Monday, July 30, 2018

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings (Part 3), by Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis, July 2018

Again, this is part three, and you really want to read parts one and two first.

Hattie, Gary, and Cat are still working out what Gary's return means, but it's clear, also, that Gary's time as a visiting ghost is coming to an end. Hattie and Gary have managed to complete the errand the child ghost, Marty, asked of Gary, but there's still another, unfinished task, and even Gary's so-called spirit guide, Clarence, can't tell him what it is.

Cat is, of course, making a mess of her life, getting involved with her ex-husband, Stewart, again. Hattie has dated a couple of men, both of them complete losers, and she's worried that Gary's old friend, Barry, is getting the wrong idea from her friendliness.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Lady Astronaut of Mars (Lady Astronaut #2.5), by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tor Books, May 2014 (original publication December 2012)

Emma York led the expedition that paved the way for human life on Mars--thirty years ago. Now, much as she'd like to fly again, she's living on Mars, caring for her dying husband, and old enough that though she stays on the rolls, she know she has no realistic chance of once again crewing a spaceship.

Then a habitable planet is discovered in another solar system, and the first trip is going to be long and difficult in ways subsequent trips won't be. NASA has very good reasons for wanting to send an older astronaut, and someone who is very good PR.

Emma York is older, experienced, level-headed--and a popular, beloved public figure. NASA wants her to go.

And she wants to go. She wants very much to go. Except for one thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab, by Columbkill Noonan

Crooked Cat Books, 2017

In Victorian England, Barnabas Tew read the stories of Sherlock Holmes, and decided he would be a great detective, too. He attends university, completes his education, and then takes his small inheritance and sets up an office and home in London. He even acquires an assistant, Wilfred--who is perhaps more observant of detail and a more promising detective than Barnabas.

They don't have many successes, but they do find an Egyptian man's stolen ankh necklace. That man is happy and grateful, and might seem to be a great source of word of mouth advertising. However, he dies not long after.

His word of mouth advertising goes to Anubis, who, as it happens, does need a good detective. The scarab beetle in charge of rolling the sun around the sky has been stolen. Or kidnapped. And the Egyptian afterlife doesn't have any detectives.

So Barnabas and Wilfred are getting a crash course in the Egyptian afterlife and divine pantheon, something they both actually studied a bit--but clearly not enough--in the course of their educations.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Cowboy Pride (Wild Wyoming Hearts #3), by Lacy Williams

Lacy Williams, July 2017

This is a retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, set in the American West during the pioneer days.

Williams doesn't make the mistake of trying to make it too exact a match. The American West isn't Regency England. There are wealthy ranchers and social-climbing mamas, but there isn't nobility, and a female marshal is certainly an outlier, but not an impossibility.

And Mr. Bennett as a leather goods shop owner is respectably middle class, not beneath notice as merely being "in trade."

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Rejected Writers' Book Club (Southlea Bay #1), by Suzanne Kelman (author), Tanya Eby (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2016 (original publication October 2014)

This sounded like such a promising book.

Unfortunately, Our Protagonist, Janet Johnson, a librarian in Southlea Bay, Oregon, where she and her husband have lived for the last five years, is just a bit hard for me to like. It has not yet occurred to her that, really, she's a bit of a snob. Even at the end, when she has discovered the true grit and assorted other positive qualities of the ladies of the Rejected Writers' Book Club, she seems more mildly annoyed than anything else that these have become her local circle for friends.

Let's note in passing that after five years, these are the first friends she's made on the island.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Girl in the Gallery (The London Murder Mysteries #2), by Alice Castle

Crooked Cat Books, December 2017

Beth Haldane has had some weeks now, to settle into her new, significantly upgraded, position at the Wyatt school, and is taking a few moments on her lunch break to visit the nearby Picture Gallery and view some of her favorite "old friends" amongst the portraits there.

Unfortunately, this involves walking past the tomb of the founders of the Picture Gallery. Beth finds this pretty creepy, and tries to pass it while seeing as little as possible.

This doesn't prevent her from seeing a shocking flash of blood red out of the corner of her eye. Being a responsible adult, she has to check it out.

It's not blood. It's just red backpack.

But there is a body lying on top of the sarcophagus of one of the dead founders. She calls 999, and then she calls her police detective acquaintance, Harry York.

These are two likable, responsible adults, who are not altogether pleased with the attraction between them. I'm pleased to say that, for all Harry's complaints, Beth has learned something from her past experience with finding a dead body, and doesn't willfully place herself alone in the presence of a killer. She has also learned to share information with Harry, even if he's very annoying about a lack of reciprocal sharing, and frets too much for her tastes about budget restrictions on his ability to investigate everything.

Beth and Harry aren't the only characters, or the only relationship, to live and grow and change. The people we've met in Dulwich continue to become fuller, more developed characters, changed by the things that disrupt their lives.

It's a satisfying mystery, with characters I enjoyed spending time with.


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

Sunday, July 22, 2018

All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds (author), Brendan Kiely (author), Guy Lockard (narrator), Keith Nobbs (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442398672, September 2015

Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins are students at the same high school, just typical high school kids. Quinn is a star on the school basketball team. Rashad's not an athlete, but several of his friends are on the team with Quinn.

Rashad is black and Quinn is white.

One day, Rashad stops at the local bodega to pick up a bag of chips. A white woman accidentally trips over him, knocking them both to the floor. A cop sees them, and Rashad's backpack on the floor where it fell open, and leaps to the conclusion that Rashad was shoplifting. He seizes and starts beating on Rashad.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Revenant Gun (The Machineries of Empire #3), by Yoon Ha Lee (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Recorded Books, June 2018

Kel Cheris, with Jedao's memories sharing her brain, is seeking to destroy the greatest threat to the new calendar, which makes exotic effects contingent on the consent of the people targeted. That's the Nerai Hexarch, Kujen, whose immortality depends on maintaining the old calendar. (Yes, third book of a trilogy. Don't start here. Start with Ninefox Gambit; then Raven Strategem. You won't regret it.)

Kujen has created his own Jedao, who doesn't remember anything past age 17, but despite not having his memories, does seem to have the abilities he's told he has. Unfortunately, the fleet and the soldiers he's placed in command have to obey him, but they are free to hate him, because of a shocking massacre he committed but, of course, has no memory of.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings (Part 2), by Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis, March 2018

Hattie Hastings is being haunted--but not unpleasantly--by her late husband, Gary.  At the end of Part 1, her best friend, Cat, had just learned that Hattie is not delusional in her belief that Gay's ghost is a part of her life. Cat has also, meanwhile, met a much nicer guy than the jerk she used to be married to. The new guy is Jamie, a teacher and budding comedian.

With Gary three months dead, and his continued presence not evident to anyone but Hattie and Cat, guys are starting to notice her again. Gary has opinions, though not the opinion that she shouldn't be getting attention from guys. Son Johnny has gotten a job he likes, and brother Jack and his partner Ben have their own first encounter with ghostly Gary...

More seriously, Hattie and Jack's mother, Rachel, is clearly having health issues that, equally clearly, she's not willing to discuss.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Last Sister's Love (Brides & Twins #5)

Natalie Dean, July 2018

There's just one unmarried sister left in the Yankovich family, Anushka. She's eighteen now, and ready to marry and have her own home--but while her mother wants her to marry Pavel, the baker's son, she wants to join her sisters in Mesquite, Texas.

Meanwhile, in Mesquite, the oldest Turner son, William, is also eighteen, and thinking that next spring, when he turns nineteen, it a good time to get married. He's looking around, and seeing how happy the men are who've married Yandovich sisters.

This story doesn't just bring together two people ready for marriage and willing to take a chance. It also brings together to strong-willed, opinionated older women who had to raise their families alone after the tragic loss of their husbands--Eldora Kennesaw and Wanda Yankovich. It's an interesting conflict for everyone to deal with, especially as all the very independent Yankovich women find themselves fighting the impulse to revert to being daughters again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cottage by the Sea, by Debbie Macomber

Random House Publishing/Ballantine, ISBN 9780399181252, July 2018

Annie Marlow, living in Los Angeles and working a s a physician's assistant, has plans with her cousin and some friends for Thanksgiving day. When her mother calls just a few days before wanting her to come home for Thanksgiving instead, Annie stands her ground, and refuses to change her plans at the last minute. For a variety of reasons, I am cheering her on at this point, but I also know that this is a precursor to major guilt.

Early on Thanksgiving morning, she is awakened by a phone call from her aunt. A mudslide has swept her parents' home, and entire neighborhood, into the river. Her parents, brother and sister-in-law, and toddler niece, are all dead.

She has to return to Washington to deal with awful aftermath, painfully drawn out because of the class action lawsuit that follows. Annie can't deal with that from Los Angeles, so she stays in Washington, struggling with guilt and depression as well as the legal complexities.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Surprise Love:Mail Order Bride (Brides & Twins #4), by Natalie Dean

Natalie Dean, March 2018

Elzbieta Yankovich, the oldest unmarried Yankovich sister, was cheated of her chance at a marriage away from the Pennsylvania mines, when her sister Kasia got pregnant and their mother sent her to Texas, instead, to spare the family scandal and shame. Very much wanting a family of her own, Elzbieta is discouraged and unhappy, and considering becoming a nun, instead.

Then her sister Bonnie writes to her from Mesquite. Lincoln Duffy, something of a thorn in her side when she first arrived, has turned himself around. He's now the foreman on the Turner ranch, and has fixed up the foreman's cottage to be a comfortable home, even making a good garden for it. He's ready for a wife, and he's impressed by the two Yankovich sisters who have married into the Kennesaw household. He remembers that they have another unmarried sister, the one who was supposed to marry Will Henry, before Kasia was sent in her place.

Elzbieta decides that this is her chance.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Death in Dulwich (The London Murder Mysteries #1), by Alice Castle

Crooked Cat Books, September 2017

Beth Haldane, single mom getting by on freelance work, has landed the job of assistant archivist at swank local school Wyatt's. With her training mostly in journalism, she's not sure she's really up to it, but she was honest in the application process, and they've hired her. In addition to stabilizing their financial situation, she hopes it will eventually mean her son, Ben, will have a better chance at getting into this excellent school when the time comes.

She's hoping for a really good first day of work.

Instead, her new boss proves to be as creepy as she had hoped he wasn't really, and, in a mixed blessing, escorts her to the archivist shed and leaves her to go, he says, to a meeting. He doesn't return. At lunchtime, she heads out to meet the school's admin, Janice, for lunch, and stumbles over her boss's dead body. There's a knife, and a lot of blood, and a handkerchief over his face.

It's a really awful first day of work.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Wrong Bride:A Christmas Mail Order Bride Romance (Brides & Twins #3), by Natalie Dean & Eveline Hart

Natalie Dean, Eveline Hart, December 2017 decide

Encouraged by his brother Zachary's experience in marrying mail-order bride Bonnie Yankovich, Will Henry Kennesaw asks if her sister, Elzbieta, would be willing to come west and marry him. She agrees, and when the great day arrives, he, his brother Zachary, and sister-in-law Bonnie, are in town to meet the stagecoach bringing in...
Bonnieand  Elzbieta's younger sister, Kasia.

Who is pregnant.

Kasia was working as a maid in a wealthy family's home, and was seduced by the son of the house. He promised he'd marry her, but of course his parents fired her and sent their son off the Europe.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings (Part 1), by Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis, November 2017

Gary Hastings is, in a small way, demonstrating what a sweet guy he is, and why after more than twenty years Hattie still loves him, when he's hit by a car and killed.

It's a devastating loss emotionally, and there are endless practical details to be dealt with too, and on top of that, their son, Johnny, is still not getting his act together and getting a job after dropping out of university.

It's all right on the edge of being too much to handle.

Then, one evening, Gary pops back in.

He's not quite corporeal, but he can still enjoy his favorite whisky. And he is, after the initial shock, a pleasure and a comfort for Hattie to see and talk to again. Unfortunately, Gary can't control his comings and goings.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Taming the Rancher:Mail Order Bride (Brides & Twins #2), by Natalie Dean

Natalie Dean, September 2017

Bonnie Yankovich, determined not to marry a many who made his living in the dangerous and filthy coal mines, takes the risk of agreeing to be a mail-order bride. She travels from Pittsburgh to Mesquite, Texas to marry Zachary Taylor Kennesaw, a rancher.

When she gets off the stagecoach, she discovers her husband to be, in front of the general store, waiting for her. He has no hat and no shirt, and for the moment no horse, having lost them all in a poker game. But he's handsome and charming, happy to meet her, and not concerned about the losses.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dear Sarah, by Nancy Kress

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Aliens arrived, and they came bearing environmentally safe energy, and robots that do what was left of factory work. No mine work, no factory work, and the wonderful partnership with the Lickinites is profitable for those higher up the economic food chain, but devastating for those at the bottom.

There is, consequently, resistance, armed resistance, terrorist resistance.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Soldier's Love (Brides & Twins #1), by Natalie Dean

Natalie Dean, July 2017

Mary O'Hara has grown up on a plantation in what will soon be West Virginia, when the Civil War breaks out. The Turner plantation employs hired workers, not slaves--and the relative lack of slavery in the western part of the state was a big part of why West Virginia split off from Virginia, rather than fight to preserve slavery. John Turner has two sons, and like many families, the Turners divided. Will joined the Confederate Army; James joined the Union Army.

And James tells Mary's father, Liam, about the $500 bonus some rich northerners are paying men to take their places in the Union Army. Liam wants his daughter to be more than just a hired worker, and $500 is a fortune for them, so he goes.

Will and Liam both die in combat. James is captured at Cold Harbor, and sent to the infamous Adersonville POW camp. When the war ends, nothing is heard from him,and he does not return. John Turner redoes his will; all his staff assume he has left the plantation to one or both of his second cousins, the only remaining Turners.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Moon is Not a Battlefield, by Indrapramit Das

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Gita is an asura, a soldier of India taken from their parents at a young age, and raised on the Moon to be a soldier defending India's lunar territory. Their friend, Adita, a friend back to those early childhood days in an Indian slum, is also.

Or rather, they were those things. Now, Gita is back on Earth, talking to a journalist, telling their story. They met the journalist on the Moon, before things changed.

This is a fairly grim, but not hopeless story for Gita, but contains the possibility of a brighter future for humanity as a whole. And Gita, Adita, and their comrades in arms are interesting people who've lived interesting lives.

I liked Gita, and I like what we get to know of the journalist. Recommended.

I bought the anthology that includes this story.

Monday, July 9, 2018

In Everlasting Wisdom, by Aliette de Bodard

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Ai Thi is a harmoniser, a servant of the Everlasting Emperor, whose job is to help keep the population on the station where she lives happy, calm, and productive. To this end, she has had an alien parasite, or symbiont, implanted in her. It's called the appeaser, and together they are able to send calming thoughts and emotions, and the wisdom of the Everlasting Emperor, to the people around them, on their daily rounds.

This is vital, and challenging, because the Empire is at war. We don't know who they're at war with, but it may not be going well. rations are growing steadily tighter. Ai Thi enlisted as an appeaser because she needed an income sufficient to support her daughter--and Second Aunt, with whom her daughter now lives, because Ai Thi is living in the harmonisers' barracks.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Overburden, by Genevieve Valentine

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Davis is a colonel in a a colonial war, and he dreams of being a general. His wife, Catherine, is enjoying the music and society in the occupied city, and active in charitable organizations. Davis worries that this might make her look too sympathetic to the colonials, and damage his reputation. He authorizes his intelligence officer, Carter, to try to lure some of the opposition forces to the army's side, but he doubts Carter's judgment. He questions the intentions of a soldier who is skimming dead carp off the water nearby, and who occasionally is the soldier who brings him meals.

The problem is not necessarily the people around Davis.

It's an interesting story, and perhaps, depending on how you look at it, a bit less grim than some of the other stories in this anthology.

It is, like all of them, well-written.

I bought the anthology that includes this story.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate (author),Emily Rankin (narrator), Catherine Taber (narrator)

Random House Audio, June 2017

In 1939, the five Foss children, four girls and a boy, are living a happy, even magical life on the river in Tennessee, with their loving parents, in a houseboat.

In the present day, Avery Stafford has moved home from Maryland and a position as a federal prosecutor, to Aiken, South Carolina, to support her parents during her father's cancer treatment, and to be groomed to, possibly, run for her father's Senate seat if he has to step down.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Heavies, by Rich Larson

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Dexter is a combat soldier assigned to a colony world that, fifty years earlier, rebelled against the Combine. It's a peaceful world, now, and the inhabitants are physically adapted to their world--lighter-gravity and wetter than the world Dexter and his fellow soldiers and the Combine's miners are adapted to. Dexter is on planet alone, with his support in orbit and at the other end of a link. He's there to be the eyes and ears of the Combine, to watch out for any lingering resentment, resistance, or hostility.

He's not finding any.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Racing Hearts (Klein's K-9s #1), by Marcia James

Marcia James, December 2015

Tom Tyler is, or rather was, a champion race car driver. Then he had a crash, and a traumatic brain injury. He has seizures, and may never drive again. He certainly won't be driving race cars again.

He's hiding out in a little cottage on his parents' property, avoiding the media, and everyone else except his parents. He's depressed, and convinced he has no future. His dream is gone.

Then Meg Klein knocks on his door. She's the younger sister of his high school girlfriend, but she's also, now, co-owner, with her aunt, of Klein's K-9s, a successful non-profit which trains service and therapy dogs for people with a wide variety of handicaps and disabilities. She has brought with her an experienced seizure alert dog who former handler, an elderly woman, has died.

He's a hairless Chinese Crested Dog, with hair on only his head, feet, and tail.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Closed Circles (Sandhamn #2), by Viveca Sten (author), Laura A. Wideburg (translator), Angela Dawe (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2016 (original publication April 2009)

It's a year later, the summer after the events in Still Waters, and an important yacht race is happening at Sandhamn. Thomas is a spectator, a guest on the marine police boat he once captained, when the starting gun fires--and the prominent lawyer, commanding a yacht favored to win, collapses to the deck of his yacht.

It wasn't the starting gun that killed him, of course, but someone used the starting gun as cover for the sound of t was the rifle they used to shoot Oscar Juliander.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Provenance, by Ann Leckie (author), Adjoa Andoh (narrator)

Hachette Audio, September 2017

This is a return to the universe of the Radchaai, but not their empire or its fleet.

Ingray Aughskold, of Hwae, daughter of a prominent politician, is on a mission. Not for her mother, but for herself. She wants to be her mother's heir, and her mother has set her and her brother up to constantly compete to impress her.  That brother, Danach, is often a jerk, but he is more of a risk-taker than Ingray, and has simply created more opportunities for their mother to be impressed.

Ingray has a plan to fix that, taking a major risk with, potentially, huge reward. She's paid for a convicted thief of vestiges, the vital mementos that are critical to social and political status on Hwae, to be retrieved from a prison planet from which no one ever returns, to recover the vestiges he stole.

He arrives in stasis, and when removed from his stasis pod, he claims he's not the man she expected, Pahlad Budrakim. There are also problems with the somewhat dubious freighter captain she hired to bring them back to Hwae. The Ambassador of the alien Geck, en route to the conclave to discuss the rebel Radch AIs' request to be recognized as a significant species under the treaty, also makes problems, claiming that the freighter captain is a Geck citizen, and that he stole three ships, including the one he is now using in his freight business.

This is all only a tiny glimmer of the problems they'll have when they get to Hwae.

Ingray is a smart, capable young woman, who does not have the killer instinct of her mother or brother. This causes them and others to form certain assumptions about her, while others in her small circle of family and friends perhaps have a different view of her. This isn't the intense drama and galaxy-shaking drama of the Ancillary books. It's a smaller, more intimate story, closer to a comedy of manners. This doesn't mean the stakes aren't very real, for everyone involved, and Ingray does a lot of growing and maturing over the course of the story.

This reads like a standalone, but I'd be happy to see more of Ingray and her friends, should they turn up in future books. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Boston Homicide (The City Murders #1), by John C. Dalglish (author), Rich McVicar (narrator)

John C. Dalglish, December 2015

Boston Police Officer Danny Sullivan has just gotten his promotion to Detective, something his father and grandfather never achieved in their careers. He, his wife, and his whole family are thrilled.

But his first case with his new, much more experienced partner, is a missing woman, a nurse at Boston Medical Center, who very shortly turns up dead. She had previously reported a prowler, but there is little evidence to go on. All the usual suspects, her boyfriend, her ex-husband, her coworkers, have alibis, and just don't seem good fits for what happened.

Then a second woman vanishes, and is soon found dead, in the same place the first woman's body was found. There's a superficial similarity, in height, dark eyes, dirty blonde hair. Both bodies, and the site they were left at, are remarkably "clean," the only possible clue being a single footprint, indicating that their killer may have been wearing boat shoes. Oh, and she'd reported a prowler recently, too.

When Danny takes it on himself to look at the last year's worth of prowler reports, he finds a recent large uptick--from women who have dark eyes and dirty blonde hair, who are about the same height as the two murder victims. When he begins to suspect that the killer could be a cop, he knows he's treading on very dangerous ground.

Danny's dilemma, as well as the strain on his wife, nine months pregnant and due any day now, from his long hours, is very well handled. What's also well handled is the setting. Often when a book is set in Boston, I wind up wincing every few minutes because what we get is Boston As Seen On TV, not the real city. I don't know whether Dalglish has a Boston background, or just does really good research, but nothing leaped out at me as wrong. The few times I even had a question, a few seconds on Google showed me that he'd gotten it right. (For instance, a parish in Southie that has changed its name in recent years, and a T station that's on a part of the system I've never used regularly.)

It's a good, solid, police procedural, with real tension and good characterization. On top of that, it gets a city I know and love right for a change!

I bought this audiobook.