Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fever Season by Barbara Hambly

Benjamin January is back in this sequel to A Free Man of Color.  It's summer and those that can afford to have traded the heat and sickness of New Orleans for the coolness of Mandeville by the lake.  The poor slaves and freed folks left behind are starting to disappear.  Benjamin is asked to find out where they've gone.  Have they died from cholera? Have they been hijacked and sold up the river? Another engrossing story of early days in New Orleans! 336 pages.

The book of Jonas by Stephen Dau, read by Simon Vance

I picked this audiobook because the story sounded interesting-a young Muslim orphan who comes to America but has trouble adjusting to his new life.  Jonas' tale is interweaved with the story of the young American soldier who rescued him. Dau tries to describe the damage that war inflicts on soldiers and civilians but he doesn't give the reader any new insights on an age-old problem. I don't know if the fractured timeline doesn't work well in an audiobook format or if I just couldn't get interested in the plot.  In any case, the book didn't live up to my expectations. Unabridged, 5 hours 47 minutes.  272 pages.

A Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly

Benjamin January is a freed black man in 1830s New Orleans.  Though trained as a pianist and doctor in Paris, he can only find work as a musician.  When he is accused of murdering a beautiful but universally hated young woman, he must find the real killer or hang.  I loved learning all about the culture of freed people of color, creoles, and those pesky Americans in pre-Civil War New Orleans.  Great read! 412 pages.

A Sunless Sea by Anne Perry

The latest William Monk mystery begins with the horrendous murder of a woman on the London docks. The investigation of her death leads to the case of a scientist who studied the effects of opium on the poor in London and who committed suicide when his research was rejected by the medical establishment. Did he commit suicide? What was his relationship to the murdered woman? Large print edition, 669 pages.

"See Right Through: A Savannah Story" by Sara Winters

Devin, Mike, and Sam are three friends living together in Savannah, GA.  Devin has had a crush on Mike for ages, but Mike is straight with a girlfriend.  Sam has been pining for Devin for the two years they've lived together, but to Devin, they're only friends.  This was a quick read about guys, friendship, rivalry, self-esteem, and taking chances.  73 pages (Kindle edition).

Cinnamon Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke

I chose this book because I was in the mood for a cozy mystery, the weather was cold and cinnamon rolls sounded like tasty comfort food. Hannah Swensen is a full-time baker and part-time amateur sleuth who has the unfortunate habit of becoming involved in murder investigations. This installment is no different. Hannah and her sister, Michelle, are on the way to deliver cinnamon rolls when they barely avoid becoming part of a multi-car pileup. Wanting to lend a helping hand to those who might be injured, Hannah and Michelle enter the upside down bus of Cinnamon Roll Six, a popular jazz band, where the first body is discovered. A light mystery with likeable characters. Unfortunately the plot has huge holes in it. I also found the plethora of recipes quite distracting. Still, despite its drawbacks, I would read another in the series. This is book 15. I've only read a few here and there, but that wasn't a problem.  304 pages.

In Plain Sight by C.J. Box

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Wyoming ranch owner vanishes, grown sons fight over the estate. A person from his past is out to get the park ranger, who gets fired, and his children are kidnapped. 

Audio:  8 hrs. 11 min.
Print:  320 pages.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Ernest Pettigrew lives a quiet life in Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside. He bases his life on duty, honor and family traditions, his most important values. At first, he seems a bit stodgy and rigid, but as the book progresses, he is forced to take a closer look at what is really important in life.
His younger brother’s death leads to an encounter with Mrs. Ali, who is the Pakistani owner of the local food shop. She helps him deal with his grief, and they slowly develop a friendship based on a shared interest in literature, and their common bond as widow and widower. The fact that they both love a good cup of tea doesn’t hurt!
Major Pettigrew is 68 and Mrs. Ali is 58, and both are dealing with a younger generation whose values and behaviors are quite different from theirs. As their friendship deepens into more, they also have to overcome obstacles from a society that considers the difference in their classes, cultures and ages insurmountable.  But they persist, and in the end find a way through it all.

Both characters are immensely appealing. Witty and endearing, they slowly seep into your consciousness and make you want to read more about them.  A most satisfying read.

384 pages

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Relentless" by Cindy Stark

Lily and her best friend, Hannah, have lost their jobs in Salt Lake City, and decide to move back to Hannah's tiny hometown to save money while sending out resumes.  On their first day there, Lily meets Luke, a gorgeous cowboy.  However, Hannah has a past with him and warns her to stay far away from him.  Against her better judgment without knowing Luke's side of the story, Lily does but their mutual attraction is obvious.  In the meantime, Hannah hates being back in her hometown and most everyone in it, including her family.  What will she do when she realizes that Luke has gone after her best friend? 

This was a good little story with a plenty of drama that is not easily resolved.  This is the first in the Aspen series.  108 pages (Kindle edition).

"Close to You (A Laurel Heights Novel)" by Kate Perry

Eve Alexander is struggling to keep her dream alive - owning a coffee shop/bakery/book store in the Laurel Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.  She has a chance to host a celebrity chef's book talk, but someone seems to be out to ruin her business.  Enter Treat Byrnes, a local contractor who takes a liking to Eve's mocha drinks and chocolate croissants.  He doesn't want to be anyone's white knight, but when he suspects who Eve's saboteur is, he sets out to end it.

This is the second book in the Laurel Heights series and it surprised me with the addition of a third character who is having an identity crisis, but it all fits well with the story of Eve and Treat.  A cute, fluffy romance.  I blogged about the first book in the series in January.  267 pages (Kindle edition).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why Mermaids Sing by C.S. Harris

This is a mystery set in London in 1811, starring Sebastian St. Cyr, a young and rather swashbuckling nobleman detective.  This is the third in the series, but the first I have read.  It's a rather fun tale as mysteries go, with a combination of gory murders, noblemen trying to keep a secret, forbidden love affairs, a spunky kid for a sidekick - you get the picture.  It has a kind of 'made for TV' series quality about it, with many plot twists, some rather forced.  The historical details ring true, and show both the gritty and more refined sides of London.  342 pages

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood

Rosemary Bliss comes from a family of expert bakers. Not only does the food taste wonderful, but it has magical powers to cure whatever ails you - and more. Can Rosemary keep the secret cookbook safe while her parents are out of town on an errand of mercy? Only time will tell!

I found this to be a delightful read. I can easily see it being popular in upper elementary and middle school language arts classes. After reading the book, students could write their own short stories about magical baked goods gone awry. It also covers many topics sure to resonate with the tween group - family dynamics, sibling rivalry, first love and more. 374 pages.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hit Man by Lawrence Block

(Posted for Ann Roberts)

I picked this book up off my shelf and it’s been there for some time so I might have read it and reviewed it before.  Let’s hope not. I think I started it once upon a time and didn’t finish, as the idea of a thoughtful, “average guy” hit man was too disturbing for me at the time. If I’ve reviewed it before, just tell yourself, “Poor Ann. She’s under a lot of stress”. 

Lawrence Block paints the character of Keller with his usual wry wit and insight into human nature. Keller is a gentleman hit man who sips tea with an older woman on the front porch of the big house where he goes to get his assignments and fantasizes about settling down in a cozy cottage with a nice wife and kids in the towns that he visits to carry out his nefarious deeds. He is tender with women and animals, compassionate to those who are not on his hit list, and even some that are, yet has no qualms about taking out a reputed bad guy for money. But don’t try to double cross him. It won’t end well. Hit Man is an entertaining read and in the cknowledgments, Block, a New Yorker, claims to have written a portion of it in Lucedale, MS, not far from my home town. Why Lucedale? I had to wonder. 

Hard cover, 309 pages

Dead Dreams: A Dakota Mystery by M. K. Coker

(Posted for Ann Roberts)

Dreams are crushed in abundance in this new novel by our own Mary Kay Coker. When Sheriff Karen Mehaffey calls Adam Van Eck to look after his ailing mother, he reluctantly returns from pursuing his Broadway career—and is found days later, shotgun in hand, with his mother planted dead in her garden. With rising flood waters threatening the town and a corpse on her hands, Mehaffey, having doubts about her dream of hanging onto her job as sheriff  has just been offered a dream job in Washington, D.C. 

With Detective Marek Okerlund, distracted by his young daughter’s prodigious talent for art, a pursuit which only caused her deceased mother pain in life, and the anniversary of his wife’s death, a visit from his critically acclaimed artist mother-in-law adds to the pressure cooker situation.

Who other than Adam Van Eck could possibly want the retired schoolteacher Mrs. Van Eck dead? The only link to her life outside her garden is the Dream Team, a group of high school students dreaming up ways to revitalize the dying county of Eda. With dead and dying dreams all around, Karen and Marek must flush out a killer before the levees break.

Paperback, 300 pages

The Pesthouse by Jim Crace

(Posted for Ann Roberts)

I have a new favorite writer, the British author, Jim Crace. The Pesthouse is a thought-provoking and engaging tale about life in America after the house of cards has tumbled down. Ecological disaster has ruined the land and the ability to make a living and the population is back to walking and riding horses in a desolate landscape. Everyone’s goal is to get to the Eastern coast to catch a sailing ship to Europe. Two brothers, Franklin and Jackson Lopez, leave the desolate open plains of their childhood and their aging mother to reach the sailing ships and a new and better life.  Along the way, one brother dies.  The remaining brother escapes slavery, makes it to the coast, finds love and companionship in a “pesthouse” or place for the quarantined ill, before making his choice to leave his homeland or not.  Jim Crace writes an imaginative story, beautifully told.

Hardback, 255 pages

Out Of Range by C.J. Box

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

The ex-sheriff is crooked, the wildlife director clashes with workers, and the order to kill someone issued but is the shooter being set up?  Joe Pickett has to find the murderers and clear his name.  

Audio:  12 hrs. 7 min.
Print:  320 pages.