Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Friday, October 31, 2014

White Cargo by Stuart Woods

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Off the coast of Colombia, his ship was sunk, his daughter kidnapped, and they thought he was killed, too. Revenge was for this very determined man.

Audio:  10 hrs. 3 min.
Print:  448 pages

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This book was recommended to me by some fellow librarians. And it is a good one, trust me, I’m a librarian. Here’s how I would assign subject headings in KLAS:

Science Fiction
Science Fiction, Futuristic
Science Fiction, Technology
Science Fiction, Suspense
Adventure, Fiction
Friendship, Fiction
Coming of Age, Fiction
Strong Language
Male Narrator

Don’t be dissuaded by the genre if you’re not a SciFi fan. I’m not either. I don’t even care for most coming-of-age fiction. I’m not going to give you a synopsis of the book. If I had read the book jacket first, I probably wouldn’t have read the book. I highly recommend the audio version since that’s how I read it. You’ve just got to get it and jump in, but strap on your seat belt first because it’s non-stop adventure. (384 pages; audiobook 15 hours and 46 minutes).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I believe I was in 4th or 5th grade when I read 'Little Women'. I loved it then. I related to Jo, who was a tomboy, as was I, and read voraciously, as did I.  Last year, I 'took one for the team' by reading Neil Gaiman books, even though I don't care for fantasy. This year, I decided to do my share by reading books written over a hundred years ago by going back and re-reading some classics. I started with 'Little Women'.

I confess, I  wasn't as enthralled by it as I was when I was 10, but I still enjoyed it. It was like visiting an  old friend, one that I was happy to re-connect to. The March sisters, Meg, Jo,  Beth and Amy have been beloved by girls everywhere for many generations.

It was published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869.  It follows the four girls from childhood to womanhood, and may been based on the author and her three sisters. The story begins during the Civil War with the girls and their Mother trying to keep the home fires burning while their Father is away acting as a chaplain with the Union army.  The family used to be wealthy, but Father had lost his money several years before, and the girls now consider themselves poor, as do their neighbors and friends. They do have a servant, Hannah, though, so the term is relative, and Mother tries to teach them that  money is not what makes a person wealthy. 

This is truly 'gentle and nostalgic fiction', reflecting a simpler life which I'm sure many of us yearn for at times. Entertainment consisted of writing and acting out plays, going on outings with friends, reading, and the occasional party. The girls fight, make up, befriend their neighbors, sew, garden, go for walks and do other 'old-fashioned' activities. I'm sure it would seem tame to today's girls, but I bet they would really like the book if they gave it a chance.

Published in 1868-69
560 pages

Celia, A Slave by Melton A. McLaurin

On June 23, 1855 a 19-year-old slave named Celia was raped several times by her owner, Robert Newsom. Newsom lived in Callaway County, Missouri, and had bought Celia from a slave  owner in Audrain County in 1850. She was 14 years old, and according to some accounts, he raped her on the way back to his own farm. In the following 5 years, he moved her into a cabin not far from his house, and called her his 'concubine'. She gave birth to 2 children, at least one of them the son of Robert Newsom.

At some point, Celia became involved with another of Newsom's slaves, a man named George. In the spring of 1855, Celia discovered she was pregnant again. George insisted she put an end to the sexual exploitation she was being subjected to by her owner. She went to the Newsom's daughters to beg them to get him to stop. She also begged Newsom himself to leave her alone, at least while she was 'sick'. The result was his visit to her cabin on June 23. She tried to escape, but when he cornered her and forced himself on her, she clubbed him over the head with a large stick, killing him. She then burned his body in her fireplace.

She was eventually found out and taken to Fulton to be tried for murder. She was found guilty by an all-male jury,  and  hanged. McLaurin uses her story to focus on the role of gender, exploring how female slaves were sexually exploited as slaves, why white women couldn't stop the abuse, and male slaves couldn't defend slave women. He also looks at the way the legal system was used to justify slavery.  In the end, this is a compelling narrative of one women pushed beyond the limits of her endurance by an inhumane system.

195 pages

The Science of Skinny by Dee McCaffrey, CDC

Like many other books on good nutrition, the author encourages eating whole foods, organic if possible, including plenty of fruits and veggies.  Most of the book details the damage done to the human body by sugar, flour, food additives and pesticides. Unfortunately the author often takes a preachy tone, and also cites outdated studies.  If the author, who is a registered food and environmental scientist, is to be believed, this is a truly scary title to read just before Halloween.  Be sure to wash your apples before eating to remove the pesticides.  450 pages.

Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson

This is a short novella, featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire, from the Longmire series now on TV.  The book was featured in One Book Wyoming, and given to the state librarians who attended the conference last week.
This short piece recounts an incident early in the Sheriff Longmire chronicle in which the newly elected Sheriff and his predecessor risk flying a child injured in an auto accident through a blizzard to get treatment at a hospital in Denver.  The story is pretty tight, and brings out the colorful characteristics of its characters.  It takes place at Christmas, for extra plucks on the heartstrings.  A short fun read.  146 pages.

"Rules for a Proper Governess" by Jennifer Ashley

Book seven in the Mackenzies & McBrides series centers on Sinclair McBride, a tough, Scottish barrister working and living in London with his two motherless children.  Sinclair's wife, Daisy, died seven years ago, and his daughter and son have run off every governess he has ever hired.  But when East Ender Bertie Frasier picks his pocket of the watch his late wife had given him, Sinclair meets the woman who will change his life forever.  Bertie becomes the children's governess even though she hasn't had much formal education; the kids like and mind her, which is what Sinclair needs immediately.  There is also the mystery of the sinister letters that he continues to receive from an unknown enemy threatening to expose Daisy's past and put his kids' futures in jeopardy.  Is the author someone he has successfully prosecuted or Daisy's own brother, who hates Sinclair and wants to take away the children?  Or could Bertie's abusive father be behind the threats?

This was another winner from Ashley, whose descriptions of London, Scotland, and the book's many characters were vivid and realistic.  Sinclair is a broken, depressed man who continues to mourn his late wife at the expense of everyone and everything else in his life except his work.  Bertie is a strong, forthright, and honest heroine even though she has been forced into crime by her awful father and his cronies.  The mystery added a nice touch, and it was great to see the many Mackenzies and McBrides from the previous books.  306 pages.

Hellhound on His Trail


Author: Hampton Sides
Audio Hours: 15.2 hours
Pages: 480

Cover blurb:
On April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray shot Martin Luther King at the Lorraine Motel. The nation was shocked, enraged, and saddened. As chaos erupted across the country and mourners gathered at King's funeral, investigators launched a sixty-five day search for King’s assassin that would lead them across two continents. With a blistering, cross-cutting narrative that draws on a wealth of dramatic unpublished documents, Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers, delivers a non-fiction thriller in the tradition of William Manchester's The Death of a President and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. With Hellhound On His Trail, Sides shines a light on the largest manhunt in American history and brings it to life for all to see.

My take:
This is a great book. Vibrant and detailed without being too boring. I listened to the book and wasn't bored at any point. The author is thorough, he does a great job intertwining all the accounts and information without it being too cumbersome for the reader. Anyone will like this book, especially those with an affinity for history.

The Good House: A Novel by Tananarive Due

Image result for the good house tananarive dueAngela Toussaint's late grandmother owned a wonderful old house on a hill in Sacajawea, Washington, which is so treasured that the locals call it the Good House. Family troubles lead Angela to move her husband and son there during the summer of 2001, hopeful that the house’s magic might save her failing marriage.  Unfortunately, an unexpected tragedy tears them apart instead.  Two years later, Angela has reinvented herself by becoming a talent agent in Los Angeles, and she is ready to move on, which entails selling the old house. When she returns to Sacajawea, Angela discovers there have been more senseless tragedies, and she speculates on their connection to the house and an entity her grandmother battled in 1929.  Assisted by Myles Fisher, her high school boyfriend, and clues from beyond the grave, Angela races to solve a deadly puzzle that has followed her family for generations and end the legacy of tragedy.  This is a page-turner by the talented Tananarive Due, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

496 pages
21 hours, 27 minutes

Not My Father's Son

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

Author: Alan Cumming
Audio: 6 hours and 28 minutes
Pages: 304

Cover blurb:
Dark, painful memories can be like a cage. Or, in the case of Alan Cumming, they can be packed away in a box, stuck in the attic to be forgotten. Until one day the box explodes and all the memories flood back in horrible detail. Alan Cumming grew up in the grip of a man who held his family hostage, someone who meted out violence with a frightening ease, who waged a silent war with himself that sometimes spilled over onto everyone around him. That man was Alex Cumming, Alan's father.

My take:
I have always admired Alan Cumming, he is not afraid to try roles and put himself "out there". Always entertaining and funny.
I experienced this book through audio, Alan narrates it himself. His voice is lovely to listen to and he puts emotion into the reading. I enjoyed the book very much and would recommend it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Robert B. Parker’s Bull River by Robert Knott

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch return a murderer and bandito to Mexico City for trial.  In this novel there is not a woman to rescue.

Audio:  7 hrs. 37 min.
Print:  352 pages

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Secrets of Mary Bowser: A Novel by Lois Leveen

This novel is based on the remarkable true story of Mary Bowser, a young woman who was enslaved in antebellum Richmond, Virginia by the wealthy Van Lew family.  Bet Van Lew, the headstrong daughter of the family had strong abolitionist sentiments, which led her to emancipate Mary and her mother but the law forbade emancipated slaves to live within the state.  Mary traveled to Philadelphia to be educated, and her mother, wishing to remain with her still enslaved "husband" pretended to still be in bondage.  During the period of her life in Philadelphia, her mother passed away, which led Mary to feel a higher calling than that of the bourgeois free blacks she saw around her in Philadelphia.  With the aid of friends who worked with the Underground Railroad, Mary returned to Richmond to pose as an enslaved house girl in order to spy in the home of none other than Confederate States president, Jefferson Davis.  A memorable story of a brave woman history had forgotten.   496 pages
Product Details

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Notorious Nineteen and Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

In Notorious Nineteen, people are disappearing from a hospital following surgery, including Stephanie's latest skip, Geoffrey Cubbin. This book contains the usual cast of outrageous characters. If you don't know bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, it is time for you to be introduced. A fun read!!  322 pages.

What's better than one book by Janet Evanovich?  TWO!!
In Takedown Twenty, Stephanie starts to think it is time to find a new job and make a commitment to Joe (or Ranger). Still, she can't make those changes until she tracks down the person who is killing off elderly women. Of course, there are laughs aplenty in this 20th installment of the Stephanie Plum series. 354 pages.

Mischief in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon

Sabine LaVeche has been diagnosed with cancer and needs to find a family member as a bone marrow donor. She knows she is in a bad state when she starts hearing AND seeing Helena Henry, the deceased mother-in-law of her best friend, Maryse, The last time Helena appeared, Maryse was in danger. A lighthearted mystery with a bit of romance thrown in. I was glad when this title showed up on MOLIB2GO just in time for vacation. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Mischief in Mudburg is book two in the Ghost-in-Law Mystery series. 304 pages.

Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

It has been pretty quiet in Lake Eden, Minnesota. Hannah Swensen hasn't even come across any dead bodies of late. Of course, you can be very sure that as soon as that thought is voiced, another body shows up. What Hannah didn't expect, is the death seemed to have been by her hand (or car). It was a nice, light read for vacation. Hannah Swensen Mystery,  book 17. 368 pages.

English Tea Murder by Leslie Meier

Lucy Stone has been talked into taking a trip to England, but that doesn't mean she has left murder behind. This time, the victim is the tour guide. But, who is the murderer? This book was too much of a travelogue for my taste, but I usually enjoy the series. Lucy Stone Mystery, book 17.
273 pages

An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling

It is November 1877 and Roald and Ingeborg Bjorklund their son, Thorliff and Carl and Kaaren Bjorklund leave Norway to pursue a new life in the United States lured by the promise of land in the Dakota Territory. They know life will be difficult, especially at first, but they are determined to overcome any hardships - both of nature and of man. This is a book with a lot of heart. Red River of the North, book 1. 353 pages.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"The Fur Person" by May Sarton, Illustrations by Barbara Knox

This lovely book, written in 1957, is told from the point of view of a gray and white gentleman cat.  He begins as "Cat About Town," looking for a home after a couple of years of adventures.  He ends up with two ladies, known as "Gentle Voice" and "Brusque Voice," who give him a meal of haddock and a place to stay in a cozy house with a garden and trees and name him "Tom Jones."  Tom does Yoga (which I was surprised to see mentioned in a book from 1957), composes poems, and is even a philosopher with his "Ten Commandments of the Gentleman Cat."  This is not a children's book but one for adults who appreciate the nuances of our feline friends.  Knox's line drawings are wonderful and add to the book's appeal.  Sarton gives us a charming look at life through the eyes of a thoughtful and eloquent "fur person."  Highly recommended for cat lovers.  106 pages.

"Five Dates" by Amy Jo Cousins

Devin has lost a bet with his sister, Lucy, and must go out on five dates with whomever she picks from the responses she gets to his profile on an online dating site.  Unfortunately, she's posted a 13-year-old picture of him, so he's practically guaranteed to disappoint whomever he meets.  This was a well-paced and charming story about finding love when one least expects it.  91 pages (Kindle edition).

"Collide" by Riley Hart

Noah and Cooper were best friends from the time they collided trying to catch a football when they were both 10 until Noah and his family mysteriously disappeared when they were 13.  Seventeen years later, Noah has returned to the small Colorado town where Cooper still lives and works as a firefighter.  As they resume their relationship, secrets are revealed that test the boundaries of their friendship.  I enjoyed this story, its two main characters, and the way they dealt with the adversities in their lives.  332 pages.

The Poisoned Pilgrim: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch

This is the fourth and last book in the Hangman’s Daughter series, set in Bavaria in the Seventeenth Century. They all feature the Hangman of Schongau, Jakob Kuisl, his daughter Magdalena, and her husband,  medicus Simon Fronweiser.
In this book, Simon and Magdalena go on a religious pilgrimage to a monastery at Andechs. Upon their arrival, they are confronted with a drowned novitiate whose death is declared an accident – until Simon notices signs of violence on the body.  Brother Johannes, one of the monks, is arrested for his death, but as it turns out, Johannes is an old friend of Jakob Kuisl. Johannes begs  Magdalena to send for her father, because he, Johannes, is innocent and needs his old friend to help him prove it.
What follows is an convoluted story of intrigue, torture, thievery, murder most foul, scientific experimentation, and automata.  The monks and villagers view the latter as witchcraft, so Jakob and family must contend with superstition and fear as they try to find out who is behind all the plots and twists and turns they uncover.

Magdalena’s children are kidnapped and used as leverage in an unholy scheme, but in the end Jakob Kuisl, aided by Magdalena and Simon, solves the mystery and rescues brother Johannes and the children, although not before he is tortured, and the cathedral is burned to the ground.

I enjoyed this series, but it has some grisly, unsavory scenes, being true to an era when every town in Bavaria had its own hangman, whose job it was to determine those responsible for crimes by torturing them until they confessed.

 512 pages

Joplin's Ghost by Tananarive Due

Joplin’s Ghost was inspired by the legend of a ghost at the Scott Joplin house museum in St. Louis.  It is well known that the gifted ragtime composer led a tragic life, which author Tananarive Due translates into a fine story with supernatural elements.  No mere ghost story, the well-researched, finely crafted plot focuses on Phoenix Smalls, a contemporary R & B performer who has a connection Joplin’s ghost stemming from her childhood encounter with a piano that had once belonged to the composer, which forges the unique bond between them.  The story moves between Phoenix’s life and career in the early 21st century and Joplin’s in the early 20th.  The reader is treated to a primer on various forms of black music and their impact, social history, including the challenges of being black during some of the worst of Jim Crow racism, and a fine mystery.  Tananarive Due has credited Octavia Butler as an influence and I believe Ms. Butler would be proud.

496 pages/21 hours, 27 minutes (I switch between listening and reading) 

Image result for joplin's ghost

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Spell Bound is the third book in the Hex Hall series, and I am not sure if it will be the last. While I loved the first two books in the series, Spell Bound left me feeling disappointed and wanting more. It was not a satisfying ending for many of my favorite characters, so I'm hoping that this is not the last of Sophie Mercer's story. You get to meet more of Sophie's world, and see what happens when the opposing forces in her world clash. Not everyone is who they say they are and not everything is as it seems. 

327 pages

“The Black-Eyed Blond: A Philip Marlowe Novel” by Benjamin Black

Move over Raymond Chandler, Benjamin Black is the new master of the crime-noir novel. If you are a Chandler fan, you are likely to think Philip Marlowe has come back from the grave. Black takes over where Chandler left off with this true-to-form mystery featuring the famous gumshoe. A lot of the appeal of this genre is the setting and tone. This book vividly conjures the mean streets of Bay City, California in the early 1950s. Deft handling by Black brings to life Marlowe’s “gimlet eye for the ladies and the delicately ominous foreshadowing” (Tampa Bay Times) hard-boiled crime fans have come to love. One of the classic characteristics of Marlowe is his “world-weary bemusement,” which Black skillfully incorporates into this serious murder investigation involving a beautiful blonde and her missing shady lover. I listened to this book in audio format (7 hours, 53 minutes), which is well delivered by Dennis Boutsikaris in his sensual, smoky voice. Hang up your fedora, pour yourself a stiff drink, and hear sultry jazz in the background as you settle in for an enjoyable trip down memory lane. (304 pages.)