Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blind Justice by Anne Perry

In this latest book of the William Monk series, Anne Perry takes up the question of how we respond to the impartiality of the law.  Oliver Rathbone is now a judge.  He's been assigned to preside over the case of a popular preacher accused of misappropriating funds.  The prosecuting attorney is losing the case, thanks to the damning testimony of a defense witness.  Rathbone has photographic evidence that the defense witness is not reliable.  Should he break the law and leak the photograph to the prosecuting attorney so that justice is served?  Or should he obey the law and see a guilty man go free? 362 pages.

Star Wars: Specter of the Past by Timothy Zahn

Specter of the Past is the first book of the two book series, The Hand of Thrawn. It's been a few years since the Rebel forces destroyed the Death Star. Now former allies are starting to compete for power and to seek punishment for those who collaborated with the Empire.  Sound familiar? (Post WWII anyone?) Luke Skywalker has begun to realize that he doesn't know enough about using the force to help keep the Alliance together.  Han and Leia Solo are trying to balance their official responsibilities with their private family life.  Will they manage to keep the Alliance together? 400 pages.

The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer, narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan

I picked this book to read because of its title.  I would love a ten year nap! But in this case the nap refers to the time spent as a stay at home parent.  The book follows four New York friends who have chosen to stay at home with their children and who are now contemplating a return to paid employment.  Understandably, they have mixed feelings about going back to work.  Have they fallen too far behind?  What if they don't want to go back?  Just to make it interesting, Wolitzer interleaves each friend's story with her mother's during the Women's Liberation movement and lets the husbands tell their stories too.  383 pages. 13 hours 39 minutes.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I Am Malala by Malala Yousefzai and Christina Lamb

You probably heard the story about a teenage Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for promoting education for girls. This is her story co-authored with Christina Lamb, a British author.  Malala's father owned and ran the school she attended, and is also a promoter of education for all and fair and free government.  This is a convincing and heartfelt story of a young girl's growth as she comes into maturity in a turbulent time.  She gives first hand accounts of the terror wreaked by the Taliban as they took over her part of Pakistan, and the ineffectual response of the government.  This inside view is very compelling.  Malala comes across as a normal girl, interested in Western TV and music - she loved the Ugly Betty series - who was also acutely aware of the need to bring attention to girls' education. For this, the Taliban targeted her, and she was shot in her school bus on the way home from school.  Due to some miraculous surgeries and some good luck, she has survived and is recovering in London, where the family still lives, as they are afraid to return to Pakistan.  352 pages.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I confess to having read this several years back.  On second read it was easier to follow the very involved plots that follow several characters from different angles.  The 'Dragon Tattoo' series started the craze for Nordic mysteries written in a rather dark style.  Larsson has created a very unusual heroin in Salander, a tough chic, regarded as somewhat slow because of her extreme introversion, who is an expert computer hacker. She is just 5 foot tall, tends to dress in Goth style, and quite able to fend for herself.  She makes a living as a contract investigator for a security firm. The story involves solving two sets of mysteries at once - the first, the disappearance and possible murder of an heiress to an industrial empire who disappeared forty years ago.  The second is a more mundane uncovering of crime and misdeeds by a respected financier.  Both stories revolve around Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist and founding co-editor of a leading financial journal, who has been convicted of libel related to the second mystery. Salander is called on to assist Blomkvist with the investigation of the disappearance, and is integral to uncovering key facts about the long-dead case.  She then also puts her skills as a hacker to work on the investigation of the financier. A fare share of violence and sexual abuse; definitely NOT a cozy mystery.  Well-written, if a bit slow paced at times.  644 pages, paperback. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Deadly Sanctuary by Sylvia Nobel

Kendall O'Dell moves to the desert for her health rather than the challenge of a new job. Still she finds herself embroiled in a small-town mystery involving disappearing teenage girls. Being the good investigative reporter she is, she keeps digging to discover the truth so justice can prevail. An engaging, albeit somewhat predictable book. 360 pages.

On the Nickel by Maggie Toussaint

When Cleo's mother becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her church-lady rival, Cleo seeks to prove her innocence. Likeable characters and a fast-moving plot puts this series into the recommend for light summer reading category for me. 347 pages.

52 Steps to Murder by Steve Demaree

This is the first book in the Dekker Cozy Mystery series. I mainly chose it because I have read books 2 and 3 and wanted to see how the series started. The summary reads: "An elderly woman is found poisoned in the upstairs bedroom of her home whose from door stands 52 steps above the street in an old-fashioned whodunit that blends clues, red herrings, suspects, and humor." The mystery is pretty good, but I quickly got tired of the mean-spirited humor and  of the main character as well as the all-to-frequent references to food. 221 pages.

The Advocate's Conviction by Teresa Burrell

Sabre Orin Brown is a child advocate who takes her job to heart. When several of the children on her caseload disappear, Sabre rallies the troops to figure out what is going on. The story focuses more on Sabre and the children and less on the supporting cast in this third book in the series, so I didn't find it quite as enjoyable as the first two. Still, it was a fine summer read. 342 pages.

Foreclosed by Traci Tyne Hilton

I picked up this book because it was free and sounded like fun.  In Foreclosed, we are introduced to Mitzy Neuhaus, a real estate agent who tries to stay upbeat despite a flagging economy. She is at loggerheads with real estate rival Alonzo Miramontes as they both decide to pursue the purchase of a recently foreclosed, Victorian home. Turns out inside the home there may be a hidden treasure of jewels! I really, really wanted to like this book for its perky cover alone. But the old adage holds true: you can't judge a book by its cover. The plot and dialogue were okay. The characters were flat. An editor might help. 244 pages.

Seaview Inn by Sherryl Woods

Hannah Matthews is a single mom, a public relations whiz, and a cancer survivor on a brief hiatus when she returns to her sleepy hometown of Seaview Key to try to talk her grandmother into moving into a retirement home. Luke Stevens, a friend from high school, returns to Seaview Key to recuperate from an injury he sustained in Iraq as well as cope with an unexpected divorce. Friendship turns to love in this gentle, contemporary romance. A pleasant, non-taxing read for a summer day. 394 pages.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life" by James Bowen

James is a recovering drug addict living in London and working as a street musician.  Living in "sheltered accommodation" and just barely getting by, he is surprised to find a ginger tom on the doormat near his apartment.  After inquiring about his ownership and finding no one to claim him, James takes in the scruffy and injured cat and names him Bob.  James barely has any money to feed himself but he manages to make due and soon the two are constant companions.  Bob goes busking with him, sitting on his rucksack watching the busy world go by.  The attention Bob soon starts to bring in from tourists and locals helps James make more money, and even lands them in videos on YouTube.  Told in a conversational style, this book covers James' youth in Australia and England, the development of his drug habit and eventual recovery, and his difficulty supporting himself and Bob.  However, the real story is their unbreakable bond, how two lost and lonely souls found and saved each other.  This was an inspiring tale of one down on his luck bloke and the unusually docile and dedicated cat who helped him find his way again.  Two things struck me as I was reading; James was able to have Bob treated and neutered for very little money thanks to either charities or subsidized vet care that seemed to be plentiful, and Bob was allowed into stores and even the library with James.  You don't see either of those things much in the U.S.  Highly recommended to cat lovers!  279 pages.

"Never a Hero" by Marie Sexton

Owen Meade lives as a shut-in in his apartment in Tucker Springs, CO.  He's ashamed of his congenitally amputated left arm and his occasional stutter, so he avoids people as much as he can.  When he gets a new downstairs neighbor, veterinarian Nick Reynolds, Owen is drawn to him and realizes that he desperately wants to be his friend.  Nick is outgoing and funny and happens to have a sister, June, with the same amputation but on her right arm.  June is even more extroverted and talks Owen into taking piano lessons together.  But when Owen's severe and critical mother comes to visit, he feels like retreating back into his lonely life.  Then a surprise is revealed and Owen decides that he must stop hiding if he wants to be truly happy.  This was a lovely story with well drawn characters who must become their own heroes to get what they want.  This is the fifth book in the Tucker Springs universe but can be read as a stand alone.  167 pages (Kindle edition).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Caper by Lawrence Sanders

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

West coast jewel robbery of  the mob is fenced on the east coast and that place is robbed. This means the robbers are now being hunted by the mob, the FBI and local police. The action never stops.

Audio:  11 hrs. 26 min.
Print:  368 pages

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Big Sky Christmas by William W. Johnstone

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

A wagon train leaves Kansas City late in the year with a load of pioneers going to Montana.  The great challenge of outlaws, Indians, prairie fires, winter weather are some of their challenges. 

Audio:  9 hrs. 58 min.
Print:   416 pages

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sniper’s Honor by Stephen Hunter

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

She was a sniper in World War 2 on the side of the Russians. She raised the fury of the two powerful leaders. Half the book tells her story and half tells about Bob Lee Swagger who seventy years later is hired to find out how and why she just disappeared.  At the end he found out she escaped to a country down under and lived out her life in peace.  414 pages.

A Highly Unlikely Scenario by Rachel Cantor

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

A listener at Neetsa Pizza has been chosen to save the world. He meets a woman he loves in this mystical world of ideas. She is to be a leader of her people;  Barba cuties, flame throwers, Dotta Diner hash-slingers, Ludite bakers, fryers, optic researchers, librarians and policemen.  

Audio:  6 hrs. 56 min.
Print:  256 pages