Friday, May 30, 2014

Recently Received

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

The Art of Arranging Flowers

Lynne Branard
Berkley Trade

Pub Date   

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cruise, by Suzanne Vermeer

Open Road Integrated Media, ISBN 9781480443807, May 2014

Heleen and Frank are a middle class Dutch couple who have been married for seventeen years. For this year's honeymoon, Frank has arranged for a Mediterranean cruise.

What the reader knows, but Heleen doesn't, is that Frank is planning to disappear into another life during this cruise.

One night during the idyllic cruise, Frank goes out for a walk around the ship while Heleen turns in for the night. When she wakes the next morning to find that he never returned, she raises the alarm and a search ensues, but he is not found.

Thus begins the most difficult year of Heleen's life. She first slowly adjusts to being a widow, and then begins to discover Frank's disturbing double life.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Recently Received

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


Suzanne Vermeer

Pub Date   

Million-Dollar Maverick

Christine Rimmer
Harlequin Special Edition

Pub Date   

Inn at Last Chance (Last Chance #7, by Hope Ramsay

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

Jenny Carpenter has given up on love, left her profession as a high school math teacher, and bought The Jonquil House, on the edge of town, to turn it in to a bed & breakfast. She's in the home stretch now, most of the renovation done and the inn's new furniture about to arrive, when, on a genuinely dark and stormy night, the house's former owner, Gabriel Raintree, pounds on the door looking for a place to stay.

Gabe is a bestselling horror writer who has hit a painful bout of writer's block. It's not random; he's got a very real personal stress going on, the details of which are not fully revealed until much later in the book. He's hoping that in quiet little Last Chance, staying in the old Raintree family home, he can avoid those stresses and get back to writing.

There are just a few problems.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Siren Depths (The Books of the Raksura #3), by Martha Wells (author), Christopher Kipiniak (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, February 2013

Moon is a Raksura, a type of flying shapeshifter, who has a backstory of surviving on his own and not even knowing he was a Raksura until a line grandfather from the Indigo Cloud court found him and brought him to Indigo Cloud. That backstory is recounted in the previous book(s), which I haven't read yet. At the start of this book, Moon is settling in to Indigo Cloud as consort to Jade, sister queen of the court. He's still not feeling totally secure, and what security he does have gets a major blow when visitors arrive with the news that another court, Opal Night, is claiming him as the lost son of their dominant queen, Malachite, and wants him back immediately.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Falling Woman, by Pat Murphy

Open Road Integrated Media, ISBN 9781480483149, April 2014 (original publication November 1986)

Elizabeth Butler is an archaeologist working a dig at a Mayan site in the Yucatan. In her mid-fifties now, she has a painful personal history of a failed marriage, a failed suicide attempt, and lost custody of and limited contact with her daughter, Diane.

Diane Butler has lost her father, her boyfriend, and her job over the course of a couple of weeks, and for reasons she doesn't herself entirely understand, seeks out her famous and long-absent mother.

Diane has been having disturbing dreams, in which she is falling from a great height into a dark void.

Barbara has always seen shadows of the past, watched the long-dead inhabitants of the sites she studies going about their daily lives. It has given her a reputation for remarkably accurate and valuable hunches, but also a reputation for being very eccentric. Now one of the shadows, a priestess of the Mayan moon goddess from just before the disappearance of Maya civilization, has started speaking to her.

A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren

Macmillan Audio, April 2014

Elizabeth Warren reads her own memoir, and as one would expect of most politicians and most professors, she does so in a clear, strong voice that's easy to listen to.

Warren, of course, is not "most politicians," and perhaps not "most professors," either. Her first venture into electoral politics was to challenge incumbent Scott Brown, and she beat him like a drum. Not that she describes it that way; she seems to have been genuinely surprised by her margin of victory.

Warren grew up the youngest of four children, the only one still at home when her  father's heart attack and subsequent impaired ability to work derailed the family's modest financial security. In spare, clear terms, she describes the struggles of the years that followed, including the plain and painful fact that her dream of going to college and becoming a school teacher were apparently killed by the fact that her parents couldn't possibly afford to send her to college. She has to rescue her own dream by finding a scholarship she could win.

And after that, nothing goes the way she expects it. Early marriage, delayed education, the frustrations of being a young mother, an almost accidental entry into teaching law. An interest in bankruptcy law inspired by her parents' struggles, and further twists and turns leading to the determination and the opportunity to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. From there, I suspect anyone who is interested enough to be reading this knows at least the broad outlines of how that led to her decision to run for the Senate from Massachusetts. The details, both professional and her intertwined family life, are fascinating and compelling, though.

(I'm probably revealing nothing by saying that my politics are closer to Warren's than Brown's. However, he didn't help himself with his childish and bizarre attack on Warren's Native American ancestry. I'm another nearly sheet-white, light-eyed American with a proud family history including Native American ancestry. No, Mr. Brown, you can't tell by looking at someone, and no one appointed you arbiter of who gets to talk about their ancestry.)

Warren's accounts of meeting with voters and the stresses and strains of the campaign she never expected to run are particularly compelling.


An excerpt from the audiobook:

I bought this book.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Dog Skip, by Willie Morris

Vintage, ISBN 9780679767220, January 1996

This is a sweet, gentle memoir of a boy and his dog, growing up in 1940s rural Mississippi. Willie's parents get a fox terrier puppy when Willie is nine, and Willie and Skip quickly become best friends. In an earlier time and in a small town where everyone knows everyone, they're free to roam all day during the summer months, with friends and on their own, having adventures and playing pranks that sixty years later, would not be tolerated.

There is no plot here. There isn't supposed to be a plot. Morris simply reminisces about his dog and his friends, in no particular chronological order. They play football (Skip too!), have chinaberry wars, and make silly bets, such as Willie and Skip spending a night in the cemetery. Kids started driving the family car early, and Willie teaches Skip to sit with his paws on the wheel, so that at opportune moments Willie can duck out of sight and make it look like Skip is driving.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Merle's Door: Lessons From a Free-Thinking Dog, by Ted Kerasote (author), Patrick Lawlor (narrator)

Tantor Audio, June 2007

Ted Kerasote and his friends found a dog on a river boating trip, and Ted, who'd been looking for the right new dog for a while, fell in love.

Merle was perhaps ten months old, a Labrador mix, perhaps born on an Indian reservation. Shy of people at first, he grew to trust Ted in the course of the river trip. He was wary of sticks, and wouldn't fetch. When Ted brought him home to Wyoming, both their lives change.