Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, September 29, 2023

Book: Homecoming

Book: Homecoming

Author: Kate Morton

PageS: 560

This is my 85th read for the year

This is the story of the Turner-Bridges family - Nora, Polly and Jessica.  Jessica has been called to come back to Australia from London after her beloved grandmother, Nora - who raised her - had a bad fall and has been hospitalized.  Jessica has been gone from Australia for 20 years - making a way for herself in London nd she is at frist not sure she wants to return.  However, she felt she owed it to her grandmother to be there and help get her home.  While there, she returns to Darling House where she grew up under the watchful, loving eye of her grandmother.  Jessica's mother, Polly, had moved away when Jessica was 10 saying it was better for her to be raised by Nora, and Jess and Polly had drifted apart because of this.  Once Jess is settled, she thinks this might be a good opportunity to write about her grandmother and growing up in Darling House, and as she delves into her grandmother's past, she starts to uncover deep family secrets.  The pieces of the puzzle of who her grandmother was, and who her mother is come to light as Jess interviews people from her family's past.  What she discovers will change everything.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read quite a few Kate Morton books, and I keep coming back to her.  I do love a dual timeline book and watching the two timelines eventually overlap to make a final outcome.  This book is LONG.  Way too long, in my opinion.  Morton is quite wordy and overly discriptive and just seems to be filling pages with language and scenes that just did not move the plot forward.  And of course - we are kept overly in the dark for too long on this one.  You do figure out pretty quickly where the story is going and what the big secret is going to be, but a few mysteries stayed until the end for me until they were resolved.  You have inklings, but it takes Morton a long, winding path to get there.

Stars: 3.5

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Book: The Quiet Tenant

 Book: The Quiet Tenant

Author: Clemence Mchallon

Pages: 320

This is my 84th read for the year

This is the story of Rachel, Cecilia, and Emily.  Rachel has been kidnapped and has been held captive by a man for 5 years.  Cecilia - the kidnappers daughter - has no idea that the woman living in her house is not just a friend of her father.  And Emily - who has started to fall for the kidnapper (who we learned is named Aidan) does not know she is in danger.  Aidan - a kidnapper and serial killer of 8 women so far - is the picture perfect father and member of his town.  His wife has recently died of cancer, and no one has any idea that he has such dark secrets.  And if Rachel cannot figure out how to escape and get to the police, Aidan will kill again.

This was not a good book.  I listened to it, and I should have quit.  I don't get the good reviews.  There are a few plot holes (like when Rachel finds take out menus in the kidnappers house but never uses those to give her a clue where she is).  It is a drawn out story with way too much discriptive language where you just want to push the fast forward button to get to the point.  Emily is a terrible character - hated her the entire book.  Rachel also - she is given quite a few chances to leave and never takes them.  In the end things really just.....ended.  There wasn't a good epilogue to wrap up the story.  It could have used a future chapter where we find out what happened to Rachel and Cecilia.  Instead - the author chose to really end it with Emily.  

Skip this one.

Stars: 2

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Book: Run

 Book: Run

Author: Ann Patchett

Pages: 304

This is my 83rd read for the year

This is the story of the Doyle family.  Bernard family has had to raise his three boys since his wife's death.  Teddy and Tip were adopted as little boys and along with their older brother Sebastian, they have had to try and find their way without their mother.  Bernard Doyle - who used to be the mayor of Boston, takes his children to see speakers even when the boys don't want to.  The night that Jessie Jackson is speaking, Tip is frustrated because he has a lot of work to do.  Not paying attention, he steps into the street and is quickly pushed out of the way by a woman.  While Tip is saved from being hit, the woman is not.  While the Doyle family helps the woman who was hit, they are thrown into her life because she has a little girl who needs looked after while her mother is in the hospital.  What unfolds over the 24 hour period of this book enterwines these two families forever.

This was a pretty good book.  This is an older Patchett book that I found at a used bookstore, and I am glad I read it.  I liked the characters and how the story evolved and I liked the ending.  It is not an overly drawn out story so the point doesn't get lost in a lot of unnecessary language.  A good read.

Stars: 4

Book: None of This is True

 Book: None of This is True

Author: Lisa Jewell

Pages: 384

This is my 82nd read for the year

This is the story of Josie and Alix.  Both celebrating their 45th birthday in the same restaurant at the same time.  They found out that they were born on the same day in the same hospital.  Josie finds out that Alix does podcast about the lives of women, and decides their "Birthday Twin" situation would make a great podcast series.  Josie said she would like to tell Alix her story, and when she starts to reveal the details of her life, Alix is shocked.  Alix is unsettled about Josie's story, but knows that listeners would be intrigued, so they continue.  Soon Josie is incorporating herself more and more into Alix's life.  And when tragedy strikes, the women's lives take a dark turn.  Alix soon finds that Josie is not who she says she is.

This was a pretty good book.  I could not figure out where this was going.  It was clear pretty early on that something was wrong with the Josie character, but what we couldn't quite put our finger on.  It takes almost to the very end for the story to piece itself together.  Has a nice flow and kept me interested enough to see where it ended up.  The ending was satisfactory.  This is my first book from this author, so I might try out another in the future.

Stars: 4

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Book: Tom Lake

 Book: Tom Lake

Author: Ann Patchett

Pages: 320

This is my 81st read for the year

This is the story of Lara.  In the middle of the pandemic, her three grown daughters have returned to the family's cherry farm.  While they work, Lara is drilled by her daughters to tell them of her past when she was an actress.  It was just a short time in Lara's life, but during that time she dated the now famous Peter Duke.  As they work, Lara tells them of her summer at Tom Lake where she was in a stage play of Our Town, and how that began and ended her career as an actress.  Her children are captivated as the story unfolds changing their view of their mother and her past and how, eventually, she came to be the wife of someone who owns a cherry farm.

This was an okay book.  I did listen to it - Meryl Streep is the narrator so I thought that might be a good way to "read" this book.  And it was.  She is a great narrator.  I just didn't find the story itself especially interesting.  It was a slow read and I found a lot of Lara's past boring.  I just could not get invested in the story.

I did read The Dutch House by Patchett and really enjoyed that.  And right now am reading "Run" and enjoying that.  This one just missed the mark for me.

Stars: 3 

Book: The Only One Left

 Book: The Only One Left

Author: Riley Sager

Pages: 400

This is my 80th read for the year

This is the story of Kit McDeere and the Hope family.  Kit, a caregiver for 12 years, was tasked with caring for her own mother at the end of her life.  When an overdose happens, Kit is blamed, and is suspended until the invesitgation ends.  Once things settle, Kit is rehired, but only one job is given to her.  She is to care for Lenora Hope - a woman accused of murdering her whole family when she was 17 years old.  Lenora - also never proven to be guilty - is confined to a wheelchair after a stroke left only her left hand usable.  Kit moves into the enormous Hope mansion to care for Lenora but the unease of the remaining staff and the fear of Lenora herself makes it hard for Kit to settle in.  When Lenora shows Kit that she can type with the use of her remaining hand, the story unfolds of what really happened the night Lenora's parents and sister were killed.  As it unfolds, strange things start happening in the house that leave Kit ready to flee for her life.

This was an okay book.  I was curious to see where it was going, but I didn't find it overly well written.  The concept was great.  And I have to admit there were a few twists I wasn't expecting, although there were a few too many of those to make this plot enjoyable.  The book is overly long - I think there were sections that could have been eliminated or shortened.  I did enjoy the chapters of Lenora's typing out her story the best - learning what it was like for her growing up in this house.   The main character is just okay.

I have read of a few of this author's books, but I am not sure I will pick up another.

Stars: 3

Friday, September 15, 2023

Book: The Only Survivors

 Book: The Only Survivors

Author: Megan Miranda

Pages: 352

This is my 79th read for the year

This is the story of Cassidy Bent.  She and 8 other of her fellow students survived a tragic accident and for the last decade, those who are left get together at a place called The Shallows once a year.  Cassidy decided this is the year she is not going to go.  She blocks the numbers of the group in emails and texts and decides she is done.  But one night she gets a text that one of the group has died, and decides he needs to be with the others.  To find out what they know.  Something seems off from the moment she arrives at The Shallows, and soon suspicions arise that one among them has broken the promise to keep secrets that are 10 years deep.  As Cassidy works closer and closer to the truth she discovers that someone in their group isn't telling the whole truth.

This book wasn't great.  It wasn't a long book, but it still was overly wordy, and all over the place.  She hates them, she loves them.  She can't stand to be with them one more minute, but then she can't imagine being apart from them.  The story was pretty conveluded that if I had not bought this book (even though it was from a used book store) I would have not finished it.  The main character is really whiny and easy to dislike.  The idea of this story drew me in when I read what it was about, but the overall execution fell short.

Stars: 2.5

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Book: Only The Beautiful

 Book: Only The Beautiful

Author: Susan Meissner

Pages: 400

This is my 78th read for the year

This is the story of two women - Roseanne - a young girl who has lived her whole life on a vineyard where her dad was a vinedresser until he and the rest of her family were killed in an accident.  Rosie has a secret - she sees colors when she hears sounds - something that she only confided in a few people throughout her life.  She finds herself pregnant and soon banished from the home of the owners of the vineyard and taken to a place where "people like her" are dealt with.

The other woman - Helen Calvert - is the sister of the vineyard owners but has lived abroad for 40 years as a caretaker for other people's children.  When WWII starts, and a tragedy befalls the family she is minding, Helen finds herself back in the United States and unsure what to do now.  She inquires about Rosie and when she finds out what happened to the girl, she sets out to find her and her child horrified by what happened to her.  Hoping to find herself when she finds Rosie and her child, Helen will not stop until they are reunited.

This was a great book.  I am a big fan of Susan Meissner.  Her "Fall of Marigolds" remains one of my all time favorite books.  This book takes place between 1938 and the 1960s - the first half Rosie's story and the second half Helens.  Then, in true Meissner form, she pulls the parallel stories together for a very satisfying ending.  It is well written with likable characters (and characters that you definitely will hate for all the right reasons) and two women trying to make a horrible situation right.  Great Historical Fiction.

Check it out

Stars: 5

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Five Star Reads 2023 Update

 I have decided that I am going to keep the 5 star reads post going annually.  I think in the future I will move it to December of every year, but today a post I saw on facebook made me think that it has been 18 months since I last updated my 5 Star Reads List and I have a few more to add.

I started this blog in 2015.  I have now read 913 books since that time that I have blogged about.  Out of those, I have had 70 that I gave a 5 start review to.  As I have stated in the past - all authors are to be commended for writing a book, putting it out there in the public and dealing with people like me who give opinions on their hard work.  Bravo to them.

For the 70 books that I have given 5 star ratings to - I own them all.  I do not own every book I read (I would go broke), so I try to keep my buying to those that are the most special.

Reading in general is something that is such a gift.  Consuming a story and escaping into a different world for awhile is a joy.  And every one of the 1000s of books (reviewed and not reviewed) that I have consumed over my lifetime was worth every minute

In No Particular Order here are my 5 star reads (since 2015).  Click on the name if you want to read about the book and my review.

The Green Mile

The Art Of Raising Chickens

Lessons In Chemistry

Remarkably Ruby

White Bird

Our Missing Hearts

The Shawshank Redemption

Headhunters On My Doorstep


In The Lives Of Puppets

The Covenant Of Water

Dread Nation

The Master And Margarita

All The Light We Cannot See

Kite Runner

The Night Circus

The Martian

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Burial Rites

And The Mountains Echoed

The Elephant Whisperer

The Stand

Game of Thrones (all of them)


The Immortal Life of Hennrietta Lacks

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

A Man Called Ove

Baby Catcher

Hillbilly Elegy

Life of Pi

Orphan Train

One Plus One

A Fighting Chance

The Book Thief


Diary of a Young Girl

Everyday The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

Dad Is Fat

The Misremembered Man

The Art Forger

A Fall Of Marigolds

Salt To The Sea

The Bone Garden

The Shadow Of The Wind

A Gentleman In Moscow


Daring To Drive

The Little Prince

What Is The What

The Astonishing Color Of After

Fire And Blood

Bad Blood

The Only Plane In The Sky

When Life Gives You Pears

Each Vagabond By Name


Mornings In Jenin


Anxious People

Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Keepers Of Lost Things

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Great Expectations

From Here To Eternity

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs

Van Gogh


Cloud Cuckoo Land

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Book: Beyond The Wand - The Magic And Mayhem Growing Up A Wizard

 Book: Beyond The Wand - The Magic and Mayhem Growing Up A Wizard

Author: Tom Felton

Pages: 304

This is my 77th read for the year

This is the autobiography of the author.  Tom Felton was the actor who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.  In his book, he talks about how he got into acting, his life growing up in a normal, happy family, and how becoming Draco changed his life.  He talks about his life mostly on the sets of Harry Potter, but also his life before and after - including his stint in rehab when he realized he was barreling out of control.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read a lot of memoirs this year, and this has been one of the better ones.  From what I have always read about Tom is that he is one of the nicest guys in real life, which is hard to fathom considering who he played in the Harry Potter movies.  I would not say he is an exceptional actor by any stretch, but I did like learning about his life on the set and how he admits that the level of stardom for Daniel, Emma, and Rupert (who played Ron, Hermonie and Harry) is on a whole other level than his is.  Glad I read this one.

Stars: 4

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Book: The Escape Artist

 Book: The Escape Artist

Author: Johnathan Freeland

Pages: 400

This is my 76th read of the year

This is a non-fiction story about Rudolf Vrba (whose original name was Walter Rosenberg).  He was the first person to escape Auschwitz - and he was only 19 years old when he did it.  He wanted to reveal what was happening in the camp and stop the further movement of Jews into these camps.  It was hard to convince people on the outside that what he was saying was true.  It seemed so unbelievable as he unfolded what was happening in the camps and few headed his warning.  In the end he did save 200,000 Jewish lives but he believed to the end of his life that if people would have believed him it could have been so many more.  Once outside of the camp, he had a hard time adjusting to the outside world.  He remained vigilant from his time in captivity, and had a hard time with his temper and outside relationships based on what happened to him.  But he never stopped talking about what happened in the camp and to the Jewish people.

This was a great read.  I did not know the story of Rudolf Vrba, and what he did to save the lives he could was beyond brave.  This was a troubled man, though.  When he got out of the camp, he was forever changed and had a terrible time with personal relationships.  He was brilliant and testified in many trials - able to recount innumerable details. My guess is a lot of it had to do with the camp, yes, but also the guilt that he was not able to convince the higher ups outside the camps of what was really happening.  While he was recounting his time in the camp and his idea to bomb the railway to stop the trains from carrying more Jews - 600,000 more Jewish people went to their deaths.

I was blown away by the fact that all through his life as he explained what happened in Auschwitz and the Jewish camps was not believed.  People could not understand how Jews willingly got on trains to go to these camps.  They were supposed to be resettlement camps after all - not death camps.  His entire life he came across people who just could not believe that millions lost their lives this way.  It is hard for us  - who have instant access to any information - to understand what it would be like to truly be "out of sight out of mind" for so many and how frustrating that must have been for Rudolf and those like him,

Great book - check it out.

Stars: 4.5