Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge


Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman

I've never read anything by Neil Gaiman before but felt the need after the Twitter storm about this book.  It was an interesting tale.  A little bit of young boy angst about being a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan, and Alice and Wonderland, mixed with a lot of familiar supernatural elements.  Mesmerizing stuff when read by Neil himself! 5 hours 48 minutes, unabridged. 192 pages.

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

I've been reading Sue Grafton since her first book, A is for Alibi, was published. Kinsey Milhone is a private investigator living in Santa Teresa, California in the 1980s.  She spends her days jogging to stay in shape, investigating the various cases that come her way, and visiting with her neighbor Henry and his extended family.  I love these mysteries because when Kinsey catches a major case, it is her self-discipline, i.e. working the case, interviewing the principals, following up on leads, etc. that cracks the case. That, and her addiction to Quarter Pounders with cheese (Does she get paid by McDonald's to plug them in her books?)!This outing finds Kinsey trying to find the link between the death of a homeless man and big Pharma drug testing.  496 pages.

Peace Like A River by Leif Enger

I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up to read.  After finishing it, I'm still not sure.  Is it about the unintended consequences of our actions?  Is it about faith and belief?  Is it just a story about a young asthmatic boy struggling for breath and courage to live?  320 pages.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

THE THREE GOLDEN KEYS by Peter Sis, STARRY MESSENGER by Peter Sis, THE TREE OF LIFE by Peter Sis


When I learned that an illustration I really liked was drawn by Peter Sis, I decided to check-out some of his illustrated children’s books.


The illustration that caught my attention was this
 

based on a famous painting by Giuseppe Archimboldo.
 
Well, I’m glad I did because I now know that THE THREE GOLDEN KEYS (w/the illustration) was written so that Sis could share with his young daughter his childhood memories of Prague through beautifully detailed drawings of the city at night as he imagines a journey along the streets of his youth.  It just so happens that one of my sisters and her family lived in Prague for several years so I will be glad to share this author/artist with her.

STARRY MESSENGER depicts the life of the famous scientist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and physicist, Galileo Galilei.  This book was a Caldecott Honoree.  THE TREE OF LIFE depicts the live of Charles Darwin, naturalist, geologist and thinker.

Meant to be children’s books, there is minimal text but lots and lots and lots of exquisitely rendered detail to pour-over.
Doubleday, 1994 53 p.
Farrar Straus Giroux, 1996 29 p.


Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003 34 p.

CLAIRE OF THE SEA LIGHT by Edwidge Danticat


This novel begins as the story of a young girl, Claire Limye Lanme, (Claire of the Sea Light) but really the novel tells a story of the intersecting lives of the inhabitants of her small Haitian village, Ville Rose.

The chapters are definitely not in chronological order, all characters are given their due.  The reader may meet the characters as adults but each person has a vivid back story so even less sympathetic villagers are understood as the product of life in Haiti.

Knopf, 2013, 238 p.

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky


I saw the movie based on this book (and directed by the author) and was curious enough to see how the book characterized the protagonist whose diary is the basis of the story.
Charlie as a high school freshman is the coming-of-age storyline.  A very bright student, Charlie has “normal” adolescent anxieties that can’t help but be colored by his best friend’s suicide and the sudden death of a beloved aunt.
I loved the depiction of the English teacher who nurtures the budding writer.

Gallery Books, 1999 213 p.

GREENWITCH by Susan Cooper


Book Three in the Dark Is Rising series unites the three children from Book One: Simon, Jane, and Barney along with their mysterious great uncle Merryman with young Will from Book Two.

The story plays out in Trewissick, a coastal village in Cornwall where the children continue their quest for a golden grail.  Jane is invited to participate in an ancient woman-only ceremony constructing the Greenwitch; this turns out to be central to the quest.

Aladdin, 2000 (text copyright, 1997) 147 p.

THE WEDDING by Nicholas Sparks and AT FIRST SIGHT by Nicholas Sparks


I heard and then looked up something I heard on the radio last month about the difference between literary and popular fiction. According to the authors of the study, “the boundary between "literary" and "popular" fiction can be blurry. But they say they "consider popular fiction to be more concerned with the plot than the characters. The characters themselves…tend to be more stereotyped, coherent, fully accounted for. Literary fiction focuses less on the plot, and more on the mental life of the characters, who are often "incomplete;" hence the need for the reader to make an effort to infer what their intentions, emotions, thoughts, motivations are."

I’m blogging this information because it informs my personal opinion about Nicholas Sparks’ novels.  I recently read two. THE WEDDING: Wilson and Jane follow in the footsteps of the story of Noah and Allie from The Notebook.  AT FIRST SIGHT: Jeremy and Lexie in Boonville, NC after falling in love in True Believer.  My daughter really likes Sparks’ novels.  Me, not so much, because they seem mostly formulaic “love stories,” even w/surprise twists late in the novels.

Maybe I read too many crime novels J

THE WEDDING, Grand Central, 2003 291 p.
AT FIRST SIGHT, Grand Central Publishing, 2005 289 p.

 

Death on the Hill by James R.Snedden

Jeremy Dawkins is an investigative reporter from Chicago on vacation visiting his former college roommate in California.  On his second night a murder occurs on The Hill and his roommate recruits him to write up the story for his small town newspaper.  Searching for a different angle to scoop the much larger LA Times, Jeremy becomes neck deep in the story and trying to solve the crime.

Well written with a steady pace and plenty of twists.  400 pages Nook HD version.

Rope Enough by Oliver Tidy

This is the first book in the Romney and Marsh File.  Two rapes, two possible suicides, and one hit run in the quiet countryside of Dover keeps Inspector Romney and Detective Sergeant Marsh busy looking for clues, motives and the criminals' mistakes.  I found this book to be a very cunning English murder mystery with several twists and motives finishing with a tidy ending.  an enjoyable read on a rainy day with a spot of tea.  573 pages Nook HD version.

Child of the Ghosts by Jonathan Moeller

Caina is sold by her mother to a sorcerer who uses blood for his magic.  When she escapes she is found by Ghosts who bring the child to safety and give her a choice for her future.  The story follows Caina's education and revenge on the sorcerer who took everything from her.

I picked this book solely by the title expecting a spooky Halloween tale.  Not a ghost story or supernatural thriller, but a fantastic alternative reality series filled with spies, quests for power, greed, assassins, and the righting of injustices by any means.  Book one is well written and thought out.  Although it was not what I expected I will look forward to reading more in the series and Caina's character development.  766 pages in Nook HD version.

Garbage! Monster! Burp! by Tom Watson

This is the story of a lovely town,the monster that lives at the bottom of the hill and the children who helped restore balance.  This is a fun and relatable story for kids.  The children are solve a problem that effects the town as it grows and the monster's problem as well.  Themes include environmental responsibility, consequences and healthy living.  40 pages on Nook HD version.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Advocate by Teresa Burrell



Sabre Brown is a juvenile court attorney who has a flair for figuring out when a story isn’t quite right, especially if it involves children who may be in an abusive or otherwise dangerous situation. This is the case with ten year old Alexis Murdock and two years old Jamie Smith. I found myself easily drawn into the plot and sympathizing with the characters.  I am putting this author on my to-read list. This is book one in The Advocate series. I am looking forward to book two. 292 pages.

Unleashed by Emily Kimelman

This is the first in the Sydney Rye series and gives us the answers why Joy is transformed into Sydney.  Joy lucks into a lucrative dog walking route and has the misfortune of discovering one of her employers dead.  While trying to clear the man's wife of murder she draws the attention of some very powerful and dangerous people. Love the pace of this book, never a lull in the story line.  327 pages Nook HD version.

Murder in the South of France by Susan Kiernan-Lewis

This is the first in the Maggie Newberry mysteries and I am looking forward to reading more in this series.  Maggie travels to the South of France in search of her sister's killer and her niece.  Along the way she meets Laurant is he there to aid or confuse her?  Is the woman she identified really her sister or is it one big con?  You'll have to read it to find out.  253 pages Nook HD version.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tuesday's Child by Dale Mayer

Samantha lives in solitude after a lifetime of being shunned and ridiculed for something she has no control over.  Events begin to occur that cause her to reevaluate her self imposed exile and force her to leave herself vulnerable again.  She has to trust in her abilities and friends in order to stop a serial killer.   Couldn't put this one down. 820 pages Nook HD version

The Ghosts in the Graveyard by Genevieve Jack

After losing everything Grateful makes a fresh start in the small town of Red Grove in the house her father inherited. The cottages back yard leads to the town's cemetery and her closest neighbor is the hot caretaker.  By all appearances life should be quiet.

The story follows Grateful's journey to discover if she will accept the responsibility she didn't know she was born with and what occurs to force her to make the choice.  This is the first book in the series and was a little over the top and predictable for my liking.  219 pages Nook HD version.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend


Jack the cat is building the perfect nest. It’s bound to attract the perfect chicken, who will lay the perfect egg, which will make the perfect omelet. And sure enough, a chicken shows up but so do a duck and a goose. Feathers get ruffled, and Jack gets much more than breakfast in this delightful children's book.

40 pages

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick


Ralph Truitt is a wealthy businessman in an isolated area of Wisconsin. He advertises in Eastern newspapers for 'a reliable wife'.  Catherine Land, who's survived a traumatic early life by using her wits and sexuality as weapons, answers the ad, portraying herself as 'a simple woman'. She plans to marry him, poison him, get his money, and return to her life a wealthy woman.

Truitt discovers he has been deceived as soon as she gets off the, but marries her anyway.  All this plays out against the bleakness of a Wisconsin winter, in a remote area that rivals 'Wuthering Heights'.

After they marry, Catherine discovers that Ralph has an his estranged son, and agrees to help find him. She begins to have misgivings about her plan to poison Ralph but still begins feeding him small doses of arsenic. He gets sick but doesn't die.

This is a dark, gothic tale with layer upon layer of psychological complexity and erotic overtones.

320 pages

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Louisa Clark is living a small life in a small English village; at 26 years of age, she has a boyfriend, works as a waitress in a small café, and lives with her parents. She has seldom been out of her village, but is content with her life. Then the café closes, and she is unemployed with no marketable skills.  She tries a couple of menial jobs that just don't work out. Then the 'Job Service' office sends her out to interview to be a caregiver to a paraplegic man. To her surprise, she is offered the job, but it is a temporary position, just a six-month contract.

Will Traynor is living a large life in London. He buys and sells companies, makes a lot of money, and is a globe trotter. He loves adventure, travel, and lots of sex with beautiful women. Then one day he is struck by a motorbike, which leaves him with a severe spinal injury. He has sensation, so can feel the pain, but only has limited movement of his left hand.

The story is about the relationship that develops between the two of them. This was a book club selection for me, and I didn't think I was going to like it. But I found it totally absorbing, and thinking a lot about quality of life and what makes life worth living.

385 pages.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani

Iza Trapani gives a delightful retelling of the well-loved children's song, The Itsy Bitsy Spider. This spider not only climbs the waterspout, but also the kitchen wall, yellow pail, rocking chair and maple tree! The children loved the illustrations and singing the new verses. 32 pages.

The Pumpkin Gospel: A story of a new start with God by Mary Manz Simon

I picked up this board book since it seemed to be a creative way to explain to children how God cleans us from within so His light can shine through us. The instructions said to expose each page to a bright lamp for a few minutes. Then turn out the lights to see the pages glow in the dark. I'm sorry to say, it didn't work very well. I could only get the cover and the last page to glow. The kids were disappointed. 14 pages.

Where Will the Animals Stay? by Stephanie Calmenson and Pets I Wouldn't Pick by Susan Alton Schmeltz

Books about animals are always popular with children, so I decided to dust off these two books in the Parents Magazine Read Aloud Original series. In Where Will the Animals Stay? the zoo at Peabody Square is undergoing major construction and a temporary home must be located for all the animals. A kind lady learns of the dilemma and offers her apartment house for the duration. Colorful illustrations offer children the chance to identify a wide variety of animals. 48 pages.

In Pets I Wouldn't Pick a young girl gives advice on what animals to avoid bringing home as pets. The children had fun considering the various pet possibilities.48 pages.

Adam Raccoon and the Flying Machine by Glen Keane and The Clever Carpenter by R.W. Alley

I deliberately paired Adam Raccoon and the Flying Machine (48 pages) and The Clever Carpenter (32 pages) together to read to a pair of three-year-olds one Wednesday evening. The first book brings back the popular Adam Raccoon. This time Adam is trying to build a flying machine without reading the directions. Not surprisingly, the machine has problems and Adam must start over to get it to work properly.

The second book introduces carpenter Samuel Plank who puts much thought into building something that is "just right". The townspeople, however, feel his creations just are not "proper". Who would want a dresser where the drawers are shaped like shirts or pants or socks? This all changes when retired sea captain, Captain Custard, asks Samuel to build him a new house and Samuel builds a house-ship!

Which book did the children like best? Both had loveable characters and charming illustrations, but it was The Clever Carpenter that won their hearts. They liked the out-of-the box thinking of Samuel Plank much better than the book encouraging them to follow directions. (Of course, that didn't prevent them from asking for more Adam Raccoon the next week!)

Old Maid's Puzzle by Terri Thayer

Dewey Pellicano is trying to make Quilter Paradiso a success. It looks like things are finally going her way when a national television show airs a story about her shop. The staff is busy preparing for a big sale and the onslaught of new customers when an unidentified body is discovered in an alley next to the store.Dewey tries to stay ahead of the bad publicity and keep the store moving forward.

I almost put this book down after the first chapter, but since I liked the first book in the series, I decided to keep reading. I'm glad I did. It turned out to be an intriguing mystery and I thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of the characters. Now I am waiting for book 3 to become available on MOLIB2GO - must be others who like the series judging from the holds list! 288 pages.

A Christmas Journey by Anne Perry

This story is set in Victorian England in the 1850s. Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould is enjoying a house party when a stinging remark made in jealousy by her friend, Isobel Alvie, leads to the suicide of Gwendolyn Kilmuir. Feeling Isobel should be held accountable for her cruel remark, the house party determines that she must travel to Gwendolyn's family to tell them of her death and the role she played in it. Failure to complete the task will lead to Isobel becoming an outcast in society.  Lady Vespasia joins Isobel on the journey which turns out to be more arduous than expected. I had heard good things about the author, but ultimately found the story slow and the characters rather uninteresting. 160 pages.

St. Patrick's Day Murder by Leslie Meier

When bar owner Dan Malone is found floating in the icy water, no one seems to mourn his death. Who is this grizzled, grumpy man and why would someone want to kill him? Lucy Stone, who writes for the local newspaper, uses her amateur sleuthing skills to separate fact from fiction as she digs into the story. This is book 14 in the Lucy Stone series. I have only read a few of the others, but had no trouble following the plot. 320 pages.

Steamed by Holly Jacobs

Quincy Mac arrives at the home of one of her clients and sets to work cleaning up a HUGE mess. What she doesn't realize until she reaches the bedroom, is that she has cleaned up a murder scene. I knew it was light-weight mystery going into it, so I didn't have high expectations. It was an okay read. I may or may not keep up with this Maid in LA Mystery series. 153 pages.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Servant of the Law by Dusty Richards

(Posted for Paul Mathews)


Bobby Budd is an outlaw who calls himself the Coyote Kid.  During his life he has been beaten up by a band of Mexicans, had a run-in with Indians.  He worked for a rancher, later became a hired gun.  The bad man left a good impression on a few people because at the end, the farmer’s wife, the Indian squaw, the store clerk, the nun, nobody knows them, or why they are in town.  260 pages.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The White Queen by Philappa Gregory

This series is now being made into a TV series; I think it would play well there - there's lots of improbable plot twists and overwrought romance.  The back of the book says it well "three different, yet equally relentless women who will scheme, manipulate, and seduce their way onto the English throne."  This is the second one that I've read, and it continues the story of the War of the Roses.  In this title, Elizabeth Woodville, a beauty, captivates the attentions of the newly crowned King of England, Edward IV, and proceeds to try to entrench her family in the royal line.  Of course many other factions are dismayed by this, and the story describes all the plotting and petty battles that ensue. There's also an undercurrent of witchcraft to add a bit of extra spice. It's somewhat surprising how the reins of power, and even the crown itself, can shift from one family to another in the space of a few weeks.  Gregory excels at conveying a sense of time and place, but certainly plays up the drama.  415 p.

Inside Out\Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

This is a Harlequin Teen paperback, but looked intriguing.  The premise is interesting - the setting is a completely enclosed cube of four levels, self-sustaining, with most people, 'scrubs', working at boring jobs to maintain 'Inside', while the 'uppers' served as managers and had more space for living quarters.  The main character, Trella, a teen loner, is Queen of the Pipes, or super at her job of following a robot vacuum as it cleans the inside of air ducts.  She's spunky, but has few friends.  However, she quickly gets involved in helping an outcast foment a small rebellion.  Trella ends up as reluctant leader of the rebellion. Of course Inside turns out to be space ship.  This is actually two books combined into one - Inside Out/Outside In - to explain more would give away the plot. The plot constructs and quirks are more interesting than the characters; many of them are rather wooden.  The story is rather slow in places. 608 pages. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

314 by A.R. Wise

Alma Harper has been trying to forget what happened in Widowsfield 16 years ago.  However, the number 314 haunts her, and threatens to bring her back to the day her brother disappeared.  When a reporter shows up days before March 14, she realizes she has to face her past and remember.

Great supernatural thriller to read in October!  Just enough to give you goosebumps but still able to sleep at night.  More mysteries promise to be unveiled in 314 Part 2.  223 pages in Nook HD version.

Dead Copy by Kit Frazier

Cauly MacKinnon is an obituary writer wanting to become a real reporter for the Austin Sentinel.  Cauly is asked to write a fake obit to make a key witness in a trail disapper until his testimony.  The witness is gunned down in front of her and as he is dying she promises to look out for his sister, Faith.  Faith disappears without a trace the night her brother is killed.  There are several interesting characters that keep the storey line fresh and interesting.  The plot weaved until the end which I like. 819 pages in the Nook HD version.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland by Ace Atkins


(Posted for Paul Mathews)

The big shots want to take over the seniors' home to have enough room to build their casino. This book involves money, bribes, the local mob, and murder. Who is there to help the seniors but Spenser and Sixkill.

Audio:  6 hrs. 55 min.
Print:  306 pages

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson


San Piedro Island, in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state, is an isolated and insular world in 1954. It has a large Japanese-American population, which was loaded up and hauled away to a prison camp named Manzanar, where they were incarcerated during World War II.  Many of the residents of San Piedro still fear and distrust those who returned.

When Carl Heine, a local fisherman, is found dead in his own gill-net on his boat after a foggy night at sea, the sheriff quickly arrests Kabuo Miyamoto, accusing him of murder despite scant evidence of a crime being committed.  Ishmael Chambers, who owns the island newspaper, covers the trial. Much of the book is seen through his eyes as he remembers growing up on the island.

The novel invokes the sight, the sound, the smell of an island redolent with strawberry farms and cedar trees.  The story itself is a languid, slow-moving tale of people who live a simple life with complex emotions. There is a back story involved for each major character, and those are developed in depth.

I found it to be a compelling book.

 

482 pages

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Painted Faces" by L.H. Cosway

This was a totally unique love story between two unconventional people.  Freda Wilson, Fred to her friends, is an outspoken and funny culinary graduate who lives in Dublin and works two jobs.  When she meets her new next door neighbor, the beautifully handsome and magnetic Nicholas, she definitely wants to get to know him better.  He says he's moved to town to perform regularly at a friend's bar after spending years working his way around the world on the nightclub circuit and invites Fred to see his show.  She's surprised to learn that he performs as Vivica Blue - he's a drag queen!  However, that doesn't prevent her from still being smitten with him, and when he asks her to be his assistant, she can't wait to get to know him better.  When she learns that he's straight and loves the ladies, Fred can't believe her luck.  But she's got body issues (she says she's a size 10 but thinks she's fat), a big mouth, and a terrible track record with men.  Nicholas doesn't seem to mind as he's constantly telling her how attracted he is to her.  Could they possibly make it work?

I really liked this book - it was funny, heartbreaking, and romantic, with a bit of suspense thrown in.  Fred is a great character, and its her voice that's telling the story.  She's very self deprecating and doesn't take life too seriously.  Nicholas is intriguing, charismatic, and a bit of a mystery.  The fact that he's so in touch and comfortable with his feminine side makes him an unusual lead for a romance, but it totally works.  I wish there were a sequel!  358 pages (Kindle edition).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"The Other Brooks Boy" by Diane Roth

I don't know why but this is the second book I've read recently about a young widow falling for her dead husband's brother.  Greg Brooks has been helping Cara, his brother's widow, with her teenagers and household repairs in the year and a half since his brother was killed in a car accident.  He and Cara have known each other a long time and have always been friends; they even graduated from high school in the same class.  But as Cara's grief starts to fade and she accompanies the divorced Greg to several social events, they begin to feel more than familial love for each other. 

I really enjoyed this story.  It was well written and had a few twists that made this romantic trope seem fresh.  The author did a good job conveying Cara's kids' reactions to their mother's changing relationship with their uncle, too.  I'd definitely read more from this author, and since this book is the first in a series, I probably will.  276 pages (Kindle edition).

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Clifford's Happy Easter by Norman Bridwell

It's always fun to read about Clifford and Emily Elizabeth's adventures.  32 pages paperback.

The Teeny Tiny Ghost by Kay Winters

Perfect October bedtime story.  My toddler and I enjoyed discussing the illustrations as much as reading about the teeny tiny ghost's fears.  32 pages paperback.

Five by Christie Rich

Great Fae fantasy book for tweens through adults.  A few unexpected twists and on going puzzles to figure out for Rayla our heroine.  This is the first book in the Elemental Enmity series 754 pages on the Nook edition.

The Undaunted: The Miracle of the Hole-in-the-Rock Pioneers by Gerald N. Lund


(Posted for Paul Mathews)

The journey was long and dangerous. The pioneers were answering the Call, it was to create a buffer between hostile natives, the lawlessness and civilization. This is the story of the Hole in the Rock Pioneers.  816 pages.