Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas

A tightly-wound cowboy tries to sing his cows to sleep with a lullaby, but keeps seeing visions of things that go bump in the night. His loud 'EEK!' at each sighting isn't really making the cows sleepy, and they try to reassure him.  It is a silly, nonsensical tale that young children will laugh at.

40 pages

Who's Who? by Ken Geist

28 pages

Six pairs of twin animals play noisily in their own habitats in this colorfully illustrated preschool book.

It's a Tiger! by David LaRochelle

A story of a young boy walking through a forest who thinks everything he sees is a tiger - but of course, it turns out to be something else entirely. A wonderfully imaginative, colorfully illustrated book for preschoolers.

36 pages

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat is wearing his favorite shirt - the one with four groovy buttons. He walks along, singing his song, 'My four groovy buttons'. One falls off, but is Pete upset? Not at all - he just sings, 'My three groovy buttons'! Peter loses his buttons one by one, but is he upset? No, he adjusts and keeps singing his song.

40 pages

Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

 George is a good dog - well, he has good intentions, anyway. His owner leaves him alone with the admonition to 'behave, George', and George does - at least till he sees a cake on the table. George loves cake. Oh no, George!  George can't resist chasing the cat, digging up the flowers, and...well, you can guess the rest! But George is a very good dog!

32 pages

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

In 1950, Paul Milliron, Montana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, returns to his hometown of Marias Coulee to close its one-room schoolhouse. He is heartbroken, knowing that this is the end of an era. As he spends time here, he relives the year he turned 13. His mother has died, and his father is overwhelmed with trying to be both father and mother as he homesteads the land. He sees an ad in a newspaper for a housekeeper that reads 'Can't Cook, but Doesn't Bite'.  Thus whistling,beautiful Rose Llewellyn comes into their life.

Unexpectedly, along with Rose comes her brother Morris Morgan, who becomes the town schoolmaster when the schoolteacher leaves to marry a traveling evangelist. He is eccentric and outrageous, and becomes a defining influence on young Paul. Rose and Morris have a secret, though, and Paul is determined to uncover it.

This is a nostalgic, poignant book about rich characters, with a setting that becomes part of the story.

356 pages

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup

In 1841, Solomon Northrup was a free Negro living with his wife and three children in Saratoga, New York.  He makes his living as a carpenter and fiddle player. He is talked into going on tour with a circus as a fiddle player; he is promised a good deal of money for doing so. However, after traveling to Washington, D. C., where the circus supposedly is based,  he is drugged and awakes to find himself chained to a floor.

He has been kidnapped, and is subsequently sold into slavery in Louisiana, where he spends the next twelve years. He experiences all the inhumanity of the misbegotten institution that lead up to the Civil War. He finds some slave owners to be more humane than others, but still is treated as a possession, not the man he has always considered to be.

He is eventually rescued by a businessman from his hometown, and re-united with his family. This memoir was written in 1853, shortly after his return to his home. The story has recently been made into a movie, and I wanted to read the book before I saw it. It is a very real reminder of our not-so-distant past.

125 pages

The Beggar King: a Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Pötzsch

This third book in the 'Hangman's Daughter' series finds Hangman Jacob Kuisl being framed for the murder of his sister and her husband. On a ruse, he is lured to Regensburg, where he finds his sister murdered and is immediately arrested. The Hangman of Regensburg uses the same tortures on him that Jacob inflicts on those arrested in his town of Schongau, in order to get him to confess.

Meantime, his headstrong daughter Magdalena and her lover, Medicus Simon Fronweiser, run away to Regensburg to live with her aunt. When they get there and find her murdered and Jacob in gaol, they set out to find out the real culprit. They are taken in by beggars, helped out by the town head raftsman, and lured into complacency by an Italian nobleman.

This is another riveting tale of 17th century Bavaria, with all the medieval skullduggery any reader could hope for!

514 pages


Elizabeth Connelly works at a vanity press in Manhattan. She has a fancy title as editor but as she quickly discovers her job is really to get would-be authors to sign a publishing contract.  That’s the name of the game at Vista Books and that’s OK with Elizabeth who finds casual lying like casual drinking and sex are her life in Manhattan.  Into this game and her world comes Tupper Daniels an author who doesn’t have an ending for his book about a bigamist.  Surprise/not surprising finale.

Harper and Row, 1988 (originally published by Random House, 1982) 281 p.


Hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since I began my marathon reading of the Three Pines crime mysteries featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  I was delighted to easily identify the idiosyncratic residents of Three Pines, and, once again, the author hooks the reader into the story with her opening paragraph.  This story brings to a climax the longstanding conflict that marks all the previous stories and that’s all I’m going to say.

Interestingly, the author‘s acknowledgements preceding chapter one describes her attachment to the Three Pines stories.  Penny calls them “my legacy, my offspring”.  Here’s hoping there are more mysteries for Gamache and his team to solve.

Minatour Books, 2013 405 p.

CHARMING BILLY by Alice McDermott

Novel opens at Billy Lynch’s wake in a small Bronx bar in the late 1980’s.  The narrator, a young woman accompanying her father, holds the story together as sentimental myth making and the brutal truth of Billy’s alcoholism are told by Billy’s family and friends.

Irish American traditions and idiosyncrasies are vividly portrayed; I could hear the voices of my husband’s family, he, a first-generation Irish American.

Delta Trade Paperbacks, 1998, 243 p.


This novel opens with the birth of pit bull puppies which 15-year old Esch compares to the birth of her youngest brother which took the life of their mother.  Esch also finds comparisons with her life and that of Jason and Medea from Edith Hamilton’s Mythology that she is reading in her high school English class. 

 Esch lives with her three brothers and her father in a neighborhood of Bous Salvage, MS called the “Pit.” There’s a lot that’s depressing about their life of grinding poverty but as Hurricane Katrina bears down on the “Pit”, the bonds of family do not/will not break.

National Book Award Winner for Fiction, 2011.

Bloomsbury, 2011, 261 p.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Armed & Dangerous" by Abigail Roux

This is book five in the Cut & Run series, the first written solely by Abigail Roux, and boy, is it a doozy!  FBI Special Agents Zane Garrett and Ty Grady are tasked to bring in retired wet work operative Julian Cross, but things don't go as planned.  (They rarely do for Ty and Zane.)  Instead of flying Cross from Chicago to DC, the agents find themselves driving Cross and his boyfriend through a driving snowstorm while being chased by assassins.  As the four guys reluctantly get to know each other, and keep each other alive, Zane, Ty, and Cross find they have a lot in common and wonder if the assassins chasing them may be working for the U.S. government.

Roux knocks another one out of the park, this time by throwing in Cross and Cameron Jacobs as foils to Ty and Zane.  Cross is just as sarcastic and deadly as the two main characters, and Cameron is the innocent and naive voice of reason caught in the crossfire.  Of course, there's the ongoing love story and angst between Zane and Ty; I'm always surprised at how much more open and vulnerable they are with each book.  That's one of the biggest strengths of this author, and it just keeps getting better.  There's even a couple of Maine Coon cats in this book!  I am loving the Cut & Run series!  330 pages (Kindle edition).

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Divide & Conquer" by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban

This is book four in the Cut & Run series featuring FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett.  The partners are back in the Baltimore field office a few weeks after returning from their undercover work on a cruise ship (in book three) when multiple explosions and bank robberies begin occurring around the city.  All law enforcement is put on the defensive by the public and media, who blames them for not preventing or solving the crimes.  Ty is asked to organize a citywide softball league as good public relations, but when home plate is rigged to blow, everyone's anxiety escalates.  More bombs are planted and Zane is injured enough to need Ty's help, but will the extra stress cause their relationship to implode or push them closer than ever?

Each book in the series focuses on very different crimes but at the center of them all is the professional and personal relationship of Zane and Ty.  Although both are very strong willed, capable agents in the field, they continue to tentatively explore their feelings for each other resulting in frustrations and misunderstandings but also devotion and intimacy.  Roux and Urban have written another winner!  320 pages (Kindle edition).

Dark Fire by C.J.Sansom

A historical mystery novel featuring lawyer Matthew Shardlake as a reluctant investigator for Thomas Cromwell into two murders that involve secret military weaponry, the 'dark fire' or 'Greek fire' that can burn even on water. London in 1540 is well drawn, although the various characters involved in a plot against Cromwell are at times hard to sort out.  Very enjoyable on both the history and mystery levels, and Shardlake is a strong character.  498 pg.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Reunion by Dan Walsh

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Vietnam Veteran was given the National Medal of Honor for saving three fellow soldiers' lives.  He decades later saved the lives of three other people.  After the war he lost everything.  With faith he kept in god, resolution and acceptance came to him, from all who knew and many who didn’t.

Audio:  8 hrs. 35 min.
Print:  296 pages

"Fish & Chips" by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

Book three in the Cut & Run series finds FBI Special Agents Zane Garrett and Ty Grady posing as gay, out-and-proud married couple Corbin and Del Porter aboard a cruise ship as part of an international smuggling ring.  As Corbin, Zane must impersonate the controlling mastermind behind the crimes, while Ty, as Del, is the trophy husband who's only interested in getting a tan.  Of course, things never go as planned on their cases, and Ty nearly loses his life during freak "accidents."  As they continue to wait for their fellow smugglers to make contact, Zane and Ty get a taste of what it would be like to be out of the closet and seen by the world as a couple.  It makes both men question their feelings about themselves and each other.

This was another great story in the series with a little less action than the previous books but with more emotional drama.  Ty and Zane are wonderfully written flawed and vulnerable heroes.  The two alpha males are really knocked off balance by the powerful emotions that are uncovered by being given "permission" to display their affection for each other openly under the guise of impersonation.  None of their colleagues or coworkers know that they've been seeing each other outside of work for over a year, and both men want to keep it that way.  But as they realize that what they have is special, how long can they keep it hidden from the rest of the world?  I can't wait to read more!  307 pages (Kindle edition).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

He was the man you called to get things done. He was a man between two powerful criminal masterminds who hate each other.  The FBI become involved, and people get killed.

Audio:  9 hrs. 50 min.
Print:  321 pages

Monday, December 16, 2013

"Sticks & Stones" by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

Book two in the Cut & Run series finds FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett still on desk duty after solving a serial murder case and being physically and psychologically injured.  Ty is ready to get back into the field but not without his partner; however, Zane failed the psych evaluation needed to be deemed healthy.  Their boss, who is close friends with Ty's father, orders them to take a two week vacation visiting Ty's family in the West Virginia mountains.  They reluctantly go and take the opportunity to hike the vast trails with Ty's brother and father.  Unfortunately, they run into big trouble in the form of redneck fortune hunters who aren't afraid to kill innocent hikers who stumble upon their camp.  Zane and Ty are no strangers to violent criminals, but with family and their tentative relationship in the way, complications ensue.

I loved this book, not only because I got to know the two characters better and watch them interact with Ty's family, but the suspense was so well written.  Ty is a real alpha male except when it comes to dealing with his father, a Marine who served in Vietnam.  He and his brother are all "yes, sir" and revert back to being boys in his presence until the rednecks grab them.  Zane can't understand why Ty is so submissive and deferential to his dad, and he doesn't like it one bit, but that takes a back seat to staying alive while staying sane in extreme conditions.  And there's a big cat involved, too.  Additionally, Ty's brother plays a small but important role by helping both he and Zane acknowledge some uncomfortable feelings. Really great storytelling!  322 pages (Kindle edition).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Never Go Back by Lee Child

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Jack Reacher is accused of murder and is fleeing until he can prove his innocence. Major Susan Turner is on the run with Jack Reacher, because she is accused of accepting bribes. He is trying to find his accusers. 

Audio:  13 hrs. 45 min.
Print:  400 pages

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Wild for You" by Sophia Knightly

This first in the Tropical Heat series will be the last for me.  The story started out promising but soon took an unbelievable turn, and the characters turned into stereotypes.  Marisol Calderon owns a successful hair salon in Miami but has been receiving threatening phone calls and notes for weeks.  Her older brother enlists his friend at the police department, Clay Blackthorne, to investigate and keep an eye out for her.  Coincidentally, the PD has an apartment at the same building as Marisol, and Clay moves in.  The threats mention the stalker marrying Marisol, so Clay's response is to marry her to lure the man out so he can be arrested.  Huh?  Of course, Marisol is reluctant but gives in, and she soon finds herself falling for her protector.  However, his former wife's betrayal has him swearing off of real marriage and children.  Can Marisol change his mind?  One guess.  Silly stuff.  166 pages (Kindle edition).

"My Reluctant Warden" by Kallysten

This second novella in the Ward of the Vampire series finds Angelina trapped in Morgan Ward's mansion; her boss, his sister, has given her to him as a birthday present.  Neither Morgan nor Angelina want her to be a prisoner, but only Miss Delilah can free her.  As Morgan and his butler try to make her comfortable, Angelina again finds herself reliving certain parts of her interactions with Morgan, and always after nearly dying.  Will he use her as his sister wants him to, or can he find a way to free his lovely captive?  89 pages (Kindle edition).

"Ward of the Vampire" by Kallysten

Angelina is the personal assistant to Miss Delilah, a rich socialite with a handsome brother named Morgan Ward.  Delilah insists that Angelina accompany her to Morgan's birthday party where the who's who of NYC will be seen.  She reluctantly agrees.  When she finds herself alone on a balcony with Morgan, she has some sort of attack and collapses.  Then she opens her eyes and relives the moment she meets him again on the balcony, only this time there is a very different result.  Has she lost her mind?  What is going on?  And why can't she leave his mansion? 

This is the first novella in the Ward of the Vampire series and introduced the characters and Angelina's predicament quite well.  54 pages (Kindle edition).

Friday, December 6, 2013

Plunder Squad by Richard Stark

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

The heist was good, the escape was clean, the double cross and attempted murder by a gang member was unforeseen. He did not turn them over to the police, but left them to the wife whose husband they killed.

Audio:  5 hrs. 30 min.
Print:  200 pages

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Seventh by Richard Stark

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Professional thief Parker doesn’t believe in luck.  The money his group stole is the case from a college football game. The robbery was clean with no problems, but later everything goes wrong. Their money is stolen, the man who stole it is looking to kill Parker. 

Audio:  4 hrs. 25 min.
Print:  156 pages