Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Disorder Collection: Amazon Originals

Amazon Original Collection Description: 
"Something disturbing is going on here. From small-town witch hunts to mass incarceration to exploitations of the flesh, this chilling collection of twisted short stories imagines the horrors of a modern world not unlike our own. What have we done?"

Clearly I'm on a short story collection kick, for whatever reason. . . probably just because I can be.

The Best Girls (Disorder collection)The Best Girls by Min Jin Lee
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meh. I'm the odd woman out, because I didn't enjoy this one. The writing was way too flowery for me, and the pacing was slow. That sounds ridiculous, because it's a short story. Basically, I was bored and thought nothing moved forward in a way that was interesting to me, which made it feel tedious.

The gender issues are interesting. But that's about it, and even that isn't presented in the most compelling fashion. I guess it technically ends dark and creepy, but that felt really out of the blue, as there wasn't enough plot or character development going on for that to even feel right in the moment. It felt like it was there more for reaction than because it is what the story called for.

Pages: 18

Anonymous (Disorder collection)Anonymous by Uzodinma Iweala
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh. More 2nd person. Why do they feel they need that in every collection these days? I appreciate some variety, but I'm tired of gimmicks. It's just awkward and uncomfortable. Nothing makes it harder for me to bury myself in a story or world than constantly having to hear the word "you."

Guess what? I don't want to hear about myself in fiction. If I wanted to hear "you," I would be reading some self help, which let's face it, that is never going to happen. I read fiction to escape, and 2nd person POV does not allow for that. It's a constant disruption to the flow of the story, especially when it isn't extremely well done.

Long story short, this was tedious, which isn't great considering the page length. I just wanted it to end already. If it had been a full novel, I would have had to DNF it.

Pages: 18

Will Williams (Disorder collection)Will Williams by Namwali Serpell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nope. This collection just isn't doing it for me. I'm 3 deep and haven't really enjoyed any of them so far. I should probably stop, but I keep thinking the next short story might be amazing, if I just hold out.

Pages: 20


Ungirls (Disorder collection)Ungirls by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This one has a lot more voice, which is refreshing, but it jumps around so much that I had no idea who anyone was or what was really going on in the beginning. As a result, it feels a bit spastic, even though the concept sounds like it could be fantastically creepy.

I think this was too much for such a short story, because there wasn’t enough time to do anything well, including character intros. Plus, a lot of the plot/storyline was unclear. I listened to the audiobook, and everything felt jumbled. I could never settle into a character or what was really happening. Transitions must not exist in the writing, because I often couldn’t tell when we were switching scenes, or why, which left me dizzy and confused.

Pages: 20


I didn't bother to read the last 2 in this collection, because I am just over it.  It wasn't doing it for me.  I started LOAM and already wasn't paying attention after the first 5 minutes, so I called it off. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The One Collection: Amazon Originals

The Amazon blurb for this original collection of short stories: "In sex and love, loneliness and longing, friendship and companionship, sometimes you find the One. Sometimes you chase the One. Other times, the One just isn't enough. From a roster of bestselling, award-winning, and beloved writers come seven singularly true stories that remind us there's no one path to the perfect match."



Before Her (The One)Before Her by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a short memoir. It feels honest but seems to be missing heart, or maybe emotion. The topics and content should have been intriguing, but instead it felt like a lot of disconnect thoughts with too little real depth or storytelling. Something about it just didn’t flow for me. I had trouble caring, despite all the brief mentions of potential intrigue. I think it would have been better had it just been one brief moment or story from her life that had a significant impact.

Others are mentioned so quickly, briefly, and casually that it’s hard to understand their potential impact on her life. It has these moments that drew me in, but then it failed to hold me after drawing me in. It flitted from thought to thought so fast that I couldn’t really enjoy or appreciate the thoughts. Then, it ends abruptly, without it feeling like an ending. I don’t love it in this format, but maybe if it were a full memoir, I would like it far better.

Pages: 17

A Wedding Thing (The One)A Wedding Thing
by Shea Serrano

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this personal story about the author’s life, with segments written by his wife. It starts out funny, but is also real and honest.

Pages: 28

Parable (The One)Parable by Jess Walter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I picked this original collection on Amazon Prime to listen to, I didn't realize this series of short stories were all memoirs. I'm a harsh memoir critic, in general, but I enjoyed the flow of this one.

I was able to relate to all the farm talk, which made it even more interesting and personal for me. There's a lot of chat about animals and pets, particularly a charming dog, and the author is amusing.

This one is my favorite in the collection, so far.

Pages: 27

Yes, And (The One)Yes, And
by Kristi Coulter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This tiny memoir is honest, messy, and a bit neurotic. The love portion of the story is sort of a beautiful disaster. I liked that.

Pages: 31

Lila (The One)Lila by Naima Coster
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The content should have been interesting, but I thought the storytelling was boring and disjointed. Overall, I was disappointed with this one.

Reading it felt clinical and tedious, and I just wanted to connect. I could never understand where it was trying to take me or how I should feel about any of it. It’s like there was an emotional void which just left me with random segments and moments that didn’t add up to much for me without that deeper emotional connection.

I mostly thought it was depressing and misguided, although I know it’s memoir, which means I kind of hate saying it that way, since it sounds like a commentary on the author’s life, which is not my intention. I intend only to comment on this particular piece of writing.

Pages: 30

Speed Grieving (The One)Speed Grieving by Allison Ellis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a strange approach to discussing and explaining grief. I couldn't really relate to it on that level, because my mind doesn't work even remotely in the same way. I definitely don't grieve in this way. However, that's what probably made this an interesting and compelling read. I wanted to try to understand, and that kept me pressing onward.

Honestly, I felt pretty bad for the author, because her ongoing response to loss seems like it was absolutely exhausting and overwhelming. It stressed me out just reading about it. But I also liked the note of desperate hopefulness.

Pages: 52


The Visitor (The One)The Visitor by Dodai Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leave it to me to love this addition to the collection the most. I won't say why, due to spoilers. I'll just say that there were some things I could really relate to with this one.

Pages: 32


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Forward Collection: Amazon Originals

Amazon just released a 6 story collection of Sci-Fi books, called Forward. Each book looks forward, whether it is funny or terrifying.



ArkArk by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The concept was really interesting. The content was heavy and definitely on the artsy morbid side of things. The character development was incredibly weak, overall, so I think this concept just didn’t fare well in a short story format. I was bored a lot, which probably isn’t good considering I listened on audio, on 3 speed, which means the whole story was only about 27 minutes long for me.

Basically, this story struggled to hold my attention for half an hour. I guess, all this results in that I don’t particularly like this story, and yet I also don’t hate it. I think the bones of something interesting were buried deep here, but not enough bone fragments rose to the surface to capture and hold my attention. It’s almost like it tried to hard to be insightful, and instead bordered on tedious and underdeveloped.

Pages: 39

Summer FrostSummer Frost
by Blake Crouch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fast-paced, suspenseful AI story with an unexpected twist. I enjoyed it.

Pages: 75


RandomizeRandomize by Andy Weir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a technology heist story. It's not bad. I wanted to be more into this than I was. The characters were vibrant, but I could have used a bit more, both from them and the plot. It almost feels like a story leading up to the catalyst. But then it ends at that point. Honestly, I wish it had started precisely where it ended.

Pages: 28


Emergency SkinEmergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was fascinating and creative, though it took me almost the whole length of the story to really settle into the 2nd person perspective, especially with this approach, where it feels like someone is speaking to me, in response to things I’m supposedly saying (though obviously I’m not saying anything, as I’m not in the story).

I struggled with this on the one hand. It was actually harder for me to sink into the story with this particular perspective, because I couldn’t take myself out of it, with the constant barrage of the word you. However, I do see how this was quite inventive and clever and can appreciate that. It also has some good messages to consider.

It feels a bit gimmicky at times, which is off-putting for me, but in other moments, it’s also highly amusing. I could feel the desperation of the narrator as the story progressed, which brought a lot of emotion to the story. So it’s a trade off. I really like some aspects of it, while at the same time, I had difficulty fully sinking into the world and story. Instead, I felt like I was constantly analyzing and rethinking things, because of the approach.

Pages: 33


You Have Arrived at Your DestinationYou Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant and captivating. This is my favorite in the collection so far, and I've already read 5/6. It gives you a lot to think about, in terms of directions people take in life, while still having a solid sci-fi vibe about it. I thought the whole concept was quite clever and well-done.

Pages: 46


The Last ConversationThe Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The ending was good. I found the rest tedious, but I will confess to my frequent difficulties with 2nd person POVs. It really takes me out of the story, rather than puts me in it. The last thing I want to think about while reading, an escape, is myself. So while I've read and liked one book in 2nd person, most of them are a struggle for me.

For this one, I kind of see why 2nd POV was selected, but not entirely. It was a gimmick that almost worked. The story would have been more readable if there had been an actual character to relate to, instead of the mythical "you" narrator.

Pages: 56

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Witch of Blackbird PondThe Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although this book is written for young adults, the themes of religion, fitting in, and family are relevant to people of all ages. A 16 year old girl named Kit sails from the tropical waters of Barbados to Puritan New England. Her liberal upbringing clashes with the Puritan culture. 256 pages

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch Series #20). By Michael Connelly, Narrator: Titus Welliver.

Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch Series #20). By Michael Connelly, Narrator: Titus Welliver. 2017. Hachette Audio. ASIN: B071FJF4S4 (Unabridged audiobook, 9 hrs 54 mins)

When Harry Bosch is asked by the San Fernando Police Department to work an active homicide case involving two murdered pharmacists, he finds himself infiltrating the dangerous world of pill mills. Meanwhile, an old case from Bosch's LAPD days has been resurrected by the newly created Conviction Integrity Unit with the claim that Bosch framed a man who has been on death row for the last 30 years. With his relationship with the LAPD strained, it is up to Harry, with a little help from the Lincoln Lawyer, to clear his name and prevent the release of a killer. By way of the two cases, Bosch discovers that there are two kinds of truths that will forever haunt him. This story can be read as a stand-alone and recommended to readers new to the series.

This engaging thriller is narrated by Titus Welliver, who portrays Bosch in the TV adaptation of Connelly’s series. Not surprisingly, Welliver has no trouble in voicing the hardboiled Harry and setting the tone immediately, but listeners will find he voices the other characters to perfection as well.

417 pages 

The Rose Princess (Vampire Hunter D Vol. 9). By Hideo Kikuchi, English translation by Kevin Leahy, Illustrator: Yoshitaka Amano.

The Rose Princess (Vampire Hunter D Vol. 9). By Hideo Kikuchi, English translation by Kevin Leahy, Illustrator: Yoshitaka Amano. 2007. Dark Horse Press/Digital Manga Publishing. ISBN 1595821090 (paperback).

Generations ago, the world ended; ravaged by man’s madness. But from the ashes, the surviving humans were privileged to witness the dawn of a new race...a Noble race...Vampires. Very few heroes remain to protect mortals from the Nobility. Hideo Kikuchi’s series chronicles the adventures of possibly the greatest of these heroes; a vampire hunter named D.

Not everything is coming up roses for D as his latest hunt takes him to a village on the far reaches of the Northern Frontier. D’s intent is to rid the village of a vampiric Noblewoman who resides in the nearby ruins and calls herself a princess. The problem is, he’ll first have to defeat her four bodyguards known as the Knights of the Diane Rose, and...the villagers don’t seem too keen on being free from the princess’s ‘protection.’
 
While the approach of D taking on one opponent at a time is becoming lackluster, Kikuchi’s signature blend of horror and apocalyptic science fiction still delivers another enjoyable addition to the series. Initially published in Japan in 1994, this translated work contains the original illustrations by Amano, a 2007 postscript by the author, and a preview of the next translated book.

224 pages

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning SilverSpinning Silver by Naomi Novik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a gorgeous, dark, atmospheric, and complex fantasy novel. Novik always seems to be playing a long game with her stories, and oh, how I enjoy being along for the ride.

This is story is well-written, and I enjoyed all the Jewish history and culture that was incorporated throughout. It takes time for the momentum and mysticism to build with this one, but it is well worth the wait.

Pages: 480

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

In the Bag by Kate Klise

In the BagIn the Bag by Kate Klise
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is cute and written in a variety of formats, including letters and emails between sections of narrative/prose. It takes place mostly in Paris and Madrid, is in 4 POVs, and feels like a double Meet Cute. A single mom travels with her teenage daughter, and a single dad travels with his teenage son. Some drama and chaos ensues, followed by some angsty flirting.

This is being compared to the Parent Trap, but as someone who grew up on the joy that is the Parent Trap, I can assure you that is a terrible comparison. This is in no way like the Parent Trap. Let go of that idea before you start reading, or you're going to be disappointed when it doesn't pan out.

It's not a bad little story, though it does drag at times and could use a bit more overall excitement.

The alternating POV sections can be very short at times, which is pretty jolting in the start of the book, when you don't know or understand any of the characters. It gets easier to deal with as the story progresses and you settle in and have a better idea of who is who. I wish each voice had been just a bit stronger and more distinct, but overall, this is a decent read.

Pages: 306

Friday, September 6, 2019

Light Mage (The Black Witch Chronicles Novella) by Laurie Forest

Light Mage
(The Black Witch Chronicles Novella)
by Laurie Forest

4.5/5

304 pages

Journey to the magical world of Erthia in this exciting prequel to The Black Witch by critically acclaimed author Laurie Forest.

Before Elloren Gardner came to possess the White Wand of myth, the Wand was drawn to another bearer: Sagellyn Gaffney.

Sage’s affinity for light magery, a rare skill among Gardnerians, makes her the perfect protector for the one tool that can combat the shadows spreading across Erthia. But in order to keep the Wand safe from the dark forces hunting for it, Sage must abandon everything she once knew and forge a new path for herself…a dangerous course that could lead to either triumph or utter ruin.

I am quickly falling in love with this author.  So much so, that I'm actually postponing reading the actual series because I know I will be unable to do anything but read the series....

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Summary: "Maguire is bad luck. No matter how many charms she buys or good luck rituals she performs, horrible things happen. She spends a lot of time in her room to avoid causing damage. But then she meets Jordy, a talented, lucky, aspiring tennis star. He's convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak; she is convinced the best thing she can do for Jordy is stay away. But it turns out that staying away is harder than she thought."

I loved and adored every second of this book!

379 pages

MOBIUS | goodreads

Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5). By Brandon Sanderson.

Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5). By Brandon Sanderson. 2017. TOR.
ISBN-13: 9781250166548 (Mini-hardcover)

Edgedancer follows a burgeoning Knight Radiant named Lift as she and her spren Wyndle leave the protection of a boy emperor to travel to the trenched city of Yeddaw--where people are being hunted by the man called Darkness. With the Everstorm and the Assassin in White looming over Yeddaw, will Lift survive Darkness? Well, she is awesome, although poor beleaguered Wyndle might disagree.

Sanderson remains one of my top favorite fantasy writers and his irreverent Lift is not one to let a story linger.

Lift and Wyndle are first introduced in Words of Radiance, but this edition includes Lift’s interlude as a prologue, so you can read all of her story in one place. However, it is suggested to begin with Book One, The Way of Kings, to fully grasp the concepts of surgebinders, spren and stormlight.
 
272 pages

Missouri’s Mad Doctor McDowell: Confederates, Cadavers and Macabre Medicine. By Victoria Cosner & Lorelei Shannon.

Missouri’s Mad Doctor McDowell: Confederates, Cadavers and Macabre Medicine. By Victoria Cosner & Lorelei Shannon. 2015. The History Press. ISBN-13: 9781467118880 (paperback).

Meet St. Louis’ eccentric surgeon, Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell (1805-1868): A man who held undying grudges and took his medical oath seriously. Warm and kind to his students, the doctor inspired such loyalty among them that they gladly accompanied him in his grave robbing escapades; such activities that would generate angry mobs outside of McDowell Medical College. He once sicced his pet bear on one such mob; the bear yawned and the mob fled.

Enhanced with photographs, illustrations and appendices, readers won’t be able to set down this engaging 144-page narrative about a doctor who sought to preserve his dead loved ones by encasing them in copper-lined cylinders filled with alcohol, and who took to wearing body armor in the streets of St. Louis. This was a great find in Barnes & Noble's regional section and can also be found in our Missouriana collection.

144 pages

 MOBIUS

The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Plastic Magician (The Paper Magician #4)The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the original trilogy, so it was a delight to see this new book hit the shelves. I was able to pick it up and dive right back into the world with no problems, even though it has been over a year or two since I read the original trilogy.

This is such a unique world, and Holmberg writes such real and enjoyable characters, that I think it's impossible to set a foot astray in this realm.

Pages: 233

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Sheets by Brenna Thummler

Sheets
by Brenna Thummler

239 pages

3/5

Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen year old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes, and the fastidious Mr. Saubertuck who is committed to destroying everything she’s worked for.

Wendell is a ghost. A boy who lost his life much too young, his daily routine features ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a dangerous need to seek purpose in the forbidden human world.

When their worlds collide, Marjorie is confronted by unexplainable disasters as Wendell transforms Glatt’s Laundry into his midnight playground, appearing as a mere sheet during the day. While Wendell attempts to create a new afterlife for himself, he unknowingly sabotages the life that Marjorie is struggling to maintain.

The beginning of the book rocks.  It's utterly poignant and really touched my heart.  The middle to end of this book is 'meh' - at best.  I was so disappointed!  I needed more of the deep and less of the campy side characters.  I'm glad I read it, as it reminded me how much I like graphic novels, but I won't be recommending it anytime soon.  I may keep an eye on this author, though.  There is massive potential there; I saw it.  It just wasn't sustained.

The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom, #1)The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to confess that due to the cartoonish/homemade feel of the cover, I did not expect great things from this book. That being said, the concept caught my attention enough that I decided I would just start it, and if it sucked, then I would DNF.

Obviously, I didn't DNF, and there were a lot of things I really enjoyed about this one, enough that when book 2 comes out, I will definitely give it a go, as well.

The world building is fascinating. It's basically like a fantasy novel, except for that it has no magic system, which to me = not a true fantasy novel. It's that weird new sub-genre of fantasy that as of yet remains unlabeled but for which most of us hardcore fantasy lovers also enjoy, due to the rich settings, unique world building, and usually an action-packed or adventurous plot.

Long story short, I liked it, far more than I expected to, and it's a good reminder not to let a bad cover completely deter me from giving a book a try.

Pages: 354

Monday, September 2, 2019

Artemis by Andy Weir

ArtemisArtemis by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked it. I just went in with the mentality that it wasn't going to be anything like THE MARTIAN, which seems to have been a hang up for a lot of readers, and I was easily able to enjoy this sci-fi. It's action-packed and technical, with a lot of world-building and a diverse female lead.

Pages: 305


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Audible Escape Continues


Honor's SplendourHonor's Splendour
by Julie Garwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a delight revisiting this 28 year-old story that I haven't read since probably high school. I still love it, all these years later.

Pages: 374


ComplicatedComplicated by Kristen Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a lengthy story, but the characters are so well-developed that it never felt tiring or tedious. There's also plenty of intrigue and conflict with the plot and subplots. I would definitely pick up another book by this author. I particularly enjoyed the personalities of the love interests, and all the family themes and children that were involved in this story. They made it richer, well, most of them.

Pages: 567

Some 5 Star Reads

Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a nonlinear story that brings together the stories of two different orphans, from two distinctly different time periods, modern and past. I really enjoyed it.

Pages: 278


Born a Crime: Stories From a South African ChildhoodBorn a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read, and I tend to be somewhat critical of the category. I loved hearing about his unique childhood, and I even choked once, when I was eating a snack and something he said just struck me so funny that I couldn't help breaking out into laughter. And then I kept laughing, while still choking, because it just tickled me that much.

Pages: 304


The Elephant WhispererThe Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an absolutely stunning read on so many different levels.

Pages: 368

The Lonely Silver Rain: A Travis McGee Novel by John D. MacDonald


 
272 pages
Billy Ingraham asks Travis McGee to locate his $700,000 custom cruiser.  McGee doesn’t feel like sticking out his neck for this case, but Billy’s wife  convinces him to take the case. With the help of a  pilot friend he locates it, only to find everyone on board murdered.

McGee finds himself in center of an international cocaine ring, while being confronted by a secret from his past.

Breakthrough: The Making of America's First Woman President by Nancy L. Cohen

Nancy Cohen interviewed dozens of women politicians from both parties, political consultants, and voters. She takes us through the history of women's involvement in the public square, starting with the fight to win voting rights. The book was written during Hillary Clinton's campaign for president,  but deals with the path she followed to get there, not whether or not she would win (which of course, she did not.

Focusing on the struggle to get women elected, she examines attitudes about women in this country, and the way young women are breaking through the barriers erected to hold them back, especially in politics, but also in many other areas.

I think this is an important book for everyone to read, but especially women. We need to understand our own biases toward ambitious women, and why it is important to have their leavening influence on society.


338 pages

Friday, August 30, 2019

Heartland: A memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh

Sarah Smarsh is from a fifth generation Kansas wheat farm family on her Dad's side, and the product of generations of teen mothers on her Mother's side. Writing about her experiences growing up on a farm west of Wichita, she gives her perspective into the lives of poor and working class Americans living in the heartland.

Her legacy was a work ethic that enabled her to create a solid professional life for herself, but that doesn't alleviate the pain of growing up seeing the way that poor people are marginalized and made to feel
"less than".

304 pages

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I'm working on reading through my bookshelves and Jane kept popping out at me. I hadn't read it since my All About the Bronte's class in college (that's right, all things Bronte all semester. So romantic yet utterly depressing). I loved it just as much then as I do now. Don't get me wrong, there are passages that seem to go on forever with information I do not really care about, but the conversations between Rochester and Jane were intriguing and I love how truly independent Jane becomes throughout the story. Best part, Bertha running through the house at night setting fires is still creepy.

Rating 5/5

Pages: 332