Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

On a cold winter's night in Lexington, KY, Norah Henry goes into labor. It is 1964, and Lexington is in the midst of a blinding blizzard. Norah's husband, Dr. David Henry, administers drugs and delivers twins; a healthy baby boy and a girl with Down syndrome. Deciding that his wife cannot handle having a 'handicapped' child, he instructs his nurse, Caroline Gill, to take the child to an institution and never reveal its existence.

However, Caroline cannot bring herself to leave the child when she sees what life is like in the institution, so she takes the child and disappears. She moves to another city and raises the little girl as her own. Norah is told that her son Paul's twin died at birth.

Norah and David's life deteriorates under the burden of guilt (David's), grief (Norah's), and the longing for a lost sibling (Paul's).  Meanwhile, Caroline and baby Phoebe build a warm, satisfying life, albeit one also built on a lie, as is David and Norah's. A compelling read.

434 pages

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is brilliant. My brain almost exploded while reading.

I am totally in love with this dangerous fantasy world, and I want nothing more than to live inside it with all the incredible, unique, and deadly characters. Every book is better than the last. I actually hope this series never ends. It’s not possible that I will ever get enough of it.

This is book four, so make sure you start with book one: Throne of Glass. Also, the novellas are fantastic and can be read as a complete set before you start book one, if you want. I recommend that, because they provide excellent background information.

Pages: 648

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Teenage Darrow believes mining will help improve the planet's future; his wife thinks they are slaves to the upper classes.  He becomes warrior, winner, leader for the lower classes while competing in the upper class games.

Audio:  13 hrs. 49 min.
Print:  382 pages

Feed by M.T. Anderson

FeedFeed by M.T. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel has excellent characterization, but whatever you do, don't read it. It has incredible voice, but you have to listen to this one. It’s a whole different experience, because all the advertisements and reports that come through the Feed were created for the audiobook, with background music, announcer voices, sound effects, and more.

I felt like I was actually experiencing the feed, and I can’t imagine that reading the book would have the same effect. Also, the main character, Titus, has a style of telling the story that sounds fantastic and strangely charming when read aloud by David Aaron Baker, but I think it might have driven me crazy if I’d have read it myself. It’s hard to explain, but go listen to the sample to see what I mean.

Here’s the first line, which drew me in right away: “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

Audio Length: 5 hours and 1 minute
Narrator: David Aaron Baker

Pages: 299 (paperback)

All the Bright Places

By Jennifer Niven

400 pages

A very interesting, moving, sad, and absorbing book!  And soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning! ;)

Here's the Amazon snippet:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Gayle Forman, Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Looking for Alaska

By John Green

221 pages

I'm working through John Green's books slowly.  Looking for Alaska wasn't my favorite of his works, but it was still moving and funny and oh-so-human. 

Here's the Amazon snippet:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .

After. Nothing is ever the same.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Dumplin' (Dumplin', #1)Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Willowdean is a fabulous character with a lot of authentic voice. She's honest, makes mistakes, falters, and grows, and her sidekicks in the story are equally delightful. 5 stars and a crown for everyone.

Pages: 375

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, EverythingEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Madeline hasn't left the house in 17 years, due to Sever Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). Being allergic to the world is lousy, but this story is perfection. I read this book straight through and couldn't stop.

Pages: 320

"A Deadly Secret" by Matt Birkbeck

The subtitle of this true crime book is "The Bizarre and Chilling Story of Robert Durst."  I recently viewed "The Jinx", a documentary about Durst and the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathie, and I wanted to know more about the case.  This book seemed to be the most in-depth and was first published in 2002; the edition that I read was updated in March of 2015, after "The Jinx" had aired on HBO.

However, this is not just about Kathie's disappearance but also about the murder of Morris Black, a Texas drifter killed and dismembered by Durst in 2001.  The author interviewed the major players in both cases, including the police, private detectives, Kathie's family and friends, prosecutors, and witnesses.  He does a thorough job of going through details and using them to show that Durst is a sociopath.  The only quibble I have is with the way the author uses quotations of conversations for which he wasn't present nor were recorded.  Durst is currently being held in Louisiana on an illegal firearms violation but has been charged in California with the 2000 death of his friend Susan Berman.  That case is also covered in the book.  299 pages.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Corridors of the night by Anne Perry

Hester, Monk, and Scruff their adopted street urchin are back on the case in this latest installment of the William Monk series.  Hester has agreed to take over the night nursing duties of a friend called away on a family emergency. On her first night, she encounters a young girl calling for someone to help her dying brother.  What are children doing in the Royal Naval Hospital? Why does Hester fail to return home after a shift at the hospital? Monk and Scruff call on all their friends to help find out what has happened to Hester.

The first part of the book is a fast paced search for Hester against the backdrop of medical care in post-Crimean War England.  Imagine a time when patients routinely bled to death because doctors didn't know how to give blood transfusions. Perry makes the reader question just how far medical research should go in search of life-saving treatments. As is always the case in the series, the solving of the crime is followed by the court case.  I found this part of the book less interesting and the ending a bit abrupt, as if Perry didn't know how to end the story.  If you like the series, you will enjoy reading about the continuing development of Hester and Monk's family and friends in the Corridors of the Night. 271 pages.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Another Day by David Levithan

Another Day (Every Day, #2)Another Day by David Levithan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After having read and loved Every Day (every day A wakes up in a different body, with a different life), this wasn't the companion novel I wanted. It can be read as a stand alone novel, but I don't recommend it. Instead, go read Every Day and skip this. It doesn't add much new and isn't nearly as interesting as the first novel.

Pages: 338

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys: Edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

Slasher Girls & Monster BoysSlasher Girls & Monster Boys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a strange, creepy, and disturbing collection of short stories by a group of excellent YA authors: Stefan Bachmann, Leigh Bardugo, Kendare Blake, A. G. Howard, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu, Jonathan Maberry, Danielle Paige, Carrie Ryan, Megan Shepherd, Nova Ren Suma, McCormick Templeman, April Genevieve Tucholke, Cat Winters.

There’s something here that will interest or traumatize almost anyone who likes a good horror story. Some of these stories, I really loved. Others, kept me up at night, and some were merely likable or bizarre. However, the collection as a whole is enjoyable and a worthwhile read.

All of the selections were inspired by other works, which are listed after each short story. As I read, I started to guess what the inspirations for each short story were. I was wrong more often than I was right, but it was still fun to try to match these short stories up with possible inspirations.

Pages: 392

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wanted Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

She was trained by her father to be a professional hit person.  They say she messed up so they left her out there.  They treated her poorly . . . not a good thing to do.

Audio:  14 hrs. 28 min.
Print:  480 pages

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is a brutally honest look at Alzheimers Disease and the havoc in can wreak on both the individual who is diagnosed and the family and caregivers around her. Alice Howland is a professor of psychology at Harvard University when she is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 50. The story is told from her point of view and shows how she views her world during the course of the disease. At once fascinating, heartbreaking, and frightening, this novel takes an in-depth look at the disease from early onset forward. Genova's storytelling makes this a quick read. I read the entire thing in a few hours and could barely put it down. But don't let the speed of the read fool you--this is a meaty narrative with lots to take in. Genova masterfully weaves the sensory perceptions Alice experiences throughout her illness and their changes. There is a lot to consider. For example, if you could be genetically tested to find out if you would develop Alzheimer's in the future, would you want to know? I heartily recommend this book to EVERYONE. We all need to know more about this terrifying disease and the people who take care of its victims. 289 pp.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The White Rose by Amy Ewing

Summary: The White Rose picks up right after the dramatic cliffhanger of The Jewel. I didn't enjoy this book as much as The Jewel, it was kind of a chore to slog through it. It's a bit predictable, has a stale love story, and another unsatisfying cliffhanger ending. I missed the intrigue and scandal of the royals, as that was what was so interesting about the first book.

The covers of the books in this series are gorgeous; I couldn't take my eyes off them.

Despite everything I've just complained about, I still plan on reading the next book. Hopefully it will be an improvement!

308 pages

You Know Who Killed Me by Loren D. Estleman

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

She had an affair, he was murdered.  There are foreign bad guys and local suspects.  Amos Walker was hired to find out who the killer was.

Audio:  5 hrs. 36 min.
Print:  240 pages

Robert Ludlum's The Janus Reprisal by Jamie Freveletti

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Middle East terrorists, American financier.  Story involves stolen hundreds of million dollars and biological attack on the United States.

Audio:  11 hrs. 20 min.
Print:  480 pages

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ensnared by A.G. Howard

Ensnared (Splintered, #3)Ensnared by A.G. Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category/Genre: YA Fantasy

Ensnared is book 3 in the Splintered series, which is a dark, fractured retelling of Alice in Wonderland. This book marks the end of the series, which is disappointing, only because I was wrapped up in the gorgeous, twisted world. The series has excellent world building, and the characters show a lot of growth throughout. I will remain hopeful for a companion series that takes place in the distant future. 

I recommend this series on audiobook, as the reader is excellent. 

Unabridged Audiobook
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Gibel
  • Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins

Paperback Length: 416 pages

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert is an eye-opening look at the impact humans have had and continue to have on Earth. The 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner for nonfiction, The Sixth Extinction begins by chronicling a history of the world in which five prior mass extinctions have occurred, either by climate change or by catastrophe. Notable scientists she discusses include Georges Cuvier and Charles Darwin. The sixth extinction, occurring in the current day, may turn out to be one of the more devastating to Earth's organisms, and it is the discussion of this that makes up the greater part of this text. Traveling around the globe, Kolbert visited several locations and spoke with dozens of scientists over the course of a few years while compiling the information for this book. Each scientist she spoke to gave evidence for a mass extinction as something already in progress. Exploring everything from worldwide amphibian endangerment to coral reefs to non-human apes, Kolbert builds the case and questions what will become of humans in the end. Meant to be a wake-up call to all homo sapiens, The Sixth Extinction is sobering in nature, yet shows the hard work and dedication of those of us who do work to preserve what is left of the endangered species of all Earthly organisms. A very necessary read for any homo sapien. 319 pp.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Time and Tide" by E.M. Lindsey

This lovely story starts in 1897 when William Owens returns to Maryland after graduating from Oxford to find himself engaged to a woman he's never met.  His overbearing mother has arranged it, and he doesn't have the courage to say no.  However, he soon meets a blind, French writer, Theodore Renard, who changes Will's life in drastic ways.  But with a pregnant and miserable wife and a job he hates, Will must stand up to his mother and be his true self in order to be happy. 

This is the first book that I have read by this author and found it to flow very well with two very strong and empathetic main characters.  I can't explain more about the story without giving away major plot points, but I'll just say that I really liked the writing and the characters of Theo and Will.  203 pages (Kindle edition).

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me is the third and final book in the Shatter Me series. It was a well-done and satisfying conclusion to the series. Juliette finally connects her inner strength and resolve with her supernatural ability in a gratifying way. She is a flawed heroine, but she learns from her mistakes. Warner's character grows into one of the most memorable and exciting YA book heroes that I've read in a long time. He isn't a carbon copy of most YA protagonists, which is refreshing. 

I didn't want the book or the series to end, but I suppose all good things must come to an end. I'm looking forward to more books by Tahereh Mafi.

408 pages

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me picks up right at the end of Shatter Me, and Juliette and Adam find themselves in a precarious situation. The tone of the books switch in this second installment, to more of a Hunger Games-type underground revolution story. Juliette finally learns more about her "curse" and that she might actually be able to do some good with it. 

I enjoyed this book, and I can't wait to see what happens next in Ignite Me!

(I don't know why the title image won't work for this book).

461 pages

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Detective Harry Bosch helps defense attorney Mickey Haller catch crooked policemen and save an innocent they are accusing of murder.

Audio:  9 hrs. 26 min.
Print:  400 pages