Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Monday, August 31, 2015

Long Upon the Land by Margaret Maron

Margaret Maron delivers another solid installment in the Deborah Knott series.  Judge Deborah Knott gets to delve into her parents' past when her father becomes a suspect in the death of a wife-beating former moonshiner.  Thankfully, there are other suspects in Vick Earp's murder.  He not only battered his wife, he beat up his younger brother, his cousin, the neighbor's cat, and whoever was unfortunate enough to cross his path.  Deborah and her husband Dwight work the clues in the present and back to the 1940s to try to find out who killed Vick and dumped his body on Knott land. 288 pages.

A Light in the Window by Jan Karon

In the second book of the Mitford series, Father Tim is dating his neighbor Cynthia but is unwilling to admit that he loves her.  Complications develop when Cynthia sees Father Tim return home after an unplanned all-nighter at a rich widow's house.  Can Father Tim fight off the unwanted attentions of Edith Mallory?  Will he overcome his fear of commitment and ask Cynthia to marry him?  You'll find out the answers to these questions and more.  Another satisfying read! 432 pages.

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

I probably was pre-disposed not to like this installment of the Maisie Dobbs series because I drove my Mom out to the St. Louis County Public Library to see the author and she had cancelled due to illness! Argh! (Belated note to self: always remember to call ahead and confirm that an event will take place as scheduled before driving more than 20 minutes away to attend said event! Duh!) Anyway, at the end of the last book Maisie had decided to close down her detective agency and travel to India.  I was looking forward to reading about Maisie's experiences but the new book sums up her time there in a few sentences and skips ahead to Gibraltar during the Spanish Civil War. Wait, what? Winspear tells us via letters written to Maisie by various friends and family that Maisie has experienced a catastrophic personal loss.  Maisie is so distraught that she cannot face returning to her home in England.  Gibraltar acts as a kind of limbo for Maisie as she struggles to regain her purpose and the will to go on. 308 pages.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

 Hank Morgan, a 19th-century resident of Hartford, Connecticut, suffers a blow to the head, and awakens to find himself transported back to the time of King Arthur. He is ridiculed at court for his strange appearance and dress and is sentenced) to burn at the stake. The date of the burning coincides with a historical solar eclipse in the year 528, which Hank had learned about in his earlier life. While in prison he informs the King that he will blot out the sun if he is executed.
He sends word to King Arthur that he will blot out the sun if he is executed. When the King decides to burn him anyway, and the eclipse takes place, he convinces the people that he caused it. He is released, and is given the position of principal minister to the King. He learns about the practice and superstitions of the people, and using his knowledge from the future, industrializes the country. He sets up secret schools that teach modern ideas.

The book makes fun of contemporary society, but the main thrust is a satire of romanticized ideas of chivalry, and of the idealization of the Middle Ages 1n 19th-century literature.


158 pages
copyright 1889

Sydney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie

I watched the Grantchester Mysteries on PBS and loved them so much I had to read the books! Sydney Chambers is an Episcopal priest and WWII veteran in post-war England.  Sydney becomes a de facto detective when he is asked to perform the funeral service for a man believed to have committed suicide. The dead man's mistress tells Sydney after the service that she doesn't believe her lover committed suicide.  They had been planning to run away together.  Sydney is persuaded to look into the matter, using his position as a priest to get information not readily available to the police. Along the way we are introduced to Sydney's housekeeper, a new deacon, the local police inspector, and Sydney's friends and family. A well written, enjoyable read! 400 pages.

"My Brother's Keeper" by Adrienne Wilder

Ellis Harper has lived a solitary life taking care of his mentally disabled older brother, Rudy, who manages to do things he shouldn't when they go out in public.  They become the target of the town bully after Rudy scares the man's girlfriend at the store.  But Ellis and Rudy find a kind of protector, and Ellis a kindred spirit, in Jon Foster, a former cop whose partner was killed because of his mistake.  Helping Ellis take care of Rudy brings Jon out of his depression to find a purpose in life again.  This is book one in the My Brother's Keeper Trilogy.  280 pages (Kindle edition).

I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark

Product DetailsFive years ago, Dr. Greg Moran was murdered in front of his 3-year-old son. His killer was never found. He had told a witness that Laurie, his wife, was next, and then Timmy, his son.

Laurie is a producer of reality TV shows. She conceives the idea of basing a  reality show on unsolved crimes. She will gather all the people involved in the original case, interview them, and re-enact the crime. She believes that doing so may lead to the case being solved.

The first case, which will be the pilot for a series, will be that of a wealthy socialite who was killed 20 years before after her daughters graduation party. She convinces all the people involved to be a part of the interviews. The show will be taped at the estate of the widower, where the party took place.

In the meantime, Dr. Moran's murderer, who has been in prison on an unrelated case sees this as his chance to finish the job he started.

This is a light, fluffy vacation read; vintage Mary Higgins Clark, which I found very enjoyable.

321 pages

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

I had to go back to re-read the Mitford series after reading Jan Karon's Somewhere safe with somebody good.  I just love Father Tim.  He's overweight, tired all the time, and burnt out at his job at the Mitford Episcopal Church.  His bishop suggests that he take a vacation and his doctor warns him to get his diabetes under control or else!  Father Tim starts running again and opens his house to a stray dog.  It all snowballs from there and soon Father Tim finds himself raising a young boy and dating his neighbor.  Who would have thought it could happen!  A very enjoyable read.  413 pages. 

"Learning to Feel" by N.R. Walker

Overworked city doctor moves to rural, small town where he meets a free spirit artist who changes his life for the better.  Nathan Tierney is the doctor who moves from Boston to Belfast, Maine.  Trent Jamieson is the artist who is working on the house that Nathan gets with the new job.  The two men are from very different backgrounds (Nathan - middle class, intact family; Trent - orphan with no permanent home) but find something in the other that makes them better.  Trent's dog, Bentley, plays a key role in the story.  Well-written and moving.  218 pages (Kindle edition).

"When Skies Have Fallen" by Debbie McGowan

This touching story is about two gay men serving in England in WWII.  Arty Clarke is an airman and excellent dancer whose best friend and dance partner, Jean, helps his love blossom with Technical Sergeant Jim Johnson.  Homosexuality is against the law in England, but that doesn't stop them from falling in love and trying to be together.  But that love is tested when Arty is critically injured in an airplane accident, and Jim is called home to the United States.  This was another quiet but great story from McGowan that included lots of dancing, a strong female character in Jean, and a couple of cute cats.  296 pages (Kindle edition).

Ross Poldark: a novel of Cornwall by Winston Graham

The Poldark series, originally published in the 1940s, is the basis for a gritty PBS series about Cornwall in the 1780s.  Ross Poldark, a member of the gentry, returns from fighting for the British in the war for American independence to find that the woman he loves, Elizabeth, is now engaged to another.  He now has to pick up the pieces of his life and try to make a living on the small family farm he has inherited.  Graham creates a great moody atmosphere for Cornwall and vividly depicts both the struggles of the poor villagers and the tensions among the landowners and gentry.  I don't know if I would have enjoyed this as much if I had read the book first, as the actors gave very strong performances and rooted the characters in my mind.  The videos follow the story pretty closely, but included more emphasis on the broken romance between Ross and Elizabeth and the relationships with other members of the large Poldark family.  Ross is not afraid of bucking the conventions of his class and unexpectedly develops a love relationship with his kitchen maid, Demelza, and marries her to the astonishment of his family.  Demelza is a strong character in her own right, unschooled but a quick study, and Graham vividly describes the awkward scenes of her trying to fit into refined society and the cruelty of the gossip and hurtful remarks wielded by the other women.  The next volume in the series focuses on Demelza, and should be a fun read.  376 pages

"Leo the Magnificat" by Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Based on a true story, this book follows Leo, a cat who wonders into the garden of a church.  Although he is healthy and well fed, no one comes to claim him and he decides to stay at the church.  He makes many friends, roams the neighborhood, and charms everyone.  He even plays matchmaker and helps with the Christmas pageant.  Leo lives a long, happy life.  The final page of the book shows a picture of and tells about the real Leo the Magnificat, a Siamese tom who lived at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral in Louisville, KY.  The watercolor and gouache Impressionistic illustrations perfectly convey Leo's thick fur and vivid expressions.  This is a lovely story of a cat who touched many lives for the better (as all cats do).  32 pages.

"Scaredy Cat" by Joan Rankin

Author/illustrator Rankin gives us a story from the point of view of a kitten who encounters multiple scary objects in the house where he lives with his Mama Meow and human Auntie B.  Monsters, a forest, wiggly thingamajigs, crocodiles, and more make the kitten tremble in fear until Mama Meow explains what they really are.  Simple yet expressive drawings only add to the wonderful story.  Highly recommended.  32 pages.

"Hedgie's Surprise" by Jan Brett

Jan Brett is one of the most popular and talented (in my opinion) author/illustrators to ever be published.  She doesn't disappoint in this tale of Hedgie the hedgehog and his friend Henny the speckled hen.  Henny's eggs are stolen everyday by the hungry Tomten, the mischievous child of the owner of the barn where Henny lives.  Henny wants to raise her eggs into chicks, but the boy steals the eggs for his breakfast.  Hedgie steps in and tricks the youngster by putting various edible objects into Henny's nest for him to take, like an acorn, a potato, and a strawberry.  But what is Hedgie doing with Henny's eggs?  Brett's detailed drawings are wonderful, as usual, as is the cute story of a friend coming to the rescue.  32 pages.

"Little Bat" by Tania Cox, illustrated by Andrew McLean

Little Bat lives in a rainforest in northeastern Australia and clings to her mother in fear knowing that she is expected to start flying soon.  Other animal friends come by to give advice to the little red flying fox.  These include a paradise kingfisher, a Boyd's forest dragon, a green ringtail possum, a king parrot, a lesser sooty owl, a Ulysses butterfly, a yellow-breasted sunbird, a spotted-tailed quoll, and a green python.  Colorful, detailed drawings on a dark blue background showcase these forest dwellers.  This is a lovely book about encouraging a friend.  30 pages.

"Franklin's Halloween" by Paulette Bourgeois, illustrated by Brenda Clark

This installment in the Franklin series finds the young turtle and his friends preparing for the big Halloween party at Town Hall.  He tries on various costumes and finally decides to be "Franklinstein".  A visit to a haunted house causes a few scary moments, but Franklin and his buddies end the evening in a selfless gesture for their friend Bear.  Cuteness abounds.  32 pages.

"The Cookie-Store Cat" by Cynthia Rylant

This lovely book with simple drawings tells the story of a cat who is adopted by a baker and lives in his cookie store.  The reader follows the cat as he goes through his days greeting the various customers and other store owners in the neighborhood.  He is loved by all, especially the old baker who found and took him in as a malnourished kitten.  Recipes for the cookies mentioned in the story are at the end of the book.  40 pages.

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Summary: "Abandoning kickboxing after a tragedy in the ring, champion fighter Haley is forced to train an attractive mixed martial arts student who secretly fights on Haley's behalf to redeem his troubled past."

I made a huge mistake by reading this book out of order from the rest of the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry. The story was not quite what I expected, as there was a ton of unnecessary drama heaped upon the characters. I almost couldn't enjoy the simple story of the training/fighting because the two main characters were so bogged down by ridiculous burdens. Overall, there were some really great moments and memorable lines, but it was exhausting to read. I hope the other books in the series are not so over-the-top. 

455 pages

"The Cat Barked?" by Lydia Monks

Wonderful illustrations are the highlight of this children's book told from the perspective of an orange tabby cat who thinks dogs have all the fun until his human girl points out many things cats can do that dogs cannot.  Highly recommended for kids and adult cat lovers. 32 pages.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

384 pages

A startlingly honest and beautifully written book, I’ll Give You the Sun focuses on three years in the lives of teen twins.  It’s a sad, sweet tribute to art and teenage life and love and wonderment.  

Here’s a description from Amazon:
At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.
Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

Friday, August 28, 2015

St. Louis: An Illustrated Timeline by Carol Ferring Shepley

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Home of the World Series St. Louis Cardinals, Art Museum, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, recording artist Nelly, Opera Theatre of St. Louis founded in 1976.  In 1958, the St. Louis Hawks beat the Boston Celtics for their only championship and later moved to Atlanta.  In 1954, St. Louis school board prepares for Brown vs. Board of Education.  Charles Lindberg crosses the Atlantic Ocean in the airplane named the Spirit of St. Louis.  213 pages.

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor, with illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo

Lips Touch: Three Times is a collection of three short stories with elements of romance and the supernatural intertwined. 

The first story, "Goblin Fruit", is about a teenage girl named Kizzy who lives with her eclectic family in a small town. Her grandma warns her of the dangers of goblins luring young girls to damnation with their sweet, addictive fruit, but Kizzy is so desperate for attention, that she ignores her grandma's warnings from beyond the grave. Kizzy's story was immense fun, but it was way too short! The next two stories are much longer, but I really wish Kizzy's had been longer instead. 

The second story, "Spicy Little Curses Such as These", is about a newborn girl who is cursed by a demon to have the most beautiful voice in the world, but the most deadly. Whoever hears her voice will immediately drop dead. An old woman who is a servant of the demon actually delivers the curse, and she changes it so that the girl has full understanding of the curse placed upon her. The story takes place in India, and it's warm, exciting and spicy! 

The third story, "Hatchling", is one of the most intense supernatural stories I've ever read. It was terrifying yet awesome, and I have no idea how the author ever came up with such a twisted story. I couldn't begin to explain it because I would not do it justice. It was alarming, yet very, very good. 

The illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo are hauntingly beautiful!

265 pages

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

After the Orsk furniture superstore claims 40 workers, two escape and, after healing, make plans to go back to bring out their coworkers.  It was a horror in there.

Audio:  5 hrs. 31 min.
Print:  248 pages

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

198 pages

Published in 1908

The classic kid's lit book, which I re-read at least once every couple of years.  A nostalgic favorite!

The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery

168 pages

Published in 1913

Another favorite kid's lit re-read! This is the sequel to The Story Girl. 

The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

186 pages

Published in 1911

Another of my regular kid's lit re-reads.  Was a nice distraction from the home improvement projects at our home the last few weeks!

Description from Amazon:
The Story Girl is a 1911 novel by Canadian author L. M. Montgomery. It narrates the adventures of a group of young cousins and their friends who live in a rural community on Prince Edward Island, Canada. The book is narrated by Beverley, who together with his brother Felix, has come to live with his Aunt Janet and Uncle Alec King on their farm while their father travels for business. They spend their leisure time with their cousins Dan, Felicity and Cecily King, hired boy Peter Craig, neighbor Sara Ray and another cousin, Sara Stanley. The latter is the Story Girl of the title, and she entertains the group with fascinating tales including various events in the King family history.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama" by Alison Bechdel

In this follow up to "Fun Home," in which she wrote about growing up with her closeted father, Bechdel now explores her relationship with her mother.  Helen Bechdel was a teacher and amateur actress, a very smart woman unhappily married to a closeted gay man.  Although she has three children, she is not the maternal sort; in fact, she stopped touching or kissing her daughter when Alison was seven.  The author weaves back and forth through time landing on instances from her childhood, college years, post-college struggles, and recent events.  This made the story hard for me to follow, although I'm sure it wasn't supposed to be linear since each chapter has a theme rather than a chronology.  Bechdel refers to the theories of psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott and the words of writer Virginia Woolf throughout, and she also discusses insights she's had through many sessions in therapy.  I didn't like this book as much as I did "Fun Home," probably because this was nothing like I'd ever read and some of the concepts of Winnicott's were difficult to understand.  Although the author does come to understand and better accept her mother and their relationship, it's sad that she didn't receive more love from either parent.  286 pages.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Absolute Power by David Baldacci

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

A burglar is forced to hide in a safe in the house he is robbing.  Looking through a one way mirror, he sees a murder being committed by the President of the United States.

Audio: about 7 hrs.   
Print:  704 pages

Kickback by Robert B. Parker

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Teenagers are being sent to a juvenile state-owned facility for little or no crimes.  They have no lawyers and no way to stay out.  Lots of money is going into the facility, but no one knows whose pockets.  The kids must be helped and released.

Audio:  7 hrs. 10 min.
Print:  304 pages

Sunday, August 23, 2015

14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

(Posted for Paul Mathews) 

Women’s Murder Club investigator on one case comes across another.

Audio: 7 hrs. 20 min.
Print:  349 pages

Gathering Prey by John Sandford

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

They are called travelers who move from city to city but commit no crimes.  Exception to the rule:  one group led by a killer and drug dealer is among them, and he has about 20 members.

Audio:  10 hrs. 55 min.
Print:  416 pages

Scorcher by John Lutz

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Retired ex-cop, now a private investigator, is asked to find a killer who burns his victims.  He uses a flame thrower fashioned from a scuba tank.  There are many suspects and rich parents.  272 pages.

Endangered by C.J. Box

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Joe Picket's daughter is found severely beaten on the road.  Was it done by her rodeo boyfriend or a stranger?  Joe leaves no stone unturned to solve this crime.

Audio:  10 hrs. 15 min.
Print:  354 pages

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Life or Death by Michael Robotham

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Audie Palmer spent 10 years in jail for robbery.  Seven million dollars went missing and the before his release, Audie vanishes.

Audio:  13 hrs. 56 min.
Print:  432 pages

The Riddle of Ramrod Ridge by William Cold MacDonald

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

They rescue a Mexican being forced to talk.  He and many others want the $30,000 that disappeared in thin air.

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

NYPD Red 3 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Billionaire businessman makes a grisly discovery in his townhouse garage.  It's another case only for the NYPD Red.  384 pages.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Outlaw Tales of Missouri: True Stories of the Show Me State's Most Infamous Crooks, Culprits, and Cutthroats by Sean Mclachlan

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Missouri never had to settle for average gunmen when they had Jesse James and Cole Younger to call its own.

Audio:  3 hrs. 52 min.
Print:  176 pages

The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up: A Breakthrough Medical Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Steven Masley

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

I believed this book could help me understand arterial plaque more and what we can do.

Audio:  9 hrs. 10 min.
Print:  400 pages

Smoke by Donald Westlake

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Freddie Noon is a thief.  He sneaks into an apartment, the owners capture him and use him in an experiment.  He escapes, takes experimental drugs that he shouldn't combine, and becomes invisible.

Audio:  12 hrs. 30 min.
Print:  448 pages

Dead Eyes by Stuart Woods

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Actress Chris Callaway receives unstamped fan letters and roses at her unlisted address.  She falls and loses her eyesight.  She has two good friends but has a hard time catching her secret admirer.

Audio:  8 hrs. 24 min.
Print:  384 pages

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Copy Kat by Karen Kijewski

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Hired by an elderly man who wants the truth about the robbery and murder of his granddaughter, Kat goes undercover tending bar hoping to solve the crimes and answer his questions.

Audio:  9 hrs. 37 min.
Print:  400 pages

Choke Point by Ridley Pearson

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

John Knox and Grace Chu are professional operatives, but going underground and getting dirt on a rug factory using children is hard work and dangerous.

Audio:  11 hrs. 40 min.
Print:  448 pages

The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Along with wartime portraits and a chronicle of daily life in a war zone, this book reveals the author's personal antiwar sentiment and admiration of American soldiers.  He brings back a cat who adopted him in Hue.

Audio:  31 hrs. 39 min.
Print:  864 pages

Imperfect Strangers by Stuart Woods

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

The man sitting next to Sandy on the airplane watched the movie "Strangers on a Train."  He is an art dealer from California and wants his wife killed.  They trade information and codes to do it, but one is not honest and the other has a love interest.

Audio:  8 hrs. 4 min.
Print:  400 pages

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On Location: Secrets of my Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita

Summary: "Life is good for Hollywood princess Kaitlin Burke, ready to star in a movie by her favorite director, but an old love and a scheming new publicist complicate her already hectic existence."

Kaitlin's story continues to be as hectic and dramatic in this second installment of the Secrets of my Hollywood Life series. These books are short and sweet, and while Kaitlin is a little naive, she really is a strong voice and a good role model. It was fun to see the behind-the-scenes of a movie set! 

229 pages

The Spiral Notebook by Stephen and Joyce Singular

The Spiral Notebook: The Aurora Theater Shooter and the Epidemic of Mass Violence Committed by American Youth looks at the scope of mass shootings through the lens of the Aurora tragedy of July 2012 when James Holmes walked into a theater full of spectators watching the newest Batman movie and opened fire.  By interviewing their own son alongside other millenials, the authors take an in depth look at what is being called an "epidemic" among this generation and try to understand where the violence comes from.  From violence in our media such as video games and movies to the over prescribing of medications, American culture comes under fire as the cause of this phenomena.  The authors believe that after 9/11, more post-apocalyptic games and movies came out from ever before, contributing to the hopelessness millenials grew up with.  They also contend that we as a nation have spent a good portion of this generation's time on earth at war with other countries, not to mention the invisible terror threat.  In addition, they state, kids are prescribed legal drugs for their problems instead of learning coping skills.  These are three of the major factors that contribute to the state of today's youth.  The book is a very interesting study of mass shootings and their causes while using the framework of the story of one of the mass shooters who survived his shooting and whose information could potentially teach us a lot about why this keeps happening and how to prevent it.  At the center of the book is the famous spiral notebook in which Holmes allegedly outlined his plans and his thoughts prior to the shooting, the same notebook he sent to his former psychiatrist moments before walking into the theater.  The media and some psychological professionals believe this notebook should be made public to a certain degree in order to learn from Holmes.  However, the courts have kept the document sealed and few people have seen it.  This also brings up the discussion in the book about criminal insanity and how our justice system determines and handles it.  Excellent read for all adults who have asked themselves why this keeps happening.  304 pages.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I am the Traitor by Allen Zadoff

Summary: "After breaking free of The Program, Boy Nobody is on a mission of his own to reclaim his life and rescue his friend Howard from the secret organization that has turned him and other orphaned children into trained assassins--but he has no idea who, if anyone, he can trust, or what the consequences will be if he succeeds in bringing down The Program."

I am the Traitor is the third book in the Unknown Assassin series, and it is much shorter than the previous books. I was disappointed with the length of the book, as it left me wanting much more. Even though some reviews compare it to James Bond, this story is really more of a teenage Jason Bourne saga. I'm going to miss Zach/Ben/Daniel/Boy Nobody, as I enjoyed his thoughts and feelings quite a bit. 

292 pages

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Dance with Dragons, by Gearge R.R. Martin

This is volume 5 in the Game of Thrones series, and features the stories of Jon Snow, Tyrion, Daenarys and others, in a parallel timeframe with the events of vol. 4 in the series.  Daenarys faces the challenges of attempting to rule one of the cities she has conquered, often without success.  Word is getting about that there are dragons in the world again, and several 'heroes' set out to find them and persuade Daenarys to her side.  Much of the rest of the world is getting more and more bleak.  Some new characters come in to the saga, and some familiar characters meet untimely ends, leaving me to wonder where the story will go next.  1051 pages.

BiblioTECH; Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, by John Palfrey

BiblioTECH; Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, by John Palfrey

This book has gotten a lot of press and favorable reviews.  The author discusses the impact of current social and technological trends and their potential impact on libraries, particularly academic and public libraries.  He also explores an enhanced role for librarians in particular in dealing with the electronic data environment in which we now live and in preserving the record of our time for future researchers.  While I have seen similar ideas in various articles, Palfrey pulls the material together into a cohesive package.  This is a good overview with some thought-provoking material on the larger scale of library services.  259 pages.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" by Alison Bechdel

After hearing about this graphic novel memoir for years, I finally got around to reading it.  The author grew up with distant parents and two younger brothers in rural Pennsylvania.  Her father was an English teacher and part-time mortician at his family's business.  ("Fun home" is short for "funeral home".)  Alison candidly draws and discusses her relationship with her father, a cold, tyrannical, and exacting man with a huge secret . . . he is gay.  He dies soon after this is revealed to his college-aged daughter, who herself has just come out as a lesbian.  Because of this great revelation and his closely followed death, Alison goes back through her childhood and analyzes her father's behavior, obsessions, and interactions.  In my opinion, this book deserves all the of praise it has received because it conveys so much so smartly and so efficiently.  The drawings are economical with few colors yet convey everyone's emotions, particularly confusion, very well.  The book has been made into a musical that won 5 Tony Awards earlier this year.  232 pages.

"Yes, Please" by Amy Poehler

Here are some of the things I that learned from this autobiography/memoir of Amy Poehler:
  • She worked in an ice cream shop in high school and hated it.
  • She has experimented with drugs and smoked a lot of pot.
  • She had to have a c-section with her first child.
  • She has lots of experience being a waitress.
  • She is very close to Tina Fey and Seth Meyers, the latter of whom started with her on Saturday Night Live the weekend after 9/11.
  • She loves looking at the stars in the sky with her sons. 
  • She has sleep apnea.
Amy shared much about her childhood growing up in Burlington, MA, and even had her parents read portions of her audio book.  There were lots of stories about the Upright Citizens' Brigade, her comedy troop that had its own show before she was on SNL. Amy has had a wild life centered around doing sketch comedy, then Parks and Recreation.  My favorite parts of the book covered her time at SNL; Seth Meyers even read a portion about working with her there.  I have been binge watching Parks and Recreation, so listening to this at the same time was informative.  I hope that she doesn't stay out of the spotlight too long because she is so funny and talented and the entertainment business needs much more of that.

Audio:  7.5 hours
Print:  352 pages

"Playing for Keeps" by Avery Cockburn

Fergus Taylor is an architect and reluctant captain of his LGBT football (soccer) team in Glasgow, Scotland, and is trying to recover from a bad breakup when he meets John Burns.  John works for a non-profit that helps immigrants obtain asylum in Scotland and wants Fergus' team to play a charity match to raise money.  The introverted Fergus is wary but wants to help and needs to find a way to get his team back on track after last season's disastrous end.  He and John are attracted to each other but their backgrounds are very different; Fergus is Catholic and John is Protestant.

This was an excellent book with action, romance, family drama, and lots of angst concerning Scotland's sectarianism between Protestants and Catholics.  Fergus and John even have fleece blankets of the Celtic and Rangers football clubs, respectively, in their bedrooms; with the fierce, historic rivalry between the two teams, these blankets symbolize the men's many differences.  The author does a great job of explaining to the reader how sectarianism still affects the Scottish people without getting bogged down in historical details.  I can't wait to read more in this series.  326 pages (Kindle edition).

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Eternity Key by Bree Despain

Summary: "Haden, Prince of the Underrealm, is determined to defy his fate to protect Daphne, even as they and their small group of friends continue the search for the lost Kronolithe, the key of Hades--but his undeclared love for a mortal girl is a terrible risk, and they must both decide what they are willing to sacrifice to protect one another."

The Eternity Key is the second installment of the Into the Dark series. It ends with multiple cliff-hangers, and I will have to wait until Fall 2016 to see what happens next! The Eternity Key has more intrigue, more characters, more Greek gods, and more surprises than I expected. While it was intriguing and suspenseful, I was left wanting more. I certainly could use some more interaction between Haden and Daphne...how are readers supposed to appreciate their growing love for each other...when they hardly ever talk or hang out? 

352 pages

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Madam Bovery by Gustave Flaubert

Charles Bovary is mediocre and dull. He becomes a second-rate country doctor. He marries an older widow who soon dies, leaving him quite well off.  He falls in love with the daughter of a patient and marries her in an elaborate wedding.  But marriage doesn’t live up to Emma’s romantic expectations. She has dreamed of love and marriage as a solution to all her problems.  She grows bored and depressed when she compares her fantasies to the humdrum reality of village life.
She finds herself trapped in an unsatisfactory marriage.  She attempts to escape the tedium of her life through a series of adulterous affairs which are thwarted by the reality that the men she chooses to love are shallow and self-centered and thus are unable to love anyone but themselves. In love with a love that can never be , Emma finds herself caught in a downward spiral. She eventually commits suicide.

copyright 1856
445 pages

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

Growing up in Boston, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus and Dave Boyle were friends. When they were 11, Dave was abducted and sexually molested. The boys grew apart as the years pass, but 25 years later when Jimmy's daughter is murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. He is now a homicide detective; Jimmy is an ex-con, and Dave is trying to keep his demons at bay.

Sean's personal life is in disarray, and he must now go back into his past, confronting the violence of the present, and the nightmare of the past. He and Jimmy clash over the case, because Jimmy want to bring it to a conclusion with brutal justice. And Dave...well, Dave came home the night Jimmy's daughter died covered with blood.

This is psychological suspense at its finest, but  read only if you're prepared to be shocked.

401 pages