Monday, April 27, 2015

The Mystery of Meerkat Hill: A Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers (Precious Ramotswe's Very First Cases #2), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Adjoa Andoh (narrator)

Listening Library, October 2013 (original publication 2012)

This is as charming a story for children as stories of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency are for adults. Precious is intelligent and kind, and interested in the people around her. When two new children come to her school, a girl called Teb and her brother Pontsho, she quickly gets to know them.

When her new friends' family cow disappears, Precious, already an aspiring detective, sets to work to find the cow and bring her home.

This is as gentle and kind a story as Precious Ramotswe's adult adventures, and it's told, in both McCall Smith's words and Andoh's voice, in a style reminiscent of the classic English children's stories that enriched my childhood. This is a little treasure.

Highly recommended.

I bought this book.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult (author), with full cast narration

Recorded Books, April 2004 (original publication January 2004)

Brian and Sara Fitzgerald thought they had a complete and perfect family when their second child, daughter Kate, was born. Then at two, Kate is diagnosed with leukemia, and life changes, completely. Treatment can stabilize Kate for a while, but remissions turn into relapses. And none of them, not Sara, not Brian, and not son Jesse, is a close enough match for the donations, including bone marrow, Kate will need for any hope of a cure.

Sara and Brian take a gamble, at the limits of medical science and on the edges of medical ethics.  They use in vitro fertilization to conceive another daughter, who will be the closest possible genetic match for Kate.

Thirteen years later, Anna Fiztgerald files a lawsuit seeking medical emancipation from her parents.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas, by Matt Lewis

Plume, May 2015

Matt Lewis is a newly graduated marine biologist looking for his first job when he takes a position as an Observer on a commercial fishing vessel in Antarctic waters. He's a little disturbed when he first sees his new home and workplace, the Sudar Havid, an aging and much-modified fishing boat of Dutch ownership and South African crew. In the coming weeks, though, he gets to know the crew, the boat, and the life, and is fully a part of the crew by the time they run into real trouble.

They're a good half full of fish, and newly refueled off the Falklands, when they run into stormy weather and rough seas. Being so heavily laden gives them less maneuverability, and the captain and the fishing master are reluctant to stop fishing and reorient the boat. As the boat takes on water, Matt and others struggle to get the pumps started, without success. When the captain gives the order to abandon ship, it's late, and a desperate scramble. That's when the real struggle to survive begins.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, by Stacy Juba (author), Erin Moon (narrator)

Audible, February 2013 (original publication 2009)

Kris Langley has returned to her home town of Fremont, Massachusetts, and taken a job as editorial assistant and obit writer for the local paper. Part of that job is writing the "Twenty-five Years Ago Today" column, and while compiling items for the column from the paper's microfilm archive, she stumbles on the story of an unsolved murder. Diana Ferguson, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress, never arrived home one night after work at Rossi's Bar, and was found dead in the woods near the local college a few days later.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Summer on Lovers' Island (Jewell Cove #3), by Donna Alward

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250045188,  May 2015

Lizzie Howard is an ER doctor and loves what she does, but her father's death, her mother's Alzheimer's, and living up to the high standard of being Russ Howard's daughter has brought her to the edge of burnout, and a mistake in the ER. She's taken a leave of absence from the Springfield hospital, and has come to Jewell Cove to cover her friend Charlie's maternity leave.

Josh Collins is still recovering from the death of his wife Erin, and the broken state of their marriage at the time of her death. He's feeling not just unloved but unlovable, burying himself in his work as Jewell Cove's doctor, and the last thing he wants is to get involved with the doctor who's filling in for Charlie.

Both Josh and Lizzie are clear on just one thing: The last thing they want to do is get involved with each other.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Last Bookaneer, by Matthew Pearl

Penguin Press, ISBN 9781594204920, April 2015

In 1890s New York City, a mixed race young man by the name of Clover, working in a railroad dining car, meets a book peddler named Fergins. Fergins is English, and kind enough to lend Clover books when they meet. Eventually, Fergins starts telling Clover of his adventures as an assistant to one of the last great bookaneers.

In the nineteenth century, copyright law in nearly every country left the works of foreign authors, or works originally published in other countries, unprotected. This created the trade of bookaneering--stealing manuscripts before the authors could sell them. Writers lost out financially, but publishers made greater profits while book buyers got books comparatively cheaply.

In 1890, Fergins and his bookaneer employer, Penrose Davenport, learn that Robert Louis Stevenson, living in Samoa, is at work on what may be his last great masterpiece of a novel. And they are off on what will be the last great bookaneer escapade, before the new international copyright convention, at last protecting authors internationally, goes into effect on July 1.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis,by Thomas Goetz

Recorded Books, 2014

This is a dual biography of two very different men, the German doctor and medical researcher Robert Koch, and the British doctor and fiction writer Arthur Conan Doyle. Both men started out as small town medical doctors. Both became advocates of a rigorous version of the scientific method, and of the utility of that method in public health and everyday life.

Both departed from it in later life, in unexpected ways.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries, by Neil deGrasse Tyson (author) (narrator)

The Great Courses, August 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an important astrophysicist and also one of our current great science popularizers. This audiobook is a bit over three hours of Tyson talking about some of the biggest unanswered questions in science right now, as well as a bit of history about past mysteries, since resolved. Tyson is, as always, smart, informative, and easy to listen to. He's got a great voice as well as a great speaking manner.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

I bought this book.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch (author), Michael Page (narrator)

Tantor Audio, May 2009 (original publication June 2006)

Locke Lamora is an orphan living in the city of Camorr, an old city built on the even older ruins of an alien race's city. As an orphan, he's almost fortunate to get taken into the Thief Maker's gang, be taught the skills of a street thief, and subsequently be sold to Father Chains. Chains teaches his carefully selected family of orphans to be highly skilled con men--the Gentleman Bastards.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Burning For You, by Michele Dunaway

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250072351, April 2015

Struggling young professional photographer Taylor Krebs landed the good deal of taking the photographs for St. Louis' "Sexy Public Servants" charity fundraiser calendar. At the photo shoot, she meets Joe Marino, firefighter and Mr. September. Of course sparks fly.

And of course they both have issues, and are not looking for a romantic interest. But this wouldn't be a romance novel if they could easily avoid each other. Joe has a pro bono project near and dear to his heart: a book showcasing burn victims recovered and thriving despite their scars. He can sweeten the deal because his mother wants pictures, including a full family portrait, of their entire, large, extended Italian-American family--paid work.

And Taylor is also pursuing her master's degree, and needs a photo project. The burn survivors project has real promise.

Taylor and Joe are both likable and interesting, Their issues are real and believable. Their friends and families have a textured, lived-in feel to them.

And I can't say much without spoilers, but one of the mothers commits what I think is a real betrayal, but this opinion is apparently not shared by anyone in the book. Maybe I just have trust issues.

Despite that, this is an enjoyable book, well worth a few hours of your time.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.