Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

I'm doing a rewatch of the series before the new season starts (inner fan girl squealing!) and I decided to continue my read through of the books for the first time. Though time consuming, it's fabulous! I'm starting to see the difference between the books and the show with this edition as the first followed pretty closely and I'm liking the changes. Next couple of books I'll be reading are going to be a bit shorter though. :)

Rating: 4/5

Pages: 969

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling


So good I can read them over and over again.

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 652

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

I just can't believe that I still cry at this!!! Way to tear out my heart and slightly mend it by the end JK.

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 759

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Summary: "In 1845, Sammy, a Chinese American girl, and Annamae, an African American slave girl, disguise themselves as boys and travel on the Oregon Trail to California from Missouri."

I never, ever wanted this story to end. 

374 pages

MOBIUS | goodreads

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Accidental Hero by Nicole Snow

Accidental HeroAccidental Hero by Nicole Snow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a bad read overall, and there is a kid involved, which adds some depth. It's not particularly memorable, though, so while I generally enjoyed it, I would never reread this one. There were a few things that just seemed a little too far fetched, but it's still a decent read.

Pages: 370

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Golden Lane: How Missouri Women Gained the Vote and Changed History by Margot McMillen

The Golden Lane: How Missouri Women Gained the Vote and Changed History by Margot McMillen

Details the suffrage movement within Missouri and its key players, as well as important events that led to the passing of Amendment 19.

123 pages.

Bridging Two Eras: The Autobiography of Emily Newell Blair, 1877-1951, Edited by Virginia Laas

Bridging Two Eras: The Autobiography of Emily Newell Blair, 1877-1951, Edited by Virginia Laas

Emily Newell Blair, having lived through the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth, viewed herself as a bridge builder. A dedicated feminist who successfully managed to be both a Midwestern housewife and an outspoken suffragist on the national scale, Emily wanted to give others a glimpse into life during the upheaval of transition. Emily's autobiography, written in 1939 and published in 1999, provides insight into her life in southwest Missouri, her career as a writer, and her progression through American politics.

382 pages. 

Agatha Christie Short Stories

The Dead Harlequin: A Short Story
by Agatha Christie

3/5

40 pages

When Mr. Satterthswaite visits a new exhibit at the Harchester Galleries there is one painting with a male figure that bares a more than unusual likeness to a mysterious acquaintance of his, a Mr. Quin. And with one bold move purchases the canvas on the spot, and in another invites the artist of ‘The Dead Harlequin’ to dine with him that night. The dinner gets off on the wrong foot with the artist emphatically disagreeing with most points and an empty place at the table ready for the mysterious Mr. Quin to arrive. Conversation soon turns to the setting of ‘The Dead Harlequin,’ the doomed and ghostly house, Charnley, where so many have perished under tragic circumstances. But when a new guest is announced, it is not the expected Mr. Quin, but, famed stage comic actress Aspasia Glen, and she wants, above all else, that very painting. But, in the very moment he begins to explain she can’t have it a frantic telephone call from Alix Charnley herself interrupts them with the very same request. What is the meaning of the painting, and can it shed any light upon the grave happenings at Charnley.


The Mystery of the Spanish Chest: A Short Story
by Agatha Christie

3.5/5

53 pages

Major Hastings and Hercule Poirot are not interested in the mystery of the Spanish Chest, which has been reported in the papers so often that it seems to be an entirely closed case. But, when Hastings persuades Poirot to attend a fabulous party given by Lady Chatterton, they discover someone sequestered upstairs who is desperate for their help. Will the contents of a dead man’s pockets reveal to the inscrutable eye of Hercule Poirot who the culprit is?

I love Agatha Christie - especially the Hercule Poirot stories.  And while these two short stories were not as good as I wanted them to be, I did enjoy them and will most likely pick up s longer Christie work soon.  

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done
by Jon Acuff

5/5

208 pages

According to studies, 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. You’ve practically got a better shot at getting into Juilliard to become a ballerina than you do at finishing your goals. 

For years, I thought my problem was that I didn’t try hard enough. So I started getting up earlier. I drank enough energy drinks to kill a horse. I hired a life coach and ate more superfoods. Nothing worked, although I did develop a pretty nice eyelid tremor from all the caffeine. It was like my eye was waving at you, very, very quickly. 

Then, while leading a thirty-day online course to help people work on their goals, I learned something surprising: The most effective exercises were not those that pushed people to work harder. The ones that got people to the finish line did just the opposite— they took the pressure off. 

Why? Because the sneakiest obstacle to meeting your goals is not laziness, but perfectionism. We’re our own worst critics, and if it looks like we’re not going to do something right, we prefer not to do it at all. That’s why we’re most likely to quit on day two, “the day after perfect”—when our results almost always underper­form our aspirations. 

The strategies in this book are counterintuitive and might feel like cheating. But they’re based on studies conducted by a university researcher with hundreds of participants. You might not guess that having more fun, eliminating your secret rules, and choosing something to bomb intentionally works. But the data says otherwise. People who have fun are 43 percent more successful! Imagine if your diet, guitar playing, or small business was 43 percent more suc­cessful just by following a few simple principles. 

If you’re tired of being a chronic starter and want to become a consistent finisher, you have two options: You can continue to beat yourself up and try harder, since this time that will work. Or you can give yourself the gift of done.

I love it when 'self-help' books speak to me.  And y'all, this one SPOKE. 

Also, I recommend the audiobook as the author reads it, and he is quite fun. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

The Last Days of Jack Sparks
by Jason Arnopp

3.5/5

336 pages

Jack Sparks died while writing this book.

It was no secret that journalist Jack Sparks had been researching the occult for his new book. No stranger to controversy, he'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed.

Then there was that video: forty seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed - until now. 

What an odd book.  Seriously.  This one is strange (in a good way).  I'm not sure where to start talking about it, honestly. 

It's a 'found footage' type of book which features demons, ghosts, other supernatural oddities, etc.  The bulk of the novel is Spark's written words about what happened to him.  Occasionally, Jack's brother interjects to prove or disprove what Jack's written.  I really liked that aspect.  It gives a unique voice to this novel and keeps the reader on their toes as neither narrator is very reliable. 

It lags in the middle, but the beginning and end are unique and engaging.  I'm not sure this is 'scary' as much as it is unsettling.  Really unsettling. 

Overall, this isn't for the faint of heart.  I'm not a huge fan of horror, but I would recommend this to those that are.  Just know you're in for a ride.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

The Princess and the FangirlThe Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this one, but I'm a sucker for a Parent Trap situation, even if I occasionally have to suspend disbelief to stay in the moment.

I have to confess, I wasn't even aware this is the 2nd book, following Geekerella. I just saw it on NetGalley, and requested an ARC because it looked interesting. I confess that I liked this one better than Geekerella, and it breaks out a whole lot of literary tropes, including a Romeo and Juliet scene that actually manages to be charming.

The story has two unique POVs, one that is a bit angsty and always hard on herself, and one that is awkward but open in an honest, refreshing, and often funny sort of way. It's a really nice contrast, and I even enjoyed the different budding relationships and feelings that evolve (not between the two POVs).

I liked this a lot, and while it references Geekerella, you don't necessarily need to read the first book to understand and enjoy this. I say that with certainty, because I probably read 500 books between Geekerella and this one, which means I don't remember much of Geekerella anymore, but I survived this new addition just fine.

This one is great for nerds, fangirls, fanboys, and pop culture junkies, as well as anyone who likes interesting and diverse contemporary romance novels. Added bonus: the Con setting.

Pages: 320

Scorched by J. Lynn

Scorched (Frigid, #2)Scorched by J. Lynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was generally good, though not especially memorable. One of the characters deals with some serious issues and not always in the best ways. Since about a year passed since I had read the first book, I couldn't really remember these characters, which were previously side characters. However, it didn't really matter, because this stands alone pretty well.

Pages: 238

Saturday, February 9, 2019

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State KillerI'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book definitely held my attention. It discusses the serial rapist turned murderer called the Golden State Killer, a term coined by the author of this book. Sometimes I struggled with the rough transitions, but those are allowable and understandable, considering the author died before she finished researching and writing this novel, which meant the job of pulling it together and publishing it fell to others.

Once you settled into a section, the writing evened out. It was just the switch between chapters that sometimes threw me for a loop, like I had to resettled back into the story, or like I was suddenly being presented with a new story. In some cases, I was, since different chapters discuss about different events and victims.

Some part of me both hates and loves reading about a true crime unsolved mystery. It’s frequently uncomfortable, but piecing together clues and considering new angles is always engaging.

The crimes themselves are graphic, but the presentation of the stories and evidence is never gratuitous or over-dramatized. It’s presented as simply and almost clinically as possible, so as not to become anymore upsetting than necessary, while still remaining true and accurate.

Pages: 328

Friday, February 8, 2019

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Brain on Fire: My Month of MadnessBrain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An inside look at surviving a rare illness that tried to take away almost all the author was as a person, and the family, friends, and doctors who fought for her to be accurately diagnosed and treated.

This was both scary and fascinating.

Pages: 250

Thursday, February 7, 2019

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American MarriageAn American Marriage by Tayari Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I picked this up in an Audible sale, saw that it had a billion reviews, and decided to give it a try without even knowing what it was about.

It turns out the title, cover, and story don't feel in any way related to me, so I was in for a lot of interesting surprises with this story. I liked it far better than I expected, based on the title and cover, because this dealt with the impacts of a false conviction. Even though it is called An American Marriage, it's more about the family you're dealt, the family you find, and the family that you make, and how often those are not the same.

There was some extra drama at the end that didn't always seem helpful or to make much sense to me, but I really enjoyed the story overall. It's not really a feel good kind of story, but it definitely gives you things to think about.

I'm really glad I bought this and read it, and I think if you find the cover or title off-putting, just ignore them, as they don't really match what I feel are the truths of this story.

Page: 308

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

The Life We Bury (Joe Talbert, #1; Max Rupert, #1)The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, I found this adult mystery/thriller fascinating, and it went in all sorts of unexpected directions. I was able to predict a lot of the outcomes ahead of time, but there was one thing that caught me off guard and surprised me.

There are some things that happen at the end that are a bit ridiculous, though they definitely make the story more dramatic and intense. I just occasionally wanted to shake a few characters for making such poor choices in such a serious situation, but such is humanity.

Overall, this is a captivating read, and I'm glad I picked it up on Audible, as the audiobook narration is excellent.

Pages: 303

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is awkward and quirky, in the best sort of way. I confess, I was along on the ride more for the amusing character interactions and relationships, rather than for the mystery, but the mystery was interesting, overall.

This was very different than what I expected, which tends to be a good thing.

Pages: 330


Monday, February 4, 2019

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, by Robin LaFevers

2.5/5

576 pages

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage to the respite of the convent of St. Mortain. Here she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts and a violent destiny. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. But how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who has stolen her heart?

This is a re-read for me.  I read it in 2013, when it was first published (I have the first edition hardback at home).  I remember liking it, not enough that I read the second book, but enough that I didn't give the book away.  So, I thought I'd give it another go.

I'm not sure if it's because I'm older, or I just finished an adult fantasy novel, or I'm more critical because Fantasy is my genre, but this book just didn't do it for me.  It's kind of boring - which is seriously disappointing because the premise is awesome.  I mean, she's an assassin devoted to a nunnery of Death.  Come on!  This could have been SO good.  But, alas.  Nope.

Let's start with Ismae.  She's flat.  F.L.A.T.  As in, I didn't really care what happened to her.  This is a common issue with this book.  There is little character development.  Even the 'romance' between the two main characters is flat.  The two most intriguing people in this book were Beast and Ms. Hivern, both supporting characters.  The rest?  Meh.

I found the plot to be very surface-level, immature drama.  And it shouldn't have been.  I mean, you're dealing with high political intrigue.  It should be deep and engrossing.  But, again, alas.  Nope.  It feels dumbed down.  At no point did I feel like anyone was in any type of serious situation.  The main character spends a lot of time feeling sorry for herself and looking for someone to kill rather than becoming a major player in the plot.

So, the good?  The writing style.  There is a simple, straightforwardness here that I appreciate.  I did chuckle out-loud a few times, and I did find myself pausing to re-read a line or two, just for the aesthetics of it.  And that cover art, y'all.  Whew!  Stunner.

I just wanted SO MUCH MORE.  Fantasy novels should be rich, vibrant worlds with complicated characters.  This book was neither, and I struggled to finish it.  I will read the second book (as I already bought it), but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr


If you have ever thought about writing a memoir, I highly suggest you read Mary Karr’s book before you start. Karr, a poet, essayist, and memoirist who teaches a class on memoir writing at Syracuse University, walks readers through writing a memoir. Karr begins with instruction, but quickly moves on to the process of remembering and reconstructing our past. Most importantly, Karr explains the difference between misremembering and fabrication, and how the best memoirs “openly confess the nature of their corruption.”   In addition, Karr preps readers for the fallout that may occur if their memoir is published and helps readers decide if they are truly ready for that fallout. If you love memoirs, be prepared for your reading list to grow as Karr includes an extensive list of memoirs she recommends and has taught. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

256 pages

Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

Katie McGarry's newest book was not what I was expecting. It's a bit different from her others, and I couldn't help but compare them. I couldn't get the boys from the Thunder Road series out of my head. 

I adore her characters and her writing. In this book, I especially enjoyed all of the Peter Pan references. I wish she would have just written a more direct contemporary Peter Pan retelling instead. 

I enjoy action-packed books, and this book was just not that. For what the book is supposed to be, it's excellent.

But it was not for me. 

364 pages

goodreads

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Twisted by Helen Hardt

Twisted (Steel Brothers Saga, #8)Twisted by Helen Hardt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this series!! She does a great job pulling you into the series. You for sure have to read the brother's book all at once, because she does a great job leaving the story hanging on.

300 Pages

View all my reviews

Unraveled (Steel Brothers Saga, #9)Unraveled by Helen Hardt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh wow, this ended with a bang. I could see some it coming but there was so many surprises that I didn't even see coming!!

288 Pages

View all my reviews

Waves by Ingrid Chabbert

WavesWaves by Ingrid Chabbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was touching and emotional. It’s beautiful and painful, both the story and the artwork.

It’s the story of a young woman, and her wife, who want to have a child but are struggling to successfully do so. This graphic novel is so well done that it takes very few words, paired with the gorgeous and easy to understand illustrations, to help tell a strong, emotional story.

The artwork uses color and shading as a tool to help indicate shifts in mood and tone, which is very interesting and effective.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to review an early copy of this graphic novel, which will release on May 7, 2019.

With the diversity, emotional artwork, and excellent storytelling, this should be an automatic purchase for all adult graphic novel collections. It brings something new to the table, and I could see this drawing in new and different readers who have never experienced a graphic novel before.

Pages: 96