Monday, July 21, 2014

Maverick Sheriff (Sweetwater Ranch #1), by Delores Fossen

Harlequin Intrigue, ISBN 9780373697823, August 2014

Jessa Wells, Assistant District Attorney, is determined to close an old case, a murder in which the prime suspect is the estranged mother of the local sheriff, Cooper McKinnon. But when her two-year-old adopted son, Liam, is badly injured in a hit-and-run accident that forces her car off the road, he needs a blood donation from the only person locally that shares his rare blood type--Cooper McKinnon.

Cooper McKinnon's wife and six-week-old son were killed in a flood two years ago, and while his wife's body was found, their baby's body never was. Could Liam be his lost son Cameron?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hideaway Cove (Windfall Island #2), by Anna Sullivan

Forever (Grand Central Publishing), ISBN 9781455525409, July 2014

It's barely a week since Maggie Solomon was nearly killed because she might have been the missing Stanhope heir, and DNA testing revealed that she isn't. Her friend and business partner, Jessi Randal, has realized that she's a likely next target, since her family history also makes her a possible heir. And there's a limit to how long she can protect herself by pretending the possibility doesn't exist. Genealogist Holden Abbot is on their side, but he's not the only one who can study public records and identify her as a possibility.

She's also finding Abbot way too attractive. Jessi's last relationship left her alone and pregnant at sixteen, and her son Benji, now seven, is her primary concern. Jessi doesn't want either of them getting attached to another man who won't stay in their lives--and Hold Abbot is a handsome, smooth-talking southerner who doesn't share anything about his personal life. Not a good risk, she thinks, not a risk she's going to take for herself or Benji.

Paw and Order (Chet and Bernie #7), by Spencer Quinn

Atria Books, ISBN 9781476703398, August 2014

Chet, ex-police K9, and Bernie Little, private detective, are back, and this time they're learning their way around the nation's capital, a town that Chet is fairly sure is called Foggy Bottom.

When they leave New Orleans at the end of their last case, Bernie decides that he and Chet should make a surprise visit to Susie Sanchez in Washington, presumably because it worked out so well when Susie made the surprise trip to see them in NOLA. What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bon Bini Beach, by Suzanne Vermeer

Open Road Integrated Media, ISBN 9781480443778, May 2014

Dominique Werner and Lilian deGroot, Dutch college students, jump at the chance for a month's summer vacation at an Aruba beach resort where Do's father's company owns a time-share condo. It's a new and strange experience for them, but they start to settle in, and meet other young people, Dutch, Canadian, and American, to party with and to have summer romances with.

And then one night, when they are enjoying the luxuries of Flamingo Beach, Lilian's new boyfriend, Marc, leaves her for a few minutes, and when he returns, she is gone.

He assumes she's ditched him and gone back to the condo with Do. Do assumes she's with Marc, until they meet up the next day and discover neither of them has any idea where she is.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Baudolino, by Umberto Eco (author), George Guidall (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781402528149, October 2002

Baudolino is the twelve-year-old son of a peasant in twelfth-century Italy when he finds Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy and Roman Emperor, lost in the local pea-soup fog. Impressed by the young man's cleverness, Barbarossa quickly cuts a deal with Baudolino's father to take him back to his court. Baudolino quickly discovers that his knack for creative storytelling, not to say outright lying, gets him a lot further than boring old factual truth, which in fact almost always gets him in trouble.

Many years later, in 1204, Baudolino rescues a Byzantine official, Niketas, from the sack of Constantinople, and tells him what may or may not be the true story of his colorful life.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hunter's Horn, by Harriette Simpson Arnow

Michigan State University Press, ISBN 9780870134371, December 1997 (original publication 1949)

I got yer Great American Novel right here.

In the years just prior to American entry into World War II, Nunn Ballew is raising his family, trying to restore the family land that he bought back with money earned in the mines, and hunting an especially pernicious red fox, known as King Devil, who has been plaguing the district and killing far too much livestock since Ballew's return five years earlier. Nunn is obsessed with King Devil, and during fox season, it's a major distraction from needed farm work, which he knows is vital to his long-term plans.

But this isn't just Nunn's story. It is every bit as much the story of his wife Milly, his daughter Suse, the local midwife Sue Annie, and an interconnected web of extended family and neighbors in the area of Little Smoky Creek, Kentucky.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Blue Midnight (Blue Mountain #1), by Tess Thompson

Booktrope, ISBN 9781620154601, June 2014

Blythe Heywood is trying to rebuild her life after her marriage of thirteen years ends when her husband leaves her for a young associate at his law firm. She's submerged everything in trying to be the perfect wife to Michael and mother to their two children, Lola and Clementine, and she's not really sure who she is anymore.

But as she packs up her belongings and moves herself and the two girls across town to a smaller house, she finds a scrape of paper with a phone number and a name.

Finn Lanigan. A man she met at a music festival in Idaho, and knew for three days before returning home to marry her fiancé and live the safe, secure life she has sought since childhood. Finn had wanted her to stay, and had told her to call if she ever changed her mind.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Genius Dilemma, by Dustin Grinnell

CreateSpace, ISBN 9781495998423, February 2014

So, I just read a self-published novel by someone I never heard of before. And I don't regret it!

Richard Powell, CEO of pharma startup Cerebrical has developed what may be a breakthrough smart drug, able to transform the merely intelligent into true geniuses. Colonel David Landry and his boss, General Beranger, want super-smart soldiers for their elite Leviathan unit, which aims to assassinate threats to world peace before they become threats to world peace. Alan Pierce, brilliant neuroscientist, wants a cure for Alzheimer's Disease, to save his mother. Thomas Amani, who has just learned that the recently assassinated President Lwazi of Kenya was his father, wants to return to Kenya and try to defuse the tension between the Kambezi and the Berani. The Berani want revenge on the Kambezi because, despite ample evidence that the Americans did it, they believe the Kambezi must be behind the assassination.

David Landry's most recent successful mission was killing Lwazi to prevent him from launching a genocide against the Kambezi. Landry, of course, does not see himself as part of the problem.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Shot in the Bark (Dog Park Mystery #1), by C.A. Newsome

Amazon Digital Services, September 2011

Lia Anderson and her dogs, Honey and Chewy, are regulars at the Mount Airy dog park. So are her boyfriend, Luthor Morrissey, and his dog, Viola. When Lia and Luthor break up and have an argument at the dog park, quite a few of their friends and acquaintances witness it. When in the predawn hours of the following morning, Lia finds Luthor dead of apparent suicide at the dog park, she's emotionally devastated--by the shockingly bloody sight, and by guilt at the thought that she was the cause.

But Luthor didn't commit suicide. And the faked suicide wasn't staged by someone who, like Lia, knew he was left-handed. Police detective Peter Dourson has to figure out which of the dog park regulars--a collection of individuals who for the most part have nothing in common except dogs--had the motive and opportunity to kill Luthor Morrissey.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot (author), Cassandra Campbell (narrator), Bahni Turpin (narrator)

Random House Audio, February 2010

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a poor, black tobacco farmer and mother of five, sought treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins. In the course of her treatment, without seeking consent, doctors took cells from her tumor for research unrelated to her treatment.

The HeLa cell line became the first immortal human cell line, and the basis for numerous major medical and scientific breakthroughs. Her husband and children didn't find out about this until twenty years after her death, and when they did, it changed their lives.

In alternating chapters, Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Henrietta, her illness, and her family's struggles in the years following, and her own research into the woman behind the cell line, including meeting her family and developing a friendship and partnership with Henrietta's daughter Debra. We learn the importance of the HeLa cell line, the research whose results we all benefit from today. We learn about the family, hardworking, battling poverty and lack of education, deeply affected by the loss of Henrietta--and without health insurance while the HeLa cells went on to be a multi-million dollar industry.

Skloot explores not just the experiences of the family, but also the medical ethics issues involved and how medical ethics evolved in part in response to the ramifications of the HeLa cells, and in part in response to other social changes. At the time, doctors at research and teaching hospitals routinely took samples from patients for research without seeking consent. The Tuskegee syphilis experiment, begun in 1932, would continue for another two decades after Henrietta's death, until 1972. Even now, with better, stronger informed consent rules and procedures, it's nearly impossible for patients to either have any control over what happens to their tissues after removal, or to derive any financial benefit if, like HeLa, they become very, very profitable. This book includes a very thoughtful exploration of why patients have so far been denied that input and control, and how the current rules do and do not benefit science. It's a complex issue, or rather set of issues, and the book would be worthwhile if only for this discussion of the human and scientific ramifications of these questions.

Yet that's a small part of the story here, and Henrietta's experiences in the late forties and early fifties, juxtaposed with the experiences of her children, especially her daughter Debra, and of Rebecca Skloot as she does her research, decades later, make for a deeply moving and compelling story.

The audio edition includes an interview with Rebecca Skloot.

Highly recommended.

Book trailer:

I borrowed this book from the library.