Friday, December 30, 2016

Gun (Gun Apocalypse #1, by Lee Hayton

Lee Hayton, January 2017

On a seemingly normal day, everything starts to go wrong.

All over the country, and the world, there have been people sick for the last week with something that feels flu-like, and includes appalling migraines. Now people are reaching the critical point of the illness: what temporarily relieves the pain of the headaches is killing people.

And a lot of people have guns.

What's especially notable about this book is that Hayton does it without making it a polemic on either side of the gun issue. It isn't about guns, or gun owners, being either good or bad, responsible or irresponsible. It's about what a new and nasty disease does, and the desperate measures people are driven to as they try to understand what's going on, and how to survive.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Precious and Grace (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective agency #17), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Lisette Lecat (narrator)

Recorded Books, October 2016

Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi have been working together at the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency for several years now. Over that time, Mma Makutsi has gone from secretary to co-director, largely through her own determination and assertiveness. Charlie, originally one of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's apprentices, has been let go from that position, and is now Mma Ramotswe's very part-time assistant--and is starting, at last, to grow up. Fanwell, the other apprentice, is on track to be a qualified mechanic, and is also maturing. Mr. Polopetsi is a volunteer part-time assistant, contributing his special skills when he's needed and not filling in as a chemistry teacher in the schools. Then one day Mma Ramotswe finds out from her friend Mma Potokwani, matron of the orphan farm, that Mr. Polopetsi has a new money-making business scheme, the Fat Cattle Club, which sounds very much like a pyramid scheme. She's got to find out what's really going on before he gets himself into serious trouble.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Roman Holiday: The Chronicles of St. Mary's #3.5, by Jodi Taylor (author), Zara Ramm (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2015

No St. Mary's assignment goes the way it's supposed to. Never.

The historians of St. Mary's investigate major historical events in contemporary time (don't call it "time travel.") This time the assignment is really simple, and very popular; they'll be observing Rome when Caesar has moved Cleopatra into his home in Rome.

The same home he shares with Calpurnia.

They're just going to observe conditions. It's a peaceful day. What could possibly go wrong?

But this is the St. Mary's crew. Max, Peterson, and their colleagues always have way more excitement than they're supposed to.

It's a lot of fun. I particularly like Taylor's narrative voice and Ramm's narration. Recommended.

This book was free on Audible.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Present: A Chronicles of St. Mary's Short Story #4.5, by Jodi Taylor (author), Zara Ramm (narrator)

Audible Studios, ISBN 9781536646030, January 2017 (original publication April 2015)

It's Christmas Eve at St. Mary's Priory, and nothing is stirring at all--except that Max, Peterson, and Markham are off on another unauthorized assignment, this time to rescue senior historians Bashford and Grey, who vanished in 12th century Jerusalem ten years ago. (St. Mary's researches important historical events in contemporary time; don't call it "time travel." That would be vulgar!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Picture of Guilt (Ellie Foreman Mysteries #2), by Libby Fischer Hellmann (author), Nan McNamara (narrator)

The Red Herring Press, November 2016 (original publication May 2003)

I continue to read the Ellie Foreman books wildly out of order, which is hard on any series where there is ongoing character development and relationships change over time. And I continue to enjoy them immensely anyway. In this one Rachel is still only thirteen, Ellie's ex is still operating largely on resentment and entitlement, and she and David are maybe starting to realize that they have to work on their relationship if they want it to last. Mac, her director, has not yet demanded that she promise never to get involved in anything every again.

So when she sees a picture of an accused murderer in the newspaper, and she realizes that as part of a shoot at the harbor she has a picture of him somewhere other than the site of the murder at the time of the murder, none of the "don't get involved" advice has nearly the strength it gets later in the series. I mean, what could go wrong?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Games of Make-Believe, by Julie Ann Wambach

Brookside Press, ISBN 9780981481814, November 2016

Susan, her twin sister Millie, and their triplet brothers, are treated as drudges by their stepmother Hannah whenever their father is away on business, which is most of the time. It's not clear what he does for a living, but given we seem to be talking about the late forties or early fifties--certainly not later--traveling salesman is a likely possibility.

When he dies, things get even rougher for the kids, and the contrast with how their two half-sisters are treated grows even greater. It's not long before, one by one, the kids start taking off to live their own lives. Susan is the last to leave, marrying a high school classmate who helped her stay in touch with Millie by agreeing to be the address Millie could send the letters to.

But he's no prince, either. He drinks, he goes off on binges, as first one and then the second daughter are born, he is no help at all.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Double Forté (LeGarde Mysteries #1), by Aaron Paul Lazar (author), Robert King Ross (narrator)

Aaron Paul Lazar, August 2012 (original publication 2004)

Music professor Gus LeGarde's wife Elspeth died four years ago, and he hasn't really recovered. There's still a huge hole in his life. He keeps going, though, teaching, playing Chopin, and lavishing love on his daughter Freddie, his grandson, and his dog Max.

It all starts to unravel when he rescues a child in the snow, who is too scared even to give a name.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Halcyon (The Complex #1), by Demelza Carlton

Lost Plot Press, December 2016

Galen Tasker is chasing the terrorist who murdered his parents ten years ago. That killer is Halcyon, a Siren, a female Mer. The chase has brought him to the Complex, a daring new experiment in peaceful living, an end to war between Humans and Metas--an array of what appear to the reader to be genetically modified descendants of Humans. Humans and Metas, though, appear to believe they are unrelated. The many varieties of Metas that exist are an added complication for Meta-averse Humans, like Galen.

Galen's an engineer, the new chief engineer of the newly completed Complex. He really, really wants to end the violence, and support the peace that the Complex is supposed to be the beginning of, but he doesn't see any contradiction between his desire to kill Halcyon, and his desire to end the violence.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Voices of Martyrs, by Maurice Broaddus

Rosarium Publishing, ISBN 9780996769259, February 2017

One of the fun things about reviewing books is that you can be offered a book for review that you might never have noticed on your own. For me, this is one such book.

It's a collection of short stories with settings ranging from ancient Africa to the slave trade, to the Jim Crow era in the US to alternate histories and the far future. Some are clearly science fiction or fantasy, while others have the barest possible fantastic content. Even those with little to no fantastic content, though, are written from s background and viewpoint that is outside my cultural background or usual reading experience. It's as challenging as any "unknown world" in science fiction, the more so because of the knowledge that it reflects the experience and cultural background of someone really living in the same world I do, and living that alien life here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Shepherd's Crown (Tiffany Acing #5) (Discworld #41), by Terry Pratchett (author), Stephen Briggs (narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780062430557, September 2015

I put off reading this book simply because it's the last new Pratchett novel ever. I saved it for a time when I needed something really nice.

And that was a good choice. This is a lovely book, a lovely story.

No one lives forever, not even witches, and Esmeralda Weatherwax has reached the end of her days. Being the sensible, organized woman she has always been, she has put everything in order, including a note saying that her home and all her possessions go to Tiffany Aching. Except, of course, for her cat, Yew, who is a cat, and will decide for herself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Case of the Broken Doll (Inspector David Graham #4), by Alison Golden, Grace Dagnall

Kindle, December 2016

Okay, I have to admit it upfront. I just loved this book. Decent, interesting, quirky people, solving a mystery using their brains. No dogs or cats, which is Just Wrong, but, hey, maybe that will come in later entries?

Detective Inspector David Graham is settling in after a few months has head of the Gorey police force on Jersey. He's still living in the White House Inn because it's so very comfortable and they make his tea just so, but he's in town to stay.

And one lazy Sunday, doing his obligatory Christmas shopping, he notices that all the local shops have a particular type of doll in the window--the American Girl dolls, wildly popular about a decade ago. He asks, and learns the sad story of the disappearance of a local girl, Beth Ridley, ten years ago,when she was just fifteen. The entire community turned out to look for her, She was never found, the only thing found was the leg of one of her dolls. She collected the American Girls dolls.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Love, Alice, by Barbara Davis

Berkley, ISBN 9780451474810, December 2016

Thirty or so years ago, a young woman in a village in Cornwall became pregnant, and before they could marry, her boyfriend was  killed in a fishing accident. Her mother, unexpectedly much harsher than Alice had expected, sent her to a convent to have her baby--one of the now-notorious Magdalene laundries. From this experience, Alice emerged without her baby, but with an absolute determination to find and reclaim him--and an unforgiving anger toward her own mother.

A year ago, Dovie Larkin's fiancé, William Prescott, committed suicide two weeks before their wedding. He left no note, no hint of why he did it, and Dovie has not recovered from the blow.

Today, while eating lunch next to William's grave, she sees an old woman leaving a letter on a nearby grave--the improbably grand grave of Alice Tandy, former maid to the Tate family, substantial donors to to the museum where Dovie is director of fundraising.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Naomi's Choice, by Claire Sanders

Prism Books, November 2016

Naomi Sullivan has traveled from San Antonio to Loma Verde to visit her grandmother, and perhaps to stay with her permanently. Her mother is dead, her father has remarried, and Naomi is frankly tired of being an unpaid housekeeper and governess for her new stepmother's four children from her first marriage.

On the stagecoach, just outside Loma Verde, they pick up Ethan Garrett, whose horse turned up lame. He's clean and polite, but relatively rough dressed, and not as polished as Lucas, her former beau whom her stepmother ordered off.

Soon after, when they arrive in Loma Verde, she meets Lt. Bret Anderson, a cavalry officer who is handsome, tall, and as polished and smooth as a girl can imagine.

Guess where this is going.

Second Chance Rose, and Other Stories, by Terry Odell

The Wild Rose Press, ISBN 2940012472182, March 2008

This is a collection of romance short stories. Carter Worthington is a disciplined, organized, reclusive writer. He has no idea what to make of Tiffany when she is seemingly blown into town on a hurricane, coming to rescue her elderly grandfather, who can't cope with the aftermath on his own. Rose is a widow moving back to L.A. after another hurricane, only in her forties but sure she's had her one true love and there isn't another one out there for her. Amy is divorced and has two kids, and is pursuing a degree in anthropology, not a new love interest, when she meets Greg at the start of her "Just for Amy" weekend.

They're all sweet, enjoyable, fairly light stories, with just the amount of complication you can reasonably fit into a short story. This makes for a couple of afternoons of relaxing reading.

I received this book for free and am reviewing it purely by choice.