Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Watching Elijah Fall" by Amy Spector

Jacob Pierce is having a hard time moving past the break-up with his long time boyfriend.  He's depressed and not sure how to be happy again.  His friends talk him into taking a photography class where he finds himself drawn to the instructor, Elijah Fall.  But Elijah has his own heartache weighing him down.  This was a gentle novella with good secondary characters and two very likable leads.  67 pages (Kindle edition).

"The Best Man" by L.A. Witt

Jon Beatty is trying his best to deal with being asked to be the best man at a wedding - his ex-boyfriend's wedding to a woman.  He reluctantly agrees even though he still has feelings for Craig, and the fiancee seems to hate him.  Then he meets Liam Sable, and Jon thinks his life may be getting back on track until someone starts to stalk him and cause him harm.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I liked this story and the writing.  I was surprised by the suspense angle to it since I thought it was going to be a regular romance, but it added nicely to the story.  251 pages (Kindle edition).

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

In 17th century Boston, a Puritan colony, Hester Prynne gives birth to a daughter, Pearl. Her husband had sent her ahead to America, but never made it to Boston. She has apparently had an affair, and is sentenced to wear a scarlet “A" for adultery on her chest . She will not reveal who the child’s father is, so is put in stocks on the town square.
A young minister helps Hester keep her daughter when officials try to take her away, but he develops a mysterious illness, which is then treated by Hester’s husband.  Eventually, it comes to light that the minister is Hester’s lover, and he dies after publicly confessing.  Hester and Pearl leave Boston, and no one knows what has happened to them. Many years later, Hester returns, and when she dies is buried beside her lover.

I don't know that I like this book any better than I did when I read it in high school, but I did understand it better.  150 pages.

published 1850

"End of the Trail" by Jane Elliot

Will Connors is trying to raise cattle on a small ranch out west with his wife and small son when he rescues a badly injured man on his land.  He and his wife nurse the man back to health without knowing that he's John Anderson, an outlaw wanted for murder.  Anderson soon leaves without trouble, and Will and his family go on with their lives.  Fast forward a few years and Will is partially crippled, widowed, and living alone still trying to raise cattle.  Guess who shows up?  John Anderson.  Will he take advantage of the man who once rescued him, or has he changed his ways?  This was a gentle character study of two loners and the hard times faced in the west, which could be made easier with the right person.  140 pages (Kindle edition).

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series. It adds the story of Cress, a re-imagining of Rapunzel, to Cinder and Scarlet's continuing story. In this version, however, Cress is a young girl tucked away in a satellite in space, who has become a master hacker. Her story intersects with Scarlet, Wolf, Cinder and Thorne in the most painful of ways. I couldn't put Cress down either, and I really enjoyed reading Cress's chapters. I'm not as familiar with the Rapunzel lore, so I didn't really know what to expect from her story, other than that she would have really long hair (which she does). 

Winter, the next book in the series, comes out November 10, 2015!! I can't wait. 

522 pages

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series. It adds the characters of Scarlet, Captain Thorne and Wolf to Cinder's story from Book 1. The chapters alternate between Cinder, Scarlet and Kai's points of view (maybe a few others; I can't remember). Scarlet lives in a small town in France with her grandmother, but her grandmother has been kidnapped. Scarlet meets Wolf, and they set out to find her grandmother in Paris. This story loosely follows the Little Red Riding Hood tale, which makes it familiar and comforting. However, the mix-up of the story keeps you guessing and the book overall fresh and exciting. I really enjoyed Scarlet... much more than Cinder. Scarlet and Wolf have great chemistry, while Thorne adds some much-needed humor to the books. 

I could hardly put this book down, and as soon as I finished it, I was on the hunt for Book 3!

454 pages

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

In 1939, a five-year-old named Josef hides under a table and watches as his family is murdered in Transylvania by the Romanian Iron Guard. The family's maid takes him back to the farm where she grew up and pretends he is her son. Five years later, Josef rescues a five-year-old girl named Mila whose parents are murdered while running toward a rabbi they think will save them.

Josef helps Mila find Zalman Stern, a Satmar Jew. Satmars are a very conservative Jewish sect. After the war, Zalman arranges for Josef to be sent to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to become a Satmar scholar. When Mila is 18, Zalman arranges for her to marry Josef and go to America with him.

Josef and Mila have a very loving relationship, within the confines of their faith, which dictates everything they do, sexually and otherwise, in their marriage. Mila has been taught that her purpose in life is to be a dutiful wife, and be fruitful and multiply. But the years go by, and she doesn't conceive. She is tested, but for Josef to be tested he will have to commit a sin. Mila finally takes matters into her own hands, and the result leads to ultimate tragedy.

336 pages

The Job by Janet Evanovich with Lee Goldberg

Summary: "The FBI had one demand when they secretly teamed up Special Agent Kate O'Hare with charming con man Nicolas Fox -- bring down the world's most-wanted and untouchable felons. This time it's the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire. The FBI doesn't know what their target looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick Fox has a few tricks up his sleeve to roust this particular Knipschildt chocolate-loving drug lord. From the streets of Nashville to the back alleys of Lisbon, from the rooftops of Istanbul to the middle of the Thames, Nick and Kate chase their mark. When they find themselves pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard and a Portuguese enforcer who gets advice from a pickled head, they decide it's time to enlist some special talent -- talent like a machete-wielding Somali pirate, a self-absorbed actor, an Oscar-winning special effects artist, and Kate's father Jake, a retired Special Forces operative. Together they could help make this Fox and O'Hare's biggest win yet... if they survive." 

The Job was a fun installment in the Fox and O'Hare series! I really enjoyed it. The big con in this novel is the discovery of a sunken Spanish treasure galleon, which is always an interesting story. Nick and Kate have great chemistry as usual. Looking forward to the next one! And the next Stephanie Plum novel, Tricky Twenty-Two, comes out November 17 - mark your calendars!!!

289 pages

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Riddle of Ramrod Ridge by William Colt MacDonald

Posted for Paul Mathews

Sharpshooter Scott and his companions are on the hunt for $30,000 in gold that disappeared in thin air.  Deacon Trunbull and his sidekicks are up to no good and after the gold, whatever it takes. 

Audio:  7 hrs. 9 min.
Print:  192 pages

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Summary: "In a land that has been at war so long that no one remembers the reason for fighting, the shapeshifters who rule the two factions agree to marry in the hope of bringing peace, despite deep-seated fear and distrust of each other."

Danica Shardae is next in line for the crown of the avian society, and she is desperate to make peace to end the blood-shed between the avian and serpiente societies. Zane Cobriana is the leader of the serpiente, and he is just as eager to end the war. However, they each know nothing but hatred and revenge in their hearts for the other side...can they find a way to work together to bring peace? Can hawks and cobras ever get along? I actually read this book many years ago, and I re-read it again this past week. It's such a great story and fast read. One of my favorites. 

I'm not sure if this book counts as an animal POV, even though all of the characters are shape shifters. Danica has a demi-form as a human with wings, and she can also fully shape-shift into a hawk. Zane can shape-shift into a cobra. The other characters can shift into various birds (raven, sparrow, etc) or snakes (viper, python, etc). 

243 pages

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Chase by Janet Evanovich with Lee Goldberg

Summary: "FBI Agent Kate O'Hare is a force of nature, and she's lived for one thing and one thing only: to put the slippery conman known as Nicolas Fox behind bars. Nick is a fed's worst nightmare: exceptionally talented in his line of work, known the world over for being able to pull off some of the most dangerous, high-profile cons. In a cruel twist of fate, Kate's bosses at the FBI force her to covertly partner up with Nick to take down big league crime. Their adventures continue in this exciting second novel in the series." 

I really enjoyed the con story of this second book in the series. The series is getting better by each book! Nick and Kate have great chemistry, which is what I really enjoy about the books. Sometimes the details of the con can get a little boring, but overall, these books are pretty entertaining. I plan to keep reading them! 

303 pages

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Summary: "Hadley and Oliver fall in love on the flight from New York to London, but after a cinematic kiss they lose track of each other at the airport until fate brings them back together on a very momentous day."

Even though this is described as a love story between teenagers, in reality, it is a love between family, specifically a father and his estranged daughter. Hadley's father divorced her mother after moving to London to teach at Oxford. He has found a new love, and invited Hadley to his wedding. It is on her flight to London to attend the wedding that Hadley meets Oliver. But her constant flashbacks, fears and worries all center around her strained relationship with her father. As a daughter who can relate to a complicated father-daughter relationship, I was in awe of how raw and real Hadley's emotions were throughout the book. 

236 pages

Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke

When I used to lead a book club, I liked to select books that I still clearly remembered months after reading. In sizing up books to share, good writing is important, but if the story sticks with you, that’s a good book. That is the case with James Lee Burke’s Wayfaring Stranger. Over the years I’ve enjoyed Burke’s detective novels with the dark and dangerous Dave Robicheaux, set in the bayou country of Louisiana. Burke writes noir so well you can see the Spanish moss hanging from the trees and smell the saltwater in the air. Others have also recognized his talent because he is the rare recipient of two Edgar Awards.

Another measure for judging books is to read what book authorities say. “An ambitious, deeply satisfying historical thriller. . . . The wartime scenes showcase Burke at his best—vivid, finely wrought, highly evocative writing . . . A wonderful slice of midcentury American life overlaid with the roiling drama of individual lives as only Burke can portray them.” (Booklist, starred review)

I listened to this book on audio and highly recommend the experience. Will Patton’s gravelly, deep voice sounds like a cross between the Marlboro man and Tom Selleck. Don’t miss this excellent book by an author at the top of his game. 448 pages.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

First Love by James Patterson

Posted for Paul Mathews

Sixteen-year-old Axi finds out a lot as she travels across country with the boy she loves. They enjoy and encounter many adventures. Very nice romance novel.

Audio:  5 hrs. 11 min.
Print:  560 pages                                                     

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"A Hunted Man" by Jaime Reese

This is the second book in the Men of Halfway House series, and I didn't like it as much as the first, "A Better Man".  Cam is just out of prison for serving 10 years for manslaughter and has moved into Halfway House to adjust to life on the outside.  He's only 27, so he has no real skills or formal work experience.  Luckily, Matt, who runs Halfway House, gets him a job at a mom and pop coffee shop where Cam meets Hunter Donovan, Assistant State Attorney and regular customer.  Soon, Hunter is trying to clear Cam's name when he realizes that a drug cartel and dirty judge railroaded him into prison for what was clearly self-defense.  Then dangerous men start following Cam around, showing up at his work and even breaking into Halfway House and Hunter's home to get to him.  Action and suspense dominate the second half of the book, but I would have rather had it focus on Cam's adjustment to the real world and dealing with his PTSD after his abuse in prison.  Still, there were great supporting characters, especially Hunter's dad, and we got to see some of Matt and Julian from the first book.  I'll be reading book three soon.  378 pages.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Three Novellas and One Book by Lee Child

Posted for Paul Mathews

"Deep Down" -  44 pages (Kindle edition)

"Second Son" - 40 pages (Kindle edition)

"High Heat" - 73 pages (Kindle edition)

 "Jack Reacher's Rules" -  160 pages (hardback)

Three early novels of Jack and his brother being raised in the military.  In his early years he learned life rules early.

Audio:  7 hrs. 11 minutes total

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

OCD, the Dude and Me by Lauren Vaughn

Danielle tells her story through the English papers, notes, e-mails and other correspondence. She writes with a very true and clear voice, which is quite refreshing. The way she sees and describes the world around her is striking, like "His girlfriend looked just like Juno, except she wasn't pregnant. Well, truthfully, I couldn't really know that. Maybe she was and that's why they were kissing the way I saw. I am sure making a baby together can inspire that kind of kissing." 

Danielle struggles with OCD and the repercussions of a traumatic incident in the 8th grade. She hates herself; for her weight and for her own very existence, as she feels guilty for living while others are not. I really enjoyed this book, and I love the way Danielle describes the inner-workings of her mind and the intimidating world around her.

My favorite quote of the entire book (an e-mail from Aunt Joyce to Danielle), which made me cry: 

"...then you wouldn't be with us at all. That is not an option any of us can accept. And so, it is you, your existence, your presence in my life that has helped to heal this situation for me. You mean so much to me, and now you know even more why. You are the child we are meant to have. Yours is the life that is meant to be here."  

234 pages

Saturday, April 4, 2015

"Bound by Flames" by Jeaniene Frost

This is the third book in the Night Prince series and is full of action and outrageous paranormal happenings, just like Frost's other books.  Unfortunately, I had no emotional investment in these characters.  Leila Dalton was turned into a vampire in the last book by her new husband, Vlad Tepesh Dracul (no, not Dracula) after being killed.  Now she has vampire powers in addition to her ability to hold and control electricity.  She can also read a person's worst sin just by touching them.  Vlad is different from other vampires; he can create and control flames with his hands.  When Leila is kidnapped by Vlad's oldest and worst enemy and is tortured on camera, it nearly drives Vlad mad, and he is set on revenge after she escapes.  I don't remember much from the other two books, but this one had very little emotion in it, just one dangerous scenario after another.  342 pages.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Palindrome by Stuart Woods

Posted for Paul Mathews

Liz Barwick finds a second life on Georgia's Cumberland Island with all of its mysteries. Love-Death-Hurricane.

Audio:  9 hrs. 36 min.
Print:  432 pages