Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Thursday, July 28, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book I Heard About From A Co-Worker: Lessons In Chemistry

 Book: Lessons In Chemistry

Author: Bonnie Garmus

Pages: 400

This is my 62nd read for the year

This is the story of Elizabeth Zott-a woman in the early 1960s who desperately wants to be a chemist.  Like most women at that time in history, she is having a hard time finding anyone who will take her seriously.  That is until she meets Calvin Evans- a famous scientist that just seems to get her.  They fall for each other through their love of science.  However - when tragedy strikes, Elizabeth finds herself a single mother trying to find a way to support her small family.  She is invited to be the host of a cooking show where she tries to incorporate chemistry into cooking with her audience and what happens is she starts to change the status quo for women.

This was a great book.  It has been a while since I have read something that I enjoyed so much.  The popularity of this book scared me, not going to lie.  Usually, I end up not liking those books.  But this time?  It was a fantastic read. It is well written, and I even found myself chuckling at the lines from time to time.  This is a book about women being seen. And the author does a wonderful job of balancing a good story with a great message.  Highly recommend!

Stars 5

Book: Misery

 Book: Misery

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 368

This is my 61st read for the year

This is the story of Paul Sheldon.  A famous writer who takes a drive one day, crashes, and ends up in a nightmare scenario he never would have imagined.  He wakes up in the home of Annie Wilkes with his legs shattered.  She has been nursing him back to health instead of taking him to a hospital or calling the police.  Paul quickly learns that Annie is a big fan of his books, and is upset on a direction he has taken his latest series.  Before she will release Paul, she needs him to make it right.  If Paul doesn't agree, things could get ugly, and he may never leave Annie's house.

This was a pretty good book. I have seen the movie, but can't believe I have never read the book since I read most of King's things.  Mat bought me the Folio Society version for my birthday, so I figured it was time to read it. There are a lot of cringe worthy moments where I felt myself clutching the book tightly.  Even though I knew how it ended, as you read, you are still drawn into the character and how desparate his plight is, and how impossible his situation seems to be.  It isn't a long book, so the agony is not drug out unnecessarily. Overall, a sold read.

Stars: 4.5

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book from a quote from your favorite author on the cover or Amazon page: Ninth House

 Book: Ninth House

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Pages: 496

This is my 60th read for the year

This is the story of Alex.  As a child a traumatic experience shaped her teen years.  She dropped out of school, got in with a rough crowd, and seemed to have lost her way.  She is a only survivor of a multiple homicide and while recovering in the hospital, she is approached by a gentleman that would like her to come to Yale as a student and get a second chance at life.  She is sure there is a catch, but she agrees.

At Yale she discovers the world of the tombs- houses that were homes to some of the most powerful people in the world - a place where Alex can finally be herself.  However, as she delves deeper into this world, she finds that there are sinister activities at play.  When a town girl ends up dead, Alex makes it her mission to find out who killed her.  Someone doesn't want Alex to find out what really happened and Alex finds herself in danger. But Alex won't quit until she gets answers.

This was a pretty good book.  I read the Author's popular "Shadow and Bone" novel, and didn't love it. It was fine, but more love story and teenage hormones than good story.  This was all story.  The author stays focused on the mystery, the magic, and solving the mystery.  It reminded me more of a Harry Potter type novel than a Twilight with its magic elements, and that was refreshing.

It is magical realism, and gritty, and leaning slightly toward Horror.  These are all pluses for me in a novel, so I think that is why I enjoyed it.  It is not YA.  The houses they talk about exist at Yale today.  There were a lot of story lines going on, but I liked that.  It is a cliff hanger at the end, so be warned.  There is a second book coming next year.


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book Involving Water: The Night Swim

 Book: The Night Swim

Author: Megan Goldin

Pages: 368

This is my 59th read for the year

Rachel Krall, a reporter turned podcaster, has become a success in the world of True Crime.  She started a podcast called Guilty/Not Guilty and now she is a well known.  Her first two seasons were murder trials, but this season she has taken a different path and has latched onto a Rape trial in a small town.  As she travels to the small town, she stops to rest and when she returns to her car, she finds a note stuck to her windshield.  No one really knows her face, so she doesn't know how Hannah found her.  Hannah is asking for help in confronting the person who murdered her sister 25 years ago.  Hannah is from the same small town where Rachel is heading for the trial, and Rachel is not sure she wants to get mixed up in another story while working on her existing story.  Hannah contiues to send her letters and leave her notes telling her story and Rachel becomes more and more intrqued.  All the while, she delves into the Rape trial with her listeners to determine of Scott - a kid from a wealthy family and swimmer with Olympic dreams is actually guilty of the crime he is accused of.  As the trial goes on, Rachel learns more and more about the people involved not only in the current crime, but the one Hannah's sister was involved in all those years ago.

This book started out great.  I decided to listen to this one and I highly recommend that if you try this book.  The reader is excellent but mostly because this goes back and forth between Rachel speaking and her podcast, and the podcast parts deserve the audio to bring them alive.  I was quickly invested in both stories - the current trial and Hannah's past and Rachel weaves together the stories and we try to figure out who the guilty parties are.  Where she loses me is the ending.  I would have given this book a strong 4-4.5 stars, but the ending just left me flat.  Also - I could tell where this trial was going to end up by the lean Rachel had in her podcast.  She starts the story by saying she needs to stay impartial and non-bias, but that clearly took a turn one direction as she started the podcast.  So it kind of gave away where things were going to end up.  I love true crime podcast, and most of the time the really good ones DO stay impartial.  Make the listeners really think and form their own opinions.  This didn't quite do that.

It was a good listen.  I am glad I listened to it and it really did make for a good book for the most part.  I was always anxious to get back to it - spent long days outside working just so I could listen to it. I just wish the ending was a little stronger.

Stars: 3.5 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Book: The Moonlight Child

 Book: The Moonlight Child

Author: Karen McQuestion

Pages: 328

This is my 58th read for the year

This is the story of missing children.  The story opens with a family whose daughter, whom got wrapped up in a bad crowd with drugs and alcohol has been missing for years.  Her parents don't know if she is living or dead, and not having closure either way has been awful.  Sharon, a woman living a quiet life in a well off neighborhood looks outside on day and sees a very little girl, very late at night washing dishes.  This peaks Sharon's curiosity, and she cannot stop thinking about it.  When a young girl, Niki -who needs a place to stay - comes to live with Sharon, she and Sharon start to investigate who this little girl is and what her neighbors might be hiding.  What happens in that Sharon and Niki get deeply involved in a cold case and a neighbor's secrets.

This book was just okay.  I listened to it to pass some yard work time after I saw it mentioned on a book page I follow on facebook.  The characters are not very realistic considering the trauma that they have had.  The neighbor is over the top awful (although - that could be realistic......).  It is extremely predictable so that was disappointing since this was a mystery book.  I knew where it was going fairly early on.  No surprises found.  No depth.

Stars: 3

Saturday, July 9, 2022

2022 Challenge: A Book About Health And Wellness: Get Up And Ride

 Book: Get Up And Ride

Author: Jim Shea

Pages: 202

This is my 57th read for the year

This is the story of the author.  He and his brother in law, Marty, decided to ride the Great Allegheny Passage one summer.  They traveled from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington DC over the course of a week on their bikes - staying and stopping in variouis towns along the trail.  The book covers their time on the trail, the history of some of the towns they passed, and the story of Jim, Marty and their families.  Jim spins the story of what it was like to travel in this part of the country - describing the scenery over the 335 miles they traveled.

This was a good book.  I love picking up books in my old home town of Connellsville, Pa when I visit.  Any book that mentions our small town is worth checking out and this one did not disappoint.  Jim does a good job recounting the history of many of the towns he traveled through - I even learned things that I did not know.  There are quite a few parts that gave me a chuckle as he recounted his relationship with his brother-in-law Marty.  And while Jim states right from the beginning that he isn't a writer, I still think he does a nice job with his story.

Stars: 4

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Extra Book: Our House

 Book: Our House

Author: Louise Candlish

Pages: 416

This is my 56th read for the year

This is the story of Fiona "Fi" Lawson.  She has a gorgeous house that has been her dream home since the first time she saw it.  Mother of two boys, she comes home one day to another family moving into her house.  Sure there has been a mistake because she has not sold her home, she starts to unravel what has happened.  She calls her ex-husband - the man she has made an arrangement with to share them home to minimally disrupt the lives of their children - and cannot get ahold of him.  What unfolds is the backstory of what lead Fi to this point and all the secrets that her ex-husband kept from her.  As things spiral out of control, Fi leans on her friend and neighbor to help figure out what happened and how she lost her home without her knowledge.

This was a pretty good mystery.  I enjoyed the building of the story of Fi and Bram (who is an awful person) hoping that Fi can get her home back the entire time the story unfolds.  However - the ending was horrible.  It just.....ends.  It was like the author couldn't figure out how they wanted to end the book so they just didn't.  I was furious.  Hours spend reading and becoming invested in Fi's story to have it end the way it did was ridiculous.  So upsetting.

Stars: 3

Friday, July 1, 2022

Extra Book: The Orchard

 Book: The Orchard

Author: Peter Heller

Pages: 229

This is my 55th read for the year

This is the story of Frith.  She lives with her mother in a rustic cabin in the woods.  Frith - age 7 - is mostly homeschooled, only attending a brick and mortar school once a week, and she and her mother live basically off the grid. Before moving to the woods, Hayley - Frith's mom - was a translator of peotry from the Chinese Tang dynasty.  Wanting to get away from the stress and pressures of the job, she took her daughter and all but disappeared.  Barely getting by, one day a woman named Rose happens upon their cabin and is quickly becomes a friend to both Hayley and Frith.  And when their lives are shattered by tragedy, Frith is not sure she will ever be the same.

This was a pretty good read.  I liked all three women - they are well developed and easily liked.  There is a back and forth a bit from future and past as Frith unfolds her story - now an adult - and how it led to where she is today.  It is eloquently written, but it doesn't really go anywhere for most of the book.  It is a bit of just the mundane story of these three women doing their everyday work.  Frith telling the story looking back and how it shaped the life she now had was unique, but all we get is a small snapshot of her childhood for basically this one year.  I could have used a little more.

I am not sorry I read it -it was a good summer read.  I just wish it had a bit more story.

Stars: 3.5