Friday, November 22, 2019

A Christmas Gathering (Christmas Stories #17), by Anne Perry (author), Jenny Sterlin (narrator)

Recorded Books, November 2019

Lady Vespasia, now Lady Vespasia Narraway, since her marriage to Victor Narraway, former head of the Special Branch, wanted to spend Christmas with Victor, at home, with a few close friends over. Instead, they are spending Christmas at Cavendish Park, with a small group of social acquaintances, none of whom are really close friends. Lady Vespasia has known the hosts, Lady Amelia and Max Cavendish, for many years, but no, she and Amelia are not really friends.

So why are they there? Lady Vespasia is fairly sure Victor has another Special Branch assignment, though he isn't saying that. Victor, meanwhile, is troubled not only by the assignment at Christmas when he and Vespasia would rather be home, but by echoes of a similar assignment many years ago, relatively early in his career.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Murder Around the Bend (Stone County Justice #1), by John C. Dalglish (author), Steven A. Gannett (narrator)

JB Publishing, October 2019

St. Louis police homicide detective Dan Cutter has retired from that high-stress position to a rural life in Stone County, where his old friend is the sheriff--and an on-call job as the county's homicide detective. He's had a little time to get to know his new colleagues and neighbors, but is still "You moved here from St. Louis, right?" when a well-like businessman turns up dead near his truck some miles from home, shot to death almost execution-style.

Dan soon finds himself comforting the grieving wife and daughter, while he and his partner, Liz, a full time detective in this slower-paced community, start piecing together the evidence.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Forgiven Friend (Friends #3), by Sue Feathersone & Susan Pape

Lakewater Press, November 2019

This is a hard book for me to review. It's the story of two old friends going through some variously rough and important times in their lives, and definitely some rough patches in their friendship. In alternating chapters, we get first person accounts from Lee and her friend Teri.

Lee is steady, responsible, thoughtful, considerate. Teri is impulsive, generally self-centered, never thinks she's at fault for anything. Even when she's trying to be helpful, she blurts things out--and that includes things she's been specifically asked not to share. Such as, blurting out to her ex-husband, now Lee's lover, Dan, the fact that Lee thinks she may be pregnant.

And then doing it again, to Lee's aging, conservative, Catholic mother, at the reception after the funeral of Lee's father.

The friendship between Lee and Teri is genuine and strong,and even when Teri is doing absolutely shocking things, she often thinks she's "helping." Lee also tries to help Teri make better decisions, in a less ham-handed, foot-in-mouth manner, but not always when Teri is willing to listen. And as one might guess from the fact that Teri's ex-husband has moved in with Lee, relationship issues often get a bit complicated.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey (author), Xe Sands (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250227867, June 2019

Ivy Gamble, unlike her twin sister Tabitha, is not a mage. She has no magic at all. Ivy is a private investigator, and is almost getting by that way. And she enjoys it. She really does. And she is not the least little bit jealous of Tabitha, her twin sister, the mage, who teaches at a prestigious private high school for young mages.

Then she is asked by the head of that school to investigate the death of another teacher there.

Suddenly, Ivy is immersed in the life she could have had, if she had the magic Tabitha has. She's almost having double vision, the life she really leads, and the life she might have had. She and Tabitha seem to be edging towards reconnection after the long estrangement that followed the death of their mother. There's a handsome and charming teacher there who is interested on Ivy. Oh, and there's the murder case she's trying to solve.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Here and Now and Then, by Mike Chen (author), Cary Hite (narrator)

Harlequin Audio, January 2019

Kin Stewart is a time-traveling secret agent, charged with protecting us all against timeline corruption. Unfortunately, he's a time-traveling secret agent who got stranded in the late 1990s on his last assignment, and has had to survive the last eighteen years or so, while his memories of his past life, in 2142, fade. Or not really fade, so much as decay, because the human mind isn't built to remember two different lives in two different times.

He's become a computer network administrator, for an online game company. He has married Heather, a lawyer, and they have a teenage daughter, Miranda.

But it's all coming apart, as his mind loses even more of his memories, and he has crushing headaches, blackouts, and over-reactions. PTSD from his time in the Special Forces, he tells his family. But he refuses to get help, because he's afraid too much will come out.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Death, Divorce, & Dessert, by Kayla Michelle (author), K.M. Morgan (author), Stephanie Quinn (narrator)

Kayla Michelle, July 2019

One evening, Chloe Cook is at her parents' home, celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary. She, they, and her boyfriend all hope that the recent spate of murders in their little Cape Code town is finally at an end.

The next morning, in her capacity as a makeup salesperson, she has an appointment with her friend, Emily Hightower, to show her the latest additions to the makeup line she represents. When she arrives, she's very surprised to find Emily's door slightly ajar, and Emily not responding the her knock, the bell, or even to Chloe pulling out her phone and calling. So she steps through that open door--and finds Emily lying dead on her living room floor, apparently stabbed to death.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide, by James Essinger & Sandra Koutzenko

The History Press, ISBN 9780750991919, June 2019

Dr. Frances Oldham "Frankie" Kelsey was a pharmacologist and physician who for many years worked in the New Drug Division of the US Food & Drug Administration. Born in Canada in 1914, she was graduating from college in the midst of the Great Depression, and getting a master's degree seemed a better choice than standing in bread lines. A year later, she faced the same choice, and went on to get her Ph.D. in pharmacology--and in the process connected with a professor who encouraged her, pointed her in new directions, and crucially, when the time came, connected her with an opportunity in the US. That embarked her on a path that led to her meeting her husband, Fremont Ellis Kelsey, also a Ph.D. in pharmacology, getting her M.D., and ultimately becoming a medical officer at the FDA.

So why do we care about a "faceless bureaucrat"?

Because Frankie Kelsey is the "faceless bureaucrat who looked at the NDA (New Drug Application) for thalidomide, and started asking questions and insisting on real answers.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Hexes and Other Hairy Situations (The Witches of Enchanted Bay #10), by Amelia Morgan (author), Stephanie Quinn (narrator)

Amelia Morgan, July 2019

Meg Walton and her mother Beth are witches running a magical bakery in the little town of Enchanted Bay. Beth's mother, Penelope, is now a talking cat. They've recently met another witch, Pamela. Oh, and Meg is engaged to a police officer, Connor, who doesn't know she's a witch.

Meg's father, Trevor, abandoned Beth before Meg was born, after Beth told him she was a witch, so Beth has always strongly discouraged telling anyone about their magical powers. But now Trevor has suddenly returned, with a favor to ask of Beth. A magical favor, at that.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Space Invader (Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery #7), by Karen Musser Nortman (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Karen Nortman, October 2019

Larry and Frannie Shoemaker, Larry's sister Jane Ann Ferraro and her husband Mickey, are out traveling in their campers again, this time to New Mexico. Having stopped briefly for gas and snacks on the last day before arriving at the campground near Roswell, they acquire a hitchhiker they're unaware of, in the cubby where some of their supplies are stashed. When they arrive, they park and hook up their campers, and, completely exhausted, collapse immediately into their beds, and sleep.

When they awake, their hitchhiker is already gone, and they head out sightseeing. In a happy change of pace from their previous adventures, this time they don't find a body.

Someone else finds a body.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Library Book, by Susan Orlean

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781508266488, October 2018

Susan Orlean gives us a wonderful study of one library and its history, the Los Angeles Public Library, centered around the disastrous 1986 fire at the library and the investigation into it. And she takes this, and uses it to showcase the role and significance of libraries in our modern lives.

Woven through all this is Orlean's own love of books, and what libraries meant, in her life, and her mother's, when she was growing up, with Depression-Era parents who loved books but were frugal.