Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

In the fourth book of her Inspector Gamache series, Louise Penny fills in some of Gamache's personal history.  Gamache's family life is compared to the Morrows', a wealthy family having their annual family reunion at the same resort Gamache and his wife have traditionally celebrated their anniversary. When one of the Morrows is murdered, Gamache must sort through all the resentment and anger that has festered over the years to discover the murderer.  322 pages.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

I was so sad to read Maeve Binchy's last book!  I will miss her stories of ordinary, good people.  I always read her books for comfort and this last book did not disappoint me.  A woman comes back to her Irish home town after living many years in the U.S.A.  She buys the ancestral home of the local gentry and turns it into a hotel.  Everyone involved in the hotel gets a chance to tell their story.  A very satisfying read! 325 pages.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

In this second outing with Inspector Gamache, a woman is electrocuted while watching a curling match.  Once again Penny manages to mix humor, compassion, and great plotting to unravel the mystery of who killed the woman and why.  I like how she develops the characters and their relationships from one book to the next too! 314 pages.

Doc Dudley's Daughter by Elisabeth Hamilton Friermood

Emmeline Louisa Dudley has just graduated from Harper City High School.  The year is 1898 and the United States is at war with Spain in Cuba.  Friermood manages to weave a subtle understory about the cost of war into the story of a young woman beginning a career as a librarian. I loved the part about moving the old library collection into the town's new Carnegie library. 238 pages.

Still Life by Louise Penny

Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec is called in to investigate when a woman is shot dead by a bow hunter.  Was it a tragic accident or murder?  In this first book of the series Penny introduces the residents of Three Pines, a picturesque village near the Canadian border, and Inspector Gamache.  I loved meeting the characters and learning how Inspector Gamache focuses on finding the emotional motive behind the murder.  A great read! 312 pages.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I didn't want to read this book-something about the author's name being in a larger size font than the title?  Once I started reading it however, I couldn't put it down.  It was like watching 24 hour news coverage of a disaster-I was saddened, sickened even, but I had to stay tuned to find out how it was going to end.  As I read I kept asking myself, "Do people really act this way today?"  I hope not.  419 pages.

Gone to Ground by John Harvey

A clever murder mystery built around two possible premises:  Was Stephen Bryan, a gay academic, murdered in some lover's quarrel, or was it somehow connected to the book Bryan was researching about a movie starlet who died in a car accident that some think may have been suicide?  The two detectives handling the case, Will Grayson and his partner, Helen Walker, make a believable, interesting pair.  Sometimes the threads of the story seem a bit disjointed, but it does all come together in the end. The story is convincingly set in a small city in England. A good read. 387 pages.

Cold Pursuit by Jefferson Parker

A gritty mystery set in San Diego has veteran homicide cop Tom McMichael investigating the murder of an 84 year old city patriarch, Pete Braga.  To complicate matters, McMichael's family and the Bragas harbor old family feuds.  Good solid characters, a lively plot, and a solid sense of place make this a first rate mystery.  I will probably try some others by this author.  360 pages

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Undeniable" by Julie Elizabeth Leto

Former homeless drug addict Danielle Stone has finally got her life back on track thanks to her much older, rich brother putting her into rehab and sending her to art school.  She's overseeing the renovation of an old building into a new restaurant and providing its artistic vision.  She's drawn to woodworker Nick Davis, a master craftsman hand building some of the restaurant's furniture.  He's attracted to her, too, but for more than her beauty and talent.  He believes that she's the reincarnation of his dead wife . . . who died over 100 years ago.

This was a quick and easy contemporary romance with a touch of paranormal.  Although I thought Danielle would be much harder and cynical after living for five years on the streets, the lead characters seemed to connect and had good chemistry.  248 pages.

Sweet Masterpiece by Connie Shelton

Samantha Sweet, Sam for short, is a part-time baker of succulent sweets and part-time employee of the USDA where her job is to break into homes, then clean and maintain the abandoned properties until they can be sold. The former job is hectic, but safe. The latter job can lead to interesting adventures - like discovering the home you are breaking into isn't abandoned or finding an unmarked grave in the backyard of another. Sam's strong sense of justice leads her to follow trails to right wrongs. She also seems to have a little magical assistance to help her along the way. I found the assortment of quirky characters appealing and will likely continue to read the other books in the series. 242 pages.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Snagged by Carol Higgins Clark

Panty hose that never snag or sag, are easily cleaned and incredibly comfortable. Sounds like a dream come true! Richie Blossom hopes to sell his invention for big bucks just in time to save his retirement home. Unfortunately, it appears that someone wants to keep the invention from ever reaching the store shelves and the easiest way to do it is to get Richie out of the way. In steps Regan Reilly, private eye and niece, to keep him safe. The plot is pretty predictable but I found some of the dialogue amusing. The characters aren't very deep, but they are likeable. This was an okay read for a day when all I really wanted was a distraction, so this was a perfect fit. 320 pages.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Continent by Jim Crace

(Posted for Ann Roberts)

This first published book by Jim Crace is a collection of loosely connected short stories set on a fictional continent. While amusing, I did not enjoy the short stories as much as his more fully realized novels.

Hardback, 138 pages

The Gift of Stones by Jim Crace

(Posted for Ann Roberts)

Set before the advent of the Bronze Age, The Gift of Stones centers around a community of stoneworkers, living in a village near the sea. They make a good living by the trade of their stonework, in the form of weaponry and tools, but live their lives completely devoted to working with stone, from daybreak until nightfall. A young boy, maimed by an arrow, becomes something of an outcast due to his inability to work with stone, the raison d’etre for the entire village.  Because of his ostracism, he ventures from the confines of the village to explore the unknown and returns with tales of ships and the seashore, disquieting the daily grind of the stoneworkers, even as they remain oblivious to changes in the outside world. The revelation of an arrow made of bronze in the back of another outcast brings the first glimpse of the change that has taken place in the world outside of the village.

Hardback, 179 pages

The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

(Posted for Ann Roberts)

This is undoubtedly among the worst books I have ever read; the plot mundane, the characters insipid and unappealing. The story is about Jo Marie Rose, a widow, who has just arrived in Cedar Cove to run a bed and breakfast. Her first guests are Joshua Weaver and Abby Kincaid. Joshua has come to collect a few family mementos from his dying stepfather, a cruel man him who drove Josh out of his home in high school. Joshua is angry and bitter and wants nothing more than get his stuff and run.

Abby, who has not been home for 20 years, has returned for her brother's wedding. She is dealing with painful memories of a friend who was killed in an automobile accident, which happened while Abby was driving. She, too, only wants to do what she has to do and then get out of town. However, they both meet the loves of their life and live happily ever after.  My reading this book is further testimony to my reading compulsion. What’s worse is this author has millions of books in print. Which made me think, if I were to pen some similar drivel, could I get her publisher to publish me? I’m thinking there’s a retirement plan there!

 Paperback, 330 pages

Being Dead by Jim Crace

(Posted for Ann Roberts)

More wonderful writing from Jim Crace. In the sand dunes of Baritone Bay, the middle-aged Celice and Joseph, returning to the seacoast where they met as students of zoology, lie half-naked, undiscovered and rotting for a week, prey to sand crabs, flies, and gulls. But as Crace so beautifully writes: 

"Their bodies had expired, but anyone could tell—just look at them—that Joseph and Celice were still devoted. For while his hand was touching her, curved round her shin, the couple seemed to have achieved that peace the world denies, a period of grace, defying even murder. Anyone who found them there, so wickedly disfigured, would nevertheless be bound to see that something of their love had survived the death of cells. The corpses were surrendered to the weather and the earth, but they were still a man and wife, quietly resting; flesh on flesh; dead, but not departed yet."

The story line moves back in forth in time, between their courtship and their final journey to the place where they fell in love. As the narrative moves backward, we see Celice and Joseph as young lovers, as parents, as academics, and finally as they make the small decisions about their day that will lead them towards their own deaths. It is six days before their bodies are found. Crace describes in detail their gradual return to the land that they loved with the help of crabs, birds, and insects.

Hardback, 210 pages

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shadow of Doubt by Jonnie Jacobs

When Kali O'Brien returns to her hometown she quickly finds herself dealing with more than her father's estate.  She also discovers that her close childhood friend has been accused of murder. Despite her doubts, Kali looks into the crime and winds up becoming a target for the murderer as well.  I had a hard time believing that lawyer Kali wouldn't go to the police with some of the incidents she experienced and evidence she uncovered. Rather a ho-hum book. It didn't help that the digital edition had missing sentences, misspellings and other editorial problems. Kali O'Brien series, book 1.  308 pages.

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

I don't know about you, but I sometimes have trouble finding the proper balance between being a do-er (a Martha) and being a worshiper (a Mary). This book takes the Bible stories involving sisters Mary and Martha and looks at them from a fresh perspective. Can you be both a do-er and a worshiper? The answer is a resounding, "YES!" The important part is to figure out when you should be doing which piece - and sometimes they can  be simultaneous. This book can help you discover how to center your life (and work) in a worshipful way. It includes a study guide that should prove helpful for individuals and in group settings. 256 pages.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Exclusively Yours (Kowalski Family #1)" by Shannon Stacey

Keri Daniels and Joe Kowalski were high school sweethearts nearly 20 years ago.  They had plans to attend the University of New Hampshire and be together forever . . . until Keri got cold feet and left for California, where she's been ever since.  She's a successful writer for a Hollywood magazine, but she wants to be an editor.  Unfortunately, the only way her boss will promote her is to get the juicy details on the life of Joe Kowalski, the reclusive, best-selling author of horror novels.  Surprisingly, he agrees on several conditions, one of which is to spend two weeks with the Kowalski family on their annual camping vacation.

I very much enjoyed this author's voice.  We must be close to the same age because of the cultural references made when Keri and Joe were in high school.  I also laughed out loud and smiled many times at her descriptions of city girl Keri trying to hold on to her dignity, her professionalism, and her heart in the mud and mosquitoes of rural NH.  Good stuff and it was a free download to boot!  322 pages (Kindle edition).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blood Trail by C.J. Box

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Decades old rape case involving five prominent men of the town.  The governor is looking for the killer of hunters and to find this very skilled person, he must release two men from prison.  One doesn’t return to prison and the other takes the long walk.

Audio:  9 hrs. 10 min.
Print:  320 pages.