Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Monday, August 14, 2017

Cheater by Rachel Van Dyken

Cheater (Curious Liaisons, #1)Cheater by Rachel Van Dyken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I needed something dramatic and angsty that was easy to read to get me out of my book funk. This worked pretty well for that. It's surprisingly funny, mostly predictable, but still enjoyable.

The writing style is . . . unexpected. I actually preferred the audiobook. When I switched to text, the strange sentence structures, while fascinating, sometimes distracted me from the actual story. It's one of those books that sounds better out loud, due to it's snarky, conversational tone, and reading the text is more jarring than hearing it, for some reason.

Pages: 317

Friday, August 11, 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was absolutely adorable. I read it straight through and didn't regret a second. The audiobook, in particular, is excellent, with two fantastic narrators in Sneha Mathan and Vikas Adam. I would definitely recommend this to others.

The premise: Dimple's parents allow her to go to a 6 week summer coding class the summer before college only because they want her to meet Rishi, her potential future husband. Needless to say, Dimple's not very interested in marriage or looking pretty, when she could be coding.

There are a few things about this delightful book that I felt could have been even better (the pacing, particularly in the last half), which would have made me love it at 5 star power. Those of you who know I typically rate high might realize that a 4 can be a bit of a flat rating for me, but this is not a flat book.

For a book set in such a fascinating world (in my mind) as Insomnia Con, I would have loved to see some actual world building there. Basically there was almost none, outside of the basics of getting started. We didn't even get to see the depths that participants went to in order to complete their apps (including Dimple and Rishi who spent more time dancing than coding), and there were tons of other students in the program who we never really got to meet or understand.

Some of the main side characters didn't really seem like the types to attend such a long, intensive summer camp. They were more interested in their wealth and popularity than actual coding, so I'm slightly disappointed in the fact that Insomnia Con could have been the most exciting and fascinating world of intellect, diversity, and nerdery ever and... it just wasn't. Instead, it was more of a romantic plot tool, and the majority of scenes weren't even really about the summer camp or the project, both of which were more interesting to me than the characters going out for dinner over and over again.

So it lost a star for world building failures, and it should probably lose a second star, in all honesty for the last 1/3 of the book, which had major pacing issues and a few moments that made me reconsider if I actually knew and liked Dimple. I know they were there again for "plot" tools, but I hate seeing a character bring out a particularly bad, unflattering behavior/quality at the end of the book and then not really address or atone for it.

However, I did think this was a fun, fast, lighthearted read that made me smile. A lot. So it still gets 4 stars, even though I just overthought it so much I almost reduced a star. There's still a lot of good here. There's still a lot to enjoy in the different ways both Dimple and Rishi consider and react with their cultures, both as Indian-American and as Indian. I enjoyed the culture of this book in general and thought that was a real strong point. It showed the different ways people feel and react, when they're born into one culture/place but raised mostly inside another.

Yes, that helped. Now I do feel it definitely deserves those 4 stars. Just realize that you have to enjoy it for the overall journey, rather than the plot and world building, which both are lacking, particularly as the story progress. I still think the interesting main characters will see you through to the end, so give it a go.

Pages: 380

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

Summary: "When professional mercenary Deviana Morris took the security guard job aboard the Glorious Fool, all she wanted was a fast route into the Devastators -- the elite league of armored fighters entrusted with the most important duty on her home planet of Paradox. But this security job isn't just twelve-hour patrols, armor-polishing, and whiskey. The supposedly-cursed Captain Caldswell keeps sending Devi and her partner into unimaginably dangerous situations."

I've been in the mood for an awesome, adventure-packed space novel, and Fortune's Pawn fit the bill! The first installment in the Paradox series was fun, suspenseful and interesting. I loved Devi as a brave and determined heroine. She was well-rounded, clever and still flawed. I can't wait to read the next one!

340 pages

Monday, July 31, 2017

Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark

Twins Kelly and Kathy Frawley are kidnapped, and the kidnappers demand an eight million dollar ransom. Their father's employer, an international investment firm, pays the ransom, but only one twin is returned to the parents. The other was killed by the kidnappers.

However, the twin who survives seems to have a telepathic connection to her sister. She keeps insisting that Kathy wants to come home.

Another masterful novel from the queen of suspense. This one is a fascinating study in  the psychology of twins.

416 pages

The Muralist: A Novel by B. A. Shapiro

Alizee Benoit is an artist living in New York and working for the WPA in 1940, She is trying desperately to obtain visas for her family after Germany invades France and begins to ship all the Jews to concentration camps. Her desperation leads her to become involved in a plot to kill the undersecretary of state, who is denying visas to most refugees from Europe. After the plot fails, Alizee manages to get on a ship to France, and simply vanishes.

Danielle Abrams is a young woman living in New York and working for an art auction house in 2015. She is working with a newly obtained collection of paintings when she discovers two smaller paintings attached to the backs. They look remarkably like the only two surviving paintings of her great-aunt, Alizee Benoit. What happened to Alizee has been a family mystery since the war, and Dani has always been fascinated by it.

Dani sets out to try to solve the mystery; the story alternates from Alizee's story to Dani's search. Much of the story revolves around art and art movements and artists; I found that less interesting than Alizee's story.

353 pages

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

It is 1772, and the stench of rebellion is in the air. In the midst of war, secluded cabins are being burned to the ground not far from Fraser's Ridge, where Jamie Fraser and his family reside, and Jamie is determined to find out who would willingly commit such a heinous act. As chaos spreads, the new governor, Josiah Martin, seeks an envoy to unite the North Carolina backcountry and keep it safe for King and Crown. Everyone agrees: Jamie is the man for the job. But because of his time-traveling wife, Claire, daughter, Brianna, and son-in-law, Roger, Jamie is well aware those who remain loyal to the King will likely pay with their lives or end up exiled. Meanwhile, a small newspaper clipping foretelling of the deaths of Jamie and Claire in a house fire, brought to the past with Brianna, weighs heavy on his mind. For the first time, Jamie finds himself hoping his family may be wrong about what the future holds.

Book 6 in the Outlander series. 980 pages.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

Summary: "When seventeen-year-old Katy moves to West Virginia she expects to be bored, until she meets her neighbor who just happens to be an alien."

I had been in a bit of a reading slump, and this book pulled me right out. It's not a new story or unique in any way, but I was intrigued by the alien lore, the love/hate story, and the action scenes. Katy is an interesting and relatable heroine. I hope the next books in the series are just as good!

335 pages

Monday, July 17, 2017

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

ArrowoodArrowood by Laura McHugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a gothic mystery and this one covered many of the reasons why - old houses, a hint of the supernatural, history, and romance. The overarching theme is about nostalgia and how our personal memories shape our perception of history and the meaning of 'home'. The author resides in Columbia, MO.

288 pages.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Suddenly One Summer by Julie James

Summary: "Divorce lawyer Victoria Slade has seen enough unhappy endings to swear off marriage forever. That doesn't mean she's opposed to casual dating--just not with her cocky new neighbor, who is as gorgeous and tempting as he is off-limits."

Another fun read from Julie James! I love reading the fancy lives of her characters in Chicago. The way she describes their world is fascinating and interesting. I hope she continues with this series, but I hope that she adds a little more action and intrigue to her future books. They are getting a little too procedural and not enough WOW factor. 

291 pages

Friday, June 30, 2017

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Summary: "On board the Jump Station Heimdall, Hanna is the captain's pampered daughter; Nik a member of a notorious crime family. When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two. The fate of the Hypatia-- and possibly the known universe-- is in their hands."

I want Amie Kaufman to write anything and everything. I would read a grocery list if it was written by her.

The creativity and story-telling in the Illuminae series is unmatched. I don't know how I'm going to find another book to read after this. 

659 pages

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Summary: "Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot."

This book was cute-ish and fun-ish. I appreciated the Cinderella parallels, and the sci-fi geekiness. 

However, I needed just a little bit more drama and pay-off at the end. 

319 pages

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

War is brewing in the year of Our Lord 1771, a fact Jamie Fraser knows to be true because his wife, Claire, assures him it is so. Jamie has little choice but to believe her because Claire has the gift of prophecy. It is not a gift she was born with, but rather the gift of a time traveler's dreadful knowledge of what's to come. Sure enough, Jamie receives orders from Governor Tryon to gather a militia in order to suppress the Regulators, a group of citizens dissatisfied with the colonial government. Given what Jamie knows about the future, he must walk a fine line as he supports a government he knows will eventually fail. Meanwhile, the Frasers, their daughter Brianna, and her family must face other battles far more personal than the revolution that is to come.

Book 5 in the Outlander series. 979 pages.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Summary: "The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship's artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all."

I need therapy after finally finishing this book. It was incredibly creative yet horrifying and agonizing.

Illuminae is zombie horror disguised as sci-fi, and while it was intriguing, it was depressing as well. 

Amie Kaufman is a beautiful writer, but she has a sick way of twisting your insides out in ways you've never experienced with a book before. 

Proceed with caution. 

599 pages

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

From Pulpit to Podium to Policy by Richard Tobias

There is only one word for this book…polemic. Even if I agreed with the premise (which I do), its tone is off-putting and strident. The more I read, the more upset I became. It is so one-sided as to be offensive. There are better approaches to the topic that are less dogmatic.I really can’t recommend this book.

Posted for Donna Riegel

160 pages

The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End by Katie Roiphe

The author has done a long of research on her selected authors (Sontag, Sendak, Updike, among others) to depict the progress of their deaths. Its not as morbid as it sounds.  Reviews were overwhelming positive (“meticulous”, “poetic”, “[a] meditation on morality”). I don’t share those sentiments.  While the book was interesting reading, and I did finish it, I don’t know that it was all that “poetic”, though it was “meticulous”. I guess it rather much depends on whether or not you consider her subjects “great writers”. Even if I was to concede that Dylan Thomas is in the category, I pretty much changed my mind after reading Roiphe’s. Thomas came off as a drunken bore.  Of course, that’s merely my opinion.

Posted for Donna Riegel

321 pages