Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Anne of the Island

By L. M. Montgomery
260 pages
While waiting for a couple of books to become available from MRRL, I decided that one more stop in my Montgomery collection couldn't hurt, so I hunted down one of my favorite Anne books.  This one follows Anne through her college years, and is as sweet and refreshing as I remembered from my last re-read.

Further Chronicles of Avonlea

By L.M. Montgomery
208 pages
Why stop at just one set of chronicles?  Several of the stories featured in this set were much the same as the first volume of short stories, but there were darker tales weaved in as well.  The rosy glow is off-set and deepened by darker realities in Montgomery’s later books, so this volume is in keeping with the arch of her work.

Chronicles of Avonlea

By L. M. Montgomery
192 pages
After the emotional turmoil of Grapes of Wrath, I decided to turn to my old friend Montgomery for bit of light reading.  I had never read this set of short stories, and they were as sweet and old-fashioned and pleasantly distracting as I had hoped. 

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck
464 pages
I cannot write anything profound about this book that has not already been written.  The tale of the Joad family is sad, harrowing, moving, uniquely American yet universal.   I was alternately maddened, exhausted and touched throughout the reading.

All creatures great and small

by James Herriot

This is a series of stories from a veterinarian's life in rural England in the early 1900s.

I really enjoyed this book, and found it very cozy and comforting. It's written in a way that lends itself to pacing it out and reading short sessions, but I found myself listening to it almost straight through.

Colorful characters and the author's love for the animals, people and countryside about which he writes made the stories rich, comforting and compelling to me.

audio: 16 hours
text: 442 pages

Titan

by Ben Bova


Sci-fi? Soap opera? I wasn't sure how to classify this one. This is a Hugo Award winning author, but I just couldn't get into this story. Some sections were great, but the sections focusing on the politics and the romantic entanglements and the who's-stabbing-whom-in-the-back seemed forced.

That said, there are some interesting facets to this story, though they may seem mundane at first glance. Outcasts are banished from Earth and sent to the outer reaches of the solar system. Only the outcasts are not the types you might expect. They're sent out on a ship, but it's unlike many you encounter in sci-fi.

audio: 14 hours
text: 464

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

I'm a year behind Sarah on this one (the hold queue was really long), but my reaction was very similar to hers.

I zipped through this book. I needed to know what happened next. Who survived? What devilry did the game masters have planned next?

And now, I need to read the rest of the trilogy. I need to know what happens.

audio: 10.5 hours
text: 384 pages

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Fear Index by Robert Harris

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

This is the paperless company of the future. The company of the future will have no workers and no managers. The computer program has taken over it all. 

Audio:  11 hrs. 1 min.
Print:  304 pages.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cordoba in Focus, editied by J. Augustin Nunez

We enjoyed a vacation in Spain this year, and visited a number of historical sites.  We stopped in Cordoba for just a day to see the Mosque, which was built in several phases between A.D. 785 and A.D. 987.  You may have seen photos of this mosque, as it is famous for its many rows of columns topped with double red and white striped arches.  While we took many photos, I also purchased this guidebook, which was available in six or seven languages.  The text consists of articles on the history and sites of Cordoba, and gives a good overview of the construction of the mosque, with many good photos. While the translation is clumsy in places, the book filled my desire to get a good description of how this fantastic site was constructed. 94 pages.

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Vol. 2 of the Hunger Games series.  This was my treat for a vacation read.  There have been plenty of reviews of this series, and I generally agree that this 2nd volume is slower to get moving, but has a good cliffhanger finish.  The story starts with Katniss and her partner, Peeta, taking their victory tour for winning the Hunger Games.  During the tour, they visit each of the districts, and learn of the smoldering rebellion.  In this volume, Katniss moves from innocent to naive and sometimes clueless, to the point where the people really plotting the rebellion leave her out of the plannning, so she won't inadvertently mess it up.  The second half has the action that's expected, and leading well into the final book.
400 p.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

MURDER AT MONTICELLO and MURDER ON THE PROWL, Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

I read lots of book reviews and love to listen to interviews with authors on NPR.  An interview with Rita Mae Brown about her latest collaboration with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, Sneaky Pie for President, led me to checkout and read these books in the “Mrs. Murphy Mysteries” series.

A small town in Virginia, a cast of characters who all know each other and think they know everything about each other but don’t.  The tiny post office serves as town information central and its postmistress, Mary Minor Haristeen, known to all as Harry, is the biped heroine.
 
There’s a four-legged cast as well, Harry’s tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy, her Corgi dog, Tucker, and Pewter, the next door cat who frequently eats, stays-over and adventures w/Mrs. Murphy and Tucker.
 
There’s a lot of chatting going on among the humans and the animals “converse” w/each other as they seek out clues and solve the murder mysteries ahead of the humans.

Characters and dialogue are believably written, on the whole, except for all the murders; hard to accept multiple murders occurring in one small town. It’s mostly fun reading but a little too much background trivia for my taste, for example:  “throwing her alpaca shawl, deep raspberry, over her wildly overpriced Wathne coat”.  There’s lots of detail about taking care of horses; again not my thing.
 
Bantam 1994, 298 p. and Bantam 1998, 230 p.


WOLF HALL, Hilary Mantel

No, not another supernatural novel about wolves, this is a novel of historical fiction telling the story of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to Henry VIII.  Winner of the Man Booker prize for fiction in 2009, I became aware of the author through an NPR interview (of course!) upon the occasion of the spring publication of the sequel, Bring Out the Bodies.

I was poised to be critical reader since I love reading historical fiction and I spent an entire semester as an undergraduate history major studying English history. I, like many others, think of Cromwell as mostly an ambitious villain.

Mantel turns him into a real multi-dimensional person.  I was continually amazed by the detailed description of the place and time and her ability to write dialogue seamlessly into the historical narrative.

I became totally immersed in the 16th century world of England reading this extraordinary novel:  six sections, a five-page character list. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! I’m now on a wait list for the sequel.
 
Holt 2009, 532 p.

THE LAST WEREWOLF, Glen Duncan


Jacob Marlowe, afflicted by the Curse for 200 years, thinks he is the last of his kind.  This is definitely NOT your warm and fuzzy werewolves of the Twilight series.  The werewolves here kill and eat (devour!) their human victims.

Intermittently written as a journal, Jake inserts “dear reader” into his life story as someone who leads two simultaneous lives, the human and the “wulf”.

Hunted by WOCOP (World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomenon), the story takes on a kind of Jean Valjean pursuit with a cast of characters including vampires with their own unique pursuit of Jake.

This novel is a model of duality; elegant subtle descriptive passages and crude graphic sexual content...the novel is ravishing in all its iterations.
 
Dear Reader, be warned; the plot is mesmerizing and “bloody” horrific.
 
Knoft, 2011, 293 p.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Knowledge of angels / Jill Paton Walsh

Set on a fictional island in medieval Europe, Paton Walsh creates a fable in which the characters attempt to prove the existence of God.  In center of the debate is Palindor, a castaway from a distant land, quite different from the island's society, who is saved by a simple fisherman.  Palindor does not believe in God, and as such is to be condemned as an atheist. The island's clergy, taken with his reason and his new ideas, attempt to save him from certain death by theological reasoning.  A wolf-child being raised in a rural convent is saved as a sort of Plan B, if logic doesn't work, to prove that knowledge of God is innate.  Fascinating story, and one which leaves the reader with much to think about when the last page is turned.  268 p.

Suspect / Michael Robotham

Psychologist Joe O'Laughlin finds his seemingly perfect life - good job, beautiful wife, healthy child - come inexplicably crashing down, and patients from his past appear to play a role in his near-demise.  Finding himself afoul of the law, O'Laughlin stubbornly pursues the truth.  Fast-paced, good characterizations and reasonable plot made for a good read.  Recommended!  351 p.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ruby by Lauraine Snelling

Ruby Torvald and her young sister, Opal, receive word that their father is dying and wants them to come to Little Missouri in the Dakotah Territory to see him one last time and claim their inheritance. They arrive just in time to speak with their father where he elicits the promise that they care for the girls after he is gone. The inheritance, which Ruby understood to be a hotel., turns out to be a saloon and brothel. The "girls" she is to care for are the ones who provide "hospitality services" to the men in the settlement. Ruby has her work cut out for her as she turns Dove House into a proper hotel and dining hall. She also finds a little romance along the way. A gentle and nostalgic read that I thoroughly enjoyed. As this is book one in the Dakotah Treasures series, I will be sure to pick up book two to see what happens next. 320 pages.

Dare to Die by Carolyn Hart

Annie Darling invites a lonely young woman to attend a party she and Max are giving at Broward's Rock Pavilion, hoping to cheer her up. Unfortunately, the woman is lured to her death in the woods instead. It doesn't lake long for the death in the present to link up with events of the past. How many will die before the murderer is found?

I have mixed feelings about the series. To me the main characters are rather flat. I also had some difficulty keeping all the characters straight. But, this is book 19 in the series, so it might help if I had started at book 1. 320 pages.

Fall of a Kingdom by Hilari Bell

This book sort of reminded me of the movie, The Eagle, in reverse.  Instead of a Roman army defeated by the native people and terrain of early Britain, the roman-like army of Hrum is conquering the countries surrounding the kingdom of Farsala.  The Hrum's success is due to superior organization, good military intelligence, and the promise of a new social order, one not based on birth or rank. The three main characters of the series have to decide if they want to have a chance at a new order or stick with the old one. Jiaan is the peasant born son of a Farsalan House Commander who can only aspire to be a standard bearer in his father's cavalry.  Kavi is an itinerant trader/con artist who was maimed by a supercilious Farsalan noble.  Soraya is Jiaan's noble half-sister who wants the freedom to do as she pleases. The Fall of a Kingdom introduces us to these characters and gives us a taste of the confrontation to come.  422 pages.

Debbie Harry sings in French by Meagan Brothers

I found this book in a Dollar General Store and the title caught my eye.  French?  Debbie Harry?  What could it be about?  Well, imagine if you will a confused young man, struggling with alcoholism and school bullies, inspired by hearing Debbie Harry sing "Depeche-toi, depeche-toi et attends" (hurry up, hurry up, and wait). According to Johnny,  "listening to Debbie Harry sing the French part of "Sunday Girl" was somehow more reassuring than anything the counselors had told me so far."  Who knew Blondie could be so inspiring? 234 pages.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, narrated by Jim Broadbent

I loved this book!

Harold's been retired for six months when he gets a letter from a woman he used to work with.  Queenie is dying from cancer and just wrote to say goodbye.  Harold dashes off a quick reply but when he walks to the post office to mail the card, he suddenly decides to keep on walking.  I didn't have any idea how this journey would end but I wasn't disappointed.  I laughed; I cried; I was engrossed.. Jim Broadbent is Harold. 336 pages. 9 hours 57 minutes, unabridged.

Dead and Buried by Barbara Hambly

Benjamin January is a free man of color in pre-Civil War New Orleans.  He has trained as a doctor in Paris but now has to earn his living as a musician. On the side, he helps various friends and acquaintances out of their troubles with the law. Benjamin gathers information by talking to house servants and field hands. As he solves the mystery, you get a taste of the issues of the day.  A great read!  250 pages.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stolen Prey by John Sanford

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

22 million dollars are missing. The three killers, named Uno, Dos, Tres, are from south of the border and the killings don’t stop.

Audio:  10 hours 21 min.  
Print:  416 pages.

Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke


(Posted for Paul Mathews)

21 recipes, one murder, one murder attempt, family reunion, lots of suspects.

343 pages.