Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

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?

Monday, February 24, 2020

Read The World - Mauritus - The Last Brother

Book: The Last Brother
Author: Nathacha Appanah
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 29th read for the year

This is the story of a young boy named Raj who lives on Mauritus.  He is on a tiny island and oblivious to the Second World War until Jewish exiles arrive on his island.  His dad works at the prison, and Raj becomes fasinated with the prison and the people behind its walls.  He soon meets a little Jewish boy named David and they start to communicate through the fence and then later again when they are in the hospital together.  Even though they don't speak much of a common language, they soon become friends and allies.  Raj is determined to help David escape the prison, even not knowing exactly why he is there.

Raj tells the story as an old man looking back on what he and David went through in their short time together, and how he has spent his life trying to forget.  Raj - who lost his own brothers when he was a child wanted nothing more than to save David.  And when he can't, he spends his life regretting the choices he made during that time in his life.

This was a great book.  It is short, but packed with beautiful writing and an incredible story.  The author tells an amazing, fictional tale that pulls at your heart strings as you route for David to escape and live a life of happily ever after away from the Jewish concentration camp.  Your heart breaks for Raj and his mother when a tragedy pulls his family apart and leaves Raj lost and lonely.  And even though we know from the beginning of the book that David dies, you read the book hoping that the outcome is untrue.

I suggest this one highly.  Put it on your list of TBR.

Stars: 4 1/2

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Read The World - Luxembourg - Milly's Story

Book: Milly's Story
Author: Milly Thill
Pages: 216
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: YES (but just a short pass through)

This is my 28th read for the year

I have been through Luxembourg on a trip back and forth to Amsterdam.  Just a small blip on the radar, but I would like to return to do a full visit someday.

This is the author's own story from when she was a child during WWII in Luxembourg.  She speaks about her family's experience of food shortages, daily bombings, and then the US libration troops that billeted at her house.  From the ages of 10-15 Milly recounts what it was like to live in fear, even as she tried to gain a degree as a teacher, and the relief they felt when it was finally over.

This was a good book.  At first, I thought Milly had written it as a child, because the writing is quite simple.  But Milly wrote it as an adult.  Beyond that, the story was a good one, and we learned a lot about Luxembourg during WWII, and what it was like for children especially during this time. 

I recommend this one.  It is a quick read, but there was a lot of knowledge in this short book that made it a good story.

Stars: 4

Monday, February 17, 2020

Read The World - French Guiana - Papillon

Book: Papillon
Author: Henri Charriere
Pages: 576
Book takes place in the country: YES (around 50%)
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 27th read for the year

This is the author's own story of the time he was in prison for a murder he states he was wrongly convicted of.  Nicknamed Papillon due to the butterfly tattoo he had on his chest, he takes us through his trial, his sentence of life in Prison, and then his time in French Guiana prison.  Papillon had only one thing on his mind once he got to prison in French Guiana - escape.  He escaped several times over the 13 years he spent in prison before he finally escape for the final time.  He lived out his days in Venezuela as a free man after his final escape and there he wrote this book recounting the prison time and his escapes in detail.

This was a good book.  I did wonder by the end how true it all is (at least the way people reacted to an escaped convict) because Papillon never saw himself in anything but a positive light.  He was always well respected and well liked and a hard worker.  It may all be true, but only Papillon would know for sure.  HOWEVER - this does not take away from the story itself and it is well written.  I became highly invested in his story.  He is a good story teller above all, so I am glad I decided to go ahead and read this one.

Stars: 4