Friday, April 29, 2016

Steamed (A Gourmet Girl Mystery #1), by Jessica Conant-Park (author), Susan Conant (author), Erin Spencer (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2016 (original publication May 2006)

Twenty-something Chloe Carter is looking for a degree in social work, true love, and good food--not necessarily in that order. She's just started graduate school for her master's degree in social work, and she's also just discovered that her very hot boyfriend, who lives one floor down in their condo building, is two-timing her with a hot blonde.

Her sister thinks she should get organized about her search for love--online dating or speed dating. Speed dating is right out, but in a weak moment, she signs up for Back Bay Dates, with the user name GourmetGirl, and is soon communicating with DinnerDude. They arrange to meet at the hot new restaurant, Essence.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Crystal Dragon (Liaden Universe #2) (Books of Before #2), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Kevin T. Collins (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, September 2012 (original publication April 2006)

Having escaped the enemy for the moment, Cantra, Jela, and the Tree have to make some big decisions--the first of which is whether they're sticking together while Jela keeps his promise to Rool Tiazen and his lady, to get and distribute Liad dea'Syl's equations that hold the only hope of defeating or escaping the Sheriekas. Once they're all committed, things start to go a little haywire. Liad is inside a scholars' tower, Osabei, on Landomist. It's an inner world, and has harsh laws about the genetically engineered, like Jela. Getting in to Osabei is going to take Cantra taking on a whole new identity--and believing it, right down to the core. Jela knows why they're there; Cantra doesn't even know who they really are.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Art of Not Breathing, by Sarah Alexander

Houghton Mifflin Books for Young Readers, ISBN 9780544633889, April 2016

The Main family, living in Fortrose on the Black Isle of Scotland, is a troubled family. Five years ago, Eddie Main drowned during a visit to the beach, and the family has been not dealing with it ever since.

Elsie, now sixteen, was Eddie's twin. Eddie, born second, was developmentally challenged due to difficulties during his birth. Elsie always felt responsible for him, and now feels responsible for his death.

Dillon, two years older, is the smart one, the one who aces everything at school--and also blames himself.

As for their parents, Celia and Collin, they're not in great shape, either, each in their different, troubled, and not very communicative ways.

They all have secrets.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mug Shot (A Java Jive Mystery #2), by Caroline Fardig

Alibi/Random House, ISBN 9780804181310, April 2016

Juliet Langley and her friends at (or near) at the Java Jive cafe, are once again caught up in a murder investigation all too close to home.

Pete is still dating Cecilia Hollingsworth, Nashville socialite, philanthropist, and businesswoman. Juliet is dating Cecilia's brother, Stan--although Juliet and Cecilia still loathe each other. When Juliet and former boyfriend, cop Ryder Hamilton, find Cecilia's dead body in the Java Jive tent on the morning of a charity 5K that Cecilia organized, it's shocking and unsettling.

But not nearly as shocking and unsettling as finding that the last person to see her alive was Pete--in the Java Jive tent the night before, and that she had just broken up with him, telling him she was pregnant and someone else was the father.

Pete had motive, means, and opportunity, so it's not long before he's sitting in jail.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Stargazer's Sister: A Novel, by Carrie Brown (author), Suzanne Toren (narrator)

Audible Studios, January 2016

This is a great fictional biography of the life of Caroline Herschel, younger sister of astronomer William Hersschel. For many years she was the unfavored younger daughter of the Herschel family, or more specifically unfavored by her her mother, or by her oldest brother, Jacob.

Her father Isaac and her second-oldest sibling, William, though, were very fond of her, and she acquired a pretty fair education along the way. When William was settled and established in England, having gone there originally in the military service of the Elector of Hanover, a.k.a. the King of England, eventually he needed help running his household, and she become desperate enough to ask him to save her from life with their mother.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Obsession, by Nora Roberts

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780399175169, April 2016

At not quite twelve, Naomi Bowes discovered her father was a serial killer, freed his latest victim, and triggered his arrest and prosecution.

Four years later, her mother, who has never recovered from her psychological dependence on Thomas Bowes, kills herself. Her mother's brother, Seth, and his partner Harry, give her and her younger brother Mason a secure and loving home, but Naomi carries her own, less obvious scars from her experiences. As an adult, her name legally changed from Bowes to Carson, she's been a nomadic professional photographer for years.

And then she buys a big, old house in a little town on the west coast.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Crystal Soldier (Liaden Universe #1) (Books of Before #1), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Kevin T. Collins (narrator)

Audible Studios, September 2012 (original publication 2005)

M Jela is a soldier, genetically engineered, of the "M" strain. He's still young, but a hardened warrior, and very nearly gets killed in space battle with the Sheriekas, humanity's enemy returned after centuries of absence. The Sheriekas' distant ancestors used to be human; that hasn't been true for a very long time. And the Sheriekas' plans for the galaxy, and the universe, are not compatible with human survival.

Cantra yos'Phelium is a jump pilot with a surprisingly well-armed ship, and a murky background.

Monday, April 11, 2016

From Grief to Grace, by Jeannie Ewing

Sophia Institute Press, ISBN 9781622822943, April 2016

This is an examination of grief and loss from a perspective of faith, specifically Catholic faith. Ewing draws heavily on her own experiences of loss, including the peaceful end of a grandfather at the end of a long life, a relative who died of the effects of drug addiction, and the birth of a daughter with a rare genetic disease.

Ewing writes intelligently and compassionately about grief, its manifestations, and what we can gain from engaging with our grief. She devotes a fair amount of attention to the fact that grief, real grief, can some from things others may not recognize as that level of loss: divorce, loss of a job, death of a pet, other things that those not experiencing them may regard more lightly. "At least no one died." Many challenges in life can cause real grief that we need to acknowledge and deal with.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Fogged Inn (A Maine Clambake Mystery #4), by Barbara Ross (author), Dara Rosenberg (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2016

Julia Snowden has been back in her home town of Bushman's Harbor, Maine, since March now. Her family's clambake business is closed down for the winter, of course, but she and her boyfriend, Chris, are running a dinner restaurant. On the Monday morning following the Thanksgiving weekend, their landlord, Gus (who runs a breakfast and lunch establishment in the same space), wakes them with the news that he's found a body in the walk-in freezer.

A man's body. The only guest the previous night whom no one knew.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Heart Like Mine (An Echo Lake Novel), by Maggie McGinnis

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250069085, April 2016

DeLaney Blair is a finance officer at Mercy Hospital in Echo Lake, VT.  Like many small hospitals these days, Mercy is struggling with a very tight budget, and the word has just come down from the board to find significant cuts to make in every department.

DeLaney is assigned the pediatrics department, and has thirty days to find those cuts in a department that's already understaffed. She's not happy about this even before she meets the head of Pediatrics.

Dr. Joshua McKenzie is passionate, dedicated, and drop-dead gorgeous.

This wouldn't be a romance without major obstacles. Passed experience has made Josh a bit gun-shy, and he's determined not to get seriously involved with anyone until he can open his own private pediatric practice and set his own hours. DeLaney is the daughter of a highly respected surgeon who has never really had time for his own family. Number one on her list of attributes of a perfect husband is "not a doctor."

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Railwayman's Wife, by Ashley Hay

Atria Books, ISBN 9781501112171, April 2016

Ani Lachlan is a happily married woman in her thirties, with a young daughter, living in the coastal Australian village of Thirroul. It's far from the Australian plains where she grew up, but it's beautiful, and she and her railwayman husband Mac are happy there, in the years following World War II.

And then Mac is killed in a railway accident.

We get Ani and Mac's story in flashbacks, which frankly are sometimes a bit disjointed, though well-done in themselves. We also get the story of Ani moving forward after Mac's death, as a single mother, and as a woman adjusting to being a widow, working for the first time since her marriage, and getting to know the village she's living in in a new and different way.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Modern Girls, by Jennifer S. Brown

Berkley Publishing Group/NAL, ISBN 9780451477125. April 2016

The Krasinkys are a Russian Jewish family living in New York City in the years leading up to World War II, and this is the story of Rose Krasinsky and her oldest child, her only daughter, Dottie. The Great Depression is still strong, though FDR has begun the New Deal programs that will alleviate it.

Dottie is nineteen, working as a bookkeeper at an insurance company, and engaged to her boyfriend of three years, Abe Rabinowitz. Rose is 42, though husband Ben thinks she's 39, volunteers with relief groups, and cares for her home, husband, and children. The three younger ones are Izzy, at seventeen,  Alfie, just a few years younger, and Eugene, just seven.

Rose and Dottie have each just discovered they are pregnant.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Universe From Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing, by Lawrence Krauss (author), Simon Vance (narrator)

Blackstone Audiobooks, January 2012

This book is on the one hand a delight, and on the other hand a disappointment.

It's a lively and interesting look at current physics--or  at least, physics as of 2011; developments have continued. Krauss gives us a clear, interesting, and compelling account of the current scientific understanding of how our universe came into existence, how matter and energy can come from nothing, and why such exotic concepts as dark matter are fundamental to understanding how this universe works the way it does and why we are even able to exist.

And if my references to "this universe" and "our universe" seem a bit strange, well, Krauss also describes why it's likely there's more than one universe.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Ones Who Matter Most, by Rachel Herron

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451476760, April 2016

Abby is a new widow, with somewhat conflicted feelings. She had recently discovered that after her third miscarriage, Scott had had a vasectomy, while continuing to pretend they were seriously trying for a child. Feeling hurt and betrayed, she had just told him she wanted a divorce.

He walked away, went into the bathroom, and died of an aneurysm.

Fern is a struggling single mother of an eleven-year-old boy. Her husband, Matty's father, left her, simply left without a word, a couple of hours after Matty was born. She works as a bus driver, and scrimps to pay the mortgage on her home. Her ex's father, Wyatt, chose his grandson over his son, and he and his girlfriend Elva live with her and Matty, and pay rent, which helps make ends meet. The checks her ex has been sending also make a significant difference.

Fern's ex was Abby's husband, Scott.