Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Extra Book - Inside The O'Briens

 Book: Inside The O'Briens

Author: Lisa Genova

Pages: 368

This is my 53rd read for the year

This is the story about the O'Brien family.  The dad, Joe, is a police officer with a wife and 4 children who has suddenly been having trouble staying still.  He cannot concentrate.  He feels angry all of the time.  His wife convinces him to see a doctor, and soon he finds himself in a Neurologist office getting the worst news of his life.  He has Huntingdon's disease.  A disease that has no cure and slowly eats away at a person until they can no longer care for themselves or even speak, Joe cannot believe this is happening.  Even worse, he discovers that his children have a 50% chance of having it as well.

As Joe struggles to find his purpose, his children must decide if they want to find out their fate. Knowing that the knowledge could change how they live their lives and evolve their own families, each child weighs the pros and cons of finding out.  The youngest of the 4, Katie, grapples with the decision longer than any of her other symptoms not knowing what she should do.

This was an okay book.  First - I have read quite a few Genova books, and I enjoy the disease portion of each of her novels.  She covers tough subjects, and life altering (or ending) diseases that most of us know little about.  I did learn quite a bit about Huntingdon's Disease, which I appreciated.  I knew a family in my hometown whose mom had this (and then passed to two of her three children) and I saw in her a lot of the things that Joe grapples with.  However - the ending of this book floored me.  It ended on a cliff hanger which - after giving it some thought - I know why the author did it.  But I was furious.  I had been waiting the entire novel for the knowledge that seemed to be coming at the end of the book and then.....nothing.  It was my least favorite of her novels so far.

Stars: 3.5

Thursday, June 23, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With The Character On The Ace Spectrum: The Maid

 Book: The Maid

Author: Nita Prose

Pages: 304 

This is my 52nd read for the year

This is the story of Molly.  Molly loves being a maid in a fancy hotel.  She isn't like everyone else- she has trouble with social cues, trouble making friends, trouble with breaks in her routine.  But she is the best maid the hotel has.  Hardworking, always available and always on time, she takes pride in a job well done.  She lived with her grandmother until she died a few months ago, and now Molly is struggling to make ends meet with her small maid salary.  When working on a room for a routine client of the hotel, she finds him dead.  This starts Molly down a path she never imagined.  It upturns her routine,and she discovers who her friends truly are.

This was a pretty good book.  I listened to it, so that helped.  Molly is on the Ace spectrum, and the reader did a good job portraying that.  The beginning through about 3/4 of this book were good.  I enjoyed the story,and really liked Molly as a character.  But the last 1/4 of the book fell apart just a bit for me.  Molly struggles a bit with morality at the end of the book, which seemed out of character from what we got from her the rest of the book.  It just didn't make a lot of sense.  

If you are looking for a good book about someone on the ACE spectrum, I would recommend "A  Curious Dog In The Nightime".

Stars: 3.5

Monday, June 20, 2022

2022 Challenge: Book With A Pretty Cover: Remarkably Bright Creatures

 Book: Remarkably Bright Creatures

Author: Shelby Van Pelt

Pages: 368

This is my 51st read for the year

This is the story of Tova and Cameron.  Tova is a widow in her 70s who thinks it is time to make some changes in her life.  30 years ago her son disappeared, most people think he committed suicide but Tova has never believe it.  A few years ago, her husband died, and now Tova - a cleaner at a local aquarium - decides it is time to sell her house and put all these dark memories behind her.  Cameron is a 30 year old man who cannot seem to hold down a job.  His mother abandoned him years ago, he never knew his father, and he was raised by his aunt.  He decides he is going to return to his mother's hometown and find out once and for all who his father is.  He and Tova cross paths working at the aquarium and are brought together caring for an aging octupus named Marcellus that has an affinity for escaping his tank.  Cameron is feeling settled for the first time in his life in his mother's home town, and as he searches for his father, he finds out more than he bargained for.

This was an interesting book.  Tova was so sweet.  She has a great group of friends, and seems like someone I would love to know in real life.  She had a hard life, but has true kindness for all of those are in her life.  Cameron on the other hand was a horrible character.  A petulant child who at the age of 30 acted more like a 13 year old boy - was hard to like.  His constant whining and childishness was too much.  Even though he had a rougher life than most, his attitude was exhausting.  

It was easy to figure out who Cameron's father was about half way through this book, but the way that it all came together with the octpus was cute.  

If you know going in that Cameron's character is probably going to bother you (eh - maybe not - it might just be the generation X in me), then you might enjoy this book.  Tova and the other characters in the book are enough to make this book worth reading on the whole.

Stars: 4

Friday, June 17, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Protagonist That Uses A Mobility Aid: Left Neglected

 Book: Left Neglecte

Author: Lisa Genova

Pages: 352

This is my 50th read for the year

This is the story of Sarah.  Sarah has a busy mom with a high powered job that takes up 80 hours of her week.  She has three young children that, when she is lucky,gets home in time to see them off to bed.  She loves her job and her life, but sometimes feels a little guilty that she cannot be there as much as she would like for her family.

One day, Sarah's life changes.  She is in an accident that leaves her unable to see anything on the left.  Called Left Neglect, she doesn't know what she is not seeing.  After a month in a coma and weeks in rehab, she is sent home to try and regain her life.  While she heals, she starts to realize all she was missing out on with her larger than life job.  The accident that almost killed her, helped her learn to rebalance what was important in her life.

This was a pretty good book.  This is my third Genova book and I have liked them all.  Genova has a Ph.D in Neuroscience from Harvard, so she knows her stuff.  And she is a very good writer.  I didn't LOVE Sarah the character.  The way Genova wrote her about how she felt about disabilities did rub me the wrong way since I have a child with a disability.  Sarah's son is diagnosed with ADHD, and instead of talking to him about it, when he is put on medication they call them vitamins.  And even she refused to be labeed as a disabeled person.  While near the end of the story this turns somewhat, I already had a bad taste about it.  Sarah is also a self absorbed character, so it was hard to like her.  On the flip side, I learned a lot, like I always do with Genova's books, about a diagnosis I knew little about.  So that redemmed the book to a point.


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Off Challenge: The Shadow Wife

 Book: The Shadow Wife

Autbor: Diane Chamberlain

Pages: 432

This is my 49th read for the year

This is the story of Joelle.  When she was a baby, she almost died.  A woman who had been staying with a friend on the compound where her family lived, saved her life and then disappeared.  Years later, when one of Joelle's best friends suffers an aneurysm after she delivers her baby, her parents tell her to reach out to the healer that saved her life all those years ago.  Joelle is reluctant - as a Social Worker who deals with life and death of children every day, she doesn't believe in such things.  But she will do anything to save her friend, even as she deals with her own personal turmoil.

I am plowing through audiobooks right now with the amount of yard work we are doing. And I think a few light books are just what I need as I work.  This is definitely another beach read.  Fluffy, and short on depth, it passes the time. I liked the backstory of the healer and her family, and figured out the truth of that group of people pretty quickly.  The ending was just okay.  I didn't like the turn it took once the truth of the healer came to light - seemed a little too far fetched (even for a novel wiht a bit of magical realism).  

Stars: 3

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book That Takes Place During Your Favorite Season: The Perfect Couple

 Book: The Perfect Couple

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Pages: 480

This is my 48th read for the year

This is the story of the Otis-Windbury wedding.  A couple and all of their family and friends have gathered on Nantucket for a summer wedding that has stepped right out of a fairy tale.  That is until a body washes up on the shore the morning of the wedding.  The whole wedding party and their guest are suspects while the Nantucket police try to figure out what happened.  As the investigation unravels, so do the secrets of many of the family and friends at the wedding.

This was an okay book.  Great book to listen to for a fluffy beach read or - in my case - as I do enless yard work.  I did not like any of the characters - all of them except the mom of the bride were awful people.  IT is full of cheaters, and people who have deep dark secrets, and in the end the death of the person who was found was uneventful.  The whole "whodunit" was unsatisfying.  

I don't normally care for beach reads, but I will admit this passed the time.  If you are looking for serious fluff that is full of people who have deep dark secrets, then this book is for you.

Stars: 3

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Recommended By A Friend: Washington Black

 Book: Washington Black

Author: Esi Edugyan

Pages: 400

This is my 47th read for the year

This is the story of an 11 year old slave named Washington "Wash" Black.  The book starts in 1830 where Washington is on the Field Plantation in Barbados. One day, the younger brother of his master - Christopher - comes to the plantation and picks out Washington to be his scientific assistant.  Is is quickly discovered that Washington is a skilled artist and Christopher decides that he wants to take Washington with him when he leaves.  And accident on the plantation, though, causes Christopher and Washington to flee and a warrant to be relesed for Washington's arrest.  Christopher and Washington leave the plantation on a hot air balloon and crash land in the United States and head to the artic - trying to get as far away as they can.  Washington and Christopher become separated, and Washington ends up alone in Nova Scotia.  He meets an elderly man and his daughter and his adventures continue while with them.  However he longs to find Christopher - find out what happened to him after they got separated.

This is an okay book.  The writing is great, and the first half of the book was great.  Then once Christopher and Washingto got separated, it started to meander and just fizzled.  The story of Washington gets lost in all the movement that happens once he leaves Barbados, and I struggled to finish it.  It is a shame because it started so strong.

Stars: 3

Saturday, June 11, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With Chapter Titles: The Dream Daughter:

 Book: The Dream Daughter

Author: Diane Chamberlain

Pages: 400

This is my 46th read for the year

This is the story of Carly Seers.  In the late 1960s she was working as a physical therapist when a patient named Hunter comes into her clinic for rehabilitation.  Carly is drawn to him immediately and feels like he would be a perfect match for her older sister.  Fast forward 5 years to 1970, and Carly is newly pregnant, Hunter is married to her sister, and Carly's husband has died in the Vietnam war.  Carly finds out that her baby has a dangerous heart condition that makes life outside of the womb impossible.  Her brother-in-law Hunter decides that Carly has had enough with the death of her husband that he is going to tell her his biggest secret and that he has the ability to possibly save her baby's life.  Carly finds it unbelievable, but decides to trust Hunter to save her baby.  What that leads to is Carly having to make some of the toughest choices of her life.

That was an interesting book.  It is about time travel, so if that isn't for you, then give it a pass.  I was intrigued to keep reading it to see where it was going to end up.  There were quite a few parts of this book that were aggrevating and just not well thought out.  When Carly makes a decision between two people (it is hard not to give things away), that part of the story isn't developed even though it is a huge deal.  The "epilogue" really clears up very little.  There were just too many gapping holes in the story to not be frustrating.  

this is a hard book to rate.  I liked the idea.  It just didn't flow as well as I would like, and didn't wrap up tightly.

Stars: 3

2022 Challenge: A Book Based On A Real Person: Ghost On The Throne

 Book: Ghost On The Throne

Author: James Romm

Pages: 416

This is my 45th read for the year

This is the story of Alexander The Great.  He died at the age of 32 and left two heirs.  His son - who was a baby at the time of his death - and his brother - who was mentally challenged.  However,six of Alexander's generals fought for the right to the throne.  The book covers from 323 BC to 308 BC and weaves the story of how these generals tried to chose sides, figure out who they were going to support, and ultimately take over instead.

This was a pretty good book. I know very little about Alexander The Great, and definitely nothing about the time right after his death.  I did not know that Aristotle was Alexander's tutor when he was young. It is a well written book and does a good job recapping certain characters just when you are feeling a little lost.  The story moves at a good pace, and as the authro describes the people and their personalities, you are pulled into Greek history and mythology.  If you only have a small understanding about this part of the ancient world, then your knowledge will grow quite a bit with this book.

This was a good one.

Stars: 4

Thursday, June 9, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Second Book Published in 2022: How High We Go In The Dark

 Book: How High We Go In The Dark

Author: Sequoia Nagamatsu

Pages: 304

This is my 44th read for the year

The story opens in 2030 when an archeologist travels to the Artic Circle to pick up the work his daughter was doing before her untimely death.  His daughter had found the remains of an ancient girl and unleased a virus that would change the world forever.  In the beginning only children got the virus, and all of them who contracted it died.  A Theme park for the terminally ill children is built to give them one last fun day before the end. A scientist - desparate to find a cure once his son in infected raises pigs as test subjects so that their organs can be used in sick people.  Eventually part of the population leaves the planet to head out into space to find a new home.  

This book was.....strange.  At first - I really liked where it was going.  I love a good dystopian/pandemic/endemic book.  This one started by taking an interesting approach with the release of the virus, and how they dealt with the children who got infected.  But then it went off the rails.  There are snippets of stories through the whole book that never had a clear ending.  I was left with more questions than answers as I listened, but I continued to plug along.  I have been pleasantly surprised in the past when all of these little side stories get pulled together to wrap up a story, but in this case - that didn't happen.  The people left earth to find a new home planet, but in the end it really wasn't necessary.  They introduce a pig who developes the ability to talk and.....nothing.  It just was countless unfinished stories.

Disappointing because it really did start out strong.  I would skip this one.

Stars: 2.5

Friday, June 3, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book That Features Two Languages: A Cuban Girl's Guide To Tea and Tomorrow

 Book: A Cuban Girl's Guide To Tea and Tomorrow

Author: Laura Taylor Namey

Pages: 336

This is my 43rd read for the year

This is the story of Lila Reyes.  After a break up with her boyfriend and her best friend deciding to take a job abroad, Lila runs off and doesn't tell her family where she was going.  They think she needs a break and send her to be with family in London for the summer.  Lila goes reluctantly.  She is about the start working at their family's business and doesn't want to leave when she is just getting started.  But her family decides it is what is best for her.  What she discovers is a love for London and the people.  She gets a job baking at her London family's restaurant and makes some good friends.  She even finds a new love.  When the time comes for her to leave, she is not sure she wants to.  She is torn between the life she is now building in London and the life that waits for her back in the United States.

This was an Okay book.  I know it is YA, but the main character was way more mature than most 17 year olds I know.  And the main character just wasn't likable.  She was a stubborn entitled know it all.  She didn't like the person who was in charge of the London kitchen when she got there - forgetting her place as a new person and also a kid.  The way it was written was not the voice of an 17 year old kid. I just couldn't like her.

It is a fluffy book - good for a summer read.  But would I recommend it?  Nah.

Stars: 3

Friday, May 27, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Music or Art Theme: Every Note Played

 Book: Every Note Played

Author: Lisa Genova

Pages: 336

This is my 42nd read for the year

This is the story of Richard and Karina.  Estranged and divorced, they are forced to work together when Richard is diagnosed with ALS.  Karina finds out from friends at a party that her ex-husband has canceled all of his piano concerts because he can no longer play.  When she visits him, she finds out that he is declining quickly and needs more help that he can afford.  At first she is reluctant.  But then she agrees to help him, and eventually moves him into her home so that she can care for him full time.  Richard knows he needs to make ammends with Karina and their daughter Grace, and time is running out.  He has much to apologize for but Karina feels she does as well.  Hopefully they will get the chance before Richard loses his ability to communicate everything he needs to say.

This was a pretty good book.  It is a quick read, and pretty well written.  I wasn't a big fan of either of the main characters - both selfish characters who couldn't see beyond the end of their nose that each had a play in the end of their marriage.  But the story in general was a good one.  Predictable, yes, but a good read none the less. The writer is gifted - and has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard.  She was the author of Still Alice.  So her books are always worth a read.  Glad a friend recommended this one.

Stars: 4

Thursday, May 26, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Color in the Title: The Green Mile

 Book: The Green Mile

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 400

This is my 41st read for the year

Paul Edgecombe is a guard on E Block - otherwise known as The Green Mile.  This is the last stop for the worst prisoners before they are sentenced to death by electric chair for their crimes.  After years on the mile, the biggest prisoner they have ever seen - John Coffey arrives on the mile.  Convicted of killing two little girls, the guards are not sure what to make of this man.  He cries constantly, he is afraid of the dark, and seems like the most mild mannered person they have ever met.  As the weeks pass, the truth about who Coffey really is comes to light as his interactions with the other prisoners and guards comes to light.  

This was a great book.  I have seen the movie a few times and it is one of my favorites.  The book is well written, and flows well from past to future as Paul recounts his time in the 1930s as a guard at this prison and what it was like to work with the worst criminals.  The author does a good job keeping the story moving - leaving just enough wonder about the smallest details while revealing the truth about Coffey right from the beginning.  The reader isn't kept in the dark unnecessarily.

It is a good one.  It is a horror novel, of course, so keep that in mind if you decide to read it.  But a well written novel like this is worth a look.

Stars:  5

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book You Know Nothing About: The Small Scale Poultry Flock

 Book: The Small Scale Poultry Flock

Author: Harvey Ussery

Pages: 416

This is my 40th read for the year

This book is a comprehensive look at having a small flock of chickens at your home. Harvey has a large flock, but does talk about what you need to get started from the brooder to moving them outside.  He covers birds that you keep as a source of food (both egg and meat) as well as incorporating a few other farm animals.  His indepth coverage talks about ways to incorporate a flock into all of your backyard activities - including gardening and composting. 

This was a great book.  I have read another chicken book since getting our 6 chicks, but this one was the one I started with when we went on this adventure.  It just took me longer to finish.  Harvey is a master in this area, and I learned quite a bit from his book.  There are a lot of sections of this book that will never apply to me (he lives on a large farm and we plan on having a few chicks enclosed at all times due to predators), but I learned so much.  I am impressed with how much he does to feed his chick naturally and how he makes them work in all aspects of his farm.

This is a great one.  If you have a flock or are thinking of getting some chicks, have this book on your self for reference.

Stars: 4.5

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set On A Holiday: A Boy Called Christmas

 Book: A Boy Called Christmas

Author: Matt Haig


This is my 39th read for the year

This is the story of Nikolas.  He lives with his father in the woods with very little to eat or play with, but he is happy.  His father tells him one day that he and a group of men are going to the North Pole to find a place called Elfhelm to prove to the king that Elves exist.  While he is gone, Nikolas' aunt is put in charge of him.  A hateful woman, she makes Nikolas sleep outside and cook and clean for her.  After a few months when his father doesn't return, Nikolas decides he needs to go and find him.  Thus starts his adventure to find his father, and the elves, and find who he was meant to be.

This is a very cute middle grade book.  I saw the movie at Christmas time and thought it would be fun to read the book.  The show followed the book nicely.  It is a well written book and a fun read for anyone in that 8-12 age range or older.  Glad I picked this one up.

Stars: 4

Friday, May 20, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book That Is At Least 20 Years Old: Books of Blood

 Book: Books Of Blood (books 1-3)

Author: Clive Barker

Pages: 507

This is my 38th read for the year

This is a book of short horror stories.  Combined together are the first 3 volumes in a 6 volume series.  Since these are short stories and not easy to give a summary, I won't.  I will just say that I really enjoyed this book.  These are "put the book in the freezer" level of horror stories, which was just what I was looking for.  I am a big Stephen King and Joe Hill fan, but Clive Barker is on a whole other lever when it comes to horror.  These stories will keep you up at night, but are extemely well written.  There is no doubt that Barker is a talented writer.

If you are looking for blood curdling stories - these are for you.  I am going to get the next set of stories to keep this going.  I have watched the show on Hulu as well.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Published in 2022: The Diamond Eye

 Book: The Diamond Eye

Author: Kate Quinn

Pages: 448

This is my 37th read for the year

This is the story of Mila Pavlichenko, a sniper from World War II.  Once the war is over, Mila has over 300 kills under her belt for the Russian Army, and is on a good will tour in the United States.  Before thewar, Mila was a history student who had a young son and was getting divorce.  She turned wanting to learn how to shoot so she could teach her son into a career in the Russian Armed Forces.  Those years she fought did not come without heartbreak, loss, and a love that would change her life forever.  

This was a great book.  It is historical fiction but based on the real Mila Pavlichenko who did kill over 300 people during World War II. The author did research into this young woman that a lot of people don't know about and spun quite the story of her time before, during, and after the war.  The author's note at the end of the book reveals how much of this books was based on truth (quite a bit of it), and gave you even more insight into this incredible person.  It is a well written book, and I would say the only thing that made me a little crazy was the amount of times it was mentioned how many people she had killed.  More often than was necessary - to the point that you felt that the author was using this as main thing to be known about this woman, when she was clearly so much more.

Check this one out.  I have read many of Kate Quinn's historical fiction books about the women during the war, and they have all be elightening.

Stars: 4.5

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

2022 Challenge: Book With A Female Protagonist: Fried Green Tomatoes

 Book: Fried Green Tomatoes

Author: Fannie Flagg

Pages: 416

This is my 36th read for the year

This is the story of Evelyn, Mrs. Threadgoode, Ruth, and Idgie.  Four Women spaning two timelines.  Evelyn meeting Mrs. Threadgoode in the 1980s when Mrs. Threadgoode is an old woman living in a nursing home.  Evelyn, a woman in her 40s, is feeling lost and alone, so Mrs. Threadgoode starts to weave the story of Ruth and Idgie who were two friends in the early part of the century.  These woman ran the Whistle Stop Cafe in a small southern town of Whistle Stop.  Thier lives, and the lives they touched while they ran that cafe, and even before.  Idgie and Mrs. Threadgoode's spirit help Evelyn find the person inside herself that was missing.

This was a good book.  I have seen the movie many times-it is one of my favorites.  The book has quite a few more characters than the movie which is to be expected.  The timeline flows nicely for the most part back and forth between the 1980s and the early part of the century.  The author does a good job building Ruth and Idgie's story.  There were chapters where I felt that they weren't really contributing to the overall story line, but not enough of a bother to take away from the story as a whole.

This is a good one.  And if you haven't ever seen the movie, I encourage that one as well.

Stars: 4

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Released The Year I was Born: Salem's Lot

 Book: Salem's Lot

Author: Stephen King's

Pages: 464

This is my 35th read for the year

Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem's Lot to write a novel.  A place he spent only a few years living when he was small, he decides to return when he wants to write a book around the history of the Marsten House.  He had planned to rent the house to get inspired, but when he arrives in town, he finds that the house has been sold to two men who hope to open a furniture store in town.

Once he settled into this small town, two young boys go missing in the words and only one returns alive.  Looking into what happens with the boy, Mears - and several other people in the town - realize something is amiss.  Soon, more people start to die mysterious deaths - far more than a small town is used to.  A group of people, including Mears, decide it is up to them to investigate what is going on, and to find out how these two men living in the Marsten House are probably to blame.

This was an excellent book.  It is no lie that I am a King fan - I have read most of his books.  I don't know how I missed this gem which came out in 1975.  It is well written, and the story holds your interest from beginning to end.  It has just enough horror and suspense to keep you on your toes and wanting to find out what the fate of this town is going to be.

Check this one out. 

Stars: 4.5

Friday, May 6, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book That Is A Murder Mystery: In Cold Blood

 Book: In Cold Blood

Author: Truman Capote

Pages: 343

This is my 34th read for the year

This is the true story of the murder of the Clutter family in 1959.  In November of that year two men entered the home of the Clutter family and murdered the 4 members that lived there, leaving no clues for the police to figure out who committed this terrible crime.  It took an inmate coming forward to catch these killers and bring them to justice.  

This was an okay read.  My husband informed me that Capote was one of the first authors of true crime novels, and I commend him for that.  The crime in this book is horrific and when the criminals describe what happened, you will tense up and hope for another outcome.  However - getting to what happened and why took a really long time in this book.  I enjoy a good set up, but I think if they would have explained a bit more about the crime in the beginning and THEN went back and built the story of how the ciminals got there, it would have been a more enjoyable read for me.  Instead, you are left weeding through the backgrounds of too many characters until you get to the point of the book.  Again -this is just my opinion.  Written in a different order, I feel this book would have been a true hit for me.

If you want to read one of the first true crime novels every written to see where it all began, then I can suggest this one.  If you are looking purely for entertainment,maybe look elsewhere.

Stars:  3.5

Thursday, May 5, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Constellation On The Cover/In The Title: The Dog Stars

 Book: The Dog Stars

Author: Peter Heller

Pages: 336

This is my 33rd read for the year

A flu has wiped out most of humanity.  Hig now lives in an airplane hanger with his dog and a guy named Bangley.  Their whole being is staying alive and fending off people who wonder into their space with hopes of taking it.

Hig, who is a pilot, takes flights for supplies on a regular basis.  A few years into the "after" he hears a voice on his radio and is determined to get back there one day to meet who was on the other end.  When he takes the plunge to find others out there 9 years into the after, he discovers that there is still humane people around.  It resets him to the point that he feels that living is worth it even after everything he has lost.

This book was okay.  I do like a good end of the world story.  The problem here is it was a little dry.  It is the slowest burn and it really never reaches a real peak.  Small things happen here and there, but in the end, it is mostly just about getting by after almost everyone else is dead.  And while this probably is the reality of how it would be, it doesn't make for interesting reading.  I did enjoy large parts of it, but mostly, it was just fine.  And then it just......ended.  IT ended on a high note, but no fan fair or great last words.  Just the end.

Eh.  It was fine.  Entertaining enough.

Stars: 3

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book That Starts With The Last Letter from You Last Book: The Beginniner's Guide to Raising Chickens

 Book: The Beginners Guide to Raising Chickens

Author: Anne Kuo

Pages: 192

This is my 32nd read for the year

A how to book for those who are raising their first flock of chickens.  It reviews everything from types of chickens to setting up a brooder and a coop, to helping when a chicken gets sick.  Has information on how to keep your coop and chickens happy and healthy along with tips and tricks for people who don't know anything about chickens.  

This is a great book.  We have just brought home our first 6 chicks and knew absolutely nothing about raising chickens.  We talked to everyone we know who has them, did a lot of internet research, but nothing helps like a how to guide that I can grab off my shelf as we go through the process.  I read this one over the course of two days and it is well written and easy to understand.  And it is highly entertaining.  The author is a backyard chicken-keeper, so if you want a small flock (and she means around 30 chickens or less) this is the book for you.

I learned a ton, and now I feel prepared to take care of our new chicks.  And I am grateful I have this to reference to when problems or questions arise.

Stars: 5

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set In The 1800s: A Study In Scarlet

 Book: A Study In Scarlet

Author: Arther Conan Doyle

Pages: 100 pages

This is my 31st read for the year

This is the first Sherlock Holmes book.  Dr. Watson has just returned from war and is looking for a flat mate.  A friend introduces him to Sherlock Holmes and these two start what will be quite the adventure together.  They move into 221B Baker Street - the famous address and settle into getting to know each other.  The story is told from Watson's point of view and how he quickly becomes facinated with Holmes and what drives him.  Holmes is called to help investiage a murder, one that the members of Scotland Yard are finding it difficult to solve.  Watson gets a first hand account into how Holmes works backwards to solve a crime and how he is going to outwite the detectives.

This was a pretty good book.  Well written like I knew it would be.  A lot of people feel this is the weakest of Doyle's stories, but it is his first one.  I am glad I started at the beginning - never having read any Sherlock Holmes stories before (My husband is a huge fan on the other hand), and now I feel that continuing through his books is necessary.  Getting to know how Watson and Holmes came together was essential to understanding their relationship.

I recommend this one if you have not read any Holmes stories. 

Stars: 4.5 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book About Someone Leading A Double Life: Pieces of Her

 Book: Pieces of Her

Author: Karin Slaughter

Pages: 496

This is my 30th read for the year

This is the story of Andrea and Laura.  Andrea thought she knew everything about her mother, Laura.  That is until one day a shooting at their local mall where Laura takes down the suspect that has Andrea realizing she didn't know her mother at all.  This shooting leads Andrea down a path into her mother's past that she finds unbelievable.  In the end, Andrea learns how tough her mother really is, and learns that she can also stand on her own two feet.

This book was okay.  I liked the back story of Laura and how she became the person she is now.  Andrea (Andy) on the other hand was horrible.  Never liked her character.  Borded on hating her.  I know the author wrote her to be that way on purpose, but it was really too much.  I could never route for her because she was so awful.  

I am on the fence to recommend this one.  Out of the gate Andy drove me crazy that I almost didn't finish the book.  However, the backstory parts of this do make finishing the book worth it.  So......maybe?  I am going to watch the Netflix show and maybe that will pull it all together.

Stars: 4

Monday, April 25, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book You Can Read In One Setting: New Orleans Vampires

 Book: New Orleans Vampires

Author: Marita Woywood Crandle

Pages: 128

This is my 29th read for the year

This books cover some of the Vampire Legends that originated in the New Orleans area over the last several centuries.  From the casket girls to a pair of brothers that terroized the town, Crandle explains how these rumors got started and how tbey have held up in the area over the years.

This was a very short book.  It was fairly good - I honestly did not know this about the New Orleans area.  I have been there, but it has been almost 20 years, and at the time I had a young child so Vampire tours wouldn't have been on the list.  I might need to revisit the area now and take one of these tours.  Reading the book got a good sense of the people who claimed this lifestyle and what lead the locals at the time to believe they were actual vampires.  Glad I found this one.

Stars: 4

Sunday, April 24, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book With A Recipe In It: The Recipe Box

 Book: The Recipe Box

Author: Viola Shipman

Pages: 336

This is my 28th read for the year

This is the story of Sam.  Sam comes from a long line of female bakers who have made their mark on their corner of the world.  Her great grandmother started an orchard that quickly grew ove the generations into a Pie Shop and large business in Michigan.  But Sam wants more.  She doesn't think she wants to stay in her small town and take over the business.  She moves to New York to become a pastry chef for a TV celebrtiy chef.  When that doesn't work, she quits on the spot and heads back home to lick her wounds.  While there, she discovers more about herself and her family that she ever knew and wonders if running away from history is what she really desires.

Told by many female voices in Sam's family, going back and forth from past to present, Sam's family history is weaved together through a beloved Recipe Box that is given to each girl in the family when they turn 13.  Sam discovers what matters most isn't necessarily what she expected.

This was a very sweet book.  It is a Hallmark movie from beginning to end - life lessons, love, family.  All of the main characters were likable.  The receipes that are in each chapter all sound delicious that I want to buy this book just for them.  And it even encouraged me to make my own recipe box for my kids to take with them out into the world.

It was a good read.  As we head into the summer months, if you are looking for something light and feel good - this one is for you.  Check it out.

Stars: 4

Thursday, April 21, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Written By Two Authors: Dry

 Book: Dry

Author: Neal Shusterman

Pages: 416

This is my 27th book for the year

Southern California has been in an endless drought.  People have been told to stop watering their lawns, stop filling their pools, conserve as much as they can anywhere they can.  However - in the end, it still isn't enough and the taps run dry.

Alyssa and her family run to the store to find out they are too late to get the last of the water.  This send their family - and many others - into a tail spin of panic about what they are going to do until help arrives.  Alyssa, her brother, and several other neighborhood teenagers are separated from their families and go on a hunt for water.  What they encounter is what civilization becomes when it is at its most desperate.  Choices are made that people can never take back.

This was a pretty good book.  I am a big Shusterman fan and this one didn't disappoint.  I found myself on edge the whole time I was reading this book - how real this scenario could be at any time for us.  How it was contained to one area of California yet those people were trapped and helpless.  After living through the pandemic, I can see how quickly anarchy would set in when the water is turned off.  It is a well written novel, flows well, and wraps up nicely.  Glad I read this one.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Memoir: A Very Punchable Face

 Book: A Very Punchable Face

Author: Colin Jost

Pages: 366

This is my 26th read for the year

This is the story of Colin Jost.  A boy who grew up on Staten Island in New York, went to Harvard, and became a writer and co-achor of the Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.  After spending 15 years on SNL, his book reflects on his life and what got him to this point and where he might like to go next.  Jost takes you on a wild ride discovering things about him that you might not have known mixed in with amusing antics about his friends, co-workers, and family.

This was a great book.  I am a fan of Colin Jost - the Weekend Update still being the one thing I tolerate on SNL.  (also he is married to Scarlett Johansen who plays my favorite Marvel character - Black Widow) He is smart and funny and his book did not disappoint in either of those two areas.  It is well written and will have you laughing outloud.  I learned a lot about Jost that I found surprising (he is a bit wilder than he appears) and also found him self -deprecating (which I expected).  The pace of the book is good, every chapter enjoyable and entertaining.  A good read overall.

Stars: 4 1/2

Monday, April 18, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set On A Plane, Train, or Cruise Ship - Sea of Tranquility

 Book: Sea of Tranquility

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Pages: 272

This is my 25th read for the year

++This book fitting this category is a bit of a stretch, but it does take place a bit on a ship and an airship, so I went with it.

This is a story that spans hundreds of years.  It starts with a young man who has been exiled by his family for bad behavior and is forced to take a steamship to Canada.  While there he has a strange encounter on a beach.  He hears a violin and a sound he cannot place - a whooshing - which leaves him realing.

Two centuries later a novelist named Olive is on her book tour on Earth, but her home is a colony on the moon.  While traveling there are signs that a pandemic is starting and she has to make a choice whether to stay on Earth or go home to her family.

Two centuries even further on a man named Gaspery leaves a menial job to become an investigator at the Time Institute.  His job is to figure out an anomly that appeared in the North American wilderness in the past.  However - in his travels to get there, he upends the lives of the people he was just to observe and is soon exiled himself.  He weaves the three timelines together but what will that do to the future when he decides to intervene?

This was a fair book.  I have read The Glass Castle and Station Eleven by this author, and when I saw she had a new science fiction novel coming out, I wanted to check it out.  It is quite short, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, until you get to the end.  It felt unfinished.  I would have liked to know more.  The writing is up to the author's usual standards, but the story for me fell a little flat. I wanted more!  Another 50 pages to wrap it up a little tighter would have been the ticket.

Stars:  3 1/2

Saturday, April 16, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book About A Man Made Disaster- Five Past Midnight In Bhopal

 Book: Five Past Midnight In Bhopal

Author: Dominique Lapierre

Pages: 432

This is my 24th read for the year

On December 3rd, 1984 toxic gas escaped from a pesticide plant in Bhopal that killed thousands.  The author brings together families and workers that were there during this disaster to rebuild the story and how it came to be.

There isn't much I can say about this one.  I was interested in the disaster because when it happened I was only 9 years old and I don't remember it at all.  However - this book is poorly written.  There is very little in the book about the disaster itself, the rest of it being "fluff" about some of the families and workers in the area leading up to the disaster.  Interwoven the author talks about the company that brought the pesticide plant to Bhopal, but it gets lost among clumsy phrasing.  This book could have been less than 200 pages - talk about the day or two before the disaster, the disaster itself and the immediate aftermath.  Then possibly where people are now.  But that didn't happen, and so I really cannot recommend this one as a good story to learn about what happened in Bhopal in 1984.

Stars: 2

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

2022 Challege: Book With An Animal In The Title: Pigs In Heaven

 Book: Pigs In Heaven

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Pages: 384

This is my 23rd book for the year

This is the story of Taylor.  Taylor has adopted a little girl named Turtle that was just thrust at her one night three years ago.  Taylor is living with her boyfriend Jax and enjoyed her little makshift family.  One day, a laywer for the Cherokee nation comes sniffing around and questions Taylor's adoption of Turtle and Taylor's life is turned upside down.  Taylor takes off with Turtle to hide - afraid that the little girl is going to be taken away from her.  With the help of Taylor's mom, the truth of how her life and the Cherokee nation are revealed and Taylor hopes that everyone can work together so she can keep Turtle.

This was a pretty good book.  I did discover it is the 2nd book in a series, but it really can be read as a stand alone.  There are a lot of small stories woven together.  I did find myself becoming frustrates with the Taylor character - she is maddening at times.  The author does a good job trying to shed light on the trouble with children who leave these Native American tribes and what life might be like for them when they look so different than their peers.  But the book meandered a bit to get to the point and at times that was maddening.  I listened to it and found myself wanting to put it on a faster speed just to get to the point.

I am a fan of Kindsolver books.  She is a good writer and always gives me a good chuckle with some of her clever lines.  Maybe if I had read the first one and got a better basis of Taylor and Turtle this one would have been a better read for me.

Stars: 3

Monday, April 11, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Set In Victorian Times: The Forgotten Garden

 Book: The Forgotten Garden

Author: Kate Morton

Pages: 560

This is my 22nd read for the year

This is the story across generations of The (fictional) Blackhurst family.  Spanning from 1900 up to 2005, the women in this story are either keeping secrets or trying to get to the bottom of a family mystery.  Cassandra - a young woman in 2005 is the granddaughter of Nell.  Nell raised Cassandra when her mother took off, and when Nell dies, she leaves Cassandra a small cottage in England.  Cassandra travels from Australia to England to discover why her grandmother had a cottage no one knew existed and what made her buy it in the first place.  This starts to unravel Nell's past and leads Cassandra to find family she never knew she had.  The puzzle pieces start to fit together as the story weaves between the present and the past.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read one other Morton book (The Secret Keeper) and really enjoyed it.  I do like multiple timeline books especially when they pull all together to make a well rounded story.  I will admit, though, that this one lacked a good flow.  There was too much of "keeping the reader in the dark for no reason" that I always dislike.  Question without answers continued to mount, and in the end, I wasn't surprised to find out the big secret.  The threads of the story kind of came together without much explanation about how each character got there.  Overall it is well written, but the story was just a bit lacking. 

Stars: 4

Friday, April 8, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Becoming a Movie or TV Series in 2022: 5 Days At Memorial

 Book: 5 Days At Memorial

Author: Sheri Fink

Pages: 592

This is my 21st read for the year

This non-fiction novel covers the tragedy that struck New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.  Memorial Hospital ran out of power but still had over 100 patients stuck at the hospital in the days following the hurricane.  The author reconstructs those 5 days at that hospital and what the doctors and nurses did to try and get their patients - and themselves - to safety. She covers the doctor's choices to leave some of the sickest patients to be evacuated last and how that lead to the death of many people.  Some of those deaths were called into question and a doctor and two nurses are arrested for potential homicide.  The author reconstructs what went down but leaves the reader to decide for themselves if the staff was innocent or guilty.

This was a prety good book.  The author does a good job of constructing the scene probably spending 100s of hours of interviewing and reviewing paperwork from the staff and the trial to construct the story.  It does get a bit bogged down with over detail in some cases - especially of stories outside of Memorial.  I know what she is trying to do - to connect the dots of how other hospitals handle disasters, or even rules and laws that are in place in other places, but that distracted from the general theme of this story for me.  It did not help the flow.

Overall - a good story.  I am still on the fence about what happened there and if it was homicide or not.  However - I would never want to be in the shoes of that staff that had to make that decision.

Stars: 3 1/2