Sunday, December 30, 2018

His Secret Child (Rescue River #2), by Lee Tobin McClain

Love Inspired, ISBN 9780373818938, January 2016

Fern Easton is a librarian with ambitions to be a children's author and artist. Right now she's dog-sitting and house-sitting for her friend Angelica and her husband, who are on a second honeymoon in Europe with their two children. They run a dog rescue, so Fern is caring for not only their own three-legged dog named Bull, but also all the dogs currently in their rescue, housed in what used to be the barn on their property. She's also caring for her foster daughter Mercedes, just four years old, orphaned daughter of her friend, Kath.

Carlo Camden is a former soldier, former mercenary, now a missionary. A few years ago, he was married, very unwisely, to a woman who threw him out, while spiraling down into an ever more misspent life. He's also Angelica's brother.

He has just recently received a latter from his ex-wife, written as she was dying, telling him that she was pregnant when she kicked him out the last time, and asking him to come home to Rescue River to care for their daughter, Mercedes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Colors of All the Cattle (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #19), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Lisette Lecat (narrator)

Recorded Books, November 2018

Another enjoyable visit with Mma Ramotswe and her friends and family.

This time, she's asked to find the driver in a hit-and-run that seriously injured a respected older doctor who served her native village of Mochudi for years, and returned their in retirement after some years at a respected hospital. The good doctor can't identify the car beyond the fact that it was blue, and there were no witnesses. The police, with nothing to work with, have given up.

At the same time, there's a proposal before the Gabarone city council to approve the development of a hotel, the Big Fun Hotel, next to a cemetery. There's an open seat on the council, and an election approaching--and currently the only candidate is old nemesis Violet Sepotho. But Mma Ramotswe's friend Mma Potokwanne has a solution--Mma Ramotswe will run also, and defeat her--and then defeat the plans for the Big Fun Hotel.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin (author), George Guidall (narrator)

Recorded Books, October 2016 (original publication 1971)

George Orr is a mild, unassuming man, a good draftsman, a man who has recently developed a mild drug abuse problem. This is discovered in part due to the pharmacy card that every citizen is issued. He's been making unauthorized use of other people's cards. It's not a very serious offense, at least at his level of abuse. Because he admits it, and another person admits to being one of his sources, he's only sent for Voluntary Therapeutic Treatment.

By chance, the psychiatrist he's assigned to is Dr. Haber.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Homeward Hound (Sister Jane #11), by Rita Mae Brown

Ballantine Books, ISBN 9780399178375, November  2018

"Sister" Jane Arnold is starting another fox hunting season. As Master of Foxhounds for the Jefferson Hunt, she's responsible for running the Hunt Club itself, together with her co-Master Walter, but also for relations with local landowners, ensuring the club has permission to pursue foxes on the local estates, only some of whose owners are fox hunters themselves. The hunt season itself has started off well, but nevertheless there is potential trouble brewing. Soliden, a major energy company, wants to lay a pipeline right through the heart of the hunt country and across old and carefully tended estates. A dinner planned to let the Soliden CEO and the hunt community get to know each other turns explosive. Crawford, head of another local hunt club, storms out in fury.

All of which is disturbing, but not nearly as disturbing as when, at the end of the Christmas Hunt, cut short by the arrival of a blizzard, they find two things.

Gregory Luckham, the Soliden CEO, has vanished, apparently right off his horse as they were coming in through the blinding blizzard. And a dead body is found, hit on the back of the head, and left in a ditch. It's not Gregory Luckham. It's Rory, a valued regular of the hunt's support staff.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Wizards of Once (The Wizards of Once #1), by Cressida Cowell (author), David Tennant (narrator)

Hachette Audio, October 2017

Xar is a wizard boy, youngest son of the King of the wizards, and despite being thirteen years old, his magic hasn't come in yet.

Wish is a warrior girl, youngest daughter of the  Queen of the warriors, and unfortunately, clumsy and not all that interested in warrior things. She's more interested in magic, and in fact has a forbidden magic object, an enchanted spoon.

Forbidden, because ever since the wars against the witches, the warriors hate all magic and want to wipe out all magic and all magical beings.

That includes the wizards. Xar and Wish have been raised to hate each other. And one night, they each go out on separate expeditions to the Bad Woods.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Secret Santa (Cherringham - A Cosy Crime Series: Mystery Shorts 25), by Matthew Costello (author), Neil Richards (author), Neil Dudgeon (narrator)

Lübbe Audio, December 2017

Bill Vokes has been the Cherringham Santa Claus for years, an important part of a happy community celebration. This year, though, he changes into his Santa costume--and disappears. At first there is more puzzlement and annoyance than alarm; Bill has a habit of disappearing for short periods, though doing so in the hour or so prior to his scheduled appearance as Santa seems atypical.

By the next morning, though, some people are growing concerned, and Jack and Sarah are asked to look into his disappearance, since there is not yet enough basis for the police to do so.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ancient Civilizations of North America (The Great Courses), by Edwin Barnhart (author, narrator)

The Great Courses, June 2018

Many of us grow up with the impression that there were no significant Native American civilizations north of Mexico prior to European colonization. That's not correct. Much of what we usually think we know about North America prior to European contact is in fact a result of European contact. Europeans brought Eurasian diseases even when they weren't violent and destructive on their own--as they so often were. Die-offs due to diseases the inhabitants had no prior exposure to and hence no resistance to, destructively violent raids and burning of cities and towns, changes created due to the horses and the pigs Europeans brought--all caused major changes, and in multiple ways wiped out much of what was here before, usually with few good records.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Billionaire Scrooge (DC Billionaires #2), by Eliza Ellis

Eliza Ellis, December 2018

Fredericka Jones is about to break ground on the shelter for single mothers and their children that she promised her own mother, before her death, she would open. Then Charles Larenski swoops in, derailing her permits with shady methods and a plan to build a big, luxury hotel.

Freddie and Charles went to high school together. He was a top jock at their privileged private school. Freddie was a hardworking, nerdy student determined to justify every penny her hardworking mother was spending on sending her there to give Freddie a better start in life than her mother had.

Charles made sure the whole school called her Freaky Freddie.

But Freddie has university degrees, her own charitable foundation, and drop-dead gorgeous looks, now. When she shows up in his office hoping that she can make him understand that the shelter is important, he's not going to change his mind, but does think it's worth seducing her to try to change hers.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Christmas Hirelings, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (author), Richard Armitage (narrator)

Audible Audio, December 2018 (original publication 1894)

This is a Victorian Christmas tale, and it's a good one.

Sir John Penlyon is spending Christmas with his niece, Adela, and his friend Thomas Danby, a makeshift family for the aging man with no closer family left to him. Long widowed, his older daughter died just a few years after her own marriage, with no children. His younger daughter married a penniless curate, in defiance of her father, and was of course disowned.

Adela mentions how dull a Christmas with no children is, and Sir John, a bit of a curmudgeon, says Christmas is pointless for a household without children. In short order, Danby has persuaded Sir john to agree to his scheme to hire some suitable young children to enliven their holiday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Christmas Eve 1914, by Charles Olivier (author), Damon Herriman (narrator), Cameron Daddo (narrator), Xander Berkeley (narrator), James Scott (narrator), Lance Guest (narrator), Nate Jones (narrator), Cody Fern (narrator), John Beck (narrator), Gabe Greenspan (narrator), Heiko Obermoeller (narrator)

Audible Audio, December 2014

This short audiobook from Audible is about a British unit being rotated to the front lines just in time for Christmas Eve, 1914.

This unit has recently lost their captain, and the lieutenants are waiting for one of them to be promoted. Two are each convinced that he is the obviously correct candidate; two others are less concerned or interested. One of the ambitious ones also has a special addition to his pot of tea--one that's not illegal in 1914, but would certainly cause, at a minimum, raised eyebrows, and perhaps block promotion of an otherwise-capable officer. A new subaltern arrives, with a divine singing voice, and singing Silent Night, a cherished Christmas song of German origin, produces some misplaced hostility. The anticipated Christmas tins do not arrive, their shipping space taken by a Vickers machine gun, which will likely make this unit a particular target.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Love & Trust (The Summer Sisters #3), by Jean Oram (author), Vanessa Moyen (narrator)

Oram Productions, ISBN 9781928198529, June 2018 (original publication December 2014)

The development happening across from Nymph Island is becoming more obtrusive--and now the developers have made an offer for Nymph Island. The Summer sisters don't plan to sell, but these people are accustomed to getting what they want, and they don't plan to lose to four young women struggling to pay the taxes on their cottage.

It's Melanie, third sister, and a lawyer, who takes the lead this time, and Conor's friend, Tristen Bell, former developer who has taken an early retirement to Muskoka, is her possible partner in taking on his own former business rivals. Unfortunately, Tristen is determined not to be That Guy anymore, the ruthless, cutthroat developer who actually knows how to stop these people.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Christmas Spirit (Christmas Spirit #1), by Susan Buchanan

Susan Buchanan, November 2013

It's December 2013, and the Christmas Spirit has some work to do.

Jacob has a university degree, but despite determined efforts, no job. He's sick of living on public benefits, but sees no prospect of that changing soon.

Stanley's wife died earlier in the year. His son is dead, and his grandson lives in Canada. He's alone, with Christmas bearing down on him.

Rebecca has just been dumped by her boyfriend, and adding insult to injury, he's being a jerk about their joint possessions, which include their flat. She also has a job with a lovely boss, but low pay and no prospects for career advancement.

Meredith is a workaholic business owner with no desire to do anything for Christmas but stay home with a takeout meal and a DVD.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Best Man for the Wedding Planner (Marrying a Millionaire #1), by Donna Alward

Harlequin Romance, ISBN 9781488089855, December 2018

Some years ago, in their early twenties, Adele Hawthorne and Dan Brimicombe were in love, and looking forward to a family together. Then Adele was diagnosed with cervical cancer. It had spread to her uterus, and she needed a hysterectomy. No children, ever.

Dan had a large, happy family, and looked forward, like his siblings, to raising his own large, happy family. Instead of telling Dan about her diagnosis, and letting him support her through her treatment and make his own decision about whether he wanted to stick with her despite the loss of any prospect of children together, she decided for him. Convinced that he couldn't be happy without children, and that he would nevertheless try to do the right thing and might persuade her, she tells him her feelings have changed, and breaks it off.

They're both heartbroken, but since they no longer have any contact, neither knows how the other feels.

Now, with thirty closing in on both of them, they meet again.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

#Herofail (Superheroes Anonymous #4), by Lexie Dunne

Harper Voyager Impulse, ISBN 9780062696236, November 2018

Once, Gail Godwin was Hostage Girl--not a superhero, but the girlfriend of a superhero, more or less continually being kidnapped and held hostage to influence her boyfriend, Blaze. Or, mundanely, Guy Bookman. But Blaze is now retired, Guy is working to become a chef, and due to events in previous books, Gail now has superpowers, and is Raptorlet--the apprentice Raptor, in training to take over when the current Raptor, Jessie, retires.

And of course, all heck is about to break loose.

Eddie Davenport, head of the Davenport Corporation for which all superheroes work, has decided it is time to promote his niece, Kiki, to a more prominent position with the goal of positioning her to be the next CEO when he retires. This is controversial for many reasons, but the big problem for Gail turns out to be that supervillain Tamara Diesel has planned a major attack on the gala where the announcement is formally made. In the course of this, Gail is forced to appear in the full Raptor armor to confront the attackers--and briefly winds up on her butt, arms and legs in the air. Someone snaps a picture, and it winds up trending on social media, #HeroFail.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

When Never Comes, by Barbara Davis (author), Shannon McManus (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, May 2018

Christy-Lynn Parker was the daughter of an addict, who coped as best she could, until finally her mother went to jail, and Christy-Lynn went to foster care.

When that was worse, she ran away.

But she worked and pursued her own goals as she always had. Working as an editor, she met, and married, crime fiction writer Stephen Ludlow. It was, or seemed, a safe haven, until the night Stephen skidded off a bridge into Echo Bay, with a half-naked young woman in the car with him.

Christine Ludlow needs to remake her life again. In Sweetwater, Virginia, she makes a start.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Billionaire Bodyguard (DC Billionaires #1), by Eliza Ellis

Eliza Ellis, November 2018

Zuri Msongo is a leader of pro-democracy revolutionaries in the fictional African nation of Bendola. The head of their movement is her father, and she's frustrated that he seems  to think her safety is just as important as his. He's the one who will hopefully be the first freely elected President of Bendola in twenty years, after all. She's David (Bendolan mother, American father), persuades her father to hire his old US Army buddy, Daemon Knight, to be her bodyguard. Especially when Knight recommends postponing the meeting they've scheduled with representatives from western governments, seeking support for the rebels.

The meeting goes ahead, and of course Knight was right about the security leak. The meeting takes place, successfully, but then the Msongos and their top people are attacked while attempting to leave. Daemon Knight gets her out, but her father is killed.

From this point on, it's a battle of wills, and a battle of cool judgment vs. passionate dedication and patriotism.