Sunday, December 31, 2017

Death and the Lucky Man (DI Tremayne #3), by Phillip Strang

P. Strang, December 2017

Detective Inspector Keith Tremayne, along with his sergeant, Clare Yarwood, is investigating the murder of a man whose family he knows. The Winters family were always a bit sketchy, brothers Fred and Stan now in prison, sister Margie a drug-addicted prostitute, brothers Cyril, Gerry, and Alan working enough to keep themselves in food, housing, and drink. Alan married Mavis, a woman Tremayne was very briefly involved with years before, and they have two children. Rachel is a nurse; Bertie is a ne'er-do-well, drinking and doing drugs. There's one more brother, Dean, who got an education, got a job in the business owned by the father of Barbara Garrett, the woman he married, and moved to Southampton. He doesn't associate much with his low-life family.

Not even after Alan buys a lottery ticket and wins  £68 million.

Now Alan is dead, stabbed to death on the altar stone at Stonehenge.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Seventh Bride, by T. Kingfisher (author), Kaylin Heath (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, November 2015

Rhea is just fifteen, a miller's daughter, and no more than pleasing in appearance, so it's very, very strange when a lord shows up and wants to marry her. Neither she nor her parents think this is normal or good, but they're not in a position to say no to a lord who is, moreover, a friend of their own lord.

It's even more disturbing when he insists Rhea come for an overnight visit at his home before the wedding.

All of this is nothing to how disturbed Rhea is when she arrives and finds that Lord Crevan has six previous wives, only one of whom is respectably dead.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Mira's Last Dance (Penric & Desdemona #5), by Lois McMaster Bujold

Spectrum Literary Agency, February 2017

Penric is leading General Arisaydia and his widowed sister  through now-hostile Cedonia to what they hope will be sanctuary in the Duchy of Orbas. It's a difficult and tricky journey, with dangerous delays. Temporarily stranded in the city of Sosie, they take refuge in a high-end brothel.

The brothel has a little problem with pests at the moment, which Penric, with his need to shed chaos, is able to help with. What he doesn't initially anticipate is that Mira, one of the ten women whose personalities make up the demon Desdemona, will step forward with her own skills to help them on their way.

Mira, of course, is the courtesan.

Over the course of their days in Sosie, it becomes easy to see why everyone who doesn't already know Penric well at some point suspects that his demon has become ascendant.

Another solid Penric adventure.

I bought this book.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

When, by Victoria Laurie (author), Whitney Dykhouse (narrator)

Audible Audio, January 2015

Maddie Fynn is a teenager with a very uncomfortable talent: She can see the death dates of everyone she meets, or sees a picture of, imprinted clearly on their foreheads. As a young child, she had no idea what the numbers meant. Her police officer father's death in a shootout with drug dealers, when she's six years old, is a painful revelation.

It's also the beginning of her mother's drinking.  Her mother's drinking leads to her insisting Maddie read death dates for paying clients, to supplement a shrunken income that can't support both their normal expense's and Mrs. Fynn's drinking. It's not a great life, but not terrible, until children whose death dates she's read start to be murdered, and the FBI decides she looks like a prime suspect.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Penric's Mission (Penric & Desdemona #4), by Lois McMaster Bujold

Spectrum Literary Agency, November 2016

Penric has been through some big changes since the events in Penric's Fox. His studies with the shamans in Easthome completed, he returned to Martensbridge, where his medical abilities became greatly in demand. Very greatly in demand--and only for the most serious cases. The Princess-Archdivine Llewen has died, and so has his mother. In the end, it was too much loss, and he moved to Adria, first to serve the White God's archdivine there, and then to serve the Duke.

And the Duke has sent him to Cedonia, to make contact with a general who wishes to take service in Adria.

Unless, of course, the letter from the general is a forgery.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

IQ, by Joe Ide (author), Sullivan Jones (narrator)

Hachette Audio, October 2016

Isaiah Quintabe is a young man, a high school dropout, living in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. He's very intelligent, extremely intelligent, and nicknamed IQ. In such a tough neighborhood, there are many cases that are just too small for the police to focus on, or even notice. If bullets aren't flying, the police are busy.

IQ has taken on the job of solving the cases the police don't bother with, or that his neighbors won't take to the police. Sometimes they pay him good money. Sometimes it's just some money. A lot of the time, it's just baked goods, because they can't afford anything else. The money matters when he can get it, though, because IQ is saving for something important. He's haunted by something he feels great guilt over, but at least at first. we have no idea what.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Lullabies & Lies (A Rosewood Place Mystery #5), by Ruby Blaylock

Ruby Blaylock, December 2017

Annie Richards runs an inn, Rosewood Place, in the South Carolina small town where she grew up. Her mother, Bessie Purdy, and friend and old flame Rory Jenkins help it all work.

It's not innkeeping as usual when Annie and Rory find a car that had passed them on their way to do shopping for the inn by the side of the road, with no driver, but a baby girl in the back seat. A short distance away, in the creek, they find a woman's body.

It's not long before the woman is identified, and the wealthy and well-connected Marshall family, real estate developers, are in Annie's inn, saying the woman, Kimberly, was their friend and former assistant, and demanding to know what happened. They are soon joined by Phillip Hutchens, claiming he  Kim's fiance and that the baby is his daughter.

Hutchens blames the Marshalls for all his business troubles.

What Annie had planned as a quiet week between guests becomes dominated by a homicide investigation. She may have a murderer staying in her inn, tensions among her guests are high, and Annie and Rory can no more stay out of the investigation than they can stop breathing.

Even coming into the series at book five, it was easy enough to pick up the essential information to keep track of who's who and what the larger framework of the series is. The main characters are likable, and even the less likable ones are layered characters, not just stock villains. It's a light, enjoyable read.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts, by Stanislas Dehaene (author), David Drummond (narrator)

Tantor Audio, January 2014

It seems we are, finally, starting to solve the mystery of what consciousness is, and how the brain creates it.

Moreover, this is not just a fascinating scientific breakthrough, but one with important clinical implications. These are breakthroughs that are starting to make it possible to identify which patients in a "persistent vegetative state" or "minimally conscious state," have conscious activity going on in their brains, despite their inability to communicate.

More than that, it's becoming the basis experimental treatments that are, sometimes, able to bring some of these patients back to full conscious awareness and ability to communicate and control their lives.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Penric's Fox (Penric & Desdemona #3), by Lois McMaster Bujold

Spectrum Literary Agency, August 2017

Eight months have passed since the events in Penric and the Shaman, and Learned Penric is in Easthome, where in between his duties to the Princess-Archdivine, he's visiting with his friends, Shaman Inglis and Locator Oswyl. Unfortunately, their planned day of fishing is interrupted when a sorceress's body is found in the woods. As awful as the death itself is, the question of who killed her is matched by an equally appalling question: What has happened to her demon?

Penric continues to grow, as a sorcerer and as a divine, and continues to break new ground in ways his superiors don't necessarily expect. There's a lot to explore in this world of sorcerers, shamans, and gods who from time to time take an active hand in the world. Unlike many fantasy worlds, this one has a religion that isn't just a cheap knockoff of Christianity, whether portrayed positively or negatively. Bujold has put thought, work, and probably research into constructing a convincingly different religion, and doesn't treat believers as gullible fools.

I'm looking forward to reading his later adventures.

I'm going with internal chronological order, as Bujold recommends, rather than publication order. Which you do is a matter of personal preference and, except for the first two, shouldn't involve many spoilers.

I bought this book.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Grave Heritage (A Darcy & Flora Cozy Mystery #4), by Blanche Day Manos (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Pen-L Publishing, January 2017

Darcy Campbell and her mother, Flora Tucker, are back in another murder mystery in Ventris County, Oklahoma.

In the midst of a violent storm, a stranger is murdered in an isolated and now-abandoned shack. Except this man is not a stranger; he is soon identified as Pat Harris's long-missing husband, Walter. Their son, Jasper, has, as he often does for reasons that make sense to him, vanished into the woods, making him by normal standards an obvious suspect.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, by Bee Wilson (author), Alison Larkin (narrator)

Tantor Audio, October 2012

This is a fascinating look at the history, not of foods or of cooking, but of the technology of cooking.

What we eat and how we cook is determined not just by what raw food materials are available, but also by the available tools. Mastering fire was the first step toward eating food that isn't raw, and therefore things that simply aren't edible unless they are cooked. The next step were cooking vessels--we have pottery shards to help us trace the invention and development of clay pots, but we probably used hollowed-out gourds first.

Knives predated that, but spoons followed. Spoons are used in every culture; they're essential to any cooking more complicated than roasting a carcass over an open fire.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

On Power, by Robert A. Caro (author, narrator)

Audible Studios, May 2017

Robert Caro, author of groundbreaking, monumental biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, talks about the origins, creation, and use of political power. It's short (under two hours), insightful, funny, and enlightening. Caro talks about his own development as a reporter, researcher, and writer, including the experience of an early, temporary job as a speechwriter of an unnamed local political boss, which changed the direction of his career early on.

His views continued to grow and change as he researched his biography of Robert Moses, and as he later researched his biography of Lyndon Johnson. It's worth noting that the Johnson biography is currently four volumes, and he notes in this audiobook that he's now working on the fifth volume of this projected three-volume biography. The more he researches, the more he learns, and the more he has to say about political power, how it grows, how it is used, and how it affects every aspect of people's lives.

Highly recommended.

Monday, December 11, 2017

You, Me, and Us, by Liam Hurley

L. Hurley, December 2017

Jimmy Rowland doesn't have a perfect life, but he does have a decent one. He's singing with a band and they're starting to get some breaks. He's got a steady job working in a bar he likes. His two best friends are his bandmates, Tom and Ryan, and they happily share a flat in Manchester--the best city in the world, in Jimmy's opinion--which is quite inexpensive when split three ways.

Then he meets Erin Poppet, and his life blows up. She's beautiful, exciting, and, inexplicably to him, attracted to him.

The construction of the story is interesting. At first we don't know who is narrating the story, not their name, not their gender, not their orientation. We just know that this person is going to meet another person in a coffee shop, a person they were involved with, split up with, and are going to see for the first time in months. It's the feelings and experiences that matter here, not the mundane personal details. It's very well done, and I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing in even mentioning names. Yet the cover matter does, and perhaps I'm alone in thinking that ignoring this information is a better way to experience the book.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Mysterious Mr. Whistler (The Ragamuffin Sisters), by Hillary McMullen (author), Anita Higman (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Armonia Publishing, November 2017

Jane, Dakota, Sketti, and Elle are the Ragamuffin Sisters, a group of four misfit girls each with their own kinds of creative genius. They're engaged in an ongoing war with the four boys they call the Thickheads. Things keep ramping up, from pranks on each other to attacks on each other's clubhouses, until one night the girls paint the boys' treehouse pink, hear strange noises in the ravine--and the next day, a dead body is found.

It's Mr. Whistler, a bookstore owner who has shared books with Elle, but who is otherwise a bit of a mystery to the girls. There's also a remarkably stinky, sticky substance in the ravine, along with a surprising number of dead animals.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Lighthouse Keeper, by Cynthia Ellingsen (author), Kate Rudd (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, April 2017

Dawn Connors is the daughter of treasure hunters, and didn't find growing up on ships in, from a child's perspective, random places all over the world, fun or happy or secure. Now as an adult, she's living in Boston, working in the financial industry, and in a relationship she hopes will lead to marriage. It's secure, and stable, and she's determined to hold on to this.

Then what's expected to be a light, entertaining show about the history of Starlight Cove, Michigan, where her parents now live, turns out to be a vicious expos√© on a famous shipwreck that Dawn's great-grandfather, Captain Fitzy Connors, commanded.  There have long been stories that he survived the wreck and stole the silver coins being transported. The tv show pushed the idea that the current Connors wealth comes not from a wreck her father found, but from the vanished silver coins. In short order, she's lost her job and her boyfriend, and heads home with a plan of investigating the Wanderer wreck and proving Captain Fitzy's, and her father's, innocence.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hyddwen (A Short Story of the Merchinogi #2), by Heather Rose Jones (author), Pip Hoskins (narrator)

Podcastle.org, September 2017

Morvyth takes her lover Elin, Lady of Madrunion's place when Hyddwen, a Lady of the otherworld, comes visiting to lure a champion to defend her land and people.

But Morvyth is not a warrior, and only a mortal woman, and surely has little chance of surviving three days of conflict with an Otherworldly lord. Yet in addition to being willing to give her life to keep Elin safe, she's smart, observant, and patient.

This is a tale based in Welsh mythology, the stories of women in the same lands and time as the Maginogi, which tells the stories of men. It's an original and gripping tale that captures the Mabinogi style.

Recommended.

This story was available at no charge when I listened to it on the Podcastle.org site.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Everest, by S.L. Scott

S.L. Scott, ISBN 9781940071589, December 2017

Singer Davis and her friend Melanie Lazarus have moved from Boulder, Colorado to New York City to make their careers. Instead, they're working in jobs they hate, and still barely able to pay for a decent apartment in a less than ideal neighborhood. And since Singer's goal is a career in publishing, she knows she wouldn't be able to afford even this if she succeeds in getting an entry level job at a publisher.

Despite this, they are enjoying their lives, and Singer's life starts to be enlivened by periodic sightings of a stunningly handsome man who seems to be looking at her with interest, too.

Months pass before they really meet, but when they do, he's as charming, and interesting, as his looks.

But he's very clear that while he wants to spend time with her, he doesn't want to date, and at first it's not at all clear why.

Monday, December 4, 2017

No Place Like You (Cloud Bay #3), by Emma Douglas

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250111029, December 2017

Zach Harper and his sisters are the children of Grey Harper, late leader of the band Blacklight. Since Grey's death, his former bandmates and his three grown children have all, in various ways, been struggling. Zach has spent the last year playing for a new band. The youngest sibling, Mina, has gotten married after some hardships of her own, and middle sibling Faith is planning her own wedding.

A friend of the siblings, Leah Santelli, is sound engineer at Harper Studios on Lansing Island, but has ambitions to be a producer. She needs a break, a way in to the ranks of producers. When Zach comes back to Lansing to make a solo album, she hopes Zach's album can be that break.

The problem is that she and Zach have a romantic history. She doesn't want to rekindle that history, not because she's over him, but because she isn't. The "don't rekindle romance" goal is of course doomed from the beginning, but that's just a piece of the problems and challenges they face. The Harpers, Grey's former Blacklight bandmates, and their friends on Lansing Island make a large, complicated, and often disfunctional family.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Empress of Mars (The Company #8.5), by Kage Baker (author), Nicola Barber (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, August 2011 (original publication 2009)

Mary Griffith went to Mars as a biologist for the British Aerean Company, but when BAC pulled back from a full on push to terraform and colonize, she found herself out of work. Unfortunately, her severance package was only about half what she needed to cover a trip back to Earth.

So she opened a bar, The Empress of Mars.

The beer isn't great, but it's not just the best beer on Mars, but the only beer on Mars. She and her three daughters, along with a collection of similarly displaced people, earn a decent living running the bar--despite repeated challenges and efforts to shut them down for selling a "controlled substance," i.e., the beer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Scone to Die For (Oxford Tea Room Mysteries #1), by H.Y. Hanna

Audible Audio, September 2016

Gemma Rose is home in Oxford after eight years in Australia, working her way up the corporate ladder. She finally decided the corporate ladder wasn't for her, sold her flat, quit her job, and went home to Oxford to buy a tea room. She's hired her best friend, as well as a local handyman who, it turns out, is also a fantastic baker. Things are starting to go really well, even with the hassles that go with being in food service and hospitality.

Such as the really arrogant, hostile American tourist, who seems to be with the otherwise pleasant American tour group.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Mastiffs, Mystery, and Murder (A Dog Detective Mystery #1), by Sandra Baublitz (author), Nancy Bober (narrator)

Sandra Baublitz, November 2017

Clarissa Hayes and her trusty St. Bernard, Paw, are helping out her PI boyfriend, Bruce Sevor, are at a dog show to investigate the possible murder of a much-disliked former competitor. It's a problem that neither of them knows anything about dog shows, and Clarissa has never done more than the most rudimentary training with Paw, but he is purebred, and a lovely dog. Fortunately, they also get help from friends who are more more interested in the dog show scene, especially Shelbee, who is a pet sitter and dog trainer.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Preening Peacock (A Rosalinda Alameda Mystery #1), by Lisa Shea (author), Grace Sylvan (narrator)

Minerva Webworks LLC, March 2017 (original publication August 2015)

Rosalinda Alameda is a Puerto Rican who moved to Massachusetts to attend college, and  instead her life went sideways because of an ill-judged marriage. Now 50, working in a veterinarian's office, and living in Boston, she enjoys visiting the Franklin Park Zoo. This is a mystery short story set at the zoo. In this outing, she notices something odd about the peacocks, and meets some of the zoo staff and volunteers. For such a short story, it's hard to say much more without spoilers. However, I like Rosalinda, and I think some of those she meets along the way will be likable and/or interesting as the series continues.

Short, clever, and enjoyable.

I bought this audiobook.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Ladies' Room, by Carolyn Brown (author), Donna Postel (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, November 2016 (original publication October 2011)

In the ladies' room at church during her Great-Aunt Gert's funeral, Trudy overhears her cousins talking about her husband Drew's infidelity. Unbeknownst to Trudy, it's been going on for the entire twenty years of their marriage--and her cousins can't decide whether she's too stupid to know, or too spineless to do anything.

Trudy is uncomfortably aware that she's been willfully ignoring signs of trouble for a long time.

But Drew's latest playmate is a twenty-something teller at their bank, and he's given her a Thunderbird, and Trudy is furious at realizing how she's let herself be used.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Surrender of Trust (Surrender Series #1), by Mariel Grey

Buoni Amici Press, November 2017

This book has such a promising premise.

Not necessarily historically reasonable, but,  heck, it's a Regency, right? Some allowances are built in. I was totally willing to go with the idea of the sister stepping in to run her brother's thoroughbred race horse breeding business when he's badly injured in a carriage crash, and needing to hide that fact.

But we are supposed to believe in the high moral and ethical standards of Lord Chalifour, and his determination to clean up racing. He's a good guy, really!

And from the first moment he meets Lucy Goodwin, sister of his proposed business partner Lucien Goodwin, he wants to seduce her. She's a friend of Lady Monique, the sister of a Duke, received by the ton, and he has no hesitation about introducing her to his own sister, Elizabeth. She ought to be within the protected circle even for Regency England, at least in a Regency novel.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Artemis, by Andy Weir (author), Rosario Dawson (narrator)

Audible Studios, November 2017

Jazz Bashara has a challenging life. She lives in Artemis, the only city on the moon, and there aren't that many opportunities to make money. She's working as a porter, and that barely covers the rent.

So she also smuggles. Raised by her father, Amar Bashara, one of the most respected welders in Artemis, she's a very honest, ethical smuggler. She delivers on her deals, never squeezes her customers for more than the  agreed price, and she doesn't smuggle dangerous contraband No guns. No dangerous drugs. Flammables very tightly limited.

She could make more money welding. Why isn't she? She freely admits, poor life choices, but she's tight-lipped about the details.

Then Jazz gets drawn into a plan that's more than smuggling. It's sabotage. One of her best customers is rich, connected, and has a clever plan.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Stranger Magics, by Ash Fitzsimmons

Harper Voyager Impulse, ISBN 9780062686725, November 2017

Colin Leffee is a dealer in used and rare books, living quietly over his shop in Rigby.

He's also a half-Fae prince, at odds with his mother, Titania, working with a priest to stop other Fae who amuse themselves by harassing humans.

His relatively quiet life is disrupted when a sullen, teenage changeling is dropped on his doorstep.

The teenager is his daughter, but she was raised to regard Titania as her mother. When Colin figures out that she is his daughter, he wants to return her to her mother--a woman he had a brief affair with years ago. This girl, though, whom Titania called Moyna but whose mother, Colin's old love, Meggy, named Olive, is absolutely determined to return to Titania, and doesn't believe Colin when he says that Titania won't allow a changeling she's thrown out to return.

Colin's troubles are just beginning.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Christmas Return (Christmas Stories #15), by Anne Perry (author), Jenny Sterlin (narrator)

Recorded Books, November 2017

With the Christmas season approaching, Charlotte Pitt's grandmother, Mariah Ellison, is at the home of her other granddaughter, Charlotte's sister Emily, with none of Emily's family in residence. They're traveling for the holiday. Mariah has mixed feelings about spending the holiday alone except for Emily's servants, but has no plans to do anything to change that.

Then a most unusual package arrives. It's improbably heavy, especially when it's revealed to be a Christmas pudding. Or at least, it looks like a Christmas pudding. It proves to be about an inch or so of cake around a small, decorative cannonball. Then in the later post that day, she also receives a Christmas card with a message from an old friend's grandson. He sent her the cannonball, and he wants her to come help with an impending family crisis, the long-delayed fallout from an unsolved murder twenty years ago.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Pearl Thief (Code Name Verity #0.5), by Elizabeth Wein (author), Maggie Service (narrator)

Bolinda Publishing, May 2017

Julia Beaufort-Stuart is fifteen years old, and hasn't yet learned to fly. She's at her grandfather's estate for the summer, and was looking forward to a last, happy summer holiday there.

When she wakes up in the hospital, with little memory of the events that led to her injuries, she knows it's not going to be a normal summer.

Euan and Ellen McEwan, Scots Traveller teens who found her and got her to the hospital, start out as her best chance of finding out what happened. Gradually, they become her friends. Meanwhile, events get stranger and stranger. Hugh Houseman, a scholar employed to help catalog the Murray Hoard and other valuables attached to the estate, disappears on the same day Julia is hurt. A collection of pearls that was part of the Murray Hoard, and which Julia remembers playing with as a young child, is missing and no one else seems to care about it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mother Go, by James Patrick Kelly (author), January LaVoy (narrator)

Audible Studios, July 2017

Mariska Volochkova is the clone-daughter of Natalia Volochkova, famed deep space explorer. Like her clone-mother, she is genetically engineered for the ability to hibernate, born for interstellar exploration.

That's not what Mariska wants, in part because she resents the woman who created her and then took off through the wormhole to a distant galaxy. Mariska was left with contract father Sal, under a term adoption contract, and an artificial intelligence that is her room. More than anything she resents the idea that Natalia could return and, as her mother and legal guardian, take her off through the wormhole again, away from a life she enjoys, her friends, and the contract father she loves. Then Natalia does return, with news of a beautiful, habitable planet at the other end of the wormhole.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Kiss a Girl in the Rain (Take a Chance #1), by Nancy Warren

Smashwords, ISBN 9780992078010, February 2014

Evan Chance has just turned 35, and his life has just blown up around him.

He was a successful lawyer in Oregon, being mentored by the managing partner who expected Evan would eventually succeed him, and engaged to beautiful, smart, ambitious fellow attorney Tessa. Then his mother sent him the "life goals list" he wrote when he was twelve, his mentor died suddenly, and he discovered how nakedly ambitious Tessa really was.

He decided he couldn't get out of there fast enough. He takes a sabbatical, gets his motorcycle out of his parents' garage in rural Oregon, and heads out to accomplish item one on his list: motorcycle across the country.

Evan isn't out of Oregon when he hits a dog, and asks the local police chief, who happens to be passing by, where to find the local vet. The police chief indulges a misguided sense of humor, and Evan meets Caitlyn Sorenson, the local doctor.

A Change of Plans (Safe Harbors #1), by Donna K. Weaver (author), Karen Kruper (narrator)

Rhemelda Publishing, July 2013

A year after the death of her fiance and a shocking revelation about him, Lyn North agrees to go on a cruise with her friend Elle. She hopes to let the cruise be a distraction from the memories. While on the cruise, she meets Jori Virtanen, who is currently a model but wants to pursue his art--art which Lyn sees is very promising. But Jori, handsome though he is, is more like another brother.

Far more disturbing to her peace of mind is Braedon Randolph, also ruggedly handsome, a thoracic surgeon, and a fellow music lover. Lyn, Elle, Jori, Braedon, and others start to form a circle of friends enjoying the cruise together.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The House of Unexpected Sisters (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #18), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Lisette Lecat (narrator)

Recorded Books, November 2017

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency has two tricky cases to navigate. One involves a widowed mother of two young children who has been fired from her job at an office furniture company. She insists that the stated reason--that she was rude to an important customer--is completely false, but even if it isn't, it seems strange to fire a long-time, excellent employee for a single offense.

As Mma Makutsi leads the investigation of events at the office furniture store, Mma Ramotswe is drawn into learning more about an operating theater nurse in Lobotswe--a nurse named Mingie Ramotswe. She thought she knew everyone in Botswana who shared her not very common last name, but Mingie is a complete surprise. Who is she?

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue, by Michael Tougias (author), Casey Sherman (author), Malcolm Hillgartner (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, April 2012

In February 1952, New England was being battered by one of the worst nor'easters in years, and two oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, both broke in two.

The two tankers were both built of "dirty steel," and were welded, not riveted. Both things made them more brittle and more at risk of precisely the disaster that befell them both. The dozens of men on each ship were at risk, especially given that both halves of each ship were at risk of capsizing. Rescuing them was not a job for amateurs, and the Coast Guard sent out two 36-foot lifeboats, each crewed by just four men.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson (author, narrator)

Blackstone Audio, May 2017

Neil deGrasse Tyson gives us a rapid (under four hours) but engrossing tour of modern astrophysics--the basics of what we know and how we find out, as well as the major areas where we know we don't yet know enough.

We get Einstein's greatest discoveries, and his real "greatest blunder." We get a fast tour of our solar system, why Pluto isn't a planet, and why we might all really be Martians.

We learn about light waves and radio waves and gravity waves, and dark matter, and dark energy.

And that's barely even a list of the highlights.

Monday, November 6, 2017

I See You, by Clare Mackintosh

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9781101988299, February 2017

Zoe Walker, completely by chance, sees her picture in a newspaper, the London Gazette. It's especially disturbing that her picture is included in what appears to be an advertisement for a dating site, or possibly a sex chat line.

It's not long before she learns hat another woman whose picture was also used in one of these ads, for the same website, FindtheOne.com, had her keys stolen from her bag when she fell asleep while riding public transit. Yet another featured woman is killed.

Her son and daughter, and her partner, insist the picture isn't really her, but she continues to be afraid.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Hunted on the Fens (DI Nikki Galena #3), by Joy Ellis (author), Henrietta Meire (narrator)

Tantor Audio, January 2017 (original publication May 2014)

DI Nikki Galena and Detective Sergeant Joseph Easter have been working together for several years now. They're comfortable working partners and comfortable neighbors.

Their latest case is anything but comfortable.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Death of the Banker: The Decline and Fall of the Great Financial Dynasties and the Triumph of the Small Investor, by Ron Chernow (author), Michael Kramer (narrator)

Highbridge, April 2017 (original publication March 1997)

Ron Chernow is one of the great historians of banking and finance, and this is a look at one of the great transitions in that history: the death of what was for a long time the dominant kind of banking, the fall of the great financial dynasties.

Many of those dynasties were born originally as merchant families. Successful merchant families tended to accumulate capital, and they had to do something with that capital--and rulers wanted money to field armies and live in a style befitting rulers, without raising taxes to the point that their subjects rebel.

Lending money to other businesses took longer.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Ritual of Fire, by J. A. Cipriano (author), J. L. Hendricks (author)

Hendricks & Cipriano, October 2017

Alyson Andrews is a dragon shifter, as far as she knows the last dragon in the world. She was away at school when her family was murdered, by people still unknown.

She's also an FBI agent, in a very secret unit of the agency. Her partner, Vlad, is a 200-year-old vampire. Right now, they're investigating a series of what appear to be ritual killings of paranormal individuals--witches, shifters, etc. At the site of the latest killing, Alyson smells something very, very bad--an herb used only in death magic.

And as she and Vlad drive away from the scene, they're attacked with grenade launchers.

Something very strange is going on.

It gets stranger when they realize they can't call in to section headquarters. The line rings and rings, but no one picks up.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Cruise to Die For (Alix London #2), by Charlotte Elkins (author), Aaron Elkins (author), Kate Rudd (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2013

Alix London, after not hearing from Ted Ellesworth for much longer than she expected, gets a call from him at last.

He wants her to do another job for the FBI, and this one is undercover. Well, not really, he says. She'll be going on a luxury cruise with a Greek financier and art investor. The Greek tycoon, Panos Papadakis, is auctioning off twenty-three highly valued art works, and he wants someone to talk to his guests/customers about art in general and these works and artists in particular. The FBI wants her to just listen for any tidbits about his fractional investment scheme, which they suspect of being in reality a Ponzi scheme. What could be easier?

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy #1), by N.K. Jemisin (author), Casaundra Freeman (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2010

I keep telling myself that N.K. Jemisin's work is exactly the sort of dark stuff I don't like.

And I keep loving it.

Yeine Darr is the ruler of a small kingdom in the north, a kingdom slowly dying from the hostility of her grandfather. Yet after her mother's mysterious death, her grandfather summons her to the fabulous city of Sky, where to her shock she is named one of his heirs.

This is not the good fortune it appears. It locks her in a death struggle with two cousins she had never met before--and she soon realizes she is supposed to lose, and die in the process.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Lilac Bouquet, by Carolyn Brown (author), Brittany Pressley (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2017

With a family history that includes three generations of Massey women having children out of wedlock, Emmy Jo Massey is determined to have a big, formal wedding with as much as possible of the town of Hickory, Texas in attendance. Raising the money for the big wedding includes taking a two-month job as a home health aide to town recluse Seth Thomas.

Her great-grandmother, Tandy, is absolutely opposed. She wants the child she raised when her granddaughter died going nowhere near Seth Thomas. Of course, she's also dead set against Emmy Jo marrying Logan Grady, too, and that's not stopping Emmy Jo. But Tandy won't tell her why she's so opposed. The only answer she'll give is that she refuses to talk about the past--an answer that quite reasonably doesn't sway Emmy Jo to her point of view.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Voice of the Whirlwind (Hardwired), by Walter Jon Williams (author), Don Leslie (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9781433252990, January 2012 (original publication May 1987)

Steward is a clone, the clone of a man who spent years as a member of a military polycorp called Coherent Light. The original, or "alpha," was murdered, and the clone, or "beta," is determined to find out who and why.

Unfortunately, he's been revived with fifteen years of memory missing. Nor is this an accident. It's a deliberate choice his alpha made, and chose not to explain. Steward has a lot of information to recover before he can hope to complete his mission, and every step of the way is dangerous. He's chasing through the solar system, one space habitat after another, and the history he missed includes the arrival of a significantly more advanced alien species known as the Powers.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Eternal Empire, Vol. 1 (Eternal Empire #1-5), by Sarah Vaughn (writer), Jonathan Luna (artist)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534303409, November 2017

In a world where the Eternal Empress has ruled for a thousand years, she's on the verge of conquering the last parts of it still not under her control. Into this world, two unusual young people have been born. Tair is white-haired and very pale; Roin is oddly orange in color.

When they find each other, they discover they have the power to control fire. Events soon convince them they have no choice but to use this power to fight the empire, but how?

Tair and Roin are both likable and interesting, with plausibly different points of view. The world is definitely not our world; it has three suns.

It also has dragons, and that turns out to matter a great deal.

The story doesn't seem terribly original, but it's enjoyable, and our protagonists are likable. I also enjoyed the art, which helped me slip into the story. It's a pleasant way to spend some down time.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Drug Hunters: The Improbable Quest to Discover New Medicines, by Donald R. Kirsch (author), Ogi Ogas (author), James Foster (narrator)

Tantor Audio, January 2017

Donald Kirsch is a drug hunter--a scientist who works for pharmaceutical companies working to develop new drugs. He's worked for several different companies over the course of his career, and has lived through finding new drugs, having the quest to develop a new drug end in failure, or in the development of something entirely different from what they were after. He's lived through employers not thinking a promising new potential drug was promising enough, and the frustrations of getting drugs through the regulatory approval process.

This started out as a book about why drugs are so expensive. It wound up being about the excitement, tedium, adventure, frustration of drug development. And, oh yes, why it makes the end products so expensive.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Year of the Hare, by Arto Paasilinna (author), Herbert Lomas (translator), Simon Vance (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9781441772169, December 2010 (original publication 1975)

Vatanen, a Finnish journalist, is out on assignment with a photographer when they hit and injure a wild hare. Vatanen decides to rescue the hare, and the photographer, after waiting and calling for some time in increasing exasperation, drives off.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, by Lyndsay Faye (author), Simon Vance (narrator)

Highbridge, March 2017

These are the Sherlock Holmes stories that Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote--stories from before he met Watson, stories that couldn't be told because they would have harmed innocent people, stories told from Holmes' point of view. What, for instance, was he doing in when he stayed in London during the first part of The Hound of the Baskervilles? There's even one story that concerns an experience Watson had during his time in San Francisco, long before he met Holmes.

And they are, from my perspective, good, solid, enjoyable stories, close enough in tone to Doyle that I wasn't annoyed or frustrated or kicked out of the stories.

An enjoyable read or listen.

I bought this audiobook.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Seven Days of Us, by Francesca Hornak

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451488756, October 2017

The Birch family is going to spend Christmas all together for the first time in several years. Older daughter Olivia, a doctor, is coming home from Liberia after working on relief for the Haag epidemic. Haag sounds a great deal like Ebola, except that being fictional, it has an incubation period of just seven days, making it more convenient for a a contained family drama.

The Birch family will have to share Olivia's quarantine, starting December 23, and ending December 30. Emma, mother of Olivia and her younger sister, Phoebe, is thrilled that they will all be together. Quite determinedly thrilled.

Emma gave up her intended catering career when the second baby, Phoebe, was born. With two children, she pushed husband Andrew to give up his war correspondent career. He's now a restaurant critic. He's always doted on Phoebe, who is bright, cheerful, goes with him to restaurants he's reviewing, and pursuing a tv career. Phoebe and Emma are close in other ways, but perhaps not as close as Phoebe and Andrew.

Olivia seems distant to all of them. This is the first time in years she's come home for Christmas.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, by Abigail Tucker (author), Arden Hammersmith (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, October 2016

Such a promising title.

And such a disappointment.

Tucker says she's a cat lover, and I think she probably is. Yet she conveys an impressively negative tone in this book, as if she feels guilty about liking our favorite little carnivores. She's very insistent that cats serve no real, practical use in human settlements, citing for instance studies that seem to show that cats are not very effective ratters. Nowhere does she mention that in fact cats are primarily thought of as mousers. For serious rat killing, yes, you mostly want the smaller terrier type dogs.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Home is Where Your Boots Are (MisAdventures of Miss Lilly #1), by Kalan Chapman Lloyd (author, narrator)

Lloyd Words, June 2015

Lilly Atkins left small town Brooks, Oklahoma to be a big city lawyer in Dallas, and was quite successful at--until everything came crashing down with the discovery of her fiancé in their shared bed with his secretary. Now she's home in Brooks, setting up a local law practice.

She knows she's got trouble when her high school on-and-off boyfriend walks in the door, wanting her to handle his divorce. She just doesn't know how much trouble.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Swing Vote (Safe Harbors #3), by Donna K. Weaver

Donna K. Weaver, October 2017

Marc North and Ike Gordon are two ex-Marines who need to build new lives. Ike came home to a new life waiting for him; his father and stepmother died within weeks of each other, and his stepsister, Mackenzie Terkildsen, needs his help raising their two younger half-brothers, Noah and Caleb. He resigned his Marine career, and went home to Utah.

Marc, on the other hand, lost his Marine career to a devastating injury in an IED explosion. He didn't lose his leg, and defying expectations, he is walking well again. He's not alone; his sister Lyn was part of the cruise that was interrupted by a pirate hijacking, and he is now part of the extended, chosen family that formed out of the survival of that disaster.

But that doesn't give him a career, and both he and Ike need to work. They're helicopter pilots, and Ike's home town of Canyonland, Utah, is now a boomtown, with a new launch site and new industries. They join together to start a new business, giving helicopter tours of the picturesque and currently underserved area, for tourists and new residents alike. What Marc isn't prepared for is how tense the clashes between Newcomers and Oldtimers have made the small town politics they'll have to negotiate to get their business fully permitted and off the ground.