Friday, November 30, 2018

A String of Silver Beads, by Melissa Addey

Letterpress Publishing, November 2018

We start in the 1070s, with a woman explaining to us something of Tuareg ways, the importance of women's jewelry and what it reveals about a woman's life.

Kella is a young woman of the Tuareg, and in 1067, at the age of seventeen, she is still passing as her father's youngest son, traveling with him and her five brothers, plying her considerable skills as a trader--and winning camel races.

It's that last that trips her up. Among the Tuareg, it's men and boys, not women and girls, who go veiled. Under a man's robes, and with her face veiled, she can pass as a boy. But when, near the end of a race, her veil becomes tangled and accidentally pulled off, she is exposed as female. It's a huge embarrassment not just to the men she beat in the race, but to her father. He had already been growing uncomfortable with letting her pass for a boy; this is the last straw. She will be returned to their home camp to, finally, learn women's skills from his sister, her Aunt Tezemt.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Guarded Prognosis, by Richard L. Mabry, MD (author), Bill Nevitt (narrator)

Richard L. Mabry, November 2018

Dr. Caden Taggert, a surgeon, receives an unexpected visit from two DEA agents, at his office. His DEA number is apparently being used to write suspect prescriptions. They want to find out who is really behind it. It's a frightening experience, and he far too easily accepts their encouragement not to call a lawyer. And, heck, he doesn't even know a lawyer, and doesn't want to upset the DEA agents.

It's a mistake, of course. They don't even have a search warrant. Something is wrong here, but he's not asking the right questions. He introduces the agents to his staff and the other two surgeons as doctors leaving academia and hospital work, and interested in seeing how this private practice office is organized. He's introduced trouble that's not the trouble he thinks it is, though the reader, or listener, soon knows.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Potions Eleven (Fair Witch Sisters #2), by Christy Murphy

Christy Murphy, November 2018

Joy and Didi Fair survived their trial before the witches' High Council, but they are not yet cleared of the suspicion of possibly being too susceptible to the dark side of magic. They're pursuing their new career as private detectives, but they need to be really careful, and they've mostly been taking trademark cases referred to them from Didi's former employer.

Then Joy, perhaps unwisely, decides that in order to practice their magic and gain greater control of it, they should have wands. They head off to the other side to do some shopping, and they meet Evelyn Carson Barber, famous actress, relatively secret witch.

Evelyn wants them to find her stolen book of spells, discreetly, before her carelessness in failing to secure it becomes common knowledge. Well, common knowledge in the witch community. She doesn't want her reputation damaged.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind & Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk, MD (author), Sean Pratt (narrator)

Gildan Media, October 2014

This was in many ways a tough listen for me, but a good one. Van der Kolk is a psychiatrist who has worked extensively with trauma survivors. This book is about the ways traumatic experiences permanently affect us.

Trauma isn't just something that happens to our bodies, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder isn't just something that happens in our brains.

It doesn't take combat, terrifying accidents, or obvious child abuse to cause PTSD. Obviously they all can, and do, and are the most easily recognized causes. But other events, that may not even be recognized as trauma, can also be traumatic, and have lasting effects.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thrown to the Wolves (Hedgewood Sisters #4), by Ruby Blaylock

Ruby Loren, 2018

The Hedgewood sisters have a problem. Well, several problems.

People are disappearing in Frog Hollow, and most of them are supes. In fact, most of them are shifters. Twyla's boyfriend Hank has the advantage of being a police officer and seeing the reports as they come in--and the disadvantage that the sheriff, Leland Talbot, hates supes, and is looking for any excuse to fire Hank. With problems affecting the supes in town, the Hedgewoods need to be a first line of defense, not backup.

Joe, the sisters' father, is once again back on the Other Side, working on behalf of the Summer King, trying to negotiate a peace with the Winter King. The conflict means no one can pass freely back and forth, and now Napoleon is over there, carrying messages to family on the Other Side, and hoping to bring back messages from them to this the human realm.

And then Amaara, the Autumn Queen, a.k.a. the Winter King's consort, shows up in the Hedgewoods' back yard, planning to stay for some undetermined period of time, and reminding the sisters that, with one fae parent, they and even Twyla's daughter Ivey are her subjects, and subject to fae law.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything, by David Christian (author), Jamie Jackson (narrator)

Recorded Books, May 2018

Every culture and tradition has had its origin story, its understanding of how the world came to be as they knew it, which formed the basis for their further understanding of how to live, interact with others, get food, make clothes. Our origin stories are the basis of how we understand everything.

Now, in the early 21st century, we know far more about the origin of the universe, our sun, our planet, and life on Earth. We live in a society of unparalleled complexity, and in the last two hundred years, we have gained the ability not just to support more human beings, but to improve the daily lives of most humans on the planet, not just an elite 10% or so.

What we haven't done yet is integrate this knowledge into a new, shared origin story that helps us cope with this new, complex, and rapidly changing world.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Murder Served Cold (A Much Winchmoor Mystery #1), by Paula Williams

Crooked Cat Books, October 2018

Kat Latcham was working at a radio station in Bristol, sharing a nice flat with friend, and dating a handsome guy.

Then the falling economy cost her the job at the radio station, her boyfriend took off with her flatmate, and they even took her car and her treasured memorabilia.

She's now back in the little village of Much Winchmoor, living with her parents, working in her mother's beauty salon, and listening to the local gossip--which is currently mostly about her failed love life.

Then one of the local gossips mentions that Donald, the local pub owner, is looking for a new barmaid. Temporarily, since his wife is away on a cruise, but it'll get her out of working at the salon while she looks for a real job.

The gossip there is just as bad, and still about her love life, but at least she's not working for her mom. But she also has to mend fences with her childhood best friend, almost-a-brother Will Manning, whom on her last visit she had a huge fight with about her now ex-boyfriend.

And while they are talking, they head out to the farm shop, where they find Will's father John, dead drunk, and one of the more obnoxious local gossips, just dead. And not of natural causes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Ten Women, by Marcela Serrano (author), Beth Fowler (translator) Marisol Ramirez (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, February 2014 (original publication October 2004)

In Santiago, Chile, ten women--nine patients and their therapist--meet. Normally the women receive individual therapy, but this time the therapist, Natasha, wants them all together in a group session. They will all talk about their lives.

They're all very different women, different backgrounds, different experiences. An elderly former actress, a nineteen-year-old computer whiz, a housekeeper, a woman from a wealthy, connected family, women who have struggled to become or remain middle class. The last story we get is Natasha's own, an immigrant with a broken and traumatic past of her own.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Murder Has No Guilt (DCI Isaac Cook #9), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, November 2018

A mass shooting in a high-end hair salon for men is the start of a big problem for DCI Isaac Cook and his team. Even the minor local mafia boss doesn't seem like a likely target for this type of killing. But  as Isaac and his team keep digging, it begins to look like it had nothing to with anyone there--and everything to do with a brewing gang war between a Romanian gang well established in the area, and a major Russian mafia gang moving in.

The deaths in the mass shooting are, of course, not the last deaths.

An informant of DI Larry Hill's, a leader of one of the local West Indian gangs, a source DC Wendy Gladstone has cultivated in the course of this investigation, all find their lives abruptly shortened. No one is happy about the Russians, more violent than any of the established gangs, moving in but working with the police is a hard step to take.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Outlaw's Daughter (Marrying a Marshall #3), by Natalie Dean

Kenzo Publishing, November 2018

Ella Jenkins left her outlaw family because she couldn't accept being part of a criminal gang. She wanted a quiet, and law-abiding, life. She settled in Cypress Creek, with Meg, a woman she met who had set out to be a mail-order bride and been unceremoniously stood up by her intended groom. She's working as a seamstress for the local tailor, who is kind, but with Meg's income, together they can just about pay the rent on their cabin and buy food.

Then Meg connects with another mail-order groom.

And Hank Fulton, senior of the three US Marshals in Cypress Creek, knocks on their door and tells her he knows her name is Jenkins, not Jones, and that he wants her to help infiltrate the gang now run by her brother, Ezra.

It's a hard choice for Ella to make. She'd rather forget she was ever a Jenkins, she doesn't want to actively betray her brother, and she does want the Marshals to keep making the region safer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Genius: The Game, by Leopoldo Gout

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, ISBN 9781250045812, May 2016

Rex Huerta is an American teenager, and a coding genius. His brother Teo was, too, but Teo has disappeared, and Rex is working on a way to find them. His parents reported his disappearance, but an older teen, one old enough to have simply decided to leave, with no evidence at all of foul play, is not a major priority. The elder Huertas, unlike their two sons, are undocumented, and without real evidence, they can't afford to push harder and annoy the police.

So Rex continues with his schoolwork and his blogging activities, while working on software that will enable him to find Teo. Oh, his blogging activities--a blog called the Lodge, where he provides brilliant coding solutions, his friend Tunde, in Nigeria, answers questions about how to build practically anything out of, essentially, junk, and Cai, a Chinese girl they and everyone else only knows as Painted Wolf, exposes corruption. Her research skills and surreptitious videos have brought down some powerful figures.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Spring's Calling (Seasons of Magic #1), by Sarah Bigelow

Sarah Bigelow, November 2018

Ezri Trenton is a cop, a still-new detective with the Boston Police Department.

Ezri is also a witch.

Her relationship with both things is--complicated.

Ezri is the descendant of witches who died in the Salem Witch Trials. Prophecy says that she is the Savior, destined to defeat a plot by evil practitioners who will strike on the day that there is an eclipse of the sun and a meteor shower, on the Vernal Equinox. And Ezri is committed, personally, to doing her duty. Unfortunately, she's not on speaking terms with any of the other witches she should be collaborating with when the time comes--which is very, very soon.

Ezri's mother died on Ezri's fifteenth birthday. She found her mother's body, knife in her chest--and the Authority, the governing body of witches who seek to be law-abiding good citizens, covered it up and did nothing to find the killer. Ezri has cut ties with everyone who went along with this, which was everyone important in her life.

Her complicated relationship with her police career comes from the fact that she still basically seeks to follow the rules and ethics of the Authority, and that means, sometimes, often, not telling the whole truth about how she gets things done.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Love and Dreams (The Summer Sisters #2), by Jean Oram (author), Vanessa Moyen (narrator)

Oram Productions, July 2018

Maya Summer, the second of the Summer sisters, is a business school graduate with brains, drive, ambition, and maybe not such a good grasp of the importance of human connections. She thinks her family is too sentimental about the island cottage that's been in the family for generations. However, they are committed to keeping it, and she sees a possible way to both help pay the back taxes on it, and advance her own goal of landing the perfect job to launch her business career in Toronto.

Rent out the cottage as an "executive retreat," along with her own services as a summer assistant.

When Connor MacKenzie, business powerhouse, the "King of Toronto," giver of TED Talks on business, and Maya's own personal business idol, books two weeks on the island, Maya thinks her dream has come true and she's on her way.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Must Love Mistletoe (Alaska Sunrise Romances #3), by Melissa Storm (author), Ann Richardson (narrator)

Partridge & Pear Publishing, January 2018

Seattle realtor Riley McKinley is not thrilled when, a few days before Christmas, the day her Christmas holiday is to start, her biggest client asks her to go to Alaska to help he with a deal there--immediately. But he is her biggest client, it's a potentially career-making deal, and she likes him. So she flies up to Alaska.

When she arrives, she's met by Sebastian Rockwell. He's the winter sports coordinator for the resort chain that Riley's client wants to buy one currently-inactive location from. Sebastian is the last unmarried son of a match-making mama, and he dislikes Christmas as much as his mother and the rest of the family love it. He was happy to take the extra hours to be the tour guide for Riley and her client, when asked.

Friday, November 9, 2018

In the Shadow of Light,by Elaine L. Orr (author), Andre G. Chapoy (narrator)

Lifelong Dreams Publishing, October 2018

Corazon Sanchez, her baby brother Pico, and their mother, Isabella, have walked from Honduras to the US-Mexico border, fleeing the gangs that killed Corazon's father, Manuel. They wanted more protection money for the family's store than they can afford to pay. Also, though, Manuel and his father, Tito, helped save the life of an American soldier, Colonel Bill Haines, years ago when Manuel was a young man. That may also have been a sore spot for the gangs.

The Sanchez family think they are walking towards safety, but they don't know about the changes under the new President (not Trump; the people are all fictionalized.) They don't know about the family separation policy.

And they left too quickly to let Colonel Bill know they were coming.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Reel Christmas in Romance, by J.J. DiBenedetto

Writing Dreams, November 2018

Marianne Carter owns the only movie theater in the town of Romance, the Esmeralda Theater, and like her father and grandfather before her, shows only classic movies--nothing after 1955. It's a labor of love, as well as her business.

Jack Nelson is with the state historical commission, sent to evaluate the theater and Marianne's application to have it designated an historic landmark. He has to do this without Marianne knowing, or becoming too friendly with her, because he has to not only be objective, but be seen to be objective.

The Duck Man is Marianne's anonymous email pen pal, new in town and a little general about exactly what he does, but a delight to chat with in email. She, also, remains anonymous.

Esme is Jack's anonymous email pen pal. She's a pleasure to converse with in email, and, since it's clear she works at the Esmerelda, a useful contact. Right? Jack, too, remains anonymous.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

An Unexpected Christmas in Sampson's Quarry (Sampson's Quarry #4), by Sophie Tucker

Lirios Publishing, November 2018

First off, this book, despite being number four in a series, really does work as a standalone.

Second, the dog does not die. In fact, the dog is just fine, all the way through.

Nancy Redmond has a lovely Christmas planned--in Colorado with her college roommate, not in Europe with her parents. She knows her car needs to see the local mechanic--an old high school classmate--as soon as possible, but right now, it only has to get her to the airport, with one stop on the way for a quick visit with one of her real estate clients.

Instead, of course, the car dies while she's at the client's house. The client isn't there, because a family emergency kept them from making it to their vacation home, and their message was sent while she was busy. She doesn't see it till she's there, and stuck.

And she forgot to charge her phone, and it's dying now.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency #2), by John Scalzi (author), Wil Wheaton (narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2018

The Empire of the Interdependency is going to collapse, because the Flow network that allows travel among its 47 star systems is collapsing. Emperox Grayland II, a.k.a. Cardenia Wu-Patrick, is determined to save as much of humanity as possible--though it seems that might be a very tiny percentage. In all the 47 systems of the Interdependency, only one planet, End, can support human life living unprotected on its surface.

Unfortunately, of the leadership, both political and commercial, of the Interdependency doesn't believe that the Flow network is collapsing. Even with the Flow from End having already closed, no one wants to believe it. End, after all, is just a minor backwater...

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Love and Rumors (The Summer Sisters #1), by Jean Oram (author), Vanessa Moyen (narrator)

Oram Productions, ISBN 9781928198505, July 2018

Hailey Summer is the oldest of the Summer sisters, and the one her mother, incapacitated by a stroke, asked to take on the responsibility of keeping their island cottage in the family, as it has been for generations. Unfortunately, her mother had to pass it on to her with back taxes owing. Her younger sisters don't know this, and they don't realize, because Hailey hasn't told them, that the taxes have gone up a lot in recent years. The reason for protecting her sisters from this is that they were in school. Now they're all out, and working. But Hailey is still protecting them, and keeps convincing herself that she can't tell them what's going on. She's trying to make her career as an art photographer, not a commercial photographer, but in the short term, of course, that's less profitable in the short term.