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.

Stars:3





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