Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Burning For You, by Michele Dunaway

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250072351, April 2015

Struggling young professional photographer Taylor Krebs landed the good deal of taking the photographs for St. Louis' "Sexy Public Servants" charity fundraiser calendar. At the photo shoot, she meets Joe Marino, firefighter and Mr. September. Of course sparks fly.

And of course they both have issues, and are not looking for a romantic interest. But this wouldn't be a romance novel if they could easily avoid each other. Joe has a pro bono project near and dear to his heart: a book showcasing burn victims recovered and thriving despite their scars. He can sweeten the deal because his mother wants pictures, including a full family portrait, of their entire, large, extended Italian-American family--paid work.

And Taylor is also pursuing her master's degree, and needs a photo project. The burn survivors project has real promise.

Taylor and Joe are both likable and interesting, Their issues are real and believable. Their friends and families have a textured, lived-in feel to them.

And I can't say much without spoilers, but one of the mothers commits what I think is a real betrayal, but this opinion is apparently not shared by anyone in the book. Maybe I just have trust issues.

Despite that, this is an enjoyable book, well worth a few hours of your time.


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

The Liar, by Nora Roberts

Penguin Group, ISBN 9780399170867, April 2015

Shelby Foxworth is a young widow with a three-year-old daughter, who has spent the months since her husband's death discovering the extent to which he lied to her. The lavish lifestyle she thought was paid for by the income from the business he never discussed has left her deeply in debt. He never made payments on the huge and expensively furnished house he moved her into a few months ago. The jewels he gave her are mostly fakes. Nice fakes, but fakes. And a key she finds in a pocket in one of his jackets is the key to a safe deposit box, in which she finds a good deal of cash, but  also multiple other IDs for the man she knew as "Richard Foxworth."

Shelby takes her daughter and goes home from Philadelphia to Rendezvous Ridge, Tennessee, and goes to work rebuilding her ties to family and friends, paying off her inherited debt, and regaining her own confidence in herself. She also meets Griffin Lott, a new arrival in Rendezvous Ridge, business partner of her friend Emma Kate's boyfriend Matt.

But Richard's past is stalking her even as she reconstructs her life, and dangerous life he led is about to come crashing down on her, along with more secrets she never suspected.

Shelby is a smart, strong woman, well able to take care of herself once she breaks out of the undermining web Richard had wrapped her in, and Roberts, as she generally does, gives her a real and worthy partner in Griffin. We get a very satisfyingly warm, supportive and only a little meddlesome family in the Pomeroys, a family most people would trade major body parts to be a part of.


Book trailer:

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Best Everything, by Sarah Tomp

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ISBN 9780316324786, March 2015

Lulu Mendez has grown up in the small town of Dale, Virginia, focused as long as she can remember on getting out, going to college, pursing a future in medical research. She's just finished her senior year of high school, and her dream is within her grasp.

Then her father tells her that he's lost her college fund and she won't be leaving for the University of San Diego after all. Or anywhere, for a while. Or ever, since she has no confidence in his promise to win back her college fund in some big deal, real soon now.

As Lulu's dreams are exploding, her friend Roni, who has only dreamed of marrying her boyfriend Bucky and having babies, is invited to audition for a local, but increasingly popular and successful, band called Lullaby Breaker.

Suddenly Roni has a future that could take her away from Dale, while Lulu is looking at a future of continuing to work in Sal's Salvage, the local junkyard. But Lulu is not going to accept such a constricted future. In a matter of days, good girl Lulu has a plan.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ellie's Story: A Dog's Purpose Novel (Preview/Excerpt), by W. Bruce Cameron

Starscape, ISBN 9780765374691, April 2015

I had the opportunity to read an excerpt from the upcoming Ellie's Story, an illustrated novel for children about the "police dog' life of the multiply-reincarnated dog in A Dog's Purpose.

Ellie is a lively, assertive, intelligent pup, and captures the attention of a K9 police officer, Jakob, when he comes to look over her litter and select a new dog to train as his partner. In this excerpt, she learns first the basics of being a good house dog, then simple Find games, and finally full-blown search and rescue skills. At the end of the excerpt, we see Ellie and Jakob are heading off on their first real rescue together.

Ellie's viewpoint is likable and plausibly canine, and this should be an enjoyable read for young and not-so-young readers.


I received this excerpt free from the publisher via NetGalley.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Case of the Killer Divorce (Jamie Quinn Mystery #2), by Barbara Venkataraman (author), Carrie Lee Martz (narrator)

Barbara Markley, August 2014

It's a year after the alarming events when Jamie Quinn's autistic cousin was charged with the murder of his music teacher, and Jamie Quinn, reluctant lawyer, is practicing family law full-time again. Right now, her major focus is a tricky divorce with kids involved, and two putative adults who are determined to make each other's lives as difficult as possible. Jamie is representing the wife.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

What She Left Behind, by Ellen Marie Wiseman (author), Tavia Gilbert (narrator)

Tantor Audio, ISBN 9781494553364, June 2014 (original publication January 2013)

Izzy Stone, seventeen years old and in a new foster home again at the start of a new school year, is still struggling with her mother's murder of her father ten years ago. Obviously her mother must be insane; it's the only explanation. But does that mean Izzy might go mad, too? Can she ever dare to marry and have children, or would she be passing along the madness, and putting whoever she loved at risk?

But right now, her new foster parents work at a local museum, and have asked her to help out with sorting and cataloging materials in the now-closed public insane asylum, the Willard. And in a steamer trunk in the attic, they find the journal of Clara Cartwright, committed there by her father in 1929, at the age of eighteen. Clara's "madness" was that she refused an arranged marriage, wanting to marry Italian immigrant Bruno, whom she loved and whom Henry Cartwright regarded as beneath him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Burning Land (Way of Arata #1), by Victoria Strauss

Open Road Integrated Media, ISBN 9781497697560, February 2015 (original publication January 2004)

This is the start of a fantasy series. It's a good setup, and it stands on its own well enough, with satisfying resolutions to some important threads.

The kingdom of Arsace has restored its king in exile to the throne, after decades of harsh rule by godless tyrants. They're free once again to worship their beloved god Arata, and publicly celebrate their religious ceremonies. But just a few years have passed, and there's still much rebuilding to do, and one of the outstanding issues concerns renegade Aratists imprisoned by the Caryaxists, who escaped and fled into the Burning Lands--the harsh desert region where Arata is believed to be sleeping. Gyalo Amdo Samehen, a devout priest, a Shaper, and trusted aid to one of the most senior of the Brethren, the reincarnated children of the First Messenger of Arata, is appointed to lead an expedition into the Burning Lands to rescue and bring home any survivors of those exiles. Neither he nor those who send them have any clue what he's going to encounter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cats Can't Shoot (Pru Marlowe Pet Noir #2), by Clea Simon (author), Tavia Gilbert (narrator)

Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 9781455129041, April 2012

Pru Marlowe has now been back in her home town of Beauville in western Massachusetts for months, and she has regular clients, a routine, and friends and colleagues. Her cat, Wallis, is still the only one she can talk freely to, because of course she can't tell any humans about her ability to hear and communicate with the minds of animals. But the ability gives her what others see as a "gift" in working with animals, so her animal behavior business is growing.

Then the local police, specifically sometime beau Jim Creighton, call her to the scene of a cat shooting. She's horrified and angry, until she arrives at the scene. Then she's astonished. The cat, a white Persian named Fluffy, has apparently accidentally shot and killed her owner.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Paw Enforcement (K9 #1), by Diane Kelly (author), Coleen Marlo (narrator)

Tantor Audio, September 2014 (original publication June 2014)

Police officer Megan Luz has an anger management problem, and takes inappropriately direct measures when reacting to the latest sexist garbage from her partner. The fact that Derek Mackey, a.k.a. The Big Dick, really did have it coming is the only reason she still has a job and isn't facing charges.

She does have a new partner, though--90 pounds or so of German shepherd named Brigit. Brigit is trained as a drug sniffer and in taking down suspects, and her previous partner has just retired. Megan doesn't want a dog, but she does want her job, and that means she's working--and living--with Brigit. It's a rough partnership at first, but they are beginning to find their footing with each other, when Brigit alerts on something in a trash can at the mall, and Megan finds a bomb. She gets the shoppers moving away from it just seconds before it explodes.

Friday, March 6, 2015

My Real Children, by Jo Walton (author), Alison Larkin (narrator)

Audible Studios, September 2014 (original publication May 2014)

Patricia Cowan is an old woman living in a nursing home, a bit confused, partly from dementia, and partly from the fact that she remembers two very different, and mutually exclusive, lives. Do her friends call her Trisha, or Pat? Did she have four children with Mark, or raise three children with Bee?

Has she lived a life with personal struggle, disappointment, and tragedy, but in a world of growing peace, social progress, and a thriving international space program? Or a life where she has deep love, personal satisfaction, and professional success, but in a world increasingly dark and threatened, less social progress, and several nuclear exchanges?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Death by Didgeridoo (Jamie Quinn Mystery #1), by Barbara Venkataraman (author), Carrie Lee Martz (narrator)

Audible Audio, November 2013

Jamie Quinn, reluctant lawyer, is mourning the death of her mother. Because her mother planned ahead and didn't overlook details, she is able, for a few months, to do very little else, though eventually she will have to work again. She's not quite ready for that when her Aunt Peg calls her in a panic. Jamie's cousin Adam has been arrested for the murder of his music teacher.