Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Monday, September 30, 2013

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

I'm so grateful for SusanM and TomL for introducing me to the Inspector Gamache books by Louise Penney! I have read each book with a growing appreciation for Penny's ability to weave poetry, character, redemption, and quirky aspects of Canadian culture (curling anyone?) into stories I hate to finish reading.  This installment of the series starts off with the death of a reclusive old woman who fails to show up for Christmas in Three Pines. Inspector Gamache must delegate the investigation of her death to his new second in command so that he can finally deal with Francoeur, the corrupt head of the Surete du Quebec.  416 pages.

The Ides of April by Lindsey Davis, read by Lucy Brown

The Ides of April is the birthday of Flavia Albia, a Roman informer (what we would call a detective).  She usually spends her birthday with her adopted family but this year, Flavia Albia is busy trying to find a serial killer.  Check out the first book of a new series by Lindsey Davis.368 pages. Unabridged audiobook.  11 hours.

Benediction by Kent Haruf, read by Mark Bramhall

I first fell in love with Kent Haruf's writing in Plainsong.  Haruf writes sparely yet his characters are so well developed you feel like you're visiting with longtime neighbors.  Benediction takes you into the lives of Dad Lewis, wife Mary, and daughter Lorraine just when they learn that Dad has terminal lung cancer. If you can make it to the end of this book without weeping, you're made of sterner stuff than me.  272 pages. Unabridged audiobook.  8 hours 49 minutes.

Black Notice by Patricia Cornwell

I read this title through my library Overdrive account while on vacation.  I only chose it because it was an available mystery.  This is the 10th in a series featuring Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, so it's a forensics-based mystery.  The plot begins with Scarpetta being called to examine a decomposed body in a shipping container in the Richmond,Virginia harbor. This is the first one I've read, a disadvantage since more than half the story involved resolving issues from previous story lines.  The forensics/detective parts of the plot were quite far-fetched, involving preternatural elements to provide intrigue.  I agree with some reviewers on amazon.com that found the writing tedious in places, and the resolution of the plot not very believable.  This received very mixed reviews; maybe the earlier ones are better. 544 pages in paperback.

Zero Hour by Clive Cussler

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Tesla in the 1890’s worked on developing a unlimited energy source. In our present day, one man has also worked and found a source of power. His research group is killed, all but two, so his motivation is revenge on the world. Nature can be destructive and control very dangerous.  400 pages.


The title comes from a poem by Edgar Allan Poe:  “Alone”.  Can a 12-year old boy in foster care be a murderer and, if so, how does a child become a murderer?  Hanne, now promoted to chief inspector at Oslo Police, struggles with the crime and her new role.

Translated by Anne Bruce, published in Norwegian 1995

Scribner, 2013, 262 p.


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled…Matthew 5:6

I enjoyed this Hanne Wilhelmsen mystery best of the four I’ve read. Bloody numbers at macabre crime scenes appear all over Oslo but there are no bodies, animal or human.  Like another this book in the series, temperature is almost another character.  At first another unsolved case, a brutal rape, appears to be unrelated but as more discoveries are made,  Hanne and a colleague, Hakon Sand uncover a serial killer.

Translated by Anne Bruce, originally pubished in 199
Scribner, 2012, 211 p.


Book one in series of 8 (only three are translated into English) refers to the Goddess of Justice and  introduces detective Hanne Wilhelmsen and her colleague in the drugs squad, Billy T.

In this fast moving crime mystery of corrupt drug-dealing lawyers, deception and murder, Hanne must figure out a coded message.  I love this descriptive passage: (Hanne) had dug a deep moat between her professional life and her private lie…she loved another woman, a defect in this otherwise perfect human being.  Perfection was her shield, she…was only interested in doing a good job.
Translated by Tom Geddes, originally published in Norwegian in 1993.

Scribner 2012, 343 p.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge is a 7th grade math teacher in Crosby, Maine.  She is the cause of her son moving across the country and into therapy; she causes her pharmacist husband, Henry, to retreat into himself, and she drives an emotional bulldozer through the heart of her small town. She is a character in each of the thirteen inter-connected short stories in this book, which spans 30 years.  “Hell. We’re always alone. Born alone. Die alone,” she says. Even though she is only a peripheral character in some of the stories, she will be the character you never forget.


288 pages.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Hazel Grace Lancaster is 16, and has lived with stage-IV terminal cancer for three years. She is living ‘My Best Life’, but her mother thinks she is depressed, and pressures her to go to a support group. There she meets Augustus Waters, a 17-year-old boy who has ostensibly beaten cancer, even though he lost his leg to it.

Hazel Grace and Augustus are both irreverent, funny, and refuse to pity themselves, or be pitied. They discuss existential questions of live and death, and slowly fall in love.  They discuss their ‘cancer perks’ – things cancer kids get that regular kids don’t.  They talk about ‘paragons of stoic cancer-kid heroism’. In other words, Hazel Grace and Augustus are not your typical teenagers.

This book is a love story, if an unconventional one, ineffably sad and yet somehow funny and uplifting and tender.  I tend to shy away from ‘best books…’, but am really glad I gave this one a chance.

 337 pages.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Lancelot and The Wolf (The Knights of Camelot #1)" by Sarah Luddington

This was a really unusual retelling of the King Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot love triangle.  The story begins with Lancelot banished from England by Arthur after being publicly flogged for his affair with Guinevere, Arthur's wife.  Once in France, Lancelot saves the life of a squire, who then comes under his employ.  But the Fey are hunting Arthur and want to end his reign as King, so Lancelot and his new squire must return to England to convince Arthur that only with the help of the missing Merlin, can they battle the Fey and save his place on the throne.  As an added twist, Arthur and Lancelot have a much deeper relationship than the king and his wife.  This was an interesting story with lots of action and some unrequited love thrown in to the mix.  I'd like to read the next in the series.  253 pages (Kindle edition).

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Oh I love to read about Amelia Peabody! I laugh aloud at her pithy observations about the people she and her husband Emerson encounter on their various archaeological adventures.  In this outing, Amelia and company go to Palestine in search of a German spy. The book includes a map of Jerusalem detailing all the ancient quarters of the city.  Amelia and Emerson visit all the digs taking place around the city, searching for a clue to who the spy could be and what they could possibly be up to in Palestine.  An enjoyable romp!  307 pages.

Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, introduces an interesting new character.  Cormoran Strike is a former military policeman who lost a leg serving in Afghanistan.  Now he's a struggling private detective who has just been paid a large advance to investigate the suicide of super model Lula Landry.  Rowling takes her time introducing and giving the back story of each new character Cormoran meets during his investigation.  The mystery behind Lula's death is almost an afterthought.  I hope this is the first of a new series of novels by J. K. Rowling.  464 pages.

Goofy's Big Race: A Walt Disney Beginning Reader

This is a retelling of Aesop's famous fable,The Tortoise and the Hare. This is volume four in Walt Disney's Fun-to-Read Library introduced in the 1980s. Even after all these years, it is still fun to read and fun to listen to! Colorful illustrations help keep the children's attention. 48 pages.

But No Elephants by Jerry Smath

Grandma Tildy has a soft heart for pets - except elephants! She finds each new pet she adopts can do something extremely well that makes her life easier. Can the same be said for the elephant that is left at her door? Charming illustrations and a delightful tale. 40 pages.

Adam Raccoon Series by Glen Keane

I have recently been taking care of the children in our church nursery and decided to introduce them to the lovable Adam Raccoon series written and illustrated by Glen Keane.The illustrations are colorful and the stories quickly capture the children's attention. The kids enjoy seeing what tale I pull out of my reading bag and are ALWAYS wanting to hear what Adam is up to now. Each story has a life lesson. There is even a discussion guide available in the back of the book. This is the Parables for Kids about Witnessing series. I wish I had purchased all of the titles when they first came out. They can be hard to get a hold of now.

As a side note, Glen Keane is best known for his character animation at Walt Disney Studios for feature films including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Tangled. 

So far, we have read Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls, Adam Raccoon and the King's Big Dinner, Adam Raccoon and the Mighty Giant and Adam Raccoon and the Race to Victory Mountain. Each book has 48 pages.

Soane Monroe Mystery Series by Cheryl Bradshaw

Sloane Monroe is a gutsy private eye determined to solve every crime that comes her way. I took a chance on this boxed set because the price was right and it was recommended by one of those "If you like...try" sites. Turns out, I very much liked! The mysteries are engaging and fast-paced. The character development from book to book is strong.  I will definitely keep this author on my to-read list.

The set includes: Black Diamond Death (312 pages), Sinnerman (322 pages) and I Have a Secret (266 pages).

In for a Penny by Maggie Toussaint

This book introduces us to Cleopatra Jones, an accountant, who stumbles across a dead body on the golf course. Police identify Cleo's best friend, Jonette Moore, as the number one suspect. It soon becomes apparent that if the crime is to be solved, it will be up to Cleo to do so. While billed as a romantic suspense, I found it light on both counts. Still it was a fine first book in a cozy mystery series. 216 pages.

The First Rule by Robert Crais

Joe Pike is another great Robert Crais character.  He's former special forces, mercenary for hire, and can go weeks without talking.  You would not want to piss him off!  But Joe has a tender side and we get a rare glimpse of it in this book.  An old friend of Joe's is murdered in a home invasion robbery.  Was the friend selling illegal arms? Or was his murder a mistake?  Joe is determined to find the truth and the killers.  But will Joe take the law into his own hands and execute the killers?  Take a fast ride through the Southern California European Organized Crime scene. 432 pages.

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

A classic mystery by Agatha Christie featuring my favorite amateur sleuth, Jane Marple. Need anything else be said? 256 pages.

Friday, September 27, 2013

In My Backyard by Don L. Curry

This is a cute book about a little girl that explores her backyard and finds all neat things going on. And at the end of the book she says "In my backyard it is SPRING!!" We just love that part. CUTE Book!!

32 pgs.

Bichons Frises by Connie Miller

Did I mention my daughter likes dogs. This book was about the little white puff ball dogs. And their needs when they are a pet. It also talks about their special talents. And how cute and cuddly they are. NO Andrea is not getting a Bichons Frise. Cute book. Madalyn approved!

24 pages

101 Dalamations by Justine Korman

This book was chosen by my oldest Madalyn, she loves dogs. And this book has inspired Maddy to be Cruella for Halloween. Should be interesting. Great book, great movie!!

24 pages

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by RH Disney

Again my girls love the movie so we had to read the book. And we all know this story. I think the girls could listen to me read this one over and over again. :)

24 pages

Barbie: Princess and the Pauper by Linda Aber

Having two girls we have a ton of barbie stuff at my house!! And we have this movie so when we found the book we couldn't wait to read it. The girls absolutely loved this book, I think mainly because it is exactly like the movie but they love listening to mommy read. And I enjoyed it because it has a message. Now granted my girls have probably no idea what that message is but they will someday understand.

Pgs. 80

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Book for Black-Eyed Susan by Judy Young

Cora was 10 years old when her family leaves their home in Missouri and sets out on the Oregon Trail in search of a brighter future and greater opportunity in the West. But Cora’s mother dies in childbirth, leaving Cora and her father with a newborn infant to care for. Her father makes a decision about the baby that breaks Cora’s heart, but she finds a way to use the past to forge a link to the future.

A MASL ‘Show Me’ Award book nominee, 2013-2014.

32 pages

Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey: the lost legacy of Highclere Castle by Countess of Carnarvon

In 1895, Almina Wombwell, illegimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild, married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, and became the Countess of Carnaravon and mistress of Highclere Castle. HIghclere Castle is the setting for the popular PBS television series, Downton Abbey. The current Countess of Carnarvon has used diaries, letters and photographs from its archives to recount the story of Lady Almina and the Earl.

When the couple married, the Earl’s fortunes were in decline. Almina, on the other hand, despite being of dubious heritage, had the Rothschild fortune at her disposal. She re-decorated the castle, and updated it through the years with indoor plumbing, and electricity. In the meantime, the Earl was deeply involved with Howard Carter, who was an eminent Egyptologist. With the advent of World War I, Lady Almina found her calling in nursing. She converted Highclere Castle into a hospital for wounded officers, and later moved that hospital to a larger facility in London. But HIghclere Castle remained the home base for the Carnarvons.

Shortly before his death in 1923, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered the tomb of King Tutahkhamun. After his death,  his son became the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, and the castle passed to him. But largely because of the efforts (and money) of Lady Almina, it did not suffer the fate of many English country estates. It remains in the Carvarvon family, a living monument to Lady Almina.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Somebody's Lover" by Jasmine Haynes

First in the Jackson Brothers series, this has a silly title but is a good novella about Taylor Jackson, a widow and mother of two young boys, falling for her dead husband's youngest brother, Jace.  The Jacksons are all the family she has left, and Taylor is mortified to find herself attracted to Jace.  What will his other brothers and their parents think?  Lou, her dead husband, was the scion of the family and his death affected everyone.  Jace has secretly loved Taylor since the first time they met, but he blames himself for his brother's accidental death and doesn't think Taylor or his family will ever forgive him.  This story had the right amount of family angst and romance to make it a quick and enjoyable read.  124 pages (Kindle edition).

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Rocky" by Bianca D'Arc

Maggie's husband,Tony, was killed eight months ago, and she's on the verge of giving birth to their twins.  She's been running from the evil entity that killed him and finally arrives at the home of Rocky, her and Tony's longtime friend, for help in delivering her babies and hiding them.  She's come to the right place - Rocky's been in love with her forever, and he's the same type of shifter as Tony - a bear. 

This was a quick read that held my attention with an unusual storyline.  I'd never read anything in which newborn babies shifted into bear cubs!  I might go back and read the other stories in the series.  179 pages (Kindle edition).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ghost Ships of New England by Christopher Rondina

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Four centuries of history and folklore have laid the groundwork for this book.  There are also ghosts and ships out there.

Print:  174 pages.
Audio:  4 hrs. 10 min.