Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Echo of Twilight, by Judith Kinghorn

Berkley, ISBN 9780451472106, January 2017

In London in the months leading up to the start of World War One, Pearl Gibson is a young woman with ambition--ambition to be a lady's maid, the most genteel occupation available to a young woman of her background. Her great-aunt Kitty taught her everything she could, and told her that it took "a very superior sort of girl" to be a lady's maid, and after years of work, moving repeatedly to advance herself, Pearl is interviewing with Lady Ottoline Campbell, who is looking for a new lady's maid.

It's the start of a new life for Pearl, and she has no idea just how much change this position, this particular lady, and the war will bring into her life. We see the strains and cracks already appearing in the old class system, and the hard rock it runs into with the war and all its death and destruction. But this is also a deeply romantic story. Pearl works out an unexpected friendship with Lady Ottoline, uncovers secrets of her own past, and finds love someplace wholly unexpected.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Best Left Buried (A Darcy & Flora Cozy Mystery #3), by Blanche Day Manos (author), Barbara Burgess (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Pen-L Publishing, May 2016

Darcy Campbell and her mother, Flora Tucker, have finally started the work of building Flora's new house on the land left her by her mother--Darcy's Granny Grace. Both women know that Flora was adopted, but this fact has never been a concern in the family.

Then safely burying the old dug well on the property, long since replaced by a more modern well, unearths an old package wrapped in sheepskin. What's inside that sheepskin is a gun far too valuable to have just been tossed away casually, and the remains of what appears to be a wedding announcement.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Girl of Fire (The Expulsion Project #1), by Norma Hinkens

Dunecadia Publishing, January 2017

Trattora and Velkan are two teenagers, each of mysterious background, but who clearly have a common origin, even though they've never met.

Trattora has grown up a chieftain's daughter on a rather backward and isolated planet, while Velkan has grown up a serf--essentially a slave--on a trading ship whose owner-captain, Sarth, is not overly concerned with the law.

Trattora has always known she was adopted, brought to the planet Cwelt by the last trading ship that reached them before Sarth's. It doesn't take the two young people long to discover that they each have one item from their unknown parents: bracelets identical except for the name engraved on it.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Letters (The Inn at Eagle Hill #1), by Suzanne Woods Fisher (author), Amy McFadden (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, August 2013

Rose Schrock has lost a lot over the past couple of years. Her husband's previously successful, respectable investment business adopted riskier strategies to remain successful in an economic downturn, and ended by sinking into bankruptcy and ruin, with the SEC asking pointed and unpleasant questions. When they could no longer continue financially, her husband's mother takes in their whole family, in the farmhouse he grew up in--but with a condition. This Mennonite family must return to the Old Order Amish faith in which he and she were both raised. They do it, and have a level of security, but then he abruptly dies in circumstances that might or might not be suicide.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Patchwerk, by David Tallerman (author), Tim Gerard Reynolds (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, January 2016

Meddling with reality is dangerous.

It's especially dangerous when your enemy has gotten possession of your device and doesn't understand important aspects of it, has removed all safety features--and intends to use it as a weapon.

And when the device itself has its own opinions on what's "harmful" and what's not.

Florrian is traveling with the device that will prove all his scientific theories when a rival organization attempts to steal it. The drastic action he takes can potentially threaten the fabric of reality unless he--or some alternate version of him--or is it her?--can come up with a way to set things right.

I had no idea where this was going at first, and it's a wild ride, but it's a lot of fun.


I bought this audiobook.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Blue Coyote (Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries #2), by Karen Musser Nortman (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Karen Nortman, June 2016

Larry and Frannie Shoemaker are off on another of their camping adventures with friends, and their two grandchildren, Sabet and Joe, are with them. All seems well except for a little girl who rides her bicycle with very noisy training wheels that drive Larry crazy--until that very girl disappears, right after complaining to another camper that Larry frightened her.

Suddenly Larry, a grandfather and retired police officer, is in the minds of many of their fellow campers the prime suspect in a child's disappearance.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dead Man's Hand, by Tim Lebbon (author),

Appears in Tor.com Season 2 Collection, Macmillan Audio, August 2016

A young storekeeper in a town in the American west sees a one-eyed man ride into town, and knows there's trouble coming. How much, he has no idea, because Gabriel is no ordinary gunslinger. He's hunting Temple, the man who killed his family--and has been for eight centuries. What follows is a game of chess with Doug as a pawn. Can a pawn survive this game?

This is horror, and that makes it hard for me to give it a fair shake. Doug is a decent enough young man, though, if still callow and unformed, and he does grow over the events of the story. Gabriel and Temple are every bit as distasteful as they are meant to be. The other figures of proper American frontier town are here, and reasonably well-done, if briefly presented.

Probably worth a read or listen if you like horror. I can't really say more than that.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Muddy Mouth (Lia Anderson Dog Park Mysteries #5}, by C.A. Newsome (author), Jane Boyer (narrator)

Carol Ann Newsome, December 2016

Lia Anderson is back with another murder mystery about to absorb the intelligence, nosiness, and human concern of herself and her dog park friends.

A local author has disappeared from a literary convention in Texas, just as Lia is building a float in his honor for a parade at home. It appears that he's been kidnapped, but there are no real clues leading the police anywhere. And obviously it has nothing to do with the Cincinnati police or the Mt. Airy Dog Park gang, right?

Except that Lucas Cross, bestselling author, is really Leroy, a local man, not at all literary, acting as the front for Fiber and Snark.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars, by Nathalia Hold (author), Erin Bennett (narrator)

Hachette Audio, April 2016

In the first half of the 20th century, the word "computer" meant a person who did heavy-duty computation. During the Second World War and the years following, this included doing the computation for missile development. When the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was created, computers were in great demand there.

And at JPL, something special happened.

Many of the early computers hired there were women.They were working closely with the engineers, who were all men; women were simply not hired as engineers, no matter what their qualifications. The woman who became head of the computer department decided she would only hire women.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Grave Shift (Darcy & Flora Cozy Mystery #2), by Blanche Day Manos (author), Barbara Burgess (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Pen-L Publishing, February 2016

Darcy Campbell, newspaper reporter on leave from her Dallas job following the death of her husband, is staying with her mother, Flora Tucker, in her home town of Levi, Oklahoma. She came here for peace and recovery, but she and her mother have already solved one murder that they accidentally become involved with, and got a lot of news coverage because of it.

Now her mother has received a letter from Sophie Williams, of Amarillo, Texas. Her daughter Andrea married Gary Worth, of Levi, but disappeared without a trace two years ago.

Sophie wants the pair to investigate her daughter's disappearance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lustlocked (Sin du Jour #2), by Matt Wallace (author), Corey Gagne (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, January 2016

The Sin du Jour catering crew is back, this time preparing for a goblin wedding. Lia and Darren think they haven't decided to sign on permanently with Sin du Jour, but that illusion is dispelled so quickly it can't even count as a spoiler.

This time their difficulty is not a hard to get ingredient. There is a challenge in making identical-looking dishes for both goblin and human guests, but that's not the problem, either.

The problem is what happens when a seasoning from the goblin menu is accidentally added to the human menu.

The challenge is undoing the damage.

Entertaining and fun.

I bought this book.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Dispatcher, by John Scalzi (author), Zachary Quinto (narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2016

One day, the world changed, in a simple but far-reaching way. It's now nearly impossible to intentionally kill anyone.

If you kill yourself, you're dead. If you die in an accident, or of natural causes, you're dead. Butif someone intentionally kills you, 999 out of a thousand, you come back. You wake up alive, naked, and in what you consider a safe place.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher, a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch someone in immediate danger of death so that they have (999 times out of 1,000) a second chance at beating the cause of death. Dispatchers are, for instance, required to be present for all surgical operations by both the patient's and the hospital's insurance.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2), by Deanna Raybourn

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451476159, January 2017

Veronica Speedwell and Revelstoke Templeton-Vane (known to his friends as Stoker) have settled into a comfortable partnership, cataloging a nobleman's natural history collection while planning a new expedition. Those plans start to get derailed when Veronica is invited to tea at the Curiosity Club, a club for ladies with intellectual and artistic interests. She's there to meet a Lady Sundridge, of whom she has never heard.

Figuring out who Lady Sundridge really is, is her first challenge.

Her next challenge is the one Lady Sundridge sets her: proving the innocence of a man sentenced to hang for murder in just one week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Gift of the Unmage (Worldweavers #1), by Alma Alexander (author), Mary Allwright (narrator)

Sky Warrior Book Publishing, March 2016

Galathea Winthrop is the seventh child of a seventh daughter and a seventh son, and she is expected to be a prodigy of a mage. Her birth is front-page news. Everyone awaits the news of her first signs of the great magic that will surely be hers.

Little Thea proves to be a "magidim," i.e., apparently no magic at all. Ars Magica is the only subject she doesn't excel in at school.

Finally, as a teenager, after years of special classes and special teachers, her parents conclude they have no choice. Her father arranges one last "summer camp" of special tutoring, hoping to knock her magic loose at last, and if that doesn't work, she'll have to go to Wandless Academy, the school for those with no magic at all.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden

Del Rey, ISBN 9781101885932, January 2017

Vasya is the younger daughter, and youngest child, of Pyotr, a Russian boyar, and his wife Marina, daughter of the Grand Prince. Her mother dies at her birth, and Vasya is growing up wild and willful--and the beloved image of her mother. She'd rather roam the forest than learn to cook, and learn to understand the magical creatures of forest and hearth than learn needlework.

Pyotr worries about his youngest child, and even more so when a visit to Moscow to find a new wife to be her stepmother. His new wife is Marina's cousin, but very different, frightened of the things she sees in the corners of the house. In addition to a new wife, Pyotr has a frightening encounter with a frightening man of magic, who gives him a pendant for Vasya. He gives it to her nurse to give to her later, and she puts it aside to give it to Vasya when she is grown.

What neither of them knows is that the Frost King will be watching, and so will his brother, the Bear.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Teapots & Treachery, by Donna K. Weaver

Emerald Arch Publishing, January 2017

This book contains two novellas, "The Savage Ghost," which is, in fact, a ghost story, and "Waves of Deceit," a romantic suspense story with no fantastical elements. It might seem an odd combination, but I enjoyed them both.

In "A Savage Ghost," the Savage family has jut inherited an actual Scottish castle, disassembled, shipped to the US, and reconstructed about a hundred years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Savage are looking forward to transforming it into a bed & breakfast inn. Oldest son Ezra is looking forward to being involved. The younger siblings, twin boys plus a younger girl, Melanie, are excited about living in a castle.

And then there's Lia, the oldest daughter, Ezra's twin sister. Lia has worked and studied to become a pastry chef, and is torn between family duty and the desire to fulfill her own lifetime dream, starting a pastry shop in Sacramento with her friend and baking buddy, Taylor.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher (author), Carrie Fisher (narrator), Billie Lourd (narrator)

Penguin Audio, November 2016

This is Carrie Fisher's account of becoming Princess Leia, being Princess Leia, and how that affected her life, then and later. I had it marked down for reading or listening at some point, but it was quite recent, and I had other things on my list...

Who knew she would be gone from us so soon?

All that said, I think in this case, the audiobook is definitely the way to go. We get Carrie Fisher's story, not just in her own words, but in her own voice. Selections from the journal she kept during the months of filming Star Wars are also included, read by Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, whose voice, at 24, is perhaps closer to Fisher's at the time she wrote them.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Guests on South Battery, by Karen White

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 97804514, January 2017

Everything is finally going smoothly for Melanie Trenholm. She's married to Jack; their twin babies are beautiful; she loves her stepdaughter, Nola; she's finally headed back to work as a real estate agent, work she loves.

There is the small issue of getting phone calls from an unknown number, at odd hours, with no one there. She has some suspicion that these calls are, like the ones from her grandmother, from someone who has died.

Then a hole opens up in her back yard, and the contractor who has been doing the restoration on the historic home she inherited says there's a cistern down there. She can't just have it filled in. There might be historically significant artifacts, and her friend, Sophie Wallen-Arasi, a professor of Historic Preservation at the College of Charleston, will not let her hear the end of it if she just buries them again.