Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tales From High Hallack Volume 2, by Andre Norton

Premier Digital Publishing, ISBN 9781624672439, May 2014

This is the second of three volumes collecting the short stories of Andre Norton. They include tales from the Witch World, the Ithkar Fair, science fiction, stories with a variety of other fantasy settings, and stories of the Siamese temple guardian cat Thragan Neklop.

Norton wrote strong female characters when they couldn't be counted on in a genre assumed to appeal mainly to teenage boys. Her characters include magic users, little girls, Regency young ladies, professional investigators, beast handlers who can communicate mind to mind with their beasts, and of course, cats. Some of these stories are fond memories to me; some of them I hadn't encountered before. But this is vintage Norton, with rich characters in rich, well-developed settings, created worlds it's easy to believe real people live in.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Recently Received

These are the latest galleys I've received. I'll be reading and reviewing them over the next couple of months.

Forever (Grand Central Publishing), ISBN 9781455574553, May 2014


A betrayal he couldn't forget . . . 
For Nate Dean, love is a four-letter word. As part of a secret black-ops military unit, he and his brothers were genetically engineered by the government to be ruthless soldiers with an expiration date. They were loyal only to one another . . . until Nate laid eyes on the woman who stole his heart and blew his world apart. Now, years later, his family is still paying the price for his mistake. But as time runs out, there's only one person who can save his family: the very woman Nate swore he'd never trust again.

A love she couldn't deny . . . 

The moment Audrey Madison spies Nate across a crowded ballroom, she can barely breathe. He's just as undeniably sexy as she remembers, yet there's an edge to him now that's as irresistible as it is dangerous. When he asks for her help, Audrey can't refuse. But she has secrets of her own--secrets that, if Nate ever discovers them, may cost them both their lives.

Forever (Grand Central Publshing), ISBN 9781455522316, April 2014


"Last Chance captures the essence of Southern charm and quirkiness. I'm totally captivated!" --- Sherryl Woods, New York Times bestselling author
Jenny Carpenter is the unrivaled pie-baking champion of Last Chance, South Carolina's annual Watermelon Festival and the town's unofficial spinster. With her dream of marriage and children on hold, she focuses on another dream, turning the local haunted house into a charming bed-and-breakfast. But her plans go off course when the home's former owner shows up on her doorstep on a dark and stormy night . . .

Mega-bestselling horror writer Gabriel Raintree is as mysterious and tortured as his heroes. His family's long-deserted mansion is just the inspiration he needs to finish his latest twisted tale, or so he thinks until he learns it's been sold. The new innkeeper proves to be as determined as she is kind, and soon Gabriel finds himself a paying guest in his own home. As Jenny and Gabe bring new passion to the old house, can she convince him to leave the ghosts of his past behind-and make Last Chance their first choice for a future together?

Joycare Media, ISBN 978989275002, September 2013


Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals: A Guide for the Consumer is the essential guide to help pet owners navigate the veterinary physical therapy and rehabilitation field throughout the animal's lifespan. It will assist you in: how to find a qualified therapist, what to expect on the initial visit, explaining the process of goal setting and treatment intervention plans. It offers descriptions of physical modalities, therapeutic exercises, and a wide variety of conditions affecting the pet in the areas of orthopedics, neurology, oncology, metabolic illness, and congenital deformities. This book also addresses interesting topics such as aging pets/geriatrics, arthritis, injury prevention, stem cell procedures, reiki, braces and splints, wheeled carts and artificial limbs. Included are numerous patient case studies and anecdotal stories covering over five animal species.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A is for Alibi (Kinsey Milhone #1), by Sue Grafton (author),Mary Peiffer (narrator)

Random House Audio, ISBN 9781415930113, October 2005 (original publication January 1982)

Kinsey Milhone is an ex-cop, twice-divorced, private detective. When Nikki Fife, widow and convicted killer of unloved divorce lawyer Laurence Fife, now out on parole, comes to Kinsey and asks her to find the real killer, after some thought, Kinsey takes on the case.

Of course the trail is eight years cold, and Nikki was always the most likely suspect. But something doesn't sit right with Kinsey, including the fact that an accountant who worked on Laurence's firm's accounts, died a few days after him by the same method: ground-up oleander substituted for the contents of a capsule--an allergy medication in Laurence's case; a sleeping pill in Libby Parker's case.

And when Kinsey starts asking questions, more people start dying.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Evolution: A View From the 21st Century, by James A. Shapiro

Financial Times/Prentice Hall, ISBN 9780132780933, June 2011

James Shapiro argues that evolution's mechanism isn't truly random variation. The genome, he argues, is a sophisticated data storage and manipulation system. This is a book about the nitty gritty molecular details of how cells exchange genetic information, respond to changing situations, and how cells, individually and together, create useful responses out of shared and rearranged genetic sequences.

It's not light reading. Every section has an introduction that lays out the basic argument of that section, but then he dives back into the biochemistry and genetics. It's all copiously referenced, with links to additional information on the web.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Recently Received

These are the latest galleys I've received. I'll be reading and reviewing them over the next couple of months.

 Open Road Integrated Media, April 2014


Winner of the Nebula Award: An archaeologist with a strange power risks death to unlock the secret of the Mayans

When night falls over the Yucatan, the archaeologists lay down their tools. But while her colleagues relax, Elizabeth Butler searches for shadows. A famous scientist with a reputation for eccentricity, she carries a strange secret. Where others see nothing but dirt and bones and fragments of pottery, Elizabeth sees shades of the men and women who walked this ground thousands of years before. She can speak to the past—and the past is beginning to speak back.

As Elizabeth communes with ghosts, the daughter she abandoned flies to Mexico hoping for a reunion. She finds a mother embroiled in the supernatural, on a quest for the true reason for the Mayans’ disappearance. To dig up the truth, the archaeologist who talks to the dead must learn a far more difficult skill: speaking to her daughter.

Premier Digital Publishing, May 2014


For the first time, the Grand Dame of science fiction—Andre Norton—has her short stories gathered for her fans’ reading pleasure. Tales reach back to the 1930s, as fresh and relevant today as they were when she wrote them . . . such was Andre’s skill. High fantasy, fables, science fiction, coming of age stories, and more fill three volumes. This impressive, must-have collection includes stories of Witch World. There are cats sprinkled here and there, as Andre treasured them so. And there is magic in the writing, unequaled prose to delight readers of all ages.

High Hallack was a place in Andre’s fiction, and was also the name of her genre writer’s library she opened in Tennessee. It is a wondrous keep that she called home, and now High Hallack opens its gates and allows these amazing stories to tumble out.

The Story Plant, June 2014


Geneva is a 62-year-old woman for whom love is a lesson.

Paris is a 29-year-old man for whom love is a feat.

Tatum is a 34-year-old woman for whom love is a tragedy.

But because love is none of these things, none know love.

Over the course of four seasons in Southwestern Montana, all of that will change.

A poetic journey through the landscape of the human heart, reminiscent of the work of Alice Munro and Richard Ford, SHAKING OUT THE DEAD is a novel that will take residence in your soul.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Deadly Grind (Vintage Kitchen Mystery #1), by Victoria Hamilton (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781452617169, October 2013 (original publication May 2012)

Jaymie Leighton, vintage kitchenware collector and cookbook writer, buys an original 1920s Hoosier brand kitchen cabinet/work center, over the objections of her sister and some rather spirited rival bidding. She takes her treasure home, and temporarily leaves it on the summer porch, until she can rearrange the kitchen to make best use of it.

Late that night, she and her sister are awakened by a shout, a crash, and Jaymie's dog, Hopalong, barking. On the porch they find a dead man, a stranger, apparently killed by a blow from a meat grinder pulled loose from the Hoosier.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The God Engines, by John Scalzi

Subterranean Press, ISBN 9781596062801, December 2009

This is a real departure for Scalzi, extremely dark fantasy bordering on horror. Ean Tephe is captain of the Righteous, a space-faring ship whose "engine" is a defeated and imprisoned god. Tephe's own god is the powerful figure who conquered all the lesser gods who now serve as engines in his fleet. That Lord God is sustained, literally fed by the faith of his followers--and something is going wrong. The defeated gods are getting restless, attempting to rebel, and threatening the faith of the Lord God's followers.

But he has a plan...

Tephe is genuinely a man of strong faith, and a good, responsible captain of his ship, loyal to his crew as well as his God.

What happens when they come into conflict?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan #1), by Jane Casey

St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books, ISBN 9780312614171, March 2014 (original publication November 2010)

The Metropolitan Police Department is chasing a serial killer called the Burning Man. in the Kennington section of London. They have four dead bodies, laid out neatly and then burned, and an increasingly frightened public and the media demanding answers.

It's all bad, but then it gets worse if possible. A young woman accepts a ride from stranger on her way home from a pub, and then becomes alarmed, convinced he's the killer, and when he stops the car nowhere near her home, she panics and pulls out a knife. Briefly, the police think they have the Burning Man and a living intended victim as a witness. Maeve Kerrigan, a young Detective Constable, interviews the victim and discovers that while the man she knifed is probably a creep, he's certainly not the Burning Man. Almost simultaneously, another body is found, dead, burned, apparently a real victim of the Burning Man.

The Neighbor (Detective D.D. Warren #3), by Lisa Gardner (author), Emily Janice Card (narrator), Kirsten Potter (narrator), Kirby Heyborne (narrator)

Random House Audio, ISBN 9780739366622, June 2009 (original publication January 2009)

D.D. Warren, Boston Police Department homicide detective, has a baffling new case. A young woman, a teacher, mother of a four-year-old girl, and wife of a reporter for the Boston Daily, has disappeared from her home. Her purse and phone were left on the kitchen table; there are no signs of struggle except, possibly, a broken lamp that shows no signs of being used as a weapon, nor are there other signs of struggle. The comforter from her bed and her nightgown are found in the washing machine, newly washed. Everyone agrees that if she had left voluntarily, she would never have left her child behind.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Homeland (Little Brother #2), by Cory Doctorow (author), Wil Wheaton (narrator)

Humble Bundle, March 2014 (original publication February 2013)

Marcus Yallow, at just nineteen, already has a past as a cyberactivist, exposing embarrassing secrets of the US government. But now the harrowing events of Little Brother are behind him, and he just wants to enjoy the Burning Man festival and then find a job--job-hunting having been unsuccessful since the previous year's events forced him to drop out of college.

His past catches up with him at Burning Man, though, producing on the one hand an offer of a job as webmaster for the campaign of an independent candidate for the California state senate, and on the other hand, a bittorrent file containing hundreds of thousands of documents revealing the darkest secrets of the US security establishment. And on the last night of Burning Man, he sees the woman who gave him the file and the key to it being kidnapped by a nightmare figure from his past, Kerry Johnstone.

The next few weeks plunge Marcus and his girlfriend Angie back into cyber-intrigue and dodging both government and private sector goons. Along the way, he learns the strength of friendship and the limits of political idealism.

I haven't read Little Brother, but I found I was able to pick up enough about previous events to follow what was going on. Marcus is convincingly nineteen years old, idealistic, still inexperienced in many ways despite past events, very bright, and extremely likable. The independent candidate he goes to work for is almost, but not quite, too perfect. The conflict between working for his candidate, who might make a first step toward challenging the corruption, and getting the secret files out is developed very exquisitely and painfully. Wil Wheaton, who has an excellent and very expressive voice, does the reading.


I bought this book.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dial C for Chihuahua (Barking Detective #1), by Waverly Curtis

Kensington, ISBN 9780758274953, October 2012

Geri Sullivan wants a more companionable pet than Albert, the somewhat dangerous cat her ex-husband left with her when they divorced, so she adopts a chihuahua from the local shelter, which was received quite a few from Los Angeles.

You may imagine her surprise when the little dog starts talking to her. His name is Pepe, and he has an endless supply of stories about his colorful past. They're barely home from the shelter, though, when Geri gets a phone call from Jimmy Gerrard, who interviewed her for a job in his detective agency a week or two ago. He wants to hire her, and oh by the way, would she drop everything and go to the home of Rebecca Tyler, to get information from her about her husband whom she says is missing? Off she goes, taking Pepe with her because he's upset at the idea of being left behind. When they arrive only to find the dead body of Mr. Tyler, followed shortly by the arrival of the police to find Geri standing over the body, it's clear something fishy is going on.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blossom Street Brides (Blossom Street #10), by Debbie Macomber

Ballentine Books, ISBN 9780345528841, March 2014

Lydia and Brad Goetz's adopted daughter, Casey, is having nightmares she doesn't want to talk about, while an anonymous person is leaving baskets of knitting around Seattle with instructions telling knitters to bring the finished scarves to A Good Yarn for donation to charity. Bethanne and Max Scranton are feeling the strain of their long-distance marriage, while Bethanne's ex, Grant, is trying to break them up, and her daughter Anne is angry and resentful that Bethanne is not falling for it. Lauren Elliott breaks up with tv news reporter Todd and is falling for Max's friend and partner Rooster Wayne, while her employers at John Michael Jewelry, Elisa and Garry Lippincott, are coping with the fact that their nineteen-year-old daughter Katie is pregnant and intending to marry her boyfriend.