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.

Friday, November 21, 2014

And Give Up Showbiz? How Fred Levin Beat Big Tobacco, Avoided Two Murder Prosecutions, Became a Chief of Ghana, Earned Boxing Manager of the Year, and Transformed American Law, by Josh Young

BenBella Books, ISBN 9781940363189, September 2014

You may notice that the title is a bit over the top. So is the subject.

Fred Levin grew up a Jewish kid in Pensacola, Florida at a time when Jews were still routinely and openly discriminated against. He worked hard to be one of the most popular kids in high school anyway, did just well enough that he got into the University of Florida--and discovered that he like college life well enough that he didn't want to leave it after just four years. He spent his last year of college getting his GPA up to the crucial 2.0 that would enable him to enroll in UF's law school.

And there, after some initial fooling around, he discovered he actually loved the law. Thus began what was in some respects an unexpected and often startling legal career.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?...and Other Questions From the Astronomers' In-box at the Vatican Observatory, by Brother Guy Consolmagno (author), Father Paul Mueller (author), Joe Ochman (narrator), Rob Shapiro (narrator)

Random House Audio, October 2014

Why does the Vatican have an observatory? Can science and religion exist together? What really happened to Galileo? Does the Bible have anything to say about the Big Bang? Does science have anything to say about the Bible?

And, oh yes, would you baptize an extraterrestrial?

This is a very lively discussion, a dialog between two Jesuit scientists, a planetary scientist and a physicist, about Christianity, science, cosmology, conflicts and resonances between science and religion, and what questions each can address. Consolmagno and Mueller are both men of faith and men of science, people who felt called to the religious life, and to do science as part of that religious life. They're thoughtful, serious, and each has his own sense of humor and interests outside the realms of science and religion.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hello From the Gillespies, by Monica McInerney

NAL Trade, ISBN 9780451466723, November 2014

For thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent out happy Christmas letters from her sheep station home in the Australian Outback. This year is different.

This year, Angela and the whole family are under stress. Her two oldest, the twins, are back home after work-related scandals cost them their jobs. Younger daughter Lindy, who has bounced from career to career, is home after an attempt to start her own business has landed her deep in debt. Late-in-life son Ignatius, at ten years old, still has an imaginary friend, and keeps running away from the boarding school his father and grandfather attended.

And husband Nick has signed an exploration lease with a mining company for half the station property. He hasn't told her why. For the past year, he's barely talked to her at all, and not about anything important.

In a stressed and frustrated mood, Angela writes a Christmas letter that tells the whole truth. She intends to delete it--but in the chaos of an immediate family crisis, the email gets sent. To Angela's entire, 100 person, Christmas email list.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Look of Love, by Sarah Jio

Plume, ISBN 9780142180532, November 2014

As a small child, Jane Williams watched as her father left her, her mother, and her older brother Flynn, breaking her mother's heart. When she was eighteen, her mother died, also.

Jane has always guarded her heart.

But while guarding her heart, she's been running the flower shop she inherited from her mother and grandmother. As a florist, she spends her days making gifts of love for other people to give. Jane loves her work, loves making flower arrangements that bring happiness, but her own heart has never been in danger.

At twenty-nine, on Christmas, which is also her birthday,she receives a card from a stranger, with a very strange message.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Conflict of Honors (Liaden Universe #2), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Andy Caploe (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, September 2012 (original publication 1988)

Priscilla Delacroix y Mendoza is declared legally dead and exiled from her homeworld at just sixteen. She spends the next few years working her way up through the ranks of spaceship crew, moving from ship to ship, and getting pilot training whenever she can. The Liaden trading ship Doxflon is not a pleasant ship, but she's gotten to the rank of cargo master, and she can't afford to buy out her contract before its end in six months anyway.

Even though she thinks she's found evidence that the ship's Trader, Sav Rid Olenik, is engaged in some very serious smuggling.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar

Ballantine Books, ISBN 9780804176378, December 2014

This is a really wonderful novel of the early years of the Bloomsbury Group. They'll go on to be the writer Virginia Woolf, the artist Vanessa Bell, the novelist E. M. Forster, the economist John Maynard Keynes, and other memorable figures, but right now, they are simply the Stephen siblings (Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian) and their friends. The Stephens have taken a house in avant-garde Bloomsbury, and begin hosting daring literary and artistic salons. It's glittering and edgy, optimistic and ambitious, though as yet none of them has achieved much.

Then Thoby dies, and Vanessa, the main anchor for brilliant and unstable Virginia, marries art critic Clive Bell. Virginia feels abandoned, and sets out to get Vanessa's constant attention back.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Importance of Being Seven (44 Scotland Street #6), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Robert Ian Mackenzie (narrator)

Recorded Books, August 2012

We return to 44 Scotland Street, and Bertie Pollock is longing to be seven. He believes he'll be treated with more respect and have more autonomy. Meanwhile, he continues to cope with his well-meaning but overbearing, pompous mother, and the endless round of therapy visits, yoga, Italian classes, and saxophone lessons.

His father, Stuart, though, is starting to assert himself, and take small but crucial actions to give Bertie opportunities to just be a six-year-old boy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Treasure on Lilac Lane (Jewell Cove #2), by Donna Alward

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250045171, October 2014

Rick Sullivan was Jewell Cove's golden boy when he left home to join the Marines, a star athlete and the reigning heartthrob. He came home from Afghanistan wounded in both body and soul. He's struggled with alcohol, anger--and the painful months of watching his mother die. There's no question Rick is damaged.

Jess Collins has struggled with her own issues, including an abusive relationship that only her brother Josh knows the truth about. Now she's happy running her her art shop, Treasures, and only a little bit wistful about her siblings and her Arsenault cousins one by one finding lasting relationships.

It's really inconvenient that Rick Sullivan, who now seems to represent everything she's learned to be wary of in a man, is at least as attractive to her as he was when they were in their late teens.