Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Friday, March 1, 2024

Book: The City of Mirrors

 Book: The City of Mirrors

Author: Justin Cronin

Pages: 624


This is my 42nd read for the year

In the last book of the Passage trilogy, we open with The Twelve being destroyed.  But The Zero still remains.  Amy has left the walled city to hunt for him knowing that until he is destroyed, humans will never be at peace.  Zero waits for Amy - knowing she will come and try to kill him.  But while he waits, he starts to raise an army against her. 

However - 20 years pass and the humans have not seen virals for many years.  They have opened the gates to the walled cities and started to branch out into the country.  Just as they start to breathe, people and animals start to disappear.  The folks who were there when The Twelve were at their peak know what is coming and they are woefully unprepared.

This was a fantastic book.  I have really enjoyed this trilogy.  The writing was fantastic and the story just draws you in.  This story was a back track to when The Zero was human and his life story and how he became who he was.  It kept me page turning late into the night and it was probably my favorite part of this book.  I did have to subtract a half a star because of two reasons.  1) there was a little too much "sweetness" in this book compared to the others.  A few too many things working out and flowery language that didn't really fit.  My assumption is how much Cronin loves these characters and if there was a death of a character he probably felt it personally.  2) The ending - not my favorite.  I LOVED that it went far into the future and kind of wrapped up how the book starts (which is from reading notebooks from the past) but he introduced a few new characters that just through it off for me.

Overall - excellent book and excellent series.  Well worth the read.

Stars: 4.5

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Book: The Scarlet Pimpernel

 Book: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Author: Baroness Orczy

Pages: 330


This is my 41st read for the year

This is the story of Marguerite Blakeney and trying to figure out who is the daring Scarlet Pimpernel that is rescuing French aristocrats from being hanged.  He gets them out of France and into England safely.  Marguerite is approached by Chauvelin who is trying to capture the Scarlet Pimpernel and bring him to justice.  Chauvelin promises her that no harm with come to her brother - who has been sentenced to die in France - if she helps him.  She agrees until she finds out the true identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  Then it is a race to see if Marguerite can save him and her brother in time.

This was a pretty good book.  It isn't a hard read, and the reader can probably figure out who the Scarlet Pimpernel is pretty early in the book (before Marguerite does).  However - if you go on Amazon you will know before you even read the book, so you are warned.  The writing is not bad but the ending could have been better.  

Stars: 3




Sunday, February 25, 2024

Book: The Twelve

 Book: The Twelve

Author: Justin Cronin

Pages: 608


This is my 40th read for the year

This is the second book in the Passage Trilogy.  The story opens in the past when the infection was just starting to spread.  Lila, a doctor, has seen something horrible at the hospital and now has locked herself in her house, refusing to believe what is happening outside her walls and going about her life as nothing has changed.  As other survivors find each other and start to trek to safety, they all hope that whatever is happening is over quick.

Years in the future (and 5 years after the timeline of book one), we meet our crew from the first group struggling to hold things together.  Amy is on her own mission.  The crew are mourning the loss of some of their own. Amy is changing, even though at 103 years old and one of the original 12, she shouldn't be.  She has powers that come in handy.  The other virals are discovering that they can die if they cannot feed, an so the original 12 make a plan for world domination and control their numbers.  Meanwhile the insurgents have infiltrated a prison that has been built by the 12 and have plans to pic them off one by one.

This was a great book. I think I liked it even better than the first.  I really liked that Cronin backtracked in the beginning of this book to the beginning of the infection and told the story from other points of view.  I like how he used that as kind of a "recap" but also a prelude of what was to come with some of those characters in the "here and now" of the characters we became aquainted with in book one.  He is a superb writer.  This is a slow burning story, but like The Stand it has the perfect pace.  He doesn't have a ton of characters so we get in be heavily involved in their lives in these books which makes it wonderful.

Great series.  Cannot wait to read the third and see how he finishes the story.

Stars: 5


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Book: Loki

 Book: Loki

Author: Melvin Burgess

Pages: 272


This is my 39th read for the year

I am borrowing from Amazon for the synopsis (I am on vacation and don't want to paraphrase)
"Starting with the Norse creation myths, the trickster god Loki takes the reader on a wild ride through Norse mythology, from the era when the gods—the founders of Asgard—defeated a race of monsters, and then hurtles through legendary stories, including Odin hanging himself on the World Tree, the theft of the corrupting gold ring, and the murder of Baldr, the god of love and the sun.

Born within the heart of a fire in the hollow of a tree-trunk, Loki arrives in Asgard as an outsider. He is a trickster, an unreliable narrator, the god of intelligence and politics. In spite of his cleverness and sparkling wit (or, perhaps, because of this), Loki struggles to find his place among the old patriarchal gods of supernatural power and is constantly at odds with the god of thunder—Thor.

Alongside the politics of Asgard, the novel charts the course of Loki's many loves and families, from his mothering of Odin's famous horse to his intense, turbulent, and, eventually fatal relationship with Baldr the Beautiful—a tender and moving story of a love that goes wrong.

This is a retelling that is contemporary in tone, at once amusing and relatable. It is a heartfelt plea to overthrow the old gods of power and authority and instigate a new era ruled by love and intelligence"

My husband got me this book for my birthday.  I do love Norse Mythology, and I was interested in the story of Loki.  There are so many twist in turns in myths, and with this world, and I thought the author did a nice job with Loki's story.  I have read about him and Thor in the past, but this Loki view book was interesting.  The story is short and doesn't get into the weeds like Norse Mythology can do with all of its "cast of characters" which I appreciated.  Fun read.

Stars: 4


Book: I Feel Bad About My Neck

 Book: I Feel Bad About About My Neck

Author: Nora Ephron

Pages: 137


This is my 38th read for the year

This is Nora's own story.  She uses humor to talk about purses, cooking, books, and of course - her neck.  In her 60s at the time of her writing this book, she talks about what it is like to be an older woman.

I read this book for a challenge and it was so fun.  Ephron was quirky and funny and I enjoyed this novella very much.  She discussed her time in New York, her three marriages, and raising kids in the city.   I am glad I read it.

Stars: 4



Sunday, February 18, 2024

Book: Swamp Story

 Book: Swamp Story

Author: Dave Barry

Pages: 306


This is my 37th read for the year

This is the story of a rag tag gang in Florida.  Jessie - the only level headed one of the group - is stuck with her baby and her boyfriend who is a wanna be reality star.  Jessie left her family for her boyfriend and he squandered her trust fund.  Broke and desperate, she finds some gold on a walk and now is wondering if it is her ticket out of town.  

There is also Ken Bortle and his brother Ben.  Ken has big dreams to make money for their soon to be closed store by making up a Everglades Melon Monster to rake in some money and some fame.  What happens is beyond anyone mixesd up in this sceme dreams of.  Nothing goes the way they planned, but as Dave Barry always says "This is, afterall, Florida"

This waa silly book.  I always enjoy Dave Barry's books - they are hysterical and after living in Florida myself - "so Florida".  It is a well written, quick easy read that I am glad I read.

Stars: 4


Book: Ethan Frome

 Book: Ethan Frome

Author: Edith Wharton

Pages: 77


This is my 36th read for the year

This is the story of Ethan Frome  A poor farmer who lives with his ailing wife in New England.  When his wife, Zeena's, family member Mattie comes to live with them, Ethan starts to fall for her.  Ethan knows he is in a loveless marriage to a wife 7 years older than he is and he wants more.  Whtn Zeena's realizes that Ethan has feelings from Mattie, she makes arrangements to have her sent away and another servant brought to the house to care for her.  When tragedy strikes, Ethan spends the rest of his life paying for it.

This was a great book.  I have actually visited Edith Wharton's home here in Massachusetts and learned of her history.  This apparently is her most famous book, so when it showed up on the Rory Reading Challenge, I was happy to give it a read.  This is a novella and a quick read, but very well written.  The story of Ethan and his terrible wife (who you will love to hate) keeps you enthralled in the story to the very end.  I am anxious to read a few more of her works.

Stars: 4.5


Book: The Only Good Indians

 Book: The Only Good Indians

Author: Stephen Graham Jones

Pages: 336


This is my 35th read for the year

This story follows the lives of 4 Native American men and their families - all disturb by an disturbing event from their past.  Now they are being haunted by the entity from their past which leads to several tragedies among their friends and families.

This book was odd.  If found getting through it a big of a chore.  This wasn't scary. - just weird.  I found it quite confusing at times - a lot of dialogue that didn't move the story along.  The writing wasn't that great and it was not easy to follow the story because of it.  This one wasn't for me.

Stars: 2.5



Thursday, February 15, 2024

Book: Cyrano de Bergerac

 Book: Cyrano de Bergerac

Author: Edmond Rostand

Pages: 256


This is my 34th read for the year

This is the story of Hercule Cyrano de Bergerac.  He is a decorated soldier and a master of words.  His downfall is his large nose that seems to keep him from getting the woman that he want - the beautiful Roxanne.  When Roxanne falls for Chistian, Hercule offers to be the words behind Christians face.  Hercule feels that this is the only way that Roxanne will know how he truly feels.  Roxanne falls for Christian through his words, eventually telling him that even if he was ugly, his words are what she loves more than anything. When tragedy strikes, Hercule decides he needs to be there for Roxanne in any capacity that she desires.

This was a great book.  It is short, but very enjoyable.  We all know the story of Cyrano - we have all seen the various movies made about this man over the years.  But I have never read th original story.  I also looked up the man which was also just an interesting.  This is a well written book and an intriguing story of a man who just wanted love like anyone else.

Stars: 4.5


Book: Atonement

 Book: Atonement

Author: Ian McEwan

Pages: 351


This is my 33rd read for the year

In 1935 a young Briony Tallis saw an exchange between her older sister Cecilia and a boy Robbie that she misjudged.  When Robbie writes a letter to Cecilia and Briony, instead of giving it to her sister, reads the letter and starts to weave together a lie that will hurt so many around her and cannot be undone.  When Robbie is accused of something he doesn't do and is sent to prison and then to the War.  In the meantime, Briony grows up.  Cecilia cuts herself off from her family and Briony due to the accusation.  Briony realizes her mistake years later and wants to make ammends but she isn't sure it will ever make any difference, or make her sister forgive her.

This was a weird book.  I struggled with the writing style.  There were parts where the story was interesting but many where it just droned on.  And Briony is horrible.  Even in the end I had no warm feelings for her and what she did.  She was a brat from beginning to end.  The ending is not satisfying.

Stars: 3


Book: Contact

 Book: Contact

Author: Carl Sagan

Pages: 432


This is my 32nd read for the year

This is the story of Ellie Arroway.  They year is 1999 and she is in charge of Project Argus which searches for extraterrestial life.  While working a signal comes in that seems to be from the Vega System 26 light years away.  Plans are made to build a machine that will transport 5 people to Vega to find out if there really is life out there.  The crew heads out, and upon return realize that no time at all has passed on earth. They are then accused of conspiracy.

This was a very convoluted book in my opinion.  I enjoyed some parts of it - but trying to work throuhg the basic story through all the side information that really didn't propel the story forward made this a tough read for me.  I could not get fully invested.  It is very different than the movie and in some parts it just drags.

Stars: 3


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Book: The Ferryman

 Book: The Ferryman

Author: Justin Cronin

Pages: 538


This is my 31st read for the year

This is the story of Proctor Bennett.  Proctor is the Director of Social Contracts in a Utopia called Prospera.  The lucky citizens of this world live long lives that are constantly monitored.  Once their monitors fall below 10 percent, the citizens are retired, and sent to have their memories wiped and to start over anew.  Proctor is the Ferryman that helps these citizens get to the "Nursery" so that the people can be reborn.  Citizens of this world are not every born - they are made.  However, there is another island -the Annex.  The people here care for the Citizens of Prospera, are born into the world and die without the chance to be reborn.  When Proctor is sent to retire his own father, and his father leaves him with a cryptic message, he isn't sure what to do next.

In the meantime, the Support Staff of the Annex are starting to rebel against their place in society.  Proctor, who has been having trouble himself finds himself twisted into their world and discovers that someone very important to him from his past is part of the Annex rebelion.  As the world unravels, Proctor discovers that his world isn't all that it seems.

This is my second Cronin book.  There is no doubt that he is a talented writer.  I enjoyed his book "The Passage" very much, and was hopping for the same level out of this book.  The first half drew me in.  I loved the world building of Prospera and trying to figure out where the story was going.  The second half of the book lost me a little bit.  I KIND of saw where it was going, but it got quite convoluted in the second half almost to the point that I thought I was missing something.  This is a long book, but honestly, I could have seen him drawing out the first half of this book to a full novel and then writing a duology to proceed with the second half.  It might have given him the opportunity to develop what truly felt like two separate stories into a better picture in my opinion.

This author is talented.  No doubt.  And I am glad I read it.  I just wanted a bit more.

Stars: 4


Saturday, February 10, 2024

Book: How To Breathe Underwater

 Book: How To Breathe Underwater

Author: Julie Orringer

Pages: 226


This is my 30th read for the year

This is a book of short stories.  Among the tales is a story of a young girl who, after a car crash where she had to escape drowning, she takes scuba lessons to concur her fear of water.  Another is a girl whose mother is very sick and they spend a day at a healing commune when tragedy strikes.  Another is a young Jewish girl who befriends a Christian girl and wonders what she is missing by being Jewish.  And yet another where a young girl spends the day in Disney world with her sick mother and a family friend as she contemplates life after her mother is gone.

This was an interesting book.  I have mentioned several times before that I am not a fan of short story books.  I read this one for a reading challenge and honestly it wasn't terrible.  The writing is very good and the stories interesting....until the ends.  Not one story has a satisfying ending. Each one left on a cliff hanger which, I know was the author's intention, but that isn't for me.  It drove me crazy.  

Stars: 3.5


Friday, February 9, 2024

Book: Cilka's Journey

 Book: Cilka's Journey

Author: Heather Morris

Pages: 384


This is my 29th read for the year

This is the story of Cilka who in 1942 is sent to Auschwitz.  She is separated from the rest of the women in the camp and is forced to do unimaginable things just to stay alive.  When the war ends, and the Jews are released, Cilka is told that she will be going to Siberia to serve a 15 year sentence for collaborating with the enemy.  Even thought Cilka knows this wasn't the case, she cannot do anything about it.

While serving her sentence Cilka has the chance to train as a nurse and help in the local hospital.  As she becomes a favorite among the doctors and nurses, the years are ticking by.  She sees other prisoners come and go.  She even gives up a chance to be released early to help a young woman stay with her child.  And when it is finally Cilka's turn to go, she is able to start the life she deserves.

This was a pretty good book.  I read the Tottooist of Auschwitz, and when I saw this follow up, I knew I wanted to read it.  Cilka is a real person - just like the Tattooist was.  However, this author chooses to tell her stories as Historical Fiction - filling in the gaps of truth with fiction where she didn't have enough information.  She ends this book with information on Cilka and her family and the facts that she does know about her and her life which was a great way to end the book.  The writing is just so-so, but the story was one I am glad I read.

Stars. 4


Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Book: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

 Book: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Author: Ken Kesey

Pages: 272


This is my 28th read for the year

This is the story of Randle McMurphy who is sent to a state mental institution from the jail to be evaluated.  He takes over his area of the hospital and encouraged the other patients to challenge the head nurse - Nurse Ratched.  Openly defying the rules and even leaving the hospital with a group of patients on a day outing fishing trip, he battles Nurse Ratched and the doctors on a daily basis for control.  

This was a weird book.  And it was okay.  I ended up watching the movie after I finished it just to kind of piece it all together, and that helped.  At first I thought the Native American patient was the main character because he has so many lines in the book.  But in the movie - that isn't true.  Probably because McMurphy is played by Jack Nicholson.  It is a bit of a disjointed book and the first half was slow.  It does pick up in the second half as the "battle" between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy comes to a head.  The rambling and dark undertones are what decreased the rating for me.

Stars: 3


Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Book: The Lottery

 Book: The Lottery

Author: Shirley Jackson

Pages: 160


This is my 27th read of the year

This graphic novel is the telling of Shirley Jackson's short story - "The Lottery".  This is a story of a town who on the outside seems like a quiet peaceful place until it is time for the Lottery.  All the towns people's names are put into a box and one is drawn.  Then the children's names are entered and another drawn.  And what happens to those who are drawn is something the whole town must live with after.

This was an interesting book.  There were not enough words or information for me to really piece it together in this fashion.  I have decided to check out the actual short story just to get the feeling that I understood exactly what drives the people for the Lottery.  Although, what I might find is that it is never spelled out - like it was here.  It was clear what happened, but not why.  We shall see.

Stars: 3


Book: Consider The Lobster and Other Essays

 Book: Consider The Lobster and Other Essays

Author: David Foster Wallace

Pages: 343


This is my 26th read for the year

In this collection of essays, Wallacs asks several questions:  Do Lobsters feel pain, Is Kafka actually funny?  What happens when adult film stars meet fans in person?  What was John McCain really like?  These are just some of the topics that are covered between pages of footnotes, side annotations, and provoking thoughts.

This was a pretty good book.  There is no doubt that Wallace is a talented writer.  I enjoyed the majority of the essays in this book - only a few I felt were just so so.  The essay about McCain is the longest in this book because Wallace was asked to follow him during his campaign.

I read this one for the Rory Gilmore challenge, and glad I did.  I might check out a few more of his works.

Stars: 4


Book: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

 Book: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Author: Mark Twain

Pages: 584


This is my 25th read for this year

This is the story of Hank Morgan.  He receives a blow to the head and wakes up in Medival England at the time of King Arthur.  He is an engineer and his uses that, and all of his knowledge of the upcoming centuries, to convince the people he is a wizard.  He uses his powers to modernize those around him - "inventing" things very far ahead of the time.  This attracts attention and problems start for Arthur and Hank.

This was an interesting book.  A little dry at times, but overall pretty good.  I found it entertaining that Merlin is outshined by Hank and his technology (that he passes off as magic) and that Hank becomes Arthur's personal sorcerer.  It was an interesting look at what would happen if an engineer improved the lives of people in the 6th century with said technology and how the future would look if that happened.

Stars: 3



Saturday, February 3, 2024

Book: A Girl From Yamhill

 Book: A Girl From Yamhill

Author: Beverly Cleary

Pages: 352


This is my 24th read for the year

This is Beverly's own chilhood story.  She was born in a small town in Oregon, called Yamhill, but at the age of 6, her family had enough for hard farm life and moved to Portland where she spent most of her young life.  Through this book she talks about what it is like to grow up an only child in the early 1900s, through the depression and with a mother she felt never really understood her.  This book follows her through her graduation of high school and acceptance to junior college.

This was an interesting book.  I didn't know anything about Beverly Cleary's upbringing, and the anecdotes she shares throughout this book gave a good picture of what it was like for her growing up.  She didn't seem to have a lot of fond memories of her mother - but she did seem to adre her father.  I am glad I found this one through a book challenge.

Stars: 4


Thursday, February 1, 2024

Book: Code of the Woosters

 Book: Code of the Woosters

Author: P Wodehouse

Pages: 263


This is my 23rd read for the year

This is the story of Bertie Wooster.  Bertie's man, Jeeves, is trying to get him to go on vacation.  But instead, Bertie's aunt talks him into going to a local antique shop to try and drive down a price of a cow coffee creamer that her husband really wants.  However - another person - Sir Watkyn Bassett got the creamer first.  Bertie's aunt sends him to steal it back.  This sets in motion an encouter with several other people, a missing notebook, an engagement, and getting that coffee creamer after all.  All while trying to uphold the "Code of the Woosters" to never let a pal down.

This was a silly book.  I decided to listen to it when I found a recording of it as a stage play.  It made this a fun story to get through.  It is a comedy of errors in this short novella.

Stars: 4


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Book: Fear and Loating in Las Vegas

 Book: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Author: Hunter Thompson

Pages: 204


This is my 22nd read for the year



Hunter Thompson - traveling under the pseudonym Raoul Duke - and his Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo travel together to Las Vegas in a supped up car filled with drugs and alcohol.  They are on assignment for a sports magazine, and hope to find the American Dream.  Instead of getting a story and finding that dream, they stumble along in a drug haze causing mischeif every where they go.  

This was a really weird book.  I have heard of it before but never desired to read it.  It was on the Rory Gilmore reading challenge list AND available from the library so thta is how we got here.  Have you ever read a book that made you feel like you needed a shower after reading it?  This was one of those books for me.  There is so much talk of drugs and partying.  The story was random.  The book is very short, so I cannot say I even got where it was going.

I might check out the movie to see if it pulls it together for me any more.

Stars: 2.5

Book: E.R. Nurses

 Book: E.R. Nurses

Author: James Patterson

Pages: 304


This is my 21st read for the year

Patterson gathers several short stories from ER Nurses from all over the country.  Nurses who work all differet shifts, and even started in different career paths tell what it is like for them.  These nurses witness daily the ups and downs - losing patients and saving them, getting abused and getting hugged, and all the inbetween.  

As a nurse myself, I enjoyed this book.  While I have never been an ER Nurse, I have always worked as a pediatric nurse.  The beginning of my career started at Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital where I worked on a transplant floor.  Every patient we watched walk away healthy was a victory.  Ever funeral we attended stuck with us.  I can still picture so many of the kids I took care of over the years - they are never far from my mind.  These nurses are the same - they can recall the toughest and most rewarding cases over their careers.  They all share the compassion for people who are at their worst, or in their last moments, or who return from full recovery.  

Good book

Stars: 4 


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Book: A Clockwork Orange

 Book: A Clockwork Orange

Author: Anthony Burgess

Pages: 240


This is my 20th read for the year

This is the story of a teenager named Alex.  In the future, the culture of young people are prone to violence.  Alex and his friends perform a serious of crimes and end up in the home of a man writing 'A Clockwork Orange".  They beat the man's wife and tear up the manuscrip before leaving.  The crimes of Alex and his friends escalate, and one night while robbing a woman, she has a heart attack and dies.  Alex is caught and taken to jail. When young Alex is caught and sentenced to 14 years.  Two years into his sentence, he is offered a chance for behavioral modification therapy so he can be released from prison earlier.  The therapy is terrible and they use classical music - something Alex enjoys - as part of the torture.

After Alex is released, he tries to return to his parent's house, but finds he is not expected or wanted.  As he contemplates what to do next, old friends of his - who are now cops - beat him up and abandon him.  The scholar who wrote "A Clockwork Orange" finds him and takes him back to his house to try and bandage him up.  The man discovers who Alex is and Alex jumps from the window to get away.  In the end - Alex thinks he wants to go back to his old ways, but finds that he wants to less and less and starts contemplating the future where he might have his own family.

This was a strange, but not terrible book.  I don't know how I missed this one years ago when I was reading through some classic dystopian novels.  I listened to this one and it took me a bit to get into the strange language Burgess has built for his world and Alex.  But once you figure out the slang, the book pulls together into an interesting story.  Violent? Yes.  But interesting none the less.  I am glad I finally got to it.

Stars: 4


Book: Day

 Book: Day

Author: Michael Cunningham

Pages: 288


This is my 19th read for the year

This is the story of 3 days in the life of a famiy.  April 19th, 2019, 2020, 2021.  Dan and Isabel have two children - Violet and Nathan.  5 years apart in age, they tryin to balance the needs to both who are at difference stages of childhood.  Robbie - Isabel's brother - lives in the apartment above Dan and Isabel and has recently broken up with his brother.  He is a school teacher that is trying to figure out when he moves out of his sister's apartment where he will go and what he will do.  Garth - Dan's brother is trying to make amends with a woman, Chess, whom he shares parental rights of their baby with.  Chess tries to figure out where Garth fits into their life.  The book weaves together this day over three years and as the family ebbs and flows and hanges through hard times and tragedy.  They keep trying to remember that love is what binds them together.

This was an excellent book.  Cunningham is an amazing writer and he weaves together the mundane days we all have and the little nuances that can quickly become bigger during an epidemic.  Isabel and Robbie are the most central figures in the book as they navigate paths of family, future and their wants and needs.  Even Chess and Garth's minor story unfolds nicely as we find out what they are to each other as they raise their baby.

This book is short, but the writing made me read it in a day and a half.  I didn't want to put it down.

Stars: 5


Monday, January 29, 2024

Book: The Executioner's Song

 Book: The Executioner's Song

Author: Norman Mailer

Pages: 1057


This is my 18th read for the year

This is a non-fiction book about convicted criminal Gary Gilmore.  In the 70s Gary had been released from prison and started out on the straight and narrow.  Soon, though, Gary found himself falling into old ways and it lead to him killing two men.  He is sentenced to death, and asked to be executed by firing squad.  The state did not want to agree to Gary being executed, but Gary insisted.  His fight for the right to die is what made him famous.

Okay - so this book won a Pulizer Prize.  I have mixed feelings about it at best.  For one - it is about 600 pages too long in my opinion.  The story of Gary gets lost in the first 500 pages with the back story of every character that was interviewed, came in contact with, witnessed Gary Gilmore's case.  It just droned on and on with useless information that did not further my interest in Gary Gilmore.  The second half seemed to pull itself together a bit more, but not enough for me to understand why in the world this person got as much attention as he did.  Was it because he WANTED to die and the state kept Staying his execution?  I didn't like a single character in this book.  Even with all the attention to Gary and what he was doing - never cared at all for him in the end.  Well - except for his one relation Vern.  But otherwise, no.  I did not like the writing style.  It read like someone taking notes instead of a novel.  

I am tackling some of the Rory Gilmore reading list this year, and this was on it - if you were wondering why I chose it.  Actually the idea of it sounded right up my alley - true crime.  But it was disappointing

I don't recommend this tomb.  

Stars: 2.5


Saturday, January 27, 2024

Book: In Every Generation

 Book: In Every Generation

Author: Kendare Blake

Pages: 400


This is my 17th read for the year

This is the story of Frankie Rosenberg.  She is the daughter of Willow, who was part of the original Buffy and the Scooby gang.  These days - Sunnydale is quiet and reserved.  Frankie wakes up one morning freakishly strong, and is told that there has been a horrible accident at a gathering for all the slayers and she may now be the new slayer.  And the only one left.  As Willow and her friends come to grips with the new reality, Frankie has to be trained to defeat an evil that has come to Sunnydale on the heals of the slayer demise.  She and her friends - which include a warewolf and a demon - are now in charge of the next generation to fight off evil.

This book was not good.  I finished it only because I loved Buffy back in the day and was enjoying the slight nastalgia that was between these pages.  But I should have quit the book.  It is 400 pages of fan fiction.  It is not well written.  It has horrible jokes that are the same over and over.  I was suprirsed to find out that the writer was an adult and not a 17 year old teenager.  The diaglogue was just okay.  The characters were likable enough, but it was written too juvenile for me.

I very rarely DNF books.  I think all authors who put in the work deserve to have their books finished.  But I will not be recommedning this one or reading the next two in the series.

Stars: 2


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Book: The Passage

 Book:  The Passage

Author: Justin Cronin

Pages: 785


This is my 16th read for the year

This story revolves around a girl named Amy.  At age 6 she is abandoned at a Convent by her mother who can no longer care for her.  The government comes after her - seeking her for a top secret experiment.  The men who come for her have no idea why they were sent for a little girl and when they find her, they are not sure they can take her to the compound.  The agents and girl are captured and brought to the compound and Agent Wolgast tries to figure out how they are going to get her out of there.  As an experiment goes horribly wrong, Wolgast gets Amy out of there.  But he is not able to stop the collapse of society.

Almost 100 years later, society has been widdled down to a few pods of people that have to sleep with the lights on and behind heavy gated, guarded communities to keep the monsters away.  When Amy reappears - not having hardly aged - humans start to piece together how it all started all those years ago and what they were going to do to end the monsters once and for all.

This was a pretty good book.  It makes a pretty sudden stop from past to present and then takes about 500 pages to tie in Amy to the whole thing.  But it is well written a long the way with good character developement.  He is an attention to detail type author, and while this can make for a long, drawn out story of needless dialogue, I didn't find that here.  It got me invested in the people he was storytelling about and made me care when something happened to one of them.  There are a multitude of characters in this book with a long family history that is brought up, so you have to be paying attention.

This is the first book in a trilogy, so I will be reading the next two to see where it goes.

Stars: 4


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Book: Bel Canto

 Book: Bel Canto

Author: Ann Patchett

Pages: 318


This is my 15th read for the year

During a birthday party for a wealthy business man named Mr. Hosokawa, a ban of terrorist takes the party hostage becasue they are looking for the president of South America.  On discovery that the President is not there - only the vice president, the hostages let some of the women and children go and keep all of the men and a female opera singer who had been brought in to entertain the guest.  Weeks go by with no resolution from the country with the terrorist all while the hostages try to make their day to day as normal as possible.  They even start to sympathize with some of the terrorist - some they come to find out are women.  They work together during a terrible circumstance with the hope that they will be released without harm.

I have read a couple of Patchett's books and always like them okay.  I liked The Dutchhouse the best, but all of them have been on the dry side for me.  She is very wordy with not much to say.  These people are being held hostage, but there is very little emotion that I found that made me care what happened to any of them.  It was about 200 pages too long to get her point across.

I read this book for a challenge, otherwise I probably would not have picked it up knowing how past books by Patchett have sat with me.

Stars: 3


Book: Zane and the Hurricane

 Book: Zane and the Hurricane

Author: Rodman Philbrick

Pages: 192


This is my 14th read for the year

This is the story of 12 year old Zane.  He was sent to New Orleans to visit his dad's family when Katrina hit.  He and his grandmother got on a bus to get out of town, but when Zane's dog decides to make a run for it, Zane gets off the bus to go and find him.  This leads him to be all by himself at his relative's house when the flood waters rise.  Found by an elderly man and a young girl, Zane and his dog try to make it to safety.  Along the way their canoe comes across some unsavory characters before Zane is finally reunited with his mother.

This was a fine book.  It is for middle grade and written so.  I found it lacking depth but otherwise an interesting story.  If you are wondering why I read this children's book -it was for an A-Z challenge and I needed a "Z" book

Stars: 3


Saturday, January 20, 2024

Book: Holly

 Book: Holly

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 463


This is my 13th read for the year

This is a continuation of the story of Holly Gibney.  Holly is contacted by a mother whose daughter, Bonnie, is missing.  She hires Holly to find out what happened to her.  Holly is not sure she should take the case.  Her partner has Covid, her mother has just died, and she has a lot on her plate.  But Holly decides she cannot say no and helps this mother find her missing daughter.

Professors Rodney and Emily Harris in the mean time have been busy.  Rodney is convinced that eating humans will rejuvenate he and his wife and keep them young and pain/disease free.  Over the course of the last 9 years they have kidnapped and killed several people but the healing affects of their canabalism are getting shorter.  As Holly hunts for Bonnie she and a few friends start to piece together what happened to her and how she may be tied to the professors.

This was a well written book.  I have always enjoyed the Holly Gibney story line and this one did not disappoint.  The story flowed well - back and forth between Holly and the Harris' and even a minor third story.  In the end all three fit together as the murder mystery comes to its peak.  Holly is a very likeable character - quirky as she may be.  And the Harris' were evil yet interesting in their own right.  

My only complaint, and the one thing that keeps this from 5 star for me, is the overdoneness of Covid.  It is rampant in this book - to the point of distraction.  I am a big proponent for all things related to protecting yourself from Covid (and all illnesses) but even I felt this was exhaustingly too far.  Mr. King - I love you but you are getting crotchety in your old age.  He does explain why he did this in his author's note - admits why he did what he did - but I still think he could have pulled back a bit.

Don't let it stop you from enjoying this book.  I just rolled my eyes and refocused on the true story.  You can too.

Stars: 4


Friday, January 19, 2024

Book: The Priory of the Orange Tree

 Book: The Priory of the Orange Tree

Author: Samantha Shannon

Pages: 807


This is my 12th book for the year

Sabran's family has ruled Inys for thousands of years.  Each queen bears a daughter who takes over the kingdom when she comes of age.  Sabran knows it is her duty to marry and sire a daughter to continue the tradition.  Ead has been protecting Sabran for many years.  She is an outsider to the kingdom, and no one knows she is a mage and loyal to a secrety society that gets its strength from the Orange Tree.  And across the world is Tane who longs to be a dragon rider but one mistake she made may cost her everything.  These three women's paths cross at a mark in their history that requires everyone to ban together to beat the Nameless One.  If they don't - their whole world could perish.

This book was.....strange.  The number of characters and places named in this book puts Game of Thrones to Shame.  There are so many point of views, and so many side characters and places named in this tome of a book that I could not keep up.  The world building fell flat to me.  It is way too long - definitely could have been about 500 pages.  

I am a huge fantasy and science fiction fan.  I love world building.  But this book just wasn't for me.  The ending left me curious about where she is taking this story, but I don't know if I will tackle her next book which is due out later this year.

Stars: 3


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Book: Pronto

 Book: Pronto

Author: Elmore Leonard

Pages: 400


This is my 11th book of the year

This is the story of Raylan Givens.  Raylan is an US Marshall and he is off to Italy to chase a bookie who is hiding from the Miami mob.  Harry - who was planning to retire to Italy some day decides now is the time - has escaped Raylan's grasp once before.  Raylan knows Harry is tricky, but not careful.  Raylan knows he must find Harry before the mob does.

This was a boring book.  I was disappointed because I love Justified.  After watching the newest season, I went on the hunt for the books about Raylan Givens.  What I have discovered is this is not the book that the show is based on.  And that show is loosely based on just one book in the Raylan Givens series.  Wish I would have known that before I listened to this because this was a rambling, boring story that was more like a story you tell in a barber's chair than a crime fiction novel.

I might hunt out the one that is based on the show to see if it is any better.

Stars: 2


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Book: Miracle Creek

 Book: Miracle Creek

Author: Angie Kim

Pages: 384


This is my 10th read for the year

This story is about a group of people who use a hyperbaric chamber at a special facility in Virginia.  Moms whose children are autistic as well as a young man who is using it for infertility issues.  During a session, an explosion occurs killing 2 people and injuring others.  One person is on trial for murder but everyone who was there that day has secrets.  What caused the explosion?  Who is to blame?

This was an okay book.  I did figure out before the end who the person responsile for the explosion.  The author spends time with all the characters that were there that day putting doubt in the reader's mind who was really responsible until the very end.  That got a little old.  This book has a ton of characters.  And I didn't really like any of them except the mother of Rosa.  The court room drama was pretty good - sometimes that can be overdone and I didn't find that here.

This is a debut novel and I am late to the party reading this book.  Didn't love it, but didn't hate it either.

Stars: 3


Friday, January 12, 2024

Book: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

 Book: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

Author: James McBride

Pages: 400


This is my 9th read for the year

This is the story of a poor town in Pennsylvania in the early 1900s.  Chona and her husband, Moshe,  run a grocery story in Chicken Hill.  They are Jewish people that stayed in a heavily dominated Afrian American community because Chona didn't want to move as other Jewish people headed to different towns.  When Chona takes ill, the small community rallies becaue Chona has always been good to them.  Chona takes in a deaf boy and hides him because authorities think he belongs in an institution.  When tragedy strikes, various members of the community work together to find out what happened.

This was an okay book.  I wanted to like it more than I did - it has been talked and talked about.  It was just a bit cluttered.  There are a ton of characters.  There are too many characters that speak in riddles.  Was this really about the grocery store?  No.  Was it even mostly about Chona?  No.  There were a ton of side stories and characters.  A lot of partial stories and a rushed ending left me feeling disappointed.

Stars: 3


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Book: Midnight At The Blackbird Cafe

 Book: Midnight At The Blackbird Cafe

Author: Heather Webber

Pages: 336


This is my 8th read for the year

This is the story of Anna Kate.  Her grandmother has recently passed away and has left her cafe to Anna Kate in her will.  The catch is - Anna Kate must move to Wicklow, Alabama to run the cafe for 2 months before it becomes fully hers and she can then sell it or keep it.  Anna Kate has no plans to stay in Wicklow.  Her mother ran from there years ago and has never returned.  Anna Kate is set to start medical school soon, so she feels she will put in her time, and move on.

However - once she gets to Wicklow and starts to run the cafe and feel its magic pull, she is not so sure she can leave.  The more people she meets, the more she learns about her grandmother and mother's life there.  She even meets her father's family for the first time and tries to figure out where she fits in.  The true magic, however, is the blackbirds who sing everynight at midnight - and usual bird behavior - and the berry pie that is served at the cafe that brings on dreams to guide the person who eats it.  As Anna Kate gets to know Wicklow and the people, she has to decide if she should stay or go.

This was a pretty good book.  Can there be a bad book that involves food, especially pie?  Probably not.  Set up like a Hallmark Christmas movie type town and residents, the book plays out sweetly as we delve into the past of Anna Kate's family and the history of this town with the birds.  The negatives I would have to say would be too much death.  Every character had a complicated, sad story and it was maybe a bit too much.  The other was Seely - Anna Kate's other grandmother.  She was all over the place as a character that it was distracting.

Overall - a good read.  Glad I finally read this one.

Stars: 4