Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
533 pages

Caldecott Award winning book that is the basis for the award winning film Hugo is part children's novel and part graphic novel. It is the story of twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931. When he meets a mysterious toy vendor and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.

The Strain

The Strain by by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
  401 pages

This twist on the standard vampire mythology (no sparkly vampires)  is a bold, epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity

An airplane lands at JFK, begins to taxi to the gate, then stops. The lights are out, all shades pulled down, engines are off, all communication has ended. Crews on the ground find everyone dead. They bring in the CDC and haul away the bodies but are at a loss to explain why the bodies aren't decomposing and are still warm.

The vampires in this story have a different way of infecting their prey which is why the CDC keeps referring to the cause of this tragedy as a virus.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

By John Green and David Levithan
336 pages
How do I express how much I loved this book? And to think, I almost passed this one over. I kept shuffling this one to the bottom of the pile that lives on my nightstand because I couldn’t decide if I really wanted to read a book about two teens in the Chicago area with the same name, and how meeting each other would catapult them into circumstances that allowed self-realization, blah, blah, blah. But I was hooked after the first two pages. SO funny, the kind of funny that had me snorting and reading whole pages out loud to my husband. The first Will Grayson’s best friend, Tiny Cooper, makes the book. Highly recommended!

If I Stay

By Gayle Forman
272 pages
Not exactly the title one would think to choose after trying to shake off a sad book, right? Because the plot of this one is about a teen, Mia, who gets into a car accident with her family and tries to decide if she wants to live or die. But this novel is bittersweet and quirky and ultimately life-affirming. Liked it.

Thirteen Reasons Why

By Jay Asher
336 pages
Clay receives a package through the mail weeks after crush and classmate Hannah Baker commits suicide. In the package is a set of audiotapes, and he’s shocked that when he starts listening to the first that he hears Hannah’s voice. He learns that he is on Hannah’s list of thirteen people for whom she has messages, all of whom have been involved in circumstances that led to her decision to end her life. This book is just as dark and torturous as it sounds – Clay spends the evening listening, running in to other people who have heard the tapes already. The book’s message – to really hear what others are saying, to not listen to rumors, to reach out when you feel someone needs help – are all there, loud and clear, and can be spun positively. But I felt the need to shake this book off after reading it.

Paper Towns

By John Green
320 pages
A high school senior, Quentin, is in love and obsessed with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. Most of his loving has been done from afar until one night when Margo decides to grab Quentin to be her driver as they cruise their city, exacting plotted revenge on Margo’s cheating boyfriend and untrustworthy friends. The next day Margo is gone, and Quentin and his hyper-intellgent, hilarious, snarky friends try earnestly to find her. More wit than heart, in this girl’s opinion, but I was drawn to the characters and the writing – Green is a gifted man.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story

By Ned Vizzini
448 pages
My teen book obsession continues. I grabbed a whole stack of buzzed-about teen novels after returning my Michael Grant books, and found that I gravitated to this one first. The premise sounds bleak –while battling depression and the pressures of his elite school, 15-year-old Craig decides one night to commit suicide. Instead of doing so he thinks to call a suicide hotline, and the person on the phone tells him to go to the hospital. In a matter hours he is installed as a resident of the adult psychiatric ward at his local hospital, rooming with an Egyptian man who refuses to leave his bed and eating meals with struggling addicts. Five days of self-realization, friendship building, anger, frustration, and romantic encounters ensue. At its heart, this is a funny story (heh), and I found myself laughing under my breath often and appreciating the wit of Vizzini throughout.


By Michael Grant
512 pages

The kids of Perdido Beach have survived a lot, have toughened and learned to work together, but they aren’t prepared when a super flu strikes. Children are dying, and the one teen, Lana, who has developed the power of healing cannot cure those afflicted by it. Meanwhile, the Darkness is wreaking terror in the minds of certain kids, and creates a plague of his own. Little Pete becomes bound even closer to the Darkness while trying to fight the flu, and the novel concludes with some astonishing twists. I’m anxiously awaiting the fifth novel’s arrival in April!


By Michael Grant
464 pages

I read this third book in the series so quickly. Too quickly – I had the fourth book on hand and I just flew through it to get to the fourth, which I thought was the last in the series. I was mistaken, though - there will be two more books, with the fifth to be published in April of this year. Ah well, the third book was gripping as well, centered on power struggles and manipulation as the children solidify their rules of civilization.


By Michael Grant
608 pages
The second in the series, and even more enthralling than the first. More characters are introduced and rounded out as we follow up with the children of Perdido Beach three months after the disappearance of adults. Food is running out, children are starving, and the lines between the private school kids and the rest of the children splinter into smaller factions when the children without powers start to rebel against those that do. Grant does not shy away from any issue that one would expect under such extreme circumstances – theft, corruption, murder and cannibalism – but he also focuses on the emotional and interpersonal dynamics: the gay teen Dekka who develops a crush on a straight friend as they use their powers to try to help feed the town; Mary, the teen who steps forward to care for all the children under five but finds herself buckling from the guilt and strain of being of a bulimic during a time of starvation; Albert, a quiet kid who stepped in to run the McDonald’s until food ran out, finds that he has a head for business that can help solve the food crisis while also helping him rise to power.
Also rising to the forefront in this novel is the Darkness, also called the Gaiaphage, an amorphous creature in the hills near town that has the ability to weedle its desires into the heads of chosen children. What does the Gaiaphage have to do with the disappearance of adults – and what is the connection between it and Astrid’s little brother?
Just fascinating stuff.


By Michael Grant
576 pages
This book started another YA series obsession for me. The scenario is captivating – all adults and teens over the age of fifteen disappear one day in Perdido Beach, California. The children find that they are separated from the rest of the world by a dome through which no one can pass – that is, until, they reach their fourteenth birthday and vanish. No one knows if they live or escape when they vanish, and to add to the confusion, some of the children are developing supernatural powers.
This first book in the series is centered on introducing the main characters: Sam, a reliable, regular guy who is thrust into the role of leader; his crush, the brilliant Astrid; Little Pete, her autistic five-year-old brother; Quinn, Sam’s laid-back-surfer best friend; Caine, the handsome and cruel leader of the private school gang; Diana, also from the private school, beautiful and scheming…and so many more! There is a large cast of primary characters, all fascinating, and seeing their powers and skills develop and their reaction to the extreme circumstances makes this book another “gotta-read-the-next-book-immediately” YA series experience.

Between Shades of Gray by Rita Sepetys

This book is about a 15-year-old girl (Lina) and her family who live in Lithuania in 1941, after the Soviet invasion.  One night her father does not return home from working at the university; later that evening, Soviet officers burst into the house and take the rest of the family away.  Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Lina is an accomplished artist, and is determined to document everything that happens to them by drawing. She puts herself at great risk to do so.

 I can't say I enjoyed this book, because it is difficult to read about human suffering, and the Soviet work camps were very similar to the Nazi concentration camps. However, it is an engrossing book, and I highly recommend it. It triggered a desire to learn more about the Soviet takeover of the Baltic States during World War II, something I knew little about. 344 pages.

The Litigators by John Grisham

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

In this novel a lawyer of a very large law firm has a crisis and runs away from this firm now to the bottom working for very little. He saves the small law firm, finds and wins a couple of personal cases and in the end opens his own law office.  385 pages

Wave Hello To Thomas by Rev. W. Awdry

I read this cute little book to my daughter. She loved it! She really loves the Thomas the Train books and shows. pgs. 14

The Chicken Dance by Jacques Couvillon

This book is very funny. It about a little boy that wins a chicken judging contest and this changes his life forever. The whole town starts acting different and then some secrets are revealed that really surprised me. It has funny parts, sad parts, and some parts that surprise the pants off you. It is very good. Pgs. 326

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Vault / Ruth Rendell

Orcadia House, a country house in a city setting has worn well with time, but the latest owners are in for a shock when not one but four bodies are discovered in the base of the old coal delivery pit off the patio. Inspector Wexford is easily coaxed out of retirement to assist with the inquiry, and as usual, follows a twisting trail of witnesses and other players to get to the bottom, so to speak, of the story. Insp. Wexford is a reliable friend who does not disappoint. 288 p.

The Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins

What can I say? I'm probably the last librarian in America to read The Hunger Games, and I couldn't put my Kindle down! Shirley Jackson meets Margaret Atwood in Collins' coming of age post-apocalyptic survival challenge. Collins treats the gruesome proceedings with just the right touch of compassion, yet forces the reader to acknowledge that the horrific games are part and parcel of life in Panem. I would have felt let down by the ending, had I not known that there's more to come in the second book, which I promptly bought when I finished this one. 384 p.

The Devil’s Hearth by Phillip Depoy

(Posted for Ann Roberts)

Phillip Depoy is a mystery writer after my own heart, combining folklore, folk art, academic fraud, a traveling side show, snake handling, and murder through a beautifully written story set in the Appalachian region of Georgia. As Fever Devlin (love the name) leaves his academic job in the big city to return to his mountain roots, he is greeted by a corpse on the front porch of the old family home. In an effort to figure out who the man is and why he was killed, Fever and his longtime friend and officer of the law, Skidmore Needle (again, love the name), uncover some tawdry details of Fever’s parent’s lives that reach all the way into the academic world that he came from.  While I figured out “who dunnit” long before the story ended, it was writing such as this that kept me turning the pages: 

“Even though I tried to hold them back, memories flooded my mind like the icy torrents that plunged down from the high rocks…image after image of my parents played in the theatre of my head, looped and twisted, Mobiuslike and dreaming. There were disappearing boxes, loud raucous songs, eerie shadows made by the footlights-a vile serpent twining up the forbidden tree of my mother’s leg”.   

How fantastic is that?!!  I’ll be reading more of Phillip Depoy.
Paperback, 268 pages

Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin

(Posted for Ann Roberts)

This book is further proof that I will read anything. I make this confession far too often. I recently purchased this book for 50 cents at the office booksale and therefore felt compelled to read it, having paid good money for it!  Push Not the River is based on the eighteenth century diary of Anna Maria Berezowska, a Polish countess who lived through the rise and fall of the historic Third of May Constitution (1791), which attempted to take away some of the disproportionate rights and privileges awarded to nobility in Poland. The adoption of the May 3rd Constitution precipitated the hostility of neighboring Russia, and it is the events leading up to the invasion and consequent fighting with Russia against which this story is set.  The events in the story itself are interesting enough, but the way in which the writer portrayed the events, make it little more than a bodice ripper. Bodices are ripped, with and without consent, and because the characters are so flat it is difficult to empathize with their plight.  Right down to the flashing green eyes (minus the “fiddle dee dee” attitude), the heroine is an 18th century, Eastern European, Scarlett O’Hara. She survives many hardships and barely escapes with her life in a crazy “fleeing from the Russians over a burning collapsing bridge” ending, but who cares? And I read the entire book.
Paperback, 416 pages

Want To Go Private? Sarah Darer Littman

length 330 pages
Abby is feeling lost these days, starting high school, a bratty sister and parents that don't pay enough attention to her. To top it all off her BFF Faith has found new friends while Abby lags behind. Soon Abby meets Luke online and everything spirals out of control.

Queen Of Hearts martha Brooks

length 211 pages
Marie-Claire is 15 when she is diagnosed with TB and send to a Sanatorium. She witnesses the decline of others while struggling with her own illness and finds that sometimes you have to open your heart to heal. 
Cover art for QUEEN OF HEARTS

"First Drop of Crimson" by Jeaniene Frost

Wow, what a book!  This is the first in a series of spinoffs from Frost's popular Night Huntress series, which is on my list to read.  She writes an action filled story centered on Denise, a human whose family is being targeted by a demon double-crossed by one of her ancestors, now an immortal nowhere to be found.  The demon has infected her with some of his essence and only her delivery of this mystery relative to him will free her and save the rest of her family.  She enlists the help of Slade, a Master Vampire with a tragic past.  Their growing attraction to each other complicates the dangerous situations with living, dead, and undead beings.  Tons of action, suspense, and thrills kept me reading when I should have been doing something more productive.  This book reminds me a lot of Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series.  Highly recommended.  371 pages.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"The Third Circle" by Amanda Quick

Part of the Arcane Society novels, this book deals with Leona Hewitt, a crystal worker with paranormal talents.  She's in search of the aurora stone, a powerful crystal that belongs to her family but was stolen from her mother when she was murdered.  Thaddeus Ware is a mesmerist who uses his powers of hypnosis to solve crimes for the Arcane Society.  He is also after the aurora stone but for different reasons.  I enjoyed this novel for its two lead characters with paranormal powers and for Leona's loyal dog, Fog, who has powers of his own.  418 pages.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Here is one of the titles I missed while growing up. I didn't read the book, missed the movies and only recall bits and pieces from commercials. Somehow I don't think my life was deprived as a result, though. What a crazy imagination the author has! 96 pages.

Bachelor's Puzzle by Ginger Chambers

I ran across this book at a used book sale and couldn't resist. The plot involves a library director, water damage in a library, and a library building project. It also involves romance and sibling machinations. It lived up to my expectations of a light read with nothing world-changing. This is part of a series that involves an ongoing mystery, but I'm not interested enough to check out the other titles. 298 pages.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See

Pearl Chin and her sister May are two modern young women of 1937 Shanghai. They live a carefree life, at home with their parents, earning money as models for calendars and advertisements and enjoying nightlife with their friends. Their world is torn apart when they sold off as brides to the sons of a Chinese-American merchant, as payment for their father's gambling debts. At the same time, Japan invades China, and the girls witness the horrors of war and are themselves engulfed in them. The story follows the girls as they escape to America and join the household of their husbands and their parents, only to find that the older son is a 'paper' son, not a U.S. citizen, so they are in danger of deportation. I found the story more interesting for the picture of Chinese life in Shanghai and 1940's Los Angeles, than for the rather melodramatic and contrived plot. 336 pages.

"Pictorial Folk History of Jefferson City, Missouri 1890-1900" by Joseph S. Summers, Jr.

This little book of JC history is in our Missouri Authors Collection.  I checked it out because I enjoy seeing old photographs of familiar towns, especially if many of the buildings are still standing.  That's definitely the case with JC.  Covering 1890-1900, the author has compiled many old photos and drawings of JC landmarks, including buildings now in use by state government.  Panoramic photos taken from the top of the old Capitol building as well as those of downtown High Street crowded with citizens (almost all of whom are wearing hats!) were the most interesting.  96 pages.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

Posted for Paul Mathews

The kid wants to gamble, he got a system, he’s set-up, he dies, so starts this book it has a theft ring, dirty cops, un-fateful husband, and her life is saved by someone you wouldn’t suspect. Another vintage Sue Grafton.  400 pages,  audio book 16 hrs 7 min.