Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, May 28, 2021

2021Challenge: Book You Would Rate 5 Stars: From Here To Eternity - Traveling The World To Find The Good Death

 Book:  From Here To Eternity - Traveling The World To Find The God Death

Author: Caitlin Doughty

Pages: 272

This is my 51st book for the year

This story is told by the author about her global travels to explore death rituals in different countries.  She discovers different customs all over the world and  how American funeral rituals compare.  She comes to the realization that the most effective rituals are when the family is directly involved.  Caitlin tells story after story of the people she encountered and gives the reader a new view on how different parts of the world view mortality.

This is Caitlin's second book and I was so excited to find it.  I read her first one (Smoke Gets In Your Eyes) and was captivated.  She is an excellent story teller and her encounters are fascinating.  She shows that there is no wrong way to mourn a loved one, or bury a loved one.  She tries to show that embracing the fear of death and burial and asking for what you want.  Caitlyn keeps things light hearted and witty and lead me to some serious introspection.

She is amazing.  Her books are excellent.  And I encourage you to read them all.

Stars: 5

Thursday, May 27, 2021

2021 Challenge: A Coming of Age Novel: Great Expectations

 Book: Great Expectations

Author: Charles Dickens

Pages: 341

This is my 50th read for the year

This is the story of Pip.  He is an orphan who is being raised by his sister and his sister's husband, Joe.  He meets a convict on Chrismts Eve when visiting his parent's graves.  The convict talks Pip into stealing some tools from Joe so that the convict can remove his chains.  Pip also steals him some food.  On Christmas day, police visit Pip's home and ask Joe to help them mend broken irons they found from the escape convict and Joe and Pip help with the recapture.   

Year's pass and Pip meets a Miss Havisham a wealthy spinster that was in need of company.  Here he meets and falls in love with Miss Havisham's adopted daughter, Estella.  He continues to visit Miss Havisham and Estella until he is old enough to become Joe's apprentice.  4 years pass as Pip learns his trade when a lawyer approaches him and tells him that he has come into a large sum of money from an anonymous benefactor so that he may become a gentleman.  Years pass while Pip lives and works and spends money in London and at age 23 he finds out who his benefactor is - much to his surprise.  Spending time with his benefactor his learns his true identity and learns more about Estella's past and her family.  

In the end, Pip leaves London, goes to work in Egypt and returns 11 years late to find Joe married with a child and asks Joe for his forgiveness for abandoning him and their relationship all those years before.  Pip hopes to settle down, repay his debts, and find Estella bringing his story full circle.

This was a great book.  I love Charles Dickens and actually visited his home (which is now a museum) in London and that was incredible.  I even went on a Christmas Dickens tour on year with my family where we learned so much about Dickens, his stories and his life.  He is an incredible writer, and I have always enjoyed his work.  This book was no exception.  I loved it from the start and was very invested in Pip's story and what would happen to him once he came into so much money.  His story takes some unique turns with some suprises and held me capitvated until the last page.  

I highly encourage you to read this one.  You will not be disappointed.

Stars: 5

Saturday, May 22, 2021

2021 Challenge - Book over 450 pages - The Labyrinth of the Secrets

 Book:The Labyrinth of the Secrets

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Pages: 816

This is my 49th read for the year

This book is the final in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.  This book opens with 9 year old Alicia Gris whose parents are killed in the war and she is gravely injured.  20 years later, she is an invetigator for the Spanish secret police hoping to solve one last case before she retires forever.  With her partner, she discovers a rare book by Victor Mataix.  Finding that book leads them on a path to try and find the missing Valls who imprisoned both famous writers David Martin and Victor Mataix.  But finding out the truth puts her and those closest to her in grave danger.  Characters from the past books - The Semperes and Fermin - return to be intertwined in Alica's story.

I would say after Shadow of the Wind, this is my second favorite in the 4 book series. This book is LONG, so it took me time to get through, but true to Zafon's style - the writing is incredible.  He was a talented writer, and I was sad to hear of his passing knowing that I would not be reading any more from him in the future.  Labyrinth - like all the other books in this series- could be a stand alone book.  He does cross a few characters in each book, and to me, this one brought a few things full circle.  We even see a reappearance of the famous Julian Carax from book one.

A book about a bookshop that is buried deep in the earth to protect the books will always be a winner for me.  The idea of a Cemetery of Forgotten books existing would be incredible.  I encourage you to try Zafon's books.  You will not be disappointed.

Stars: 4

Thursday, May 20, 2021

2021 Challenge - LGBTQ author - House In The Cerulean Sea

 Book: House In The Cerulean Sea

Author: TJ Klune

Pages: 416

This is my 48th read for the year

This is the story of Linus.  A man stuck in his ways who has worked as a Case Worker for the Department for Magical Youth for 17 years.  One day he is summoned by the management team for an assignment to check on an orphanage where 6 dangerous children reside.  His job is to check on the children and Arthur, the man in charge of their care.  Linus has met many magical children but none like the children in this particular house.  One child is apparently the Antichrist.  Linus has to put aside his fears for an entire month while he is on the island and assess the care of these children.  What he gets in return is that people are not always as they seem on paper.

This is a sweet story.  It is heartwarming and diverse.  It is also a bit ridiculous and full of cliches, but not in a way that caused me to want to put the book aside.  Every once in awhile I need to read a book that is nothing but charming and full of life lessons.  Was it a touch too sugary sweet?  Probably.    It reads as a YA novel and I found myself thinking of how my younger kids would like this one.  The ending was predictable but I was still happy it ended the way it did.  

Try this one out.  If you need a break for heavy novels and deep dark subjects, this might be the one for you.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

2021 Challenge - An Audiobook: Sound of Gravel

 Book: Sound of Gravel

Author: Ruth Wariner

Pages: 368

This is my 47th read of the year

This is the story of the author's childhood growing up in a polygamy family in Mexico.  She was her father's 39th child.  When he died, and her mom remarried and had many more children, Ruth's life got significantly worse.  Bounced around to several towns and living through the death of several siblings and family members, Ruth finally broke free of the abuse she faced.  

This was a great book.  I listened to it, and I would consider this its only downfall.  And that is only because the author chose to read her own story.  But the story itself and what Ruth faced growing up is a story not to be missed.  You will shake with horror and anger about what she and her siblings were put through as young children and be amazed at where Ruth is now inspite of it all.

This story is well written, well told and was gripping from beginning to end.  I highly recommend taking a look into Ruth's world.  It is captivating.

Stars: 4

Friday, May 14, 2021

2021 Challenge: Favorite Author: Project Hail Mary

 Book: Project Hail Mary

Author: Andy Weir

Pages: 496

This is my 46th book for the year

This is the story of Ryland Grace.  An extinction event is occuring on earth and he is on the team that is set to figure out how to stop it.  Problem is - he is now in space and doesn't remember how he got there or what he is supposed to be doing.  He cannot even remember his name.

Over time, his memory starts to return and he remembers what is happening back on earth and what his mission is.  His is all alone and has to puzzle out how he is going to save humanity and if he will ever see earth again.

Andy Weir quickly became one of my favorite authors after reading The Martian.  Artemis was equally as good.  I was so excited to read this book and it didn't disappoint.  It is written in true Weir fashion - extremely science driven with a touch of humor thrown in for balance.  I would say for me - this might have edged a bit on the too science driven - too technical with the details.  However - Weir's passion for the subject shines through, and with the story bouncing back and forth between Grace in space and Grace before his mission, it comes together nicely.  While the ending leaves me a tiny bit wanting - I think it was planned that way.  He wraps it up, but I did want a bit more.  

It is a great read.  If you have read his other two books and are a fan of science and science fiction - this book is for you.

Stars: 4 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

2021 Challenge - Book with Multiple Character Point Of View: Americanah

 Book: Americanah

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Pages: 588

This is my 45th read for the year

This is the story of Ifemelu and Obinze.  They grew up in Nigeria and watched as some of their friends left and headed for the West.  Ifemelu gets a chance to go to America to study and discovers what it is like to be black in America.  Obinza hoped to follow her, but he isn't able to and ends up in Britian and then back to Nigeria.  15 years after the last time they saw each other they are reunited.  So much has happened in both of their lives that it will be hard to find their way together.

This was a pretty good book.  I read Half of a Yellow Sun as part of my Read The World challenge and really enjoyed it.  Adichie is a talented writer, and I thought this was a well told story.  She tells a through provoking story in an intelligent manor.  The characters were well developed and the narrative flowed well.  I am glad I finally got to read this book

Stars: 4 1/2

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

2021 Challenge: A Book With Discussion Questions At The End: As Bright As Heaven

 Book: As Bright As Heaven

Author: Susan Meissner

Pages: 464

This is my 44th read for the year

This is the story of the Bright family.  In 1918, Pauline and her husband Thomas move their young family to Philadelphia when Thomas is offered a job as an undertaker with his uncle's business.  Little did they know that the Spanish flu was coming and before things got better, the Bright family would be changed forever.  These changes will lead the 3 Bright daughters on three different paths trying to make sense of a world that claimed the lives of so many.

This was just an okay book.  I loved the first half of this book.  The story of this family in the midst of the Spanish Flu - trying to keep up with all the dead who are left at their funeral home - reminded me a lot of our current pandemic.  But the second half - was just fluff.  I was so disappointed when the book jumped 7 years into the future just to tell mundane stories of these three sisters and their love stories.  IT was like I was reading two different books.

The Fall of Marigolds, by Meissner, is one of my favorite books.  I was excited to dive into her writing once again - there is no doubt she is talented.  This story just didn't do anything for me after page 150 or so.

Stars: 3