Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Marjorie's Cozy Kitten Cafe (Books 1-3), by Katherine Hayton (author), Kirsty Gilmore (narrator)

Chirp Audio, April 2020

Marjorie Hardaway runs a kitten cafe in the small New Zealand town of Hanmer Springs. Selling good coffee and excellent pastries, she encourages and facilitates the adoption of the kittens wandering all over her cafe, charming the customers. Unfortunately, her business might be about to go under. A local developer is planning to open a competing business--in front of hers, building on a section of land she had thought couldn't be developed, and thus cutting off the beautiful view her cafe currently has.

Even this concern fades into the background, though, when the police ask her to take in a little calico kitten--who was apparently a witness to the murder of one of her neighbors.

Monday, November 30, 2020

How to Raise an Elephant (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency #21), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Adjoa Andoh (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781980094040, November 2020

Charlie is lured by one of his "friends" into providing temporary care for a baby elephant--and borrowing Mma Ramotswe's tiny white van to transport the elephant. He's hiding the elephant at his uncle's house, in the rather stark back yard, chained to a metal pole in the ground. But Charlie is doing his best to take good care of the baby, feeding formula from a bottle, and having his young cousin watch the elephant to be sure he doesn't get tangled up while Charlie is at work.

He did not, of course, tell Mma Ramotswe what he was planning to move in her van. The strange, earthy odor and the slightly bent tailgate, though, do arouse the curiosity of Mma Ramotswe and, especially, her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter, by Laura Marchant

Laura Marchant, June 2020

Laura Marchant, in her fifties, found herself downsized out of the insurance company, thankfully with a good redundancy payout. It wasn't enough to retire on, but it was enough for her to take some time to figure out what she's going to do next. Ultimately, she decides she's going to start a pet sitting/dog walking business. But first, she tells us about her experience as a dog owner, and  Brece, the Golden retriever who became the first dog she acquired as an adult.

And this is where I started to get annoyed.

She proceeds to describe a number of unwise decisions, starting with determining whether the breeder she was getting her puppy from was aa puppy farm (British for puppy mill) by asking her, and ignoring the evidence of the mother dog and her puppies being in the barn, and the area being dotted with lots of poop that wasn't cleaned up--even knowing there was someone coming to see the puppies.

But she loved that dog, and she did learn some things along the way. It does make sense that she decided she wanted to become a pet sitter, when she had to make a career change.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Summer Reading, by Ken Liu (author), George Takei (narrator)

Serial Box, October 2020

This is a sweet, lovely short story.

The library hasn't received a visitor in 5,000 years. Its elderly robot docent preserves all the books and data it can--but nothing lasts forever, and data that doesn't get recopied ultimately doesn't get preserved.

Then one day, a little girl walks in, and the old robot and the young girl read a picture book together.

The story is sweet and wonderful, and George Takei's narration is the perfect icing on this tasty little cake.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Murderous Tangle (Seaside Knitters Society Mysteries #14), by Sally Goldenbaum (author), Julie McKay (narrator)

Dreamscape Media, January 2020

Birdie, Nell, Cassie, and Izzy are planning a holiday event for the approaching Christmas holiday, for all their family and friends. This is a small Massachusetts seaside town, and there's a sense that everybody knows everybody, though that's not always true.

Tess Bean is a fairly new arrival in town, working at two rather different part-time jobs. One of them is at the Seaside Harbor school, teaching science to the young students. She's lively and interesting, an environmental activist, and is very inspiring to many of them, including Birdie's granddaughter, Gabby. She also works for Clark Turner, the local veterinarian, in his kennel, where her gentle touch with the animals is valuable.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Genius of Birds, by Jennifer Ackerman (author), Margaret Strom (narrator)

Highbridge Audio, April 2016

"Birdbrain" has long been a term that meant stupid or foolish. Birds have tiny brains, therefore they must be pretty stupid, right?

This book is about just how wrong that perception is.

Ackerman uses both personal anecdotes and solid scientific research from a variety of researchers to show us the real intelligence and variety of birds.

Crows and ravens get a fair amount of recognition as brighter than most birds, though they're also often considered loud and obnoxious. They can do some impressively complex things. New Caledonian crows, for instance can make compound tools, which an ability pretty much limited to them and humans.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Case of the Forsaken Child (Inspector David Graham #7), by Alison Golden

Alison Golden, November 2020

DI David Graham and the Gorey Constabulary are in the midst of a big event for them--hosting a national police conference. It's a lot of work, with DS Janice Harding a co-organizer of it. It's a chance for Harding and others to shine for a wider audience. And it's a chance for Graham to see old friends and colleagues he hasn't seen since moving to Jersey.

But during a gathering at the pub after the end of Friday's first day of programming, one of the detectives from the Met, who has been working undercover on a drug case, tells him her cover has been blown. She won't, however, accept his advice to report this to her handler, or even accept the offer of one of his own officers to walk her back to her hotel.

Not long after the officers have all left the pub, undercover officer Kimberley Devine is dead, killed in a hit-and-run with no known witnesses, in an area where the CCTV coverage is lousy.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax," by Philip C. Plait (author), Kevin Scullin (narrator)

Tantor Media, Inc., ISBN 9781705259467, July 2020 (original publication March 2002

This is Phil Plait's first book, born out of his Bad Astronomy website, and it's an excellent and entertaining takedown of, as it says on the label, bad astronomy. He takes on many popular misunderstandings and misrepresentations of astronomical facts and realities.

Why is the sky really blue? Are meteorites hot enough to cause fires when they hit the ground? Can you see stars during the day if you are at the bottom of a well?

Plait takes on creationism, astrology, and UFOs, as well as bad science in movies and television. He talks about the Hubble telescope, and what it can and can't do, and why its data is not released publicly for a year after after collection.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A Wing and a Prayer (The Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club #1), by M.W. Arnoldun

The Wild Rose Press, November 2020

In World War Two England, Betty Palmer's sister, Eleanor, dies while flying a Tiger Moth--officially due to asphyxia while flying the plane too high. Yet Betty doesn't believe it, not least because Tiger Moths can't reach that kind of altitude. Also, Eleanor remained functional enough to land the plane rather than crash it, though she was dead by the time ground crew reached her.

Betty's friends in the Air Transport Auxiliary, civilian pilots who fly military planes to where the military pilots need them, decide they're going to help Betty solve the mystery of what really happened--and who killed Eleanor Palmer.

In the beginning, it's Betty and the three women assigned to live in her house, connected to the airbase. Penny Blake is estranged from her family, in part due to her decision to join the ATA. Mary Whitworth-Baines is shy around people but loves planes and flying. Doris Winter is an American looking for a new start after heartbreaking events back home. They're all smart and determined, and they bond under both the stresses of flying war planes with no ammunition, radio, or instrument flight training, and the quest to find Eleanor's killer.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Bark vs. Snark (Queenie & Arthur #3), by Spencer Quinn (author), Rachel Jacobs (narrator), Jay Aaseng (narrator)

Scholastic Audio, October 2020

Queenie the cat and Arthur the dog, of Blackberry Hill Inn, are about to have their lives and naptime disrupted by a new adventure. The county fair is going to include two contests aimed at the four-footed residents--a beauty contest for the cats, and a frisbee toss for the dogs. The winner of each will receive a year's supply of food, and also a brand-new mountain bike for their favorite human. The twins, Harmony and Bro, are all in for this. Queenie knows she's the most beautiful cat, and if Arthur is not quite so enthusiastic about the frisbee toss, it's for Bro, and he loves Bro.

If there's something odd about the newest guest at the inn, Mr. Ware, well, only Queenie and Arthur have noticed that the old man the humans see is sometimes a much younger man, and even if they could tell the humans, it doesn't seem that important.