Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Wise Man's Fear: the kingkiller chronicles, day 2 by Patrick Rothfuss

In Rothfuss's first book, The Name of the Wind, we're introduced to Kvothe, a legendary arcanist turned innkeeper.  Now we learn more about the real events behind the legend. For example, according to the legend, Kvothe was a brilliant student who completed three years study in less than six months.  In reality, Kvothe had to accelerate his studies because he didn't have enough money to pay for three years of tuition. (I could really relate to Kvothe's constant preoccupation with his finances!)   Rothfuss takes his time telling Kvothe's adventures and introducing the people he meets along the way.  An engrossing read! 999 pages.

Tombstone Courage by J. A. Jance

In the second book of the Joanna Brady series, Joanna begins life as the new sheriff of Cochise County. Her first case is the disappearance of old rancher who has just changed his will.  A search of the ranch turns up his dead body-atop a decades old skeleton! Joanna must unravel the tangled family history to find the killer AND try to maintain a home life for her young daughter.  I loved that Angie Kellog, the young prostitute from the first book who was rescued by Joanna, is now living in Bisbee creating a new life for herself.  408 pages.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina goes to Moscow to persuade her sister-in-law not to divorce her brother, who has had an affair. While there, she meets Count Vronsky, who is a dashing army officer. He falls in love with the lovely Anna, and tries to get her to leave her husband and marry him. But although she is not attracted to her husband, Anna can't bring herself to leave him, fearing she will lose her son.

They do begin an affair, which her husband discovers. He asks her to break it off, believing this will save their marriage. When and Vronsky continue to see each other,  Karenin sees a lawyer about getting a divorce. But Anna almost dies after giving birth to a daughter, so he doesn't pursue it.

When Vronsky gets a military posting to Europe, Anna goes with him. Eventually they try to make a life for themselves in Italy. However, they have trouble making friends, and end up going back to Russia. There she is shunned by her former friends, and discovers her son has been told she has died. She becomes more and more isolated and anxious, even as Vronsky resumes his former social life. She is paranoid and convinced he is in love with someone else, although he tries to reassure her. She is intensely jealous, and doesn't want him to leave her side for a minute. She takes morphine to help her sleep. After a terrible fight with Vronsky, she commits suicide by throwing herself under a train.

A parallel story within the novel is that of Konstantin Levin, a country landowner, telling of his difficulties managing his estate, his eventual marriage, and other personal issues. The novel explores a diverse range of topics,  including an evaluation of the feudal system that existed in Russia at the time; politics,  religion, morality, gender and social class.



872 pages
copyright 1876

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Abigail Anne Lannigan's father believed that all girl children were good for was housework and being wives and mothers. Her mother insisted she could be anything she wanted to be, but she died when Abigail was 11.  When she turned 16, her father found a suitable husband for her from a neighboring farm. But Abigail had other ideas; she ran away to Richmond where she first published in 1910, this is the story of Mary Lennox, who lived in India until her parents died when she was 10. In India, she was raised by servants, who did not much like her, and she was allowed to do whatever she pleased whenever she pleased. Her parents ignored her, and she was sickly and petulant. After the death of her parents, she was sent to live with her uncle, back in England. He sees that she has everything she needs, but he too ignores her.

 

However, she finds the servants in England are quite different than those in India, and are not afraid to stand up to her and her petulant demands. She eventually becomes fond of her housemaid Martha, who tells her tales about Misselthwaite Manor, where she now lives, and about Martha's family, especially her brother Dickon.  Mary hears that there was once a garden, which her husband's wife designed for her own pleasure. When his wife dies, the door to the garden is locked, and the key buried so that no one can ever enter again.

 

Mary starts spending time out in the gardens, and searching for the secret garden. She becomes healthier and less petulant. She finds the key and the secret garden, and asks Dickon to help her rebuild it. He agrees. Then one night she discovers that there is a cousin in the house also; one who refuses to let anyone see him, and who is more petulant even than Mary. He throws tantrums when he doesn't get his own way. To soothe him, Mary tells him about the garden. She and Dickon bring Colin (for that is his name) in on the secret, and the three of them spend their days working in the garden. Mary and Colin heal over that summer, surprising Colin's father when he returns.


308 pages
copyright 1910

The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby

Abigail Anne Lannigan's father believed that all girl children were good for was housework and being wives and mothers. Her mother insisted she could be anything she wanted to be, but she died when Abigail was 11.  When she turned 16, her father found a suitable husband for her from a neighboring farm. But Abigail had other ideas; she ran away to Richmond where she eventually became a librarian, after being a secretary to a poet and a hostess in a speakeasy.

Fast forward 70 years. Ms Lannigan, who never married or had children, is living a solitary life after her twin brother died. Destiny Fairchild, a young woman who has no family, moves in across the street. Abigail gives her some old furniture, and in turn Destiny cleans her house. Gradually the two become best friends; Destiny takes care of Abigail, eventually becoming her caregiver. Abigail leaves Destiny all her worldly possessions.

When Abigail dies, her great-great-nephew has Destiny arrested for defrauding his aunt and stealing his 'inheritance'. The story is narrated by the dead Abigail, who is furious that her so-called nephew is lying about Destiny, when all her ever wanted was her money, and never did anything for her. Although it's a bit of fluff, I enjoyed the book.

279 pages

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

I read this holiday novella just in time for Christmas! In this short story, Stephanie hunts down a bond-jumping toy maker aptly named "Sandy Claws." She has the help of the mysterious Diesel, who Stephanie is convinced is either an a) alien or b) the Ghost of Christmas Present. Short and sweet!

149 pages

Saturday, December 27, 2014

"Always" by Kindle Alexander

Get your hankies ready for this tear-jerker about the nearly 40 year relationship between Avery Adams, the grandson of a U.S. president, and Kane Dalton, a successful chef from the south.  They meet in 1975 in Minneapolis where Kane has a famous restaurant and Avery has just returned to his home state to contemplate a run for the Senate.  The story covers some of the important milestones in their lives together and really pulls at the reader's emotions, especially at the beginning and end.  Although a bit long, it was easy to read and to root for these men to find happiness.  287 pages (Kindle edition).

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich

Summary: "The #1 bestselling phenomenon continues in the eighth Stephanie Plum novel. The stakes get higher, the crimes get nastier, the chases get faster, and the men get hotter. This time Stephanie, Morelli, Ranger. Lula, Valerie, and Grandma Mazur are strapped in for the ride of their lives. Stephanie is hired to find a missing child. But things aren't always as they seem and Stephanie must determine if she's working for the right side of the law. Plus, there's the Morelli question: can a Jersey girl keep her head on straight when more than just bullets are aimed for her heart? And with the Plum and Morelli relationship looking rocky, is it time for Ranger to move in for the kill? Janet Evanovich's latest thriller proves that Hard Eight will never be enough."

Hard Eight is not my favorite book of the series, but I hope that Stephanie can work out her love life soon!

311 pages

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich

Summary: "Semiretired mob guy Eddie DeChooch is caught trafficking contraband cigarettes through Trenton, New Jersey. When DeChooch fails to show for a court appearance, bond enforcement agent Stephanie Plum is assigned the task of finding him and dragging his decrepit ass back to jail. Not such an easy job, it turns out, since DeChooch has learned a lot of tricks over the years and isn't afraid to use his gun. He's already shot Loretta Ricci, an innocent old lady, and left her for worm food in his shed. He wouldn't mind shooting Stephanie next." "Likable losers (and Steph's former high school classmates) Walter "MoonMan" Dunphy and Dougie "The Dealer" Kruper have inadvertently become involved with DeChooch. They've gotten sucked into an operation that is much more than simple cigarette smuggling and holds risks far greater than anyone could have imagined."

Mooner and Dougie have been a great addition to the cast of characters in Stephanie's world. I hope to seen more of Mooner in future books! Eddie DeChooch is a depressed old man, but one of the toughest guys that Stephanie has ever come up against. He even has the guts to kidnap Grandma Mazur; only a maniac would do that! 

309 pages

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hot Six by Janet Evanovich

Summary: "Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and Trenton vice cop Joe Morelli join forces to find the madman killer who shot and barbecued the youngest son of international black-market arms dealer Alexander Ramos. Carlos Manoso, street name Ranger, is caught on video just minutes before the crime occurs. He's at the scene, he's with the victim, and he's the number-one suspect. Ranger is former special forces turned soldier of fortune. He has a blue-chip stock portfolio and no known address. He moves in mysterious circles. He's Stephanie's mentor -- the man who taught her everything she knows about fugitive apprehension. And he's more than her friend. Now he's the hunted and Stephanie's the hunter, and it's time for her to test her skills against the master. But if she does catch him...what then? Can she bring herself to turn him in? Plus there are other things keeping Stephanie awake at night. Her maternal grandmother has set up housekeeping in Stephanie's apartment, a homicidal maniac has selected Stephanie as his next victim, her love life is in the toilet, she's adopted a dog with an eating disorder, and she can't button the top snap on her Levi's."

Steph's arch-enemy Joyce Barnhart also makes some pretty entertaining appearances, and Grandma Mazur is quite the buzzkill on Stephanie's love-life.

Hilarious and entertaining as always!

294 pages

The Innocent Sleep by Karen Perry


Get ready to lose sleep when you pick up this book because you won’t be able to put it back down. This book is written from the perspectives of a husband and wife who lost their three-year-old son in an earthquake. The boy’s body was never found, which makes it all the more difficult for them to go on with their lives. A few years later, when the husband catches a glimpse of a boy on a crowded street, he is convinced it is their son. The reader is torn between sympathy for the guilt-wracked father and the anguished mother as their marriage falls apart. 

Here’s one review:
"The Innocent Sleep kicks off with a gut punch of every parents’ worst fear and never lets up. Part thriller, part introspective emotional novel, the book dives into what it feels like to survive the unthinkable, and then— what if— you could get it all back…Highly original and highly entertaining."—Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked City and Devil’s Garden


There’s a twist at the end that has reviewers comparing this debut writer to Gillian Flynn. I certainly didn’t see it coming. I would highly recommend this book, but again, don’t expect to get much sleep after you start reading! 336 Pages.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

"Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

I'd heard a lot about this book over the years but had never picked it up before now.  I've always found economics boring or incomprehensible, and some of the topics covered here were both (such as cheating in sumo wrestling!).  Lots of statistics were reported to back up the findings and could be a bit mind-numbing but there were some results that really surprised me, especially about teaching and child rearing.  The most interesting part dealt with the unusual names that African-Americans have given their children over the last couple of decades, why they do it, and the consequences for doing so.  Levitt is an economist, and Dubner is a journalist.  320 pages; about 6 hours on CD.

"A Reason to Believe" by Diana Copland

This very well written mystery revolves around detective Matthew Bennett trying to solve the murder of a young girl in her own home.  He is directed to her body by an apparition who matches her description, which knocks him for a loop since he doesn't believe in the supernatural.  Not wanting to reveal what he saw to his fellow police officers, he reluctantly goes to see Kiernan Fitzpatrick, a medium who happens to be on tour in Matt's town.  Together, the two men visit the little girl's mother to get more information and all heck breaks loose when the media finds out.  Matt also has to deal with the homophobia of his supervisor and several coworkers and his lingering sadness over the shooting death of his boyfriend, who was also a detective, over a year ago.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book and can't recommend it enough.  Not only was the writing very good but so was the character development and sense of place.  Matt and Kiernan were quite different and intriguing main characters who find themselves drawn to each other while trying to find the girl's killer without getting killed themselves.  I will definitely try to read more my this author.  217 pages (Kindle edition).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Freeman by Leonard Pitts



Freeman
Have you ever wondered exactly how average people responded to emancipation when the American Civil War ended?  Slavery was an inherently American institution, which was so firmly interwoven within the economy, the society, the psychology as well as religious, philosophical, and ethical mores of the country, and was suddenly it was over.  It must have been overwhelming in many ways! Indeed, scholars have and can continue to spend their entire careers examining the period, its impact then, and the continued effect upon this country.
It is well known that many of the formerly enslaved hit the road  -- everywhere in land, all manner of black folks set out trying to find lost mothers, fathers, children, siblings -- lost lives.  It is also well known that this is the period wherein many schools sprang up throughout the South to educate the formerly enslaved, which delighted the knowledge starved blacks and inflamed those who felt this upset the natural order of things. Leonard Pitts, Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald, has taken these two elements and fashioned a remarkably powerful piece of historical fiction that depicts just how it must have been for some.
Sam Freeman sets out from Philadelphia, where he has been working in a library since his discharge from the Union army, and begins walking to Mississippi to find his wife, Tilda.  He has not seen her in 15 years, and like most on similar searches, he has no idea if she is alive or dead, if she has taken another husband, been sold elsewhere.  He knows only that he loves her and must be with her, if it is at all possible.
Prudence Cafferty Kent, a white widow from Boston, along with her black foster sister Bonnie, head to Buford, Mississippi to open a school.  These are the main characters, and their story -- their quest for redemption, will capture you and keep you enthralled until the novel concludes.  Hopefully, it will keep its readers thinking about the damage of America's peculiar institution long after completion.   

432 pages, 15 hours, 46 minutes

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kansas City Style: A Social and Cultural History of Kansas City as Seen Through Its Lost Architecture by Dory DeAngelo and Jane Fifield Flynn

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Quality Hill neighborhood for 20 years was the most prestigious.  Kansas City Stockyards started from a small beginning 'til by 1886 more than 100,000 were processed through their yards.  Many individuals and  organizations contributed information and photos for this book.  The Grillett Special Plate cost 40 cents at Wolferman's Store.  232 pages.

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Product DetailsThis is a haunting story of love and friendship set in antebellum Virginia and Ohio.  The baby Lisbeth is handed over to Mattie, her black, enslaved wet nurse, moments after birth, which begins the bond that is carried through both women's lives. Elizabeth is the privileged daughter of southern plantation owners, and Mattie is, of course, enslaved. Mattie cares for and loves the child just as she loves her own, and Lisbeth spends more time with Mattie than her own distracted mother. As Lisbeth grows into womanhood, Mattie finds that she must seek freedom for her own family and she escapes, which produces some of the most harrowing scenes in the text. Lisbeth later, upon the realization of just how horrifying slavery really is, escapes herself with an abolitionist minded husband. Both women find themselves in Ohio, where the story takes on a melancholy tone, as race and class still impact their existence.

252 pages

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Image result for half of a yellow sun When the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria seceded in 1967 to form the independent nation of Biafra, a bloody, crippling three-year civil war followed. That period in African history is captured with haunting intimacy in this artful page-turner from Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She tells this heart-breaking, gripping story primarily through the eyes and lives of Ugwu, a 13-year-old peasant houseboy who survives conscription into the doomed, unprepared Biafran army, and twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, who are from a wealthy and well-connected family. Tumultuous politics power the plot, and several sections are harrowing, particularly passages depicting the savage butchering of Olanna and Kainene's relatives. But this dramatic, intelligent epic has a beautiful and personal side as well:  rebellious Olanna is the mistress of Odenigbo, a university professor brimming with anticolonial zeal; while business-minded Kainene takes as her lover fair-haired, blue-eyed Richard, a British expatriate come to Nigeria to write a book about Igbo-Ukwu art.  How this group is impacted by the brutality of war will stay with the reader for a very long time.  It is a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing. 



543 pages -- 18 hours, 56 minutes

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

High Five by Janet Evanovich

Summary: Stephanie Plum helps out her family by searching for her missing Uncle Fred, but of course, gets caught up in a much more dangerous mystery over some sketchy trash bags. Favorite characters Lula, Grandma Mazur, Ranger and Joe Morelli all make memorable appearances. 

This book added some crazy, temporary characters to Stephanie's gang, which was quite entertaining. I really enjoyed it, and I absolutely love that Stephanie Plum is a huge fan of Wonder Woman!



292 pages

Friday, December 5, 2014

Four to Score by Janet Evanovich

Summary: Two bounty hunters vie to capture a revenge-seeking waitress wanted for car theft. One hunter is Stephanie Plum of New Jersey, the other is her arch-enemy Joyce Barnhardt.

I really enjoyed this installment of the Stephanie Plum series - it was hilarious! Trips to the shore with Grandma Mazur, Lula and Sally Sweet (a beautiful drag queen) could not be more entertaining. And, of course, there is a LOT of Joe Morelli - Stephanie's yummy cop "friend."

294 pages

Started Early Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson



This is the fourth in the Jackson Brodie series, but the book could certainly stand on its own merits. Jackson Brodie, an ex-cop/retired PI, is a very likeable character, despite his unfortunate relationships with women. However, he is only part of this tale woven together from the strands of three disparate lives coming neatly together in the end. Here is how one Amazon reviewer describes Atkinson’s writing: Though they are often called ‘mysteries,’ Atkinson's novels are far more character-driven than the norm, and more literary in execution—intriguing on several levels simultaneously.” If you like a good mystery, but are only hooked by excellent writing and character development, you will enjoy this book as much as I did. 400 pages.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

Summary: "In the crosshairs of a political bribery investigation, Dempsey Jo Killebrew suddenly finds herself unemployed and the victim of a sleazy smear campaign by her former boss. Dempsey decides to take up her father's offer of flipping a recently inherited family home in Guthrie, Ga., where she quickly slides into the renovation groove, fits in with the locals, and embarks on a romance."

I initially thought I would enjoy this book because I love politics & renovation stories, but I actually kind of hated it. I was quite disappointed in the story development and the dullness of the characters. The story was hard to believe and the characters were not easy to relate to or root for. I would not recommend it.

422 pages