Thursday, February 11, 2016

Unleashed (Sydney Rye #1), by Emily Kimelman

Createspace, ISBN 9781463581978, September 2011

Joy Humboldt is going through rather a challenging patch in life. She's finally broken up with her manipulative jerk of a boyfriend. The next morning, she heads off to the pound to adopt a dog--a huge mixed breed she names Blue--but later that day, at her job at a barista at a coffee shop that's not Starbucks, she mouths off to a customer she thinks is being unreasonable. It's really quite reasonable, given her behavior, when her boss fires her on the spot.

But then a neighbor connects her with a friend of a friend, and she buys a dog walking business. Things are looking up, right?

Then she finds one of her new clients dead. The woman who sold her the business has disappeared. And the police seem strangely interested in only certain aspects of the crime.

Cover Reveal -- Finding Me, by Dawn Brazil

Something I rarely do--a cover reveal for an upcoming book, which I will also be reviewing soon. Here's the beautiful front cover:

And here's the full cover:

Finding Me is the first volume in the Finding Me Trilogy, and volumes two and three will be out later this year. (No waiting years to find out what happens!)

Chloe Carmichael already has enough going on in her life, with her mother's controlling behavior extending even to insisting that she date the "right" boy, and laser-like focus on appearances above all. One of her two sisters died last summer, in a stupid accident and since then it's grown even worse. Chloe no longer has the escape of boarding at school with her best friend, but instead has become a commuter. She has also become responsible for overseeing her youngest sister, who is being allowed to begin attending their exclusive private school early, to provide "structure" for her.

She really doesn't need to discover that she has seemingly magical powers, including seeing the future, or to find out that she's not who she thinks she is--and her two sisters, the living one and the dead one, may not be, either.

There's lots of excitement and mystery here, and my review will be coming soon.

Dawn Brazil:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Chimes, by Charles Dickens (author), Richard Armitage (narrator)

Audible Studios, December 2015 (original publication 1844)

Everyone knows A Christmas Carol, but Dickens wrote four more Christmas stories over the next few years. This is the second in the series, the story of poor porter Trotty Veck, who has grown discouraged and pessimistic about the moral worthiness of humanity.

He treasures the Chimes, the church bells, though, and one year, between Christmas and New Year's, the Chimes, or the spirits that live within them, decide to teach him an important lesson. In one harrowing night, he sees terrible visions of what will be, or might be, in nine years' time. His friends, family, and neighbors face terrible challenges. Trotty sees both what hardships they face, and the crushing unfairness of the law--and how they bear up under it, and what motivates choices that he previously thought could never be explained except by pure, willful evil.

It's a darker story than A Christmas Carol, but in the end has the same moral message.


I bought this book.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon (author), Tara Sands (narrator)

Tantor Audio, April 2015

When letters were dispatched to available wicked witches, wizards, sorcerers, mad scientists, vampires, and beast lords announcing an opening for a a new Master of the Castle at Castle Hangnail, the resident staff did not expect a twelve-year-old girl. Molly has one of the invitation letters, though, and insists she is a genuine wicked witch, and the minions don't want Castle Hangnail to get decommissioned for lack of a master by the Board of Magic, so...

When Molly starts making good progress on the required tasks to be confirmed as the new master, even the most skeptical of the minions, Major Domo, starts to become hopeful.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, by Diana Pavlac Glyer (author), James A. Owen (illustrator)

Kent State University/Black Squirrel Books, ISBN 9781606352762, November 2015

As a teenager, Diana Pavlac Glyer became fascinated by the Inklings, and how this group of accomplished writers may have influenced each other's work. Unfortunately, she found a great deal about the Inklings generally and as individuals, and almost nothing about how the Inklings may have engaged in mutual criticism and collaboration. Reading every published work about the group and its members brought her no closer, and at last she plunged into the primary sources--the letters, journals, and other papers left behind by the Inklings.

Few writing groups become famous, and the Inklings are among the most famous. Aside from writing and residence in or around Oxford, the Inklings were a diverse group, of varied professions, backgrounds, and interests. As Glyer lays it out, this very diversity is one of the reasons for their success: They each had something to learn and something to teach; they challenged each other, and reacted to challenges from the others; they had sparked new ideas and new directions from encounters with new ideas and perspectives.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

This Gulf of Time and Stars (Reunification #1), by Julie E. Czerneda (author), Allyson Johnson (narrator)

Audible Studios, November 2015

This is the first book of a trilogy, but that trilogy is the third trilogy in a larger series. Despite that, while it's a bit confusing at first, enough backstory is salted in along the way that even coming to it cold I was able to catch up and enjoy the story.

We begin with a very dark scene, with individuals of some power and status within the various races of the Trade Pact meeting in secret. They're there to plot the destruction of the Clan, a race newly invited to join the Trade Pact. The Clan are a mysterious race, who can pass for human and live in secret among humans--and can "port" themselves and objects from one place to another. They can also control the minds of others, and erase memories. Terrifying, right?

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On, by Debbie Macomber

Ballantine Books, ISBN 9780553391923, February 2016

Leanne Patterson and her daughter-in-law Nichole are embarking on new lives in the aftermath of facing up to their husbands' infidelity. Leanne had put up with Sean's infidelity for thirty-five years before discovering that son Jake was also cheating on his wife. Nichole, when she learned the truth, is not willing to put up with it. They both file for divorce. Two years have passed; Leanne's divorce is final, but Jake is still fighting Nichole on it.

The two women, closer than ever, having taken apartments in Portland across the hall from each other. They're both volunteering as part of their plan for moving on and living healthy lives not focused on bitterness and resentment. Leanne is teaching an English as a second language class; Nichole is volunteering at Dress for Success. Nichole is also facing the challenges of being a single mother, and of having to send three-year-old Owen to Jake every other weekend. Both women have full lives, busy and challenging.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Easy Innocence (Georgia Davis #1), by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Kindle Edition, April 2008 (original publication 2002)

This is the first of the Georgia Davis mysteries, which of course I read after having read the fourth, the most recent. This is not generally the order to read a mystery series in, but it worked out well this time.

Georgia is a Chicago cop, currently suspended for egregious violations of procedure, and working as a private investigator. Her former and perhaps future boss, Dan O'Malley, refers a client to her, Ruth Jordan, sister of Cam Jordan, a mentally challenged man charged with murdering a high school girl in the woods, during an unofficial high school party.

Cam is a registered sex offender, but his past offenses are public masturbation, and he's never done anything remotely violent. Yet the case against him is moving strangely fast--a few weeks for things that normally take months. What's going on?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Two of Us, by Andy Jones

Atria Books/Washington Square Press, ISBN 9781501109515, February 2016

William Fisher and Ivy Lee meet and embark on a nineteen-day, sex-filled fling that, in the end, seems not to be just a fling. They've realized they're meant for each other.

And that is the start of a roller coaster ride over the next year. Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is more challenging. Can they manage it?

This is literary fiction, so plot isn't really a factor here. That said, the characterization is very good. Fisher--he prefers to be called Fisher--tells the story in first person. He's struggling with issues from his own past; he's struggling to understand things Ivy says and does, including her divorcing brother's extended stay in their flat.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Maximum Security (Dog Park Mystery #3), by C.A. Newsome (author), Jane Boyer (narrator)

Carol Ann Newsome, June 2014 (original publication November 2013)

Lia Anderson is back, and her current foster dog, Max, is a canine Houdini, a genius at finding gaps in the dog park fence. And one fine day in October, Max returns from her solo exploration of the adjoining woods carrying a human femur.

And it's not very old.

Max is easily able to lead Lia and Jim back to the body, or rather, the bones, almost entirely stripped of its flesh. And once the bones are identified as George Munze (spelling is a guess; I listened to the audiobook), Lia is looking for his missing dog, Daisy, while her boyfriend, Cincinnati homicide detective Peter Dourson, is looking for a killer.