Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Dog & Pony" by Jair Marlowe

Josh Bennett is the producer of a local morning show on WPUD in Milwaukee.  Sometimes he appears on camera to cook, put out fires (literally), and break up fights between guests.  New co-host Tyler Dash is only there to get six months of experience before moving on to a bigger city and station.  He's very conscious of his looks and behavior, so much so that he refuses to come out of the closet.  When he and Josh become involved, Tyler does everything he can to keep their relationship quiet but Josh refuses to hide and gives Tyler an ultimatum that may break both of their hearts.  This turned out to be a very funny story with great secondary characters in the other morning show employees and Josh's parents, whom he visits often on their farm.  The show sounds like something I would watch just for the quirky guests.  There were some typos and misspellings, but overall the book was very enjoyable.  175 pages (Kindle edition).

"Changing Plans" by L.A. Witt

This well told story deals with a man being left at the altar but taking the honeymoon by himself and finding true happiness.  The book opens with Elliott Chandler stranded in Seattle's snowbound airport waiting to take a solo honeymoon to Hawaii.  While waiting, he meets Derek Windsor, also on the same flight to return to his home after visiting family in Seattle.  Derek has made millions in the tech world and lives in a large house on one of the smaller islands.  He invites Elliott to let him show him around the non-tourist areas, and he agrees.  I can't say much more due to spoilers, but Elliott has the time of his life.  Two-thirds of the story is told from his point of view, while the final third is seen through Derek's eyes.  The author is a great storyteller; I really enjoyed this book.  237 pages (Kindle edition).

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

After four horrific years on the Western Front during World War II, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia, and becomes a lighthouse keeper on the isolated island of Janus. When he marries a young, vibrant woman named Isabel, the two of them become the only inhabitants of  this small island, half a day's journey by boat from the shore. A supply boat comes every three months; the only link they have to civilization.

Even though they only have each other for human interaction, and must work very hard to maintain the island and the lighthouse, they are very happy. When Isabel becomes pregnant with their first child, she is ecstatic. But she miscarries, then becomes pregnant again and miscarries again. When her third pregnancy ends in the stillbirth of a son, Isabel sinks into a deep depression. Then one day, walking near the shore, she hears a baby's cry. And there, by the shoreline, is a boat with a dead man inside, and an infant wrapped in a woman's sweater.

Tom wants to summon help, but Isabel convinces him that the mother must be dead, for what mother would allow a baby to be taken from her and taken out to sea in a small boat? She manages to persuade Tom to let her keep the baby, against his better judgment. They pretend it is the child they were expecting, the one who was stillborn. For several years, they were all very happy, but a visit to the mainland changes everything.

This book is about the sometimes dire consequences of deception, even one that begins as a kindness.
Lives can be devastated, even those of the most innocent.

Highly recommended.

354 pages

Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi

Trudi Montag is a  Zwerg (dwarf) short, undesirable, different,  living in a small town in Germany in this story that spans both World Wars. Her father fought in World War I, and her mother is a mentally disturbed woman who rejects her daughter when she is born.

When Trudi is two, her mother embraces her one day, and falls in love with her. The two become inseparable, until her mother kills herself while once again in the insane asylum. Her father, who has always been Trudi's primary caregiver,  is a librarian of his own pay library, running the library out of their home and charging patrons to borrow books. Trudi eventually takes over, becoming the town librarian, where she is able to learn secrets while spying on the townfolk.

Trudi is deeply resentful of her physical difference, but learns to use her uniqueness in a variety of ways to her advantage, mostly to discover the secrets of various villagers, but also to enact vengeance toward others.

 She discovers various gifts she has, from her own bravery in the face of mass evil to being able to see into people's hearts. During World War II, she shelters Jews in her basement. Through her eyes, readers see the growing impact of Nazism on the ordinary townsfolk of Burgdorf as they are thrust on to a larger moral stage and forced to make choices that will forever mark their lives.

531 pages

"Equals" by Brigham Vaughn

This novella covered a May/December romance between Steven, the CFO of a marketing firm, and Russ, an accountant at the same business.  Steven is gun shy from having been recently heartbroken, and Russ has trouble seeing himself as Steven's equal since he's so much younger and basically living from paycheck to paycheck.  This causes Russ to act like a jerk and throw tantrums when Steven tries to do nice things for him.  I couldn't understand why Steven put up with such behavior, so I didn't enjoy this story very much.  138 pages (Kindle edition).

Heidi by Joanna Syri

Heidi was written in 1880, and is still one of the most beloved of children's books. She is five years old when we meet her in the pages of this book. She is an orphan, and her aunt, who has been caring for her, is taking her to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. Grandfather, or Alm-Uncle, has a reputation as a hostile man. He lives in a hut, isolated high on a mountain away from people.

However, Heidi is an irrepressibly joyous child, who loves grandfather, the mountain, the goats, and Peter, the young boy who tends the goats. When she meets Peter's mother and grandmother, she loves them too, and everyone comes to love Heidi, especially Alm-Uncle.

Then one day Heidi's aunt returns to take her off to Frankfurt to be the companion of an invalid girl, Clara. Heidi gets into many scraps, because she has no frame of reference for living in a large, rich household, or in a city. She loves Clara,  Clara's father and grandmother, but is so homesick that she becomes ill. The doctor tells the family that she must go home. Heidi returns to the mountain, and the relationships she established lead to a happy ending for everyone involved.

222 pages
Copyright 1880

"Unintended" by M.J. O'Shea

This was a very cute novella about two boys who meet their senior year in high school and become best friends.  Taylor is popular and has lived in the Seattle area a long time while Alex is the new kid who has lived all over the world but has no real friends.  The story alternates between their senior year of high school/freshman year of college and 10 years later.  I enjoyed knowing how things were going to turn out while reading how the boys got there.  100 pages (Kindle edition).

Friday, January 30, 2015

Promise Canyon by Robyn Carr

Posted for Diann Stark

Audio Reading time: 9 hours, 46 minutes. 352 pages

Clay Tahoma is known as a horse whisper, he is now Virgin River's new veterinary assistant. He loves the area, it reminds him of his Navajo roots and he's been welcomed everyone in town, except Lilly Yazhi.

Lilly is Hopi, and she has had her share of strong, silent, traditional men within her own aboriginal community, and she's not interested in coming back for more. She doesn’t trust Clay, she also can't deny his gift for gentling horses, but she's not about to let him control her. There's just one small problem—she can't control her attraction to Clay. Clay proves to her that he wants an equal, not someone to control. As Clay and Lilly are trying to figure out their attraction to one another it seems there are some interesting things going on in town.  Hope McCrea, the town busybody, suddenly dies and bequeaths her entire, extremely sizable legacy to the town, naming Jack Sheridan as executor. Suddenly Virgin River’s residents become very greedy and Jack sees a new side to the town.

Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr

Posted for Diann Stark

Audio Reading time: 11 hours, 5 minutes. 384 pages

Erin has had responsibilities all of her life, she has raised her siblings, became a well known lawyer and never took time for herself. She has decided it is time to get to know herself so she moves into a cabin in Virgin River that her sister and brother in-law owns. She went there for the tranquility and to find herself, she was not expecting to find a strange, scruffy man in her back yard. Dr. Aiden Riordan was also in Virgin River staying in a cabin that he and his brothers own. He is trying to figure out what to do with himself, he has just retired from the Navy. He could tell right away that she was a snooty city girl. However, he could see that there was something about her that he found irresistible. This is a fun light hearted book that has its twist and turns, but you can’t help but to love the characters.

Angel’s Peak by Robyn Carr

Posted for Diann Stark

Audio book reading time: 10 hours, 19 minutes. 384 pages

Franci Duncan and Sean Riordan were a couple when they were both in the Air Force together. She wanted marriage and a family but Sean didn’t want anything to do with having a family or getting married. They finally called it quits and went their separate ways, four years later Sean comes to Virgin River to decide if he wants to continue his career in the Air Force or start growing roots. He tracks down Franci in a close by town and tries to reconnect with her; she wants nothing to do with him. She thinks he is still the arrogant, self-centered person she left behind. He finds out where she lives and goes to talk with her and finds out after all these years that they have a little girl together. At first he is furious and then he understands why she kept her a secret.

Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr

Posted for Diann Stark

Audio Reading time: 11 hours, 14 minutes. Pages 416

Rick Sudder returns to Virgin River after losing his leg on the battlefield in Iraq. He left a young boy and returned as a man wondering where to go from here. He had left behind his grandmother and girlfriend when he left only to return to his grandmother and her health issues and not letting his girlfriend back into his life. However, she is not having it! She forces him to open up to her and let her in to help him heal. As the town starts to help Rick heal someone that used to live in Virgin River reappears after being away for a few years. Not knowing if the town will accept her again she starts to mend fences.

Temptation Ridge by Robyn Carr

Posted for Diann Stark

Audio book Reading time: 12 hours, 21 minutes. 416 pages

After tending to her dying mother, Shelby moves to Virgin River. She goes there to reconnect with her uncle and cousins. She doesn’t expect to meet the perfect man. Luke Riordan ends up in Virgin River trying to decide what to do with his life when Shelby catches his eye. Even though Shelby has led a very sheltered life and Luke had no intention in falling in love, they both had their sights set on each other. As their affair begins, you read about other familiar characters from town and realize you have become a part of this community. It seems that Virgin River is the place to go to fall in love.