Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Monday, October 5, 2015

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Summary: "Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, she falls in love."

Lauren Oliver's first book, Before I Fall, was an absolute gem, and I could not wait to dive into her next book, Delirium. Delirium is the first book in a trilogy. If you weren't familiar with Oliver's writing, you might be tempted to think this is just another run-of-the-mill dystopic YA novel. However, Oliver's writing is incredibly beautiful, haunting and poignant (without being over-the-top). The world that Oliver creates isn't too different from our own, and Lena is just as spirited and flawed as Sam was in Before I Fall. I loved every second of it, and while it was a bit predictable, I can't wait to see what happens next. 

441 pages

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I am Malala: the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Malala Yousafzai grew up in Pakistan with parents who were happy and celebrated when she was born- this in a country where only boy births were celebrated. The birth of a daughter brought sympathy instead. But Malala's father was a remarkable man who, instead of being constrained by cultural norms worked to bring education, including that of girls, to the Swat Valley.

When she was 12, Malala wrote a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym detailing her life under Taliban occupation, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls. The following summer, a journalist  made a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. She was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize by Desmond Tut.

However, all this attention brought down the wrath of the Taliban, and on the afternoon of October 9,
2012, a gunman entered her school bus, asked for her by name, then pointed a pistol at her and fired three shots. One bullet hit her in the face, seriously injuring her. She eventually was transferred to a hospital in Great Britain for treatment, and her family was relocated there, being in danger from the Taliban. They still live in exile from their homeland, but have continued to be activists and advocates for education for girls.

289 pages

"Dumped in Oz" by Andrew Grey

Book one in the Tales from Kansas series finds Lyle Powers transferring from Pittsburg, PA, to rural Kansas for one year for his job.  On his first day there, he eats at a local restaurant where he meets the baker, Roger Kypers, a single father with a crazy ex-wife and protective 13-year-old daughter.  The two men hit it off, but the ex-wife causes problems that could push Roger off of the wagon.  I didn't much care for the writing style of the author; exposition was used more than the "show, don't tell" technique, and did not allow me to invest emotionally in either character.  I did feel sorry for Roger and his circumstances, but Lyle's character wasn't really explored in-depth.  I almost forgot to explain that "Oz" refers to "The Wizard of Oz," about which there is a museum in this small town.  127 pages (Kindle edition).

"Play On" by Avery Cockburn

This novella in the Glasgow Lads series takes place before the first book, "Playing for Keeps."  It focuses on Duncan Harris, who plays for an LGBT football (soccer) team in Glasgow, Scotland, and Brodie Campbell, one of Duncan's flatmates at university.  Duncan's team and his attitude have gone to pot since they were abandoned by their captain.  Brodie is trying to recover from a bout of mono, study for finals, and deal with the emotional trauma of being bullied for his sexuality.  He and Duncan grow close, but when Duncan beats an opponent who threatens Brodie, his status on the team and his relationship with Brodie are in jeopardy.

As in "Playing for Keeps," the author does a great job of building the two main characters, their issues, and the ways they each try to handle them.  Brodie is introverted and afraid of being hurt once again, and Duncan doesn't always understand how difficult Brodie's life has been and continues to be because of his homophobic parents and hometown.  Duncan comes from an upper middle class family who brags about his homosexuality.  Plus, he's a physically strong athlete, like Brodie's tormentors back home.  But the story isn't all doom and gloom.  Both men are funny, loyal, and kind.  Duncan spent several months in the U.S. before starting university, and it was fun to read the odd things he learned there. I really enjoyed the story and can't wait to read more in the series.  152 pages (Kindle edition).

"Sixty Five Hours" by N.R. Walker

Cameron Fletcher and Lucas Hensley are advertising executives who work at the same firm, which is owned by Cameron's father.  Both men are headstrong, talented, and opposites in work styles and personality.  Unfortunately, the elder Fletcher gives them 65 hours to work together on a campaign to win a major contract.  Can Lucas, who is out of the closet, and Cameron, who is locked in it, get along long enough to win the big client?   I really enjoyed this well written story that used counting down from the 65 hours to propel the action.  There was also a bonus chapter at the end told from Cameron's father's POV of a pivotal scene.  I've liked everything that I've read by this author and can't wait to read more.  174 pages (Kindle edition).

"End of the Line" by Layla Cole

College roommates Cory and Julian were in Mexico on spring break when "the Blight" moves across the U.S. causing entire cities to disappear and mutations in surviving humans.  They try to outrun it by going to Idaho and then Oregon, but the bright green light keeps getting closer.  With death appearing to be imminent, Julian makes a decision about his true feelings for Cory.  Will they face the Blight together, or will his revelation tear them apart?  I found the story a little hard to follow until about the last fourth, but the surprise ending makes up for it.  69 pages (Kindle edition).

"Tonight" by Karen Stivali

This novella uses one of my favorite tropes - friends to lovers.  Derek and Wiley are full time grad students who've been best friends for years.  Derek and his little brother, Davey, an undergrad, have been letting Wiley sleep on their couch for the past three weeks after Wiley had a fight with his roommate and moved out.  Unfortunately for Davey, his five year crush on the straight Wiley makes this situation nearly unbearable until one word changes everything for him.  This is a cute, character driven story told from Davey's point of view.  I liked it even if it wasn't very realistic, but that's why I read fiction.  65 pages (Kindle edition).

"Given the Circumstances" by Brad Vance

Roger and Brian are athletes who meet in college; Roger is the star quarterback, and Brian plays baseball.  Roger grew up with a loving, widowed father, while Brian was saddled with an abusive jerk for a dad.  The two men become best friends and cheer each other on in competition and in life, but Brian becomes hooked on drugs to manage his impulses and disappointments.  Only after their respective careers are over are they able to realize how deeply they care for one another and try to live a happy life.  The beginning threw me off, and I'm still not sure where it fits into the story.  However, the rest was well written with three dimensional characters.  I hope to read more by this author.  276 pages (Kindle edition).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The nature of the beast by Louise Penny

What a treat to have a new Inspector Gamache book to read!  I brewed myself a cup of tea and settled in to read the latest installment.  Inspector Gamache has retired to the village of Three Pines with his wife Reine-Marie. A young boy in the village goes missing not long after a play by an infamous serial killer is chosen by the local amateur theater group for its next production. Gamache is the only person who thinks the two events are linked. Gamache's former team is called in to investigate when the boy is found dead. Penny does a great job of continuing to develop her characters.  In this book for example, Gamache has to learn how not to be in charge. The author's note at the end of the book gives the historical basis for the mystery.  Read this series if you want to be reassured that goodness exists in the world,  376 pages.

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Summary: Dare You To is the follow-up novel to Pushing the Limits. After meeting Noah, Echo, Isaiah and Beth in Pushing the Limits, Dare You To follows Beth in her new life and her adjustments in her relationship with Isaiah, her uncle Scott, and her drug-addicted mom. Beth continues to try and protect her mom, no matter the cost to herself. Dare You To deals with some pretty heavy stuff: drug use and domestic violence. Her mom's boyfriend beats up both Beth and her mom, and it can be pretty gruesome at times. 

When Beth is forced to leave her mom to live with her estranged uncle, Beth meets Ryan, the all-star pitcher on the school's baseball team. Beth and Ryan begin a fun and antagonizing flirt-mance while they each try to work out their own personal issues. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book, even though it was quite predictable. I hated Beth in Pushing the Limits because she was exceedingly mean to Echo, but her meanness is toned down in this installment, which makes her more tolerable. I liked Ryan quite a bit, and he is my favorite male character in the Pushing the Limits series so far. 

486 pages

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Keeper of Lost Causes: Department Q, Book 1, By Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Keeper of Lost Causes: Department Q, Book 1 | Jussi Adler-OlsenI turned to this from a Goodreads recommendation after reading The Girl in the Spider's Web, for Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Danish author who writes intricate mysteries, just as Steig Larsson did.  This was a worthy choice.  It introduces Carl Mørck, a detective who has just survived an ambush in which one of his colleagues is killed and the other is paralyzed.  Carl hesitated a moment and did not draw his weapon, so he is wracked with guilt; the last thing he expects is a promotion, but the promotion to Department Q is really to get rid of him.  It is a department of one, save the Syrian immigrant who is assigned to clean, but there is much more to Assad than initially meets the eye.  Carl is assigned very cold cases, which no one really expects him to solve, but then they didn't really know Carl Mørck.

His first case is a female member of parliament who disappeared while on a cruise five years earlier.  It is a fine procedural detective novel with twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing until its surprising conclusion.

Translated from Danish,  416 pages

The Bite of Silence (Biting Love series Book 3)

The Bite of Silence is one of the short installments of the Biting Love series by Mary Hughes.  Though the characters are from Meiers Corners, the story takes place in New York City on New Year's Eve.  Nixie's best friend, Twyla, is on an adventure to the big city to visit her cousin Aylmer, a hermit for whom she did a big favor.  On the plane, she sees Nikos, a large Greek vampire in a window seat.  She knows him and unlike Hughes's other characters, is pretty certain he is a vampire without being told or hinted at from anyone else.  She has always felt attracted to Nikos, but got the impression the feelings were not returned.  Once she finds Aylmer, she discovers he is embroiled in a plot to unleash vampire horror on the streets of New York and must find a way to stop it.  With Nikos by her side, she tries to learn how this plan is going to take place.  It's a fun romp, though short.  Because of its length it feels less developed than some of the other books in the series.  I found Twyla easier to relate to than Nixie, and Nikos, well, he just puts the delicious into vampire romance.
83 pp.