Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"The Company We Keep" by Kay Simone

The Company is a gang run by A.R. Carrow and his handpicked family of criminals.  They pull off dramatic heists around southern California for themselves and others and have stolen billions in the process.  When their demolition expert is killed, they must find a replacement who not only won't blow them to bits but will fit in with their family of outcasts and misfits.  Enter Dustin Wrenshall, a fearless explosives professional who seems to pass all of their tests and who tests the self control of Carrow with his fearless flirtation.  However, Dustin is really Charlie Judge, an FBI agent who's been trained to infiltrate and take down The Company.  (No, this isn't a spoiler; it's in the book's description.)

This is the best book I have read in a quite a while.  Everything the author did was spot on, and she seamlessly went back and forth between past and present, including Charlie's and Carrow's childhoods.  I was totally hooked not just by the suspense but also the characters and their relationships with each other.  The struggle that Dustin/Charlie has with working the case and his feelings for The Company nearly tear him and everyone else apart.  It was a really unusual and well written story, and I can't wait to read more by this author.  271 pages (Kindle edition).

"Why Love Matters" by Jay Northcote

Alastair is a man who does not like to touch or be touched by other people.  Unfortunately, he will soon be going to Italy to carry out a business deal with demonstrative people who may take offense.  Luckily his administrative assistant, Martin, grew up on a commune where his mother still lives and runs cuddle workshops for people like Alastair.  He's dubious but willing to try in order to close the deal.  Martin is patient and funny and takes Alastair's anxieties in stride.  This was an enjoyable and charming novella.  55 pages (Kindle edition).

"Love Me Tenor" by Annabeth Albert

This touching and sometimes funny book centers on Trevor Daniels and his role in a reality television competition between boy bands.  The producers want him to pretend to be in a relationship with one of his fellow band members to up viewership.  Having recently graduated from a religious college and been kicked out of his family for coming out of the closet, Trevor figures he has little to lose.  Unfortunately, things don't go as smoothly as he'd hoped.  His poor self-esteem, loneliness, and recent diagnosis of diabetes, which he tries to hide from everyone, nearly does him in.  Luckily, he does manage to befriend the singer with whom he's been paired for "romance," Jalen Smith, a natural caretaker with a beautiful voice.  Can he help Trevor work through his problems enough for their group to win the competition?

This was a fun story with lots of characters and two likable, compassionate leading men.  Poor Trevor goes through so much with his health, his family, and his lack of confidence that it's not hard to root for the guy.  Jalen starts off a bit gruff but turns out to have a very caring side not just for Trevor but for his own family as well.  This was book two in the Perfect Harmony series; I did not read book one but do not feel like I missed anything.  232 pages (Kindle edition).

"Love in Transition" by Emma Marie Leya

This was a lovely story of Lexi, formerly Alexander, and her fight not to fall in love with John, a championship skier.  Although she is still biologically a man, Lexi has been confirming her identity by living as a woman for the past several years.  She was kicked out by her family and has been living with her best friend and working as a waitress ever since graduating high school.  Living in Park City, UT, has given Lexi the opportunity to indulge in her passion, skying.  When she witnesses the collision of a large bird with a skier, she rushes to help not knowing that meeting the man will change her life forever.  She and John are immediately attracted to each other, but she insists that they can only be friends.  As they grow closer and spend more time together, Lexi knows that she will eventually have to tell him the truth.  Solid and empathetic writing and a unique main character in Lexi made this a sensitive portrayal of gender identity and sexuality.  133 pages (Kindle edition).

One Corpse Too Many, by Ellis Peters

This is the second in the mystery series featuring Brother Caedfell, a well-traveled monk who makes use of sharp skills of observation to solve mysteries.  These stories are set in the English middle ages, and Peters does a great job of making the setting, characters, and Brother Caedfell's detective role believable.  This is a fairly straightforward murder mystery, but also involves some intrigue over the rivalry for the English throne.  A fun read.  188 pages.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

"They just know the nature of things too well to be caught in that wanting."  Steinbeck provides a snapshot of life as lived by the inhabitants of Cannery Row who value life experience over tangible comforts.

196 pages.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Never Always SometimesNever Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was okay for the first 80%, and then the last 20% was all blah and not convincing. It also made me question the point of the story, and now, I am not not sure there even was a point to this story.

It's a backwards twist on a bucket list, which was fun. The best part is the adorable relationship between these two best friends. The worse part is that the story lies about character emotions, throughout, in order to inform the final outcome, which is typical and uninspired, at best.

Page: 288

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Seven Ways We LieSeven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has 7 POVs, and they aren't all distinct. The female voices, in particular, really blend together. I listened to this on audiobook, which made it even harder to settle in to the story.

Overall, it's still a good story. Typically, I love multiple POVs, but this felt like a gimmick, instead of an effective storytelling solution. In fact, I think the story would have been significantly better, had it been reduced to only a few POVs.

It's 3.5 stars for me, but I rounded up, since it attempted to maintain my attention. The writing is decent. The story is okay. It's just hard to fully settle down or get invested in anyone, and the lack of voice can be really disconcerting at times, especially when you're trying to keep 7 different perspectives straight.

So now I've made it sound really terrible, but there were still things I enjoyed about it, including the writing style, in general. I kept reading, which means it kept my attention, despite the fact that I was unclear about 70% of the time which character was currently telling the story.

I don't recommend the audiobook. The performance is good, but it makes it even harder to differentiate between the 7 POVs. This is one where you need to pause at the start of every section and think about who is talking before you start reading, otherwise you'll spend half the book uncertain who is currently telling the story.

Pages: 352

Friday, August 26, 2016

Leaving Everything Most Loved: Maisie Dobbs Book 10, by Jacqueline Winspear

Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs)
Only a few months has elapsed since Maisie investigated the gruesome death of costermonger Eddie Petit, in 1933.  Her trustworthy assistant Billy Boggs was badly beaten during that investigation, leaving all of the investigative work to Maisie. She is contacted by an Indian gentleman who has come to England in the hopes of finding out who killed his sister two months previous. Scotland Yard failed to make any arrest in the case, and there is reason to believe they failed to conduct a thorough investigation.
The case becomes even more challenging when another Indian woman is murdered just hours before a scheduled interview. Meanwhile, unfinished business from a previous case becomes a distraction, as does a new development in Maisie's personal life.These novels have always considered the class stratification that is British life; Maisie has transcended both gender and class rules, but race enters the picture in this novel.  The British are clearly prejudiced against the Indians despite their colonization of the subcontinent.  Maisie does a brilliant job of putting the class and race hatred in its place as she solves this difficult crime.
Bringing a crucial chapter in the life and times of Maisie Dobbs to a close, Leaving Everything Most Loved marks a pivotal moment in this outstanding mystery series.
368 pages

Elegy for Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, Book 9, by Jacqueline Winspear

Elegy for Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
The time is early April 1933: To the costermongers of Covent Garden -- sellers of fruits and vegetables with horse-drawn carts on the streets of London - Eddie Pettit was a gentle soul with a near-magical gift for working with horses. When Eddie is killed in an especially violent accident, the grieving costers are deeply skeptical about the cause of his death. Who would want to kill Eddie -- and why?
Maisie Dobbs' father, Frankie, had been a costermonger, so she had known the men since childhood. She remembers Eddie fondly and is determined to offer her help. But it soon becomes clear that powerful political and financial forces are equally determined to prevent her from learning the truth behind Eddie's death. Plunging into the investigation, Maisie begins her search for answers on the working-class streets of Lambeth where Eddie had lived and where she had grown up.
The inquiry quickly leads her to a callous press baron; a has-been politician named Winston Churchill, lingering in the hinterlands of power; and, most surprisingly, to Douglas Partridge, the husband of her dearest friend, Priscilla. As Maisie uncovers lies and manipulation on a national scale, she must decide whether to risk it all to see justice done.
368 pages

A Lesson In Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, book 8, by Jacqueline Winspear

A Lesson in Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel1932 finds Maisie Dobbs being asked to take an first assignment for the British Secret Service!  She leaves her business in her assistants' hands and goes undercover to Cambridge as a Classics professor—and leads to the investigation of a web of activities being conducted by the emerging Nazi Party.

When the college's controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane and Detective Chief Inspector Richard Stratton spearhead the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote's death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance.
To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Service, discover shameful hidden truths about Britain's conduct during the Great War, and face off against the rising powers of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the Nazi Party—in Britain.
352 pages

An Incomplete Revenge: Maisie Dobbs Book 5, by Jacqueline Winspear

Product DetailsIn this mystery, the psychologist/investigator, Miss Maisie Dobbs must dig deep into a village's long-buried secrets. The adult son of Maisie's benefactors, Lord and Lady Compton, tycoon James Compton, wants to buy an estate in the bucolic hamlet of Heronsdene, but is wary after a string of mysterious fires. Maisie soon proves Compton's suspicions correct when she encounters the shady current landowner and a vaguely menacing band of Romas (Gypsies) in town for the seasonal harvest. The locals are also curiously tight-lipped about Heronsdene's wartime tragedy, when a zeppelin raid wiped out a family. Teasing out Heronsdene's secrets will take all the intrepid former nurse's psychological skills and test her ability to navigate between the Roma and gorja (non-Roma) worlds. Winspear vividly evokes England between the wars, when the old order crumbled and new horizons beckoned working women like her appealing heroine.
352 pages