Monday, February 29, 2016

The Promise of Forgiveness, by Marin Thomas

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9781451476296, March 2016

Ruby Baxter knows she's made a mess of her life; she's determined that her fourteen-year-old daughter, Mia, will not do the same. When she finds Mia naked with a boy, she decides they are moving to Kansas and making a fresh start.

But along the way, they'll stop--briefly, as briefly as possible--in Unforgiven, Missouri, to meet the biological father she never knew existed. Her adoptive parents never told her she was adopted, and died in a car crash when she was eighteen. Her previously close had tanked suddenly when she was sixteen. Mia's father left her to raise Mia on her own when she told him she was pregnant. Now a letter from a lawyer tells her that she was adopted, and that her biological father, who gave her up for adoption at birth, wants to meet her.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Spy's Devotion (Regency Spies of London #1), by Melanie Dickerson

Waterfall Press, ISBN 9781503950511, February 2016

Miss Julia Grey is an orphan who hs grown up in the home of her mother's relatives, the Wilherns. She regards her cousin, Phoebe Wilhern, as a sister, and Phoebe returns the feeling.

The elder Wilherns regard her more as a poor relation and useful companion for Phoebe.

But all seems good until Phoebe falls violently in infatuation with Lt. Nicholas Langdon, a second son who really has to marry a woman with a good dowry--but who has already been burned once. His former fiancée, Henrietta, threw him over for a much older, but also much richer, man. She is now the widowed Mrs. Tromberg. Langdon likes Julia much better, but can't possibly marry without money on either side.

But all that is as nothing beside the fact that he has brought home from the war a diary given him by a dying soldier who asked him to deliver it to someone at the War Office.

After an alarming experience, he makes a copy before delivering it to the War Office, which proves to be a good thing when he is attacked on the way there and the original stolen from him.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

King's Crusade (Seventeen #2), by A.D. Starrling (author), Michael Bower (narrator)

AD Starrling, November 2015

Two races of immortals living among humans. Secret wars. Millennia-long plots and conspiracies. Lots of fighting.

Normally, I hate this stuff.

So why do I love this book?

It's smart. The characters are complex, and have conflicting interests. They're intelligent, and don't do stupid things because the plot needs it, but they legitimately don't always know what they're doing.

Also, it's fun.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Jump Cut (The Ellie Forman Mysteries Book 5), by Libby Fischer Hellmann

The Red Herrings Press, February 2016

Ellie Forman returns after ten years. Her daughter Rachel is grown, and she's been building her career making documentaries and videos--the latest client is major defense contractor Delcroft. She;s produced a great set of promotional videos, to be rolled out over a period of several weeks on their website and social media. Some of the footage was shot at a trade show, where a man named Gregory Parks introduces himself as consultant for Delcroft. Parks turned up in an improbably high number of shots, and Ellie and her production staff cut him out as much as possible.

But not completely.

Delcroft VP Charlotte Hollander seems pleased with the videos--until she notices Gregory Parks. Then she becomes angry, calls Ellie's work unprofessional, and cancels the project. Ellie arranges to meet with Parks, trying to find out why, but he falls--or is pushed--onto the railroad tracks in front of s subway train, and is killed.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Borrowed Man, by Gene Wolfe (author), Kevin T. Collins (narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2015

E.A. Smithe is a reclone--a clone of, in his case, a dead mystery writer, with the writer's recorded personality and memories uploaded to him. He's not a legal person, but a piece of property, specifically the property of a local library. He lives on a "shelf"--a three-walled room--at the library, and patrons can consult or borrow him.

Which is what Colette Coldbrook does.

She's trying to find the secret she believes must be hidden in the book her brother found in their father's safe--Murder on Mars by (the original) E.A. Smithe. Her father had gone from midlevel executive to widely respected financial genius--but where his original capital came from remains mysterious. Now he's dead, and her brother was murdered, apparently for the book, and Colette wants to find answers.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Murder at the Fourth (A Forest Pines Mystery #1), by Duncan Whitehead

Kindle, February 2016

Jenny Pickett is a retired Miami homicide detective, now living in Forest Pines, Montana. She's got a quiet life, her dog Thor is with her, she has friends. It's all good, and even if it is a teensy bit boring, well, she needed to get away from Miami and the events leading to her PTSD and medical retirement.

The police force in Forest Pines consists of Steve Calder, Sheriff, who is handsome, charming, interested, and more than ten years younger. Her closest friends are Evelyn, the bartender at Dave's Bar, and Claire, the town librarian.

Into all this quiet falls a murder. Donald Sands, a local businessman and real estate magnate, is found shot dead on the golf course, at the fourth hole.

The problem is not a lack of suspects; It's a surfeit of them. Donald Sands was an unfaithful husband, a ruthless businessman, and willing to wreck his friends and business associates over money.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Unleashed (Sydney Rye #1), by Emily Kimelman

Createspace, ISBN 9781463581978, September 2011

Joy Humboldt is going through rather a challenging patch in life. She's finally broken up with her manipulative jerk of a boyfriend. The next morning, she heads off to the pound to adopt a dog--a huge mixed breed she names Blue--but later that day, at her job at a barista at a coffee shop that's not Starbucks, she mouths off to a customer she thinks is being unreasonable. It's really quite reasonable, given her behavior, when her boss fires her on the spot.

But then a neighbor connects her with a friend of a friend, and she buys a dog walking business. Things are looking up, right?

Then she finds one of her new clients dead. The woman who sold her the business has disappeared. And the police seem strangely interested in only certain aspects of the crime.

Cover Reveal -- Finding Me, by Dawn Brazil

Something I rarely do--a cover reveal for an upcoming book, which I will also be reviewing soon. Here's the beautiful front cover:

And here's the full cover:

Finding Me is the first volume in the Finding Me Trilogy, and volumes two and three will be out later this year. (No waiting years to find out what happens!)

Chloe Carmichael already has enough going on in her life, with her mother's controlling behavior extending even to insisting that she date the "right" boy, and laser-like focus on appearances above all. One of her two sisters died last summer, in a stupid accident and since then it's grown even worse. Chloe no longer has the escape of boarding at school with her best friend, but instead has become a commuter. She has also become responsible for overseeing her youngest sister, who is being allowed to begin attending their exclusive private school early, to provide "structure" for her.

She really doesn't need to discover that she has seemingly magical powers, including seeing the future, or to find out that she's not who she thinks she is--and her two sisters, the living one and the dead one, may not be, either.

There's lots of excitement and mystery here, and my review will be coming soon.

Dawn Brazil:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Chimes, by Charles Dickens (author), Richard Armitage (narrator)

Audible Studios, December 2015 (original publication 1844)

Everyone knows A Christmas Carol, but Dickens wrote four more Christmas stories over the next few years. This is the second in the series, the story of poor porter Trotty Veck, who has grown discouraged and pessimistic about the moral worthiness of humanity.

He treasures the Chimes, the church bells, though, and one year, between Christmas and New Year's, the Chimes, or the spirits that live within them, decide to teach him an important lesson. In one harrowing night, he sees terrible visions of what will be, or might be, in nine years' time. His friends, family, and neighbors face terrible challenges. Trotty sees both what hardships they face, and the crushing unfairness of the law--and how they bear up under it, and what motivates choices that he previously thought could never be explained except by pure, willful evil.

It's a darker story than A Christmas Carol, but in the end has the same moral message.


I bought this book.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon (author), Tara Sands (narrator)

Tantor Audio, April 2015

When letters were dispatched to available wicked witches, wizards, sorcerers, mad scientists, vampires, and beast lords announcing an opening for a a new Master of the Castle at Castle Hangnail, the resident staff did not expect a twelve-year-old girl. Molly has one of the invitation letters, though, and insists she is a genuine wicked witch, and the minions don't want Castle Hangnail to get decommissioned for lack of a master by the Board of Magic, so...

When Molly starts making good progress on the required tasks to be confirmed as the new master, even the most skeptical of the minions, Major Domo, starts to become hopeful.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, by Diana Pavlac Glyer (author), James A. Owen (illustrator)

Kent State University/Black Squirrel Books, ISBN 9781606352762, November 2015

As a teenager, Diana Pavlac Glyer became fascinated by the Inklings, and how this group of accomplished writers may have influenced each other's work. Unfortunately, she found a great deal about the Inklings generally and as individuals, and almost nothing about how the Inklings may have engaged in mutual criticism and collaboration. Reading every published work about the group and its members brought her no closer, and at last she plunged into the primary sources--the letters, journals, and other papers left behind by the Inklings.

Few writing groups become famous, and the Inklings are among the most famous. Aside from writing and residence in or around Oxford, the Inklings were a diverse group, of varied professions, backgrounds, and interests. As Glyer lays it out, this very diversity is one of the reasons for their success: They each had something to learn and something to teach; they challenged each other, and reacted to challenges from the others; they had sparked new ideas and new directions from encounters with new ideas and perspectives.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

This Gulf of Time and Stars (Reunification #1), by Julie E. Czerneda (author), Allyson Johnson (narrator)

Audible Studios, November 2015

This is the first book of a trilogy, but that trilogy is the third trilogy in a larger series. Despite that, while it's a bit confusing at first, enough backstory is salted in along the way that even coming to it cold I was able to catch up and enjoy the story.

We begin with a very dark scene, with individuals of some power and status within the various races of the Trade Pact meeting in secret. They're there to plot the destruction of the Clan, a race newly invited to join the Trade Pact. The Clan are a mysterious race, who can pass for human and live in secret among humans--and can "port" themselves and objects from one place to another. They can also control the minds of others, and erase memories. Terrifying, right?

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On, by Debbie Macomber

Ballantine Books, ISBN 9780553391923, February 2016

Leanne Patterson and her daughter-in-law Nichole are embarking on new lives in the aftermath of facing up to their husbands' infidelity. Leanne had put up with Sean's infidelity for thirty-five years before discovering that son Jake was also cheating on his wife. Nichole, when she learned the truth, is not willing to put up with it. They both file for divorce. Two years have passed; Leanne's divorce is final, but Jake is still fighting Nichole on it.

The two women, closer than ever, having taken apartments in Portland across the hall from each other. They're both volunteering as part of their plan for moving on and living healthy lives not focused on bitterness and resentment. Leanne is teaching an English as a second language class; Nichole is volunteering at Dress for Success. Nichole is also facing the challenges of being a single mother, and of having to send three-year-old Owen to Jake every other weekend. Both women have full lives, busy and challenging.