Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

320 pages.
A remarkably written and gripping murder mystery/coming of age story.  Thirteen year old Charlie gets called to his bedroom window one summer night by Jasper, the local teen bad boy.  Charlie is shocked when he's led to a dead body, and the unraveling of the hows and whys shake his understanding of his small town.  Alternatingly funny, touching and suspenseful...a great read.

Fear by Michael Grant

528 pages
The fifth in the Gone series, this one is just as intense as the rest. It's been over a year since all the adults disappeared, and the dome that separates the kids of Perdido Beach from the rest of the world is suddenly and steadily turning black. The possibility of farming, fishing and all the sources of sustaining their civilization slips away, and fears rise.  This is a thrilling installment in the series...can't wait for the last in the series to come out.

Miss Gone-overseas : A pillow book by Anne Hagerstron

I didn't know when I got this free Kindle book that initially pillow books were used by concubines in geisha houses. A pillow book is a 'collection of articulated observations'.

In this novella, Miss Gone-overseas chronicles the life of a lower-class Japanese woman during World War II. After her husband dies, she is sold by her brother to be a geisha who services soldiers. During the latter part of the war, she is sent to a brothel on a lush tropical island in Micronesia.  The story is about the deterioration of life as Japan is losing the war.  There actually is very little story; it really is just 'observations'. I kept expecting something to happen, and it never did.

All in all, a very unsatisfying read. I don't recommend it.

Deborah Stroup

67 pages

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

A coming of age story about a girl who lives in Georgia in a normal, middle class family. Mia is sixteen, and her family is going to the Hamptons to spend the summer with her rich Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Mia and her cousin Corinne have been best friends as long as she can remember, and Mia is anxious to reach Wind Song, their beach home. Their family is perfect, unlike her own, and she can't wait to have the perfect summer with them. She is getting over being jilted by her boyfriend, and just wants to exchange confidences with Corinne, swim, and enjoy the beach.

Except...Corinne has a friend staying with her, and no longer seems interested in Mia. Mia begins to see flaws in the perfect family, and finds that her perfect summer is not turning out as she had dreamed it would. Her cousins and their friends are trendy, beautiful, tanned and slender; they are also drinking, doing drugs and smoking. Mia feels dumpy and out of place with them and their friends. She begins climbing out her window at night to walk on the beach, and slowly becomes friends with a boy whose 'nouveau riche' family is renting the house next door.  He is not accepted by the 'in' crowd either, and also has a penchant for roaming the beach at night. Their friendship slowly grows, and begins to be something deeper. Then something happens that changes her life forever. While far from perfect, this becomes a summer that Mia will always remember.

I recommend this book. It is well written, and will tug at your heart strings, especially if you remember the angst of those teenage years.

306 pages

Deborah Stroup

Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an elite Navy Sniper


By: Stephen Templin and Howard E. Wasdin


Howard Wasdin never really knew his father when he was young, rather his mother married a man who was abusive to him.  Sometimes there was no rhyme or reason as to why he was abusive but the pain was tremendous for Howard.  When he got old enough he left the small southern town and enlisted in the Navy.

From there he signed up for Navy SEAL BUD/s training.  If you have never heard of BUD/s training basicly it's the Navy trying to break your will and spirit before you have a chance to become a SEAL.  He passed and entered sniper school.

Wasdin writes the book in the first person and goes into really minute detail with regards to his time in Somalia.  In Somalia he was shot three times in one battle and lost a lot of mobility in his leg.

I started this book last year and put it down because it was not very interesting.  I brought the book back up on my Kindle last week and read it only because it was nagging at me as an unread item.  I do not recommend this book.

368 Pages

HENRY AND CLARA, A NOVEL by Thomas Mallon

I love historical fiction and I rank this novel as one of the best of this genre I’ve ever read.  My enjoyment was increased by the fact that the story evolves during the time of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.  I’ve read many fine recently published books about Lincoln and have visited his Springfield home and tomb several times both as a child and as an adult.

This story is a mesmerizing tale of Clara and Henry Rathbone, memorialized forever as the young couple occupying the Ford’s Theatre box with President and Mrs. Lincoln on the evening John Wilkes Booth shot Mr. Lincoln.

Meticulously researched, Mallon weaves what is historically known about the couple, their families, and the social and political environment of Washington DC before, during and after the Civil War with an imagined narrative between characters as well as their innermost thoughts.

Wonderfully written, the story opens with a six page prologue representing the thoughts of John Wilkes Booth galloping away from the scene of the assassination, April 14, 1895: “One week after Lee had given up! Did the Ape think everyone would forget and forgive so soon? Virginia was still full of men whose blood boiled in their breasts, and they would welcome John Wilkes Booth as a hero.”

In the narrative, the night of the assassination occurs almost exactly in the middle of the book so the first half establishes the characters before the event and the second half tells their story up to and including Clara’s death.

This novel has everything:  love, passion, intrigue, duty, honor, and murder.

Ticknor & Fields, 1994, 358 p.

THE WEIRD SISTERS by Eleanor Brown

The three Andreas sisters are named after Shakespearean heroines by their father, an academic scholar who communicates with them almost exclusively in verse. Yes, the sisters acknowledge that their family is a bit “weird” and the drama of family ties that both bind and cut is the stuff of this novel.

Written in an interesting first-person plural narrative, each of the 23 chapters is written in the voice of one sister.

The sisters: Rose, Bean and Cordy (Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia) love reading (one might even say they live to read) but find that real-life doesn’t always neatly correspond to a well-written plot.

Living together once again unexpectedly as adults when their mother has cancer surgery, each sister is conscious and unconscious of how they each live out both the characteristics of their Shakespearean namesakes as well as their birth order (older = responsible, middle = overachiever, youngest = perpetual baby/outsider).

I enjoyed the delicious dialogue but found the ending a bit too tidy for my taste.

Putnam, 2011, 320 p.

The Boy on Cinnamon Street

Author: Phoebe Stone
Pages: 234
I almost didn't grab this book to read and I am very glad I did. It is a quick read but has enough depth to bring tears to your eyes. I wish I knew a real Henderson. :) 
Cover blurb:
A story about a wounded girl and the boy who won't give up on her.

7th grader Louise should be the captain of her school's gymnastics team - but she isn't. She's fun and cute and should have lots of friends - but she doesn't. And there's a dreamy boy who has a crush on her - but somehow they never connect. Louise has everything going for her - so what is it that's holding her back?

Phoebe Stone tells the winning story of the spring when 7th grader Louise Terrace wakes up, finds the courage to confront the painful family secret she's hiding from - and finally get the boy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

There is no dog

Author: Meg Rosoff
Pages: 256
 I picked this book up not knowing what to expect and really liked it. It is funny and makes you think, it is heartwarming and witty.

What if God were a teenaged boy?

In the beginning, Bob created the heavens and the earth and the beasts of the field and the creatures of the sea, and twenty-five million other species (including lots of cute girls). But mostly he prefers eating junk food and leaving his dirty clothes in a heap at the side of his bed.

Every time he falls in love, Earth erupts in natural disasters, and it's usually Bob's beleaguered assistant, Mr. B., who is left cleaning up the mess. So humankind is going to be very sorry indeed that Bob ever ran into a beautiful, completely irresistible girl called Lucy . . .

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

Author: Reza Aslan
Pages: 310
I'm always interested in learning of different religions and cultures, this book was just the ticket to learn about Islam. It explained all the key players and events in an easy to understand manner.  Im glad I read it and would definitely recommend it for anyone who is interested in learning about Islam.
Cover blurb:Though it is the fastest growing religion in the world, Islam remains shrouded by ignorance and fear. What is the essence of this ancient faith? Is it a religion of peace or war? How does Allah differ from the God of Jews and Christians? Can an Islamic state be founded on democratic values such as pluralism and human rights?Contrary to popular perception in the West, Islam is a religion firmly rooted in the prophetic traditions of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Aslan begins with a vivid account of the social and religious milieu in which the Prophet Muhammad lilved. The revelations that Muhammad received in Mecca and Medina, which were recorded in the Quran, became the foundation for a radically more egalitarian community, the likes of which had never been seen before.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Holmes is alive! Poor Watson gets a shock when Sherlock Holmes walks back into his room and into his life. Moriarty may no longer be part of the criminal scene in London, but there is plenty of puzzles to solve, nonetheless.
audio: 11 hours (audiobook available from Librivox.org)
text: 318 page (eBook available from Project Gutenberg)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Devil's Cradle by Sylvia Nobel

Kendall O'Dell is after a BIG story in a small, rundown mining town. There is much more going on in Morgan's Folly than than meets the eye, and it is up to Kendall to figure out why the new heiress appears to be destined for a short life. This is the second book in the Kendall O'Dell series. It might be nice to read in order for the sake of character introductions, but it isn't necessary. A pretty good ready for a lazy Memorial Day weekend. 442 pages.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Love's Executioner & Other Tales of Psychotherapy" by Irvin D. Yalom, M.D.

As a psychology major in college, one of my favorite parts was reading case studies and learning why people act the way they do.  I received this book many years ago but never read it until this month.  It covers 10 real patients (with names and other identifying information changed) seen by the author, a psychiatrist.  But unlike the case histories I read in my psychology textbooks, the therapist's candid thoughts about his patients and their progress are included.  He portrays himself as human, one with flaws and biases like anyone else.  He doesn't always enjoy working with these people but he finds a way to connect with and help each one, though not always as much as he would have liked.  I recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology or becoming a therapist.  270 pages (Hardcover, first edition).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Midsummer's Nightmare

Author: Kody Keplinger
Pages: 304
Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorce dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancee and her kids. The fiancee's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.
Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother...at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.
A Midsummer's Nightmare
this is another one I really liked.  You come to love Whitley. I kind of wish there was a sequel. I would like to see more of her and Nathan.

Happy Families

Author- Tanita Davis
Pages- 234
Happy FamiliesTeenage twins Ysabel and Justin Nicholas are lucky. Ysabel's jewelry designs have already caught the eyes of the art world and Justin's intelligence and drive are sure to gain him entrance into the most prestigious of colleges. They even like their parents. But their father has a secret—one that threatens to destroy the twins' happy family and life as they know it.
Over the course of spring break, Ysabel and Justin will be forced to come to terms with their dad's new life, but can they overcome their fears to piece together their happy family again?

I really liked this book- it wasn't teen romantic drama. It dealt with real issues and showed a family trying to stay together and love each other, not running away.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

This is the 2nd book in the Stephanie Plum series. It is sooo funny. She is just hiliarious. But the person that made me laugh the most in this book was Grandma Mazur. In this one she is trying to catch a guy named Kenny and it is supposed to be simple and easy but that is not the case. Not mention she is still trying to figure out the whole bounty hunter thing. This is as funny as the first one.

Pages:336

Audio:8 hrs. 36mins

Riddled with life: friendly worms, ladybug sex, and the parasites that make us who we are, by Marlene Zuk

Another fascinating read from Marlene Zuk. She takes us far from what is commonly known about parasites and introduces us to their infinite variety and what they can do. We often associate parasites with wasting away, but there are some that actually lead to the infected organism growing larger. You may spot an impressively large crab, but it may have less to do with its vigor, and more to do with the parasites it's supporting. There are other parasites that actually extend the life of the host (though the host may be rendered sterile as part of the bargain). There are still others that sound like the inspiration for the chest-burster in the Alien films (but for crickets, instead of humans). She even discusses the parasites of other parasites. Zuk presents a mix of well-tested theories, as well as some cutting edge hypotheses regarding parasites, and she is scrupulous about identifying which is supported by a large body of evidence, and which are currently the mere musings of scientists. Some of these musings include speculation as to how parasites may affect our personalities, our propensity for accidents, our suspicion of others, our height and a whole host of other factors.

text: 328

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy by Peter H. Wilson

A complex and indepth work, the book covers the period of the Thirty Years War (1618-1645) as well as extensively detailing the period immediately before the war. All the factions and nations involved are extensively profiled and discussed. Wilson also goes over much of the previous scholarship of the war in an attempt to make sense of the conflict's origins and causes. Well written and thoughtful the book does tend to get bogged down by an endless array of German princlings and locations. A good working knowledge of German geography would be useful to the reader. 851 pages.

Caveat emptor, by Ruth Downie

This is book 4 of Downie's series featuring Ruso, the Roman doctor that has a knack for solving mysteries. This time, he's stationed called out to a smaller city outside Londinium to investigate the death of a tax collector. He has more to manage than in his adventure in Medicus. This time, he's married, and his wife accompanies him on the investigation. As a bonus, the author - who is also a librarian - helpfully provides additional resources to consult, should you want to read into the factual details of the history of the area.
audio: 11 hours
text: 338 pages

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Let Us Prey by Jamie Lee Scott

This is a cozy mystery where the protagonist, Mimi, is a private eye who owns and operates the Gotcha Detective Agency.  I was expecting the mystery to have a church setting with the violence relatively subdued and humor aplenty. WRONG. The murder involves a violent beheading with the clues leading to a citywide vampire role-playing game. Parts of the book I found fresh, engaging and difficult to put down; other parts, like the torturous relationship between Mimi and lead detective and former flame, Nick, were fairly trite. 270 pages.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Angel's Flight" by Nalini Singh

This is the first book I've read by prolific paranormal romance author Singh.  It's a collection of short stories set in the world of her Guild Hunter series where angels, vampires, and humans try to co-exist peacefully.  I enjoyed all four although the final one tended to have lots of very long, descriptive sentences that were sometimes distracting.  I'm going to try to read the novels in this series since this world and its characters are so interesting.  345 pages.

"A Bouquet from the Kitchen: A Special Collection of Recipes, Kitchen Wisdom, and Lore" by Jane Parker Resnick

I've had this little book for a long time but never read it all the way through.  It contains a few recipes, sayings, and cooking tips, and seems to have been written by someone who loves to entertain guests.  That is not me, but I still may try a few of the recipes someday.  49 pages.

"Life's Little Instruction Book" by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I received this as a gift from a friend when I graduated from college in the early 1990s.  It was written in 1991, so some of the advice is dated.  It is also geared a bit towards men since a man wrote this for his college-bound son.  It is full of tips that we've all heard over the years and some with which I disagree.  I also found some that contradict each other but not often.  There were several that I really liked, but my two favorite were:

#82 - Steer clear of restaurants with strolling musicians.
#290 - Find some other way of proving your manhood than by shooting defenseless animals and birds.

154 pages.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues by Michael Brandman

(Posted for Paul Mathews)


Jesse Stone investigates auto thefts, pet killings, there are other problems. This book is too predictable and not enjoyed at all. 

Audio:  5 hrs. 8 min.
Print:  288 pages.

The hobbit, or, There and back again by J.R.R. Tolkien

We follow Bilbo Baggins on the adventures that led to him becoming renowned among dwarves and other folks as "the Burgler". We also discover the truth regarding his finding of The Ring. If you ever wondered what they were going on about in the Lord of the Rings series when they spoke of the Battle of Five Armies, you'll find out here (along with a lot of other events preceding those in the Lord of the Rings).

audio: 11.25 hours
text: 255 pages

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The true history of chocolate, by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe

A wide-ranging history of one of my favorite substances. From its Olmec-Maya origins as a frothy and spicy drink, to modern manufacture in its myriad of sweet incarnations, this book covers the history of chocolate, including many details and anecdotes. All sorts of interesting characters make an appearance - there's even a section on the Marquis de Sade.
text: 280 pages

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

More old favorites with Sherlock and Watson, from the Adventure of Silver Blaze, to Holmes' disappearance in the Reichenbach Falls.
And what is life to be like, without an archenemy or a champion? Boring indeed.
audio: 8.5 hours (2 versions from Librivox.org)
text: 256 pages (ebook available from Project Gutenberg)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Sixth Man / David Baldacci

This is one of Baldacci's better reads, with characters and plot with some semblance of plausibility, and with just a touch of sci-fi/hi tech to keep the escapist element alive.  At the center of the plot, a man is framed for murder as part of an intricate takeover scheme between government agencies, and few are who they say they are.  The two PI's trying to exonerate the framed man find themselves a step away from danger at every turn, and have just a hint of romantic tension (glad this was not overdone in the usual Baldacci way).  Good read, 416 p.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Story, NIV: The Bible As One Continuing Story of God and His People

The Story recounts the events found in the Bible in chronological order. I found it a fresh way to look at familiar and be reintroduced to less familiar accounts of God and His people. In addition to the texts present, I also found it interesting to look at which texts were omitted.The book includes a discussion guide. Our church did this as a church-wide experience and used the accompanying teen video during worship and adult discussion video in small group settings. There are even preschool, early elementary and upper elementary materials available, so people of all ages could participate. 512 pages.

Never Preach Past Noon by Edie Claire

Leigh Koslow has a bad habit of discovering dead bodies. This time, she stumbles across one in a cooler who just happens to be her aunt's pastor. Who could have wanted to ice the man? A better question might be, who didn't? I do enjoy this series! Leigh Koslow Mystery Series, Book 3. 276 pages.

Trouble in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon

Maryse's life is not going well. She is married to a man she hasn't seen in over two years. He fled the town when his debts got too high, leaving Maryse to pay off what he owed. At the funeral of her mother-in-law, Maryse is hoping to serve divorce papers on her louse of a spouse, but winds up seeing and hearing the ghost of her mother-in-law instead. Is she losing her mind? Billed as a Mystery-Romance, the book doesn't quite work as the two elements do not seem to intertwine easily. Still, I might give book two a chance just to see if the characters start clicking better as the potential is there for a good series. Book 1 of the Ghost-in-Law Mystery series. 321 pages.

Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday

Maddie Springer is a self-absorbed children's shoe designer whose life takes an unexpected turn. She thinks she is pregnant, but before she can inform her boyfriend, he disappears. To make matters worse, the police think he is on the run because he killed two people. What's a girl to do? Prove the father of her unborn child is innocent, of course. I found the heroine tiresome, so this is one bestselling author I will likely pass by in the future. 334 pages.

10th Anniversary by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

(Posted for Paul Mathews)


A little mystery book containing the crime of a baby born and sold on the internet. A kidnapped reporter, the murder of a doctor’s husband and an adoption. 

Audio:  8 hrs. 8 min.
Print:  432 pages.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Eternal Kiss of Darkness" by Jeaniene Frost

In this second book of the Night Huntress World (a spinoff of the Night Huntress series), the ancient Master vampire, Mencheres, is ready to call it quits and die after his visions dry up and all he is able to see is darkness.  Living more than four millennia, Mencheres has seen it all and is ready to hand his line of people over to his co-ruler, Bones.  But just as he's about to commit suicide by ghoul, Kira Graceling, a human PI, tries to rescue him from certain death.  Their resulting relationship and their battle against his long-time enemy are the main subjects of this novel.

Frost spins another gripping and fast-paced story for Mencheres and Kira.  I liked both characters because of their personalities and acceptance of one another even though they are from extremely different worlds.  Mencheres is cool and calm owing to having lived for such a long time, and it's fun to see Kira bring him out of his reserve.  As with Frost's other books, it's full of action and highly imaginative thrills.  I highly recommend this book and all of Frost's books in this and the Night Huntress series so far.  384 pages.

Star Wars: Shatterpoint

Mace Windu is off to try to prevent his former padawan from turning to the Dark Side. Set in the time of the Clone Wars, this is a fast and easy read with adventure, a little Jedi trickery and a some shifting alliances.
audio: 6.25 hours
text: 406

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh


(Posted for Paul Mathews)

L.A. police in the late sixties have plenty of action. Their officers are very quirky, the street people are interesting and dangerous.   While solving the crime they lose one of their own.

Audio:  16 hrs. 5 min.
Print:  480 pages

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Buried prey, by John Sandford

New evidence from an old case emerges when 2 bodies are discovered during a building demolition. Lucas Davenport must find the true culprit and come to terms with failures from the past.
I've generally enjoyed the Davenport mysteries, but this was not one of my favorites.
audio: 11 hours
text: 390 pages

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Drift by Rachel Maddow

If you watch the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC, you know that she has a penchant for sharp-witted humor.  In Drift, Maddow applies her skills for in-depth research to the story of the growth of presidential power and the U.S. military from the end of WWII to current day.  Her main premise is that over time, Congress and our presidents have allowed a drift from strong Congressional oversight of the use of our military forces, to our current state where we are perpetually at war, and this condition seems normal.  She describes very clearly but with a good dose of her sometimes sarcastic wit how successive presidents have skirted Congressional review of use of the military, the outsourcing of support of the military mission and what she sees as the detrimental effects of an overly large military infrastructure.  The text reads like an expanded script from one of her shows; she tries to take the reader into the scene of each of the decisions on which she bases her argument.   Overall, a thought provoking discourse on the past 60 years of American history.  She concludes with a list of eight ways in which we can bring use of the military back under greater restraint. 252 pages

Friday, May 4, 2012

The adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I again return to an old favorite. Dr. Watson documents the amazing deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes in this collection of short stories.
Three audio versions are available for free from Librivox.
The text version is available for free from Project Gutenberg in Kindle, EPUB and other formats.
audio: approximately 10 hours
text: 240 pages

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Very funny short book of answers to test questions, such as what rivers flow into the Nile?  The juveniles.  What does terminal illness mean?  When you become ill at the airport.

Audio book reading time:  35 min.
Print:  128 pages. 

And then there were none, by Agatha Christie

I recently reread this favorite when I needed a Christie fix.
Ten people are invited to an island mansion.
One after another, each is killed.
No additional people could have come to the island.
None could have left.
So who murdered those people?
text: 300 pages