Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stolen Prey by John Sandford

Part of Stanford's 'prey' series, with tough detective/strong guy Lucas Davenport.  Brutal murders, drug cartels, computer hackers, theft and betrayal - all packed into one fast-paced thriller.  Some plotting is fairly predictable, with some pointless subplots, but overall a fun read.  402 pages

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, love and terror in Algeria by John Kiser

What if the most effective way to fight terrorism is not to fight at all?  John Kiser explores this question in his book about the monks who chose to stay and continue their work in Algeria during the country's civil war.  The French Trappist monks lived in Tibhirine for many years leading a life of prayer and service to the local people.  They provided free medical care to those in need and strove to understand Islam, the religion of their neighbors and host country.  In the early 1990s however, the civil war in Algeria turned deadly for foreigners living in Algeria. Assassination, kidnapping, and murder became commonplace. In late March 1996, seven of the monks were kidnapped and their heads were found two months later.  Their deaths inspired ordinary Algerian Muslims to rise up in protest.  I read this book after seeing the film "Of Gods and Men" and recommend it for anyone interested in the clash of values between fundamentalist Islam and the western world. 352 pages.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"MacRieve" by Kresley Cole

This is book 13 in the Immortals After Dark series and is much better than the last one, which I reviewed in 2012, "Lothaire."  Uilleam (Scottish for William) MacRieve is a Lykae, a centuries old clan of warriors each with the spirit of a wolf within them that sometimes rises.  Will's parents and unborn sister died because he was seduced by a succubus when a young teen.  He has lived with this guilt for over 900 years and hates himself intensely.  In previous books, Will and other immortal creatures of the Lore had been captured and tortured by a group of humans called The Order, but he escaped only to be tormented by what was done to him.  He contemplates committing suicide, but when he hears that the daughter of the leader of The Order has been captured and is up for auction, he and his twin brother, Munro, decide to try to buy her to lure her father into a trap.  However, when the captured human woman turns out to be his one true mate, their plans take a complete turn.  Now they must protect her from the other creatures of the Lore who want to torture her for her father's crimes.

Chloe Todd has no idea why she's been taken prisoner and put up for auction by witches.  She's trained all her life to play soccer in the Olympics, and just as she's made the team, her father disappears after giving her a book on supernatural creatures called the Lore.  Not only is she confused by his absence and this book, her body has started behaving in ways she can't control.  Is she really human or did her long dead mother pass something else on to her daughter?  If so, what is it?

Will is a likable, sympathetic hero (most of the time), a Scottish warrior who's had more than his share of tragedies.  At the beginning of his story, he's contemplating committing suicide.  Even though he is considered immortal, there is a way it can be done, but when his wolf scents Chloe on the auction block, he is finally given a reason to live.  Chloe embodies most if not all of the characteristics that make a classically great heroine - physically and mentally tough, unwilling to take crap from anyone (even immortals physically stronger and bigger than she), quick with a retort, and open to new experiences.  Without giving too much away, Chloe and Will are in deep conflict through parts of the book, but she remains strong and defiant.  I really enjoyed this entry in the IAD series and am anticipating Munro's story in the next book.  (The series should be read in order; they are not stand alone books.)  358 pages.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Cider House Rules by John Irving

I visited Maine for the first time in September, and looked for some books with Maine as the setting.  Irving wrote this in 1985, and it's a pithy character study of the eccentric Dr. Wilbur Larch, obstetrician, founder and director of the orphanage in St. Cloud's.  The orphanage is populated almost exclusively by babies left there after their mothers give birth.  Or, if they find Dr. Larch early in their pregnancy, he will provide an abortion.  He also trains one of the orphans, once he is grown, who doesn't seem to want to leave the orphanage.  The story is really about how complex our choices and our relationships can be, how hard it can be to find love in our lives, and how we have to be prepared to live with the consequences of our actions.  552 pages

Radio My Way by Ron Della Chiesa

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

This is about a Boston broadcaster of over 35 years at a station dedicated classical music. Says the worst thing that ever happened to him is hearing dead air.  At the end of this book are great biographies of musicians. 

Audio:  14 hrs. 45 min.
Print:  291 pages

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"The Untamed Mackenzie" by Jennifer Ashley

This is book 5.5 in the Highland Pleasures series, which I again read out of order because I didn't know it existed (like my previous post, it is a novella as opposed to a full novel).  This one is about the Mackenzie brothers' half-brother, Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows.  The old Duke of Kilmorgan is his biological father, but because his mother is an English barmaid, he was never acknowledge by the horrible old man.  However, his brothers have welcomed him into the family, and he finds that he's closest in looks and temperament to the current Duke, Hart Mackenzie.  Fellows works for Scotland Yard in London and is well known for his ability to successfully capture every criminal he goes after, but when it comes to matters of love he turns his back.  He's fallen for the sister-in-law of Mac Mackenzie, a woman far above him in station and manners.   Lady Louisa Scranton has had her eyes on Fellows since the Duke's wedding the previous year where she discretely initiated a scorching kiss with him, but she's been accused of murdering a wealthy bishop and her future looks bleak.  Can Fellows stay impartial while he leads the investigation or will he and Louisa's mutual attraction jeopardize his career and her life?  Another great Mackenzie story from Ashley; I just wish it had been longer and we were able to get the know the heroine and hero as well as we did the other couples in the series.  194 pages (Kindle edition).

"A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift" by Jennifer Ashley

This is book 4.5 in the Highland Pleasures series, about which I've posted in the past (including this month).  I read this out of order because I didn't know about it.  Luckily, it was a free download to my Kindle since none of the local libraries have it.  This story takes place eight months after Hart Mackenzie, the Scottish Duke of Kilmorgan, has made a duchess out of his first love, Lady Eleanor Ramsay, during the final weeks of the year.  Eleanor is very pregnant with their first child and can't do much to help with the preparations for Christmas and Hogmanay, the Scottish word for and celebration of the new year.  All of the Mackenzie brothers and their wives, as well as extended family and guests, have gathered at Kilmorgan to celebrate and await the arrival of the heir to the dukedom.  I really enjoyed seeing all of the Mackenzie brothers, their wives, and children together in one place.  It is not a stand alone read; the previous books in the series must be read for it to be enjoyable.  137 pages (Kindle edition).

"Cost of Repairs" by A.M. Arthur

Police Officer Samuel Briggs has recently moved from New Mexico to Pennsylvania to start a new life after a horrendous tragedy nearly kills him.  He's bought an old fixer-upper to keep himself occupied when he's not at work.  While walking the beat in his new town, he gets to know the owner and employees of Dixie's Cup, the local diner.  He feels a connection to Rey King, the talented cook with a troubled past.  As they get to know and trust each other, their secrets come out.  However, it turns out some won't stay in the past.

I enjoyed this fast-paced story of two young men who've both had more than their share of adversities.  The author made them both very human, fallible, yet still likable.  My only quibble is that everyone in town seems to have had something really horrible happen in their pasts, but I know that just ramps up the suspense and potential for more books.  This is the first in a series.  342 pages (Kindle edition).

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Greatest Music Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from Music History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy by Rick Beyer

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

100 stories in music history, blues player Ledbelly was a prisoner who wrote a song for the visiting governor, a song that influenced the pardon of his sentence. A composer who never saw a baseball wrote a song in 15 minutes for Katie Lament. Katie chose a baseball game over a show; the song was  Take Me Out To The….

Audio:  5 hrs. 20 min.
Print:  224 pages

Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Two men grew up in South Boston. Decades later they meet again, one is in the Irish mafia and the other the FBI. A deal is cut and Jim Bulger is an informant but is involved in extortion, intimidation, assassination and drug trafficking for twenty years with law infractions on his record.

Audio:  14 hrs. 50 min.
Print:  424 pages

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

7th Sigma by Steven Gould

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Welcome to the territory. Leave your metal behind, all of it. The bugs will eat it, and they’ll go right through you to get it…Don’t carry it, don’t wear it, and for god’s sake don’t come here if you’ve got a pacemaker.  There is plenty of drama, survival happening if you live out here.

Audio:  8 hrs. 55 min.
Print:  384 pages

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie" by Jennifer Ashley

This is another wonderful installment in the Mackenzies/Highland Pleasures series and focuses on Daniel, the eldest of the Scottish clan's children.  At 25, he enjoys gambling, building machines (especially motorcars), hot air ballooning, and the ladies.  When he's forced to endure a performance by a spiritual medium, he's taken aback by how lovely and poised she is.  But Violet Bastien is no spirit reader; it's all she knows how to do to support herself and her selfish mother.  When Daniel takes an instant liking to her, she's surprised to find herself so drawn to him as the men in her past have only harmed her.  He treats her as an equal and likes that she also has a mechanically inclined mind, but as they start to fall for each other, Violet's past abuse threatens to harm any future they may have.

The author's writing and flair for tenderness just keep getting better with each book in the series.  Violet is a unique and brave heroine who has survived by her wits after being betrayed in the worst way by the man who taught her how to make a living.  Daniel has grown from a rowdy teenager in the previous books to a confident young man who is not afraid of life.  They make a very compatible couple who has to fight harder than most to get their HEA.  It was nice to see most of the other Mackenzies and their growing families, too.  Highly recommended.  371 pages.

The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane

Amanda Gleason's newborn son is battling a rare immune deficiency.  The baby is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, and the most likely match is the baby's father, who was murdered before the baby was born, but the body never found.  But Amanda receives a photograph that indicates Paul, the father, could be alive.  She calls for help to find him to 'Forensics Instincts', an unusual team of detectives that include a behaviorist, a Navy SEAL, a computer geek, a psychic, and a retired FBI- agent.  Of course they discover a deeper plot involving local corruption as they probe into whether Paul still lives and the unusual circumstances around his death. A good action-story, but I found the interchanges among the Forensics team a bit flat. 387 pages

1222 by Anne Holt

A well-crafted mystery with a unique setting.  Following the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Norwegian dark mysteries have been a hot commodity.  This Norwegian writer features a paraplegic female detective, Hanne Wilhelmson, now living on disability after her accident. She is traveling by train in winter when the train crashes outside a small town in the mountains.  While the blizzard grows in strength, making rescue impossible, she and the other passengers are given shelter as guests of the local town hotel.  In addition to the mystery surrounding a curious extra car that was added to the train and closely guarded, two murders occur within 24 hours of each other.  Hanne reluctantly joins in the search for killer, all the while trying to keep the confined passengers from panicking. Hanne has become somewhat anti-social after her accident, and I found the character's introspective musings tedious after a bit, but overall this was a fun read.  313 pages

Joyland by Stephen King

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

A young man grows up during the summer of '73. He works in the amusement park, it has Stephen King suspense. He saves a couple of lives. He finishes with a great, fulfilling story.

Audio:  11 hrs. 7 min.
Print:  283 pages