Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Summary: "Nicolas Fox, international con man, thief, and one of the top ten fugitives on the FBI's most-wanted list, has been kidnapped from a beachfront retreat in Hawaii. What the kidnapper doesn't know is that Nick Fox has been secretly working for the FBI. It isn't long before Nick's covert partner, Special Agent Kate O'Hare, is in hot pursuit of the crook who stole her con man."

Another fun and interesting installment! The con in this book wasn't my favorite though. I prefer the elaborate cons with more glitz and glam rather than sewers and disease. 

304 pages

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton

A beautiful, haunting family saga, which follows the Soames family of western Missouri.  Interpersonal relationships are beautifully developed, individual perspectives masterfully intertwined, and shocking revelations were revealed!  I just loved it - it made me nostalgic for a time period I haven't experienced, if that makes sense.  It made me think about life on my parents' family farms. An American classic.

318 pages.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"The Company We Keep" by Kay Simone

The Company is a gang run by A.R. Carrow and his handpicked family of criminals.  They pull off dramatic heists around southern California for themselves and others and have stolen billions in the process.  When their demolition expert is killed, they must find a replacement who not only won't blow them to bits but will fit in with their family of outcasts and misfits.  Enter Dustin Wrenshall, an explosives professional who seems to pass all of their tests and who pushes the self control of Carrow with his fearless flirtation.  However, Dustin is really Charlie Judge, an FBI agent who's been trained to infiltrate and take down The Company.  (No, this isn't a spoiler; it's in the book's description.)

This is the best book I have read in a quite a while.  Everything the author did was spot on, and she seamlessly went back and forth between past and present, including Charlie's and Carrow's childhoods.  I was totally hooked not just by the suspense but also the characters and their relationships with each other.  The struggle that Dustin/Charlie has with working the case and his feelings for The Company nearly tear him and everyone else apart.  It was a really unusual and well written story, and I can't wait to read more by this author.  271 pages (Kindle edition).

"Why Love Matters" by Jay Northcote

Alastair is a man who does not like to touch or be touched by other people.  Unfortunately, he will soon be going to Italy to carry out a business deal with demonstrative people who may take offense.  Luckily his administrative assistant, Martin, grew up on a commune where his mother still lives and runs cuddle workshops for people like Alastair.  He's dubious but willing to try in order to close the deal.  Martin is patient and funny and takes Alastair's anxieties in stride.  This was an enjoyable and charming novella.  55 pages (Kindle edition).

"Love Me Tenor" by Annabeth Albert

This touching and sometimes funny book centers on Trevor Daniels and his role in a reality television competition between boy bands.  The producers want him to pretend to be in a relationship with one of his fellow band members to up viewership.  Having recently graduated from a religious college and been kicked out of his family for coming out of the closet, Trevor figures he has little to lose.  Unfortunately, things don't go as smoothly as he'd hoped.  His poor self-esteem, loneliness, and recent diagnosis of diabetes, which he tries to hide from everyone, nearly does him in.  Luckily, he does manage to befriend the singer with whom he's been paired for "romance," Jalen Smith, a natural caretaker with a beautiful voice.  Can he help Trevor work through his problems enough for their group to win the competition?

This was a fun story with lots of characters and two likable, compassionate leading men.  Poor Trevor goes through so much with his health, his family, and his lack of confidence that it's not hard to root for the guy.  Jalen starts off a bit gruff but turns out to have a very caring side not just for Trevor but for his own family as well.  This was book two in the Perfect Harmony series; I did not read book one but do not feel like I missed anything.  232 pages (Kindle edition).

"Love in Transition" by Emma Marie Leya

This was a lovely story of Lexi, formerly Alexander, and her fight not to fall in love with John, a championship skier.  Although she is still biologically a man, Lexi has been confirming her identity by living as a woman for the past several years.  She was kicked out by her family and has been living with her best friend and working as a waitress ever since graduating high school.  Living in Park City, UT, has given Lexi the opportunity to indulge in her passion, skiing.  When she witnesses the collision of a large bird with a skier, she rushes to help not knowing that meeting the man will change her life forever.  She and John are immediately attracted to each other, but she insists that they can only be friends.  As they grow closer and spend more time together, Lexi knows that she will eventually have to tell him the truth.  Solid and empathetic writing and a unique main character in Lexi made this a sensitive portrayal of gender identity and sexuality.  133 pages (Kindle edition).

One Corpse Too Many, by Ellis Peters

This is the second in the mystery series featuring Brother Caedfell, a well-traveled monk who makes use of sharp skills of observation to solve mysteries.  These stories are set in the English middle ages, and Peters does a great job of making the setting, characters, and Brother Caedfell's detective role believable.  This is a fairly straightforward murder mystery, but also involves some intrigue over the rivalry for the English throne.  A fun read.  188 pages.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

"They just know the nature of things too well to be caught in that wanting."  Steinbeck provides a snapshot of life as lived by the inhabitants of Cannery Row who value life experience over tangible comforts.

196 pages.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Never Always SometimesNever Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was okay for the first 80%, and then the last 20% was all blah and not convincing. It also made me question the point of the story, and now, I am not not sure there even was a point to this story.

It's a backwards twist on a bucket list, which was fun. The best part is the adorable relationship between these two best friends. The worse part is that the story lies about character emotions, throughout, in order to inform the final outcome, which is typical and uninspired, at best.

Page: 288

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Seven Ways We LieSeven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has 7 POVs, and they aren't all distinct. The female voices, in particular, really blend together. I listened to this on audiobook, which made it even harder to settle in to the story.

Overall, it's still a good story. Typically, I love multiple POVs, but this felt like a gimmick, instead of an effective storytelling solution. In fact, I think the story would have been significantly better, had it been reduced to only a few POVs.

It's 3.5 stars for me, but I rounded up, since it attempted to maintain my attention. The writing is decent. The story is okay. It's just hard to fully settle down or get invested in anyone, and the lack of voice can be really disconcerting at times, especially when you're trying to keep 7 different perspectives straight.

So now I've made it sound really terrible, but there were still things I enjoyed about it, including the writing style, in general. I kept reading, which means it kept my attention, despite the fact that I was unclear about 70% of the time which character was currently telling the story.

I don't recommend the audiobook. The performance is good, but it makes it even harder to differentiate between the 7 POVs. This is one where you need to pause at the start of every section and think about who is talking before you start reading, otherwise you'll spend half the book uncertain who is currently telling the story.

Pages: 352

Friday, August 26, 2016

Leaving Everything Most Loved: Maisie Dobbs Book 10, by Jacqueline Winspear

Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs)
Only a few months has elapsed since Maisie investigated the gruesome death of costermonger Eddie Petit, in 1933.  Her trustworthy assistant Billy Boggs was badly beaten during that investigation, leaving all of the investigative work to Maisie. She is contacted by an Indian gentleman who has come to England in the hopes of finding out who killed his sister two months previous. Scotland Yard failed to make any arrest in the case, and there is reason to believe they failed to conduct a thorough investigation.
The case becomes even more challenging when another Indian woman is murdered just hours before a scheduled interview. Meanwhile, unfinished business from a previous case becomes a distraction, as does a new development in Maisie's personal life.These novels have always considered the class stratification that is British life; Maisie has transcended both gender and class rules, but race enters the picture in this novel.  The British are clearly prejudiced against the Indians despite their colonization of the subcontinent.  Maisie does a brilliant job of putting the class and race hatred in its place as she solves this difficult crime.
Bringing a crucial chapter in the life and times of Maisie Dobbs to a close, Leaving Everything Most Loved marks a pivotal moment in this outstanding mystery series.
368 pages

Elegy for Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, Book 9, by Jacqueline Winspear

Elegy for Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
The time is early April 1933: To the costermongers of Covent Garden -- sellers of fruits and vegetables with horse-drawn carts on the streets of London - Eddie Pettit was a gentle soul with a near-magical gift for working with horses. When Eddie is killed in an especially violent accident, the grieving costers are deeply skeptical about the cause of his death. Who would want to kill Eddie -- and why?
Maisie Dobbs' father, Frankie, had been a costermonger, so she had known the men since childhood. She remembers Eddie fondly and is determined to offer her help. But it soon becomes clear that powerful political and financial forces are equally determined to prevent her from learning the truth behind Eddie's death. Plunging into the investigation, Maisie begins her search for answers on the working-class streets of Lambeth where Eddie had lived and where she had grown up.
The inquiry quickly leads her to a callous press baron; a has-been politician named Winston Churchill, lingering in the hinterlands of power; and, most surprisingly, to Douglas Partridge, the husband of her dearest friend, Priscilla. As Maisie uncovers lies and manipulation on a national scale, she must decide whether to risk it all to see justice done.
368 pages

A Lesson In Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, book 8, by Jacqueline Winspear

A Lesson in Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel1932 finds Maisie Dobbs being asked to take an first assignment for the British Secret Service!  She leaves her business in her assistants' hands and goes undercover to Cambridge as a Classics professor—and leads to the investigation of a web of activities being conducted by the emerging Nazi Party.

When the college's controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane and Detective Chief Inspector Richard Stratton spearhead the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote's death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance.
To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Service, discover shameful hidden truths about Britain's conduct during the Great War, and face off against the rising powers of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the Nazi Party—in Britain.
352 pages

An Incomplete Revenge: Maisie Dobbs Book 5, by Jacqueline Winspear

Product DetailsIn this mystery, the psychologist/investigator, Miss Maisie Dobbs must dig deep into a village's long-buried secrets. The adult son of Maisie's benefactors, Lord and Lady Compton, tycoon James Compton, wants to buy an estate in the bucolic hamlet of Heronsdene, but is wary after a string of mysterious fires. Maisie soon proves Compton's suspicions correct when she encounters the shady current landowner and a vaguely menacing band of Romas (Gypsies) in town for the seasonal harvest. The locals are also curiously tight-lipped about Heronsdene's wartime tragedy, when a zeppelin raid wiped out a family. Teasing out Heronsdene's secrets will take all the intrepid former nurse's psychological skills and test her ability to navigate between the Roma and gorja (non-Roma) worlds. Winspear vividly evokes England between the wars, when the old order crumbled and new horizons beckoned working women like her appealing heroine.
352 pages

Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, by Jacqueline Winspear

Product DetailsLondon, 1931. The night before an exhibition of his artwork opens at a famed Mayfair gallery, the controversial artist Nick Bassington-Hope somehow falls to his death. The police rule it an accident, but Nick's twin sister, Georgina, isn't so sure, so she calls on Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. It isn't long before the evidence surrounding Nick's death leads Maisie to the beaches of Dungeness in Kent and the underbelly of London's art world, in another confrontation with the perilous legacy of the Great War.
319 Pages

The Mapping of Love and Death: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, book 7, by Jacqueline Winspear

Product Details
August 1914. Michael Clifton is mapping the land he has just purchased in California’s beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, certain that oil lies beneath its surface. But as the young cartographer prepares to return home to Boston, war is declared in Europe. Michael—the youngest son of an expatriate Englishman—puts duty first and sails for his father’s native country to serve in the British army. Three years later, he is listed among those missing in action.
April 1932. London psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs is retained by Michael’s parents, who have recently learned that their son’s remains have been unearthed in France. They want Maisie to find the unnamed nurse whose love letters were among Michael’s belongings—a quest that takes Maisie back to her own bittersweet wartime love. Her inquiries, and the stunning discovery that Michael Clifton was murdered in his trench, unleash a web of intrigue and violence that threatens to engulf the soldier’s family and even Maisie herself. Over the course of her investigation, Maisie must cope with the approaching loss of her mentor, Maurice Blanche, and her growing awareness that she is once again falling in love.
368 pages

Among the Mad: Maisie Dobbs Novel, book 6, by Jacqueline Winspear

Product Details
It's Christmas Eve 1931. On the way to see a client, Maisie Dobbs witnesses a man commit suicide on a busy London street. The following day, the prime minister's office receives a letter threatening a massive loss of life if certain demands are not met - and the writer mentions Maisie by name. After being questioned and cleared by Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane of Scotland Yard's elite Special Branch, she is drawn into MacFarlane's personal fiefdom as a special adviser on the case.
Meanwhile, Billy Beale, Maisie's trusted assistant, is once again facing tragedy as his wife, who has never recovered from the death of their young daughter, slips further into melancholia's abyss. Soon Maisie becomes involved in a race against time to find a man who proves he has the knowledge and will to inflict death and destruction on thousands of innocent people.
303 pages

Pardonable Lies: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, by Jacqueline Winspear

Product DetailsA deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that her aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world. In accepting the assignment, Maisie finds her spiritual strength tested, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission also brings her together once again with her college friend Priscilla Evernden, who served in France and who lost three brothers to the war, one of whom, it turns out, had an intriguing connection to the missing Ralph Lawton.
359 pages

Birds of a Feather: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, by Jacqueline Winspear

Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs)Somehow I began this series with the second book, but one of the best features of the series is each book's ability to stand on its own.  Maisie is an intelligent, clever woman working as a private investigator and psychologist in and around London, during the period between the world wars. Her background makes her uniquely suited for the work; she began life under the stairs as a serving girl in a great house in London.  However, starved for knowledge, she would sneak up into the grand library and spend her nights reading, which came to the attention of her employer, suffragette Lady Rowan Compton. She became Maisie's patron, taking the remarkably bright youngster under her wing. Lady Rowan's friend, Maurice Blanche, often retained as an investigator by the European elite, recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts and helped her earn admission to the prestigious Girton College in Cambridge, where Maisie planned to complete her education. But when the first World War broke out, she lied about her age and went to the front as a nurse.  The station where she worked was destroyed by artillery fire leaving her injured and the doctor she had fallen in love with, a shell of a man.  The writer is vague about his injuries, but he remains in hospital the rest of his life, unable to speak.  Maisie returned to her studies and an apprenticeship with Maurice Blanche, which explains how she came to her career as an investigator with profiling skills.
In Birds of a Feather, it is spring of 1930, and Maisie has been hired to find a runaway heiress. But what seems a simple case at the outset soon becomes increasingly complicated when three of the heiress’s old friends are found dead. Is there a connection between the woman’s mysterious disappearance and the murders? Who would want to kill three seemingly respectable young women? As Maisie investigates, she discovers that the answers lie in the unforgettable agony of the Great War.
320 pages

Thursday, August 25, 2016

United as One by Pittacus Lore

Summary: "The seventh and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series! With United as One, this action-packed series comes to a surprising, breathtaking, and utterly satisfying conclusion. The Garde didn’t start this war, but they’ll do whatever it takes to end it once and for all. . ."

I can't believe this series is over. 

It's been a part of my life for almost 5 years now, and I don't want it to end! 

The Garde finally have their ultimate knock-down, drag-out showdown with the Mogs. The battles were more intense than I ever expected. I was crying and freaking out for a large portion of the book. 

No other book series has quite matched the level of teamwork and ragtag family vibes as the Lorien Legacies. I wish more book series developed this level of friendship and value among its characters. It's truly a special reading experience. 

For your reference, the book order goes:

I am Number Four

The Power of Six
The Rise of Nine
The Fall of Five
The Revenge of Seven 
The Fate of Ten
United as One

There are also many short stories and "lost files" that supplement the books (I haven't read those). 

467 pages

Monday, August 22, 2016

When We Collided by Emery Lord

When We CollidedWhen We Collided by Emery Lord
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is chaotic and delightful on so many levels. Vivi and Jonah are complex, well-developed characters who are dealing with a lot of big issues, such as Vivi's bipolar disorder, and the fact that Jonah's mom checked out after his father died, leaving him to carry the burden of parenting his younger siblings.

This story manages to be both playful and heavy. It probably deserves a 4.5, but I'm going to stick with my original gut-impulse rating system.

Pages: 352

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Summary: "Perfect for fans of Sliding Doors, Kasie West's riveting novel Pivot Point follows a girl with the power to see her potential futures.

Addison Coleman's life is one big "What if?" As a Searcher, a special type of clairvoyant, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she is able to look into the future and see both outcomes. So when her parents tell her they are getting a divorce and she has to pick who she wants to live with, a Search has never been more important. With so much to lose in either future, Addie must decide which reality she's willing to live through . . . and who she's willing to live without."

I love Kasie West's books, and I devoured Pivot Point. Her books are so fun and easy to read. Kasie is really good at building friendships and relationships between her characters. I also appreciate the humor that peppers all of her books. It's a nice relief! 

Some of the sci-fi elements of this book was a little confusing, especially telekenetic football...it just didn't make sense. But, I did enjoy the similarities to Maybe In Another Life - the dual life format is thrilling! 

343 pages

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Maybe Not by Colleen Hoover

Maybe Not (Maybe, #1.5)Maybe Not by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This companion novella to Maybe Someday is wow.

Funny. Snarky. Emotional. Captivating.

Warren is a character I definitely wanted to know more about, and I enjoyed every second of his story. I wish it was longer.

Pages: 160

Friday, August 19, 2016

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

Summary: "After a humiliating end to her engagement, investment banker Sidney Sinclair is done with commitment-phobic men. But when her sister winds up engaged after a whirlwind courtship, Sidney is thrown into close contact with exactly the kind of playboy she wants to avoid--the gorgeous best man. She's stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn't mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are..."

It Happened One Wedding is the 5th book in the FBI/US Attorney series by Julie James. I enjoyed it so much! I actually read it earlier this summer but had forgotten to post it. I love Julie James' writing and this entire series. It makes me sad that I've caught up and now have to impatiently wait for her to publish the next one! 

Characters: Sidney Sinclair + Vaughn Roberts

292 pages

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Summary: "Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it's an unforgiving place, especially if you're poor, orphaned, or female. 

Amani Al'Hiza is all three.  She's a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can't shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she's destined to wind up wed or dead.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes--in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power."

LOVED IT! I love the title, the cover, the characters and the story. Amani is incredibly fun and interesting. I wish I had paid more attention to some of the details earlier in the book, because everything comes back in an important way. It's alllll connected! So pay attention! 

:) I can't wait for the next book! 

314 pages

Monday, August 15, 2016

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Maybe Someday (Maybe, #1)Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, how many times do you want me to say Colleen Hoover is magic, and every story she writes resonates with me? Because I can just keep saying it for as long as she keeps writing novels, if I need to.

Pages: 385

The Day She Died by Catriona Mcpherson

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

A man is distraught over his wife’s leaving him. Grocery store clerk Jessie is drawn into the family and the mystery.

Audio:  9 hrs. 46 min.
Print:  301 pages

The Life of Helen Stephens: The Fulton Flash by Sharon Kinney Hanson

The Life of Helen Stephens: The Fulton Flash
Helen Stephens set a world record when she won the gold medal for 100 meter sprint at the 1936 Berlin Olympics set in Nazi Germany. The Great Depression and World War II prevented her from returning to the Olympics. However, Stephens enjoyed an incredible athletic career which spanned into her golden years. Among other things, she was the first woman to manage a professional basketball team.  She championed women in the pursuit of gaining equal athletic opportunities. Her biography is fascinating because it captures the drama of Stephen’s own personal journey beginning in rural Fulton, MO, alongside the development of the modern Olympics, implementation of Title IX, and evolution of US gender perceptions. After her Olympic win, Stephens was accused of being a man – prompting random gender testing for athletes.   She was later frequently consulted on this topic.

Helen Stephens held a 3o year career as a librarian at the Defense Mapping Agency Aerospace Center in St. Louis – a fact that I, as a librarian myself, very much appreciate. Pam Miner, a professional archivist at the Missouri State Archives assisted in compiling Stephen’s enormous collection of correspondence, newspaper articles, and ephemera which were accessed in researching this biography. Many of these materials are now part of the University of Missouri’s Historic Manuscripts collection. Sharon Kinney Hanson portrays Stephens as warm, witty, dependable, and as an international diplomat for women in sports. Helen Stephens passed away in 1994 having led an fantastically full life.

262 pages

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra

Tiny Pretty Things (Tiny Pretty Things, #1)Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a dramatic and diverse story set in a cutthroat ballet world.

This is not a novel where you love all the characters. It's a story where you tolerate all the characters, while still finding their stories fascinating. You won't want to hang out with them or befriend them. This is the kind of story where you enjoy the ride but are happy the characters are stuck in the book and not part of your world.

Pages: 464

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)The Duff by Kody Keplinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is funny, complex story, with a snarky MC.

DUFF = Designated Ugly Fat Friend

Pages: 304

Saturday, August 13, 2016

"Sleigh Ride" by Heidi Cullinan

Opposites attract in this second book in the Minnesota Christmas series.  Gabriel Higgins is the lone librarian in small Logan, MN, but he loves his job.  He excels at it but hasn't really made any friends outside of the library.  When one of the library volunteers decides to raise money with sleigh rides in a real sleigh, Gabriel balks at the idea because she wants him to play Santa's elf to her son's Santa.  Arthur Anderson does not want his mother to play matchmaker, especially when she tells him that he'll be Santa with the lanky librarian playing his elf.  However, the library desperately needs the money, so both men relent.  As they get to know each other, Gabriel introduces Arthur, who doesn't enjoy reading, to graphic novels.  The best part of the book, in my opinion, is when Arthur's young nephew wants a doll, but the boy's mother refuses because of what others will say.  When Gabriel hears this, he decides to do a children's story time about it.  He brings his own dolls that he had as a child and explains to the children and parents that boys who have dolls will grow up to be loving fathers.  The author does a fabulous job with this part of the book; so well that it brought tears to my eyes.  It was a wonderful portrayal of the way good librarians, especially in small, isolated towns, can change children's lives.  229 pages (Kindle edition).

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Summary: "And she [Elisa] will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion—a champion to those who have hated her most. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy."

Whew! What a journey this trilogy has been! I love Elisa and her wits, determination and guile. Her strategic brain is incredibly fun to read; she is one smart girl! This series is a must-read! I loved it. Even though I was a little disappointed with some parts of the 3rd book that felt like filler. And the conclusion of Elisa's "act of service" was a bit of a let-down. BUT, the storytelling in this series has been outstanding overall!

433 pages

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

UngiftedUngifted by Gordon Korman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This MG is adorable, and I love it. It has a great message about how every person has something unique to offer to life and social situations, even if they aren't rocking a label such as gifted, or athletic, or popular.

It's funny, with an incredible cast of delightfully unique characters.

Pages: 288

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher

Stolen: A Letter to My CaptorStolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is unique, in that it is written in second person narrative, as a letter from Gemma to her kidnapper. Since second person is rare in fiction, it did, upon occasion, jolt my brain, and I'd have to reset to keep reading.

However, I enjoyed the story overall and thought it was well-written. Nothing really worked out the way I thought or expected. It's a bit intense, in a weird and twisty sort of way, and it's basically never fun or lighthearted. So don't expect that. Expect unusual with a sad undertone.

Pages: 320

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8)Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So it's a script and not a book. I say get over it. If JK wants to write a Harry Potter magazine or brochure, I would read that too. I enjoy every little taste of this world, and these characters, that I get.

Pages: 320

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson

Hattie Ever After (Hattie, #2)Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first book, Hattie Big Sky (YA Historical Fiction), everything except the end, which I was so unsatisfied with that I almost rewrote it the way I felt it should be.

When book 2 came out, I was hoping there was a chance for a redeemed ending. But it didn't pan out.

This was an okay read, but it lacked some of the charm of the first book. AND, I still dislike this ending, even though it ends closer to what I probably wanted when I read the first book almost 6 or 7 years ago.

I felt like I went on this interesting journey, and then the book came to an abrupt happy ending, which made very little sense to me, in light of how the story was going before it ended so suddenly. I think if this book had 100 more pages, it might have been better. More things needed to be handled, addressed, and resolved.

Pages: 242

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Catching JordanCatching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fun story about a female quarterback who has dreams of playing college ball. I enjoyed all the different relationships and dynamics. This was a refreshing change of pace.

Pages: 288

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Dark Elements Trilogy by Jennifer L. Armentrout

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements, #1)White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part demon, part warden, seventeen-year-old Layla doesn't quite belong with the light or the dark, and both sides wish her ill will.

This was another solid story by J-Ar. It has a strong female lead, swoon-worthy guys, good world building, and some fascinating concepts.

Pages: 400

Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements, #2)Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 2 is my favorite in this series, which is a very strange occurrence. That almost never happens!

Pages: 464

Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements, #3)Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a strong, if somewhat expected ending to an enjoyable trilogy. One moment, in particular, was very upsetting to me, but I won't say which.

Pages: 400

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Maddox Brothers Series by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Redemption (The Maddox Brothers, #2)Beautiful Redemption by Jamie McGuire  (Book 2)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jamie McGuire writes characters that are messy, have issues, and make mistakes, and she throws them into situations that are fueled by drama, excitement, and/or heartbreak. I really enjoy reading her works, as they cover the full range of the emotion spectrum, which is captivating.

Pages: 266.

Beautiful Sacrifice (The Maddox Brothers, #3)Beautiful Sacrifice by Jamie McGuire  (Book 3)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another good story by Jamie McGuire about yet another lovable Maddox box. This one has some unexpected twists

Pages: 271


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Bloodhound To Die For by Virginia Lanier

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

JoBeth leaves her ex, Bubba.  JoBeth and her dogs hunt for a woman in the swamp.  JoBeth hunts for an escaped prisoner.  JoBeth hunts for one of her dogs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bless Your Heart, Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments by Celia Rivenbark

Bless Your Heart, Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments
Southerners know that “bless your heart” is a major insult. I would not say it to my worst enemy. Celia Rivenbark, a humorist in Wilmington, NC, however, is not afraid to speak her mind. Reading Celia’s books are like hanging out with my favorite naughty friend. They make me laugh out loud.

Bless Your Heart, Tramp is Celia Rivenbark’s first book.

220 pages

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

The Night Sister
In 1954, Alfred Hitchcock filmed “The Trouble with Harry” on location in Vermont. The film starred Shirley Maclaine in her first movie role. I enjoyed the intersection of this real-life event with the macabre mystery that is the focus of this book set in a creepy abandoned hotel in rural Vermont.

322 pages

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander (Outlander, #1)

Claire wishes she paid more attention to her husband’s genealogy fascination, when she accidentally travels back in time to 1743 Scotland and has a memorable encounter with one of his ancestors. Claire served as a British Army nurse in WWII. One of my favorite parts of the novel is the comparison between 18th and 20th century medicine.

896 pages.

The Likeness by Tana French

The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, #2)
Detective Cassie Maddox goes undercover to investigate the murder of her doppelgänger, a woman who has been living under one of Cassie's previous aliases. The Likeness is unique because it is both very plot driven and beautifully written.

466 pages