Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Summary: "The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship's artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all."

I need therapy after finally finishing this book. It was incredibly creative yet horrifying and agonizing.

Illuminae is zombie horror disguised as sci-fi, and while it was intriguing, it was depressing as well. 

Amie Kaufman is a beautiful writer, but she has a sick way of twisting your insides out in ways you've never experienced with a book before. 

Proceed with caution. 

599 pages

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

From Pulpit to Podium to Policy by Richard Tobias

There is only one word for this book…polemic. Even if I agreed with the premise (which I do), its tone is off-putting and strident. The more I read, the more upset I became. It is so one-sided as to be offensive. There are better approaches to the topic that are less dogmatic.I really can’t recommend this book.

Posted for Donna Riegel

160 pages

The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End by Katie Roiphe

The author has done a long of research on her selected authors (Sontag, Sendak, Updike, among others) to depict the progress of their deaths. Its not as morbid as it sounds.  Reviews were overwhelming positive (“meticulous”, “poetic”, “[a] meditation on morality”). I don’t share those sentiments.  While the book was interesting reading, and I did finish it, I don’t know that it was all that “poetic”, though it was “meticulous”. I guess it rather much depends on whether or not you consider her subjects “great writers”. Even if I was to concede that Dylan Thomas is in the category, I pretty much changed my mind after reading Roiphe’s. Thomas came off as a drunken bore.  Of course, that’s merely my opinion.

Posted for Donna Riegel

321 pages

Animals in Photographs by Arpad Kovacs

Arpad Kovacs is the Asst. Curator of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. This book was produced in conjunction with an exhibit held in 2016. The title pretty much says it all. The pictures include daguerreotypes, early Victorian photos, and up to modern photos.  The book description says there are photos with “vibrant color”…but quite frankly, I couldn’t recall even one color shot. It is the black and whites that are the most engrossing. There is one shot called “Mother and Child” that is the most haunting and heart-rendingly sad photo I have ever seen about animals. The picture is very disturbing, but it captures your attention. The image will stay with you for a long time. I would recommend with caution.

Posted for Donna Riegel

112 pages

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Devil's Triangle by Catherine Coulter

If you like the older James Bond movies, give this book a try.  The villains are outlandish and crazy, and the plot has a lot of action scenes, some of them a bit hard to believe and far-fetched.  Sorry, not much sex in the book, and the characters are pretty well stereotyped.  I'd call it a fun beach read for those who like action novels.  495 pages.

100 Million Years of Food by Stephen Le

The subtitle of this book is 'what our ancestors ate and why it matters today.' Le explores how humans became omnivores, how we developed our tastes for some foods and think others are off limits.  He takes us on a worldwide explorations of cultures and developments, ending with some conclusions that are pretty mainstream, like 'get enough exercise', and others that are off beat, like 'eat less meat and dairy when young, and more when elderly'.  This is well researched, and an interesting read, although he does ramble at times.  294 pages.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Summary: "Desperate to uncover the Sultan's secrets by spying on his court, gunslinger Amani is taken captive by the forces of the Sultan, whose agenda seems less tyrannical than originally believed."

I cannot figure out why this book is almost 200 pages longer than the first one. It is slow and full of unnecessary drama and filler. While the first book is fast-paced and action-packed, this installment is quite the opposite. The first one is full of excitement and intrigue, but I was disappointed that it turned into another revolutionary story - isn't this story-arc overdone at this point? How many overthrown governments are readers really supposed to care about? 

Anyway, I'm still glad I read it, even though it was a chore to do so. The last 100 pages are incredible, and the ending is heart-wrenching in the most delicious and terrible way. 

518 pages

Monsters of Appalachia by Sheryl Monks

Monsters in Appalachia: StoriesMonsters in Appalachia: Stories by Sheryl Monks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of Gothic Southern/Midwestern short stories range from poignantly realistic, a daughter tanning with her mother, to mystical realism, an elderly couple cohabitating with Biblical monsters at the End of Days. Through her characters, Monks explores the balance between morality and circumstances, choice and complacency.

180 pages <

Monday, June 5, 2017

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

The One Safe PlaceThe One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is not for me. It's middle grade, but it's definitely lower middle grade. I thought that the ages of the characters (which I never really figured out or somehow missed), were upper middle grade, but the voices of the characters were incredibly young, more like 8 or 9 years old, which is fine but not what I was expecting based on the description and cover. Also, the characters actions and voices often seemed at odds for me, which I struggled with throughout. It's like the two never meshed in a way that felt honest.

The writing is what really killed it for me with this one. It just needed a lot more editing and better character development. There's a major disconnect, like the characters are caricatures, or ideas, instead of real people. I just didn't care about any of them.

As for the rest of the writing, there's a line that stuck with me from the first part of the story that basically sums up my dissatisfaction with the writing throughout the story. The whole book just sounds rough around the edges, like it lacked good editors. It's full of telling, instead of showing. The line said something about drinking water, and it read similar to, "it tasted orange and brown and gritty."...even though you can't taste orange. You see it. And if you tell me something tastes orange, I immediately think Koolaid or orange soda.

Also, you can't taste gritty. You feel it. I know that sounds nit-picky, but when I'm trying to understand a scene or moment, the word choices and senses impacted matter. Good choices have a strong impact and pull people into the story. Weak or bad choices are off-putting and lead to a disconnect for the reader. Basically, this story lacks imagery and description , and while I'm not a huge fan of excessive description, there has to be some level of successful scene setting in a story like this that's not all telling, as I want to see what's happening, not just read lists about things.

That basically sums up the writing throughout the book. It's just not as effective as it could/should be, because sentences and phrases are tossed around without any careful consideration for what is actually occurring. A good editor should have pushed for clarity and pointed out more of the issues, in this story, like the poor use of clues, the too obvious setups and story line, and all the telling instead of showing. I'm giving the author credit for having good intentions and just having some blinders on to the writing issues, because I think this story could be significantly better if it had been edited more thoroughly.  However, the actual editing, in the end,  is done by the author, so the reality is that it's not clear where the fault lies. The only thing is clear is that this needs more work.

I guess what it boils down to is that I just can't connect to this book, and typically I love this genre.

Maybe it's just me.

Pages: 304

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

The Girl Who Was Supposed to DieThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not bad. Fast-paced. This book would be good for reluctant readers.

For me, the story was thin. I don't hate it. I just would only recommend it to young, reluctant readers, rather than to everyone. It has mystery, but it lacks depth.

Pages: 213