Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Andersen (author), Julia Whelan (narrator)

Audible Audio, December 2014 (original publication 1845)

This is a lovely reading of Andersen's story of Gerda and her friend Kai, who becomes contaminated by the shards of a demon-made magic mirror, and succumbs to the lure of the Snow Queen.

Gerda sees the change in her friend when he is affected by the shards, and when he vanishes, she will not believe that he is dead. She sets off on quest to find him, armed chiefly with her courage, loyalty, and good heart.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters, From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima, by James Mahaffey (author), Tom Weiner (narrator)

Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 9781482995473, February 2014

This is a highly readable account of the history of atomic power as seen through its accidents and safety failures. That might sound like it's anti-nuclear power, but in fact Mahaffey is a long-time advocate. His major point is that in fact significant accidents are fairly rare, and that with a few notable exceptions, serious casualties are even rarer.

His account starts with a bizarre episode in the Ozarks in the late 19th century, with the accidental discovery of what eventually proved to be a radium mine.

I will say that the discussion of radium and its various uses, not just for night-glow dials but its medical uses, both science-based and as "mineral water," is by itself worth the price of admission.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe (No. 1Ladies' Detective Agency #15), by Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, ISBN 9780307911544, September 2014

Grace Makutsi, growing more comfortable in her position as the wife of Phuti Radiphuti, owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Company, and as partner in the No. Ladies' Detective Agency, has embarked on a new business. She's opening a restaurant, the Handsome Man's Deluxe Café. Phuti has his doubts about Grace's blithe confidence, but he loves her and supports her. Her lawyer helpfully introduced her to a chef, who goes by the single name of Thomas, and who equally helpfully knows a waiter and waitress he can employ.

What could be more promising?

Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe has taken on the puzzling case of a woman who has apparently lost her memory and has no idea who she is. She's been kindly taken in by Mr. Sengupta and his sister Miss Rose, owners of a very successful stationery business. Unfortunately, if she cannot prove her identity and that she is in Botswana legally, she will be sent back to South Africa.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison (author), Kyle McCarley (narrator)

Tantor Audio, June 2014

Maia is the youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor of the Elflands, and he's lived his entire life in exile from the imperial court. He has visited the imperial court just once, when he was eight, for his mother's funeral.

Now, at eighteen, a messenger arrives from court with the shocking news that his hated father and all three unknown brothers have died in an airship crash. He is now Emperor. And while he's been taught court etiquette, he's been taught nothing suitable for governing an empire. Maia is alone at court, with no friends, no allies, and no knowledge of either governing, or the common culture of the court. What he does know is that whoever killed his father and brothers didn't intend him to inherit, and could kill him at any point.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, by Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick

Portfolio/Penguin Group USA, ISBN 9781591848073, December 2014

Guy Kawasaki has been in the forefront of effective promotion of products, services, and one's own skills and talents since his days as the Chief Evangelist for the Apple Macintosh, when personal computers were the exciting new toy and not an appliance we all carry in our pockets. Instead of being left behind by the rapidly changing world of online computing and social media, he has remained a leader, and has become of a great teacher of how to use the same skills and tools for your own benefit. If you have a social media presence--and it's getting harder and harder to function, especially as a working professional or entrepreneur, without one, you want to use these tools effectively.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, by Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt

AMACOM Books, ISBN 9780814433263, August 2014

Coiné and Babbitt make the case that the future of business--any business, any industry--is social. Every company, big or small, business to business or business to consumer, must not only have a presence on social media, but an active, interactive presence. They need to make social media presence not just a marketing tool but an integral part of how the company operates, at every level and in every function.

And on the "every level" point: They also maintain that the best-run, most successful companies will be those that make their organization as flat as possible, ideally so flat that only the CEO has a title, and only because that's necessary to represent the company to the government and the media. The goal of this book is to both make the case for this radical viewpoint, and to lay out the basics of achieving it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Murder of Adam and Eve, by William Dietrich

Burrows Publishing, ISBN 9780990662105, September 2014

Nick Brynner is the school nerd, genuinely enjoying school work and a bit socially awkward. He and his mom are struggling financially, though, and if he wants to go to college, getting a scholarship would really help. With the help of a surprisingly long-term substitute teacher, Mr. Faunas, he sets to work on a research project for History Day.

As part of that project, he's going to visit an abandoned fort in Puget Sound, which has been off limits for almost a century. There are strange stories about people disappearing there, and mysterious forces, but that's ridiculous--isn't it?

Nick reaches the island, finds the remains of the fort, and after sketching a map of the place, investigates a staircase down into the ground, finds a locked door, finds the key...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A New York Christmas (Christmas Stories #12), by Anne Perry (author), Saskia Maarleveld (narrator)

Recorded Books, November 2014

In the latest of Anne Perry's Christmas novellas, Jemima Pitt, twenty-three-year-old daughter of Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, travels to New York with her young friend, Delphinia Cardew. Delphinia is on her way to marry Brent Albright at Christmas time, and her father is too ill to make the trip. At just nineteen, she needs Jemima as a companion and chaperone.

Once in the opulent home of the Albright family, Jemima soon learns that Delphinia's absent mother did not die when Delphinia was young, but merely left, for reasons no one wants to discuss. When Brent's older brother Harley explains that Maria Cardew has led a scandalous life, and is new in New York, possibly planning to disrupt the wedding, Jemima is happy to agree to help find her, and persuade her to stay away.

This is, of course, a terrible mistake.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng (author), Cassandra Campbell (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, June 2014

1970s small-town Ohio is a tough place to be a mixed race family. James Lee is Chinese-American, born in California of Chinese-born parents. Marilyn Lee is white, from Virginia, permanently estranged from her mother because she married James. Their three children, Nathan, Lydia, and Hannah, don't know much about the heritage and past of either parent, because James and Marilyn agreed on their wedding day to never talk about the past.

This isn't even helpful for them, much less their kids.

The book opens with a tragedy. Middle child Lydia, blue-eyed favorite of both her parents, is missing, and soon will be found at the bottom of a nearby lake.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Broken (Apostles #1), by Shelley Coriell

Forever, ISBN 9781455528493, April 2014

Kate Johnson is in hiding.

Three years ago, her brother tried to kill her, and tried again after she left the hospital. Kate Johnson is a new name. She's gone from broadcast journalist to home health aide and online jewelry maker. For the last several months, she's been working for old soldier Smokey Joe, who is happy to run her online business in exchange for having someone who is patient and competent with his PTSD, and who doesn't think he's helpless because he's blind.

But the idyll is coming to an end. Someone has been killing women broadcast journalists, every four weeks, with the exact MO that Kate's brother Jason used when he tried to kill her. The killer has been dubbed the Broadcaster Butcher, and there's no doubt in Kate's mind that he's trying to force her out of hiding so that he can finish the job of killing her.

And FBI Special Agent Hayden Reed is on the trail of the Butcher, and has connected the unsuccessful attack on Katrina Erickson--Kate's former name--to the Butcher.