Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Haters by Jesse Andrews

The HatersThe Haters by Jesse Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jesse Andrews is a bold and honest writer, and that’s what I like best about his quirky stories and characters. He has a real feel for the way teenagers actually communicate and interact that makes every story seem so genuine, even when what’s happening is ridiculous or almost slapstick.

He writes really strong and interesting male characters. He’s a bit like Andrew Smith in that regard. Neither neglect to have female characters who are unique and unexpected in their stories, but the most interesting characters in most of their novels are guys. And the most interesting relationships are usually between the guys in each story, even when it’s just a best friends or bromance situation.

I don’t mind that at all, and I enjoy reading such interesting male characters. I would, however, be very curious to see what either of these authors would do with a female lead.

Pages: 336

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tim by Colleen McCullough

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Tim was born with a mental problem but grew big and strong by his parents. When they die of old age, a friend takes in Tim but has to deal with social issues and peers.

Audio:  7 hrs.
Print:  255 pages

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

This covers U.S. history over the years against Native Americans with destruction of whole societies and misuse of Indian funds. In the 50s and 60s there were relocation centers. In 1972, a meeting of 75 nations was locked in a fed building with all the information about the years of extermination of Indian tribes by the U.S. government.  They read it and published it.

Audio:  11 hrs. 22 min.
Print:  312 pages

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand

My Lady JaneMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was so clever and funny. It’s definitely reminiscent of The Princess Bride.

It’s basically a fictionalized history of English royalty, during Shakespearean times, with a magical twist. If all history could be like this, students across America would stop falling asleep reading boring social studies textbooks.

I demand more books like this. RIGHT NOW! Go on, then. Get to work, writers. I am not a patient person.

Pages: 512

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Summary: "Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers knows better than to trust a rich boy. But then she meets the richest guy of all, who proves money might not matter after all."

+ Another fun book by Kasie West! 

- But another disappointing ending! Kasie West does a great job of setting up interesting characters and story lines, but she frequently leaves the characters (and the reader) hanging at the end. 

+ I love her books as they are a fun, short and sweet read, but I am getting frustrated by the lack of closure toward the end. 

- She's cutting out some really good stuff by not resolving certain aspects of the characters' lives. 

312 pages

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Nothing but a wonderful hospital director who will do anything because of her power.  This book contains murders and conclusions that answer almost everything.

Audio:  11 hrs. 50 min.
Print:  528 pages

Monday, July 18, 2016

Half Blood Series Books by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Daimon (Covenant, #0.5)Daimon by Jennifer L. Armentrout  (Novella 0.5)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella falls in the timelines before book 1, but I didn’t read it until later. It covers the short, dramatic gap of time right before book 1 starts. If it were me, I’d read book one before reading it, because it’s mostly backstory—interesting backstory—but it is not critical for understanding the series.

If you love the books or the world, you’ll want to read it. It’s the story of Alex and her mother on the run, and it stops right where book 1 starts.

Pages: 86

View all my reviews Elixir (Covenant, #3.5)Elixir by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Novella 3.5)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Novella 3.5 in the Half Bloods series.

This was fascinating and heartbreaking. It shows you some new sides to the characters that you don’t fully see in book 4.

I read the beginning of book 4 before I started this novella, and I thought that was a helpful/interesting approach. You can technically read it before book 4, or any time after that.

Pages: 80

View all my reviews Apollyon (Covenant, #4)Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout  (Book 4)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was a solid read but didn’t fascinate me quite as much as Book 3. The ending is very dramatic and unexpected.

Pages: 360

Sentinel (Covenant, #5)Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout  (Book 5)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this series, but the audiobooks were a challenge. The reader (Justine Eyre) had a strange breathy tone that made it hard for me to hear and concentrate on the words and sentences, especially when I kicked it up to a normal speed for human speech (2X or 2.5X –I typically listen to all audiobooks at 2-3 times the recorded speed, as they are recorded so slowly that otherwise I would zone out by the end of the first sentence).

I did reduce the speed and attempted to make the best of it throughout the series. She did a good job with the reading in general and the voices. It is just the way her voice recorded that does not work for me (plus the volume on the audio was cued so low I could barely hear if there was any noise around me at all, even with earbuds), and I found myself rewinding more than in any other audiobook before, since I frequently missed or couldn’t understand what had been said.

Part of the issues with her strange/breathy tone could have been resolved if they had simply cued the audio to a louder volume, so it wouldn’t sound like the whole story was being read in a stage whisper, which made me constantly strain to hear and understand. I found it very frustrating, but I continued to listen, as I had already purchased the series and enjoyed the actual stories.

Pages: 360

View all my reviews

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Orbiting JupiterOrbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The voice is so unexpected in this Middle Grade contemporary novel about a boy whose family takes in a foster son with a complicated past.

I initially had a difficult time settling into this story. I admit that I read the first page twice before I progressed, and even then, I was still bewildered about what was happening. It took a couple of pages before I was able to sort out the scene and stop rereading paragraphs. I don’t know if that was me being a bad reader in that moment, the writing, the really abrupt start to the scene, or some combination of those.

Either way, I’m glad I pushed forward. This was such a good story, and it’s a quick read. I fell in love with the voice, once I got used to it, and the characters were lovable and different.

I had my heart set on the way this story should end.

It definitely did not end that way, but I guess I’ll get over it.

Pages: 192

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Problem with ForeverThe Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Once I started this, I couldn’t stop. The story and characters were so compelling.

It was fascinating to see how two kids that grew up in the same terrible foster care situation could end up so different but still so connected.

Pages: 480

Friday, July 15, 2016

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being HumanSymptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is incredible. It's the story of Riley, who is gender fluid. Per a therapist’s suggestion, Riley starts a blog about being gender fluid. It attracts a lot of attention, both good and bad.

This is more of a character driven novel than a story with a really intense plot, but that worked for me, as what I was interested in, throughout the story, was Riley.

It makes me happy that so many great LGBTQ+ YA titles have been released in 2016. Adults should read more YA, because the authors are bold and honest. They tackle topics that people need to understand better. YA novels actually make me feel better about the state of our future, as I can’t help hoping that kids that grow up reading these awesome books are likely to turn out more open-minded and less judgmental than our current adult population.

Pages: 357

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Deity by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Deity (Covenant, #3)Deity by Jennifer L. Armentrout  (Book 3 in the Half Bloods series)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, Seth. *shakes head*

Book 3 has a slam-bang finish, so you’ll want to have book 4 on hand before you finish.

Pages: 360

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection PileThe First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book to be really helpful, not because it told me stuff I don’t know, but because it reminded me of things I knew but have sometimes been shortsighted about. Also, the examples and suggestions were great. Every single time I read a chunk of this book, it made me want to go write, or edit, which is how I want to feel after reading something like this.

There were sections that didn’t apply to me or felt too basic, so I just skimmed over those. That’s to be expected though, as every writer has different strengths and knowledge. There were sections that explained something I thought I was confident and competent with in a way that made me realize I could do even better if I’d put a little more editing focus on that particular topic or subject. Since first drafts are terrible, it’s easy to focus on the major issues first and never get back around to those smaller things that can make a huge difference.

I didn’t read this to perfect the first 5 pages of any of my novels. I read it, because I think all the pages in a novel have to be as good as the first 5. I figured the advice would apply to a whole novel, and it definitely does.

Pages: 208