Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Werewolf of Bamberg by Oliver Pötzsch

This is  the fifth book in 'The Hangman's Daughter' series. This is a mystery series; the 'detectives' are Jakob Kuisl, his daughter Magdalena and her husband Simon. Jakob is the hangman of Schongau in the 1600s. Every town in Germany has a hangman, responsible for torturing those accused of a crime until they confess - or die.

In 1668 the entire family travels to Bamberg to attend the wedding of Jakob's brother Bartholomaus. the hangman of Bamberg. On the way, their caravan is stalled by the discovery of a human arm in the river they must cross to get there. Once they arrive, they find that the town has been besieged by multiple murders; the bodies have signs of torture on them.

The town is in a panic, and decide that the murderer is a werewolf. A Witch's Commission is set up to determine who the werewolf is. The mass panic has neighbors turning against each other, and reporting suspicious behavior to the Commission.

The Kuisl family in unconvinced of the existence of werewolves, and set out to find the murderer.

610 pages
Translated from German by Lea  Chadeayne

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

As this book opens, an 85-year-old grandmother is telling her granddaughter how she became the woman she is. The grandmother, Addie Baum, is The Boston Girl, daughter of a Jewish family, born in 1900 to parents who were unprepared for America and its effect on their three daughters. Her parents were Russian immigrants who were bewildered by this new world they were occupying.

Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love. Her parents wanted her to be a modestly dressed girl, to quit school and work to help support the family; they considered it her responsibility to get married and have children as soon as possible.

But Addie joins a library group for girls at a neighborhood settlement house, stays in school as long as she can, has a disastrous early relationship with a young man, and builds a career. She doesn’t marry until she is 25, and then to a man she chooses for herself, not the man her mother wants her to marry. The book follows her through a period of great change for women in America.


333 pages

On the Fence by Kasie West

On the FenceOn the Fence by Kasie West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an adorable, heartfelt YA story that is easy to consume in one read. It's boy next door vs. tomboy with a tragic back story and 3 older brothers. There's nothing especially new in this story line, but at the same time, the book still feels lovable and refreshing and addresses emotions and worries that teens often face (and adults too). I enjoyed reading it.

Pages: 304

Friday, January 29, 2016

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling into PlaceFalling into Place by Amy Zhang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This YA contemporary novel about a mean girl who intentionally drives her car into a tree and hovers on the edge between life and death is probably more of a 2.5 for me, though I rounded up to 3, because the writing style was very interesting. The problem for me was that the style was fascinating but also strangely distancing. I felt like the story held me at arm's length, and so I returned the favor.

Also, the MC is not at all likable and isn't especially redeemable, nor does she show any major growth in the story. I often enjoy unlikable main characters, but that can't be their only unique quality. There has to be something more to them or the story if it's going to hold my attention. This just wasn't for me. While I really liked some of the things about the writing style, I think both If I Stay and Before I Fall were both more fascinating, emotional, and showed greater depth than this.

Pages: 320

Fire and Thrones Novellas by Rae Carson

These three novellas are prequels to The Girl of Fire and Thrones trilogy. I read book one years ago and am planning to repeat it and finish the whole trilogy. These stories are not mandatory, by any means, but they're well-written and enjoyable.

The Shadow Cats (Fire and Thorns, #0.5)The Shadow Cats by Rae Carson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting perspective on Elisa's older sister. Elisa is the main character in the trilogy.

Pages: 54

The Shattered Mountain (Fire and Thorns, #0.6)The Shattered Mountain by Rae Carson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella explains how Mara became part of the revolution. Reading through these novellas has made me excited to go back and reread book one and finish the trilogy.

Pages: 106

The King's Guard (Fire and Thorns, #0.7)The King's Guard by Rae Carson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella is the story of a young Hector, who is another important character in the trilogy.

Pages: 111

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)Where She Went by Gayle Forman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the sequel to If I Stay, which I read ages ago, but I never got back around to this. It ended up being an excellent story about the challenges of trying to go forward after a tragedy and how grief affects everyone in different and unexpected ways. I especially like that it is from Adam's perspective.

Pages: 304

The Brutal Telling: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, By Louise Penny

Image result for the brutal telling
This fifth in the Inspector Gamache series finds the Chief Inspector and his team back in  Three Pines investigating the murder of a hermit, whose body is found in The Bistro.  As the mystery unfolds, everyone is dismayed to learn of Olivier's involvement with the old man, and that he is not exactly who he was thought to be.  The story is full of revelations about him as well as other townspeople, which takes some of the luster off of the idyllic village.
386 pages

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Followed by FrostFollowed by Frost by Charlie N. Holmberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an incredible, standalone YA Fantasy novel about an immature, selfish girl, named Smitha, who callously spurns a suitor, who ends up cursing her with eternal cold. Smitha can't touch anyone, without doing them severe harm, or stay in any one place for long, without creating a constant snow storm. She is cast out to survive the endless, aching cold, completely alone.

This story was different and interesting, and it held my full attention from start to finish. It's fantasy, but it's more a story of overcoming severe hardship and personal growth, in the most unexpected setting and circumstances.

Pages: 254

Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman

In Super Immunity, Fuhrman outlines how certain foods including leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, onions, garlic, berries and seeds can improve our natural defenses. Eating only vegetables, particularly green leafy and other foods high in nutrients is purported to not only boost immunity but also rid the body of other problems like diabetes and lupus.  While the information on the particular vegetables was interesting and useful, there is also a lot of space given to his theories on, for example, why cold medicines don't work. He also includes a lot of testimonials, which I always consider kind of a red flag for credibility.  Furhman espouses the vegan diet, or at least a diet with little or no meat and dairy, and not much fats except avocados.  While there are a number of recipes given, similar ones can be found in any good vegan cookbook. There is also no index. Most reviewers on Amazon gave the book 4 or 5 stars, but I expect most of them were predisposed to his message.  278 pages. Medicine

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I chose this YA fantasy novel based on Becky's recommendation, and it was a fun read.  This is the first in the series about the King's Champion (aka assassin), in the kingdom of Erilea.  We meet Celaena Sardothien when she is plucked from exile in the salt mines (yes, the salt mines) for serving as an assassin for hire.  Celaena, an orphan, had been trained by a master assassin, and though only a teen, was feared as the most skillful assassin in the realm.  The Crown Prince chooses her as his competitor in a contest set up by his father, the king, to determine the next King's Champion.  Celaena is a plucky gal, with a biting wit.  She goads her guards and at first is only interested in winning the competition to win her promised freedom.  But soon she is drawn into romantic feelings for both the Crown Prince and her chief jailor and mentor, the Captain of the Guard.  But someone or something is killing off the other contestants one by one in grotesque ways.  Celaena becomes involved in figuring out the mystery of these killings, and is visited by spirits from the ancient times of Erilea.  This story has a lot of good elements, good action, somewhat believable story of the struggle between the good and evil spirits, plus good hints of what's to come in further volumes.  I found Celaena's romantic scenes didn't ring true - she seemed to fall in love too quickly for someone so well trained to be tough.  Still, a fun read.  404 pages.

Pit Bull by Scott Ely

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

A pit bull named Alligator is the hope of Jack Purse to get his family land back. The community pot crops have been swept away by storms, drug dealers and addicts in their community group. They now must bet on a dog named Alligator.

Audio:  6 hrs. 50 min.
Print:  224 pages

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles, #2)Endless Knight by Kresley Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wo-ow-ow! I thought book one was intense, but book two brought things up to a whole new level of chaos, dysfunction, and emotional warfare. I don't know whose team I'm on in this epic death battle between the 22 teenagers assigned to the lives of Taro Cards, but the characters don't seem to have it all figured out either, which keeps things interesting and surprising.

According to ancient prophecy and past games, only one character will be standing in the end, but I'm quite attached to the majority of them at this point, which makes every second of reading nail-bitingly intense.

Pages: 337
Once (Eve, #2)Once by Anna Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been unable to truly invest in this YA Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic series, so I won't continue on and read book 3. I kept reading after book one, because I thought the premise showed a lot of promise. Unfortunately, I had to force myself forward with book two. It's not because there's something wrong with the story, so much as that I can't seem to forge any real interest or emotional connection with the story.

It's not bad, but it's not captivating. I don't want to live inside the world, and there isn't a single character I would be interested in meeting or befriending. In fact, the characters who seem to have the most potential to be fascinating seem to play the smallest roles in the story. I don't dislike the characters. I'm just completely indifferent, which is always a bad sign.

I was hoping book two would find the depth of intrigue and emotion that book one lacked, but it didn't for me. I will confess I could be partly to blame for reading this series when I wasn't in a great frame of mind for reading, but if it had been the right book for me, it would have sucked me in and blocked out everything in the real world that was weighing on me.

Pages: 384

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Something About You by Julie James

Something About You is the first in the FBI/US Attorney romance series by Julie James. It was a great read - it had a good balance of story, intrigue, character development  and romance. Cameron Lynde is an assistant US Attorney in Chicago when she accidentally witnesses a murder. This event puts her back in touch with Special Agent Jack Pallas, whom she does not get along with (understatement). I enjoyed the slow enemies to lovers trope, as well as most of the FBI/US Attorney interactions. Cameron is smart, brave and entertaining. The romance part was just right - it seemed natural and not overly graphic or over-the-top.  I will probably try to read more in the series. 

Couple = Cameron Lynde + Jack Pallas

323 pages

Darla's Story by Mike Mullin

Darla's Story (Ashfall, #0.5)Darla's Story by Mike Mullin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an excellent novella that gives you more background on Darla, who is a very strong and interesting character. If you loved the Ashfall trilogy, you'll want to read this novella, just to have a bit more time in that world. I have also heard that a 4th book might be added to the trilogy in 2018, so I am very hopeful.

It's a very dark, gritty, violent, and fascinating post-apocalyptic story, so if you can't handle violence or gore, you might want to pass on this. However, the depth of the ugliness of the world after a super volcano explodes and coats the world in ash is fascinating, and the terribleness of humanity is offset by the beauty of it. The two are always at odds with each other, but it makes for an interesting, if dark and intense, read.

Pages: 70

Monday, January 25, 2016

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank

Summary: "For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She's had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone's toilet's overflowed, but she's never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: there isn't enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get that stain out, and Rose is the prime suspect."

Wow - I loved this book much more than I anticipated! I thought it would be a casual read, but it sucked me in and I couldn't put it down. Rose is witty and brave, and I love her spirit. I will definitely keep reading this series, if I can get my hands on it!

280 pages

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! This was completely unexpected. Somehow, I have read a ton of post-apocalyptic YA this January. I think my TBR must be full of them, without me even realizing it, but this is so different from all the others.

It explores the worlds of Taro cards, the Arcana, and Cajun lifestyles, which I knew very little about, but there are some major supernatural twists with what happens in this story. I couldn't always tell who the good guys and bad guys were, which was fascinating. Some of my favorite characters had major issues. The main character and potential love interest spend most of the story fighting and misunderstanding each other, so that kept things interesting.

It's almost a story within a story, starting in one place, jumping back to tell the story, then skipping forward on occasion to a very intense present. Near the end of the book, both the storylines finally meet up and come together in an interesting fashion. I'll definitely continue on in this series.

Pages: 384

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"Bad Idea" by Damon Suede

This story features two characters with unusual professions.  Trip Spector is a comic book artist who draws squeaky clean superheroes whom he has come to hate.  Silas Goolsby is a special effects makeup artist currently working for a popular t.v. show.  They meet at a zombie run charity event and are smitten.  With Silas' encouragement, Trip creates "Scratch", an adult graphic novel that could let him write his own ticket.  However, Trip is not a risk taker, and when Silas gives Scratch an outing in public, Trip panics and lets his fears take over his common sense.  Will the men's relationship survive?  Will Scratch be their savior?  These were two nerdy, funny, and flawed but lovable characters whom I won't soon forget.  350 pages (Kindle edition).
Eve (Eve, #1)Eve by Anna Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was probably a 3.5 for me. It gets the extra 0.5 for being post-apocalyptic and dystopian, which typically appeals to me. I didn't realize that was what kind of story it was when I picked it up. I read it purely based off someone else's recommendation, with no background on the story.

Basically, the majority of the world succumbed to a plague, and Eve grew up in an all girls boarding school that informed her about how good the king was. It turns out he isn't, and Eve escapes into the wilderness to try to avoid a terrible fate.

It gets less than my typically enthusiastic 4 and 5 star ratings, because I was never fully drawn in by this story. I found one of the side characters to be far more interesting and believable than the main character, enough so that I almost wished the series had been about her, instead. I think it would have been far more interesting.

I was also a bit bored with what felt like insta-love, but it could just be that I wasn't a very attentive reader of this book. It's possible all the chaos in my life and mind distracted me from ever really settling in to the story. However, the concept itself is fascinating, and I wonder if the story has potential going forward, which is why I declare it a 3.5 and might continue on with the series, when typically, I wouldn't continue on for any book rated lower than a 4.

YA Post-Apocalyptic/ Dystopian
Pages: 352

Friday, January 22, 2016

"Resist: Gavin" by Heather C. Leigh

Gavin Walker is a rock star with a demented and dangerous fan who leaves disgusting things where he least expects it.  Mitch Hale is a former FBI agent and profiler who has been hired to bring down the criminal.  Gavin is in the closet due to his record company's fear that he'll lose fans.  Mitch is out but it cost him his former job.  It is hate at first sight for both men.  Gavin is an impulsive brat who can't seem to think two seconds ahead and appears to have no common sense; this obviously drives Mitch crazy.  It was a decent story that kept me guessing the identity of the stalker, but Gavin was a very annoying character.  252 pages (Kindle edition).

"Cold Feet" by Jay Northcote

Cute story about two college friends who get stuck in a cottage in the countryside of Wales over Christmas due to a snowstorm.  They find a kitty outside whose caretaker is the nearest neighbor, an elderly lady also alone for the holidays due to the weather, so they celebrate together.  But when Sam and Ryan return to school, will they still be friends or something more?  132 pages (Kindle edition).

"Between States" Trilogy by J.M. Snyder

This was an unusual set of novellas that feature two men who are bobcat shifters during the time of the Civil War.  Brance is a northerner, and Caleb is a southerner, but neither of them wants to be a soldier.  When they discover that they have the same involuntary ability to shift into bobcats during the full moon, they run away together and try their best to live as hermits knowing that their secret will cost them their lives if they are caught.

"Under a Confederate Moon" (Book 1):  This book details how the two men meet when Brance is captured by Confederate soldiers and how he and Caleb eventually desert their regiments.  49 pages (Kindle edition).

"Beneath a Yankee Sky" (Book 2):  This one describes a bit of Brance's background growing up as the eldest son of a cold Amish preacher as well as how he and Caleb escape to Pennsylvania but run into dangerous fur trappers.  50 pages (Kindle edition).

"A More Perfect Union" (Book 3):  Brance and Caleb are discovered by another shifter - a female who is pregnant and won't leave them in peace.  67 pages (Kindle edition).

Ten Seconds by Louis Edwards

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

A ten-second race at a high school track meet equals a slow-motion of Eddie’s life and future.

Audio:  4 hrs. 18 min.
Print:  166 pages

The Heir by Kiera Cass

The Heir (The Selection, #4)The Heir by Kiera Cass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shortly after I started this YA novel, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like it, despite enjoying the original series. I had trouble understanding the main character and didn't particularly like her. However, I don't feel it's necessary to like a character, as long as I can appreciate their story, so I kept reading.

The more I read, the more this grew on me. I actually started to understand the MC more and more, and I appreciated the ways she changed and grew throughout the story. I also really enjoyed the wide variety of guys and all of their interesting personalities.

If you secretly love the bachelor, this book is probably for you. If you haven't read the original trilogy though, I recommend you do that first. It's definitely better.  The whole series is a bit light on the dystopia and heavy on romance and drama, so I often wish that balance was reversed. However, it's a different, fun read. I'm happy I kept going long enough to give this story and its characters a chance. I am hopeful the next book will end up being better than this one.

Pages: 368

Thursday, January 21, 2016

10% Human: how your bodies microbes hold the key to health and happiness, by Alanna Collen

Here's a startling fact - for every one of the cells that make up your body, there are another nine living on or mostly inside you.  These microbes have a very complex relationship with us, their host organisms.  Without them, we would not be able to digest a good portion of our food, we would lose out on important vitamins and enzymes that they produce, and would also lose much of our immune system.  While I was mostly acquainted with the basics of the role of these microbes in digestion, Collen also summarizes recent research on the links between these microbes, antibiotics, and other illnesses or disorders such as obesity, autism and even personality traits such as anxiety and other moods.  Collen turns the 'you are what you eat' statement around to 'you are what they eat' and describes the widespread effects of various imbalances of microbes on human health.  So, if you want to have better health and boost your immune system, eat what your microbes prefer - lots of good fruits and vegetables.  304 pages.  Medical .

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles is a YA Science-Fiction series based on fairytale retellings. They aren’t full retellings, as they vary from the initial stories to a good extent, but you’ll see aspects of each fairy tale, some more fractured than others, pop up here and there throughout the stories and series. The series as a whole is exciting and action-packed with creative technology, unique characters who are easy to love, and terrible villains whom you will love to hate.

There are 4 novellas, 3 of which aren’t mandatory, but if you love the series, you’ll want to read them for the small bits of insight they bring to the series and world. Fairest is the 4th novella, and it should be read (in my opinion), as part of the series. Technically, it’s not part of the progressing storyline, but it provides so much useful insight into the villain of this series, that it would be a shame not to read it before the final book.  Read it after Cress and before Winter.

Total = 8 books with 2,741 pages

Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.5)Glitches by Marissa Meyer  (Novella 0.5)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella explores Cinder’s life when she first came to live with the Linh family. It’s heartbreaking and gives you a glimpse of a younger Cinder.

Pages: 32

The Little Android (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.6)The Little Android by Marissa Meyer  (Novella 0.6)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a creative retelling of The Little Mermaid. It’s completely separate from the books, but it does have a Cinder cameo. It’s sad but good.

Pages: 35

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer           (Book 1)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a retelling of Cinderella, complete with Cyborgs, and androids, and a lunar plague. Oh, my! Cinder is a cyborg who works as a mechanic in the marketplace, but all of her wages go to her evil stepmother, since cyborgs have no rights. When the crown prince brings by his android to the marketplace to be fixed, Cinder hides her true self, and the story spirals into chaos from there. If you’re not sure about the series, read this book first. Once you love it, you can go back and read Glitches (0.5) and The Little Android (0.6) at any point.

 Pages: 448

The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles, #1.5)The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer          (Novella 1.5)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella provides more of the backstory on Wolf. I read it before Scarlet. It’s also a teaser novella to motivate you to read the next book, so don’t expect a complete story. It does cut off right at a point where you hope for more, which isn’t a problem if you already have book 2.

Pages: 18

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Scarlet by Marissa Meyer           (Book 2)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a sci-fi adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood. The focus shifts to a new heroine, Scarlet, a farm girl whose grandmother has gone missing. Scarlet is not sure whether or not the lunar guy who was genetically modified into part wolf is to be trusted or blamed for that. This story is a continuation from book one and still includes most of the characters you loved from Cinder. It's a fantastic sequel, every bit as enjoyable and interesting as the first book.

 Pages: 512

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Cress by Marissa Meyer             (Book 3)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cress is the futuristic version of Rapunzel. Cress has been trapped for almost her whole life inside a satellite, tasked with the job of spying on Earth for the head thaumaturge (evil government bad guys with mind control powers) of Queen Levana. Scarlet and Cinder attempt to rescue Cress from her isolation, but things go wrong. Very wrong. This is another fantastic book, and Cress is a refreshingly different heroine.

Pages: 592

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)Fairest by Marissa Meyer           (Novella 3.5)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From a fairy tale standpoint, this aligns with Maleficent’s story, but it’s far different from that and well worth reading for some excellent insight and background to Queen Levana, who is a fantastically evil villain. She's not nearly as redeemable as Maleficent, but I was fascinated by the depth of her issues and self-delusions.

Pages: 272

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Winter by Marissa Meyer           (Book 4)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ah, Snow White, re-imagined in the most unexpected way possible, complete with Winter, a main character who is mentally unbalanced and eccentric, but extremely lovable. This is how you end a series: not with a whimper but a bang.

Pages: 832

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary: "Hannah Martin's life isn't shaping up into much of anything. Since graduating college eight years ago, she has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs ... She takes up residence in her best friend Gabby's guest room. Along with Gabby and Gabby's husband Mark, [she goes] out to a bar where they meet up with some of [their] old friends, including Hannah's high school boyfriend, Ethan. Shortly after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she's ready to go. But then Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan? [This book] is told in two concurrent storylines following the consequences of each choice." 

I LOVED this book so much more than I ever expected. It's simple and sweet while being simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking. Hannah is relatable and inspiring, especially through her failures and struggles. 

Favorite (of many wonderful) Quote: 

"We have to face those consequences head-on, for better or worse. We don't get to erase them just by saying we didn't mean to. Fate or not, our lives are still the results of our choices. I'm starting to think that when we don't own them, we don't own ourselves."

336 pages

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Summary: "A descendant of the inspiration for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, sixteen-year-old Alyssa Gardner fears she is mentally ill like her mother until she finds that Wonderland is real and, if she passes a series of tests to fix Alice's mistakes, she may save her family from their curse." 

After reading Becky's post about this series, I thought I would give it a try!

Even though I struggled with this book a bit, I really did enjoy it. I am not very familiar with the Alice story or movies, which may have hindered some of my understanding. It was also a bit morbid in some places, which gave me nightmares if I read it before bed. But on to the next book anyway!  

371 pages

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stories from the Shadowlands by Sarah Fine

Stories from the Shadowlands (Guards of the Shadowlands, #3.1)Stories from the Shadowlands by Sarah Fine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an enjoyable companion to the Guards of the Shadowlands series and should be read after completing the series. Many of these stories are told from a male perspective, particularly Malachi's perspective, which was an interesting change of pace. If you adored the trilogy, then you will definitely want to read this, just so you can spend a bit more time in a fascinating world.

The first story is the longest, encompassing about half the book, and it's Malachi's story, told through journal entries, from when he becomes a Guard of the Shadowlands through Lela's time in the Shadowlands.

Pages: 252

Monday, January 18, 2016

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story is incredibly bleak, and I was completely obsessed with it. I have no idea what that says about me, but let's stay focused on this alien-invasion survival story. It's told in multiple POVs, but the main focus is on Cassie, a sixteen year-old who is alone after The Others (alien invaders) brought down 4 waves of destruction upon humanity, wiping out the majority of the world's population. Her only goal is to find and rescue her younger brother, if he's even still alive after being collected, along with all the other living children, by soldiers (maybe human, maybe alien). She can't trust anyone, since the aliens can invade human bodies, making it hard to determine if anyone she happens across is friend or foe.

This is probably the best post-apocalyptic story I've read since the Ashfall trilogy by Mike Mullin. I need to read book 2 ASAP, and then I imagine I'll spend the next 4 months being upset about the fact that book 3 is not being released until May 24, 2016.

Pages: 512

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was HereI Was Here by Gayle Forman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story is not bad, but it's also not particularly memorable and didn't offer anything new to this topic for me. Perhaps I've just read a few too many best friend commits suicide stories.

YA Contemporary
Pages: 304

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Chaos by Sarah Fine

Chaos (Guards of the Shadowlands, #3)Chaos by Sarah Fine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm still reeling from the loss of adrenaline after finishing this book. It's fast-paced with a lot of WOW! and NOOOOO! and YESSS!!! and WHY??? and ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?

It's a great closer to an excellent YA Fantasy/Paranormal trilogy about the underworld. I'm going to dig up everything else written by Sarah Fine, because I really enjoyed her storytelling. Her books are exciting, with good pacing, interesting characters, and excellent world building.

Pages: 398

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fractured by Sarah Fine

Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands, #2)Fractured by Sarah Fine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 2 in this series is excellent, and I now find myself needing to read everything Sarah Fine has ever written. Whereas book 1 brought Lela from the real world to hell, book 2 brought hell to the real world, which was an interesting change of pace.

The ending to this book is quite brutal, so make sure you have book 3 in hand before you finish book 2.

Pages: 448

Sanctum by Sarah Fine

Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands, #1)Sanctum by Sarah Fine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this book made me want to go straight to hell.

When Lela's best friend Nadia kills herself, Lela sneaks through the Suicide Gates of hell, in an attempt to rescue Nadia, which is where she happens upon both brutal demons and the leather-clad, blade-wielding Guards of the Shadowlands. Everything just gets better. . . or perhaps I should say worse, from there.

YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Pages: 448

Jazz by Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Traces and talks about the evolution of jazz. Parishes of New Orleans sparked the fermenting of jazz, later Chicago became a magnet when southerners moved north. Kansas City was hot in the 30’s and LA was in the 50’s, but New York became the focus where jazz matured.

Audio:  29 hrs. 45 min.
Print:  619 pages

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Resisting Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries

Resisting Ruby Rose (Ruby Rose #2)Resisting Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a solid sequel in a YA series I can't quite figure out how to describe. It's one part murder mystery, one part espionage thriller, and one part assassins and vigilantes. I think I prefer the first book (Killing Ruby Rose), but this had a few interesting surprises. Also, it introduced a new character that I really enjoyed, but to avoid spoilers, I won't say which one or why.

Pages: 280

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of PiLife of Pi by Yann Martel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initially, I did not love this story, but by the end, I had a serious change of heart. I think the problem is that the story doesn't actually start until about 1/3 to almost 1/2 of the way into the book. This left me feeling like there was no story and no plot. Had I begun reading in print, instead of listening on audibook in the car, there's a strong possibility I would have quit right before this book became dark, gruesome, and brutal, which was far more interesting.

At times, the storytelling is long-winded, a bit preachy, and even tedious. It lacks subtlety and often hits you over the head with points, instead of letting you have a-ha moments. However, I have frequently found myself thinking about the different things I read in this story, so while some of it exhausted me, other parts clung to me.

My suggestion is to push through the beginning, because things get far worse for Pi Patel, which makes the story much better. Honestly, when it goes into the endless chatter about religions in the beginning, you could probably skip 30-40 pages there and never be missing any parts of the real story. Had they started the book almost 100 pages later, it would be far better, though the commentary on zoos in the beginning is interesting, even if it's a bit lecture-like.

From the halfway mark to the end, I was mostly captivated. The author still had moments where he kept repeating the same thing over and over and over again, ad nauseam, but by then, it felt more like a stylistic choice to drive his point home, though I could have done with a bit less of the pounding me over the head with things I already knew and understood.

There were many things I enjoyed about this unexpected read, and I am glad I persevered. There's quite an interesting story hidden inside all the excess.

Pages: 326

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd by Holly Black

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd HerdGeektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Geektastic is a delightful collection of short stories that tiptoe along the borderline between hilarious and tragic. It's a great book to read staggered between other, heavier reads, because most of the stories have an element of humor. The characters were all so unique and often awkward. I didn't know if I wanted to hug them or plan a convention for them. Most of the stories would fall in the YA category, though one is more NA, and another is more MG.

After each story, there's a one panel comic that pertains to different aspects and elements of geekiness (which isn't a word, but it should be).

Pages: 432

Who’s on Worst? The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History by Filip Bondy

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

One player was one of the worst hitters of all time going 0 for 45.  Another player was the best of the worst first baseman with 29 errors in one season.  Our home state's pitcher for the 2011 Royals was 1-9 with an era of 6.75 - really bad.  A flaky player called by his teammates "Planet Zito" was paid too much money.  Then there was Eddie Gaedel, the baseball player who stood at his full height of 3 feet 7 inches. 

272 pages

A Rule Against Murder: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, By Louise Penny

A Rule Against Murder: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel | Louise PennyThis fourth in the Inspector Gamache mysteries begins with Armand Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie Gamache celebrating their wedding anniversary with a stay at the remote Manoir Bellechasse, a luxury inn located not far from the village of Three Pines.  Also there is the rich, self-important Morrow family, there for a reunion.  Of course, the idyllic setting is interrupted with a brutal murder, which puts Inspector Gamache and his team to work on an extraordinary mystery -- one that forces the Inspector to confront his innermost fears and a family history that haunts him.
336 pages

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Turner House, By Angela Flournoy

The Turner HouseThis lovely tale is Ms. Flournoy's debut novel; it is the story of the Turner family -- parents who migrated from the south in the 1940s to Detroit.  They purchased the house on Yarrow Street, in east Detroit and raised their 13 children there.  It is well written, with nicely developed characters and a plot that is driven by the family drama, pathos, and humor. 

352 pages

The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, By Louise Penny

The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache NovelChief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team investigate another bizarre crime in the tiny Québec village of Three Pines in Penny's expertly plotted third murder mystery.  As the townspeople gather in the abandoned and perhaps haunted Hadley house for a séance with a visiting psychic, Madeleine Favreau collapses, apparently dead of fright. No one has a harsh word to say about Madeleine, but Gamache knows there is always more to the case than meets the eye. Complicating his inquiry are the repercussions of Gamache having accused his popular superior at the Sûreté du Québec of heinous crimes in a previous case. Fearing there might be a mole on his team, Gamache works not only to solve the murder but to clear his name. Arthur Ellis Award–winner, Louise Penny paints a vivid picture of the French-Canadian village, its inhabitants, and a determined detective.
320 pages

The Hanging Girl: A Department Q Novel, By Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Hanging Girl: A Department Q NovelIn the midst of his morning nap, Carl Mørck, head of Department Q, receives a call from a colleague working on the Danish island of Bornholm with information about a local policeman's suicide, which is somehow connected to a cold case.  Some years ago, a young woman was found dead, her body hanging high in a tree.  This unusual case sends Carl, Assad, and Rose from the remote island of Bornholm to a strange sun worshiping cult.  
512 pages, translated from Danish

Loving Day: A Novel, By Mat Johnson

Loving Day: A NovelWarren Duffy has been living out of the United States in Wales for years, however, his marriage has fallen apart and his Irish father in Philadelphia has died so he returns.  Not back in the U.S. a day, and he discovers a 17-year-old daughter, Tal, who assumed she was white. The story takes off on a wild ride through the insanity that is race and color and what that means and what it doesn't mean in 21st-century United States. This compelling story is thoughtful and wise; Mat Johnson raises some brilliant questions as Warren and Tal try to figure out their family.
304 pages

Monday, January 11, 2016

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been GoneSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Morgan Matson is fantastic. She writes YA contemporary stories that sneak up on your heart and wind their fingers around it. She seems to really understand what it's like to be 17 and not to know who you are, what you want, and where you are headed. It makes all of her stories so interesting, because they are painfully human. The characters make mistakes and have to try to overcome them. They're not all strong, but they learn how to be stronger. It makes for very interesting reads.

I always think I will start one of her stories and read a bit each night, but they suck me in, which was why I was up until 5:00 AM reading this story about a shy girl named Emily, who's best friend, Sloane, mysteriously disappears the summer before their senior year, leaving behind a To Do list of things Emily should try to do without her, fun things, like dance until dawn and sleep under the stars, and much scarier things for Emily like kiss a stranger and go skinny dipping.

Emily is so lost without Sloane that she tries to tackle the list, despite how much the tasks scare her. She hopes that if she finishes the list, it will bring her friend back. The best things about this story are the friendships and the way Emily comes to see herself as someone who is so much more than "that girl who hangs out with Sloane."

Page: 480

PS: If you haven't read any Morgan Matson, then you should also check out Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Jackaby by William Ritter

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby by William Ritter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a clever, awkwardly charming-ish, 19th century New England-y, Sherlock-Holmes-esque, paranormal mystery. It's not addictive, but it's a solid read. At times, it feels a bit predictable, but the mystery itself was smart and well-planned.

The idea of Sherlock Holmes has been revisited so many times, in so many ways, that it's hard to bring something new to the table, but Jackaby is a decent take. I think it would appeal to mystery lovers, paranormal readers, Sherlock fans, and Whovians.

Pages: 305

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry OnCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This could easily be read as a stand alone novel, but if you haven't read Fangirl yet, I encourage you to start there. That's where Simon and Baz first came to life, in Cath's (the main character of Fangirl) fan fiction. It seems only right to start there, especially as Fangirl is also an excellent story.

This story was different for Rainbow Rowell, and I absolutely adored it. My entire Saturday was consumed by reading this novel, because once I started it, there was no way I was going to put it down. It's the kind of story that begs you to lose yourself inside of it; clever, charming, ironic, amusing, heart-breaking, mysterious, hilarious, captivating, magical, nerdy. . .

No. It's not just nerdy. It's extremely bookish and nerdy, like YA book nerd paradise. It's like the inside of an 18-year-old bibliophile's head. All fangirls, fanboys, potterheads, twi-hards, and YA fanatics must read this story.

Pages: 528

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Master Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #3)The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the final book in a YA Fantasy trilogy about an apprentice who studies paper magic. It's an enjoyable conclusion to an interesting series, though there are a few things I still have questions about.

I enjoyed learning more about the different kinds of magic in this book. The paper magic is fascinating, but I was equally interested in the other types of magic and happy to see they played a larger role in this book.

Pages: 226