Monday, January 21, 2019

Killer at the Cult (Reverend Annabelle Dixon #6), by Alison Golden

Alison Golden, January 2019

Reverend Annabelle Dixon is frustrated over her apparently stalled relationship with Inspector Mike Nicholls, and anyway, he's off at a police professional development training conference. While he's gone, she has sworn off sweets, and is concentrating on getting the children of her congregation ready for their performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

But something odd is going on in her little village. New people have appeared in the village, living in a large house that's been empty for years, and selling flowers, produce, and crafts. And they keep trying to talk to people about their beliefs--veganism, and the rituals of St. Petrie and Lord Darthamort. Her flock is very disturbed, fearing they may be a dangerous cult. Annabelle isn't at all convinced of that, but figures she should check them out. She drops by for a visit, is invited to stay for dinner--and afterwards is persuaded to stay for their bonfire and ritual. The ritual involves the men donning animal costumes and chasing the women, and she is soon running through the woods around the house--where she trips over a dead body.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3), by Seanan McGuire (author), Michelle Dockrey (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, January 2018

Life at Miss Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children continues, even after one student murdered another, her sister took her away back through their door to the Moors, and new students have arrived. Two of the new students are Cora, whose door went to a water world where she was a mermaid, and Nadya, who went to a different water world, where she was a Drowned Girl. They were both in their different worlds, heroes.

One day, while they're out on the grounds together, a young woman named Rini drops from the sky into the school's pond, and demands to be taken to her mother, Sumi.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Spies That Bind (Gallagher Girls 0.5), by Ally Carter (author), Rebecca Soler (narrator)

Audible Studios, June 2018

Twelve-year-old Cammie Morgan is about to start her first semester at her new school, The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. Her mother is also beginning there as the new Headmistress, after a career as a spy.

Oh, yes. Gallagher Academy isn't just any exclusive private girls' school. It's a training academy for future female spies, founded during the Civil War, after Gillian Gallagher prevented an assassination attempt on Abraham Lincoln. (No, not the one at the Ford Theater.)

Arriving at the Gallagher Academy is as stressful as starting any new school, for Cammie, and for her fellow first-year classmates. Cammie worries she's only there because she's a legacy. Her roommate Liz Sutton worries she doesn't belong because she's one of the few who isn't a legacy and neither of her parents has been a spy. Their other roommate is black girl from the UK whom some believe doesn't belong there because she's the first student ever who isn't an American.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Lewis Barnavelt #1), by John Bellairs (author), George Guidall (narrator)

Recorded Books, February 2018 (original publication June 1973)

In 1948, Lewis Barnavelt is orphaned at the age of ten when his parents are killed in a car crash. His Uncle Jonathan becomes his  guardian, and Lewis takes a long bus ride to a small town in New York, where Uncle Jonathan collects him and takes him to his home at the top of the very well-named High Street.

But Jonathan Barnavelt is not your average bachelor uncle who has suddenly inherited his brother's son. He and his neighbor & good friend, Mrs. Zimmerman, are witches. Jonathan's house previously owned by Isaac Izard and his wife, Serenna, who were also witches--but not good witches. They're dead, but not entirely gone. There's a clock, with a sinister purpose, somewhere in the walls of the house.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Down Among the Sticks & Bones (Wayward Children #2), by Seanan McGuire (author, narrator)

Macmillan Audio, June 2017

In Every Heart a Doorway, we encountered Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, and the young people there who had stumbled through doors that shouldn't have existed, into worlds where utterly different rules apply. This novella is the story of the experiences of Jack and Jill, a.k.a. Jacqueline and Jillian.

They're identical twins, born to a couple who wanted children mainly for reasons of social standing. When they learned the pregnancy was twins, deeply, desperately hoped that the babies would be a girl and a boy, completing their perfect nuclear family in one shot.

But it's two girls. Jacqueline becomes her mother's designated Perfect Lady of a daughter, dressed in frilly dresses, and taught to be obsessively clean, and to never do anything adventurous at all. Jillian becomes the almost-son for her father, short hair, sports, getting dirty all the time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Fatal Fall (A Shandra Higheagle Mystery #8), by Paty Jager (author), Ann M. Thompson (narrator)

Windtree Press, January 2019

This is number eight in a series, so there is backstory for these characters that I don't know except for what I picked up in the story. This didn't create any problem in following this story; it just hints a more behind these characters than what's on the page here.

Shandra Higheagle is Native American, and sometimes has dreams that feature her grandmother sharing, in somewhat opaque fashion, information she may need. She's also a potter, with a growing reputation, and a craft show she's supposed to be selling her pottery at in a couple of weeks. It's really not convenient that she's sick, which is why she's at Dr. Porter's office, and finds out that he's had to rush home because something happened to his aunt. Shandra, incurably curious about people and odd events, decides to swing by there--especially once she realizes her boyfriend, Detective Ryan Greer, is also headed there.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus, by Bill Wasik (author), Monica Murphy (author), Johnny Heller (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, July 2012

This is a cultural history of rabies. Bill Wasik is a journalist, and Monica Murphy a veterinarian, and they've put together an amazing, and amazingly readable, account of the history, mythology, and science of rabies, the only disease we know that has a nearly 100% fatality rate.

Rabies kills, and while it's doing that, it drives is victims mad, with interludes of lucidity when they know what's happening to them. It also, though most of history, mostly reached us through the most familiar of our domestic animals, our dogs.

This is perhaps why rabies seems so tied to our myths of vampires and zombies.

Falling for the Marshal (Marrying a Marshal #4), by Natalie Dean

Kenzo Publishing, January 2019

Samantha VanHellen is living a privileged but very boring life in Boston. She wants marriage and children, but Charles, the man she once thought she'd be marrying, keeps behaving like he's courting her, and never quite proposing. She's closing in on old maid territory, Charles is also paying court to a much younger woman, and Samantha is tired of being treated as a brainless appendage by both Charles and her father. When she sees an ad for a mail order bride from Beau Tibbets, a man in Cypress Springs, Texas, she decides to respond.

Tom Wilson is a deputy federal marshal in Dry Gulch, Texas, but he's been sent to Cypress Springs to fill in for a marshal who is off visiting his wife's family. Tom is happy to get away from Dry Gulch for a month, because he's feeling increasingly harassed by a widow in town who is a very nice lady, but who is determined that he is going to be her second husband.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel, by Candace B. Pert (author, narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9780743541398, September 1997

Candace Pert, a neuroscientist and discoveror of the opiate receptor, recounts both the intricate relationship between mind, body, and emotions, and her own career uncovering those connections and the neurochemical basis of them. Beginning her career in the early 1970s, gender was an even bigger obstacle than it is now, which no cultural or legal expectation that it shouldn't be. Sometimes she had to fight for recognition of her contributions; other times she had to fight to be able to do the work at all.

But along the way, she made major discoveries, and had life-changing experiences. The mind-body dichotomy was still unquestioned scientific orthodoxy in her early days. She doesn't say, but I will: Rene Descartes has a lot to answer for. Pert's work with neuropeptides and their receptors helps to rebuild the essential unity of the person, mind, body, and emotions, and uncover the connections between our emotional health and our physical health.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Cyteen (Cyteen 1-3) (Alliance-Union), by C.J. Cherryh (author), Gabra Zackman (narrator), Jonathan Davis (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, March 2012 (original publication 1988)

I will confess it up front. I love this book.

Yes, it's long. It was originally published in three volumes in paperback, in the late 1980s. That made sense from a physical size point of view; it doesn't make sense in terms of the story. This is, like The Lord of the Rings, a long, single novel.

It is, as another review commented, a murder mystery in which the mystery is never solved, and features a conspiracy which is partially but never completely explained. We don't get all the answers.

That's part of what makes it the fascinating, complex book that it is.