Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, December 3, 2021

Book: This Will All Be Over Soon

 Book: This Will All Be Over Soon

Author: Cecily Strong

Pages: 272

This is my 93rd read for the year

This is the story of the author and her year during the pandemic which happened right after her cousin died of brain cancer.  She wrote this book as a journal of her time during the pandemic and the story of her cousin's battle and how she dealt with her grief.

This book was just okay.  I love Cecily Strong - think she is one of the funniest members of the SNL cast.  So I decided to give this book a try - knowing full well it would be anything but funny.  But it wasn't good.  It isn't particuarly well written, it is all over the place, and full of pages of text messages.  I wasn't really moved and I should have been - someone died tragically young.  It was just so jumbled that I just wanted it to end.

Just skip it

Stars: 2

Monday, November 22, 2021

Book: The Maidens

Book: The Maidens

Author: Alex Michaelides

Pages: 352

This is my 92nd read for the year

This is the story of recently widowed Mariana.  She gets a call from her niece stating that one of her friends is missing and presumed dead.  Mariana drives to the college to comfort her niece and gets tangled in the search for the murderer.  She pinpoints a beloved professor who has formed a group called "The Maidens" as the most likely suspect.  Thus starts a whirlwind mystery to find out who is murdering girls on campus and why.

I wanted to like this book. I had started to read it, and couldn't get into it, so decided to listen to it instead.  I liked The Silent Patient, so was hopeful. But this story just wasn't good.  I rolled my eyes quite a bit through this one, quickly figured out who the murderer was, and was annoyed with just about every character in the book.  It didn't have a solid plot.  I found myself saying "why" quite often.  The story is disjointed and just a slog.  Listening to it while I did yard work was the only reason I actually finished this one.

Stars: 2

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Book: Code Breaker

 Book: Code Breaker

Author: Walter Isaacson

Pages: 560

This is my 91st read for the year

This is the story of Jennifer Doudna and her invention of CRISPR.  She and her team were leaders in this gene editing technology that has changed the future of the human race.  It tells the story from when she was a young girl and how she decided to become a scientist and the work she has been doing since.  It also shows the work that is being done to develope RNA based Covid vaccines since the pandemic.

This is a good book.  It is long and it is science heavy, but if you are interested in gene editing and the future of curing so many diseases, then pick this one up.  It explores Doudna's career but the career of many other top scientist in the field.  The infighting, the race to be "first" ever present in this profession shows how much competition there really is. 

The world and the world of science has changed.  It is growing by leaps and bounds and more and more people are living longer and better lives because of this.  This novel takes a deep dive into how some of the diseases are being cured by innovative scientist like Doudna and her team.

Stars: 4 1/2

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Behind Her Eyes

 Book: Behind Her Eyes

Author: Sarah Pinborough

Pages: 320

This is my 90th read for the year

This is the story of Louise.  A kind, divorced woman with a young son goes out for a night at the bar and meets a nice man. What she didn't know is this man is married.  And her new boss.  And when she discovers this the next day, she is mortified.  She and her boss decide that this will not come inbetween them and want to forget it ever happened.  However - enter his wife.  A chance meeting spirals she and Louise into an unlikely friendship.  Soon Lousie is mixed into their secrets that are crippling their marriage.  Louise doesn't know who to believe - Adele- the woman who seems to have to bend to her husband's every whim to keep him happy, or David - the husband who seems to be unraveling due to a large secret in their marriage.  In the end, Louise must make a choice that might cost her everything.

This was a strange book.  I did listen to it, and I have to admit it kept me entertained.....until the end.  The end was so out there that I quickly lost interest.  It had already started going in a weird direction about 3/4 of the way into the book, but that ending?  Ugh.  It went from being a thriller to magical disguised as psychology.  Just ridiculous.

Skip it.

Stars: 2

Thursday, November 4, 2021


 Book: Nightbooks

Author: JA White

Pages: 320

This is my 89th read for the year

This is the story of Alex.  One day he is leaving his apartment to throw away his nightbooks - scary stories that he has been writing - and he is lured in to an apartment.  He is trapped there by a witch named Natacha who demands a scary story read to her every night.  This is the only thing that will keep Alex alive.  Inside he discovers that he is not the first child to be trapped there, and he starts to work on how he will escape.  

This is a cute book.  I had seen the Netflix movie and thought I would check the book out.  The movie and the book stick very close to each other.  The little stoies that Alex writes inside this story in general are very entertaining.  It is a middle grade book, but I didn't find any of the stories overly scary even for late elementary students.  It is well written, and the characters are well developed.  Glad I found this one.

Stars: 4

Thursday, October 28, 2021

This Thing Between Us

 Book: This Thing Between Us

Author: Gus Moreno

Pages: 272

This is my 88th read for the year

This is the story of Thiago.  His wife is killed an Thiago's world become unbearable.  His wife's death has made the news and turned his world upside down.  Strange things were happenings to Vera - his wife -and him before she died and things continued to happen after she was gone. Thiago decides to take the money his wife left him and move to a remote cabin away from everything and everyone.   Soon he realizes he can never truly escape any of it.  Especially some sort of evil that seems to be following him.

This book was strange.  Most of the book was okay - trying to figure out what was plaguing Thiago and Vera, the story of how she died - all fine.  But the ending got very bizaare.   It was hard to follow and drawn out and I quickly lost interest in the story.  A lot of rambling.

I listened to this one while doing some yard work, so not all was lost.  But I don't recommend it.

Stars: 3

Friday, October 22, 2021

Book: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

 Book: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

Author: Grady Hendrix

Pages: 424

This is my 87th read for the year

This book is about a group of women who are in a bookclub in a well to do neighborhood in Charleston.  They form a club that reads horror novels.  One night one of the members, Patricia is attacked by a neighbor and a man named James Harris enters her life because of it.  The group is immediately charmed by him and his business prospects, but when children start disappearing in a poor section of town, Patricia starts to become suspicious of James.  No one else in her group of friends or neighbors believe that James has anything to do with the missing children.  Patricia sets out to prove she is right and it leads her down a path she never expected.

This book was dumb.  I doln't have another word for it.  I will say this - it started out interesting.  It was written as satire, but it quickly turned into just a blah novel.  It takes place in the 1990s, but the husbands treating the wives like second class citizens got old quick.  None of the characters are likable.  The book jumps half way through 3 years into the future and I thought this might be the chance for redemption, but it was not.  It is sexist and racist and just plain boring.

Skip it

Stars: 2

Monday, October 18, 2021

Book: The Smell Of Other People's Houses

 Book: The Smell Of Other People's Houses

Author: Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Pages: 240

This is my 86th read for the year

Set in Alaska in the 1970s, the story covers Ruth (who has a growing secret), Dora (who is desperately trying to escape a bad situation), Alyce (who is struggling with the choice whether to dance or help her famliy), and Hank (who has run away with his brothers).  Their lives, friends, and families all become intertwined over the course of this story,  On some level each helps the other either indirectely or directly and changes the course of their lives.

This was a pretty good YA book.  It is short, but it is full of chracters.  The writing is excellent.  The chapters are told from different points of view of the main characters and they flow nicely together.  It wasn't a big page turner, but I looked forward to picking it up this well told story.  

Stars: 4

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Book: About Grace

 Book: About Grace

Author: Anthony Doerr

Pages: 432

This is my 85th read for the year

This is the story of David Winkler.  David has dreams that come true.  Ever since he was a little boy he would have a nightmare about something bad happening to someone, and then it would happen.  Usually it is to people he doesn't know.  But when the nightmare is about the death of his infant daughter, he decides to make a big, life changing decision to protect her and make sure that she survives.  He disappears from her life for years hoping that by staying away, he is doing everything to protect her.  A daughter of a friend is what causes David to look for her and his long lost life.

This book was okay.  I loved Cloud Cuckoo Land and All The Light We Cannot See by the same author.  This one fell flat for me.  I didn't like the main character.  Most of the main characters, actually, except for the people David meets in the Caribbean.  David was frustrating and infuriating.  And he never improved.  Just....wishy washy the entire book.

This was Doerr's first novel, and you can tell from the writing how talented he is.  But I cannot recommend this one as compared to his other novels.

Stars: 2 1/2

Monday, October 11, 2021

Book: Cloud Cuckoo Land

 Book: Cloud Cuckoo Land

Author: Anthony Doerr

Pages: 640

This is my 84th read for the year

This book spans three timelines and tells 5 stories.  In Constantinople in the 15th century where a young boy with a cleft lip and palate Omeir comes into the world and isn't expected to live.  Near by an orphan named Anna begs a local teacher to teach her to read.  On a hunt one night, she discovers a book- the story of Aethon who longs to be turned into a bird.

500 years later - in a small town of Idaho, the stories of Seymour and Zeno unfold.  Zeno - an octogenarian who has taught a group of children the story of Aethon - has come to the library in his small town to rehearse a play the children will be doing based on the book.  Tucked away in the shelves of the library is a bomb that has been placed there by a troubled Seymour.

Decades in the future - Konstance is on an interstellar ship called the Argos.  Earth has become uninhabitable, and the ship is carrying humans to their new home.  At the age of 14, Konstance - like all other kids on the ship before her - gains her "library day" and can now ask any question she has and the ship will give her the answer.  As she starts to delve deeper, she discovers a secret that will change everything.

Soon it becomes clear how these lives all intertwine:  The book and the story of Aethon.

This was a fantastic book.  I am a big fan of Anthony Doerr - All The Light We Cannot See remains one of my favorite books.  This one was just as fabulous.  It is a slow burn, and you do wonder for a bit how these stories are going to fit together.  Be patient because it is worth it.  As the story unfolds, and we see how the people fit together around a book and story that is over 1000 years old, the magic is revealed.  The writing is superb.  The ending pulls it all together  (with an epilogue - my favorite ending).

Highly recommend.

Stars: 5

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Book: Billy Summers

 Book: Billy Summers

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 528

This is my 83rd read for the year

This is the story of Billy Summers.  A killer for hire, Billy has one more job he has agreed to take before he gets out of the business for good.  Little does he know what a long and winding path that job - and the fallout from that job - are waiting for him.  A simple, quick job that he has figured out down to the last detail backfires when a young girl is dumped from a van in front of his apartment one night.  Now Billy knows he must make it right.  For her - and for him.

This was an okay book.  I listened to it to pass the time while doing jobs around the house, but this wasn't one of my favorites of his.  There seemed to be a lot of overuse of words just to fill pages.  Over explaining that didn't seem necessary to move the story along.  I didn't like any of the characters.  King does insert a lot of political views that even I - (who whole heartedly agrees with him) got tired of.  It did nothing for the plot.  I want the old King back - a good psychological thriller that leaves me wanting to leave the light on at bedtime.  

Stars: 2

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Book: Neverworld Wake

 Book: Neverworld Wake

Author: Marisha Pessl

Pages: 336

This is my 83rd book of the year

This is the story of Beatrice.  She graduated high school a year ago, but is home to go to a weekend reunion with her friends.  Since a tragedy that ended with the death of Beatrice's boyfriend in high school, she has not seen these friends and is unsure if meeting up with them is a good idea.  While together with the friends, an accident happens and the friends are faced with a choice.  They are stuck at the mansion until they can come to a unanimous decision as a group.  Trying to figure out how they are going to do that, and continue to get along until they do, is the toughest part.

This was a good YA book.  It kept me interested.  The middle of the book started to become a bit "much", but the ending was good.  It isn't a long book, so muddling through the middle wasn't that bad. If you are looking for a mild YA thriller, then check this one out.

Stars: 3

Monday, September 27, 2021

Book: Falling

 Book: Falling

Author: TJ Newman

Pages: 304

This is my 82nd read for the year

Bill is a stand up guy.  A pilot, husband, and doting father of 2.  He has been asked by his boss to take an extra flight on a day he was supposed to be at his 10 year old son's first baseball game.  But when the boss calls, you have no choice but to go.

Bill's flight starts out like any other, but as soon as he takes off, he finds out that his family has been taken hostage.  Bill is given a choice - crash the plane, and his family lives.  Save the plane and his family dies.  He is told there is also a "mole" on the plane to make sure that Bill makes his choice.  Bill has limited time to decide the fate of 143 people on his plane or his family.  And he must figure out how to save both.

This book was just okay.  I listened to it while doing projects around the house,  It was quick but only slightly suspenseful.  I love a good thriller book that keeps me wanting to turn the pages to see how it ends.  This wasn't one of those books.  The best character in the book was the flight attendant called "Big Daddy".  It was leaning more toward cheesy than scary - the target of the plane on the ground tipping the scales to cheesy.  However - like I said - it kept me entertained.  

Not a book I would consider literature by any cost, but if you have some time to kill for an audio book while doing mindless tasks - this one can pass the time.  

Stars: 3

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Book: The Neighbor's Secret

 Book: The Neighbor's Secret

Author: L Alison Heller

Pages: 336

This is my 81st book for the year

This book is about the Cottonwood Estates book club.  The women come together once a month to discuss achosen book, but in between their lives are intertwined.  Lena, the one woman in the neighborhood who lived through a tragedy 15 years ago has found a friend in the neighborhood and decides to join the book club.  She has a secret that she plans to carry with her to her grave.  However, as she starts to get to know the other women in the book club, she realizes that some of their pasts mixed with hers, and things she never knew come to light.  The women rally together when a vandal strikes their neighborhood.  They will protect their children at any cost.

This book hasn't been released to the general public yet - I have received it as part of my Book Of The Month subscription.  It was an okay book.  It kept me entertained and I was curious to see where it was going.  The secrets keep mounting and it is one of those books where the writer keeps you in the dark for the sake of keeping you in the dark.  Not my favorite.  I did like the ending - love when a writer gives us a look into the character's futures.  But the over take away from the book is that it was just okay.  

Stars: 3

Friday, September 24, 2021

Book: Fall and Rise The Story of 9/11

 Book: Fall and Rise The Story of 9/11

Author: Mitchell Zuckoff

Pages: 624

This is my 80th read for this year

This book recounts almost minute by minute what happened on 9/11 with many people involved.  Back stories of people on the planes, in the towers, part of the rescue effort come alive in this book to paint a picture of who the people we lost truly were.  We get to hear many of their last words, and how ordinary people became extrodinary on a beautiful sunny day in September 20 years ago.  

This book was incredible.  After 20 years I cannot watch a single story or documentary, or read a single book without bursting into tears.  This book delves into details I never knew before, and brings to life the people who were lost.  We hear about their last days, their lives before 9/11, and what happened to them and their families on that day.  I was captivated by every word.  

This book will rip your heart out.  You will mourn for the people who were lost and the families who continue to mourn them.  But you will also celebrate the people they were.  Don't miss this one.

Stars: 5

Monday, September 20, 2021

Book: Later

 Book: Later

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 272

This is my 79th read for the year

This is the story of Jamie.  Jamie, a now young adult, it telling the story of his unnatural ability and how it shaped his life.  His mom is a single mother who sometimes believes in Jamie's "gift" and sometimes thinks that her son is just making it up.  It isn't until she needs him one day that she realizes that he has always been telling the truth.  When an NY police officer draws JAmie in to use his gift to find a serial killer, Jamie is taken on a wild ride as a young kid that he will never forget.

This was a pretty good book.  There is no doubt that I am a Stephen King fan.  He has hits and misses, but I still feel drawn to reading what he writes.  I thought this was a pretty good one.  It is short, and I do miss the long stories that King is more known for, but in this case - shorter was better.  He didn't add "fluff" just to add pages, which I always appreciate.  Could it have been scarier?  Sure.  But I felt myself drawn to wanting to see where the story was going, and read it quickly.

Check this one out if you are a fan.  You won't be disappointed.

Stars: 4

Friday, September 10, 2021

Book: 56 Days

 Book: 56 Days

Author: Catherine Ryan Howard

Pages: 320

This is my 78th read for the year

This is the story of Ciara and Oliver.  The met in Dublin right on the verge of the pandemic and on a whim decide to ride it out together.  Now - Oliver is dead, and the detectives try to piece the story together to find out if it was an accident or a homicide.  The story bounces back and for between 56 days before Oliver's body is discovered, 35 days ago - around the time Oliver and Ciara decide to live together during the pandemic, and today - where the detectives have discovered the body.  

This was a pretty good book.  I liked the idea of a murder mystery during the actual pandemic and wasn't disappointed.  I "kind of" figured out where it was going midway during the book, but there was enough suspension and twist and turns to keep me wanting to read it quickly.  There is a lot of good banter between the characters.  I love a good "quick wit" dialogue.  I liked all of the characters and the story flowed well.  Glad I read this one.

Stars: 4

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Book: The Forest Of Vanishing Stars

 Book: The Forest of Vanishing Stars

Author: Kristin Harmel

Pages: 384

This is my 77th read for the year

This is the story of Yona.  Stolen from her German parents when she was a baby, she grew up with her kidnapper in the deep forest.  She never knew she was taken until her kidnapper reveals the truth on her deathbed in 1941.  Now Yona is alone in the forest - until she comes across a group of Jewish people fleeing the Nazis.  She has no idea that a war is going on.  She vows to help these people and teach them how to survive in the forest.  She continues to help as the group grows until one day she is betrayed.  She feels that her time with this group has come to an end and she wanders into a German village.  What happens there changes the course of her life forever.

This book wasn't that good.  I had hope for it in the beginning - liked the idea of someone being able to survive in the woods and then teach the terrified Jewish people to hide and survive.  The truth is - a lot of Jewish people did survive this way (the author reveals this at the end of her book in her author notes).  That would have been an intriguing story.  Instead, she develops a far fetched story that turns into a love story and she loses me.  I never really liked any of the characters.  Their emotions were almost too extreme to be believable.

Stars: 3

Friday, September 3, 2021

Book: Freedom

 Book: Freedom

Author: Sebastian Junger

Pages: 160

This is my 76th read for the year

This is the story of the author - a journalist and novelist - who took 2 Afgan war vets and a conflict photographer on a 400 mile journey from Washington DC to Connellsville, PA along the railroad tracks.  Their journey was to unteather themselves from every day life and reflect on the time in the war, and their lives since.  The author talks about what it was like to be free - to walk, sleep, eat, and journey where they wanted.  Along with the people they meet and the towns they visit (he talks mostly about the towns in Pennsylvania) he recounts railroad history and others who have walked the tracks.  

My husband bought me this book for mother's day when he found out it ended in our hometown of Connellsville, PA.  Our sleepy little town isn't the center of a lot of books by famous writers (Junger wrote "The Perfect Storm" - a novel turned movie many of us are familiar with), so I was excited to tackle this little book.  I LOVED the parts where he talked about his journey on the tracks, the people he met in the Pennsylvania towns along the way, and espeically the small sections about Connellsville.  But this book was like two novels in one.  Instead of having one track (personal stories/personal journey) he threw in a lot of history that just felt disconnected to the rest of the book.  Not always, but enough that I found myself wishing that he would have left those parts out.  The history seemed a bit "all over the place" which is the best way I can describe it and I never felt that it was connected to their journey in a meaningful way.  I could have skipped many of those parts completely and found an enjoyable story.

For such a short book, there was really no reason to throw in "beef" for this book.  I can imagine what he saw, heard, and the people he met along the way could have filled many books.  I am glad I read it for the Connellsville part of this story, but without that connection, this would not have been a book I would recommend.

Stars: 3

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Book: Firekeeper's Daughter

 Book: Firekeeper's Daugher

Author: Angeline Bouley

Pages: 496

This is my 75th read for the year

This book is about Daunis Fontaine.  She has just graduated from high school  - top of her class - but has chosen to go to a local state school to stay close to her family.  She meets Jamie - a newcomer in town, and quickly falls for him.  She feels he is hiding someting from her, though, and when she finds out what it is - she is sent on a path she never expected to be on.  The path is dangerous and ends in tragedy for one of her friends and her family.  It is a lot to carry for an 18 year old girl and in the end she gathers the strength she needs to make things right for her community.

This was a pretty good book.  I listened to it and it moved at a good pace.  It covers the growing problem of methamphetamine addiction and how it affects the Native American communities.  You learn a lot about customs of Native American tribes.  The downsides were - it was a bit long and you did figure out who the drug dealer for this community was pretty quickly.  There were a few surprises here and there, thought, which helped.  And I feel like I leanred a great deal, so I am glad I read this one.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Book: Malibu Rising

 Book: Malibu Rising

Author: Taylor Jenkins Ried

Pages: 384

This is my 74th read of the year

This is the story of 4 Riva children.  They are the children of the famous Mick Riva who grew up without him after he cheated multiple times on their mother and left them to find for themselves.  Nina - the eldest - is having her annual party in her mansion in Malibu but this year it is shortly after her husband left her for another woman.  Jay - the second eldest is a champion surfer, Hud - the half sibling brother who is a renowned photographer, and Kit the youngest is the adored baby sister.  The 4 of them raised by Nina after their mother dies, have long put their deadbeat famous father out of their mind and made their own lives.

The party -which Nina never wanted to have - is quickly spiraling out of control.  By the morning, the house has burned down and the siblings have faced all their demons.  Told in a timeline from when Mick met their mother to present day, we find out how the siblings ended up where they are.

So - I don't get the good reviews for this book.  And I was happy to see Amazon reviewers that agree with me.  This book was terrible.  I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.  But this one was not good at all.  I found myself wanting to skip read over the bad writing and terrible characters.  I didn't like any of them except for maybe Nina.  The chapters with the party were so disjointed I couldn't follow the madness.  Characters were unbelievable.  Name dropping of fake celebrities was dumb.  

My vote is skip it.  

Stars: 2

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Book: Life's Too Short

 Book: Life's Too Short

Author: Abby Jimenez

Pages: 384

Thisis my 73rd read for the year

This is the story of Vanessa, a young woman who started a vlog when she discovered she might have the same disease that killed her mother, her sister, her grandmother and an Aunt - ALS.  She travels the world and her videos went viral.  She gives most of the money she makes to ALS research, and uses the rest to support her family.  

Vanessa's world is turned upside down when her young half sister leaves her newborn daughter on Vanessa's doorstep and says she cannot take care of her.  Her sister has struggled with drugs ever since their older sister died of ALS, so Vanessa stops her traveling and her vlog and tries to figure out what she is going to do with a newborn especially when her own life might be coming to an end.  Enter - the handsome next door neighbor, Adrian, who offers to help knowing very little about Vanessa and about her life expectancy.  Now Vanessa - who vowed to never fall in love, never get attached, is struggling with both.  She is now hoping for a future she may never see and for things she can possibly never have.

This book would be the perfect Hallmark Christmas movie.  Not only does it start out in December right before Christmas, it moves along as the best of those cheesy movies always do.  Everything falls into place and what to do you know.....the ending is perfect.  I rolled my eyes quite a few times during this book, BUT then I remembered that I do love those cheesy Hallmakr Christmas movies.  It is sweet and Adrian is of course perfect.  Vanessa a hero.  The baby - a charmer.  Everything unrealisticly resolved.  Everyone is rich.

This is the lightest of the lightest reads and honestly - I think that is why I stuck with it.  Sometimes you have to read cheesy, predictable books when you are in the middle of a pandemic.  I can recommend it for that.  If you want a silly, predictable, perfect ending read - this book is most definitely for you.  Great literature it is NOT.  But fun - yes.

Stars: 3

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Book: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

 Book: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

Author: Julietta Henderson

Pages: 370

This is my 72nd read for the year

This is the story of Norman.  A 12 year old boy who just lost his best friend, Jax.  The two had planned on becoming a comedy duo at the Edinburg Fringe when they are older.  When Jax dies, Norman decides he needs to do this festival himself as a tribute to his friend.  What he realizes as he starts his journey that Jax was the funny one of the group.

When Norman approaches his mom, Sadie, about his idea of doing the Edinburg Fringe, she wants to do what she can to help him.  Norman is lost without his best friend, so she tells Norman that she will help him.  Norman has another request - he wants to find his father.  Sadie enlist the help of her friend and co-worker - an 80+ year old man named Leonard - to help them.  The three set off on a wild adventure to meet the men that could possibly be Norman's father and help him fulfill his dream of stand up comedy.  

This book is so sweet and heartwarming, you will want to read it all at once.  Sweet Norman, who just lost his best friend, pulls at your heartstrings as you easily imagine what it would be like for one of your own children.  Sadie - a mom who loves Norman more than anything else in the world, but who cannot fathom how she is going to pull this off without watching Norman get his heart broken.  And Leonard - a sweet old man who is savvy with the internet drives them wherever they want to go and is Norman's biggest cheerleader.  The story has one great turn after another where you are rooting for Norman to be successful in his quest and regain some happiness after his tragic loss.

Definitely read this one.  You won't be disappointed.  

Stars: 4 1/2

Friday, August 6, 2021

Book: The Rose Code

 Book: The Rose Code

Author: Kate Quinn

Pages: 656

This is my 71st read of the year

This is a story of three women who answered the call during WWII to break German Codes.  In 1940 The three British women arrive at Bletchley Park among with other great minds from all over the country, and set out to find out what the Germans are planning before it happens.  Oslo who is beautiful and wealthy, and currently seening Prince Phillip of Greece (before he became THEE prince Phillip), Mab - who grew up poor and wants to find a husband, and Beth - a meak girl who needs to get away from her mother who thinks all Beth is good for is taking care of her.  Oslo and Mab take Beth under their wing and soon discover that Beth has a brillian mind for puzzles.  But soon, a terrible tragedy tears the women apart.

The story jumps to 1947, days before Prince Phillip is to marry Princess Elizabeth.  Beth has called Oslo and Mab to help her with one last encrypted letter that she believes is the key to what broke their friendship apart and also got Beth sent to an asylum.  Oslo and Mab reluctantly agree to unbury the past and help Beth with this one last task.  It is dangerous, but Beth knows it has to be done.

This was a good book.  It is LONG.  I listened to it, and it kept me entertained.  The story flows nicely, and you get invested in the lives of these three women and the tragedy that pushed them apart.  IT jumps back and forth from 1940 to 1947, spending most of the time in 1940 while the women work together to break codes.  We get a look into what it was like to be on a code breaking team and how hard it is to keep secret that this is what you did during the war - even after it is long over.  The women who were code breakers were some of the most brillian minds of the times, and not something I was familiar with going into this story.  While this is a historical fiction book, you still learn a lot about what the process was like, which I always enjoy.

This was a good one.  I highly recommend.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Book: The Partials

 Book: The Partials

Author: Dan Wells

Pages: 528

This is my 70th read for the year

This is the story of Kira in a world that has very little people left due to a virus and a vicious group of synthetic humans called The Partials.  The only remaining survivors in North America are now all together on Long Island.  For over a decade, every baby that has been born dies within days, so pretty soon, no humans will be left.

Kira, who is 16 years old, and training to be a medic is desperate to find a cure.  When one of her closest friends gets pregnant, she knows that she must do anything she can to save that baby.  She sets out to find a Partial that she can study because she is sure they are the key to humanity's survival.  What she discovers along the way will change her path completely.

As most people know, I am a pretty big fan of dystopian novels.  When I can get my hands on one, I give it a try.  I got this book in a haul from a friend, and was surprised to see the limited reviews for it on Amazon.  (it is an older book).  It was a pretty good story.  It is lengthy, but it held my attention through the whole book.  It is a fresh take which I always appreciate.  The plot flows along nicely, and there are some twists you don't see coming.  For a YA novel, it has pretty good world building. It keeps pace, and the ending left you wanting more AND was wrapped up nicely in case you don't wish to read the other novels in the series.

I have heard that the next two are dreadful, so I might stop here with this one.  It left me satisfied enough that I don't need more if I am not going to get a good story.

Stars: 4

Monday, July 19, 2021

Book: Mother May I

 Book:Mother May I

Author: Joshilyn Jackson

Pages: 336

This is my 69th read for the year

This is the story of Bree.  She grew up poor, but married rich.  She has a good husband, three beautiful kids and a beautiful house.  One day, her youngest - a baby boy just a few weeks old - is taken while she was watching her older daughter rehearse a school play.  She receives a threatening note and a phone call that if she does exactly what she is told, she will see her baby again.  Not wanting to worry her husband who is out of town, or her daughters, she takes her daughters to her mother's houes for the weekend and sets out to get her baby back.

The person who has taken her baby is an older woman who is also a mother.  Trying to figure out why a mother would do this, and why Bree herself has been targeted sets her on a path to discover secrets of her husband's past she wishes she never knew about.  But Bree will do whatever it takes to get her baby back and protect her family.

This was an okay book.  I listened to it - like I do so many of my books this summer due to endles yard work - so it passed them time.  The plot is pretty predictable and not that captivating.  You figure out pretty quickly where this is going and why.  The ending is neatly wrapped up which, to be honest, I usually love.  But this just all seemed to easy.  IT was pretty lengthy and could have been shortened to get the point across.  Getting so wordy took away some of the suspense for me.  

If you are looking for a mild suspense novel with a neatly wrapped up ending, then give this book a try.  If you want true suspense, look elsewhere.

Stars: 3

Friday, July 9, 2021

Book: Local Woman Missing

 Book: Local Woman Missing

Author: Mary Kubica

Pages: 352

This is my 68th read for the year

This is the story of three missing women and the community where they lived.  Shelby - who went out running one night and never returned, and Meredith - a midwife and her daughter, Delilah, who disappeared without a trace.  As the women turn up dead and the daughter never found, the community is realing thinking a serial killer is on the loose.  Moving through time back and forth 11 years, we watch the story of these wome and Delilah - who shockingly returns after being missing for those 11 years - trying to figure out the truth.

This book was just okay.  And that is probably being generous.  I didn't like one character.  They all seemed like horrible people who couldn't possibly be friends.  I could never imagine talking to m friends the way these people talked to each other.  The ending was terrible.  When the truth comes to light it becomes pretty unrealistic.  Quite a few plot holes.  (if even a mediocre medical examiner did an autopsy on Meredith the mystery would have wrapped up much quicker) 

I would skip this one.  There are better thrillers.

Stars: 2 1/2

Monday, July 5, 2021

Book: What Could Be Saved

 Book: What Could Be Saved

Author: Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

Pages: 460

This is my read of the year

This is the story of Laura, and Bea whose brother was stolen from their family when they were very young.  The family was living in Bangkok in the 70s where their father worked, and one day their brother disappeared without a trace.  40 years later, Laura is contacted by a stranger saying that a man claming to be her brother was looking for her.  Her sister, Bea, is skeptical and doesn't believe it could possibly be him, but Laura has to find out.

The story alternates between the past and the present as Laura tries to figure out if this man is her long lost brother, Robert.  The story builds their life in Bangkok in the 70s leading up to Robert's disappearance and what the family think happened to him.  The family - seeming to live a life of luxury there with servants and dinner parties had their lives turned upside down when Robert disappears.

This was a pretty good book.  I do like books that travel back and forth across timelines.  As Laura tried to piece together if this was her brother, we learned about what life was like for expats in Bangkok.  When they leave Bangkok without Robert - whom they presume is dead or out of the country - their lives are never the same.  And when we learn Robert's story and who took him and what his life was like in Bangkok, the pieces of the story all fall together.

It is well written, maybe a tad long, but a good story overall.  Glad I found this one.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

2021 Challenge: Book between 200-400 pages: Good Neighbors

 Book: Good Neighbors

Author: Sarah Langan

Pages: 304

This is my 66th read for the year

This is the story of the neighbors on Maple Street in a Long Island neighborhood.  When the Wilde family moves in with their rock star dad, and gruff speaking mom and kids, the neighbors don't know what to think.  Rhea Schroder - who thinks she runs the block - wants the rest of the neighbors turn on the Wildes.  When a sink hole appears near the street and a tragedy happens, the block starts to believe the Wilde family is to blame.  It becomes on neighbor's word against the other until the truth finally comes out.

This was an okay book.  It is a bit dark, but a fast read.  No one in this book is a particularly nice person - except maybe a few of the kids and one neighbor.  It was almost an overload of bad characters.  I was curious to see where it was going, and it kept me entertained (I listened to it).  But it was a little weird, a little disjointed.  I still don't know exactly how I feel about it.  The characters were shallow.  It jumped around a lot (future and present).    It was just.....meh.

I listen to a lot of things that are just okay.  And I don't mind.  But I would not pick this book up and continue reading it.  So unless you are doing meaningless chores and looking for something to fill your earbuds while you work, then skip this one.

Stars 3

Monday, June 28, 2021

2021 Challenge: Author With Same First Initial As You: That Summer

 Book: That Summer

Author: Jennifer Weiner

Pages: 432

This is my 65th read for the year
(also - this author and I share the same first name!  Parents in the 70s weren't that original.  No offense mom)

This is the story of two Dianas.  Diana Starling and Diana (who goes by Daisy) Shoemaker.  Two women who are strangers until Daisy starts receiving emails from Diana Starling.  The two decide to meet and hit it off right away.  Daisy - who has a cooking business, a husband, and a teenager daughter - is envious of Diana who has a big job and beautiful clothes.  What she doesn't realize is that Diana has a big secret, and that her meeting Daisy is no accident.  Diana's true intentions start to come to light Daisy's life is changed forever.

First - this book needs to come with a warning.  This is not a typical summer beach read that Jennifer Weiner usually writes.  This book is about a woman who was raped when she was younger and how it set the course for her whole life.  So you have been warned.  I am usually a big fan of Jennifer Weiner books, but this wasn't one of my favorites.  The subject is an important one - especially right now.  But it wasn't what I was expecting.  It was very heavy, and if I hadn't been listening to it while I did yard work, I might have put it down and picked it up at a different time.  It is humorless - as it should be considering the subject.  And you do figure out where it is going farily quickly - no surprises what these two women are going to have in common.  

It is an important story.  It does have a political lean (just read the Amazon comments and that will tell you quite a bit), so if that isn't for you - you should skip this one.

Stars: 3 1/2

Saturday, June 26, 2021

2021 Challenge: Book On Your Kindle/Shelf The Shortest: The Hunting Party

 Book: The Hunting Party

Author: Lucy Foley

Pages: 352

This is my 64th read for the year

This is the story of a group of friends who are on their annual trip for New Years.  Every year they go somewhere together - each member of the group picking where to go.  This year it was Emma's turn and she wants everything to be perfect.  The estate is remote and known for getting snowed in and guest getting stuck, but the group remains unconcerned.  They are there to enjoy each other's company.

A snow storm does close them in, and past resentments among the group start to emerge.  Secrets come to surface and cause a fracture in the group that cannot be undone.  And when someone winds up dead, and the people running the estate try to piece together who did it while they wait for the weather to lift, everyone starts to wonder who among them did it.  And who might be next.

This was an okay read.  I listened to it (doing a lot of that lately) while I was doing some gardening.  It passes the time.  It is told in the voices of many of the characters, which I do enjoy.  The killer was a bit surprising, but not overly so.  I didn't love any of the characters, so when it was revealed I found it hard to care.  The ending was just so/so.  They do wrap it up, thankfully, but not in a truly satisfying way.

I read her other book - The Guest List - and liked this one only slightly better.  I think I will pass on her books in the future.

Stars: 3

Thursday, June 24, 2021

2021 Challenge: Reese's Bookclub Pick: The Last Thing He Told Me

 Book: The Last Thing He Told ME

Author: Laura Dave

Pages: 320

This is my 63rd book for the year

This is the story about Hannah.  Wife to Owen, step mother to Bailey.  One day, Owen disappears.  But before he does, he leaves Hannah a note about Bailey "protect her".  16 year old Bailey who already lost her mother tragically and wants nothing to do with Hannah.  As events unfold - Owen's boss is arrested for fraud, and FBI and US Marshall agents start to appear - Hannah realizes Owen wasn't who he said he was.  Without waiting for the police, Hannah sets out to discover Owen's past.  In doing so, she uncovers things she never expected.

This was a pretty fair book.  It unfolds at a good pace and kept me entertained while I did gardening work.  Some of the decisions Hannah makes are a bit ridiculous, but I tried to keep an open mind.  Bailey is a complete brat.  I have three teenagers of my own and so I do get some of that.  What they don't get -which Bailey does regularly - is away with it.  The big reveal about Owen was just okay.  There was no real suspsense.  

But - the ending was good.  I do love a book that shows the future.  Always a win in my book.  So that was a savior for me.  It is a good book to listen to, or for a summer beach read.  Not top literature by any means, but worth a look.

Stars: 3 1/2

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

2021 Challenge: Over 300 Pages: The Grace Year

 Book: The Grace Year

Author: Kim Liggett

Pages: 416

This is my 62nd book of the year

This is the story of 16 year old Tierney.  Born into a society who believes that women have magic powers.  Girls during their 16th year are banished into the wild to relase their magic so that they can come back to society ready for marriage. However -not all girls that are released during their "Grace Year" return.

Tierney - who doesn't want to be a wife, but is destined to be one anyway - is told that the poachers who hunt the girls during their Grace Year is her biggest fear.  However, she soon realizes that isn't the biggest threat.  As Tierney starts to piece together what the magic really is, why the girls - who are forbidden to talk about the Grace Year  - look so broken when they return, and what all of this means for her own future, she sets to change things.  However, she soon realizes that this will be harder than she imagines.

This book wasn't great.  It was way too much like the Handsmaid's Tale (which is it touted for).  I was looking for some originality in my favorite genre, but got more of the same.  Another society where men see women as property.  The love story that develops escalated so quickly that it was hard to believe.  Instalove is never for me.  There wasn't a lot of character development.  I really never developed feelings for any character in the book - not even our heroine.  This isn't a slow burn, and that is possibly why.  

Handmaid's Tale and Hunger Games this is not.  For a 400 page book, I was hoping for more.

Stars: 3

Sunday, June 20, 2021

2021 Challenge: Author with 9 letters in last name: Half Sick of Shadows

 Book: Half Sick of Shadows

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pages: 448

This is my 61st read for the year.

I got this as an early copy through my Book Of The Month Club

This is the story of Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere, Morgana and Elaine.  Everyone knows the story.  Arthur who is to be king.  Guinevere who betrays Arthur with Lancelot.  Morgana who turns against them all.  And Elaine - who is cursed to know the fuure before the rest of them.

When the time comes for Arthur to claim the throne, the group accompany him Camelot.  Elaine tries her hardest to keep everyone together and everyone safe, but no matter what she does - the future never really changes for her closest group of friends.  She must decide how far she will go to change their fates.

This was an okay book.  I always love a good spin on a classic story.  It did move a little slower and more like a YA book (even thought these characters are in their 20s.)  The characters are a bit bland and I never really got fully invested in any of their stories.  The timeline was a bit of a mess, didn't really develop well.  And the ending - for me it just fell apart.  It left me wanting mor.  

I had high hopes for this one.  I loved the idea.  But for me it fell flat.

Stars:  3

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

2021 Challenge: Book You Think They Should Read In Schools: Hiroshima

 Book: Hiroshima

Author: John Hersey

Pages: 152

This ismy 60th read for the year

This is the story of the people of Hiroshima after the Atom Bomb was dropped on their town in 1945.  It is told in the memories of survivors.  IT follows doctors and a priest, mothers and fathers - all who survived and who suffered serious illness in the aftermath.  Over 100,000 people died that day and over the course of time another 100,000 died due to the after effects.  These six survivors and their stories weave a picture of what it was like that day and the years that followed such a tragic event.

This was a great book.  I finished it in an afternoon because it is so short.  I couldn't put it down.  I didn't know much about Hiroshima and an account of people's stories are always my favorite when learning about a place.  The story is unbelievable that one minute they were enjoying a warm summer day and the next their entire world was turned upside down.

Check this book out.  You won't be disappointed.

Stars: 5

Monday, June 14, 2021

2021 Challenge: And Educational Read: Van Gogh - The Life

 Book: Van Gogh - The Life

Author: Steven Naifeh and Gregory Smith

Pages: 976

This is my 59th read for the year

The authors delve into the life of Van Gogh starting from when he was a young boy all the way to his death.  Written from help from the Van Gogh museum and letters that were written between Vincent and his brother, Theo, they weave a story that few know about the life of this beloved artist.  Readers get a look into his life both personal and professional and how long he struggled before he was "discovered"  We get a better picture of his mental illness and his death at the age of 37.  

This is a fantastic book - one of the best I have read this year so far.  I listened to it (all 42 hours) to pass my endless hours of painting our house this week.  I was enthralled with this story from the start.  I actually visited the Van Gogh museum just a few years ago with my family and wish now that I would have read this book first.  It goes into so much detail of Van Goghs life and how he came about his paintings.  You become frustrated with this man (he relies on money from his brother for his entire short life - never getting a job yet always spending heavily) but you also feel sorry for him because he was truly tortured.  He does bring on many of his woes himself (he was always obstinate) but he is picked on by towns people wherever he went.  Not becomes truly famous until really after he died, I found his path to being one of the greatest artist we have ever know unbelievable.  I saw his work in person, and now I know what he was thinking when he made those paintings.  Truly amazing.

If you have a lot of time to kill but more importantly want to know more than you ever thought you did about Van Gogh - get this book.  It will be worth it - I promise.

Stars: 5

Our visit to the museum (you cannot take pictures inside)