Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

J.D. Vance grew up in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and served in Iraq. A graduate of the Ohio State University and Yale Law School. In this memoir, he gives an insider's analysis of a culture in crisis. He talks about the struggles of white, working-class American's, as seen through the prism of his own family.

His grandparents moved north from Appalachia to escape the poverty that permeated their existence, and provide a better opportunity for their children to move up into the middle class. That worked for them with employment in the steel mills of Ohio. Yet the family struggled with the demands of the middle-class, and Vance chronicles how social and class decline feels like when you grow up in it.

A lot is being written these days on the decline of this segment of the population, and the abuse, poverty, and drug and alcohol abuse so prevalent among this culture. No one has written it in such stark terms, from the viewpoint of one who has lived it and escaped it, albeit with the scars to prove it.

272 pages

Only Love can Break a Heart by Ed Tarkington

Eight-year-old Rocky worships his older brother, Paul. In 1977, in small-town Virginia, Paul is sixteen and cool, cruising around in his Chevy Nova, listening to Neil Young, cigarette dangling from his lips, arm around his girlfriend. Paul and his girlfriend are always happy to take Rocky with them. But one day, in an act of vengeance against their father, Paul kidnaps Rocky from school and almost kills him. Leigh, Paul's girlfriend, promises to go away with him if he takes Rocky home. Paul and Leigh then disappear without a trace.

A few years later, Leigh returns, sans Paul. She will not talk about him, or their experiences, even where they've been.  Leigh eventually has a nervous breakdown, shortly before Paul returns. A mysterious double murder brings terror and suspicion to their small town, and Leigh and Paul are arrested and charged with the murder.  Rocky and his family must reckon with the past while dealing with this new reality.

336 pages

"Winter Blom" by DJ Jamison

This was a cute love story between a widower and a newspaper intern who is sent to interview him about his metal art.  Lane Cross works construction and does art to support himself and his six year old son who keeps running off his sitters.  He's immediately smitten when he meets Andy Blom, who's going to interview him for the local paper.  Lane tries his best to woo Andy while still dealing with his son's grief over his mother.  Andy is also mourning the death of his mother, so emotions are running high.  There are misunderstandings and lots of snow in this nice, little read.  156 pages (Kindle edition).

"Lover on Top: A Firefighter Romance" by Kristine Cayne

Another "later in life" coming out story, this one features "Hollywood" Wright, a firefighter who seems to love the ladies.  When he accidentally sets his kitchen on fire, he moves in with his best friend's younger brother, Chad, an out and proud paramedic.  Confusion, denial, and misunderstandings ensue along with a dangerous situation.  It doesn't help that Hollywood's father is a rabid homophobe who holds a high ranking position in the fire department.  Even though the two main characters acted like brats sometimes, I still liked the story.  292 pages (Kindle edition).

"For the Living" by L.A. Witt

This was a very well written story about a man coming to grips with the death of his wife and his sexuality at the same time.  Jay has been trying to make himself admit to his wife that he's gay for a year when she suddenly dies.  He's already overwhelmed with guilt for wanting to end his marriage, but after Misty dies he nearly comes unglued.  Luckily, he finds a confidant in a stranger, the assistant funeral home director, Scott.  As someone used to dealing with death and grief, Scott listens to Jay and tries to give him advice about working through his feelings and eventually coming out to his family.  I'm sure you can tell where this heading, but Jay's journey was still satisfying to read.  I like L.A.Witt's writing and will definitely read more.  279 pages (Kindle edition).

"Secrets and Lies" by Amanda Young

This is the first book in the Daywalker Legacy and features two brothers who are vampires.  Cadge won't leave his apartment due to his deep mourning for a dead lover, which leaves Teague to run their club alone.  Soon Teague's own lover stop seeing him, and he panics that nightfeeders may have gotten to him.  This was a different sort of story with gay vampire brothers fighting their own kind and nightfeeders to protect a human.  144 pages (Kindle edition).

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Summary: "For Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, executive assistants to the CEOs of newly merged Bexley-Gamin Publishing, it's hate-at-first-sight. So begins a series of daily passive-aggressive maneuvers, including the staring game, the mirror game, and the HR game, each played with the intensity of the Hunger Games. Their mutual antipathy grows when a new executive position opens at Bexley-Gamin, and both their bosses put their names up for the promotion. Then, the high-stakes games begin!"

Well, The Hating Game started off promising, but slowly dissolved into disappointment. I thought it would provide an insider-look into the publishing industry, but no, it really could have been any company that Lucy and Josh worked for. Lucy's thoughts begin to solely focus on Josh, as she has no other friends, interests or hobbies. Lucy and Josh are flat characters with almost no depth. What a shame! 

374 pages

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

Summary: "Three female students from Ashbury High write to three male students from rival Brookfield High as part of a pen pal program, leading to romance, humiliation, revenge plots, and war between the schools."

The Year of Secret Assignments is the sequel(ish) to one of my favorite books from my teen years, Feeling Sorry for Celia. I enjoyed this trip down memory lane and appreciated the epistolary format! It's one of my favorite novel forms. In this installment, I enjoyed the fun and varied personalities of the boys and girls - they were a joy to read. A few of the entries were a tad long and boring, but overall, it was an enjoyable read! 

340 pages

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Summary: "Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes 

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first."

While I struggled with this book in the beginning, I unexpectedly fell deeply in love with the characters and this world. Kaz, Jesper, Inej, Nina, Matthias and Wylan have wound their way into my heart and will never let go! I cannot wait to get my hands on The Crooked Kingdom, which is the second and final book in this two-book series. 

Each chapter is from a different character's POV, which made for a fun story. With each chapter, the reader gets a little more backstory, piece by piece, to better understand the character's present situation and motivations. Matthias and Nina's story was intriguing and beautiful! I would read an entire book just dedicated to their history. 

Favorite Quote: “I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.” 

465 pages

Friday, December 16, 2016

Paper Princess (Royals #1) by Erin Watt

Summary: "Ella Harper has spent her whole life moving from town to town with her mother, struggling to make ends meet. After her mother dies, Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. It's a life of wealth, excess, and deception. And Reed Royal is determined to send her back to the slums she came from. He says she doesn't belong with the Royals. If Ella is going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she'll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees."

This is one of those books that you enjoy well-enough while reading it, as long as you don't think too much. I initially couldn't put it down, as I was intrigued by Ella's grit and determination to survive on her own. However, once she moves in with the Royals, the book slowly goes downhill. The romantic lead is her "step-brother" Reed, and he is the WORST. I HATE him. He treats Ella like garbage, and not in the fun "enemies-to-friends" type of way. He has no redeeming qualities, and as soon as he shows Ella some affection, she falls head-over-heels in love with him. It's truly appalling. 

The author, Erin Watt, is actually two New Adult authors working together: Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick. While I adore Elle Kennedy, I could not believe that she could write a character as great as Garrett in The Deal, and then allow a character like Reed to exist.

364 pages

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

The Weight of BloodThe Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

This dark coming of age story is set in the Missouri Ozarks. The town of Henbane is fictional, but the day-to-day experiences of the characters are far from reality. Though I hope that many of the horrible occurrences of this book are. As Lucy seeks to find answer to the disappearance of her mother and elementary school friend, her allegiances are tested and she realizes that people, even those closest to us, are not always who we think they are. There are some beautiful pieces of prose scattered through an otherwise discomforting book. Audiobook.

302 pages

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

I really enjoyed the Masterpiece Theatre production on PBS last year, so tried the novel.  Mantel immerses the reader in the court of Henry VIII with all its subterfuge and jockeying for power, but from the viewpoint of Thomas Cromwell, a person of low birth who becomes his chief advisor.  Cromwell is a master at the game of personal manipulation, but he is also quite the jack of all trades, skilled as a merchant, financier, and master of several languages. While much of the story covers the king's pursuit of a divorce from his first wife in order to marry Anne Boleyn, Mantel also makes clear how much general turmoil was going on not only in England but throughout Europe as Protestants, scientists and free thinkers began to question the dogma of the Catholic Church and its pope.  Excellent scene setting and character portrayal make this a stimulating read, although a bit long.  This book ends with the execution of Thomas More, while the sequel will continue the story of the royal court and Anne Boleyn's fateful demise.  532 pages.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Wild Card (The Dresden Files Graphic Novels)

 Wild Card (The Dresden Files Graphic Novels)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Pages: 244

 Wizard for Hire, Harry Dresden comes up against a mysterious baddie, who is pitting all the powerful forces in Chicago against each. The white court vampires against the mob, the mob against the police, the police against any law breakers out there. Harry has no choice but to turn to some of the Faye for assistance. Thomas, Molly, Mouse, Karin Murphy and Butters all take part in this story which happens after the novel White Knight.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

 The Guest Caby 

This novel by the acclaimed Japanese poet, Takashi Hiraide, is a subtle, moving story that could take place anywhere. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. Since they are both writers and work from home they keep their own hours and are awake when the neighbors have gone to sleep. One day a cat invites herself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. The couple start leaving a window open for her and start buying treats for the cat. They begin to think of her as their cat, even though they know she belongs to the family next door and always leave in time to see the young boy off to school each morning.The description of how the cat changes their lives is interesting but there are also descriptions of the garden and house in great detail. The details of the visits with the cat are also told in order of their emotional effect more than a strict timeline, which seems fitting as the author is known as a poet.

The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling, Brooke S. Passey

 The Only Pirate at the Party 

Larceny and Old Lace by Tamar Myers

Larceny and Old Lace (Den of Antiquity #1) by Tamar Myers

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Pages: 211

For Whom The Bell Pulls Tolls

Abigail Timberlake is recently divorced and trying to support herself by opening an antique store called the Den of Antiquity. She had to sell some of her personal items to get the store started on the same street as her aunt's antique/junk shop. Then Aunt Eulonia Wiggins is found dead in her shop strangled by an antique bell pull from one of the neighboring shops. Abby doesn't believe there's anyway Rob, the owner of the shop, would have murdered her aunt so she sets out to track down the real killer. 

This novel introduces many of the reappearing characters in this mystery series and makes you want to read more adventures with them. This particular title. I had to request through Inter-Library Loan from our local public library. 

The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook

 The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook: Every Recipe Is Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nuts, and Eggs

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Pages: 189
Since my niece was diagnosed with Celiac's I have been looking for recipes for foods to make for her. Real comfort food made with safe ingredients for people who have all kinds of food allergies. Included in this book is some favorites she has been missing such as Twinkies. They even look like regular Twinkies. I will have to make several of these recipes for her soon!

Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn by Grant Morrison

 Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn by 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

Summary: "Trials and tribulations of a single girl living and working in London. During a turbulent flight Emma pours her heart and soul out to a complete stranger, only to live to regret it."

I found this book through reading rave reviews of it on Goodreads and thought that it surely couldn't live up to the hype. But no, I was wrong, it exceeded the hype!

Emma Corrigan is fun, charming, entertaining and relatable, which makes her my top choice for English heroines! Sophie Kinsella captures the charm of British humor to the fullest extent, and I wish that JoJo Moyes would inject more of that into her writing. I loved the witticisms and quips and inside look into Emma's world. She seemed more real and relatable than Bridget Jones, and I truly laughed out loud in multiple places. In a few plot points, I was afraid that Emma would fall into overdone and cliched responses, but she responded in a sincere and thoughtful way. 

On to the next Sophie Kinsella novel!

357 pages

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my all-time favorite book series, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on Marissa Meyer's new book, Heartless.

....I wish I had never heard of it. 

....I wish I had never read it. 

....Marissa Meyer is the one who is HEARTLESS. 

453 pages

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

Summary: "Romeo and Juliet meets The Fast and the Furious in this edgy romance set in the suburbs of Washington, DC."

Well, I LOVE The Fast and the Furious, so I was quite anxious to get my hands on this one! The Lovely Reckless was also recommended by Katie McGarry, and I can see why! The angst and romance were very similar to Katie McGarry's plot and story-telling style. While I enjoyed myself throughout this book, it left a little to be desired.  

I'm sure you could predict the entire thing!

374 pages

Saturday, December 3, 2016

"Clinch" by Charity Parkerson

Gunnar is a boxer, Liam is a stripper, and they went to high school together.  Now they have lived in the same apartment building for two years, but Gunnar still doesn't recognize Liam.  When he does, they fall in lust and angst ensues. 

This book felt like it took forever for me to finish.  The writing was inconsistent, the characters were unoriginal, and the story didn't seem to have a point.  241 pages (Kindle edition).

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"Salvation" by Sloane Kennedy

Book two in The Protectors Series features Seth Nichols, whose parents were murdered and he was tortured when he was 14.  Now 21, he's trying to run his father's shipping company and deal with his PTSD and self-doubt.  He once had an older brother, but he died while serving in the military.  Out of the blue, his brother's fiance, Ronan Grisham, appears and throws Seth's life into even more turmoil because he's had a crush on the man since he was a teen.  Now someone is after Seth, and Ronan will do everything he can to protect him even if it breaks both of their hearts.  Like the previous book in this series, there was a ton of angst, terrible traumas in both men's lives, guilt, and suspense.  I was annoyed at how often Seth and Ronan pushed each other away then changed their minds, but it was still an interesting story.  367 pages (Kindle edition.)

"Absolution" by Sloane Kennedy

This is book one in The Protectors Series and deals with three men who've all suffered some form of trauma.  Jonas was kicked out of his home at age 14 for being gay and spent several years as a teenage prostitute before having even more tragedy befall him.  Mace's son was kidnapped and murdered by a killer.  Cole faced the traumas of war before losing his sister, who was Jonah's best friend.  Now someone has hired Mace to kill Jonah for bogus reasons, and Cole gets involved.  This novel was full of angst and heavy and was not quite believable at times, but it was a compelling story.  356 pages (Kindle edition.)

Grape Expectations (Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery #14)

 Grape Expectations (Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery # 14) by Tamar Myers

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Pages: 231

In the predominately, Mennonite and Amish community of Hernia, Pennsylvania alcohol is frowned upon. Imagine how upset the townspeople are when they learn an area Mennonite farmer has sold his land to outsiders who plan to start a vineyard and winery. They also plan to have a first class resort and spa. When the manager of the new vineyard is found dead in the cement footings, Magdalena finds herself a suspect as the owner of the only bed and breakfast with A list guests.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep: A Novel by Joanna Cannon

In  a quiet, sleepy England neighborhood, during a brutal heat wave in the summer of 1976, Mrs. Creasy has gone missing. The avenue is awash in rumors and speculation about what might have happened to her.

Enter sleuths Gracie and Tilly, 10-year-old  best friends. After Mrs. Morton tells them God is everywhere, and the priest talks about God separating the goats and the sheep, they decide to go looking for God amongst their neighbors (the goats and sheep).

They never find God, but learn a lot of secrets about the folks in the neighborhood, and solve a long-buried mystery in the process.

368 pages
 Thou Shalt Not Grill (Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery # 12) by Tamar Myers.

My Review: 3 out of 5 stars

Pages: 227

Magdalena doesn't have her usual group of celebrity guests, instead she has guests arriving for the celebration of Hernia, Pennsylvania's bicentennial. She is kept running in circles taking care of her guests and showing up at the events as the current mayor of Hernia. Then one of her guests is murdered up on the hillside near the Hernia time capsule. Does his death relate to the legend of a hidden treasure or is it just coincidence?

Gilt by Association (Den of Antiquity #2)

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Pages: 248

Abby's antique store is finally starting to make a profit and her life is settling down after her divorce and her aunt's murder. Then she purchases a set of antique furniture from an estate sale and goes to inspect it the next morning, only to find a dead body inside the armoire. Abby is worried about how this will affect the reputation of her shop and the police are moving too slow, so she decides to help them out and find some clues on her own. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please

Her memoir makes it clear that Amy Poehler's heart is as big as her sense of humor. Poehler's humble confidence is engaging and contagious. The book is read by Poehler herself with excerpts read by Seth Meyers, Kathleen Turner, Poehler's parents and others.

329 pages, Audiobook

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

This book will appeal to readers of historical fiction, art lovers, romance readers, feminists, and those intrigued by the Italian Renaissance.  It tells the story of Alessandra, daughter of a Florence cloth merchant and aspiring artist, as she encounters her first love and the constraints of growing up in 15th century Florence.  The story is set at the end of the reign of the Medici family, who loved art, luxury, and learning. They are replaced by a fundamentalist preaching monk Savonarola who begins a purge of what he views as the sinful excesses of Florence.  This puts Alessandra and her family at risk, as they have supported the Medicis and their luxuries. Alessandra's love story and its related plot twists are a bit over the top, but she is eventually able to express her artistic side.  A wonderful picture of life in Florence, Italy.  301 pages.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie

Summary: "Kate Svenson is attractive, successful, a brilliant businesswoman - and miserable. After three failed engagements, she realises it's time for a PLAN...and organised, detailed agenda with a clear goal: finding Mr. Right.

The Cabins resort is ripe with eligible bachelors, all rich, distinguished and ambitious - just her type. And they're dropping like flies around her...at least, that's how Jake Templeton views the situation. After he's stuck pulling her latest reject out of the swimming pool, Jake's convinced this femme fatale is trouble. Especially for him..."

Jennifer Crusie may just be one of my new favorite chick lit authors! Manhunting is the perfect beach/summer read (even though I read it in dreary November). It was funny, sweet and charming. It's not overly complicated or dramatic. Just a short and lively story of the adventure of falling in love! 

328 pages

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Summary: "Sybella's duty as Death's assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this sequel to Grave Mercy."

Even though Sybella and Beast were excellent minor characters in Grave Mercy, I wasn't quite as enthralled with their story in Dark Triumph. I thoroughly missed Ismae and Duval, and they were not in this sequel nearly enough. Dark Triumph lacks the political intrigue and mystery of the first novel. I also found Sybella and Beast's relationship to be a little too close to "insta-love" for my tastes. The sub-par quality of Dark Triumph serves to reinforce how unique and special Grave Mercy really is.

I can't decide if I'll read the third and final installment, Mortal Heart

387 pages

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"The Power of Sensitivity: Success Stories by Highly Sensitive People Thriving in a Non-sensitive World" by Ted Zeff, Ph.D.

This book is an accumulation of short essays written by highly sensitive people.  High sensitivity is an innate trait with the tendency to process information more deeply, be easily overstimulated, have increased emotional reactivity and empathy, and have an increased perception of subtleties.  Although research shows that about 20% of the population are highly sensitive people (HSPs), we are not very valued in our society.  We are usually told "you're too sensitive" or "just get over it" or "be more sociable" and are made to feel like there is something wrong with us.  This book shows HSPs having success in many aspects of life by using their high sensitivity to enhance the world around them.  Quite a few suggestions are given for improving the quality of life, including self-care, somatic healing, releasing guilt, risk-taking, and more.  It was inspiring to read how so many HSPs have come to accept and value their high sensitivity.  I highly recommend first reading the most authoritative book on HSPs, "The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You" by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., before reading this one.  186 pages.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Summary: "Agreeing not to pursue a relationship after one date, unlikely lovers Min Dobbs and Cal Morrisey are thrown together again in the wake of such factors as a jealous ex-boyfriend, a determined psychologist, and a bizarrely intelligent cat."

Bet Me is the first book by Jennifer Crusie that I've read, and it was wonderful! Cal and Min are interesting and complex characters. Their conversations are fun and unique. Similarly, their chemistry is off the charts! I couldn't put it down.

337 pages

Monday, October 31, 2016

Sacked by Jen Frederick

Summary: "Knox Masters is a quarterback's worst nightmare. Warrior. Champion. Now, he's set his sight on two things: the national title... and Ellie Campbell. Sure, she's the sister of his fellow teammate, but that's not going to stop him. Especially not when he's convinced Ellie is the one. But Ellie isn't as sure. She's trying to start a new life. And it's not just her cardinal rule of never dating her brother's teammates that keeps her away-- Ellie has a dark secret that would jeopardize everything Knox is pursuing."

Well, it started off a little rough, but next thing I knew, I was half-way finished with the book! I enjoyed it, even though it became a little too unrealistic toward the end. Oh well! Knox was obnoxious at first, but he was actually a good guy throughout the book and had a refreshing mindset. 

385 pages

"Out of Nowhere" by Roan Parrish

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, called "In the Middle of Somewhere," and this story focused on Colin Mulligan, one of the brothers of Daniel (the hero in the first book).  In the first book, Colin was a mean, homophobic jerk to his brother.  This story is told from Colin's point of view and explains why he was that way.  We learned at the end of book one that Colin is deeply in the closet; this book shows how that happened.  While Colin isn't nearly as likable as Daniel, the author clearly shows his mental anguish at hiding such a large part of himself from his family and friends.  Although not as good as the first book, mostly because the main characters weren't as sweet as Daniel and his boyfriend, Rex, it was still a compelling story.  300 pages (Kindle edition).

Eat, Drink and be Wary by Tamar Myers

 Eat, Drink and be Wary by Tamar Myers

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Pages: 272

Magdalena Yoder reluctantly agrees to re-arrange the bookings for her Pennsylvania Dutch Inn to be able to host a cooking contest and house all of the contestants and judges. After all, Freni, her cook and cousin is a competitor and dear friend. Neither of them suspected the event would be dangerous. But the sponsor of the contest is murdered with a paring knife from the kitchen and Freni is the number one suspect. Magdalena has to solve the crime and save the reputation of her cook and her Inn.

Book six of the Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery series. A fun series of cozy mysteries with recipes.

Fräulein M. by Caroline Woods

Fräulein M.Woods transports the reader to Weimar Berlin's cabaret scene. Berni, Anita, and Grete are characters that are hard to forget.

285 pages.

The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade by Virginia Smith

The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade (Tales from the Goose Creek B&B #1)

If you are looking for a fun, feel-good read, this book is sweet and satisfying, just like the recipes for lemon cake and vanilla scones that are included within. Millie is determined to restore a Victorian home and run it as a B&B in her small Kentucky town despite her husband's objections.

224 pages

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Sinner by Amanda Stevens

The Sinner (Graveyard Queen, #5)The Sinner by Amanda Stevens

The protagonist's career as a cemetery restorer will appeal to preservationists and history buffs, as will the South Carolina lowcountry setting. Reads similar to Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series.

378 pages

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The Kingdom of Gods by N.K.Jemison

This is the final volume in The Inheritance Trilogy, and the longest.  In this volume, the story is told from the viewpoint of Sieh, the trickster godling, son of Nahadoth.  The story begins as Sieh returns to the castle of the ruling Arameri family and encounters two six-year old children, Shahar, a girl, and Dekarta, a boy.  In this chilling encounter, Sieh tests the children by threatening to kill Dekarta, but Shahar wins by using her wits.  In return, Sieh grants them a wish, and to his surprise they wish to become his friends.  But as they swear the friendship oath, Sieh is very damaged and changed from a god to a mortal, We later find out that the two children are both themselves part godling, and therefore their blood is toxic to other godlings. The rest of the story follows Sieh as he attempts to regain his status as a godling, but also learns what it is to be a mortal.  The story culminates in a grand battle among the godlings for dominance and destruction of this universe - to determine the ultimate inheritance of this world.  Jemison explores many large themes in this trilogy, from what is it to be human to how do the spiritual and physical worlds coexist.  I found the plotting to be a bit confused at times, as characters that played major roles in the first two books were left behind for other viewpoints in the second and third volumes.  Still, this is an engaging fantasy trilogy if you don't analyze it too much and enjoy the author's excellent description, dialogue, and scene setting.   539 pages.

Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the Twenty-First Century by Katerine Newman and Hella Winston

There's been a lot of promotion of the need for education beyond the high school degree, particularly promoting easier access to a four year college degree.  I don't believe that is the only, or even best path to success  for most Americans, and neither do these authors.  Newman and Winston take a close look at what kinds of job skills are needed in the current work force and how well our high schools, technical schools, community colleges and colleges are succeeding at helping young people learn those skills. They also examine some programs in other countries, particularly Germany, where there is a very close training and apprenticeship program available to most high school students that does a superior job of preparing students for today's high tech work environment.  It ain't your granddaddy's shop floor any more; now manufacturing jobs focus on fixing the robots that perform the actual work. That takes a good degree of applied math, and great problem solving and communication skills. Good food for thought, especially for those involved or interested in the education system.  246 pages.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Grimm's Tales for Young and Old by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm

Grimms' Tales for Young and Old by by 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Pages: 633

This 1983 translation by Ralph Manheim includes all of the original Grimm's works and were translated from original German editions. Manheim is a prize-winning translator and presents the stories unadorned and as true to the direct rhythm of oral storytelling that he could.

There were quite a few tales in here that I hadn't heard or read before, besides some variations on familiar tales. These stories are definitely more "Grimm" than any Disney version or the versions of the tales I heard as a child.

No Use Dying over Spilled Milk by Tamar Myers

No Use Dying over Spilled Milk (Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery Series) by Tamar Myers

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Pages: 260

Magdalena Yoder receives an upsetting phone call from Amish family in Ohio, her cousin has been found dead. Freni, her cook, is a closer relative to the deceased and is also Amish. Magdalena offers to drive her cousin to Ohio from Pennsylvania for the funeral. Once they arrive she discovers this was no ordinary farming accident, the deceased was found drowned in a tank of milk, completely naked. Magdalena realizes the local police and her Amish kin are willing to call it an accident but there seems to be more going on here and more lives may be in danger. Magdalena ends up in a land war between Amish farmers and a powerful cheese company.

This is book 3 in the Pennsylvania Dutch cozy mystery series. All the books in this series come with recipes.

Monet Talks by Tamar Myers

Monet Talks (book 12 of Den of Antiquity) by Tamar Myers
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 
Pages:  325

Charleston antiques dealer Abigail Washburn purchases a beautiful antique birdcage fashioned after the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, the cage comes with a mynah bird named Monet. Monet is mouthy and rude to her customers but they all seem quite taken with him. Just as she decides not to get rid of him, he is bird-napped. The ransom note demands she exchange a real Monet painting for the bird. But Abby has no idea what the note is talking about. She has never owned a Monet, so she decides to let the thief keep the bird. But then her mother goes missing and the ransom note phone call is delivered by Monet the mynar bird.

Death of a Rug Lord by Tamar Myers

Death of a Rug Lord by Tamar Myers

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Pages: 294

Book 14 in the fun, cozy mystery series: Den of Antiquity this title once again finds our heroine antique dealer, Abigail up to her eyes in trouble. Abby finds herself in a business slump. A new rug store is luring away her customers with rock bottom prices even though they are antique rugs. She decides to check out her competition and is amazed to find a priceless Persian rug amid the cut-rate carpets. She approaches the store manager, Gwendolyn to verify the price and is shocked when the manager insists that she take the rug home for the price listed. Abby feels guilty about such a steal especially when  Gwendolyn is found dead the next morning wrapped in a cheap rug.

While attending social gatherings with her friends and family, Abby discovers that valuable rugs are going missing from some of Charleston's elite families and have been replaced with cheap fakes. Now Abby is convinced Gwendolyn was trying to send her a message but will she be able to find out who is stealing the valuable rugs before anymore disappear and anyone else gets hurt?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Summary: "In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Brittany, seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts--and a violent destiny."

This book just blew all the other books I've read this year out of the water. I believe that it was first popular a few years ago, and the term people used was "assassin nuns." :D Can't get much cooler than that! It's not for the faint of heart, as it deals with some dark and nasty stuff. But the story of a "handmaiden of Death" is actually lighter and more inspiring than you might think! 

It reminded me a bit of Poison Study, and Duval (main male character) is quite like Valek, which is a very good thing!!

I enjoyed this story so, so, so much, and I can't quite explain why. Grave Mercy is over 500 pages, but it felt like 100. I read through it super fast, and it still didn't leave me satisfied. I can't wait to get my hands on the next one! 

549 pages

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Long Lost by David Morrell

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

His younger brother was kidnapped  by a cult family, raised for decade.  His life was bad, he did bad things.  He’s back and now he wants his brother's family and will kill to get it.

Audio:  7 hrs. 9 min.
Print:  384 pages

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"The Devious Book for Cats: A Parody" by Fluffy & Bonkers

This book is borrowed from Tammy P. and is written by cats for cats.  It has advice on lots of topics like cardboard boxes, catnip, kitty litter, grooming, vacuum cleaners, and my favorite, crazy cat ladies.  There are also plenty of devious instructions in chapters like "Getting Away With It," "Secrets of Daredevil Cats," "The Pros and Cons of Being Sullen," and "Toying With Allergy Sufferers."  It's a good thing cats can't read or we would all be in big trouble!  224 pages.

"In the Middle of Somewhere" by Roan Parrish

Daniel Mulligan has just moved to Holiday, Michigan, to teach at a small college after finishing his PhD in English.  Originally from Philadelphia, Daniel is a tough and tattooed outcast who's never really fit in with his family or classmates.  His mother died when he was young, and his father and three older brothers (all mechanics) never much cared for him, especially after he told them he was gay.  So Daniel feels especially out of place in the small town until Rex Vale comes back into his life.  The two men met six months earlier when Daniel was in town for an interview with the college and was literally rescued by Rex when he wrecked his rental car in a snowstorm.  They soon begin a relationship, but Daniel has never really dated and Rex doesn't want to get too attached to Daniel due to others in his life leaving him.  But as they grow closer, they discover that being vulnerable and letting someone help you is not the same as being weak.

This was a great book with two memorable and very likable main characters who seem to have little in common but complement each other well.  Rex doesn't talk much but can fix or build just about anything, while Daniel loves his books and overthinks everything.  Secondary characters, especially Daniel's best friend, Ginger, help move the story forward to a satisfying conclusion.  I have already started reading the next in the series.  350 pages (Kindle edition).