Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, by Andrew G. McCabe (author, narrator)

Macmillan Audio, February 2019

Andrew McCabe, at the time he Acting Director of the FBI, was fired on March 16, 2018, 26 hours before his scheduled retirement. The claimed reason was "lack of candor" in the Clinton email investigation. Even discounting McCabe's own account, it would appear that McCabe's "lack of candor" mostly consists of not being willing to pledge personal loyalty to Trump and support his preferred story in the face of the evidence, while not immediately rushing to say so while continuing to do his job properly, i.e., in compliance with the law, the Constitution, and FBI and DOJ policy, so that he could be more efficiently sidelined and forced out.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Alibis & Angels (Sister Lou Mysteries #3), by Olivia Matthews

Kensington Publishing Corporation, ISBN 9781496709424, February 2019

Sister Louise "Lou" LaSalle , of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Hermione of Ephesus, in Briar Crest, NY, does not really like being thought of as a sleuth. Unfortunately, she has twice recently had occasion to investigate murders. Now, though, the Lenten season is about to begin, and she's really, really hoping to give up sleuthing. She means it. For sure.

Even more unfortunately, Mayor Heather Stanley is receiving threats from an anonymous stalker, who is sending her ominous threats about what will happen to her if she doesn't announce she's not running for reelection, and leave Briar Crest. When the latest threat arrives in her office inbox along with the rest of her mail, Heather is feeling enough stress that she decides to ask her finance director, Opal Lorrie, to go to a Board of Education meeting in her stead. Because the weather is bad and Opal doesn't have her car with her, Heather loans her both her coat and her car.

Later that afternoon, two Briar Crest Sheriff's deputies arrive to inform her that Opal is dead. Just a tragic accident; a fall on the steps leaving the building.

Or not.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America, by Hannah Nordhaus (author), Xe Sands (narrator)

Tantor Audio, May 2016 (original publication May 2011)

Bees pollinate plants that produce about a third of America's food supply, and while once the bees mostly were wild "volunteers," the European honeybee, the most reliable pollinator in North America, is largely gone from the wild. Agriculture relies on professional, commercial beekeepers, who travel with their hives to the fields and orchards that need them

It's useful to remember that the honeybee was never native here anyway. It came with the Europeans. The single most profitable crop that it pollinates is California's almond crop, which is also not native to North America. It's native to the Middle East and southern Asia.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Dream with Me, Cowboy (Texas Matchmakers #1), by Debra Clopton (author), Cici Dee (narrator)

DCP Publishing, August 2018

Lacy Brown and her friend Sheri move from Dallas to Mule Hollow, Texas, to open a beauty salon. This little town isn't a random choice. The older ladies of Mule Hollow placed advertisements looking for women to move there and help revive their dying town by becoming potential brides for the men. The town is sadly reduced after the collapse of the oil industry locally cost them a large part of their former population, and nearly all the young families and unattached young women.

Lacy doesn't plan to be one of the brides. She's on a mission--a mission from God--to help the women who will come to find the right matches among the cowboys who currently have no one to marry.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Polaris Rising, by Jessie Mihalik

Harper Voyager, ISBN 9780062802385, February 2019

It's the far future, and the Royal Consortium rules the universe. Okay, that's a bit over the top even for space opera, but bear with me. The three High Councilors, the heads of the Houses of von Hasenberg, Rockhurst, and Yamado are the ultimate powers. Ada von Hasenberg, as the fifth of six children of High Councilor Albrecht von Hasenberg, has no authority, and no real value except to be married for the advantage of her house.

Unfortunately for Albrecht, he raised his children to be smart, tough, resourceful, and strong, Ada has refused to marry Richard Rockhurst, and made careful, effective plans before leaving before Richard even officially proposed, and has been on the run under a variety of false names for two years.

When she finally gets captured by a mercenary determined to collect the bounty on her, she doesn't stop plotting. And when the mercs stash her in their only cell, along with their other high-bounty prize, Marcus Loch--well, it takes a while for them to get to not-quite-trusting each other enough to at least escape. We quickly learn that they are both genuinely smart, tough people with their own high standards of behavior that don't necessarily align with the standards they were taught.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Will Travel for Trouble Boxed Set #1 (Books 1-3), by Minnie Crockwell (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Minnie Crockwell, February 2019 (original publication February 2015)

This is a three-book boxed set of the trouble Minnie Crockwell gets into as she travels the US in her RV. A former federal employee, exact role, or even department, not revealed to the reader yet, she has through careful saving and having started young, been able to retire early. She's in her forties. She's also divorced from John, whom she is still friendly with, and truth be told in love with. He's now the chief of police in a town in Colorado.

Oh, and she also has a rather unusual traveling companion--the ghost of an officer in the Corps of Discovery, a.k.a. the Lewis and Clark expedition, who died of a fever on the westernmost point of their exploration. The ghost, Ben, thinks she would be well advised to stop stumbling over dead bodies, and failing that, to just leave the investigation to the police, but he can't help helping her when she ignores his advice.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies, by Jason Fagone (author), Cassandra Campbell (narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780062675583, June 2017

Elizebeth Smith, a Shakespeare scholar, went to work for eccentric tycoon George Fabian, at his estate outside Chicago, in 1916. Her assignment was to assist another Shakespeare scholar, an older woman, in her project to prove that Shakespeare's plays were really written by Francis Bacon, and that Bacon had hidden secret messages in the plays.

At first Elizebeth assumed that these older, more experienced people must know what they were doing, and her failure to find the messages were hers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Connections in Death (In Death #48), by J. D. Robb (author), Susan Ericksen (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, February 2019

As winter is starting to fade into spring, Dallas and Roarke attend a party celebrating Nadine Furst's winning an Oscar for The Icove Agenda. There they meet Rochelle Pickering, a child psychologist Roarke is hoping to hire for his new school and therapy facility for at-risk kids. Unexpectedly, she's there with Crack, the dive owner Dallas has become friendly with over the years and many past cases. Rochelle's family past--both father and a brother into drugs and gang activity--sets off her protective instincts for both Crack and the new school. Crack of course needs no one's protection, and Roarke has already screened her thoroughly, but Dallas, still fairly new at this "having friends" thing, can't help herself. Yet, with the father dead and the brother clean, out of the gang, and building a new life as a future chef, she has little to gripe about.

Monday, February 11, 2019

A Rebel at Pennington's (Pennington's #2), by Rachel Brimble

Aria Fiction, February 2019

Esther Stanbury is Elizabeth Pennington's friend, and the head window dresser at Bath's premier retail store, Pennington's, founded by Elizabeth's now-retired father. Elizabeth and her husband, Joseph Carter, have revived the store's image and future, and Esther's skills have been important to that.

Her other passion, though, is the suffragist movement. Raised as a suffragist by her mother, despite the objections of her father, the movement has split her from her father after her mother's death and her father's remarriage. She invests much of her off-work time and talents to promoting the cause, and, growing a little discouraged, is watching the growth of a more violent movement with concern.

At this point, she meets Lawrence Culford, standing outside Pennington's with his daughter, Rose, and his son, Nathaniel. Rose wants a cricket set; Lawrence is suggesting a doll. Esther plunges into the discussion.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Shot in the Bark (Extended Edition) (Dog Park Mystery #1), by C.A. Newsome (author), Jane Boyer (narrator)

C.A. Newsome, January 2019

In 2011, I found this mystery by a first-time author, set in a dog park--specifically, Mount Airy Dog Park, in Cincinnati, Ohio. I picked it up out of curiosity. It was a first-time effort, but basically solid. It featured interesting, likable characters, real dogs written by someone who knows dogs, and a pretty decent mystery that went some interesting places.

When I found Drool Baby, second in the series, a few years later, Newsome had grown and learned as a writer. Fewer rough spots. Greater depth. Still great dogs and a good mystery. And yes, the dogs survive. There are now six books in the series, and Newsome looked back at the first book, and decided it needed a revamp. It's well worth it.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari (author), Derek Perkins (narrator)

Tantor Audio, February 2015 (original publication 2011)

This is a history of humankind, or, as Harari makes clear, of Sapiens, because the other species of genus homo were humans, too. It's a fairly in-depth look at our cultural development from the first cognitively modern home sapiens about 70,000 years ago to our essentially complete dominance of the planet. He looks at our possible interactions with other human species, including the interbreeding revealed by DNA analysis, as well as the fact that, clearly, we're the only survivors, and what that might mean. The lives of hunter-gatherers, the agricultural evolution and whether or not that was a net benefit, and the major cultural and technological changes down to the present day get intelligent and opinionated analysis.