Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Friday, September 30, 2016

Coal River by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Emma Malloy, still sick and weak from the fire that killed her parents, is on her way to Coal River, Pennsylvania. Orphaned and penniless at nineteen, she accepts a train ticket from her aunt and uncle to travel to the rough-hewn community.

Once there, she is treated like a servant by her relatives. Emma works for free in the company store. There, miners and their impoverished families must pay inflated prices for food, clothing, and tools, while those who owe money are turned away to starve.

She begins leaving stolen food on families' doorsteps, and marking the miners' bills as paid, she draws the ire of the mine owner and the police. She forms an alliance with  a charismatic miner who offers to help her expose the truth. As the lines blur between what is legal and what is just, she must risk everything to follow her conscience.

304 pages

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally

Summary: "Seeking God's forgiveness for a past sin, eighteen-year-old Kate finds summer employment at a church camp, where she is tempted to have a fling with co-counselor Matt."

I don't think I am capable of putting into words how disappointing this book is, especially compared to the awesome quality of the first two books in this series. Things I Can't Forget had me rolling my eyes and wanting to slam the book on the table. Repeatedly.  

I understand what the author was trying to do with this book, and I appreciate the way she encouraged her readers to be true to themselves. However, the inner-thoughts of the main character were simple-minded and repetitive. It was the same inner-conversation and moral dilemmas over and over and over and over again. I feel like I'm reading an entirely different series! I don't even know if I will continue with it or not...

The only bright spots were the appearances of characters from the first two books: Jordan and Henry, Parker and Will. 

312 pages

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

This is the first volume in the Inheritance Trilogy.  Yeine, a nineteen year old teen and leader of her small country in the backwoods, is called to the capital of the Arameri kingdom, Sky.  The Arameri family rules over all the world, under the auspices of the Sun God.  The current ruler, Dekarta Arameri, Yeine's grandfather, is old and has called together his heirs to conduct the ceremony to transfer the kingdom to one of them.  Of course our young Yeine steps into a cesspool of intrigue around which of Dekarta's heirs will be named King.  She soon finds that the Arameri not only rule over the kingdom's citizens, but have command over several major gods who were the losers in a war with the Sun God.  These Enefadeh are forced to obey the orders of the Arameri.  The Enefadeh soon involve Yeine in their plot to become free of the Arameri rule during the inheritance ceremony.  Of course everyone is trying to use Yeine as their pawn, but she has plans of her own.  Jemisin has built a convincing world for this fantasy, with good plot twists and surprises. 388 pages.

The Fifth Season by N.K.Jemisin

This is the first in the Broken Earth trilogy by fantasy writer Jemisin.  It was recently awarded the Hugo.  Jemisin has very creatively depicted an alternate world in which periodically there are 'fifth seasons' sparked by major upheavals in the Earth which spawn volcanoes, massive clouds of ash, darkness, and the death of most living things.  Humans have learned to prepare for these long seasons of upheaval by keeping great stores of food and developing strong defense systems.  Some humans, called orogenes, have developed the ability to exercise some limited control over the movement of the earth's geologic surface.  The story begins with the 'end of the earth', or really the beginning of one of these 'fifth seasons', triggered by an orogene master.  It then goes back in time to follow a young orogene, Syenite, as she is trained to control her innate aura to manipulate the Earth's surface. Syenite is sent on a mission with a master orogene, Alabaster, and in the process learns much about the history of their culture but also inadvertently triggers the destruction of a city along the coast.  This is a unique, complex story with some intriguing characters and many plot threads that come together at the end.  I look forward to book two in the series.  465 pages

Robert B. Parker's Slow Burn by Ace Atkins

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Fire at a boarded up Catholic church is an unsolved case but Spenser is now on it.

Audio:  6 hours 25 minutes
Print:  320 pages

"Just Like Heaven" by Suki Fleet

This was a cute story of a busker and a college student falling in love in London.  They meet on the street when David prevents Jess' tips from being stolen.  When he realizes that Jess is down on his luck and needs a job, David offers him a temporary gig as a waiter for his uncle's catering company.  The attraction between the two young men is mutual but both are afraid to make the first move for different reasons.  Short and sweet, this was a very low-angst novella that takes place in London.   101 pages (Kindle edition).

"Helping Hand" by Jay Northcote

Jez and Mac are two of eight roommates sharing a house in college.  After spending too much money and not enough time on grades during their freshman year, they decide to save their dough and study when the rest of the house goes out every weekend.  They obviously grow closer and soon Mac is questioning if he is as straight as he's always thought.  Two likable main characters, low angst, and set in England made this book a winner for me.  107 pages (Kindle edition).

"Out in the Open" by A.J. Truman

Ethan Follett is a college sophomore who dreams of going to law school and someday being a Supreme Court judge.  When he enters his Constitutional Law class on the first day of the semester, the only open seat is next to Greg Sanderson, a lazy frat boy who is more interested in playing on his phone that taking notes and paying attention to the professor.  Ethan chastises him and so begins an almost friendship that turns into something more.

Greg was a jerk throughout most of this novel, and watching him treat Ethan as his "little secret" was annoying especially since Ethan was so earnest and endearing.  However, we finally get a few glimpses of Greg when he interacts with his father that make him more human.  The novel was wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly, but I did like the character of Ethan and how he became more comfortable with himself in the end.  281 pages (Kindle edition).

Robert B. Parker's Blackjack by Robert Knott

(Posted for Paul Mathews)

Appaloosa continues to prosper, drawing carpetbaggers, gamblers, thieves, and a new casino:  problems for all.

Audio:  8 hours 10 minutes
Print:  324 pages

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Wolf HollowWolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a thoughtful, well-written middle grade novel with a touch of suspense, a bit of angst, a reflection on social status, some vicious bullying, a rich, historical setting, and a lot of heart.

Pages: 304

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Summary: "Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She's on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she's made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother's scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her. Now Parker wants a new life."

Parker is a wonderful main character! I loved her, and I don't think I've ever related to a character more! Her personality and interests were very similar to mine, and I really enjoyed her point-of-view. 

The subject matter of Stealing Parker is way more serious and intense than Catching Jordan, and it took me by surprise, in both good and bad ways. 

242 pages

Monday, September 26, 2016

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

  A real treat. Mystery writer P.D. James loves the works of Jane Austin. Here she blends her skill as an author of mysteries with her love of Pride and Prejudice to craft a beautiful literary mystery. 

Set six years after Elizabeth and Darcy marry and are enjoying life at Pemberley, Darcy's magnificent estate, they are planning the annual ball in honor of Darcy's mother, Lady Anne. Close friends have arrived the night before to help with final preparations when Elizabeth's disgraced sister, Lydia arrives in an hysterical state announcing that she is sure her husband Wickham has just been murdered in the woods. As always Jane and Bingley are there to lend support while Darcy tries to shelter his sister Georgiana from any details. 

It will take all of Jane and Darcy's wit to find out what has really happened and rescue all the inhabitants of Pemberley from any ensuing scandal. 

Pages: 291

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5)Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

!!!!!!!! *^%#%^*!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is book 5 in the YA fantasy series called Throne of Glass, and every single book that Sarah J. Maas writes is better than the last.  I hope it never ends, but this is how I feel about waiting a whole year to get my hands on book 6:

Visions Trilogy by Lisa McMann

Crash (Visions, #1)Crash by Lisa McMann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This concept was fascinating (the MC gets visions of a future disaster in which someone she cares about dies, and she has to decide if/how to try and stop or change it). It's also a quick read, and Lisa McMann has always been a solid YA writer.

Pages: 256

Bang (Visions, #2)Bang by Lisa McMann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 2 is nice and edgy, which keeps things interesting.

Pages: 272

Gasp (Visions, #3)Gasp by Lisa McMann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a solid conclusion to a very readable trilogy with enjoyable characters.

Pages: 304

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Summary: "Sloane Emily Jacobs and Sloane Devon Jacobs, from very different worlds but both with problem families, meet in Montreal where they will stay in the same hotel while attending camp, one for figure skating, the other for ice hockey."

Oh dear, I really wanted to like this book. Lauren Morrill's first novel, Meant to Be, is incredibly witty and laugh-out-loud funny, but Being Sloane Jacobs comes no where close to that level of entertainment.

I was intrigued by the Parent Trap-like set-up, as well as the ice hockey/figure skating crossover, but it never quite fulfilled the potential of either of those stories. It was actually a bit boring. I was never eager to pick up the book to see what would happen next, as it never really hit hard on the emotions or suspense of the story. 

The dual perspectives was also confusing at times, as each Sloane's thoughts were not unique enough to feel like you were reading two different girls from two very different backgrounds. 

330 pages

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham

The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Fog has enveloped London and hinders the police and Albert Campion investigating blackmail letters, impersonation and then murder. Who is behind this plot to prevent Campion's friend, Meg from happily marrying Millionaire Geoffrey Levett? Why would they want to cause her grief by sending her photos of her dead, first husband on the eve of her wedding? Campion's efforts to help a friend led him to a much deeper and darker plot.

This is the first of the Albert Campion mysteries I have read. I have enjoyed the PBS broadcasts of shows based on these books so thought I'd give this one a try. This is a good, old-fashioned British mystery novel and I enjoyed the story. I plan to read more of her books in the future. This is technically book number 14 in this series, but each novel is a story alone story and they can be read in any order.

254 Pages

The Pierced Heart by Lynn Shepherd

The Pierced Heart by Lynn Shepherd

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula this literary mystery weaves all of the atmospheric creepiness of the original classic with the detail and writing style of an Victorian English novel. Charles Maddox is called in to investigate a potential donor for Oxford University before they accept this unknown Austrian lord's sizable donation. Arriving at Baron Von Reisenberg's home in the Viennese woods, Maddox expects a boring task of reviewing paperwork,  financial and family records, instead the dark brings mysterious noises and nightmares. This is the darkest of the Maddox mysteries, but this chilling tale of suspense, science and possible supernatural fiends will keep you reading.

Lynn Shepherd is also the author of the award winning The Solitary House, which is reminiscent of a Charles Dickens novel; A Fatal Likeness inspired by the lives of romantic writers Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron as well as my favorite so far, Murder at Mansfield Park.

238 Pages.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Moonshot by Alessandra Torre

Summary: "Baseball wasn't supposed to be a game of life and death...The summer that Chase Stern entered my life, I was seventeen. The daughter of a legend, the Yankees were my family, their stadium my home, their dugout my workplace. My focus was on the game. Chase & he started out as a distraction. A distraction with sex appeal poured into every inch of his six foot frame. A distraction who played like a god and partied like a devil. I tried to stay away. I couldn't. Then, the team started losing. Women started dying. And everything in my perfect world broke apart."

Well, I don't know what to say about this book. I don't know if it should even count as 399 pages because the chapters were so short, and the way it's printed leaves quite a few blank pages.

Anyway, it's a baseball romance novel similar to Whatever Life Throws at You, except Moonshot adds a weird layer of murder and mystery. Whatever Life Throws at You is above and beyond Moonshot in almost every way. The characters in Moonshot have absolutely NO depth. None. As the reader, I didn't learn anything interesting about Ty or Chase, and I didn't really care about them. All Ty thinks about is baseball and Chase, and literally nothing else! She has no real aspirations or dreams or drive to do anything with her life except be attached to the Yankees.

Even though I'm highly critical of this book, I did finish it in just one day. But I think it was more out of stubbornness to get it over with so I could figure out who the killer is and move on to a better book.

I was shocked by some turn of events and the killer is quite surprising! But I just can't deal with the way the last half of the book is written. It's just cringe-worthy and frustrating. The reviews on Goodreads let me down!

399 pages

"God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked" by Darrell Hammond

In his record setting 14 year stint on Saturday Night Live, Hammond did 107 impressions, most famously Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Chris Mathews, and Sean Connery.  I watched many of those episodes live and in reruns and was always impressed with how accurate he was with so many diverse and very real people.  In this autobiography, Hammond explains what he looks for and how he prepares each new impression as well as all of the hard work so many people contribute to put a new episode of SNL on air each week.  As a long time SNL fan, I really enjoyed his explanations of how the writers, performers, make-up, hair, wardrobe, interns, hosts, and Lorne Michaels work together to make it all look so fun and effortless.  He doesn't throw any of his former colleagues under the bus and even has good things to say about the hosts with whom he appeared.

However, the most compelling part of Hammond's autobiography is his continuing fight with mental illness, alcoholism, drug abuse, and cutting due to his physical and psychological torture by his parents all through his childhood growing up in Melbourne, FL.  His mother was a cruel and damaged person who took out her demons on her son, even when he was a toddler, by cutting his tongue with a knife, slamming his hands in doors, and more.  She said awful things to him and purposely scared him.  Hammond's father was a vet from WWII and Korea who suffered from flashbacks and untreated PTSD and constantly threatened to kill people who made him mad, even his own son.  His rages were terrifying, and Hammond coped by drinking beer at a young age and escaping into baseball, which his father loved.  His impressions also started at a young age, as that was how he was able to connect with his mother, who also liked to do impressions of their neighbors.  The only love he felt as a boy was from the family's African-American maid, Myrtise, to whom this book in dedicated.

Hammond's road to SNL was a long one; he was 39 when he was hired.  How he got there and stayed so long while battling mental illness and substance abuse throughout his tenure is fascinating, sad, horrifying, and incredibly impressive.  I highly recommend this book, especially to SNL fans.  Hammond is a true survivor.  273 pages.

"Cover Me" by L.A. Witt

Nick Swain is a paramedic answering a call in a bad neighborhood where several people have been shot when he has a gun shoved in his face and threatened with death for trying to treat one of the victims.  Although he makes it through the call, the friend of another victim who died at the scene labels him a racist and threatens to kill him, too.  The media then steps in to publicize all of this, and Nick's normal life is turned upside down.  He begins to have panic attacks and feels like he's being followed.  Andrew Carmichael, a police detective whose wounded partner Nick treated at the shooting, tries to help him cope while tracking down the two men who threatened Nick.  But Nick is becoming unwound, and when a bullet is left on the dashboard of his car, he feels doomed.

This was an exciting and well written story, especially the descriptions of Nick's anxiety and fear when he has to go back into the bad neighborhood to answer another emergency and is nearly mobbed.  He and Andrew connect with their high stress and dangerous jobs, and the author did well in explaining the helplessness both men feel in their situations.  I'd like to read more since this is the first book in a series.  325 pages (Kindle edition).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Split Second by Kasie West

Summary: "Seventeen-year-old Addie struggles to retrieve her lost memories and makes a startling discovery that challenges everything she's ever known about herself, her family, and her world." 

Split Second is the sequel to Pivot Point by Kasie West, and it's the final installment of the series. I read them fairly close together and it's a good thing I did. It's easy to forget the details of the story. 

I love the characters of these two books more than the actual story-telling. Split Second introduces Connor Bradshaw, and he upped the intensity of the book and the complexity. He was a nice addition! 

However, the story was a bit confusing and forced. Oh well! I still enjoyed both books and will continue to read all of Kasie West's books! 

360 pages

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Our Kids The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam

This book was cited in this year's Kid's Count data issued by our Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis at MU.  Putnam explores how the 'American Dream' of opportunity has evolved from his generation, 1950s, to the experience of current young people age 18 through early twenties.  He focuses on the differences in parenting, families, schooling, and community.  The comparisons are stark, and highlight the stratification of neighborhoods into high income/low income with little interchange between them.  He describes consequences of that de facto segregation, using interviews with contemporary young people and their parents, contrasted with the experience of members of his generation. The basic insecurity, whether of shelter, family, inadequate schools, and drugs and crime in communities, of the lowest income families has meant that many children are growing up in very precarious situations.  And yet we expect these kids to conform to the ideals of the American dream, to understand how to navigate college or trade school and move into stable jobs.   Putnam offers some solutions, in the final chapter, but focuses most on local action, and not much on the more sweeping changes that would be needed to have any true impact. 368 pages

Friday, September 16, 2016

Liar, Liar by K.J. Larsen

Summary: "Pants on Fire Detective Agency: We catch liars and cheats.' Burned by her run-around ex-husband Johnnie Ricco, Caterina DeLuca took the skills she mastered during marriage and opened her own private eye agency. Now she's a second-story woman, armed with a camera, ready to print 8x10 glossies for use in divorce court. The men in her big, whacko family, all Chicago cops--one a crook--aren't sure what to make of Cat's career choice. But hey, it's serve and protect! Then one day Rita Polansky retains Cat. Rita's liar-liar husband is the mysterious, but seriously hot, Chance Savino. Cat is hot on his heels when an exploding building hurls her out of her stilettos and into the hospital..."

Liar, Liar is the first installment of the Cat DeLuca mysteries. I listened to it as an audiobook, but wish I had read the print version. The narrator's voice was scratchy and awkward. Cat is about to turn 30, but the lady narrating the book sounded much older. It was a bit off-putting. 

Anyway, the entire set-up and story was a less-funny, less-unique version of the Stephanie Plum books. Cat's life had some funny moments, but overall, the mystery was lame and confusing. I found myself not caring about it by half-way through the book. She's also incredibly gullible and dim during a few cringe-worthy moments. Chance's encounters with "DeLucky" as he calls her were fun but did not occur often enough. 

I may give the rest of the series another shot in the future. 

237 pages

Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide by J.K. Rowling

Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (Pottermore Presents, #3)Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the perfect mix of old and new information for the hardcore HP fans who want just a few more insights and a bit more world building, because they can never seem to get enough.

Pages: 79

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Summary: "What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though. She leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starting position ...suddenly she's hoping he'll see her as more than just a teammate."

Catching Jordan is the first book in the Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally. I could not put it down! I finished it in less than a day because I couldn't get enough! I love football, and I loved this book. 

I don't know if this series would be everyone's cup of tea, but it was right up my alley for a fun, interesting and quick read. I wish Kenneally had dealt with some of the deeper issues in the book with more detail, as it was a bit superficial/stereotypical at times. 

283 pages

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This didn't move in the direction or at the speed I expected. I loved book one to extremes, and I confess I was quite sick and very distracted as I listened to this on audiobook. I probably should have waited, but I was anxious to read book 2. I am not sure if my love decreased due to the story or due to my poor reading behaviors and attention span while consuming this story.

Overall, I still enjoyed it, though it didn't make as much progress, in terms of the storyline, as I thought it would. I think I will listen to it again, right before book 3 is published, at which point I may change my rating.

I still love these characters and am fascinated by the world.

The villains are incredibly well-written and truly horrific.

Pages: 464

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is a modern twisty, psychological thriller.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Nora hasn't seen her best friend, Clare, since she fled their college town ten years earlier. Now, she's invited to a hen party (England's version of a bachelorette weekend) for Clare in a cabin in the woods. Nora debates about going and stirring up the past. She is happy being single and living in her tiny apartment in London while writing for a living and rarely seeing anyone. But another school friend living in London contacts her and they decide if they both go, it can't be that bad, right?

But secrets from the party members past are slowly revealed. It's not until the end of the book that all the story is revealed and the reader finds out who really did what, who said what and who survives the weekend.

Pages: 352

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand

Summary: A hilarious re-telling of the 9-day ruling of Lady Jane Grey over the English monarchy. 

I loooooove this book! Some of the jokes and imagery were hilarious! 

My Lady Jane is a refreshing and fun take on historical fiction. It's from the view of 3 protagonists: King Edward, Jane Grey, and Jane's arranged Gifford Dudley. It changes the history and adds some happily ever after to a quite tragic real-life story. 

491 pages

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an action-packed super villain story with some excellent twists. I was a bit sidetracked while reading (on audiobook), so I may be selling the story short with 4 stars. I spaced out, upon occasion, but I think that was likely me, and not the book.

Overall, I enjoyed it, and I plan to continue the series.

Pages: 416

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

This is book two in The Diviners trilogy by popular teen fiction author, Libba Bray. This series combines all my favorite fiction genres: historical fiction, mysteries, Gothic and paranormal. Character driven with enough detail to recreate 1927 New York City and weaves in consequences of real historical events.

You do not have to read the first book in the series: The Diviners, but it would give you background information on the main characters that could be helpful in understanding their group dynamic and who knows whose secrets. The conclusion of the first novel is  also alluded to throughout this story.

 Set in 1927 New York City the story begins with the readers meeting, Ling Chan, a dream walker. She can enter other peoples dreams and she can speak to the dead when she is dreaming and deliver messages to the living from them IF they want to be found. Ling meets Henry, a hopeful Broadway musician, who is also a dream walker and he can influence people's dreams and change them from sad to happy. Ling agrees to help him try to find an old friend of his in the dream world. Little do the two of them know, that a mysterious force has been released in New York City and people are going to sleep and not waking up. The sleeping sickness slowly destroys the body while the person sleeps.

Meanwhile, fresh from her adventure in Diviners, Evie O'Neil publicly announces that she is a diviner and has become the newest media darling with her own radio show doing psychic readings on objects that belong to the audiences dearly departed. But she has alienated her uncle and most of her friends with her new high-flying, partying life-style. But Henry and Ling will need Evie and all of her and Henry's friends to help them figure out what is causing the sleeping sickness and poisoning the dream world.

Pages: 624 but it is sooooo worth the journey with these characters!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Flawed (Flawed, #1)Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This YA dystopian novel has a few small flaws, but I mostly disregarded them and enjoyed the story.  It's fast-paced, and the world building is good.

The MC is a bit uninspired, and the ex-boyfriend is a stupid jerk (so it disgusts me the way she lets him talk to her), but other than that it's pretty fascinating. She's not the kind of MC I adore, but her story captivated me. And she did grow on me a bit as the story progressed.

The society is a mess, and I can't believe how inhumane the people have become. That also held my full attention.

Overall, I'm really happy that I read this, and I plan to continue the series.

Pages: 336

Bettyville by George Hodgman

George Hodgman has a unique voice which sets this memoir apart from any other.   He is remarkably observant, quick and witty, allowing him to be both laugh-out-loud funny and achingly tender while describing caring for his elderly mother with dementia.  Hodgman believes that he garnered this ability to entertain through his experience of growing up gay in a small and conservative rural Missouri town where he was forced to deflect attention through humor.  At a recent booktalk, an audience member began her question "I'm interested in growing up gay in a small town...".  Hodgman interjected, "it's too late for that, Honey."  He is as sharp in person as in print.

In the book, Hodgman who has led a successful editing career in NYC returns to his hometown to care for his sometimes cantankerous mother. Underlying themes include aging, communication, belonging, and, most of all, the importance of kindness in its variety of forms.  My heart swells at the unconventional depictions of kindness in this book.

                                                          288 pages

Monday, September 12, 2016

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those soul destroying stories that renders me incapable of writing a work appropriate review, so instead I've supplied a GIF that represents what this book did to me.

Pages: 448

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards

Six Months LaterSix Months Later by Natalie D. Richards
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting story, to some extent, but it had some serious issues, including basic failures by the author to appropriately research and represent the world that the story is set in (high school kids getting ready to transition to top notch colleges).

Also, the MC has about the least amount of curiosity and persistence possible, for this being a thriller/mystery novel. She basically solves the mystery by everything miraculously falling in her lap at the right moment, and not through any amount of asking questions, pushing boundaries, or actual sleuth-like behaviors.

The side characters are cookie cutter versions of stereotypes and often inconsistent.

"Okay, I forgive you."
"Wait, no I don't."
"Let's be friends again."
"I'm not sure we can ever be friends again." . . . ad nauseam.

However, despite these negatives, the heart of the plot is interesting (Chloe falls asleep a mediocre student and wakes up having lost 6 months of her life to now having the perfect GPA and boyfriend ---although it's not even remotely realistic that she could improve her GPA and college standing so much in just 1 semester), so it ended up being a quick read. I think it could be a significantly better and more thrilling story, given the plot it had to work with, but it's too surface-level and constantly convenient to really sink hooks into the reader.

Fast-paced = yes.

Thrilling = not so much.

Pages: 336