Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

2021 Challenge: Book By Kristin Hannah: The Four Winds

 Book: The Four Winds

Author: Kristin Hannah

Pages: 464

This is my 24th read for the year

This is the story of Elsa Wolcott.  A young lady that falls in love with a man and is disowned by her family when she discovers she is pregnant.  She has to grow up fast, learn to farm harsh farm land in the midwest, and figure out why her husband is so unhappy.  Elsa begins to realize that if she doesn't take her children west looking for a better life, then they surely all will die.  But that decision will come at a cost she is not sure she can make.

Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors.  "Nightingale", "Winter Garden", and "Firefly Lane" remain on the top of my favorite reads.  However - this book wasn't for me.  I did not find it well written.  It took me around 100 pages to even begin to get into it, and even then....I never really did.  I was so disappointed because I have been excited since last year that she was coming out with a new book.  I couldn't wait.  It is extremely despressing.  And really cheesy writing, which I never enjoy.  And just not like the author I have come to admire.

I am sure I will get a lot of flack for this review.  She is beloved.  I didn't even mind the political statement this book was making.  It wasn't that at all.  It was just quality.  The story didn't capture me.  The characters fell flat.  I will hope that her next book will be on the upswing.

Stars: 3

Sunday, February 21, 2021

2021 Book Challenge: Book Where First Chapter Ends on an Odd Number - Game Changer

 Book: Game Changer

Author: Neil Shusterman

Pages: 400

This is my 23rd read for the year

This is the story of Ash.  A high school football player to one Friday night game takes a very hard hit on the football field.  The next thing he knows, the world he knew looks completely different.  Stops Signs are now Blue.  He lives in better neighborhood.  His friendships have changed.  Small changes roll into bigger changes the more hits he takes at his games leaving him trying to figure out how he will get back to the world he knew.  However - along the way, he has a chance to look at life through difference lenses that will leave him forever changed.

I want to say first - I am a huge Shusterman fan.  Dystopian Future/Alternate worlds: this is my favorite genre.  And "Scythe" and "Unwind" series that Shusterman wrote are among my favorite books in that genre.  This Shusterman novel was a disappointment to me.  I was so looking forward to it because "Scythe" was amazing.  The underlying story that the author was trying to tell was a clever concept.  Jumping around in different dimensions, developing memories of the person you are in that world, yet holding onto the memories from previous worlds is intriguing.  But that wasn't the central theme of this book.  Instead Shusterman uses this as a soap box platform to talk about every issues that plagues us in 2021.  And while I whole heartedly agree that it needs to be discussed and be brought to the front of our minds daily - he over did it.  The story of the different worlds fell second to the point of almost non-existent.  

Look - I am loving that most books I read these days bring forward issues of racism, and LGBTQ characters are becoming a norm.  I applaud it whole heartedly.  This book just missed the mark.  When you lose the story because you think your 17 year old character would be this aware, then you lose me.  I see what he was trying to do - he just tried too hard and lost his way.

Stars: 3

Thursday, February 18, 2021

2021 Reading Challenge: A Book Published By Penguin: The Vanishing Half

 Book: The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett

Pages: 352


This is my 22nd read for the year

This is the story of the Vignes twins.  These girls grew up in a small town in the south, but ran away from home at the age of 16.  One twin returns year later with a young daughter.  The other never returns, and actually lives her life as a white woman in an affluent neighborhood in California.

Crossing a large span of these girl's lives, and the lives of their daughters, we see the tug of their roots come back to haunt them.  Learning what shapes and influences people's decisions and expectations. How trying to "reinvent" yourself does actually mean.

This was a pretty good book.  I enjoyed getting involved in the long span of time that passes in the book, and how the sisters and their families evolved over all of those decades.  However, I do wish the books spent more time on the sisters than their daughters.  It was evently dispersed acrossed the twins and their two daughters, but I wanted to get more involved with the twin sisters and their lives more than their children's lives.

Also - the ending wasn't strong.  It seemed to wrap up so quickly after spending so much time with a large timeline in the book.  It left me wanting.  

The book overall tackeled so many important issues, racism: colorism, transgender issues, domestic abuse, self hate, and that needs to be commended. I just wish the book would have done maybe two characters and developed them more than try to broaden 4 characters over the 350 pages.  

Stars: 3 1/2

Extra Book: Elites Of Eden

 Book: Elites of Eden

Author: Joey Graceffa

Pages: 288

This is my 21st read for the year

The second book in the Children of Eden trilogy starts with Yarrow.  She is a rich elite girl in Eden who is the daughter of one of the most powerful women in their world.  She goes to the exclusive Oaks boarding school and her friends make everyone's lives miserable who dare get in their way.

One day a girl named Lark shows up and thing change.  Yarrow starts to discover there are things about her she needs to uncover.  She is not who she thinks she is, and discovering that puts her in danger. The fate of second born children rely on Yarrow uncovering memories she didn't know she had.

Okay - I am glutton for punishment.  I hate giving up on trilogies  - especially when I am just listening to them when I am running errands.  So I decided to keep going with this series.  It didn't get any better in the second book from the first.  I liked how it started - thought that we might be going somewhere.  But alas - the writing hasn't improved.  Or the character development.  It quickly became predictable just like the first book.   The one swear word is back.  So....I think I am done.

Stars: 2

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Book Challenge 2021: A Cover With A Woman Facing Away: Children Of Eden

 Book: Children of Eden

Author: Joey Graceffa

Pages: 288

This is my 20th read for the year

If you are wondering why I have so many in a row - it is because of the beautiful world of audiobooks.  While I was finishing my Read The World challenge, I was using my car time/chore time to listen to several books. I tend to overlap a few books at a time.

This is the story or Rowan.  She is a second child in a world that does not premit second children.  For 16 years her family has hidden her away in her house while her twin brother was able to explore the world.  And even thought her brother Ash shared his days with her by describing them when he returned hom - Rowan knows it isn't the same.  One night she decides to sneak out of their walled garden and everything changes.  This decision sends Rowan on a path she never expected to be on.  And soon she discovers the secrets of her home - Eden - that she was never supposed to know.

This book wasn't that great.  I know - I have been saying that a lot lately.  Things come up on my Scribd app, and sometimes I give them a try.  My favorite genre is Dystopian.  And I am hutning for the next Hunger Games.  Or Testing Trilogy.  But I haven't found it in this one.  Why or why do authors need to make their main characters so naive.  All.the.time.  This main character is a special kind of niave.  Yes - she is supposed to be 16 and yes the author is setting her to make 16 year old impulse decisions.  But I found myself rolling my eyes so hard so many times that I just cannot count this as good literature.  It was a good book for runnig errands because it did not demand much of my attention.  Her love triangle is cliche.  There is no originality.  She has decided not to have profanity in the book, which I commend her for, but she uses one "made up swear" - Bick" - so much it gets exhausting.  I don't get it.  

I would not bother with this series.  I am sorry to say that my next review is going to be for the second in this book.  I really need to start searching for better content on my Scribd app.

Stars: 2

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Book Challenge 2021 - Recommended on Book Bub: Shadow And Bone

 Book: Shadow And Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Pages: 416

This is my 19th read for the year

This is the story of Alina Starkov - an orphan who grew up to become a soldier that needs to enter the Shadow Fold.  (darkness that is crawling with monsters) During a fight, when her best friends life was at stake, Alina unleashes magic she had no idea she had.

Now that her power has been discovered, the Darkling has come to claim her and bring her into the world of the Grisha.  She will be trained to be the Sun Summoner they were all waiting for to get rid of the Shadow Fold and free the world once and for all of the monsters that lurk there.

During her Grisha training, she learned of the Darkling's true plan and escapes to find her best friend.  She knows what she must do to protect her world (Ravka) and save everyone from the darkness.

I got this book for Christmas from my husband.  He knew they were making it into a Netflix show and thought I would like to read the book before that happened.  I read a chapter each night and was really hoping that this would be a series that I would enjoy and be excited about enough to finish the trilogy before the show came out in April.

Alas - it was not.  The book was fine, don't get me wrong.  It wasn't terrible.  It just wasn't great.  This is the author that wrote Six of Crows, so it got a lot of press.  You don't really get attached - or like - any of the characters.  The plot is just okay.  Nothing jumped out at me - it has all been done before.  And yes, I realize that because of the vast number of books I read this is something that would be hard to avoid, but still.  I won't be reading the rest.  We shall see what Netflix makes of it.

Stars: 2

Monday, February 15, 2021

Reading Challenge 2021 - A Book Published In 2021: The Push

 Book: The Push

Author: Audrain

Pages: 320

This is my 18th read for the year

This is the story of Blythe.  Raised in a troubled household with a mother who left when Blythe was young, she is determined to be a better mother than the one she had.  Even Blythe's own mother had a terrible childhood, so Blythe is worried about the pattern continuing.  When Violet is born, Blythe already knows something is wrong.  She doesn't feel a connection to her daughter like she thinks she should.  And ask Violet grows and starts to have questionable behaviors that leave Blythe wondering if it is her or Violet that is the problem.  When a second child is born, and tragedy strikes, Blythe is convinced that she was right all along about her daughter.

This was an interesting read.  I listened to it with a free Audible credit I had.  It was a choice in my Book of The Month club as well.  It wasn't a new story line, of course.  Mother who doesn't bond with her child/child might be evil.  It has been done.  And this one wasn't particularly well written in my opinion.  I kept waiting for me.  For there to be more "incidents" or for the family to get help.....anything.  Instead Blythe makes wishy washy decisions and doesn't defend her thoughts or actions, and in the end......well the book just kind of ends on a bit of a cliff hanger.  I shoudln't say that.  It wasn't really a cliff hanger - you could see it coming.  But you could tell the author wanted to add some shock value.  

It was FINE.  I am glad I didn't waste my BOTM credit on this one, but it passed the time while I ran errands.

Stars: 3

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Read The World Challenge COMPLETE

 I finally did it.  202 Countries - 202 Books.  I have officially read a book from every known country in the world - what a feat!  It feels good to be done.

It has taken me two years to complete this challenge thanks to the pandemic.  As much as I should have been reading during all of that "stay at home" time, I instead had to get our family ready for our big move from Switzerland back to the United States.  So it took me awhile to get the challenge finished.  

I have bought each book I have read from each country and made a Read The World shelf in the house.  To have all 202 books in one place (and in Alphabetical country order) that I can look at forever was a big reward for this challenge.  

If this is a challenge you would like to try for yourself, I highly encourage it.  I have learned so many things about the countries I read about.  I explored countries that I didn't know anything about.  My world view grew by leaps and bounds with this one, and solidified for me that traveling and discovering new places will always remain a goal of mine.  Once this pandemic is over, my family plans on contiuing our travel journey.

Here is the list of countries and the books I read from each.  If you click on the title, it will take you to my review.  


Afganistan - Kite Runner 👌👌👌👌👌

Albania - Chronicle In Stone 👌👌👌👌

Algeria - The Plague 👌👌👌👌

Andorra - 32 Yolks 👌👌👌👌

Angola - The Book of Chameleons 👌👌👌👌

Antigua - A Small Place 👌👌👌 1/2

Argentina - Alive 👌👌👌👌

Armenia - Like Water on Stone 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Aruba - An Island Away 👌👌👌

Australia - The Light Between Oceans 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Austria - Marrying Mozart 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Azerbaijan - Ali and Nino A Love Story 👌👌 1/2

Bahamas - An Evening In Guanima  👌👌👌👌

Bahrain - Round The Bend 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Bangladesh - A Golden Age 👌👌👌👌

Barbados - The Girl With Hazel Eyes 👌👌👌

Belarus - Voices From Chernobyl 👌👌👌👌

Belgium - A Tall Man In A Low Land 👌👌👌👌

Belize - The Last Flight Of The Scarlet Macaw 👌👌👌👌

Benin - The Viceroy of Ouidah 👌👌👌

Bhutan - Beyond the Sky And Earth 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Bolivia - Bolivian Diary 👌👌👌

Bosnia - Zlata's Diary 👌👌👌👌

Botswana - The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency 👌👌👌👌

Brazil - Dora Flor and Her Two Husbands 👌👌👌

Brunei - Devil Of A State 👌👌

Bulgaria - The Physics of Sorrow 👌👌👌

Burkina Faso - Of Water And Spirit 👌👌👌👌

Burundi - This Voice In My Heart 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Cambodia - The Rent Collector 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Cameroon - Mission To Kala 👌👌👌 1/2

Canada - Still Life 👌👌👌

Cape Verde - Last Will and Testament Senor de Silva 👌👌👌👌

Central African Republic - Making Sense of Central African Republic 👌👌👌

Chad - The Roots Of Heaven 👌👌👌👌

Chile- Maya's Notebook 👌👌👌👌

China - Lost On Planet China 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Columbia - Delirium 👌👌👌👌

Comoros - A Fish Caught In Time 👌👌👌👌

Congo - Democratic - Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty 👌👌👌👌

Congo - Republic - The Poisonwood Bible 👌👌👌👌

Costa Rica - Cadence Of The Moon 👌👌 1/2

Cote D'Ivoire - Whiteman 👌👌👌

Croatia - Girl At War 👌👌👌👌

Cuba - Waiting For Snow In Havana 👌👌👌👌

Cyprus - Mythos 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Czech Republic - The Unbearable Lightness of Being 👌👌👌

Denmark - Number The Stars 👌👌👌👌

Djibouti - The Nomads, My Brothers 👌👌👌 1/2

Dominica - Black And White Sands 👌👌👌👌

Dominican Republic - In The Time of Butterflies 👌👌👌👌

East Timor - A Nation's Bitter Dawn 👌👌👌 1/2

Ecuador - Galapagos 👌👌👌👌

Egypt - A Pure Heart 👌👌👌👌 1/2

El Salvador - Bitter Grounds 👌👌👌👌

Equatorial Guinea - Shadows Of Your Black Memory 👌👌👌

Eritrea - I Didn't Do It For You 👌👌👌 1/2

Estonia - The Beauty of History 👌👌👌 1/2

Ethiopia - Cutting For Stone 👌👌👌👌

Fiji - The Blue Lagoon 👌👌👌 1/2

Finland - The Year Of The Hare 👌👌👌 1/2

France - All The Light We Cannot See 👌👌👌👌👌

French Guiana - Papillon  👌👌👌👌

Gabon - Mema 👌👌👌👌

Gambia - Folk Tales And Fables From Gambia 👌👌👌

Georgia - Flight From The USSR 👌👌👌 1/2

Germany - The Book Thief 👌👌👌👌👌

Ghana - Homegoing 👌👌👌👌

Great Britian - Dracula 👌👌👌👌👌

Greece - Eleni  👌👌👌👌👌

Granada - The Bone Readers 👌👌👌

Guadaloupe - Crossing The Mangrove 👌👌👌 1/2

Guatemala - The Guatemalan Reader 👌👌👌👌

Guinea - The King of Kahel 👌👌👌

Guinea Bissau - The Ultimate Tragedy 👌👌👌👌

Guyana - The Sly Company Of People Who Care 👌👌👌

Haiti - Dear Haiti, Love Alaine 👌👌👌👌

Honduras - The Lost City Of The Monkey God 👌👌👌👌

Hungary - The Dukays 👌👌👌

Iceland - Burial Rites 👌👌👌👌 1/2

India - Life Of Pi 👌👌👌👌👌

Indonesia - The Earth Of Mankind 👌👌👌

Iran - Persepolis 👌👌👌👌

Iraq - Imperial Life In The Emerald City 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Ireland - The Misremembered Man 👌👌👌👌👌

Israel - A Tale Of Love and Darkness 👌👌👌 1/2

Italy - Beneath A Scarlet Sky 👌👌👌👌👌

Jamaica - Here Comes The Sun 👌👌👌 1/2

Japan - Memoirs Of A Geisha 👌👌👌👌

Jordan - Leap Of Faith 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Kazakhstan - One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich 👌👌👌 1/2

Kenya - Circling The Sun 👌👌👌👌

Korea - North - The Girl With Seven Names 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Korea - South - Please Look After Mom 👌👌👌👌

Kosovo - City Of Thieves 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Kuribati - The Sex Lives of Cannibals 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Kurdistan - My Father's Paradise 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Kuwait - The Hidden Light Of Objects 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Kyrgyzstan - Jamilia 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Laos - Mother's Beloved 👌👌👌👌

Latvia - Among The Living And The Dead 👌👌👌👌

Lebanon - The Hakawati 👌👌👌👌

Lesotho - Basali 👌👌👌👌

Liberia - The House At Sugar Beach 👌👌👌👌

Libya - In The Country Of Men 👌👌👌👌

Liechtenstein - Ludmila 👌👌👌👌

Lithuania - Breathing Into Marble  👌👌👌

Luxembourg - Milly's Story 👌👌👌👌

Macedonia - What Does It Take To Stop A War? 👌👌👌👌

Madagascar - Beyond The Rice Fields 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Malawi - The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Malaysia - The Gift Of Rain  👌👌👌👌

Maldives - Gate Crashing Paradise 👌👌👌👌

Mali - Bound To Violence 👌👌👌

Malta - The Great Siege Malta 1565 👌👌👌👌

Marshall Islands - Surviving Paradise 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Martinique - Sugar Money 👌👌👌👌

Mauritania - Travels in Mauritania 👌👌👌 1/2

Mauritius - The Last Brother 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Mayotte - Island In The Stream 👌👌👌👌

Mexico - Like Water For Chocolate 👌👌👌👌

Micronesia - Island Of the Sequined Love Nun 👌👌👌👌

Moldova - Playing The Moldovians In Tennis 👌👌👌

Monaco - Once Upon A Time: A Tale of Princess Grace 👌👌👌👌

Mongolia - Ghengis Birth Of An Empire 👌👌👌👌

Montenegro - Blood Of Montenegro 👌👌👌

Morocco - Dune Song 👌👌👌 1/2

Mozambique - The First Wife 👌👌👌👌

Myramar/Burma - The Art Of Hearting Heartbeats 👌👌👌👌👌

Namibia - The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo 👌👌👌

Nepal - Into Thin Air 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Netherlands - Diary Of A Young Girl 👌👌👌👌👌

New Zealand - Whale Rider 👌👌👌👌

Nicaragua - The Country Under My Skin 👌👌👌👌

Niger - Harmattan 👌👌👌

Nigeria - Half Of A Yellow Sun 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Norway - Out Stealing Horses  👌👌👌👌 1/2

Oman - Earth Weeps, Saturn Laughs 👌👌 1/2

Pakistan - Three Cups of Tea 👌👌👌👌👌

Palau - Vanished The Sixty Year Search 👌👌👌👌

Palestine - Mornings In Jenin 👌👌👌👌👌

Panama - The Path Between The Seas 👌👌👌👌

Papua New Guinea - Four Corners 👌👌👌

Paraguay - Ada's Violin 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Peru - The Last Days of the Incas 👌👌👌👌

Phillippines - The State Of War 👌👌👌

Poland -Flights 👌👌👌

Portugal - The Book Of Disquiet 👌👌👌👌

Puerto Rico - Stories From Puerto Rico 👌👌👌👌

Qatar - The Glass Palace 👌👌👌

Romania - The Land Of Green Plums 👌👌👌👌

Russian Federation - The Master And Margarita 👌👌👌👌

Rwanda - We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed 👌👌👌 1/2

Saint Kitts and Nevis - Only God Can Make A Tree 👌👌

Saint Lucia - Birthright 👌👌👌👌

Saint Vincent and Grenadines - Island Of Eden 👌👌👌👌

Samoa - Leaves Of The Banyan Tree 👌👌👌

Sao Tome and Principe - Equator 👌👌👌

Saudi Arabia - Daring To Drive 👌👌👌👌👌

Scotland - The Black House 👌👌👌

Senegal - So Long A Letter 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Serbia - The Last Window Giraffe 👌👌👌

Seychelles - Stranded In The Seychelles 👌👌👌👌

Sierra Leone - A Long Way Gone 👌👌👌 1/2

Singapore - Aunt Lee's Delights 👌👌

Slovakia - Maria Gulovich - OSS Heroine in WWII 👌👌👌

Slovenia - Veronkia Decides To Die 👌👌👌

Solomon Islands - Headhunting In The Solomon Islands 👌👌👌👌

Somalia - The World's Most Dangerous Place 👌👌👌 1/2

South Africa - The Elephant Whisperer 👌👌👌👌👌

Spain - The Shadow Of The Wind 👌👌👌👌👌

Sri Lanka - The Island of a Thousand Mirrors 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Sudan - What Is The What 👌👌👌👌👌

Suriname - The Cost Of Sugar 👌👌👌

Swaziland - The Kingdom of Roses and Thornes 👌👌

Sweden - A Man Called Ove 👌👌👌👌👌

Switzerland - Swiss Watching 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Syria - Damascus Nights 👌👌👌👌

Taiwan - The Astonishing Color of After 👌👌👌👌👌

Tajikistan - Beyond The Oxus 👌👌👌👌

Tanzania - The Snows of Kilimajaro 👌👌👌

Thailand - The Beach 👌👌👌

Togo - The Village Of Waiting 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Trinidad and Tobago - A House for Mr. Biswas 👌👌👌

Tunisia - Talismano 👌👌

Turkey - 10 Minutes and 30 seconds in This Strange World 👌👌👌 1/2

Turkmenistan - The Tale of Aypi 👌👌👌👌

Turks and Caicos Islands - Water and Light - A Diver's Journey 👌👌👌👌

Uganda - Kintu 👌👌👌👌

Ukraine - Like A River From Its Course 👌👌👌👌

United Arab Emirates - City of Gold 👌👌👌👌

United States - The Stand 👌👌👌👌👌

Uruguay - The Invisible Mountain 👌👌👌

Uzbekistan - A Carpet Ride in Khiva 👌👌👌👌 1/2

Vanuatu - Getting Stoned With Savages👌👌👌👌 1/2

Vatican City - The Fifth Gospel 👌👌👌👌

Venezuela - The Hacienda 👌👌👌

Vietnam - The Sorrow of War 👌👌👌👌

Yemen - I an Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced 👌👌👌👌

Zambia - Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight 👌👌👌👌

Zimbabwe - We Need New Names 👌👌👌👌

WHEW!  What a list.  There are a few countries where I think I will replace the book - find something I like a little better for that "forever shelf".  Might take some time to search for books from these countries: Azebaijan, Central Africa Republic, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Pakistan, Scotland, Singapore, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad.  I wasn't realy satisfied with the books I read for these countries and feel that for most of them, I can find something better.

If you have evern done this challenge, please share a link so I can see what you read.  Happy Reading!

Read The World - Peru - The Last Days of the Incas

 Book: The Last Days of the Incas

Author: Kim MacQuarrie

Pages: 522

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 17th read for the year
And this is a WRAP for my Read the World challenge.  FINALLY.  After over 2 years, I have finally completed it!
I got a little behind on blogging all these last books since we are still unpacking boxes that - I swear - are multiplying every day.  But now I am all caught up.

Here is what Amazon said about this book:

The epic story of the fall of the Inca Empire to Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in the aftermath of a bloody civil war, and the recent discovery of the lost guerrilla capital of the Incas, Vilcabamba, by three American explorers.

In 1532, the 54 year old Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro led a force of 167 men, including his four brothers, to the shores of Peru.  Unbeknownst to the Spaniards, the Inca rulers of Peru had just fought a bloody civil war in which the emperor Atahualpa had defeated his brother Huascar.  Pizarro and his men soon clased with Atahualpa and a huge force of Inca warriors at the Battle of Cajamarca.  Despite being outnumbered by more than two hundred to one, the Spaniards prevailed - due largely to their horses, their steel armor and swords, and their tactic of surprise.  They captured and imprisoned Atahualpa.  Although the Inca emperor paid an enormous ransom in gold, the Spaniards executed him anyway.  The following year, the Spaniards seized the Inca capital of Cuzco, completing their conquest of the largest native emprie the New World has ever known.  Peru was now a Spanish colony, and the conquistadors were wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

But the Incas did not submit wilingly.  A young Inca emperor, the brother of Atahualpa, soon led a massive rebellion against the Spaniards, inflicting heavy casualites and nearly wiping out the conquerors.  Eventually, Pizarro and his men forced the emperor to abandon the Andes and flee to the Amazon.  There, he established a hidden capital, called Vilcabamba- only recently rediscovered by a trio of colorful American explorers.  

This is a great overview of the Incas.  This is a subject and country I have - of course - heard about, but didn't know nearly enough.  This book is a thorough history and picture of what it was like to see thousands of warriors fighting.  It is very well researched and I am glad I found this one.

Stars: 4

Read The World - Mayotte - Island in the Stream

 Book: Island In The Stream

Author: Michael Lambek

Pages: 376

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 16th read for the year

What Amazon Has to say about this book:
This book introdueces an original genra of ethnographic history as it follows a community on Mayotte, through eleven periods of fieldwork between 1975 and 2015.  Over this 40 year span Mayotte shifted from a declining and neglected colonial backwater to a full department of the French state.  In a highly unusual postcolonial trajectory, citizens of Mayotte demanded this incorporation within France rather than joining the independent republic of the Comoros.  The Malagasy-speaking Muslim villagers Michael Lambek encountered in 1975 practiced subsistence cultivation and lived without roads, schools, electriciy or running water.  Today they are educated citizens of the EU who travel regularly to metropolitan France and beyond.

This was a pretty good book about a country I knew nothing about.  I couldn't have even told you where it was on the map.  The author does a good job teaching us about the history of this tiny country, and considering its size - I was lucky to find such an indepth account,

Stars: 4

Friday, February 12, 2021

Read The World - Tajikistan - Beyond The Oxus

 Book: Beyond The Oxus

Author: Monica Whitlock

Pages: 304

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This is my 15th read for the year

Here is what Amazon said about this book:

Along the banks of the reiver once called Oxus lie the heartlands of Central Asia:  Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  Catapulted into the news by events in Afghanistan, just across the water, these strategically importan, intriguing and beautiful countries remain almost completely unknown to the outside world.  One diligent seminary student in the holy city of Bukhara was exhiled to Siberia as a shepherd in the 1917 revolution and then conscripted into the Red Army.  Tens of thousands of Poles walked and rode through Central Asia on their way to a new life in Iran.  In this region, the extraordinary is commonplace and there is not a family without a remarkable story to tell.  Here Monica goes far beyond the headlines.  Using eyewitness accounts, unpublished letters and first-hand reporting,she enteres into the lives of the Central Asians and reveals a dramatic and moving story unfolding over three generations.  

This is a well written book.  I was able to gain quite a bit of knowledge about this part of the world - an area I know virtually nothing about.  The story isn't dry and absolutely fascinating.  You cn tell how passionate the author is about this area.  She does her best to weave in human interest stories.  I had no idea how woven Uzbekistan and Tajikistan really were, so I am glad I found this book.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Read The World - Zambia - Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight

 Book: Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

Author: Alexandra Fuller

Pages: 311

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: No but she lived there for a time

I have visited: NO

This is my 14th read for the year

Here is what Amazon said:
Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, Don't Let Go to the Dogs Tonight is suffused with Fuller's endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate.  Fuller's debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating.  In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.

From 1972 to 1990, Alexandra Fuller - know to friends and family as Bobo - grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa.  Her father joined up on the side of the white government in the civil war, and was often away fighting against the powerful black guerilla factions.  Bobo's mother taught her to be resillient and instilled withint her a love of storytelling.  This book shows Fuller's endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate.  

This was a good book.  It has a humorous undertone, which is always welcome.  The author does a good job describing the scenese around her to give the reader a good picture of Zambia.  She shows us her life in a non-political, no excuses kind of way that is always refreshing.  Good read.

Stars: 4

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Read The World - Tunisia - Talismano

 Book: Talismano   

Author: Abdelwahab Meddeb

Pages: 262

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 13th read for the year

Here is what Amazon says about this book: 
Talismano is a novelistic exploration of writing seen as a hallucinatory journey through half-remembered, half-imagined cities - in particular, the city of Tunis, both as it is now, and as it once was.  Walking and writing,journey and journal, mirror one another to produce a calligraphic, magical work: a palimpsest of various languages and cultures, highlighting Abdelwahab Meddeb's beguiling mastery of both the Western and Islamic traditions.  Meddeb's journey is first and foremost a sensual one, almost decadent, where the narrator luxuriates in the Tunis of his memories  and intercuts these impressions with recollections of other cities at other times, reviving the mytical figures of Arab-Islamic legend that have faded from memory in a rapidly westernizing North Africa.  A fever dream situated on the knife-edge between competing cultures, this is a testament to the power of language.

Difficult read that I admit I skimmed through.  I got the general idea, but the stream of consciousness type books have never been attractive to me.  I love when stories are part autobiographical or at least containe memories of the author.  But this one hardly held my attention.

Stars: 2

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Read The World - Mali - Bound to Violence

 Book: Bound to Violence

Author: Yambo Ouologuem

Pages: 182

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: YES

I have visited: NO

This is my 12th read for the year

From the book: (sorry - I have gotten lazy with these last read the world reviews - I am ready to move on!)
The author draws on the history and culture of the great medieval emprie of Mali.  After a brief violent fresco depicting Mali's past, the story moves into the 20th century.  The Saifs continue in power.  When the French arrive as colonizers, they unwittingly become puppets in the hands of the astute native rulers who continue to dominate by witchcraft and crime.  Scenes of violence and eroticism, of sorcery and black magic appear as natural parts of human activity.  From this sumptuous and frightful background emerges the book's main protagonist, Raymond, the son of slaves, sent to France to be educated and groomed for a political post and so to become another puppet in the hands of the Saifs.

This was a difficult read, so I am glad it was short.  As I wind down these last few countries, I really had to hunt for a book that would fit let alone interest me.  It is a very unusual book that spans a long period of time.  We made it through, and it will stay my Mali book for now.

Stars: 3

Monday, February 1, 2021

Read The World - Somalia - The World's Most Danergous Place

 Book: The World's Most Danergous Place

Author: James Fergusson

Pages: 381

Book takes place in the country: YES

Author is from the country: NO

I have visited: NO

This was my 11th read for the year

This is what Amazon has to say: 
Although the war in Afghanistan is now in its endgame, the West's struggle to eliminate the threat from Al Gaeda is far from over.  A decade after 9/11, the war on terror has entered a new phase and, it would seem, a new territory.  In early 2010, Al Qaeda operatives were reportedly "streaming" out of central Asia toward Somalia and the surrounding region.

Somalia, now home to some of the world's most dangerous terrorist, was already the word's most failed state.  Two decards of anarchy have spawned not just Islamic extremism but piracy, famine,and a seemingly endless clan-based civil war that has killed an estimated 500,000 turned millions into refugees, and caused hundreds of thousands more to flee and settle in Europe and North America.

What is now happening in Somalia directly threatens the security of the world, possibly more than any other region on earth. 

This was a pretty good book. I am always up for a good non-fiction.  It is quite detailed, and I learned quite a bit about Somalia.  It was hard to follow at times, but if you take your time, this is a worthwhile read.

Stars: 3 1/2