Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind By Barbara Strauch

Barbara Strauch, health and medical science editor at The New York Times, has written the feel-good book for fifty-somethings everywhere. Starting off with familiar anecdotes about losing one's car, car keys, forgetting names and even what we ate for lunch, Strauch explains it all away and assures us that our brains are merely full of much more important stuff than the brains of our younger counterparts. Not only that, but we also learn that the hard wiring of older brains change, actually for the better, offering us a greater and deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Did I ever need this book!

Hardcover, 256 pages

(Posted for Ann Roberts by Annie)

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson

This book, the second in the trilogy finds Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of Millennium magazine, and only true friend of "The Girl", writing an expose about sex traffic and the abuse of underage girls. As one might expect, this seedy underworld is littered with corpses of guys, both good and bad. I enjoyed this book better than the first, as we learn much more about Salander's own horrific past, explaining her twisted outlook and ability to engage in crimes both violent and non with impunity

We meet her hideous father and learn that she really must have super-powers. Even though she does things that none of us would or could do, she is a character that we find ourselves cheering for, the ultimate underdog that triumphs in BIG ways.
569 pages

(Posted for Ann Roberts by Annie)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The fellowship of the ring, by JRR Tolkien

Ok. You know this is the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where Frodo and Samwise set out from the Shire to transport the ring to the council and thence on the falls at the edge of the elven realm, so what can I say about it?
I think what keeps me coming back to this is the way Tolkien plays with language and gives us a taste of what he thinks Elvish, Dwarvish, the common speech and the other languages of middle earth would look and sound like. I also enjoy the Hobbits' approach to life and food. I thoroughly approve of 6+ meals per day.

audio: 20.5 hours
print: 544 pages

Murder at bridge, by Anne Austin

A nice parlor mystery set in America and beset with alleged affairs, once rich heiresses down on her luck, a crackpot investigator and a shady lady.
Who could have killed the hostess? Everyone was together in the same room. And who would want to kill her? Even if she was saccharin sweet and an outrageous flirt.
It wasn't Christie, but I enjoyed the tale.

audio: 9 hours
print: 305 pages

Life on air, by David Attenborough

I'm a fanboy. Just let me lay that out from the start. This was a memoir I actually really enjoyed.
Sir David Attenborough recounts anecdotes and episodes from his long career in broadcasting, including his early days at the BBC, arranging the Queen's holiday address, and his many nature films.
This man was shooting documentaries in far-flung parts of the world when he was 70. He has braved gorillas, Komodo dragons, fire ants and more to bring his style of nature documentary to the screen.
Besides learning so much about what he did during his long career, I was fascinated to learn of some of the tricks and techniques he used to record animals acting (well, relatively) normal. His blunders were also interesting.
He has a marvelous delivery and voice, which brings me to the greatest affront of the book. American companies refused several times to sell his DVDs in the US, because they thought the American public would not understand his accent. Outrageous!
audio: 19.5 hours
print: 448 pages

Me, by Ricky Martin

It was a long haul, but I made it through Ricky Martin's memoir. Ricky recaps his career, charity work and struggle to find himself and come to terms with his identity. There's a lot of his personal philosophy and a touch of mysticism in this, but I did learn an interesting tidbit or two.... You've probably heard that he's gay, but did you know he played with Star Wars figurines when he was a kid?
I hope he has found some peace.
audio: 8 hours
print: 304 pages

The Girl Who Played With Fire / Stieg Larsson

Second entry in Larsson's posthumously published Millennium trilogy; I was nearly every bit as satisfied with this book as the first. I say nearly because it was shorter (I read the Kindle version, the paperback logs in at 630 pp.) and not quite as interwoven with subplots and separate themes. Still, I could hardly put it down and am looking forward to savoring the final entry.

The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson

Ok, I know what you are thinking, "A diet book!?!". Honestly, I wasn't so sure about it myself, but I've now changed my mind. This book is full of information and lots of resources to back itself up. The 10 Primal Laws are for your Life, not your eating-only a small portion of the book is about what you eat, are GREAT. Simple read for those who are interested in an overhaul of their life for their well being.

hardcover only, 283 pages

Sweet and Lowdown, by Lise McClendon

This book is set in 1940s Kansas City. It is about a female PI and her elder partner and their trials and tribulations keeping track of a high society heiress who is a "handfull". Guns, drugs, prohibition--all things that could keep your interest.

288 pages


"Oink?" by Margie Palatini. In this 40 page book, two pigs (Thomas and Joseph) don't have a very tidy place but they are content. Their neighbors on the other are not content with Thomas and Joseph's place so they decide to help clean it up. This is new book of Landon's and is one of his current favorites!

David Goes to School

"David Goes to School" by David Shannon is a 32 page book that takes you through David's day at school and the different things his teacher tells him no about. This is one of Landon's newest books and one of his current favorites!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This Lullaby - Sarah Dessen

I'd been hearing about how great Sarah Dessen is for years, but for some reason was hesitant to try her--I had a feeling I'd either love her or hate her, and I didn't want to be disappointed after so much build-up.

Shortly after I started this audiobook, though, I knew I would have to read everything she writes. I love her descriptive style, her quirky and realistic characters, their many faults, and the unpredictable way Dessen plots her stories. I'm almost through with my second Dessen, and I love it even more than this one.

I also really enjoyed the narrator to the audiobook. She was described as "pitch-perfect" on the case, a review I don't think I'd seen before, but I soon understood why--she was so, so pleasant to listen to. She captured Remy's no-nonsense, former wild-child voice exactly, and I felt the changes Remy was going through perfectly. Remy's relationship with Dexter, complicated and messy, was exactly how they should be at this age. Not perfect, not forever, and malleable. Dessen also delves further into her characters' psyches than in a typical YA romance; in this story, Remy comes to terms with her estranged relationship with her father and why she has such a difficult time learning to love another person.

If you're a YA reader, you won't be disappointed in Sarah Dessen. I'm excited to have finally given her a chance!

345 pages.

Pants on Fire - Meg Cabot

I'm on a YA kick, as usual, and since the last few Cabots I'd read had been super, I had high hopes for this one. But right away, the main character is entirely unsympathetic--and remains so throughout the book. In a story like this, I think it's important the reader root for the main character, since it's all about them winning at the end. But I could never figure out why she was getting so much attention from the hero; eventually, I just gave up and assumed she must be really, really attractive. The plot summary also makes a huge deal about how Katie is a compulsive liar, but I didn't see her lying any more than a normal teenage girl trying to get through high school.

This book gives YA lit (and Meg Cabot) a bad name. It was entertaining enough for getting me through my commute, but I wouldn't recommend it.

272 pages.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel" by Lorraine Heath

What an awful title for a lovely and well-written story.  Eleanor Watkins has traveled to London to avenge her sister's abuse at the hands of an evil aristocrat.  However, she's being followed by Scotland Yard Inspector James Swindler, who, as a young orphan, spent time on the streets supporting himself as a thief.  There's an immediate attraction between Eleanor and James once they meet, but they both have hidden motives for spending time together.  Unexpected twists kept me reading when I should have been cleaning the house, and the characters' surprising emotional depth only added to my enjoyment.  I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.  372 pages.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quick-to-Listen Leaders: Where Life-Changing Ministry Begins by Dave Ping and Anne Clippard

I have been feeling a bit like the dog in Up! lately, "Squirrel!' So figured it was time to review good listening skills and be more conscious of putting them into practice. The chapters where you identified your leadership and listening styles and then saw how they fit together were new to me. The last pieces were about listening without the need to be in control and with patience. All-in-all the book was a good reminder of what it means to really LISTEN and not just hear. 224 pg.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Over the Moon" by Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davidson, Virginia Kantra, and Sunny

This is an anthology of paranormal romances, two of which featured werewolves.  I liked "Moon Dance" by Angela Knight the best.  I've read some of her other short stories and like the way she writes.  I also liked two of the other three; the one that I didn't like is by an author that I don't enjoy, but I got through it.  This was a quick read and would appeal to anyone who likes a little fantasy and a few mixed-blood creatures in their romances.  330 pages.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Royal Murder by Elliott Roosevelt

In this historical mystery, Eleanor Roosevelt is sent on a visit to the Bahamas so her "staff" can discreetly check out the climate for establishing air and naval bases in light of Hitler's threat for expansion. What they didn't expect to encounter was murder. The author, Elliott Roosevelt, is the son of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The book was published after Elliott's death in 1990. An okay read. I don't feel compelled to read more in the series, but also wouldn't avoid picking up another. 234 pg.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion" by George J. Thompson and Jerry B. Jenkins

I checked out this book from our collection to try to learn how to deal with difficult patrons.  It had a few good pointers but I could not see myself being able to talk the way the authors recommend.  Thompson, the main author, proclaims himself to be one of those difficult people for whom the book is written to deal with and even praises difficult people as "people of savvy, of backbone, of principle, of will."  I do not agree with this at all!  Then he recommends that we should view difficult people as "interesting and challenging."  What?  This conflict-averse introvert is not able to do that and never will.  Other people may find this book helpful, but for the most part, I did not.  222 pages.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

I picked up this book because upper-elementary and middle school students said it was a GREAT read - even better than the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by the same author. At the start of this series, Percy Jackson has mysteriously disappeared, Mount Olympus is closed and the gods are strangely silent. We are also introduced to three new heroes--Jason, Piper and Leo--who are sent on a perilous quest to rescue Hera. I had a hard time putting this one down! 553 pages.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Eustace, Jill and King Tirian stand ready to battle the evil that threatens to overcome Narnia. Many friends and heroes from the earlier novels in the series return as Aslan reveals his final surprise. What can I say but, "WOW!" C.S. Lewis is certainly a gifted writer! 228 pages.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

I recently watched Voyage of the Dawn Treader and realized that I had never completed the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia series. So, I dug up The Silver Chair to see what new adventure was afoot in Narnia. Eustace--much improved from the whiny child in Voyage--returns to Narnia bringing his friend, Jill, with him. Aslan gives them a mission: find the stolen prince, son of King Caspian, and return him to Narnia or die in the attempt. I loved the gentle voice of the narrator and the Christian imagery throughout. 257 pages.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Flowers on Main by Sherryl Woods

This book came recommended by Debbie Macomber, an author I appreciate, so I figured it would be a good read. Playwright Bree O'Brien returns home after two of her plays fail at a regional theater in Chicago and her relationship with her mentor turns sour. But home brings complications of its own, especially with her ex-lover, Jake Collins. The characters are appealing--well, except for the mentor--and the story moves quickly. Flowers on Main is book 2 in the Chesapeake Shores series, but you don't have to read book 1 first. 393 pages.