few weeks to get through.  Once I started to read it, I knew I wouldn't be able to plow through it like most books that I have.  I actually started it in the audiobook version but quickly discovered this wasn't the way to tackle this book.  It needed more attention than that.  I did a little research on it, and found that the Zenith translation was the one to have, and those citics were correct.  The only thing I wish about this translation was 1) the cover was a little more attractive  2) this translation came in hardback.  Other than that- it was the perfect choice.

This is a great book for the shelf.  While it doesn't give a huge picture of Portugal itself, it was something I wanted to have, so it stays for now.

Stars:  4

Extra Book - Things My Son Needs To KNow About The World

 Book:  Things My Son Needs To Know About The World

Author: Fredrik Backman

Pages: 208

This is my 60th book for the year

This sweet Novella - by one of my favorite authors - was a lend to me by a friend.  What a treasure.  A sweet composition of things he wanted to tell his own son when his son was a baby.  Filled with stories and silly anticdotes, it was a fun, quick read.

We all should make a composition like this for our kids.  Stories we want to tell them.  Things we want them to know.  We don't leave enough written history for our kids to revisit as they grow and change, and I think Backman is onto something here.

Stars: 4

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Extra Book - Anxious People

 Book: Anxious People

Author: Fredrik Backman

Pages: 349

This is my 59th read for the year

This is the story of 8 strangers and a bank robber.  An apartment viewing turns into a hostage situation with the most eclectic group of people you will ever meet.  A young couple about to have a baby.  A couple who flip apartments.  An older woman, a rich woman, a man hired to disrupt the apartment showings, the real estate agent and....the bank robber.  The group is the worst group of hostages ever who carry a life time of stories that they start to share with each other.

In the background are the two police officers who have "lost" the bank robber and are interviewing the hostages.  The hostages are proving to be no help in getting to the bottom of the mystery of what happened in the apartment that day and where the bank robber went.

This was a GREAT book.  I love 99% of Backman's books - he is a brilliant writer.  This one was light and funny and just an overal enjoyable read.  The characters were infuriating and delightful to get to know all at once.  You root for the bank robber.  And the rich lady.  And the couple who are having a baby.  You will fall in love with them all.

Add this one to your list.  It is a light heards, heart felt read that is perfect for now where there is so much turmoil

Stars: 5

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Extra Read - The Umbrella Academy Vol. 1-3

 Book(s): The Umbrella Acaedemy Volumes 1, 2, 3

Author: Gerard Way

Pages: Volume 1 - 216 pages, Volume 2 - 216 pages, Volume 3 - 240 pages

This is my 56, 57,58th read for the year

I decided to review these all at once since they were pretty quick reads, and one continuous story within the graphic novels.

The story begins with 43 children being born to women who had no idea they were pregnant.  In the end, only 7 were able to be located and all were adopted by a billionare named Reginald Hargreeves.

These 7 children form the Umbrella Academy - a group of children with powers sent on missions by Hargreeves to save the world.  6 of the children have extrodinary powers but one - Vanya - seems to have none.

The Umbrella Academy disbands only to come back together with Hargreeves dies.  Old rivalries return.  And Vanya - who was once throught to be ordinary, prooves otherwise.

I have really enjoyed the Netflix series of The Umbrella Academy and thought I would try the graphic novel series based on that.  What I found was the graphic novel series to be off base from the Netflix series.  To me it is inferior to the series on TV - which I don't say often.  I really enjoyed the Locke and Key book and show, but in this case - the show wins.

I am only a mild graphic novel fan, so that could be part of the problem.  To me it seemed disjointed and all over the place.  I read the whole series, but even after the first book, it lost me.

Stars: 2 1/2

Read The World - Panama - The Path Between The Seas

 Book: The Path Between The Seas

Author: David McCullough

Pages: 698

Book takes place in the country: YES

The author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 55th read for the year

This is the story of the creation of the Panama Canal.  It tells the story of the men and women who worked together to bring a the dream of an aquatic passageway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans a reality.  The canal was built beteen 1870-1914 and the story of its triumphs and failures are all captured in McCullough's book.

This was a good one.  I didn't know much about the Panama canal and the story behind it before reading this, so I loved learning about its development.  It was a bit dry and I did find myself re-listening to parts of the book when I would drift off.  But overall, the story held my interest and I am glad I read it.

Stars: 4

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Extra Book - The Last Flight

 Book: The Last Flight

Author: Julie Clark

Pages: 320

This is my 54th read of the year

This is the story of Claire.  She has a seemingly wonderful life - married to a powerful man, wanting for nothing.  But the reality is that Claire is in an abusive relationship that she needs to escape desperately.  

She puts a plan in place to escape until her husband changes her plans.  She is at the airport when she meets someone else - Eva - also trying to escape her life - and the two women decide to help each other.   They swap flights hoping that this is what they both need to start over.

When the plane Claire was supposed to be on goes down, Claire thinks she is free.  Cut off completely from her old life, she starts to put a plan in motion to completely disappear.  She thinks she will step into Eva's life and that will be the last of Claire.  However - things don't always work out like they should.

This was a fair book.  It did keep me entertained, and on the edge of my seat for the first part of the story.  It was pretty suspenseful but I did figure out quite quickly how it was going to end.  No twists for me in this one.  Claire is a much more interesting character to me than Eva - Eva's chapters seemed long and drawn out.  

This book is also heavy on the "men are terrible" theme.  There are no good men in this book at all.  Every women in the story had a terrible back story with a terrible man.  This happens a lot in books, I know, but to me it is always a bit much.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Read The World - Brunei - Devil of a State

Book: Devil of a State

Author: Anthony Burgess

Pages: 282

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 53rd read for the year

This is the story of a man naded Lydgate - he is a married Passport Officer who has a pregnant mistress on the side.  His mistress is away when his wife arrives to visit him. Lydgate tries to run away from both of them, but his efforts are thwarted.  Around him there is a power pus of the national leader, harassments from the UN adviser, and violent onflicts between an Italian father and son who have been imported to work on the new mosque.

This book was REALLY strange.  It was all over the place and it didn't hold my attention.  It took me forever to read it.  I read about 4 other books around this one because I just couldn't get it to hold my attention.

HOWEVER - there are not many books about Brunei, so this will remain my book for that part of the world for now. 

Stars: 2

Friday, September 11, 2020

Extra Book - Nothing To See Here

 Book: Nothing To See Here

Author: Kevin Wilson

Pages: 277

This is my 52nd book for the year

This is the story of Lillian and Madison.  They went to high school together and when Madison gets caught with cocaine, Madison's very wealthy dad pays Lillian's mom so that Lillian will take the fall.  Thus begins the two divergent paths that these women take.  Until one day when Madison calls Lillian to ask her a favor.  She needs her to take care of her twin step children who have a unique ability that needs to be kept private.  The children catch fire.

Lillian agrees and becomes the children's governess.  She moves to Madison's mansion and helps to care for these kids and begins to love them like her own.  When a new problem comes to light, Lillian and Madison have to make a decision about their futures and the futures of the children.

This is a really weird book.  It wasn't necessarily bad, but I did find myself rolling my eyes quite a few times at the writing.  It was a bit juvenille.  And the ending was terrible.  I couldn't stop listening to it because I just had to see where it was going.  It was a bit silly and bizarre and a little out there.  And somewhat entertaining.  But good writing?  No.

Stars: 3

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Extra Book - A Good Neighborhood

 Book: A Good Neighborhood

Author: Therese Anne Fowler

Pages: 320

This is my 51st book for the year

This is the story of two families who live in the nice neighborhood of Oak Knoll in North Carolina.  Xavier - a young boy with a very promising future as a musician, a scholarship to a prestigous school, and his mother live in an old house with a beautiful tree.  All is fine until the Whitman family builds a huge house and moves in next door.  The house build destroys the roots of the fine tree and what transpires because of it leads both families down a path neither saw coming.  

The story asks what it is like to live by people who are different than you.  What is it like to be a good neighbor even when you don't see things the same way?  How can people coexist that might not necessarily ever be friends?

This was not a great book.  There were a lot of stereotypes in the book and the attraction of the step father to the step daughter was uncomfortable for me.  Took away from the story. There wasn't a lot of character development.  I never really felt for any of the characters one way or the other.

Skip it

Stars:  2

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Extra Book - The Distance From Four Points

 Book: The Distance From Four Points

Author: Margo Littell

Pages: 224

This is my 50th read for the year

This is the story of Robin.  Her husband has died and left her with a lot of debt and a lot of run down rental properties in a town she never wanted to return to.  She has to sell her house in her ideal neighborhood and move into one of the ramshackle apartments to try and pull her life back together.  Moving back to Four Points with her young daughter brings up a past she tried so hard to escape.  What she finds is a place that not only brings her back to the hardest time in her life, but also a place for a fresh start.

I was so so excited to get my hands on this book becuase it was written by a friend of mine.  This is her second novel, and I applaud her accomplishment.  She and I worked on a house in a town just like the one in this novel together and flipped and sold it.  It was quite the adventure and I am glad it lead her to keep writing books about small town America.  She and I grew up in a town very similar to the ones in her books.

It is a good story about a hard subject.  Poverty, slumlords, the world of rental properties.....all a very harsh reality in the place where Margo and I grew up.  I think she does a good job of bringing the reality of that situation to light by also spinning a good outcome for Robin.   Good mix.

Stars:  4

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Extra Book - Ask Again Yes

 Book: Ask Again Yes

Author: Mary Beth Keane

Pages: 416

this is my 49th read for the year.

This is the story of the Gleeson and Stanhope families.  Living next door to each other for years yet never really knowing what was going on behind closed doors in each other's homes.  Kate - the youngest Gleeson child and Peter - the only Stanhope child develop a friendship early on in their lives that grows into a love affair as they get older.  Time ticks by quickly in the story as Kate and Peter navigate family strife and a terrible tragedy that lead them into a lifelong struggles.  

This was an okay book.  The story was just.....fine.  The passage of time was a problem for us.  The story skipped ahead so fast that it really didn't make me feel much for the characters at all.  It covers more than half the life of Kate and Peter not really taking the time to develop their life story on a deeper level.

It was  I didn't finish it wish there was more or being drawn to any of the characters.  So I would say skip it.

Stars: 3 1/2

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Extra Book - The Dutch House

 Book: The Dutch House

Author: Ann Patchett

Pages: 352

This is my 48th read for the year

This is the story of Danny and his family.  After the second world war, Danny's father who has recently become quite wealthy, buys an enormous estate called The Dutch House.  His father bought the house for his wife as a surprise and soon things began to spiral out of control.

What happened to Danny and his sister Maeve over their childhood and adolscents would be a mother who left them, a father who died, and a step mother that wanted nothing to do with them.  Despite their issues, they prevailed and clung desparately to each other even into adulthood as Danny married and had his own family.  In the end, their lives come full circle with their family and The Dutch House.

This was a fair book.  I think my favorite part of it is that the audiobook was narrated by Tom Hanks.  It was fun to hear his voice tell the story.  The story itself requires some concentration because the story flits around to past and present as Danny fills in the holes of his life and his time in The Dutch House.  It is a complex story that held me to the end.  I won't give anything else away, but just want to say that what happens in the end is a bit unbelievable and just seems like the author wanting to bring a somewhat happier end to their story.

I don't say pass it up.  I say try it out and see for yourself.

Stars:  3 1/2

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Extra Book - Where The Forest Meets The Stars

Book: Where The Forest Meets The Stars

Author: Glendy Vanderah

Pages: 328 Pages

 This is my 47th read for the year

I have been a huge reading slacker this summer.  I did listen to some audiobooks on our travels this summer, but due to moving and settling in the United States, visiting with family, and then moving into our temporary housing (until our house is ready) has taken up most of my time.  I got out of the reading habit and now that we are settled for a few months, I am going to try my hardest to get back into reading.  I have missed it!

This is the story of Joana Teale.  A breast cancer survivor, she is settling into life as a graduate student researching nesting birds.  One night a little girl shows up at her house saying she was an alien.  She is covered in bruises and Joana is sure she is a victim of abuse.  The little girl states that she is on this planet to see five miracles and then she can leave.  Joana who can't seem to locate the girl's parents, decides to let her stay and figure out what to do next.

With the help of Joana's neighbor, Gabriel, they start to piece together the girl's past until the truth comes to light.  However, in the meantime, the three form a bond that will be hard to be broken.

This was an okay book.  Not great.  I rolled my eyes at the writing a few times.  It passed the time while I had a long 10 hour drive to Pennsylvania, but that was about it.  It was entertaining enough, but the writing got more and more "lazy" near the end of the book and I found myself just wanting to finish it and not really devoted to the story anymore.

Stars: 3

Monday, June 15, 2020

Read The World - Morocco - Dune Song

Book: Dune Song
Author: Anissa Bouziane
Pages: 368
Book takes place in the country: YES (at least 50%)
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 46th read for the year

Good grief have I been terrible at getting books in.  Moving is not for the faint of heart and does not leave me much free time.  And even in that free time, my head is spinning with details that I have found it hard to concentrate on a book.  It will be nice to be on the other side of this move.

This is my second Morocco book.  I didn't like the first one I read, so decided I needed a different read for my shelf.

This is the story of Jeehan Nathaar.  She leaves New York City for her home country of Morocco after the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11.  As a Muslim American, she was asked constantly why "her people hate Americans so much", and decides she needs to escape.  Instead of returning to her parents, she neds up with a family in the desert who try to help her heal and find herself once again.

This book was pretty good.  It started out strong - good writing, strong characters, a story that made me want to turn page after page.  But soon - the story took a dip and I found myself not enjoying it quite as much as I had in the beginning.  Jeehan is an adult but acted frequently like a lost child.  And the story - once she was settled with the family in Morocco - wasn't as interesting as I was hoping it would be.  Pacing seems to be a problem with the author.  

This was better than my first choice of a book for Morocco.  And the writing was pretty good as well.  I just didn't enjoy the story in the second half of the book as much as the first.

Stars: 3 1/2

Friday, May 29, 2020

Extra Book - In The Tall Grass

Book: In The Tall Grass
Author: Stephen King
Pages: 62

This is my 45th book of the year.

I know - I am reading a lot of "extra" books in a row here.  And off challenge.  Problem is with quarantine is that I cannot get books right now.  Amazon pick up is in Germany and we cannot get there until June 15th.  So I have read them all that I have on my shelf.  The rest will have to wait.

This incredibly short book was recently turned into a movie on Netflix, so I decided to check it out.  It only took an hour to read.  It starts off with a sister and brother who hear a boy crying for help.  They cannot see him in the tall grass, but head in to search for him.  Within a few minutes they have lost their way and cannot find the little boy or each other.  They spend the book trying to find their way out of the grass - coming in contact with the supernatural that makes them realize they may never escape.

This book was fine.  So short it was hard to get really invested in it.  The story is a good idea, and I feel like they could have kept going to make it truly terrifying.  I am anxious to watch the show to see how it relates.

Stars: 3 1/2

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Extra Book - Big Summer

Book: Big Summer
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Pages: 368

This is my 44th book for the year

This is the story of Daphne Berg.  Daphne - a plus size influencer has come far in her adult life.  She has just landed a clothing modeling job with a hot new designer that she is sue will increase her instragram status.

In walks a woman from her past - Drue Cavanaugh.  Her long lost best friend from high school.  Daphne and Drue had a falling out when Drue said everyone just felt sorry for Daphne because of her weight.  After not speaking for many years, Drue reappears to ask Daphne to be her maid of honor in her wedding.  The hot new designer thinks that Daphne agreeing to do this - even for someone she barely knows any more - will do wonders for both Daphne and the designer.  So Daphne agrees and finds herself not only in the wedding, but the maid of honor.

Drue's influential and extrememly rich family is the center of attention the wedding weekend because Drue is marrying a TV reality star.  Daphne finds herself drawn into the glamour of the weekend and is starting to wonder if Drue has really changed her ways.  Then tragedy strikes and Daphne tries to figure out what this was all about all along.

This was an okay book.  I am a Jennifer Weiner fan, but this wasn't a great one.  It is a GREAT beach read/summer book.  The story is quite shallow, but I have very thin skin for "influencers"  Just seems so silly to me.  If that is something that interests you, then this book would be for you.

Stars: 3

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Extra Post - If It Bleeds

Book: If It Bleeds
Author: Stephen King
Pages: 448

this is my 43rd read for the year.  I listened to this book.

This is a group of short(ish) stories wrapped into one book.  The stories are "Mr Harrigan's Phone" "The Life of Chuck", "If It Bleeds" and "Rat".  "If It Bleeds" is the only one where a character from another series (for fans of the Bill Hodges Trilogy and The Outsider) and that was a nice treat.  All the stories were unique in their own right.  I would say that Mr. Harrigan's Phone and If It Bleeds were my favorite two.  I didn't really care for the Life of Chuck - found it a bit all over the place and because I was so invested in the first story about Mr. Harrigan, I had a hard time transitioning so quickly to a new story.

Overwall, it was a good read.  Entertaining in King fashion.  I have found his stuff lately a little tamer than his old stuff, but I am okay with that.  A good story is a good story.

Stars: 4

Friday, May 15, 2020

Read The World - Samoa - Leaves Of The Banyan Tree

Book: Leaves of the Banyan Tree
Author: Albert Wendt
Pages: 424
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

this is my 42nd book of the year

Here is the blurb from Amazon:

An epic spanning three generations, Leaves of the Banyan Tree tells the story of a family and community in Western Samoa, exploring on a grand scale such universal themes as greed, corruption, colonialism, exploitation, and revenge.

This was an okay book.  It was fairly well written, but it was a little dry.  It had a hard time picking it up and getting it finished.  I blame some of that on "quarantine slag" but some of it was probably this book.  It is a long book, and maybe if the author would have pulled it together a little more and made it shorter, it would have been better.  

Stars: 3

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Read The World - Solomon Islands - Headhunting In The Solomon Islands

Book: Headhunting In The Solomon Islands
Author: Caroline Mytinger
Pages: 444
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO (but she lived there for a few years)
I have visited: NO

This is my 41st read for the year

This is the story of the author and her friend, Margaret Warner, who were both artist.  In the 1930's they spent 2 years on an expedition to paint indigenous people in the Solomon Islands.  This book recounts her and Margaret's travels and the people that they met along the way.  She speaks of the beautiful things they saw, but also the infections, insects, the heat, and the fevers.  Their adventure - basically unheard of by women in their time - led to fear for their family and friends.  No one expected them to come back alive.  They brought back beautiful paintings, but tons of stories that lead to this book.

This book was pretty good!  I was pretty interested in these women traveling to the Solomon Islands in the 1930s and what they thought.  Their stories are enjoyable and it was fun to see these women trying something outside of their comfort zone.  These were early feminist, but one does have to remember that they are writing descriptions of the people they met would not be acceptable today.  However - knowing what year it was, this did not deter from the book at all.

I enjoyed it.  Glad I found this one.

Stars: 4

Monday, May 4, 2020

Extra Book: In Five Years

Book: In Five Years
Author: Rebecca Serle
Pages: 266

This is my 40th read for the year.

I listened to this book as well.  This book was the last one I listened to while I completed that puzzle - it is finally finished!

Here is what Amazon had to say about this book: 

"Where to you see yourself in five years?  Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers.  She is nothing like her lifelong best friend - the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella.  Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend's marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content.

But when she awakens, she's suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a different man.  Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight - but it is one hour she cannot shake."

This was an okay book.  Very fluffy - a light read.  It isn't something I would generally pick (or enjoy), but it helped pass some time while working on the puzzle.  I found myself rolling my eyes a few times while I read the book.  Dannie's life is REALLY perfect.  Everything works out for her.  She gets the perfect job, guy, ring.  She is well loved on all levels - no matter what she does.  

There are aspects of the book that will pull at your heart strings, and so if you are looking for a light read, then maybe check this one out.  It isn't great literature, but it might be for you.

Stars: 3

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Extra Book: Eight Perfect Murders

Book:  Eight Perfect Murders
Author: Peter Swanson
Pages: 388

This is my 39th read for the year

I listened to this book.  I have been working on a 4000 piece puzzle while we have been in quarantine for Covid-19, so audiobooks have been my go to recently. 

This is the story of bookseller Malcolm Kershaw who made a list of 8 books that he felt told the story of 8 perfect murders.  It was for a blog he was using to help promote books at the bookstore he owned, and didn't expect it to mean anything to anyone.  One day - an FBI agent comes knocking at his door and tells him that someone he committing murders based on the 8 books/murders he wrote about on his blog.  Malcolm is worried that he could be a suspect, so he starts to investigate himself into who might be commit these murders.  What it leads to is a shocking twist in the story and Malcolm finds his own life in danger.

This was a good book.  I love murder mystery books, so when this one came out, I wanted to try it.  It is a good story, and well written.  I wasn't sure where it was going (except I was sure Malcolm was not the murdered), which to mean makes a good read.  I encourage you to try this one.

Stars: 4

Friday, April 24, 2020

Extra Book: The Wives

Book: The Wives
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Pages: 336

This is my 38th read for the year

This is the story of a young girl who is one of three wives.  Her husband has two other wives that she has never met.  Her husband won't even tell her their names, so she calls them Monday and Tuesday.  One day she finds a receipt in her husband's pants pocket and she realizes it is the name of one of his other wives.  This starts her down a rabbit hole of finding out who this woman is and what she is like.  And that leads for the search for her husband's first wife.  Soon secrets come to the surface and she isn't sure she should have ever started the search.  Now she feels that one of the wives is in danger and she is doing everything she can to protect her and herself.

This was a good book.  It is hard to see where it is going until the end, which was great.  I purposefully didn't put the name of the main character in this review becuase it is not revealed to us until further into the book.  And to me, it makes a difference when her name is reveals.  There are twists and turns where you think you have it figured out and then the book takes a different direction than you expect.  It was a great book to listen to and I found myself looking for time to listen just to see where this story was going to go.  I highly recommend it. 

Stars: 4

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Read The World - Saint Lucia - Birthright

Book: Birthright
Author: Kendel Hippolyte
Pages: 124
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 36th read for the year

From the back of the book:  His poetry combines acute intelligence and passion, a barbed wit and lyrical tenderness.  There are poems of prophetic anger over the marginalisation of his island by the international money markets in a voice whose ancestry is Blake and Whitman, acute observations of both the beauty and the dereliction of St. Lucia and moving celebrations of love.  His style encompasses the popular resources of Caribbean culture and formal poetic structures.  

This was a good book.  I know I don't appreciate poetry as much as I should, and these books don't usually do much for me.  But his poems were easier to follow than some I have tried in the past, and I felt that they gave me good insight on how he felt about his island.  I am glad I found this one for this small country.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Read The World - St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Islands of Eden

Book: Islands of Eden
Author: Ferenc Mate
Pages: 162
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 35th read of the year

This is a photographic book of the beautiful country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  I chose it because there isn't much out there for this small little country, and I am glad to have this visual art added to my collection of books.  The photography is beautiful!

Stars: 4

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Read The World - Lebanon - The Hakawati

Book: The Hakawati
Author: Rabih Alameddine
Pages: 529
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 34th read of the year.

I know it has been a long time since I blogged about a book.  The Coronavirus quarantine is stil going on, and so my house is full of children and a husband on constant conference calls.  I am having a hard time getting into reading these days.  I have been busying myself with baking and building a 4000 piece puzzle.  Not doing as much reading as I would like.  I am hoping that soon we will be back to normal.

My laziness is increased to not typing out the synopsis of this book, but copying what Amazon has to say about it here:

In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father's deathbed.  As the family gathers, stories beging to unfold:  Osama's grandfather was a Hakawait, or a Storyteller, and his bewitching tales are interwoven with classic stories of the Middle East.  Here are Abraham and Isaac; Ishmael, father of the Arab tribes; the beautiful Fatima; Baybars, the slave prince who vanquished the Crusaders; and a host of Mischievous imps.  Through Osama, we also enter the world of the contemporary Lebanese men and women whose stories tell a larger, heartbreaking tale of seemingly endless war, conflicted identity and survival.

This was a pretty good book.  The stories were fantastic.  It is a little choppy as a book - weaving back and forth between story telling and what is happening in the hospital with Osama's father.  Sometimes the flow was not smooth - it took me a few chapters to get into it.  But I looked forward to the story telling parts of this book the most.  It was a facinating read that I encourage due to the fabulous fables.

Stars: 4

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Extra Book: The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

Book: The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
Author: Robert Dugoni
Pages: 434

This is my 33rd read of the year

This quarantine has not sped up my reading.  It has done just the opposite - it has really slowed it down.  With my kids doing schooling at home and my husband working from home,I am finding less time to read - not more.  It is never really quiet in the house, so I just can't seem to get motivated to read.  We have turned to movies and puzzles and games instead, and that is okay.  Once we get out of this, and life goes a bit back to normal, I can return to reading more.

This is the story of Sam Hill.  He was born with occular albinism which makes his eyes red.  His whole life he is teased about his eyes - called "Sam Hell" or "Son of the Devil".  Until one day, an African American boy joins his school and he and Sam become instant friends.  

40 years later, Sam the eye doctor is reflecting on his life and his path and changes he made that made him the man he is now.  These days he hides his red eyes behind brown contacts and it takes another little boy to realize that hiding the most special part about him doesn't change who he is.

This was a good book.  It was recommended to me by my sister in law, and I am so glad I read it.  It is well written and well told.  There is a large religious aspect to it, so if that isn't your cup of tea, you should be aware of that from the start.  I am not very religious, and it didn't take away for me the quality of the story.  I knew it was there and that was that.  

I encourage you to read the story about a little boy who had a hard time because he looked different and who had a mother who fought to the ends of the earth to make sure he was treated fairly.  You won't be disappointed.

Stars: 4

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Read The World - Lithuania - Breathing Into Marble

Book: Breathing Into Marble
Author: Laura Sintija Cemiauskaite
Pages: 194
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 32nd read for the year

This short novella is a poetic story of a family who has a sick child and wants to adopt another.  The child they choose to adopt has some problems, and the orphanage tries to discourage the couple from adopting him.  The mother is insistent, but the father is hesitant.  Bringing him into their home ends up being a mistake and leads to death and misery for the whole family.

This was a very strange book.  It was hard to follow and just isn't my style of writing.  It wasn't terrible, but it was a challenge to get through it.  I will keep it as my Lithuania book for now, but may hunt out another in the future.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Extra Book - The Killer Across The Table

Book: The Killer Across The Table
Author: John Douglas
Pages: 352

This is my 31st read for the year

I listened to this book while I was on vacation.  See - I DID do some reading.  

I have listeened to all of John Douglas' other books, so why stop now.  He is a gifted writer, and his stories from his time with the FBI are intriguing.  I have learned so much about the country's serial killers.  It is quite incredible.  This book comes 20 years after his Mindhunter stories and in this book he talks about his 4 most notorious cases.  

The audio book is read by Jonathan Groff - who plays Douglas in the Netflix Mindhunter series.  I thought that was great that they got him to read it - he does a good job.

This was a good book.  Nothing, to me, will be quite as good as his first - Mindhunter.  But this one was better than the last one I read - a little more about the various cases and delving deeper into the histories of the killers.  I say check it out.

Stars: 4

Monday, March 16, 2020

Extra Book - The Guardians

Book: The Guardians
Author: John Grisham
Pages: 371

This is my 30th read for the year.

I have really been slacking with reading this month.  Worse than I have in years.  I do have good excuses.  We were in Japan on vacation for about 2 weeks and were having so much fun that I didn't have a lot of reading time.  And I did listen to a few podcast for something different.  I need to get back on track.

We are no quarantined becasue we were in Japan and then Switzerland declared schools closed until April 20th.  As much as I would like to say that we will have a lot of free time to read, I also have 3 teenagers and a husband home who don't make things that quiet.  So we shall see.

The book is about lawyer and reverend Cullen Post who opened a law firm called "Guardians".  He and his co-workers travel the country working on wrongful convictions trying to set innocent convicts free.  The main case in the book is about Quincy Miller - a man who was sentenced to death row 22 years ago for a crime he claims he didn't committ.  Post and his team set out to clear Quincy and find the real killer before Quincy is executed.  However - many road blocks appear and Quincy is nearly killed to keep the truth from even coming to light.

This was a good book.  I have always been a John Grisham fan, and he did not disappoint yet again.  It was a good story, and flowed well.  Expertly written as usual.  I always enjoy a good legal thriller, so I am glad I used my last Audible credit to grab this book - another extremely popular new novel that will be months to wait for through the library. 

Check it out

Stars: 4 1/2

Thursday, March 5, 2020

February in Review

We have just returned from vacation, so I am a bit behind on my month in review.  I would like to say I spent this vacation reading, but I spent it eating and shopping instead.  And I have also found a new love in Podcast.  I listened to Serial and I loved it.

Here are the books I read in February.  I read 16 books this month - 7 of them for my Read The World Challenge.  Click on the title if you want to see the review for that book

1) The Trailing Spouse: Reimagined (Off Challenge)

2) An Island Away (Aruba)

3) Mema (Gabon)

4) Dear Haiti, Love Elaine (Haiti)

5) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Off Challenge)

6) In An Instant (Off Challenge)

7) A Tale of Love And Darkness (Israel)

8-13) Locke and Key Book Series (off challenge)

14) Papillon (French Guiana)

15) Milly's Story (Luxembourg)

16) The Last Brother (Mauritus)

Favorite books this month:

1) The Last Brother
2) Locke and Key Series
3) The Seven Husband's of Evelyn Hugo

My Least Favorites:

1) A Tale of Love and Darkness
2) An Island Away

Did you have a good reading month?