Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Murder in Room 346 (DCI Cook #7), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, March 2018

DCI Isaac Cook and his team are still coping with their politically connected, not very competent new boss, Caddick. That's annoying at the best of times, but now they're investigating the murders of two people in a seedy hotel. The man is James Holden, a moral purity campaigner and Member of Parliament, older, married, and respected. The woman is Helen Langdon, young, beautiful, and with, let's say, a complicated history. They were in bed together, of course.

Were they killed because Holden made enemies? Or is the crime tied to Langdon's background, dancing in a strip club run by organized crime?

Or are the two things connected?

It is, in any case, only the tip of the scandal iceberg, and others will be brought down by it.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Head On (Lock In #2), by John Scalzi (author), Wil Wheaton (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2018

Chris Shane, FBI agent and most famous Haden (survivor of Haden syndrome, "locked in" to their own body and navigating the world in robot bodies, "threeps"), is attending a hiketta game with their parents. The Shanes are billionaires, only in part because Marcus Shane was a star NBA player.

[We continue to get no hint of Chris's gender, and if you get the audiobook, you can choose between Wil Wheaton or Amber Benson as the narrator. I chose Wheaton because I like him as a narrator, but those who choose Benson seem equally pleased.]

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Flipped (Better With Prosecco #1), by Lisa-Marie Cabrelli

Galahad Press, April 2018

Hazel Blackmore is, she believes, in control of her life. She's on track to be the next equity partner at work, with a pitch coming up for the next project, which she is sure to win. She has some issues with her nutty mother, Indigo, and Indigo's crazy, always expensive schemes, but also loves her dearly.

Then a slimy rival at work manages to steal her proposal for the next big project, and her life is in chaos. She effectively has no work or income for the next three months.

But Indigo rushes to the rescue with her latest crazy scheme. Hazel should go with her to Italy, where she has inherited a house and some money, in circumstances that seem very vague and mysterious. Hazel will manage the rehabilitation of the house, and they'll sell it, netting a tidy profit. Despite well-founded skepticism about Indigo's plans, Hazel really doesn't have a better plan. So off to Italy they go.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Father Found (The Daddy School #1), by Judith Arnold (author), Tomm Dheere (narrator)

Barbara Keller, June 2014

30-year-old Jamie McCoy is living the carefree life of a successful, popular, newspaper columnist, with a very comfortable income, and no real responsibilities.

At least, until one morning he hears strange, mewing sounds coming from his screen porch at the back of the house. Upon investigating, he finds a tiny baby, some bags and a suitcase, with a note informing him that the baby is his daughter, Samantha.

Suddenly, Jamie has a major responsibility, and no idea how to cope. An only child with no married friends, he has no prior experience with babies. He calls the local hospital looking for help, and is directed to nurse Allison Winslow, who runs an educational program called The Daddy School.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Good Byline (A Riley Ellison Mystery #1), by Jill Orr (author), Sarah Naughton (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2017

Riley Ellison and Jordan James used to be best friends. They even had a column in their high school newspaper, writing "obituaries" of over used phrases, unwise fashion trends, etc., inspired by Riley's grandfather, a famous obituary writer.

Then life moved on. They graduated. Their friendship broke up over a guy, Ryan, who became Riley's long-term boyfriend and whom she expected to marry. Riley is 24, and works in the local library as a library assistant. Jordan is a reporter at the local newspaper, the Tuttle Times.

Then Riley's grandfather commits suicide. Ryan breaks up with her and goes to Colorado, where he has a new girlfriend. The residents of Tuttle Corner feel affection for her, but also pity. She decides to rejoin life. She signs up for an online dating service, and tries to reconnect with Jordan. And thus she discovers that Jordan has just committed suicide. Except the suicide note doesn't sound anything like Jordan. It's not long before Riley, who never accepted that her grandfather really committed suicide, is investigating Jordan's unlikely suicide.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Weight of Silence, by Heather Gudenkauf (author), Jim Colby (narrator), Eliza Foss (narrator), Cassandra Morris (narrator), Andy Paris (narrator), Thérèse Plummer (narrator), Tony Ward (narrator)

Recorded Books, October 2009 (original publication August 2008)

Early one August morning, two families discover their little girls are missing. Calli Clark and Petra Gregory are seven years old, and best friends. Calli, following a family tragedy when she was four, suffers from selective mutism. There's nothing physically wrong, but she hasn't spoken in three years. Petra, her best friend, is adept at being Calli's voice, able to understand and articulate what Calli wants to say.

And now they are both missing.

Calli's abusive, alcoholic father, Griff, is supposed to be on a fishing trip with his friend, Roger, but when Roger is finally located, Griff isn't with him.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Fame is a Killer (Hope Hadley #1), by Meredith Potts (author), Rachel Carr (narrator)

Meredith Potts, January 2018

In short order, Hope Hadley wraps up the shooting on the last episode of her long-running, newly-cancelled tv show, The Sassy Sleuth, has her boyfriend of the past year dump her for an actress half her age, and, entirely too early the next morning, is informed by the police that said ex-boyfriend, Trent Harper, has been murdered and she is a suspect.

She has no alibi for the one-hour time frame within which he was murdered, because she skipped the wrap party.

When she can't convince police Detective Noble to immediately rule her out a suspect, she concludes she has no alternative but to clear herself by finding the real killer. That this could be dangerous is barely noted in passing.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Good House, by Tananarive Due (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Recorded Books, July 2004 (original publication August 2003)

The first thing you need to know is that I don't read horror. I don't read anything really dark. I just don't.

Except sometimes I do. Usually because someone said, oh, this is good, and I didn't ask enough questions. A bunch of people said this was good.

They were right.

It's very, very good.

It's also every bit as dark as you'd expect from something entitled The Good House, and maybe a bit darker than that. Lots of really bad stuff happens. And I kept listening to the audiobook, all the way to the end, because it was worth it.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Stryder: The Second Chance Billionaire (Billionaire Cowboys of Clearwater County), by Bonnie R. Paulson

Captiva Publishing, April 2018

Ever since Stryder Flint left the small town of Two Rides, Montana, Melody Steel has been working to keep the Steel ranch functioning, or at least keep the bills paid, despite her father's drinking and indifference. She has long since stopped believing that Stryder will ever come back, especially now that he's a famous billionaire and not the poor boy who left to go to college.

Stryder, meanwhile, still harbors hopes of winning Melody back, even though she has never responded to any of his letters over the years.

When Clint Steel dies, and Melody simply can't even keep the lights on, much less pay the mortgage, Stryder decides it's time to take his chances and go home.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Coffin, Scarcely Used (A Flaxborough Mystery #1), by Colin Watson

Farrago, ISBN 9781788420136, February 2018

Six months ago, Councillor Harold Carobleat, of the town of Flaxborough, died unexpectedly, but otherwise unremarkably. His heart failed, his physician, Dr. Hillyard signed the death certificate, and his widow had him quietly buried. His business was quietly closed up.

Now his next door neighbor, Marcus Gwill, publisher of the Flaxborough Citizen is dead, found electrocuted at the foot of a power pole. Suicide? A bizarre accident? An equally bizarre murder? Inspector Purbright, of the Flaxborough Constabulary, has to look into this death, however unfamiliar such investigations are in quiet Flaxborough.

It's not long before he and his assistant, Sergeant Love, have many questions about the other respectable citizens who are also neighbors of the two dead men, including Dr. Hillyard, physician to both men, and George Gloss, solicitor to both men.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff

Henry Holt & Company, ISBN 9781250158062, January 2018

Michael Wolff spent months inside the Trump White House, often hanging out on the couch in a common area, talking to people, but also simply listening.

It's important to note that Wolff has a reputation of being a somewhat sloppy reporter, not always reliable. It's also important, though, to note that no one mentioned in this book has denied saying what he attributes to them in this book. There are disagreements over interpretation, but not over what they said. Other reporters, with better reputations, as well as other people with access, say that while there may be inaccuracies of detail, the overall account rings true.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Killer on the Fens (DI Nikki Galena #4), by Joy Ellis (author), Henrietta Meire (narrator)

Tantor Audio, February 2017

DI Nikki Galena's father has died, leaving behind a mystery. His last request to her was to "Find Eve."

Nikki has no idea who Eve is.

Yet when she should be dealing with her father's death, and deciding what to do about the mysterious Eve, she has mysteries to deal with at work. A minor-league drug dealer has been fished out of a shaft in the ground at an abandoned World War II airfield, still alive, but only barely. Another drug dealer has simply disappeared, and his sister, with no illusions about her brother but great affection because they survived a difficult childhood together, is determined to find him. The current owner of the airfield is found dead, clearly murdered, but no one knows who wanted him dead.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Murder in Cherry Hills (Cozy Cat Caper Mystery #1), by Paige Sleuth (author), Marla Bradeen (narrator)

Marla Bradeen, October 2017

Kat Harper has moved home to Cherry Hills, Washington, and is settling in happily, until she finds her neighbor, Mrs. Tinsdale, murdered. The police detective who turns up to lead the investigation is childhood friend Andrew, who'll be investigating his first murder.

Except, of course, Kat has to investigate, too. Mrs. Tinsdale's cat, Matilda, with no one else to give her a home, moves in with her, and she gets involved with the rescue group Matty came from, and which Mrs. Tinsdale was treasurer for. This puts her in contact with all of the tiny number of people who could even conceivably had any motive to kill the friendly, kindly, older woman.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea, by Robert Wald Sussman (author), David Colacci (narrator)

Tantor Audio, March 2018 (original publication October 2014)

The belief in race as an objective, biological reality has been very strong, pervasive, and significant in much of public policy. Yet scientists say it is simply not real. There is neither very much genetic variability in humans compared to other species, even our closest relatives, nor is it distributed in humans in anything like the consistent patterns that, in other species, define the biological concept of races.

Humans are all one species, with no subspecies, no biological races.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Different Kind of Evil (Agatha Christie #2), by Andrew Wilson

Atria Books, ISBN 9781501145094, March 2018

Following the death of her mother, the collapse of her marriage to Archie Christie, and her sensational disappearance for two weeks, Agatha Christie is now on a trip to Tenerife, officially for rest and recovery, and to finish her latest book. The Mystery of the Blue Train.

Unofficially, she is travelling at the behest of British Special Agent Davison, to investigate the death of another intelligence officer, Douglas Greene. Greene was found dead in a cave, drained of his blood and partially mummified. She is not to take any risks. She is only gathering information. Davison will also be there, under an assumed name.

What could possibly go wrong?

Monday, March 26, 2018

Touch, by Claire North (author), Peter Kenny (narrator)

Hachette Audio, February 2015

Kepler is a ghost, a being who, when he was beaten to death in a filthy alley, with his dying impulse reached out to touch his killer's ankle--and found himself looking down at his own dead body, out of his killer's eyes.

That was few centuries back, and Kepler can hop from body to body when ever he needs or wants to. He doesn't intend harm to his hosts, and even comes to cherish them.

Then one of his hosts is brutally assassinated.

The killer wanted Kepler dead, but killed his host, Josephine Cebula, even after realizing Kepler had jumped. Why? He needs to find the truth, and avenge Josephine.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

To Cache a Killer (Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries #5), Karen Musser Nortman (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Audible Audio, March 2018 (original publication August 2015)

Frannie Shoemaker and her friends and family are once again at a campground in Iowa, this time practicing the hobby of geocaching. Poking around in the woods looking for hidden caches naturally offers opportunities for Frannie's secondary--or perhaps primary--hobby of finding bodies.

This time she doesn't find a body; just a shoe. Because there's no foot in the shoe, or anywhere nearby, it strikes her and her friends as odd, but completely harmless. Unfortunately, not much later, the police do find a dead body quite nearby. Frannie and Larry tell the police about the shoe, but since the body isn't missing a shoe, and the shoe is gone by the time Frannie tells them about it and they look for it, all this does is call them to the attention of the police.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Last Move, by Mary Burton (author), Teri Schnaubelt (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2017

Theo Mazur is a Chicago homicide detective who moved to San Antonio, six months ago, to stay near his daughter after his ex-wife moved to a San Antonio law firm. He's called to the site of a death on I-35. This death looks very much like a killing by the serial killer nicknamed the Samaritan.

The problem is, FBI profiler Kate Hayden has already caught the Samaritan. He's locked up, awaiting trial. Has she made a deadly mistake, or is there a copycat at work?

Soon Hayden is back in her hometown of San Antonio, for the first time in years, working with Mazur to track down someone who knows entirely too much about Hayden, her cases, and her personal history.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Second Chance Cafe (Hope Springs #1), by Alison Kent (author), Natalie Ross (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2013

Kaylie Flynn has returned home to Hope Springs, Texas, where she lived as a foster child from age ten to age eighteen, in an unusually fortunate foster experience. Having built a successful career and a nice nestegg as baker, she has now bought the old home of her late and much-loved foster parents, Winton and May Wise, to be not only her home, but her new business, the Two Owls Cafe, serving lunch from 10am to 2pm.

She also has another mission, finding out what happened to her birth parents, and why they never came back to get her after the awful events that landed her in foster care.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II, by Liza Mundy (author), Erin Bennett (narrator)

Hachette Audio, October 2017

In World War II, a critical part of the war effort was breaking German and Japanese codes. Yet, unlike major European countries, the US had very little in the way of a cryptography operation. One had been developed during the first World War, but Henry Stimson, William Howard Taft's Secretary of State, closed it down when he came into office in 1929.  His statement, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail," is beautiful, but of course, in the context of international diplomacy, completely wrong The Navy managed to preserve a tiny operation, but the onset of World War II, the US needed to ramp cryptography back up from almost nothing, very rapidly.

Yet the men, who "ought" to have done that work, were needed for combat operations. Enter the women.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Glitterbomb Vol. 2: The Fame Game, by Jim Zub (author), Djibril Morrisette-Phan (artist)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534304901, March 6, 2018

Kaydon Klay is a teenager who wants, more than anything, to be famous. Now she has her chance--in the wake of a national tragedy in Hollywood. She was the friend of, and babysitter for the son of, the woman who has murdered dozens of Hollywood stars in a spectacular and horrific event. An agent quickly latches on to her, most of her classmates turn on her, and as scary as her first media event is, she is hooked. There's a thrill of power and a promise of wealth.

There's also her mother, who is alarmed by the turn of events, desperately worried for her daughter, and determined to maintain her own high moral and ethical standards. The money that Kaydon thinks will please her hardworking, financially struggling mother is the final straw, the proof that Kaydon is being drawn into a lifestyle that will destroy her.

In the midst of all this, Kaydon finds herself targeted by a strange and terrifying woman, who is apparently the real force behind the murders, preaching a terrifying message of pain being the only thing to cling to.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The First Kiss of Spring (An Eternity Springs Novel), by Emily March

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250131706, February 2018

Caitlin Timberlake has a brief, romantic meeting with Josh Tarkington when she returns to Colorado from New York to be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding. When chance and her suspicious father interrupt their almost-romance, Josh returns to his automotive repair business, and Caitlin continues her plans to move back to her home town and start a new business, a day care center.

Caitlin's home town, and the location of Josh's car repair business, are the same: Eternity Springs.

Caitlin has had limited romantic success, and her father, Judge Mac Timberlake, is convinced no one is good enough for his little girl. Josh has his own reasons, and his own carefully hidden history, for avoiding anything but casual relationships with no commitment.

They have, of course, no chance of avoiding each other, especially after the perfect location for Caitlin's daycare proves to be a lovely, large, old house next to Josh's garage. There's also no chance that Josh's secrets won't come back to haunt them both, or that Mac Timberlake's own secret won't create its own problems.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Witch Creek (A Wildlands Novel #4), by Laura Bickle

Harper Voyager, ISBN 9780062567314, February 2018

Petra Dee is fighting cancer, and looking for her missing husband, Gabriel.  This is even more complicated and difficult than it might appear. There's considerable backstory here, this being Book 4, but Gabriel is a former Hanged Man, once tied to the Tree of Life that grows in this little town near Yellowstone. He's now the prisoner of Owen Rutherford, local sheriff, and new heir to the Rutherford Ranch, where the Tree of Life is. He wants Gabe to teach him all he knows about the Tree of Life and the magic of the Rutherford Ranch.

He's also talking to Murienn, a flesh-devouring mermaid whom Gabe helped imprison, and whom Owen has unwisely freed. She's determined to have vengeance on Gabe, the last of the Hanged Men still around.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook, by Christina Henry (author), Samuel Roukin (narrator)

Recorded Books, July 2017

We all know the delightful story of Peter Pan, and we all know of his arch-enemy, the evil pirate Captain Hook.

This is Hook's story, and his version is a little different than Peter's.

He was the very first Lost Boy Peter brought to the magical island, his first friend, and he promised Jamie, as Hook was called them, life forever young, with no rules, endless play.

As Peter brought in more Lost Boys, though, things started to change. It took a very long time before Jamie started to recognize those changes, and what they meant.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy #1), by Nora Roberts (author), Katherine Kellgren (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, October 2013

Iona Sheehan travels to County Mayo in Ireland, to connect with her family roots--and specifically with the family history of magic and destiny her grandmother has told her.

She quickly connects with her Irish cousins, Branna and Connor O'Dwyer, and finds her grandmother's stories, and her own dreams that have haunted her since childhood, are true. She's a witch--and the vital third member of the triangle needed to confront a lurking danger that has pursued her family for a thousand years.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin (author), Jesse L. Martin (narrator)

BBC Audiobooks America, February 2008 (original publication 1963)

James Baldwin was born in New York City in 1924, and grew up in Harlem. He experienced the racism of the pre-Civil Rights era, as well as a harsh, possibly abusive stepfather, and sought the library and the church as refuge.

Teachers recognized him as a gifted young writer in his early teens.

This is a thoughtful, eloquent, often painful to read or listen to, essay on racism and the core contradictions of American culture. In some respects Baldwin was the voice of a generation, and this is still an important read or listen for anyone who wants to understand the underpinnings of how we got where we are today.

Jesse Martin also reads it very expressively and effectively.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman (author, narrator)

HarperAudio, February 2017

Neil Gaiman says he first encountered the Norse myths in the pages of Marvel Comics. I first encountered the Norse Myths in the pages of school textbooks. I later discovered livelier versions, and he later discovered more complete versions, truer to the original sources.

One important difference is that Gaiman is an excellent writer, and he became interested in researching the myths and presenting them to new generations in a form both true to the sources and engaging for modern readers.

Or, in this case, as is most appropriate for ancient myths, listeners.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Murder in Notting Hill (DCI Isaac Cook Thriller #6), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, January 2018

DCI Isaac Cook has a puzzle on his hands.

Two women have been murdered in his area. One of them is Christine Devon, a forty-something, hardworking black woman from Jamaica. She works as a house cleaner, and there's no obvious reason for her to have been professionally killed. And yet she has been.

The other woman, Amelia Brice, is wealthy, privileged, the daughter of a contentious and controversial radio talk host. She lived only a fairly short distance from Christine Devon, and yet in a wholly different world. She's had unfortunate tastes in men ever since her relationship with a rising young banker ended. Some of them could have been dangerous--but she was killed in the very same, highly professional manner as Christine Devon. Exactly the same way, with just enough time between the two deaths for the same killer to have committed both murders.

Monday, February 26, 2018

InterWorld (InterWorld #1), by Neil Gaiman (author), Michael Reaves (author), Christopher Evan Welch (narrator)

HarperAudio, June 2007

Joey Harker has no sense of direction. He has even managed to get lost in his own house.

But one day, on a social studies assignment, he outdoes himself. He wanders out of his own world into a neighboring dimension where he doesn't exist.

Beings from assorted other neighboring worlds and dimensions are now after him for his worldwalking ability. There are the people from Hex, who want to boil him down to his essence, and use him to power their ships. There's also another empire among these alternate worlds, ruled by science. Earth itself is somewhere in the middle, leaning science, not yet irrevocably committed--or conquered by either side. There is also InterWorld, an organization, backed by whom we don't know, committed to keeping balance between the opposing forces.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (Magicial Cats Mystery #1), by Sofie Kelly (author), Cassandra Campbell (narrator)

Random House Audio, June 2014

Librarian Kathleen Paulsen has moved from Boston to Mayville, Minnesota, to take on the renovation and modernization of the town library. She's settled in, made friends, and been adopted by two stray cats, tuxedo cat Hercules and tabby Owen, from the colony on the abandoned property of Wisteria Hill.

Then Kathleen has an unpleasant encounter with the guest conductor for the town's music festival, and finds the conductor's body the next morning.

She's obviously a suspect in the murder, and even though even the police don't think she's a very likely suspect, she wants to know what happened, and what it has to do with the library.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dark in Death (In Death #46), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Ericksen (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, January 2018

Dallas is investigating a puzzling murder with no apparent motive, a well-liked actor watching Psycho at a "classics" video theater with her friend, stabbed to death with an ice pick, quietly, efficiently, in the dark, during the Janet Leigh murder scene.

The actor has no enemies. Everyone likes her. She doesn't even have any bad romantic breakups that might have left simmering resentment. Yet the murder was clearly carefully planned, with the method and setting clearly tailored to this particular victim.

What's going on?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Deadly Art of Love and Murder (Caribou King Mysteries #2), by Linda Crowder (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Linda Crowder, February 2018

Caribou King, fine arts dealer in Coho Bay, Alaska, and the town's only licensed realtor, has closed up her gallery for the winter, and stops by the Tilamu house to check on it after the departure of the summer tenant, Mrs. Nash.

Instead, she finds Mrs. Nash's dead body.

Old Doc Tilamu had been the town's only  doctor until he died, and his thre e children had all left town for the lower 48 as soon as they were able.  When Alex Tilamu shows up at Mrs. Nash's funeral, drunk and ranting about murder of his parents, it causes quite a stir.

Thus begins a disturbing post-season season, looking for a killer, and a possible motive for the murder.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Bleak and Empty Sea: The Tristram & Isolde Story (Merlin Mystery #3), by Jay Ruud

Encircle Publications, August 2017

Tristram, one of the famous knights of Arthur's Round Table, and his lover, La Belle Isolde, wife of King Mark of Cornwall, are dead. Sir Tristram was wounded in a skirmish against the Norse, but though the wound seemed minor, he lingered for weeks, growing weaker and weaker. At last he asked for the greatest healer he knew, his lover Isolde, to be sent for.

His wife, Isolde of the White Hands, was not pleased, but she could hardly object.

La Belle Isolde is sent for--and arrives moments after Tristram dies, following a cruel remark from Isolde of the White Hands. Upon finding Tristram newly dead, she collapses in a faint, and is dead within minutes.

Now Merlin, necromancer and King Arthur's great advisor, and his young assistant, squire and hopeful future knight, Gildas of Cornwall, are investigating the two deaths,  Merlin does not believe in death by broken heart.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

One Crazy Summer (The Gaither Sisters #1)

Recorded Books, November 2010

It's 1968, and Delphine is just eleven years old when she and her two younger sisters (Vonetta, age nine, and Fern, age seven), travel alone on an airplane from New York to Oakland, California, to see their mother Cecile, for the first time since Delphine was five.

Only Delphine has any real memories of their mother.

It's Delphine who tells the story, and Delphine who has to take responsibility for her sisters, even after Cecile picks them up at the airport. Cecile is cool, not at all motherly, and pays as little attention to them as possible. The girls long for the motherly affection and connection they've never had, and still don't have.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Case of the Missing Letter (Inspector David Graham Mysteries #5), by Alison Golden

Alison Golden, February 2018

DI David Graham and his team have just gotten a fantastic write-up in the local paper, about their success in solving local crimes and bringing down the local crime rate. Since no good deed goes unpunished, they are of course in for some excitement.

Someone is, or so Mrs. Hollingsworth claims, hanging around the Gorey public library on the nights when the new librarian, Laura Beecham, is working late.

Someone breaks into the local museum, and night watchman Nobby Norris dies, apparently of a heart attack, although he also hit his head on the extremely valuable Satterthwaite desk displayed in the museum.

Both Charlotte Hughes, daughter of the former owner of the desk, now a candidate for Parliament, and Don English, her stepbrother, are on in Gorey, apparently looking for something that might have been hidden in the desk.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Mercer Girls, by Libbie Hawker (author), Amy McFadden (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, May 2016

In 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, Asa Mercer traveled from Seattle in the Washington Territory to the mill city of Lowell, Massachusetts. His project is to recruit single women of good character to return to Seattle with him, to become wives to the loggers and and other hardworking men there.

He hoped to recruit 200 potential brides. He returns to Seattle with just thirteen. Among them are Dovey Mason, just sixteen, and fleeing her father's efforts to marry her off to a repellent man in an attempt to restore his business fortunes; Josephine Carey, 35 years old and fleeing a secret she shares with no one; and Sophronia Brandt, a minister's daughter in her twenties, with no more marriage prospects and a strong desire to spread the Lord's Good Word.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Queen of Hearts, by Kimmery Martin

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780399585959, February 2018

Zadie and Emma met at a camp for high school students interested in becoming doctors. They stayed friends, and attended medical school together. A dozen years after their explosive third year of medical school, they're still friends, and both in Charlotte, North Carolina. Zadie is a pediatric cardiologist, Emma is a trauma surgeon, and they are both happily married, and mothers of young children.

Then Dr. Nick Xenokostas, chief resident when they were med students, reappears in their lives.

Nick was at the heart of the events that nearly derailed their medical education. They've put that behind them, in part because of their strong friendship.

Emma has a secret about those years that she's never told Zadie. With Nick now back in their lives, that secret is going to come out.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe, by Richard Dee

4Star SciFi, ISBN 9780995458161, June 2017

Andorra Pett and her friend Cy have fled Earth for a mining colony in orbit around Saturn after they both had bad breakups with their boyfriends. Andi, who ran a dress shop on Earth, has bought a bar, the Lucky Strike, which she plans to rename The Oort Cloud Cafe.

Unfortunately, on their first day, they find the body of Mike, the previous owner, who is supposed to have left the station suddenly after alcohol was banned, in one of the bar's two freezers.

It quickly becomes clear to them that local politics are sufficiently complicated that they'd be the most convenient suspects, even if it makes no sense. They can't report the body until they solve the crime.

I started this book expecting to find it silly and light, with the mystery just a convenience providing some structure. It's by no means a heavy, dark book, but there's some real substance to both the story and the characters.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wintersmith (Tiffany Aching #3), by Terry Pratchett (author), Stephen Briggs (narrator)

HarperCollins, ISBN 9780061373398, January 2007 (original publication 2006)

I love Pratchett's Discworld books, and I particularly love the Tiffany Aching books, so it was a surprise to me that I apparently missed noticing Wintersmith for ten years. Well, at least it means a new-for-me Pratchett when I thought that opportunity was gone.

Tiffany Aching is an apprentice witch, currently living with a witch in the mountains, far from her beloved chalk hills. She's taken as part of her training to watch a dance she didn't know existed, the Dark Morris, which brings the beginning of winter as the Morris Dance we know brings the beginning of summer.

Since this is the Discworld, the dances really do bring the starts of those seasons.

Monday, February 5, 2018

As Bright as Heaven, by Susan Meissner

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780399585968, February 2018

In 1918, with the Great War under way, but not yet having a big impact at home in America, the Bright family moves from Quakertown to Philadelphia. Thomas Bright has been asked to join his Uncle Fred's undertaker business, and eventually be his heir.

It's not Thomas's viewpoint, or Fred's, that we see this story from. It's Thomas's wife, Pauline, and their three daughters, Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa, who tell the story.

All seems bright and hopeful when they arrive. Evelyn has access both to her uncle's own library, and to the public library not far away. Maggie makes friends with Charlie Sutcliffe, and his older brother, Jamie, who live across the street. Willa makes new friends. Thomas learns to be an undertaker, and in time, a fully trained mortician. Fred is reluctant to agree, at first, but Pauline takes over the cosmetics for the dead, once they are embalmed and any major injuries repaired by Thomas and Fred. Even more gradually and reluctantly, Maggie is allowed to join her mother in that final preparation of the dead. They both find comfort and fulfillment in it.

Friday, February 2, 2018

A High-End Finish (Fixer-Upper Mystery #1), by Kate Carlisle (author), Angela Starling (narrator)

Audible Studios, December 2014

Shannon Hammer runs a home renovation and repair business in her home town of Lighthouse Cove, California--very happily and successfully. She's single, though, and lets a friend talk her into going on a blind date.

It's a mistake, ending in a very public struggle on the beach when her date, Jerry Saxton, doesn't want to take no for an answer. She and some of the spectators drive him off. She's not hurt, though, and puts off reporting it to the police until morning--and then gets caught up in issues relating to the current jobs her crew is working on. One of those is a call from a client. He's gotten a call from a neighbor that there's running water in the house Shannon is renovating for him. He's still in San Francisco; can she go check it out? She does--and finds a dead body, Jerry Saxton. And he was killed with one of Shannon's tools.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Lost World (Professor Challenger #1), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author), Glen McReady (narrator)

Naxos AudioBooks, February 2008 (original publication 1912)

In London, in 1907, Irishman Edward Malone is a journalist, and also has a certain reputation as an athlete. What he doesn't have, in the eyes of his beloved Gladys, is fame and a reputation for daring, romantic adventure. On these grounds, she utterly rejects him.

Malone is not yet ready to give up, though, and appeals to his editor for an assignment that will give him the scope for adventure and fame that Gladys wants the man she marries to have.

His editor sends him off to interview Professor Challenger, a naturalist who returned from South America with a wild tale no one believes, about impossible prehistoric beasts still alive there. Oh, and Challenger has assaulted those who disbelieve him too directly.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Dead and Breakfast (A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery #1), by Kate Kingsbury (author), Tavia Gilbert (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, January 2017

Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza Harris, are renovating a big, old home in Sully's Landing, Oregon, to open a bed & breakfast inn, when they find a skeleton in a hidden room. It's quickly identified as Angela Morelli, wife of Vincent Morelli, the last couple to live there. Angela had vanished, believed to have deserted wheelchair-bound Vincent, and Vincent had gone to live with his son, Tony. Now that Vincent is dead, Tony had finally sold the empty house...

Melanie and Liza's renovation plans, and therefore their opening plans, are now on hold until the police release the second floor as no longer a crime scene. This wouldn't be a huge problem if this cold case didn't quickly get shoved to the side by more active cases. With potential financial ruin staring them in the face, it's no wonder Melanie and Liza decide to investigate on their own.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Creatures of Light (Creatures of Light #3), by Emily B. Martin

Harper Voyager, ISBN 9780062688835, January 2018

Queen Gemma of Alcoro is sitting in prison a the start of this book--a prison for the high-born, discreetly known as The Retreat, but a prison nonetheless. This trilogy has been a story of a clash of cultures and kingdoms, and Gemma's choices in the midst of larger conflicts in the previous  books have branded her a traitor. She's awaiting trial and sentencing. There's no chance of changing the verdict, she's concluded, but she hopes she can at least make her case to her husband, King Celeno, and a few councilors, that peace, not war with their neighbors, will be better for Alcoro. She's convinced that the Prophecy Alcoro uses to guide its policies is being used badly.

And then a stranger works her way into The Retreat, and smuggles Gemma out.

Except the woman isn't a stranger, not really, and she has stunning information that might be a means to change Alcoro's course, and prevent war. If she can make first Celeno, and then their neighbors, to accept what they've found and move in a new direction.

It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America, by David Cay Johnston (author), Danny Campbell (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781508254898, January 2018

David Cay Johnston is a working journalist who has covered Donald Trump for decades, and has written two previous books about him. In this book, he looks not at Trump's personal life and all the possible, ah, colorful details, which at this writing are much in the news, but strictly at his actions as President, and his business dealings that explain and illuminate those actions.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Bachelor Establishment, by Jodi Taylor (writing as Isabella Barclay) (author), Anna Bentinck (narrator)

Audible Studios, May 2015

Elinor Bascombe, widowed and living on the impoverished estate that now belongs to her long-absent brother-in-law, George, has worked hard to restore it and make it at least somewhat profitable. She's out riding her horse, Rufus, when she accidentally nearly rides down Lord Ryde--returned to his neighboring estate after twenty years following a scandal.

Lord Ryde is there to strip his estate of all possible resources, and then leave for a new life in America. In addition to their unfortunate first meeting, it's another point of conflict between Mrs. Bascombe and Lord Ryde that he believes George Bascombe, who had saved Elinor's life, also caused the elder Lord Ryde's death while robbing the safe in which much of the Ryde wealth was stored.

Their determination to coolly ignore each other is thwarted when Elinor Bascombe is shot, and due to distance needs to be brought to Lord Ryde's Rushford estate rather than the Bascombe estate.

It all becomes much more alarming when it becomes clear that Mrs. Bascombe wasn't an accidental victim. What happened the night Elinor was nearly killed and George Bascombe left, and stopped at Rushford when the elder Lord Ryde died, becomes a mystery that has to be solved.

Elinor Bascombe, John Ryde, and their friends, neighbors, and servants are great characters, likable and interesting. It's a pleasure to listen to their story. If you like Regencies and like mature characters, go for it.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Treacherous Curse, by Deanna Raybourn

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451476173, January 2018

Veronica Speedwell and Revelstoke Templeton-Vane--Stoker--are working away at their respective restoration and cataloging duties in the Belvedere, the future museum on the grounds of the home of the Earl of Rosemorran. It's the Earl's family collection of animals, insects, devices, and other oddities that they are cataloging.

Then an expedition to Egypt returns, with treasures, a story of a curse killing members of the expedition, and the expedition photographer, John de Morgan, missing, along with a valuable diadem found in the tomb the Tivington expedition excavated on this trip.

De Morgan was once Stoker's best friend. He's now married to Stoker's former wife, Caroline, who left Stoker apparently dying in the Amazon. Caroline returned to Britain and divorced him, claiming cruelty, and in the process destroying his reputation.

De Morgan may be a thief, who has stolen the diadem to finance an escape from his tempestuous marriage. Or he may be dead, killed by the real thief. If de Morgan is dead, Stoker is the most likely suspect in his murder.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Wizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker, by Ed Piskor

Top Shelf Productions, ISBN 9781603090971, July 2012

Kevin Phenicle is a budding young hacker in the early days of phone phreaking. He's smart, he's shy, he's not really social, not close to anyone except his grandma and his friend Winston. And he's just fascinated by computers and what you can do with them.

And all the information you can access with them, and a little ingenuity and social engineering.

Kevin in not a bad kid. He's a good kid. Even his first prison term doesn't change that.

He's in or near all the big developments in hacking over the next few decades. Except for a tendency to think stealing services from major corporations, like what is still Ma Bell for the early part of his career, he's honest, kind, respectful of others.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Under Investigation: U.S. Grant Short Mysteries, by Jeffrey Marks (author), Nick Mortise (narrator)

Jeffrey Marks, June 2014

This is a collection of short stories with U.S. Grant investigating murders. They're in no particular order, the first taking place after the Civil War, and the rest at various points during the war. In one, it's not Grant, but his horse, investigating the murder.

Honestly, I liked that one the best.

The characterization is mostly good. There's good attention to the mores and social assumptions of the time. The plots, sadly, are just a little too pat, and seem like a waste of a great character like Grant, and of course his horse.

Not bad, but, really, nothing special.

I bought this audiobook.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons From Neuroscience (The Great Courses), by Indre Viskontas (author, narrator)

The Great Courses, ISBN 9781501960154, February 2017

This is another take on advances in modern brain science. Viskontas' approach is to start each chapter with a popular myth about the brain, for instance the idea that we use only 10% of our brains, and then give us an overview of what current neuroscience tells us about this particular myth. This is Great Courses offering, so it's in the form of two dozen lectures, each under an hour. Viskontas is a lively lecturer, who tells stories, and weaves in personal background where it's enlightening, and altogether kept me completely engaged.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.