Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Case of the Broken Doll (Inspector David Graham #4), by Alison Golden, Grace Dagnall

Kindle, December 2016

Okay, I have to admit it upfront. I just loved this book. Decent, interesting, quirky people, solving a mystery using their brains. No dogs or cats, which is Just Wrong, but, hey, maybe that will come in later entries?

Detective Inspector David Graham is settling in after a few months has head of the Gorey police force on Jersey. He's still living in the White House Inn because it's so very comfortable and they make his tea just so, but he's in town to stay.

And one lazy Sunday, doing his obligatory Christmas shopping, he notices that all the local shops have a particular type of doll in the window--the American Girl dolls, wildly popular about a decade ago. He asks, and learns the sad story of the disappearance of a local girl, Beth Ridley, ten years ago,when she was just fifteen. The entire community turned out to look for her, She was never found, the only thing found was the leg of one of her dolls. She collected the American Girls dolls.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Love, Alice, by Barbara Davis

Berkley, ISBN 9780451474810, December 2016

Thirty or so years ago, a young woman in a village in Cornwall became pregnant, and before they could marry, her boyfriend was  killed in a fishing accident. Her mother, unexpectedly much harsher than Alice had expected, sent her to a convent to have her baby--one of the now-notorious Magdalene laundries. From this experience, Alice emerged without her baby, but with an absolute determination to find and reclaim him--and an unforgiving anger toward her own mother.

A year ago, Dovie Larkin's fiancé, William Prescott, committed suicide two weeks before their wedding. He left no note, no hint of why he did it, and Dovie has not recovered from the blow.

Today, while eating lunch next to William's grave, she sees an old woman leaving a letter on a nearby grave--the improbably grand grave of Alice Tandy, former maid to the Tate family, substantial donors to to the museum where Dovie is director of fundraising.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Naomi's Choice, by Claire Sanders

Prism Books, November 2016

Naomi Sullivan has traveled from San Antonio to Loma Verde to visit her grandmother, and perhaps to stay with her permanently. Her mother is dead, her father has remarried, and Naomi is frankly tired of being an unpaid housekeeper and governess for her new stepmother's four children from her first marriage.

On the stagecoach, just outside Loma Verde, they pick up Ethan Garrett, whose horse turned up lame. He's clean and polite, but relatively rough dressed, and not as polished as Lucas, her former beau whom her stepmother ordered off.

Soon after, when they arrive in Loma Verde, she meets Lt. Bret Anderson, a cavalry officer who is handsome, tall, and as polished and smooth as a girl can imagine.

Guess where this is going.

Second Chance Rose, and Other Stories, by Terry Odell

The Wild Rose Press, ISBN 2940012472182, March 2008

This is a collection of romance short stories. Carter Worthington is a disciplined, organized, reclusive writer. He has no idea what to make of Tiffany when she is seemingly blown into town on a hurricane, coming to rescue her elderly grandfather, who can't cope with the aftermath on his own. Rose is a widow moving back to L.A. after another hurricane, only in her forties but sure she's had her one true love and there isn't another one out there for her. Amy is divorced and has two kids, and is pursuing a degree in anthropology, not a new love interest, when she meets Greg at the start of her "Just for Amy" weekend.

They're all sweet, enjoyable, fairly light stories, with just the amount of complication you can reasonably fit into a short story. This makes for a couple of afternoons of relaxing reading.

I received this book for free and am reviewing it purely by choice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Between Two Thorns (Split Worlds #1), by Emma Newman

Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio, February 2013

Sam was just seeking a sufficiently private place to relieve himself after getting excessively drunk after work because his wife was working late again. Instead, he witnesses a body being carried out of the Museum, and becomes entirely too interesting to some of the Fae-touched who want to keep him quiet.

Cathy was just trying to remain out of sight of the Fae and her Fae-touched family so she can continue her university studies in Mundanus. Instead she's trapped and brought home by her brother Tom, and informed that she's now betrothed to William.

William has his own ideas, including a preference for Cathy's sister Elizabeth initially, and then for new arrival in Aquae Sulis, Amerlia.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Mystic Marriage (Alpennia #2), by Heather Rose Jones

Bella Books, ISBN 9781594934414, April 2015 (original publication April 2014)

Antuniet Chazillen left Alpennia after her brother's execution for treason wiped out the family's honor and standing. She's determined to restore that honor, and the path she has chosen is alchemy. With the aid of a long-hidden book, she'll develop the skills to offer real benefit to Princess Anna, new ruler of Alpennia.

Someone else knows what she's got, though, and is determined to take it from her. Antuniet flees to Prague, and to Heidelberg--and finally has nowhere left to go except back to Rotenek, capital of Alpennia. In Rotenek, she turns up on the doorstep of Jeanne, Vicomtesse de Cherdillac, in the hopes that Jeanne will be daring enough to become her patron. Jeanne can't, not directly, but insists she eat and stay the night, and connects her with someone who can.

Friday, November 25, 2016

An Image of Death (Ellie Foreman #3), by Libby Fischer Hellmann (author),Nan McNamara (narrator)

The Red Herring Press, September 2016 (original publication January 2004)

Ellie Foreman is really, really trying to be good--to go along with the variously expressed wishes of her dad, Mac, and David that she stay out of trouble. She goes to a ladies' charitable lunch as the guest of occasional nemesis Rikibeth Feldman, and isn't surprised when it turns into a request to make a video for the project. The project, it seems, is transitional housing for kids aging out of foster care.

How can that lead to trouble?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Consoling Angel, by Denise Alicea (author), Emily Peot (narrator)

Denise Alicea, November 2015

NYC teenager Mira and her dad loved to watch old movies together, and shared an enthusiasm for James Dean in particular. Her father died a year ago, though, and Mira is burying herself in school projects, old movies, and James Dean materials rather than deal with her grief. Then one afternoon, she falls asleep on top of her books and magazines, and wakes up in a room that's familiar but changed...

It's 1952, and she's wearing a dress. Her best friend shows up and is eager to go out on their planned exciting afternoon of window shopping and maybe sneaking into a bar. Is it time travel? Is it a dream? We don't have to decide. For Mira, it seems very real, confusingly real, both alarming and exciting--even before she meets a figure from her dream.

It's a light, engaging short story, perfect for whiling away half an hour.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Deadly Obsession (Detective Jason Strong #13), by John C. Dalglish (author), James Killavey (narrator)

John C. Dalglish, August 2016

This is a fast-paced, short novel, just over four hours. A suburban housewife is murdered on the steps of her front door, and investigation shows no apparent motive. When her son is shot in front of the home a few days later, Jason Strong and Vanessa Lane have new questions to ask, starting in some seemingly unlikely places.

There's a strong story here, and good characters. Both male and female characters are well handled. It's enough to make me believe Dalglish is young enough to have grown up in a world where the personhood of female people is just assumed! (Hey, sorry, but it's a nice change to have seen happen over the course of my lifetime.)

Friday, November 18, 2016

When a Child is Born (The Chronicles of St. Mary's #2.5), by Jodi Taylor(author), Zara Ramm(narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2015 (original publication November 2013)

Max and her little band of historians and security from St. Mary's are off once again, this time to London in 1066 to witness the coronation of William the Conqueror. At least, that's why they think they're there. But everything goes wrong, and they arrive well outside town, and trip over a wounded woodcutter while heading toward what they think is their destination.

History has other things in mind for them, though. They're soon in deep, deep trouble, and Max is wondering how she's going to explain this to Dr. Bairstow. Along the way, Max discovers that sometimes she needs to "not think like an historian."

It's short, fun, and free on Audible. Take advantage; you'll enjoy it.