Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hungry for the World : a memoir by Kim Barnes

Hungry for the World: A MemoirKim Barnes is an author and college professor who grew up in Idaho. Her childhood was spent in logging camps, part of a large extended family. Her parents were loving, happy people who provided a warm and affectionate home for her and her younger brother. They didn't have a lot, not even running water or electricity, but did have the great outdoors as their playground. Her parents became members of a very strict penecostal church. When the family moved to Lewiston, Idaho when Kim was 12, their beliefs (no makeup, no dating, women's hair cannot be cut, they must wear clothing that covers completely, no dating, etc.) led to isolation for her, because she was so different from the other girls. Her father became more and more distant from the family, spending his time at home sitting alone reading the Bible.  When Kim reached puberty, she rebelled, tried to run away from home, and was sent to live with her pastor's family for a year - basically exiled. When she was allowed to come back home, she decided to be the eptiome of the dutiful daughter. She did everything expected of her, got good grades and graduated with honors and scholarships. However, when she asked permission to attend a chaperoned graduation event, her Father told her no. She was 18, and asked what would happen if she went anyway. He told her she could take her things with her, because she couldn't come home. So she took her things and left. She got an apartment and a job, and started to drink and smoke and hang out in bars, eventually ending up with an older man who degraded her and emotionally abused her. The greater part of this memoir is devoted to the story of that relationship.

It is well written and engrossing.

226 pages

Alex Cross's TRIAL by James Patterson

Alex Cross's TRIALAlex Cross is the African American detective in James Patterson's best-selling mystery series about. This book is a departure from Alex's detective work. In Cross family folklore, there is a story about Abraham Cross, who assisted President Teddy Roosevelt investigate lynchings in Mississippi at the turn of the 20th century. Alex decides it is time to write a book about his Great-Uncle Abraham and his cousin Moody.

In Alex's novel, President Roosevelt asks D. C. attorney Ben Corbett, who is from Eudora, Mississippi, to go back to his home town to see if the reports he is hearing about lynchings of 'colored' men are true. Ben is told that the colored man Abraham Cross is someone who can help him.

Ben Corbett finds that there are horrific lynchings and beatings of the colored citizens of Eudora, involving many of its most prominent citizens. He himself is lynched (although he survives), when it is discovered what he is actually doing in Eudora. He brings the wrath of the Ku Klux Klan down on the colored community and the Cross family. He then becomes involved in the trial of three men who murdered several blacks, assisting a special prosecutor sent from the state capitol.

The story is gripping, because that period of history in the deep south was rife with horrible violence against African Americans.

It should be noted that this is historical fiction, not an Alex Cross mystery.

401 pages.

Conclusions - Casting Stones by G. M. Barlean

Conclusions - Casting StonesThis is the third, and, hopefully, final installation in the 'Casting Stones' saga. Casting Stones was written first, then Prelude-Casting Stones, then Conclusion-Casting Stones. If this seems a somewhat convoluted way to write a 300 page novel, believe me, it is. In Casting Stones, a dire event happened, leading to father and son James and Jim Raven sharing a terrible secret. In this 'conclusion', a long-absent family member shows up, threatening the life they had begun to rebuild. In  the end, all turns out well, and the future seems to hold a little (finally!) hope.

I still do not recommend this book, which has now been re-issued as 'Casting Stones : New Unabridged Version".

32 pages.

Prelude - Casting Stones by G. M. Barlean

Prelude - Casting StonesA couple of months ago I posted an entry for 'Casting Stones', which I read because it was set in Missouri. I said it was the most unrelentingly depressing book I ever read. I think this 'prelude' was written in hopes that giving a little background would improve the book. It didn't. It did provide a little context for the story, but was no less depressing. In the main book, When James came back to Missouri from Nebraska after his wife died, a neighbor, Esther, tricked him into getting drunk and 'having his way' with her. She got pregnant, and he was forced to marry her. In the prelude, we learn that Esther was in love with James when they were teenagers, and intended to marry him. Instead, he fell in love with Evangeline, married her, and moved to Nebraska. Therefore, when Evangline dies and James  moves back to Missouri, Esther is sure that God has brought him back to her.

I don't recommend this novella, any more than I did 'Casting Stones.

17 pages. 

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smithe

When I'm really stressed out I love to retreat to the world of Precious Ramotswe.  I brew a cup of tea (but not the red bush tea favored by Mma Ramotswe) and settle down for a satisfying read.   The crimes in this series are rarely violent; most often they are crimes of selfishness and greed. Someone wants to get ahead quickly so they lie, cheat or steal. But Mma Ramotswe, aided by her associate Mma Makutsi, her husband J. L. B. Maketone, and other miscellaneous friends and acquaintances, always discovers the culprit.  Along the way, I'm treated to passages like this one:

"The man riding the cart pulled on the reins, took off his hat and wiped his brow.  She caught her breath: the hat was so like the hat that her father, the late Obed Ramotswe, had worn every day of his life after he had returned from Mochudi- or so it had seemed to her.  The hat that they had tucked into his coffin to accompany him on that final journey to the grave; the hat that he had once lost on the road and that had been rescued by some stranger and placed on a wall where its owner might see it; that same shapeless hat that she had felt embarrassed about as a small girl, other girls fathers having more modern hats, but that she had come to love as standing for everything that he, and indeed Botswana, stood for - decency, quiet, courtesy - the things that were slipping away in the world but that were remembered and pined for."

Large print ed., 391 pages.

Twopence to Cross the Mersey by Helen Forrester

Helen Forrester was the oldest daughter of a family living above its means.  When the Great Depression hit England, her family lost their home and everything they owned. Her father decided that a move to Liverpool would improved their circumstances. Twopence to Cross the Mersey, is Helen Forrester's account of the consequences to the family, and especially to her, of that fateful decision. After reading her story, you will never take hot water and soap for granted again. 405 pages.


This is the second book by Mallon I’ve read and I’m definitely a fangirl; Mallon has the skill to seamlessly blend historical fact and fictional characters into stories that engage the reader.  In this book, the plot is the classic:  girl meets boy, girl meets another boy and the boys compete for the girl. It wasn’t until the very last pages that I realized just how cleverly embedded the Dewey/Truman surprise ending.

Pantheon, 1997, 355 p.


Saw a book review of the most recent book in this series:  Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery.  Checked out this one and had a hard time staying interested.  Lots of Italian atmosphere but left me unsatisfied as a mystery reader.

Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008, 276 p.


I occasionally just like to browse the fiction shelves at my local Morgan County Public Library.
My interest in and respect for Irish fiction goes back to my undergraduate years as a student of the Irish Easter Rebellion 1916.  Reading the collected short stories of Frank O’Connor gave me amazing insight and empathy toward my Irish √©migr√© in-laws.

Toibin, born in Dublin in 1955, has the same gift for bringing the reader into the atmosphere of life between present and past, fact and myth.
Scribner, 2007, 270 p.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jurassic Park

by Michael Crichton

I saw the film, and I don't know how I didn't realize there was a book on which it was based.

Though I knew the basic story from the film, it was interesting how much the movie strayed from the details of the book. For one - a different set of people dies in the book than in the film (but I'll try avoid any spoilers.) They also made some serious adjustments to the characters' characters.

And the movie played down the raptors' intelligence - they were more formidable and frightening in the book.

text: 400 pages

Pearl of China by Anchee Min

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Fiction account of Pearl Buck’s early years raised in China. Book mentions the people and their customs and includes references to the Chairman Mao’s politics during her time after she had to leave the country.  

Audio:  9 hrs. 37 min.
Print:  304 pages.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

Pages: 334
Author: Kelly O'Connor McNees

 Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa's writing career-and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in Little Women. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.

I knew I shouldn't have bought this book but since I love Louisa May Alcott( I am a bit of a snob about it) I couldn't resist.
Of course I hated it. I think her life was fascinating, growing up with the neighbors she had and all, the aloof father and the hard working, strong maternal figure. I couldn't get into this book. I think partly because I think of her as ambiguous or asexual in love and romance, having not had a crush or inklings of love for anyone but Thoreau in her teen years.
An easy read but lacking in my opinion.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Betrayal by Jerry B. Jenkins

Boone Drake played a major role in bringing down the mob in Chicago, but the victory is tainted when it looks like his love interest is involved with the group trying to kill the prosecution's star witness. Despite sustaining major injuries, Boone continues to risk life and limb to see justice done. This is book two in the Precinct 11 series. I haven't read book one, but there were enough hints as to what happened in it that I was able to track the storyline without any problems. I found some of the dialogue a little stilted and the main character larger than life, but the plot was fine. 400 pages.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Last Command by Timothy Zahn

This is the last book of the Thrawn trilogy.  On the whole, the Thrawn trilogy is a welcome antidote to the later  underwritten, overly CGI'd Star Wars films.  If George Lucas had spent more on a professional screenwriter than on special effects we might have experienced an engrossing story like this one.  Does Admiral Thrawn succeed in overthrowing the new Republic?  Does Mara Jade, formerly a secret agent of the evil emperor Palpatine, kill Luke Skywalker?  Will Leia Solo successfully use her Jedi training to breeze through the birth of her twins?  You'll find satisfying answers to these questions and more between the covers of The Last Command. 467 pages.

Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, narrated by William Dufris

Now I understand why this book is considered a classic.  Tom Sawyer is such a typical boy. He trades marbles for Sunday school verse tickets to win a prized bible instead of memorizing the most verses. He doesn't give up and wait to be rescued when he and Becky Thatcher get lost in a cave.  He keeps searching for a way out.  He wants to be adored by the women in his life-Aunt Polly, Cousin Mary, and of course, Becky Thatcher. I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book version!  Unabridged audio, 7 hrs. 34 mins.  224 pages.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Bloodlands" by Christine Cody

This dystopian novel takes place in the New Badlands of what used to be the U.S. after a series of catastrophic events.  Some humans have taken shelter underground away from cities and their dangerous inhabitants and to protect themselves from the sun's rays that are now too strong to tolerate during the day.  Gabriel, a vampire, has stumbled across one of these groups of people as he's trying to find out what happened to the woman he loved.  But he must hide what he is from them or risk being turned in to the government, which considers him a monster.

I don't usually like dystopian stories, but this one kept me intrigued without being too depressing.  Gabriel, Mariah (the woman who takes him in when he first arrives at her compound), and her dog all share a bond, one that becomes even stronger with the surprise twist at the end.  Additionally, it's told in alternating person view between first person (Mariah's view) and third person, which I enjoyed.  I've already started reading the sequel.  324 pages.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dying to Get Published by Judy Fitzwater

Jennifer Marsh has written eight mysteries, only to have them all rejected by a variety of publishers. She decides that what is missing is getting inside the mind of the murderer. Having no experience in that realm, she sets out to kill one of the publishers who rudely rejected her manuscript. The plot has its moments of suspense, humor and likeable characters, so as a series it  has potential. This is book one in the Jennifer Marsh series. 254 pages.

The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers by Lilian Jackson Braun

Koko emits his death cry and Qwill knows someone has met an untimely death. Once again it is up to Qwill to interpret Koko's enigmatic clues and solve the crime. Several of the characters are definitely acting out of character and many of the interactions lack their usual flair. While a sequel was planned, it was not published, likely canceled due to the death of the author. This was a sad way for the generally entertaining series to end.240 pages.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Once Burned" by Jeaniene Frost

This is the first book in Frost's new "Night Prince" series, a spin-off of her "Night Huntress" series (all of which I've reviewed on this blog).  Vlad Tepesh is nearly 600 years old and the real-life inspiration for Bram Stoker's "Dracula."  But don't ever call him that since Stoker's creation has little in common with Vlad.  For one thing, Vlad is able to control fire and read minds.  When Leila Dalton is kidnapped by someone out for revenge against Vlad, her own unusual abilities attract his attention.  Although she is human, an accident at age 13 rendered her psychic as well as deadly - she can send electric currents through her body.  She and Vlad team up to unearth the vampire from his past who now threatens both of their futures.

Although a little confusing, this is a good start to the series.  Leila's and Vlad's temperaments match each other well, and Frost never lets us forget that he can constantly read her thoughts.  Plus, there are appearances by Cat, Bones, Mencheres, and Kira, who all get to meet Leila at Vlad's castle.  They have some of the best dialog in the book.  I'm ready for the next in the series.  384 pages.

Rouge Island by Bruce DeSilva

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

The reporter of a failing newspaper helps old friend in the neighborhood find out who’s burning it down and why. His ex-wife to be is always calling but won’t release any of his personal belongings.  302 pages.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Never Con a Corgi by Edie Claire

Following a ten year absence, Edie Claire returns with another installment of the Leigh Koslow series. Leigh is still married, works at her own ad agency, and now has twins. Parenthood doesn't appear to remove her ability to stumble over dead bodies, however. This time the main suspect is a part of her extended family, so you can be sure Leigh won't leave ALL of the investigating up to the authorities. This is still a good mystery series with lovable characters and an engaging storyline. 220 pages.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Saucy Lucy Murders by Cindy Keen Reynders

Lexie returns to Moose Creek Junction, Wyoming, following a divorce. She opens a cozy cafe with the help of her sister, Lucy, and is prepared to start life over. When Lexie's dates start dying, it appears that maybe someone isn't happy she has returned to town. The plot was pretty unbelievable and I wasn't crazy about the characters, but it had its moments.  449 pages.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"When Beauty Tamed the Beast" by Eloisa James

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, is known as a beast for his bad temper.  He is a trained doctor who treats patients in his large castle in Wales.  Linnet Thrynne has just had her reputation ruined based on a lie, and now has no prospects of a good marriage.  However, Piers' father, the Duke of Windebank, convinces her to travel with him to Wales and use her beauty to captivate his son, but Piers has sworn never to marry.  Additionally, he has not seen his father in over 20 years and blames him for many problems in his life.  This book did not start off well for me and it took a while to enjoy, but I'm glad I stuck with it for its unusual storyline about a "gentleman doctor." The most interesting part is when a scarlet fever epidemic hits the area, and one of the major characters contracts it.  374 pages.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Open Season by C.J. Box

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Game warden discovers three bodies, crooked politics, tries to expose and save an endangered species and protect his threatened family.

Audio:  7 hrs. 31 min.
Print:  304 pages

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Breathless" by Anne Stuart

Miranda Rohan is 23 and lives in her own house in London after being shunned by the ton for being kidnapped and compromised two years previous.  Lucien de Malheur, a.k.a., Scorpion, is out for revenge against Miranda's family, and he uses her to achieve it.

I was very disappointed in this book.  I'd read "Ruthless," the story of Miranda's grandparents, and really enjoyed it, but this had little joy in it.  For one thing, Miranda is raped by her kidnapper yet the author never calls it that since Miranda chose not to fight him.  She doesn't seem to have any psychological trauma from it, which I found unbelievable.  Secondly, Lucien is not a likable character even when the author tries to redeem him at the end.  I found him insulting and abusive to Miranda, who, of course, falls in love with him.  All he cares about is revenge.  The secondary story with her best friend, Jane, and Jacob Donnelly, the King of Thieves, was more interesting with characters that I liked although they lacked dimension.  379 pages.

"Under the Midnight Sun" by Vivian Arend

This book consists of two novellas about humans who shift into wolves.  "Wolf Games" deals with Maggie, a shifter who has not been in wolf form for seven years due to trauma from an attack in her previous pack.  She meets Erik, an adventure guide and Beta wolf for a pack that also includes Maggie's sister.  Along with two other shifters, Maggie and Erik are chosen to take part in the Arctic Wolf Games in Alaska, but she hasn't shifted in such a long time that she's sure she'll ruin her team's chances.

In "Wolf Tracks," shifter TJ believes that his mate is a fully human woman, Maggie's best friend, Pam.  Although she is attracted to him, she has no idea about his world or wolves so he takes her to a remote cabin for a week to try to convince her that they should be together.

Although the writing was uneven and sometimes simplistic, I liked both of these stories.  They were a nice diversion with likable main characters.  253 pages.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lead a Horse to Murder by Cynthia Baxter

Jessie Popper is a veterinarian who desires to see justice prevail - for both people and animals. When polo player extraordinaire, Eduardo Garcia dies while riding his horse, Jessie senses trouble. When the police confirm that murder is afoot, she sets out to find the killer, even when it clearly puts her own life in danger. This book probably taught me more about polo than I care to learn, but it was a pretty good read. Book three in the Reigning Cats and Dogs series. 333 pages.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Ruthless" by Anne Stuart

Francis Rohan, Comte de Giverney, Viscount Rohan, Baron of Glencoe, is an Englishman living in exile in France.  He's also known as the King of Hell for the secret society of aristocrats that he hosts for dark parties at his large estate.  At the ripe age of 39, he's seen and done it all and is bored until he meets Elinor Harriman, also an English expat, who crashes one of his parties looking for her crazed mother.  She reluctantly accepts his help if only to protect her beautiful younger sister from his attentions, but Rohan has set his sights on Elinor.

This is the first book that I've read by Stuart and really enjoyed her writing.  Elinor and Rohan made a very interesting hero and heroine.  There was lots of verbal sparring with a tug-of-war quality to their relationship.  Throw in surprises on both sides, assassination attempts, as well as an ordinary looking heroine who has what is referred to as "The Nose," and a much better than average historical romance is born.  409 pages.

A Dance with Dragons

by GRR Martin

A proud prince is brought low; a brazen queen learns shame; wild people are brought to cultivated lands; new gods face off against the old; a fierce girl tames her impetuousness in service to vengeance; a mother returns to the grass sea on the back of a dragon; and a certain dwarf goes from pampered prisoner to hostage to jester to slave to mercenary.

Winter is nigh upon us.

Winter is come.

I read the previous book in the Song of Ice and Fire series at a more steady pace, but couldn't seem to set Dance aside (particularly since Tyrion and Daenerys were featured so prominently). Now I'm at the end of the published books in this series and it will be a painful wait until the next book is released.

audio: 49 hours
text: 1016 pages

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

God's Story, Your Story by Max Lucado

Like the vast majority of Lucado's books, this one makes you think about what it means to live a life of faith. In case you can't come up with questions and correlations on your own, it even has a study guide. Our church used the video on Sunday mornings to help facilitate discussion. (I didn't see most of the videos due to other commitments, but I am told it is good.) 288 pages.

44 Cranberry Point by Debbie Macomber

This is the fourth book in Macomber's Cedar Cove  series. I had read book one several years ago, but none of the ones in between. None-the-less, I felt right at home with the characters and was easily able to follow along the various plot lines. I was actually pretty amazed at how much I remembered from book one - must be a sign of a good writer! Filled with mystery, romance and lovable characters, this title has something for everyone. 377 pages.