Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Book: Arch-Conspirator

 Book: Arch-Conspirator

Author: Veronica Roth 

Pages: 110


This is my 120th read for the year

This is the story of a family inside the last city on earth.  Outside of this city, the world is a wasteland.  Rules are tight in this city and when someone dies their genes are stored in an Archive so that humanity can continue.  Antigone and her siblings have watched their parents die and now they are in the care of their uncle Kreon.  His is a militant who will kill anyone who rebels to make an example of them.  Antigone realizes that his house is a cage and she and her siblings will be forced to conform.  

This was a really quick book so I really couldn't get into it.  I picked it up at a used bookstore recognizing the author of the Divergent series.  It wasn't a bad book - it was just too short for me to 1) care about the characters), 2) really get invested in the story.  It ends on a cliff hanger which was maddening.  The writing is pretty good  - I personally just needed more.

I read the author's notes at the end and this was a spin off the original Antigone story written by Sophocles written in 400BC.  Maybe I need to read it?  Not sure if it would help but what the heck.

Stars: 3




Book: Gerald's Game

 Book: Gerald's Game

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 400


This is my 119th read for the year

This is the story of Jessie Burligame.  She and her husband Gerald are on a romantic getaway at their summer home.  Gerald handcuffs Jessie to the bed for one of his "games" but has a heart attack and dies before he can uncuff her.  Jessie is trapped with no way to get help.  Voices in her mind carry her through as she tries to figure out how she is going to getout of the house.  As she becomes more and more delirious, she recalls events from her past that are some of her worst memories.  She is sure that there is someone in the house - a threat - and if she doesn't get out soon, she is sure to meet the same fate as her husband.

This was not a top King read for me.  I have made it my mission to own and read all of his books, and for the most part I have been glad I have.  But this one just didn't sit right with me.  Trigger warning for those who want to read his books:  this one has a back story with her dad that borders on incest and brought up over and over in the book.  It was way too much of the story and cringe worthy (in my opinion).  I couldn't get past it and therefore did not really enjoy the book.

Stars: 2


Friday, July 19, 2024

Book: Salt In My Soul: An Unfinished Life

 Book: Salt In My Soul: An Unfinished Life

Author: Mallory Smith

Pages: 336


This is my 118th read for the year

This is the story of the author.  Diagnosed at 3 years old with Cystic Fibrosis, she knew her time would be short.  She was determined to make the best of it and at the age of 15 she started to record her thoughts and feelings in a private journal.  She left instructions that after she died, she wanted her thoughts to be shared to help others living with CF, other families, and also people in general who didn't know what it was really like to live with this disease.  Mallory was an excellent student who excelled at Standford.  When she graduated, she was helping a local environmentalist write a book.  All of this was inbetween constant hospitalizations and treatments and trying to keep her healthy.  When it finally was time for her to get a lung transplant, her family knew this was going to be the last ditch effort to save her life.  She had a dangerous bacteria that made this surgery dangerous, but it was her only hope.

Mallory died in 2017 at the age os 25.  In the end, the infection she carried infected her new lungs and she couldn't fight it.  Her family continues her legacy today hoping that Mallory's story will help others.

This was a pretty good book.  It is the running thoughts of Mallory from ages 15-25.  At the beginning of the book is her instructions she left her parents in sharing her story and she wanted to share the good and the bad (at the discretion of her parents).  They didn't know she was keeping this journal.  What she went through would make your head spin and wonder how this bright young lady ever had time for college and a job with eveything she was dealing with.  She had a loving and very supportive family.  She had a boyfriend.  She had friends and a life.  But in 2017, Cystic Fibrosis was still a life ending disease around the ages of 18-20 for many patients.  (now there is a treatment that is on new that is unbelievable and you can read more about it HERE)

I took care of a lot of CF patients during my nursing career.  Many during my time at Johns Hopkins.  You grow close to them and care for them because they are constantly hospitalized.  And when they die you mourn for them.  It is an unforgiving disease.  With the new therapies there is hope for these patients that can possibly save their lives.  Incredible.  

I encourage you to read this book.  There is also a documentary (you can watch for free on YouTube) called Salt In My Soul that was equally as good.  

Stars: 4


Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Book: Sociopath

 Book: Sociopath

Author: Patric Gagne

Pages: 368


This is my 117th read for the year

This is the story of the author.  Ever since she was a little girl, she made people uncomfortable.  She did not feel empathy, fear or guilt.  She would take things from people's houses or from friends because it made her feel better.  When her parents caught her, she did not feel bad about it, but did as she was told.  As she grew she realized how she felt wasn't like most people and she started to explore why.  It wasn't until she got to college that she realized she might be a sociopath.  Most sociopaths were criminals but she wondered about those who flew under the radar.  That didn't get caught.  Didn't kill anyone.  She started to do research all while trying to hold down a job in her dad's music business and balance a boyfriend.  She eventually got her Ph.D in psychology and wrote this book because she wanted to help other sociopaths.

This was a good book.  It was eye opening to hear from someone who was a sociopath but was trying to be an active member of society.  She has friendships, she is married now, and she has children.  She has found people who accept her, and she has learned how to live with her sociopathy rather than run from it.  She was frightening as a child and I worried that she was going to take a dangerous path as an adult.  And while she is destructive to a point, she also shows you how you can be sympathetic and compassionate to someone who struggles with Sociopathy.  

My one problem of this book is that parts of it seemed to stretch the truth.  As I imagine most people who write about themselves do - some things did seem unbelievable.  I think she mixed true story telling into her life story to fill the pages.  Otherwise - or if what she wrote was really true - it was a good read.

Stars: 4


Monday, July 15, 2024

Book: A Bridge Across The Ocean

  Book: A Bridge Across The Ocean

Author: Susan Meissner

Pages: 363


This is my 116th read for the year

This is the story of Annalise and Brette.  Separated by over 50 years, their stories merge in a very unusual way.  Annalise is a woman running from an abusive marriage right after the war in Europe.  She takes another passenger's spot on the Queen Mary to escape to America where she hopes she can start over.  50 years later, Brette - who can see ghosts even when she doesn't want anything to do with them - is called on by a friend to visit the Queen Mary.  Now a museum, a little girl of a high school friend thinks she saw her dead mother on the ship.  Unsettled the dad asks for Brette's help.  What happens when she gets to the Queen Mary is that she discover's Annalise's story and need to get to the bottom of what really happened as they crossed the Atlantic all those years ago.

This was a pretty good book.  I am a Meissner fan.  One of my favorite books ever is the Fall of Marigolds, but this one wasn't quite up to that standard.  It is well written for the most part - but I did not like the ending at all.  I liked Brette and Annalise.  There was a 3rd story that was part of this book (and does come together half way through the book) but it didn't make much sense at first.  Meissner usually does a really good job of tying her past and present together and the story is usually a terrific one.  But the ending of this one wasn't for me.  It was too fantastical and I didn't why she went this direction.

Stars: 3.5


Book: Cackle

 Book: Cackle

Author: Rachel Harrison

Pages: 304


This is my 115th read for the year

This is the story of Annie.  After almost 10 years with her boyfriend, he breaks up with her.  She decides to start over fresh and takes a teaching job in a small town outside of Manhattan. She meets a woman named Sophie whom she likes immediately.  Sophie takes a special interest in Annie and teaches her to stop apologize and start living for herself.  The towns people, though, seem afraid of Sophie.  She never pays for anything and they always give her what she wants.  Annie is trying to figure out who Sophie is while also trying to figure out who she is.

This book was fine.  I listened to it, and I really didn't care for the narrator.  Not sure that would have changed my feelings much about this simply written novel, but it might have.  It is an easy, quick read overall and not well written, but entertaining enough.  Annie was annoying and I never really cared for her.  I would think this was more YA than a thriller genre that it is listed as.  Not scary at all.

Stars: 3


Saturday, July 13, 2024

Book: The Boy From The Woods

 Book: The Boy From The Woods:

Author: Harlen Coben

Pages: 416


This is our 114th read for the year

This is the story of Wilde.  30 years ago he was found in the woods - living feral with no memory of how he got there and where he was from.  After a lifetime of foster care, and armed services, he has moved himself back into the woods in a small trailer he can move anytime he wants.  He works closely with a lawyer named Hester, and she needs his help to find a missing teenager named Naomi.  Her father and the police think she has just run away.  Wilde feels differently, and he knows in order to find her he is going to have to question people in the community he tried so hard to stay away from.

This was an okay book.  This is my first Coben novel.  Writing is just so so.  The story is a quick, easy read - which is great for summer.  I was mildly curious about how it was going to end, but really never cared for many of the characters.  Wilde's back story remained just that.  I am not sure why this was the "Draw" to the book because it was barely discussed.  I thought it was going to be more about finding out who he was, or tying the current mystery to his past but nope.  And the ending was okay - not that shocking.  

Stars: 3


Friday, July 12, 2024

Book: Just After Sunset

 Book: Just After Sunset

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 555


This is my 113th read for the year

This is a book of short stories.  Here is what Amazon has to say about it:
Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love?  A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well.  Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating and terrifying journey.  Set on a remote key in Florida, "The Gingerbread Girl" is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable - and resourceful.  In "Ayana" a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and a touch of her hand.  In one of the longer stories here "N" is a psychiatric patietn's irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside - or keep the world from falling victim to it.

This was a great book.  If you follow my blog at all, you will know I am not a big fan of books full of short stories.  I need some substance.  But this one was really good.  I loved almost every story.  None were terribly short, and I think that helped.  The stories reach out and grab you and ended well.  Glad I read this one.

Stars: 4.5


Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Book: The Waltham Murders

 Book: The Waltham Murders

Author: Susan Zalkind

Pages: 343


This is my 112th read for the year

This is a non-fiction book about 3 men that were killed on September 11, 2011 in Waltham, MA.  The author, who was friends with one of the men, spent the next 10 years trying to figure out what happened to her friend and the other men.  A story that barely made the news because the men were known weed sellers, Zalkind set out for closure.  When the Boston Marathon bombings happened a few years later, new leads came to light but still Zalkind did not find out who killed her friend.

This book was just so-so.  I was interested in it because we don't live far from Waltham and I have never heard for these murders.  We had just moved to the area late 2011, and so I had no idea this happened.  The book was a little dull.  There was a lot of side information and stories that just did not move the story along.  Too wordy even for a short book.

Skip

Stars: 2


 

Book: Just For The Summer

 Book: Just For The Summer

Author: Abby Jimenez

Pages: 424


This is my 111th read for the year

This is the story of Emma and Justin.  Justin writes a Reddit peace on how he is cursed in love.  Every woman he dates ends up leaving him and finding true love with the next guy she dates.  Emma reads his Reddit post and reaches out to him because she has the same problem.  Emma is a traveling nurse, and Justin convinces her to come to Minnesota to meet him in person and go on 4 dates to try and break their curse.  The quick fling just for the summer suddenly becomes anything but.  As Emma and Justin start to fall for each other, their current circumstances get in the way of them being truly happy.  

This was a pretty good book.  I don't read a lot of romance novels- they aren't my thing.  But in the summer, I tend to read a few because it feels like the right time of year for something light and fun.  This novel has a lot of ups and downs.  It is pretty well written, and I only rolled my eyes a few times.  I was almost sure that the author was not going to follow the usual romance novel path, and I appreciated that.  A little less Hallmark movie and actual story and good characters in this one.  Bravo. I really liked Justin. Emma ran a close second.  The twist at the end with Emma's mother wasn't something I really saw coming, and while it seemed a little too convenient to twist the story, it didn't bother me much.  

If you are a fan of beach reads and romance - check this one out.

Stars: 4



Saturday, July 6, 2024

Book: Wild

 Book: Wild

Author: Cheryl Strayed

Pages: 338


This is my 110th read for the year

This is the story of the author's journey to find herself.  4 years after her mother died, with her marriage falling apart, Cheryl decides she is going to hike 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.  She has no hiking experience, but feels with her equipment and strong will, she can do it.  She heads out alone and this book covers her journey over several months and all the people she meets along the way.

This book was just meh.  I wanted to like it more.  I was intrigued by the story of a young woman who decided to hike this trail alone.  But Cheryl went woefully unpreprared.  She had no idea what she was doing and she is lucky she didn't get herself killed.  The back story throughout the book got tedious and overly done.  There was almost as much of her past as their was of her hike, and while I understand this was intentional, the back story dragged quite a bit.  We also hear way too much about her feet.  I wasn't a big fan of Cheryl either.  I felt for her - her mother died when she was only 22 and she had quite a tramatic childhood.  But she imploded as a young adult - got into some heavy drug use and cheating on her husband.  

I was hoping for more, but didn't get it.  Although - the last line of this book was actually a good one. 
"It was my life - like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.

How wild it was, to let it be.”


Stars: 2.5


Friday, July 5, 2024

Book: Jurassic Park

 Book: Jurassic Park

Author: Michael Crichton

Pages: 466


This is my 109th read for the year

This is the story of dinosaurs brought back to life.  A wealthy man has figured it out and has decided to develop a theme park with newly created dinosaurs.  He invites two archeologists and a mathematician to Isla Nublar to see the park first hand before it opens to the public.  However, a greedy employee wants to smuggle dinosaur DNA off the island for a large sum and when he shuts down the power to the island, the dinosaurs are not longer behind electrified fenses.  The wealthy man's two grandchildren are also on the island to test the park, and when their lives and everyone's lives are in danger, the group must work together to get the power back on and leave the island.

This was a great book.  I have seen the movie a lot of times, but never actually read the book.  There were some differences from movie to book, but not a ton.  It is a well written book and a good read.  Crichton was a doctor, so there is research talk and medical jargon throughout the book, but it wasn't overly done.  I will be anxious to read the next one.  

Stars: 4.5


Sunday, June 30, 2024

Book: The Oracle Year

 Book: The Oracle Year

Author: Charles Soule

Pages: 428


This is my 108th read for the year

This is the story of Will Dando.  He awakens one morning from a dream filled with 108 predictions about the future and starts to write them down.  As they start to come true, he becomes the most powerful person in the world.  Heads of countries and states start to pay him extremely large sums of money for information that he won't share with anyone else.  At the same time - he is also making a lot of enemies especially among religious heads.  Will releases the predictions slowly on something called "The Site" and he receives millions of emails asking for him to predict things for the general public - all which he ignores.  No one really knows who he is - except those closes to him - and he becomes known as "The Oracle".  As a manhunt for Will ensues he goes on the run to figure out when he should release the last of the predictions and how.  Knowing that the future of the world rests on his shoulders, he needs to do it fast.

This was an okay book.  I listened to it and it kept me entertained during a very long drive.  There is a lot of tension and drama.  It was an easy read (listen) for the most part.  I didn't really love the characters.  They were fine.  Kept the plot moving forward.  But nothing great.  I liked the first half of the book a lot better than the second half.  The ending fell a little flat.  

Stars: 3.5


Friday, June 28, 2024

Book: Migration

 Book: Migration

Author: Charlotte Mcconaghy

Pages: 288


This is my 107th read for the year

This is the story of Franny Stone.  She has never been able to sit still - even since she was little.  As a young girl, her mother was the same and one day she was gone and Franny was in the custody of her grandmother.  As an adult she meets a man, falls in love and gets married.  But soon her wandering gets the best of her and she comes and goes sometimes without even a word.  Her first love is birds, and one day she packs up and heads for Greenland to follow the last Artic terns who are making a flight to Antartica.  During her travels, the truth of her trip and her past come to light and the crew who ferry her become her closest protectors even putting themselves in danger.  As Frannie chases redemption, she wonders if she will ever be able to stop wandering.

This was an okay book.  I wanted to like it very badly.  I liked the idea - a woman and a boat full of fisherman chasing fish and a rare bird on a path to Antartica.  But it just fell flat.  The writing wasn't good.  I didn't like Franny at all.  She seemed ridiculous.  And these people on the boat who put their lives at risk for someone they didn't know and the amount of trouble she caused for them seemed unlikely.  The "twist" about Franny wasn't a surprise - you can figure that out almost from the begining.

Stars: 2.5




Thursday, June 27, 2024

Book: What Lies In The Woods

 Book: What Lies In The Woods

Author: Kate Alice Marshall

Pages: 336


This is my 106th read for the year

This is the story of Naomi.  When she was a little girl, she and her two friends, Cassidy and Olivia, were in the woods playing a game when Naomi was almost killed.  She has very little memory of that day, but a serial killer in the area is whom the police think is responsible, so Naomi helps put him in jail for good.  22 years later, Naomi is approached by a podcaster to tell the story of what really happened all those years ago.  Naomi and her friends didn't tell the whole truth when they were kids and have always kept the secret.  When Olivia wants to tell, it sets Naomi on a path to discover the truth from all those years ago and who really attacked her that day in the woods.

This was an okay book.  After I listened to it, I realized it was by the same author of the "No One Can Know" book.  I might have skipped it if I had paid more attention.  I listened to it and it was read by a person who seems to read a ton of audio books I stumble upon and I hate her voice.  She whisper reads and only has one voice for every guy she acts out, and I don't care for it.  I should look before I listen to audio books in the future.  I think that decreased my like for this book, but the overall plot wasn't very interesting either.  It was fine.  I had two "sort of" surprises, but not huge ones.  It ends satisfyingly, which gave it another half a star.

Stars: 3


Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Book: No One Can Know

 Book: No One Can Know

Author: Kate Alice Marshall

Pages: 329


This is my 105th read for the year

This is the story of Emma.  When she and her two sisters, Daphane and Juliette, discovered their parents had been murdered.  Emma was a prime suspect but could never be found guilty.  14 years she has been gone from their family home in Arden Hills never to return.  However - when Emma finds out she is pregnant and her husband loses his job, he convinces her to return to her parents home which stands empty.  Emma's return to her home down is brining up too many things from her past and when both of her sisters re-enter her lives, and tragedy strikes yet again, it is up to Emma to find out exactly what happened to her parents all those years ago.

This book wasn't good.  It started out strong - the first few chapters were well written and I thought it was going to be a pretty good read.  But then the writing and the story started to go down hill with bad dialogue and terrible characters.  I stuck with it until the end, but I don't recommend it.  

Stars: 2.5


Book: IT

 Book: IT

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 1184


This is my 104th read for the year

This is the story of 7 Teenagers in Derry, Maine in 1958.  Something evil has come to their town and killed the little brother of one of them. The teenagers decide to ban together to try and rid the town of evil all while dealing with neglected parents and bullies.  In 1985, they are all asked by one of the group to return to Derry in a letter that states that It has returned and they need to come together once again to hopefully rid the town of It once and for all before more are killed.

This was an okay book. Extremely long and went on several tangents.  I think this could be about half the size if King would have stuck to one story line and not over indulged in getting into the weeds with side characters.  There are quite a few disturbing scenes (outside of horror) that I could have done without and could not really figure their place in the overall story.

Am I glad I finally read this daunting book?  Eh.

Stars: 3


Monday, June 24, 2024

Book: The Littlest Library

 Book: The Littlest Library

Author: Poppy Alexander

Pages: 336


This is my 103rd read for the year

This is the story of Jess Metcalf.  Her grandmother has just passed away and she lost her job as the librarian, so she decides it is time for a change.  She visits a small town and finds the perfect little cottage that might just fit what she was looking for.  This cottage comes with a lot of work and a gruff neighbor named Aiden, and an odd English telephone box in the front door.  Jess decides to turn the telephone box into a little library and in return, the town becomes her family.

This was a overly sweet not well written book.  This is an easy read, and I tried to enjoy it for what it was.  This is a Hallmark movie in book form.  I could picture the little cottage and her yard and her town and her little library - all positives of the story.  I didn't like the writing style.  I couldn't really connect to any of the characters or care what happened to him.  The author tried to shove a lot of little side stories into 300 pages and it just didn't work for me.

Skip

Stars: 2.5


Friday, June 21, 2024

Book: The Mask Falling

 Book: The Mask Falling

Author: Samantha Shannon

Pages: 560


This is my 102nd read for the year

The fourth installment of The Mime Order opens with Paige escaping to a hideout in Paris.  The Domino Program there has plans for Paige but she has plans of her own.  Arcturus is with her and they work with the Domino Program as well as searching the Paris Underground to escalate her rebellion.  But Paige has no idea what is coming in terms of the rebellion and her relationship with Arcturus and that will change everything.

This was a pretty good book. By far the longest one so far, and I see a lot of places where she could have cut this back a bit.  She gets a bit rambly and Paige, again, is constantly in need of medical attention.  There is too much time spent on Paige healing, coughing, resting, etc. that could have been left out in my opinion.  However - about 75% in the book - my heart is ripped out with a twist that I didn't really see coming after reading 4 of these books in a row.  I KNOW Shannon will redeem herself with the next book, but it was a blow.  This wasn't my favorite overall, but I will finish the series.

Stars: 3.5


Saturday, June 15, 2024

Book: The Song Rising

 Book: The Song Rising

Author: Samantha Shannon

Pages: 384


This is my 101st read for the year

This is the third installment in the Bone Season series.  Paige is now the Underqueen and rules over all the clairvoyants in London.  Paige has a lot of people after her - including Nashira the Ranthem who will stop at nothing until she has Paige's powers.  Paige's followers have made a startling discovery.  Scion has made something called Sensheild which is deadly technology for clairvoyants.  Paige now has to make some tough decisions if she is going to save her followers.

This was a pretty good book.  Shannon is a great world builder but this one did have a bit of a slow start.  Paige has changed a bit as a character in this book and seems to be fumbling as a leader.  Although - it has to be remembered that Paige is 19 years old, so maybe Shannon did this on purpose?  She does seem a little more sickly in this book than others - lots of pages spent on her having headaches and being bone tired.  Got a bit much after awhile.  The ending did improve the book and I am anxious to see where it is heading next.

Stars: 3.5 


Book: I Never Thought Of It That Way

 Book: I Never Thought of it That Way

Author: Monica Guzman

Pages: 288


This is my 100th read for the year

This is Monica's story about learning to ask more questions.  She set out to find what is blinding Americans related to the political divide and figuring out what is the best way forward.  Ignoring the issues isn't working and hurting our relationships.  She sets out to understand and even learn from people whose world view is different than her own and then guide others to do the same.  

This was a pretty good book.  It was a little dry in places, but overall - it is well written and thoughtful.  It is divided into 4 sections of advice with the overall goal of trying to connect to those around us in meaningful ways.  We all have people in our lives with vastly different views and this book was meant to help bridge the divide.  Does it do that?  Maybe.  I found some useful information.  For me - the way I cope when I get hung up on an issue is to scroll through the "recommended friends" section of facebook.  I look at the smiling faces and remember that those people have families and friends and people who love them.  A good dose of reality.  The really big outliers are few and far between and those I will not tolerate. 

Stars: 3.5


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Book: Death's End

 Book: Death's End

Author: Cixin Liu

Pages: 624


This is my 99th read for the year

This is the 3rd installment in the Three Body Problem series.  Here is what Amazon had to say (to save time)

Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrece keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay.  Earth enjuoys unprecedented propserity due to the infustion of Trisolaran knowledge.  With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation.  But the peace has also made humanity complacement.

Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early twenty-first century, awakens from hibernation in this new age.  She brings with her knowledge of a long-forgotten program dating from the beginning of the Trisolar Crisis, and her very presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds.  Will humanity reach of the stars or die in its cradle?

This was probably my least favorite book of the series.  The author made this one way too long in my opinion just coming up with more and more ideas - taking us further and further into the future the point of insanity.  So much information in this one and not as much emotional attachment to particular characters.  There is a large section where the author tells three fables (more or less) that take up tons of pages that could have either been shortened or summarized.  I know why he included them but it just seems unnecessary on some level.  Too much hibernation - not enough story arc.

I am glad I finished it.  He is a talented writer, but this one lost me a bit.  I will be anxious to see the direction the TV show takes all of this.

Stars: 3.5


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Book: The Big Door Prize

 Book: The Big Door Prize

Author: M.O. Walsh

Pages: 384


This is my 98th read for the year

This is the story mainly of Douglas and the residents of Deerfield, Louisiana.  A machine has shown up in town that will give users their life potential.  As residents start to use the machine, they decide that whatever the machine tells them their potential is - that is who they should be. Royalty, Cowboy, Magicians - they are following their results.  Douglas' potential hits very close to home and he starts to doubt the validty of the machine.  He thought he was happy with his life but now he and the towns people aren't so sure.

This was an okay book.  I actually picked it up because I am watching the show on Apple TV and thought it might make an interesting read.  It is only slightly like the show, and honestly this is one instance where I like the show better.  And the show isn't that good.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around the book because it was different than what I thought it would be like from watching the show, so I really couldn't get into it and I didn't really like any of the characters.  

Stars: 3


Saturday, June 8, 2024

Book: The Writing Retreat

 Book: The Writing Retreat

Author: Julia Bartz

Pages: 320


This is my 97th read for the year

This is the story of Alex.  She has been invited by a coveted author for a month long writing retreat at her beautiful home.  Even when she finds out her ex-friend Wren is going to be there, she is not deterred.  When she gets to Rosa's house and they find out what they will all be doing during this retreat, it becomes clear that Rosa isn't who the public thinks she is.  When one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex is determined ti figure out who Rose is really and what is going on.

This wasn't a good book.  I listened to it to pass some yardwork time, and it did a fair job at that - passing time.  It isn't good writing.  It has quite a few sex scenes were are never my thing, and honestly did not really add to the story.  My age is showing when I don't really like books with a lot of vulgar language or sexual slang.  The characters were not likable.  Finding out what Rosa was really up to as a writer was the only interesting thing about this book, but not enough to redeem it for me.

Stars: 2


Friday, June 7, 2024

Book: The Mime Order

 Book: The Mime Order

Author: Samantha Shannon

Pages: 560


This is my 96th read for the year

This is the 2nd book in the Bone Season series.  Paige has escaped the prison of Oxford and is back with Jaxon - her mime lord.  She is not sure what has happened to Warden and not sure if she will ever see him again.  Paige now sees the syndicate through new eyes and is determined to bring down the corruption.  She thinks the only way forward is to become the Underqueen and make changes that are needed for clairvoyants.

This was another great installment from Shannon.  I did get a newer version of this book and Shannon does say in the beginning that she has cleaned it up as she has become a more seasoned author.  After reading the first one (Which I still thought was amazing), I can tell the difference.  She is a great writer.  Paige is a very likable character - strong and determined.  Like all of her other books, there are tons of characters so you need to be on your game.  However she is an expert world builder, and to me that makes a big difference. I docked it a half a star because the "battle" near the end of the book drew out a bit too long for me - too much detail.   I am anxious to see where the series is going.

Stars: 4.5


Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Book: Empire Falls

 Book: Empire Falls

Author: Richard Russo

Pages: 483


This is my 95th read for the year

This is the story of Miles Roby.  He has been running the Empire Falls Grill for 20 years hoping that the owner will leave him the restaurant when she dies.  A town that his mom had hoped he would escape from after he went to college, Miles wonders why he stays.  He thinks it is due to his daughter, and maybe his wayward brother and his unreliable father - all whom he feels responsible for.  However - those closest to him tell him it is time for him to start thinking about himself and planning a future outside of this small town.

This was a great book.  It was part of the Rory Gilmore reading challenge, and I am glad I decided to read it.  It is beautifully written, and even though it is a book that is mostly about the mundane every day life of Miles, it didn't feel mundane at all.  This man - whose love for his family  - even for the people who have always let him down - is endless.  The characters make you feel how you should feel about them.  The author has the ability  to make you love the expanse of a whole community as well as get interested in their individual lives.  Very deserving of the Pulitzer Prize in my opinion.

Stars: 5


Monday, June 3, 2024

Book: Driving Miss Daisy

 Book: Driving Ms. Daisy

Author: Alfred Uhry

Pages: 80


This is my 94th read for the year

This is the story of Daisy Werthan, her son, Boolie, and her chauffeur, Hoke Coleburn  A play that takes place over the course of 25 years between 1948 to 1973.  Daisy has wrecked her car and at the age of 72, her son believes she needs to give up her driver's license.  He hires Hoke to drive her around, and over the years Daisy - who has an hard outer shell - befriends Hoke in her own personal way.  Hoke continues to drive for Daisy to near the end of her life and is there for her even when she is starting to forget everyone around her.

This is a great book.  This is one of my favorite movies, and I don't know how I have never read this play.  It is very short, but well deserving of the Pultizer Prize it won.  A whole story transpires seemlessly and I am so glad I read it.

Stars: 5




Sunday, June 2, 2024

Book The Huntress

 Book: The Huntress

Author: Kate Quinn

Pages: 576


This is my 93rd read for the year

This story is about several people but mostly Nina who was a night bomber in the war, and Jordan - a young American who dreams of being a photographer.  Nina becomes an expert flier but when she becomes stranded, she becomes the target of The Huntress and barely escapes.  A few years later - the war is over and she enlists the help of some friends to find the Huntress and bring her to justice once a for all - especially for her crimes of killing children.  

Jordan, recently engaged, finds out that her father has become engaged himself.  Jordan's mom died years ago and the idea of a stepmother actually brings her joy.  Especially since her new stepmother comes with a 4 year old daughter named Ruth, whom Jordan is immediately smitten with.  However - during her father's wedding, a discovery about her stepmother gives her pause and wonders who exactly her dad married.

This was a pretty good book.  I did find it dragging at times - especially with the Nina parts of the book.  It seems to be overly wordy.  I enjoyed the Jordan sections much more - trying to figure out the mystery of her step mother more than Nina's plight at a pilot.  It was easy to figure out who the Huntress was, but still an enjoyable story to get there.

Stars: 3.5


Friday, May 31, 2024

Book: You Like It Darker

 Book: You Like It Darker

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 512


This is my 92nd read for the year

This is a contemplation of short stories.  From Amazon:
"Two Talented Bastids" explores the long-hidden secret of how the eponymous gentlemen got their skills.  In "Danny Coughlin's Bad Dream" a brief and unprecedented psychic flash upends dozens of lives, Danny's most catastrophically.  In "Rattlesnakes" a sequel to Cujo, a grieving widower travels to Florida for respite and instead received an unexpected inheritance - with major strings attached.  In "The Dreamers" a taciturn Vietnam vet answers a job ad and learns that there are some corners of the universe best left unexplored.  "The Answer Man" asks if prescience is good luck or bad and reminds us that a life marked by unbearable tragedy can still be meaningful.

This was an okay book. The two longest stories of the book (Danny Coughlin's Bad Dream and Rattlesnakes) were my favorite.  Short stories are always hard to get into, and not my favorite types of books.  This is King's newest book, and while some of the stories were a little dull, overall it was a good read.

Stars: 3

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Book: Autobiography of a Face

 Book: Autobiography of a Face

Author: Lucy Grealy

Pages: 256


This is my 91st read for the year

This is the story of the author.  When she was 9 years old she got diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma and had a large portion of her jaw removed to save her life.  She endured years of painful surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, taunts from classmates, and general stares of the public.  She kept waiting for her happily ever after - thinking the next reconstructive surgery would solve everything and her life could begin.  She spent her life looking for love and understanding all while trying to shield herself from the hurt and torment due to her appearance.

This was a good book.  The author does a good job laying out her life story from the perspective of a child who had no idea what was going on.  She didn't even know she had cancer until she was almost done with chemo because no one ever used the word in front of her.  She spent most of her life internalizing her feelings and trying to defend herself in a world that was less than understanding.   I looked up the author after I read this book and was sad to learn that she died of a heroin overdose in 2002 before she was even 40.

Stars: 4



Monday, May 27, 2024

Book: The Stepford Wives

 Book: The Stepford Wives

Author: Ira Levin

Pages: 144


This is my 90th read for the year

This is the story of Joanna.  She and her family move Stepford which seems like an idealic town.  As they move in and start to meet the neighbors, Joanna finds all the women very strange.  None seem to have any time for anything but housework and caring for their husbands.  Joanna gets to know her neighbor Bobbie who also thinks something weird is going on.  And what goes on in the Men's Club in town?  Joanna is sure she needs to get to the bottom of it before she becomes like the other women in town and loses herself.

This was a very short book.  It is a bit different than the movie that I saw years ago, but not much.  It was written in the 70s, but has stood the test of time.  It has a good general plot and was an easy, quick read.  The reader is left a bit in the dark to try and figure out what has actually happened to the women (unless you watched the movie and you already know).  Good little book.

Stars: 4


Friday, May 24, 2024

Book: The Dark Forest

 Book: The Dark Forest

Author: Cixin Liu

Pages: 528


This is my 89th read for the year

In book two of The Three Body Problem, the world is still reeling from the impending alien invasion.  Still centuries in the future, the earth is starting to make a plan.  The presence of the Sophons (set by the alients to monitor all humans making it impossible for humans to advance secretly) makes it only possible for personal human thought to be secret.  The Wallfacer project is put in place and 4 men are given access to enormous resources to try and deceive the Trisolarans.  While three men are well known and influential, the 4th is an unambitious astronomer who is trying to figure out where he belongs.  The hardest part is figuring out why he, Luo Ji is the one the Trisolarans want dead.

This was an interesting follow up to the first book.  At first - it was so technical that it almost lost me, but then it smoothed out.  It jumps 200 years in the future and that is when the book made a turn for me.  The reason for the alien's wanting to come to earth becomes clear.  We see what has been happening when people are woken up into a future they could not even imagine.  This book builds on the first as the alien invasion nears.  The world builing is vast and at times overwhelming trying to keep it all straight.  This is written just as smart and complex as the first novel, and I am excited to see where it is going.

Stars: 4.5

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Book: The Bone Season

 Book: The Bone Season

Author: Samantha Shannon

Pages: 624


This is my 88th read for the year

This is the story of Paige Mahoney.  It is 2059 and unnaturals like Paige have been driven into hiding.  Paige is a dreamwalker - which is a very rare clairvoyant.  While taking a chance subway ride, she is captured and taken to Oxford which is a secret city controlled by an otherwordly race called the Rephaite.  She is assignd to Warden to be trained to hone her gift.  If she is ever to escape, she needs to go along until she finds a way out.

This was a pretty good book.  I have read a few books by Samantha Shannon and was interested to read her first works.  She wrote this book when she was in her early twenties, and I think it was really well written.  It had a great story line, good character development, and flowed nicely.  I always worry about books written by young people that the protagonist takes on a whiny, young, immature air, but not this time.  Paige was a very likable character.

My only complaint was the ending.  It started to unravel near the end - almost like the author wasn't sure how she wanted it to go.  This is the first book of 5, and I know she wanted to leave it open ended, but it just didn't go as well as I had hoped.  Not bad enough for me not to continue to see where this story is going, though.  It was too well written otherwise to stop now.

Stars: 4.5


Friday, May 17, 2024

Book: Murder Road

 Book: Murder Road

Author: Simone St. James

Pages: 352


This is my 87th read for the year

This is the story of April and Eddie.  It is 1995 and they are on their way to their honeymoon when they take a wrong turn.  They come face to face with an injured girl who was along the road  They drive her to the hospital, but because they are unknown and covered with her blood, they are under suspicion for the crime.  They aren't arrested but told not to leave town until the investigation clears them.  While in town, April and Eddie get involved with trying to solve the murder themselves which uncovers a long history with this town and murders along a certain road.  

This was an okay book.  This isn't my first St. James book and while a bit better than the last, still not great.  I do blame some of it on the fact that I listened to this one and the narrator wasn't great.  The story was interesting enough - I liked the mystery they were trying to solve.  And it has a supernatural element which was interesting.  Characters were fine - I liked Rose and the Snell sister characters in this book the best (side characters who lived in the town).

Stars: 3


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Book: Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone

 Book: Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone

Author: Benjamin Stevenson

Pages: 384


This is my 86th read for the year

This is the story of Ernest Cunningham and his family.  When he was little, one of his brothers and his dad died.  One night, Ernest brother hits a man with his car who stumbled into the road.  Ernest helps him hide the body, but eventually does tell the police what happened and his brother goes to jail.  Three years in thefuture, Ernest and his family are all gathered at a remote resort in the mountains to welcome his brother into society and everyone is on edge.  When people start dying, the Cunningham family is blamed.  And when the truth of who the murderer really is comes to light - no one saw it coming.

This was a pretty good book.  I liked the way it was written.  Ernest is the writer of this story and he tells it from his perspective giving you clues of what is to come throughout the book.  It gave me a few chuckles.  Trying to figure out who the killer was wasn't as easy as I expected and I was a bit surprised by the end which was great.  Interesting little read.

Stars: 4