Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Monday, August 18, 2014

History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time by Brad Meltzer with Keith Ferrell

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

This book contains or examines ten historical mysteries. The most famous being the Kennedy assassination, who, how many shots, how the assassin wasn’t better protected. Who killed the president, mafia, Russians, Cubans?

Audio:  6 hrs. 45 min.
Print:  160 pages

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Game of Thrones by George R. Martin

An epic fantasy novel set in 'medieval' times in a landscape somewhat like England and the European continent.  There are kings and queens, lords, ladies, knights and tournaments and plot twists galore as well as threats from giants, ogres, zombie-like creatures and other fantastical beasts.  One of the best lines, from a villainous Queen, is 'In the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.'  That about sums it up.  Martin sets the scene well, but some of the plot manipulations are obvious, i.e., placing a character in an unusual circumstance just so they can overhear something they shouldn't.  There are several likable characters and plenty of juicy villains. The countryside is also nearing the end of a decades long summer, and preparing for the onslaught of the dreadful winter, which may last for years and unleash strange creatures.  The story shifts from one character to another in nearly every chapter, so there are plenty of cliffhangers. By the end of this first in a five-part series, the warring factions are at a bit of a stalemate. A real page-turner as well as an HBO success.  835 pages.

Anna & Natalie by Barbara H. Cole.

Mrs. Randall’s 3rd grade class is going to the Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Four students will be allowed to carry the wreath. In order to be on the ‘Tomb Team’, the students have to write a letter telling why they should be selected.
 Anna has always wanted to be chosen for teams at school, but never is.  Never, never , never.  She really, really wants to be chosen for the Tomb Team.  That night, she calls her Grandpa  to ask him questions, and then works hard on her letter. 
When Mrs. Randall announces the winner, she reads one of the letters. It is signed ‘Natalie – with help from Anna. P. S. – will you let Anna walk with me?’ At the ceremony, Natalie leads
the procession, with Anna walking beside her.
Read the book to see who Natalie is. It may surprise you!
32 pages

Friday, August 15, 2014

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Summary: "Seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling sets out to find her missing surfer brothers and finds herself on a secluded California beach, where she meets Pete, Belle, Jas, and others, learns to surf, helps some of them steal while avoiding the other's drug trade, and falls in love."

Second Star is a contemporary twist on the Peter Pan story, almost like a fan fiction "alternate universe" of sorts. Second Star surprised me in so many good ways. I absolutely love everything Peter Pan, and I enjoyed how the author worked in so many memorable things from the Peter Pan story into this book in new and fun ways, while still managing to capture the essence of the story. Wendy's journey really touches your heart and leaves you wanting more. 

250 pages

Thursday, August 14, 2014

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

This novel, set in Afghanistan, begins with a father telling his two small children a folk story about a child being stolen from his parents by a div (ogre).  The stolen child is found by his father, who has to choose between bringing the child home to poverty and want, or leaving him in a wondrous, magical place surrounded by riches.

The day after telling this tale, the father sets off for Kabul, pulling his young daughter in a cart.  There he gives her to a wealthy couple who can't have children. They will give her a good home, and they will give him money to help his family survive the grinding poverty that killed his baby the year before, and that he is afraid will kill the rest of them without some help.

But the girl's older brother is heartbroken; the two of them have been bonded together since her birth. There is a hole in both their lives that nothing ever quite fills. The story spans half a century, and spans continents. It is a series of stories within a story, and ends in a bittersweet reunion.

417 pages

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Scandalous Desires" by Elizabeth Hoyt

Book three in the Maiden Lane series focuses on a widow and a river pirate.  Silence Hollingbrook lives and works at the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, an orphanage run by her brother in the rough London neighborhood of St. Giles.  Her sailor husband was recently lost at sea and she finds comfort in a special bond with an infant named Mary Darling.  However, London's most notorious river pirate, Charming Mickey O'Connor, takes Mary claiming that she is his child.  He tells Silence that she is welcome to stay with him and Mary at his home, but this will ruin her reputation and may affect the donations to the orphanage.  Mickey has ulterior motives - to protect Silence and Mary from his worst enemy, the Vicar of Whitechapel, and to make Silence his.

This was another winner from Hoyt.  Her descriptions of the characters, the settings, and the evolution of the hero and heroine were great.  She also writes action very well, and there was plenty in this absorbing story of two very different people finally finding the best of themselves with each other.  I can't wait to read the next in the series.  383 pages.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

A date, a death, a sunflower, Sunny the butcher has been killing little old ladies for ten years.  Kevin is captured and sent to the zoo.

Audio:  6 hrs. 20 min.
Print:  352 pages

Private L.A. by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Famous Hollywood movie couple disappear. They are great parents and philanthropists, with plenty of secrets.

Audio:  6 hrs. 10 min.
Print:  448 pages

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Second World War by Antony Beevor

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Six years starting in 1939-1945, historian tells of causes, operation and violence. My only conclusion to this book is:  War is Hell.

Audio:  37 hours
Print:  880 pages

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Glassblowing Mysteries by Sarah Atwell

I was looking for a new cozy mystery author and found A Glassblowing Mystery by Sarah Atwell at a discount store. The main character is Emmeline Dowell, a glassblower who owns her own shop in Tucson's Warehouse District. Her life has been relatively quiet, until one day she discovers an unknown man dead - in her kiln! From then on, the bodies just keep piling up.

I enjoyed meeting the main cast of characters in the first book, Through a Glass, Deadly. Somehow I missed picking up the second book, but I don't think I missed much. The third book, Snake in the Glass, still had the main characters introduced in the first book and it didn't sound like anything too dramatic happened in between - well, other than a murder to solve.

I won't go out of my way to read the series, but if one falls across my path, I will definitely pick it up.

Through a Glass, Deadly has 280 pages.
Snake in the Glass has 290 pages.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Book Theif by Markus Zusak

Sad, funny, wonderful tale of a very ordinary neighborhood in Germany in the time leading up to and through WWII.  Except the narrator of the story is Death himself, who takes a larger perspective on the whole affair, and has a macabre sense of humor.  The story focus is on a young girl, Liesel, who becomes the book thief on an impulse by stealing her first book, which was dropped at her brother's burial ceremony.  She is left with a foster family, the Hubermans, whose two children have grown and moved out.  Zusak creates very vivid pictures of daily life in a small town in Germany, intertwining the growing threat from Nazi Germany and the war with the personal stories peppered with the town's many memorable characters.  This is a very unique story, masterfully told, and long remembered. 550 pages.

Trinity by Matt Wagner

"For the first time ever, the tale of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel's first meeting with the Amazon Princess is told!

Billionaire eco-terrorist Ra's al Ghul is on a mad quest to remake the world in his own image. With the juggernaut clone of Superman known as Bizarro and a deadle rogue Amazon by his side, this troika of terror casts an ominous shadow over the very future of mankind! Witness the birth of a legendary alliance, as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman join forces to defend Earth against an apocalyptic fate." 

This is the first Trinity graphic novel I've read, and it was fairly good. I love when Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman work together! The way Wonder Woman was written was a little unsatisfying (no spoilers!), but I'll get over it. 

198 pages