Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Monday, January 23, 2017

Flight by Sherman Alexie

FlightFlight by Sherman Alexie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The concept is unusual but fascinating, and the story really makes you think. It's a bit frantic, or maybe chaotic, at times, but that's part of the charm and voice.

The audiobook version narrated by Adam Beach is excellent. I think I like this story even better due to the narrator, than I might have if I had just read it myself. The delivery is spot on.

Pages: 181

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-FiveSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So it goes.

I listened to the Audible version read by James Franco, which was good.

I now have a solid understanding of the ways in which Kurt Vonnegut has influenced the writing of Andrew Smith. I guess I went about it backwards by reading so much of Smith first, but if one brought me around to the other, that seems like a win.  I think I'm going to read more Vonnegut after this.  I'm not sure how I didn't read this one in high school or college, but I'm glad I finally cycled back around to it.

Pages: 215

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gemina by Amie Kaufman

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Gemina by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book 2 in a unique and exciting YA Sci-Fi Series, and I absolutely adore the audiobook!

I confess that I don't love book 2 quite as intensely as I did book one, but it's still a captivating, fast-paced story with several surprises. The new characters are unexpected and enjoyable, with strong voices, and the bit of romance burns slower than it did in book one (for better or worse).

I spread out the reading over a long period of time, due to personal chaos, which may have impacted the overall flow when I read it. I'll probably read or listen to this book again at some point, so I'll update my star rating at that time, if a second read changes my perspective.

I want more of this world and format, so I hope this series goes on for a long time or branches out into something new. Either way, but I don't want it to end.

Pages: 608

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Arcana Rising by Kresley Cole

Arcana Rising (The Arcana Chronicles, #4)Arcana Rising by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 4 in the Arcana Chronicles:

Whew! That ending! Next book, please, stat!

Pages: 280

Monday, January 16, 2017

Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson

Like a River Glorious (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #2)Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a pretty solid follow-up to book one, which I really loved. I enjoyed having more time with some of my favorite characters, and it wrapped up more thoroughly than a lot of 2nd books do, which I appreciate.

Rae Carson has a great voice in the YA world. She writes strong, interesting female characters, grows relationships slowly, and includes a lot of diverse characters and perspectives which provides a nice depth to her worlds. I will definitely read book 3.

Pages: 432

Saturday, January 14, 2017

"If the Seas Catch Fire" by L.A. Witt

This excellent book about two hit men in the Mafia controlled town of Cape Swan, CA, is one of the best I have ever read.  Domenico “Dom” Maisano is the nephew of Corrado Maisano, the head of one of the Mafia families.  He's a "made man" and has few choices in his life as his uncle's hit man, which he has always hated.  When Sergei Andronikov saves him during a beating, Dom pursues a temporary, no-strings relationship with the man before Dom is forced to marry a woman to keep up appearances and appease his uncle.  He thinks Sergei is a stripper but he's actually a contract killer whose goal in life is to wipe out the Mafia families who destroyed his own family when he was a boy.

I cannot praise the writing, story line, and character development enough.  Dom and Sergei have tragic and emotional back stories which allow the reader to understand their motivations doing what they do.  Full of action, tenderness, suspense, despair, eroticism, fear, thrills, and more, this story will stick with me for a long, long time.  Highly recommended.  451 pages (Kindle edition).

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

J.D. Vance grew up in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and served in Iraq. A graduate of the Ohio State University and Yale Law School. In this memoir, he gives an insider's analysis of a culture in crisis. He talks about the struggles of white, working-class American's, as seen through the prism of his own family.

His grandparents moved north from Appalachia to escape the poverty that permeated their existence, and provide a better opportunity for their children to move up into the middle class. That worked for them with employment in the steel mills of Ohio. Yet the family struggled with the demands of the middle-class, and Vance chronicles how social and class decline feels like when you grow up in it.

A lot is being written these days on the decline of this segment of the population, and the abuse, poverty, and drug and alcohol abuse so prevalent among this culture. No one has written it in such stark terms, from the viewpoint of one who has lived it and escaped it, albeit with the scars to prove it.

272 pages

Only Love can Break a Heart by Ed Tarkington

Eight-year-old Rocky worships his older brother, Paul. In 1977, in small-town Virginia, Paul is sixteen and cool, cruising around in his Chevy Nova, listening to Neil Young, cigarette dangling from his lips, arm around his girlfriend. Paul and his girlfriend are always happy to take Rocky with them. But one day, in an act of vengeance against their father, Paul kidnaps Rocky from school and almost kills him. Leigh, Paul's girlfriend, promises to go away with him if he takes Rocky home. Paul and Leigh then disappear without a trace.

A few years later, Leigh returns, sans Paul. She will not talk about him, or their experiences, even where they've been.  Leigh eventually has a nervous breakdown, shortly before Paul returns. A mysterious double murder brings terror and suspicion to their small town, and Leigh and Paul are arrested and charged with the murder.  Rocky and his family must reckon with the past while dealing with this new reality.

336 pages

"Winter Blom" by DJ Jamison

This was a cute love story between a widower and a newspaper intern who is sent to interview him about his metal art.  Lane Cross works construction and does art to support himself and his six year old son who keeps running off his sitters.  He's immediately smitten when he meets Andy Blom, who's going to interview him for the local paper.  Lane tries his best to woo Andy while still dealing with his son's grief over his mother.  Andy is also mourning the death of his mother, so emotions are running high.  There are misunderstandings and lots of snow in this nice, little read.  156 pages (Kindle edition).

"Lover on Top: A Firefighter Romance" by Kristine Cayne

Another "later in life" coming out story, this one features "Hollywood" Wright, a firefighter who seems to love the ladies.  When he accidentally sets his kitchen on fire, he moves in with his best friend's younger brother, Chad, an out and proud paramedic.  Confusion, denial, and misunderstandings ensue along with a dangerous situation.  It doesn't help that Hollywood's father is a rabid homophobe who holds a high ranking position in the fire department.  Even though the two main characters acted like brats sometimes, I still liked the story.  292 pages (Kindle edition).

"For the Living" by L.A. Witt

This was a very well written story about a man coming to grips with the death of his wife and his sexuality at the same time.  Jay has been trying to make himself admit to his wife that he's gay for a year when she suddenly dies.  He's already overwhelmed with guilt for wanting to end his marriage, but after Misty dies he nearly comes unglued.  Luckily, he finds a confidant in a stranger, the assistant funeral home director, Scott.  As someone used to dealing with death and grief, Scott listens to Jay and tries to give him advice about working through his feelings and eventually coming out to his family.  I'm sure you can tell where this heading, but Jay's journey was still satisfying to read.  I like L.A.Witt's writing and will definitely read more.  279 pages (Kindle edition).

"Secrets and Lies" by Amanda Young

This is the first book in the Daywalker Legacy and features two brothers who are vampires.  Cadge won't leave his apartment due to his deep mourning for a dead lover, which leaves Teague to run their club alone.  Soon Teague's own lover stop seeing him, and he panics that nightfeeders may have gotten to him.  This was a different sort of story with gay vampire brothers fighting their own kind and nightfeeders to protect a human.  144 pages (Kindle edition).

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Summary: "For Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, executive assistants to the CEOs of newly merged Bexley-Gamin Publishing, it's hate-at-first-sight. So begins a series of daily passive-aggressive maneuvers, including the staring game, the mirror game, and the HR game, each played with the intensity of the Hunger Games. Their mutual antipathy grows when a new executive position opens at Bexley-Gamin, and both their bosses put their names up for the promotion. Then, the high-stakes games begin!"

Well, The Hating Game started off promising, but slowly dissolved into disappointment. I thought it would provide an insider-look into the publishing industry, but no, it really could have been any company that Lucy and Josh worked for. Lucy's thoughts begin to solely focus on Josh, as she has no other friends, interests or hobbies. Lucy and Josh are flat characters with almost no depth. What a shame! 

374 pages

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

Summary: "Three female students from Ashbury High write to three male students from rival Brookfield High as part of a pen pal program, leading to romance, humiliation, revenge plots, and war between the schools."

The Year of Secret Assignments is the sequel(ish) to one of my favorite books from my teen years, Feeling Sorry for Celia. I enjoyed this trip down memory lane and appreciated the epistolary format! It's one of my favorite novel forms. In this installment, I enjoyed the fun and varied personalities of the boys and girls - they were a joy to read. A few of the entries were a tad long and boring, but overall, it was an enjoyable read! 

340 pages

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Six of Crows by Leigh Ardugo

Summary: "Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes 

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first."

While I struggled with this book in the beginning, I unexpectedly fell deeply in love with the characters and this world. Kaz, Jesper, Inej, Nina, Matthias and Wylan have wound their way into my heart and will never let go! I cannot wait to get my hands on The Crooked Kingdom, which is the second and final book in this two-book series. 

Each chapter is from a different character's POV, which made for a fun story. With each chapter, the reader gets a little more backstory, piece by piece, to better understand the character's present situation and motivations. Matthias and Nina's story was intriguing and beautiful! I would read an entire book just dedicated to their history. 

Favorite Quote: “I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.” 

465 pages