Monday, December 28, 2020

The Prince and the Troll (Faraway Collection #1), by Rainbow Rowell (author), Rebecca Lowman (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, December 2020

A charming and attractive young man, whose name we eventually learn in Adam, is walking to work when he accidentally drops his phone off the bridge. It's retrieved for him by a friendly troll--a friendly female troll. From that point on, they meet every day for coffee, which he picks up at the nearest Starbucks.

Over the course of their conversations, we learn, gradually, that the river is drying up, that there is no rain, and that somehow the Road, the magnificent Road, may be responsible for this. And Adam, it seems, works on the Road. He's one of the people responsible for keeping it safe, and smooth, with good signage.

The river dying up is obviously not good for the troll, or other trolls, or the plants that grow along it.

The Road, it seems, is not good for any living things.

As I was listening to this, the story didn't quite work for me. Yet now, as I'm writing about it, the complexities of the story, which I did notice as I listened, are seeming more compelling. What that means exactly, I have no idea.

Overall, though, an interesting story, even if not perfect.

I bought this audiobook.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Skiing with Santa (Secrets in the Snow #1.5), by Roz Marshall (author, narrator)

Bookfunnel, December 2020

Sandy is a ski school instructor, and also a bit of a Scrooge, hating what he sees as the commercialized claptrap of Christmas. Unfortunately, his boss, Jude, has a new marketing plan--skiing with Santa. Even worse, she's picked Sandy as the instructor best able to pass for Santa with the younger students. He has to deck himself out in costume he hates, and listen to his students' Christmas wishes, while conducting their skiing lessons.

But much as he resents the assignment, Sandy doesn't want to be mean to the students. Children, teenagers, and even one or two adults, need someone who will play the part--and Sandy finds himself hearing dreams and needs he wasn't prepared for.

It's a sweet short story, perfect for the holiday season.

This audio short story was offered for sale through the author's newsletter, and I'm not sure how widely available it is. Recommended if you see it. I am reviewing it voluntarily.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Uptown Local and Other Interventions, by Diane Duane

Badfort Press, February 2014 (original publication February 2011)

This is an absolutely delightful collection of Diane Duane's short stories. 

They cover a wide range of her work, and there's bound to be several here you haven't read before. Leprechauns coping with the challenges, and facing new dangers, of modern Ireland, in the 1990s "Celtic tiger" period. A man who seeks a clockmaker's help in getting back the truly valuable thing he lost when he was ten, in a house fire and burglary. (It's not what he thinks.) A queen is confronted by the twin challenges of a dragon angry that her prized treasure has been stolen, and the heroes that are, for sure, real soon now, going to go deal with the dragon. Some modern criminals/terrorists hire a Swiss computer hacker who has been around a little longer than they think, to help them steal Nazi gold from the major Swiss banks.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Death at the Gazebo (A Mirror Pond Cozy Mystery #1), by Minnie Crockwell (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Minnie Crockwell, December 2020

Sallie Chilcoat is a romance writer, one who moved from her home state of Washington to Virginia, to be with the man she thought she was in love with. That didn't work out, but she's still in Virginia, living in a fairly high-end small town, in a condo development that's very nice, but with a mortgage she can afford.

Sallie tries to keep her writing career to herself, but she's living across the hall from a friendly, likeable, extremely chatty gossip. Beth is an older woman, friendly and outgoing, with no family anymore. Sallie enjoys her company, even if she has to watch what she says.

Then one day, she's looking out the window of her condo, and sees a man playing an accordion in the gazebo. She goes out for a walk, and on her way back, she finds the accordion player still in the gazebo, but no longer playing. He is now dead.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Letter Left (Healing Hearts Ranch #1), by Angela Ford (author), Carly Kincaid (narrator)

Books to Go Now, July 2020

Raine Willows grew up with her grandfather, Jack Willows, who taught her to be kind and generous, and to help others. At eighteen, she left his Montana farm for college, the big city, and a career in nursing. That also meant leaving Luke Daniels, her first love, who joined the army, and served overseas in some major combat zones.

Seven years later, Jack Willows has died, and Raine is back for his funeral, believing that the farm was sold a few years ago. Instead, she finds that her grandfather never sold it, but left it to her--and Luke, having left the army after a disastrous mission in which he lost all but one other member of his unit, has been living there, taking care of Jack.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome, by Rudy Simone (author), Lucie McNeil (narrator)

John Murray, July 2019 (original publication July 2010)

This is a very interesting and in some ways very useful book about high-functioning autism--or, as was still the officially accepted but already challenged label at the time of original publication, Asperger's syndrome--in girls and women.

There's a lot here about how under-diagnosed autism has been and still is in girls, compared to boys. It's very much grounded in Simone's personal experience, and her interviews with an unknown number of women and girls with Asperger's diagnoses. It's interesting and informative, in terms of how high-functioning autism can be both a genuinely different experience for females than males, and also less recognized in females because of different expectations that society has for women and girls vs. men and boys.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Angel of the Crows, by Katherine Addison (author), Imogen Church (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, June 2020

Firstly, this is a Holmes/Watson pastiche, in an alternate 1880s London.

The Watson character is Dr. J.H. Doyle, MD, recently returned from Afghanistan, wounded in an encounter with a Fallen Angel, and very lucky to be alive. The damage to his leg is lasting and painful, but we will gradually learn that it's the lesser injury. Doyle has brought back another consequence of that encounter that will affect every decision he has to make, and will keep him in London, where he can lose himself in the crowd.

Under that, there's another secret, but that one, Dr. Doyle had brought with him to Afghanistan.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Who Fears Death (Who Fears Death #1), by Nnedi Okorafor (author), Anne Flosnik (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, ISBN 9781441879851, June 2010

In a far-future Africa, in a region plagued by waves of genocide, a baby girl is born of rape, and her mother names her Onyesonwu, a name which means "Who fears death?" Her mother is Okeke, her mother's rapist Nunu. Onyesonwu herself is Awo, what the Okeke and Nunu alike call the products of such rape. She has sand-colored hair and skin, not to be mistaken for either the dark brown Okeke, or the golden-skinned Nunu who persecute them.

But Onyesonwu is different, with gifts her mother demanded of the gods, but which at first neither the girl herself nor those around her suspect. She makes friends, and rivals, and becomes the apprentice of an old, traditional shaman, who at first strongly resists teaching a girl.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Circe, by Madeline Miller (author), Perdita Weeks (narrator)

Hachette Audio, ISBN 9781478975311, May 2018

Circe is a nymph, a minor goddess, a daughter of the sun god, Helios, the most powerful of the Titans, and a nymph who maneuvered Helios into marrying her. Circe, though, unlike her siblings, has merely human-level beauty of face and voice, and is mocked and disdained by her family. Finding companionship among humans leads to falling in love with a human.

Circe also, lacking the divine powers of the Titans and Olympians, finds her way to a source of power forbidden to the gods--witchcraft.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Ambient Conditions (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #31), by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, November 2020

This book includes two shorter Liaden stories, and a foreword by the authors, that explains the circumstances of the writing of the second story.

The first story is the previously published "A Visit to the Galaxy Ballroom." Korval's removal from Liad to Surebleak has, among its other consequences, let to a split in the Scouts. Scout Pilot Lina yo'Bingim has been somewhat aware of this, but, based on Liad, it hasn't seemed to affect her directly. An unexpected assignment, taking Administrator Chola as'Barta to Surebleak, lands her directly in the conflict. Loyalty, Scout ethics, and betrayal all play a role here, and yo'Bingim has some hard decisions to make.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Library of Lost and Found, by Phaedra Patrick (author), Imogen Church (narrator)

Harlequin Audio, March 2019

Librarian Martha Storm has spent much of her life trying to prove to herself that she's useful, of value to others. One expression of this is the Wonder Woman notebook in which she records all the tasks, errands, and ordinary housekeeping she's taken on for others. Repair jobs. Mending. Laundry. She never says no.

And no one ever says thank you; they just complain she's not getting it done fast enough.

Her exploiters include coworkers at the library, library users, neighbors, and her own younger sister, Lillian, who sees no reason why she should hem her son Will's trousers, when elder sister Martha can do it instead.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Before the Coffee Gets Cold (Before the Coffee Gets Cold #1), by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (author), Geoffrey Trousselot (translator)

Hanover Square Press, November 2020 (original publication December 2015)

In Tokyo, there's a little coffee shop, old-fashioned, unpretentious, but with a startling secret. In the Funiculi Funicula café, under the right circumstances, if you follow the rules, you can travel in time.

The rules aren't complex, but they must be followed exactly. You can only time travel in one chair in the café, and you can't get out of that seat while "traveling." That chair is normally occupied by a ghost, and only once a day, when she gets up to use the bathroom, can you sit there and "travel." You can only meet someone in the past who has visited the café.

Oh, and you need to finish your coffee--and return to the present--before the coffee gets cold.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

How Lovely Are Thy Branches (Young Wizards #9.5), by Diane Duane

Errantry Press, December 2014

It's one day before the Winter Solstice, five days before Christmas, and a wizards' holiday party is about to descend on the home of Juan and Marina Rodriguez.

The Rodriguez parents know that their two younger kids, Kit and Carmela, are wizards, but unlike Nita and Dairine Callahan's dad, they haven't pyreviously experienced a full-blown wizard party at their home. Moreover, this time, the guest of honor is Filif, the Demisiv, who just happens to look an awful lot like the Christmas tree of your dreams.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Chroma, by Oscar Wenman-Hyde

Oscar Wenman-Hyde's
Chroma gives us the story of Riley, a teenager whose life is about to turn upside down. He's watching an unsettling movie; his parents are planning a divorce.

They're unaware of the effects this is having on Riley's emotional and mental well-being, and as tensions rise at school and at home, he's visited by a voice in his bedroom. Before too long, he begins a journey that's not only dangerous, but eye opening. 

Chroma explores the rapidly changing family dynamic throughout divorce, and how a child's imagination can take them to unknown places. It is emotional, insightful and a moving story which not only teaches us how to be an adult, but how to be a child.


Purchase Links


UK – 

US -


Author Bio –

Oscar Wenman-Hyde is a writer living in Gloucester, UK. Born and raised in the quiet towns of North Devon, Oscar would spend the majority of his time as a child writing and directing short films with his brother and neighbours. From here, Oscar’s passion led him to explore all aspects of his creativity, by graduating with a BA Hons in Songwriting at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. He now finds joy in all mediums of writing and although he has worked and trained in many areas, he is always inspired by film and remains grounded in storytelling.

Social Media Links –

-          Facebook:

-          Instagram: @oj_scriptwriters & @oscarwenmanhyde

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Heart of Texas (Texas #1), by R.J. Scott (author), Sean Crisden (narrator)

Love Lane Books Ltd. Audio, August 2016

Riley Hayes is the playboy of the Hayes Oil family, and the younger son--but he's also the oil brains of the family. Family patriarch Gerald Hayes has his own reasons for preferring his older son, Jeff, as the next head of the company, but his stated one is maturity. In deciding to apportion control of the company among his offspring (48% to Jeff, 22.5% to Riley, and 22.5% to Eden, the youngest, the girl, and the only one not working in the business), he also specifies that if Riley marries someone he loves within three months, and remains married for at least a year, he'll reapportion the company shares more equitably.

In one sense, you only have to look at the cover image to see where this is going.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Marjorie's Cozy Kitten Cafe (Books 1-3), by Katherine Hayton (author), Kirsty Gilmore (narrator)

Chirp Audio, April 2020

Marjorie Hardaway runs a kitten cafe in the small New Zealand town of Hanmer Springs. Selling good coffee and excellent pastries, she encourages and facilitates the adoption of the kittens wandering all over her cafe, charming the customers. Unfortunately, her business might be about to go under. A local developer is planning to open a competing business--in front of hers, building on a section of land she had thought couldn't be developed, and thus cutting off the beautiful view her cafe currently has.

Even this concern fades into the background, though, when the police ask her to take in a little calico kitten--who was apparently a witness to the murder of one of her neighbors.

Monday, November 30, 2020

How to Raise an Elephant (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency #21), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Adjoa Andoh (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781980094040, November 2020

Charlie is lured by one of his "friends" into providing temporary care for a baby elephant--and borrowing Mma Ramotswe's tiny white van to transport the elephant. He's hiding the elephant at his uncle's house, in the rather stark back yard, chained to a metal pole in the ground. But Charlie is doing his best to take good care of the baby, feeding formula from a bottle, and having his young cousin watch the elephant to be sure he doesn't get tangled up while Charlie is at work.

He did not, of course, tell Mma Ramotswe what he was planning to move in her van. The strange, earthy odor and the slightly bent tailgate, though, do arouse the curiosity of Mma Ramotswe and, especially, her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter, by Laura Marchant

Laura Marchant, June 2020

Laura Marchant, in her fifties, found herself downsized out of the insurance company, thankfully with a good redundancy payout. It wasn't enough to retire on, but it was enough for her to take some time to figure out what she's going to do next. Ultimately, she decides she's going to start a pet sitting/dog walking business. But first, she tells us about her experience as a dog owner, and  Brece, the Golden retriever who became the first dog she acquired as an adult.

And this is where I started to get annoyed.

She proceeds to describe a number of unwise decisions, starting with determining whether the breeder she was getting her puppy from was aa puppy farm (British for puppy mill) by asking her, and ignoring the evidence of the mother dog and her puppies being in the barn, and the area being dotted with lots of poop that wasn't cleaned up--even knowing there was someone coming to see the puppies.

But she loved that dog, and she did learn some things along the way. It does make sense that she decided she wanted to become a pet sitter, when she had to make a career change.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Summer Reading, by Ken Liu (author), George Takei (narrator)

Serial Box, October 2020

This is a sweet, lovely short story.

The library hasn't received a visitor in 5,000 years. Its elderly robot docent preserves all the books and data it can--but nothing lasts forever, and data that doesn't get recopied ultimately doesn't get preserved.

Then one day, a little girl walks in, and the old robot and the young girl read a picture book together.

The story is sweet and wonderful, and George Takei's narration is the perfect icing on this tasty little cake.


I bought this audiobook.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Murderous Tangle (Seaside Knitters Society Mysteries #14), by Sally Goldenbaum (author), Julie McKay (narrator)

Dreamscape Media, January 2020

Birdie, Nell, Cassie, and Izzy are planning a holiday event for the approaching Christmas holiday, for all their family and friends. This is a small Massachusetts seaside town, and there's a sense that everybody knows everybody, though that's not always true.

Tess Bean is a fairly new arrival in town, working at two rather different part-time jobs. One of them is at the Seaside Harbor school, teaching science to the young students. She's lively and interesting, an environmental activist, and is very inspiring to many of them, including Birdie's granddaughter, Gabby. She also works for Clark Turner, the local veterinarian, in his kennel, where her gentle touch with the animals is valuable.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Genius of Birds, by Jennifer Ackerman (author), Margaret Strom (narrator)

Highbridge Audio, April 2016

"Birdbrain" has long been a term that meant stupid or foolish. Birds have tiny brains, therefore they must be pretty stupid, right?

This book is about just how wrong that perception is.

Ackerman uses both personal anecdotes and solid scientific research from a variety of researchers to show us the real intelligence and variety of birds.

Crows and ravens get a fair amount of recognition as brighter than most birds, though they're also often considered loud and obnoxious. They can do some impressively complex things. New Caledonian crows, for instance can make compound tools, which an ability pretty much limited to them and humans.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Case of the Forsaken Child (Inspector David Graham #7), by Alison Golden

Alison Golden, November 2020

DI David Graham and the Gorey Constabulary are in the midst of a big event for them--hosting a national police conference. It's a lot of work, with DS Janice Harding a co-organizer of it. It's a chance for Harding and others to shine for a wider audience. And it's a chance for Graham to see old friends and colleagues he hasn't seen since moving to Jersey.

But during a gathering at the pub after the end of Friday's first day of programming, one of the detectives from the Met, who has been working undercover on a drug case, tells him her cover has been blown. She won't, however, accept his advice to report this to her handler, or even accept the offer of one of his own officers to walk her back to her hotel.

Not long after the officers have all left the pub, undercover officer Kimberley Devine is dead, killed in a hit-and-run with no known witnesses, in an area where the CCTV coverage is lousy.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax," by Philip C. Plait (author), Kevin Scullin (narrator)

Tantor Media, Inc., ISBN 9781705259467, July 2020 (original publication March 2002

This is Phil Plait's first book, born out of his Bad Astronomy website, and it's an excellent and entertaining takedown of, as it says on the label, bad astronomy. He takes on many popular misunderstandings and misrepresentations of astronomical facts and realities.

Why is the sky really blue? Are meteorites hot enough to cause fires when they hit the ground? Can you see stars during the day if you are at the bottom of a well?

Plait takes on creationism, astrology, and UFOs, as well as bad science in movies and television. He talks about the Hubble telescope, and what it can and can't do, and why its data is not released publicly for a year after after collection.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A Wing and a Prayer (The Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club #1), by M.W. Arnoldun

The Wild Rose Press, November 2020

In World War Two England, Betty Palmer's sister, Eleanor, dies while flying a Tiger Moth--officially due to asphyxia while flying the plane too high. Yet Betty doesn't believe it, not least because Tiger Moths can't reach that kind of altitude. Also, Eleanor remained functional enough to land the plane rather than crash it, though she was dead by the time ground crew reached her.

Betty's friends in the Air Transport Auxiliary, civilian pilots who fly military planes to where the military pilots need them, decide they're going to help Betty solve the mystery of what really happened--and who killed Eleanor Palmer.

In the beginning, it's Betty and the three women assigned to live in her house, connected to the airbase. Penny Blake is estranged from her family, in part due to her decision to join the ATA. Mary Whitworth-Baines is shy around people but loves planes and flying. Doris Winter is an American looking for a new start after heartbreaking events back home. They're all smart and determined, and they bond under both the stresses of flying war planes with no ammunition, radio, or instrument flight training, and the quest to find Eleanor's killer.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Bark vs. Snark (Queenie & Arthur #3), by Spencer Quinn (author), Rachel Jacobs (narrator), Jay Aaseng (narrator)

Scholastic Audio, October 2020

Queenie the cat and Arthur the dog, of Blackberry Hill Inn, are about to have their lives and naptime disrupted by a new adventure. The county fair is going to include two contests aimed at the four-footed residents--a beauty contest for the cats, and a frisbee toss for the dogs. The winner of each will receive a year's supply of food, and also a brand-new mountain bike for their favorite human. The twins, Harmony and Bro, are all in for this. Queenie knows she's the most beautiful cat, and if Arthur is not quite so enthusiastic about the frisbee toss, it's for Bro, and he loves Bro.

If there's something odd about the newest guest at the inn, Mr. Ware, well, only Queenie and Arthur have noticed that the old man the humans see is sometimes a much younger man, and even if they could tell the humans, it doesn't seem that important.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior, by Mark Leary (author, narrator)

The Great Courses, July 2013

Most of us want to understand human behavior, but it's often a puzzle. Why do siblings, born and raised in the same family, turn out so different? Why do identical twins have noticeably different personalities--and yet, also share some personality traits and preferences, even if they were adopted out and raised in different families? How different are men and women really? Why do we have behaviors that, in modern society, seem wildly maladaptive?

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Trouble in Santa Fe (Will Travel for Trouble #16), by Minnie Crockwell (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Minnie Crockwell, October 2020

Having left Diablo Canyon, Minnie and Ben have headed north, Colorado bound, and have stopped for a day or two in Santa Fe, at a rather barebones RV park.

Ben remains frustratingly insubstantial.

Minnie is growing frustrated with the small camper she bought a few months ago, and stubbing her two yet again pushes her to decide to go shopping for a bigger rig. That's how she winds up at Redstone's RV Sales & Service, the only such business in Santa Fe that carries (some) new vehicles as well as used. Owner Carl Redstone is an arrogant, sexist jerk, but he does have at least one rig Minnie wants to look at. She swallows her objections, steps into the rig he's led her to, and squeaks in startled alarm when she sees the man laying on the couch, apparently asleep.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Explaining Humans:What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships, by Camilla Pang

Penguin Books LTD, March 2020

Camilla Pang, at age eight, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and not long after, she asked her mother if there was an instruction manual for humans. Sadly, there wasn't, so she decided to make her own, and started taking notes.

She now has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and takes a delightfully analytical approach to deconstructing and explaining human behavior. It's startling, but illuminating, to look at human social behavior from the viewpoint of how proteins in our cells behave--individuality, teamwork, and adaptability, and the ways acting more like those proteins can help us live happier, more productive lives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Sweet Virginia (Out of Line Collection), by Caroline Kepnes (author), Kristen Bell (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2020

Shelby works at the magazine Modern Love, is married, and has a new baby.

But none of her story ideas are getting accepted at the magazine. One day, she comes home from grocery shopping, and forgets to close the door  door while getting things to the kitchen, and their dog gets out. He's hit by a truck and killed.

Shelby's misguided pitch of a story about Hallmark movies is the last straw that gets her fired, and the death of the dog convinces her husband and her mother that she can't be trust unsupervised with the baby. Her mother--"Mommy," to both her and her husband, which I found extremely off-putting (seriously, we get no hint that "Mommy" has any other name) moves in, and she and her son-in-law occasionally let Shelby hold the baby for a few minutes.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (author), Tim Andrés Pabon (narrator)

HarperAudio, May 2017

An ongoing problem in research in psychology, political polling, and many other areas that rely on asking people questions about their views, activities, and experiences, is that people lie. Sometimes because the topic is a sensitive one, sometimes because they don't like pollsters, sometimes simply as a joke. Whatever the reason, a significant percentage of the people responding to any survey, will lie, and undermine the value of the data you think you're gathering.

This audiobook is about what you can find when you look at the the sources of data where people don't lie, because it would defeat their purpose rather than yours.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Christmas at Aunt Elsie's (Seahorse Harbor#2), by Emily Harvale

Crescent Gate Publishing, September 2020

Charlotte Short has had a bad few years. Her parents died within a month of each other three years ago. She sold their house and bought a cottage in the country, and discovered that living in the country and growing even some of you own food was not the stress-free life she had imagined. She sold it, rented a flat, and got a job at a funeral home--and got involved with one of the partners, Clark.

And after two years, Clark dumped her, saying he had to "find himself," and went skiing with his friends. Oh, he also said he thought it would be best for her to leave the company. They had a loud, fairly destructive breakup, in the office.

The other partners were nice about, all things considered, but obviously she was out immediately.

Then a Christmas card and round-robin letter reminds Charlotte--Lottie--of her Aunt Elsie. Aunt by marriage, widow of her mother's brother Eric, who died shortly before Lottie was born. Despite relatively little contact over the years, since, her mother had always told her to remember that Elsie was a wonderful, caring woman, and would always be there if Lottie needed her. She decides to go to Seahorse Harbour for Christmas, and see her aunt.

Friday, November 6, 2020

And Then She Shines: A Collection of Novelettes, by Helen Libby

Helen Libby, November 2019

This is a collection of five novellas, each featuring a woman at a critical turning point in her life. She's got a major decision to make, and some serious work to do to get to her decision and then make it work.

Ruby has gotten herself deeply in debt with what she's been reluctant to admit is a shopping addiction. Now, though, she's looking at her total debt, and the piles of clothes and handbags and shoes crowding all her storage, and less than half of which she's ever worn. She's ashamed, and embarrassed, and wants to resolve her problem and pay off her debt before anyone, especially her boyfriend, ever knows. But that's impossible. Will David be able to forgive her deception when he finds out? Can she forgive herself?

Anna has a boyfriend she loves dearly, but he's been suffering from serious depression for the last couple of years. And now he's told her he doesn't love her, has never loved her. She knows it's the depression talking, but what can she do? Can she save the relationship? Should she even try? A trip to Paris gives her some much-needed perspective, but she still needs to decide what she can do.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Trouble in Diablo Canyon (Will Travel for Trouble #15). by Minnie Crockwell (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Minnie Crockwell, October 2020

Minnie and Ben have just arrived at the Diablo Canyon Ranch, planning a relaxing stay and, for Minnie, her first experience of tent camping.

This time, Minnie won't have to explain how she happened to discover a dead body, because the victim has already died, on the morning's trail ride. Tammy, the daughter of the dude ranch's owners, has ridden back with the news, just as Minnie is checking in. Herman Schmitt was a regular visit to the ranch, and this time he'd brought his much younger wife of just six months, Betsy. The staff and other guests on the ride think he likely had a heart attack, but of course police come, as well as an ambulance, when Cass and Bill Landry, the owners, call 911. Nothing for Minnie to investigate this time, right?

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Arf (Bowser & Birdie #2), by Spencer Quinn (author), Jim Frangione (narrator)

Scholastic Audio, May 2016

Bowser and his girl, Birdie Gaux, normally live a happy and carefree life. Now, though, there's been a breakin at 19 Gentilly Lane; the smell of limeade aftershave and cat is all over the side of the house belonging to Bowser, Birdie, and Mama; Mama has lost her oil rig engineering job; a strange young woman with green hair is asking odd questions about the death of Birdie's father, years ago, in New Orleans; and a man who smells of limeade aftershave and cat is showing a lot of interest in Mama.

Birdie's dad's death has been a cold case for a long time, but maybe now it isn't, anymore. Why is it suddenly heating up again? And why are Bowser and Birdie the only ones noticing?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Sherlock Holmes & the Ripper of Whitechapel

Megan Wiseman, ISBN 9781734464115, November 2020

This is a really interesting Sherlock Holmes story, obviously not canon, but very well done.

It's nearly a year after Dr. John Watson married Mary Morstan, and moved out of the 221B Baker Street flat to his own home and his own medical practice. Holmes has found he really misses Watson, both his company, and his contributions to his investigations--because Watson has been even more absent than might be expected due to marriage and professional obligations, especially these last few months.

And something strange and disturbing is happening; what will become known as the Jack the Ripper killings have started. Watson, on one of his rare visits, has urged Holmes not to become involved, because it's such a disturbing case. But Lestrade also makes a visit to 221B Baker Street, and asks Holmes for his help on this case the police have not so far made any progress on, and Holmes says yes.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Arabella of Mars (Adventures of Arabella Ashby#1), by David D. Levine (author), Barrie Kreinik (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, August 2016

This is set in a universe where there's atmosphere in space, and vessels that are a cross between airships and sailing ships ply the routes between the planets. We're told that Venus has swamps, in the good old tradition from before we knew what was under its clouds, but this story is about Mars.

This Mars is dry, but has a breathable atmosphere, and an intelligent native species that is crablike in appearance, but much larger, and upright. And, since this is 1813, and it was Isaac Newton watching bubbles rise that led to the airships and spacefaring sailing ships, Europeans have colonized Mars.

There's no real explanation of how this came about. But, despite what some readers will be thinking, it is a lot of fun.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Wrong Lance (Splinter Universe Presents #2), by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, October 2020

This is not a typical Liaden Universe story; it is, as it says right on the cover, non-canon. The events in this story are not considered to have actually happened in the Liaden Universe we know and love--because this is the first attempt at the start of Accepting the Lance.

It's a darker story, with Emmissary Twelve arriving very early, and a much more dangerous, beligerent Clutch person not just than Edger and his clan, but than Emissary Twelve is in Accepting the Lance. It goes in a darker direction, though I don't want to say too much, because it's a good read, and I don't want to spoil it for other readers.

It's also faster-paced than recent Liaden novels, more the rapid-fire pace of the first Liaden novel, Agent of Change. The duocycle rescue of Theo, in particular, is a high-speed, high-adrenaline chase to thrill and delight. Theo also makes decisions about her commitment to her family, that are important and satisfying.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Heaven Sent, by Becca Fisher (author), Stephanie Richardson (narrator)

Kevin MacGorman, January 2020 (original publication February 2013)

Miriam is the next in line of the daughters of Samuel and Emma, and she's ready to marry the love of her life. She thinks she knows who that is--Jed, a neighbor she's known all her life. Unfortunately, instead of asking her to marry him, he asks her to go to the city with him--essentially on rumspringa, though the word isn't used. He's not ready to settle down yet; he wants to find out what the wider world has to offer before making that decision.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Slaying of Joe Foster (DCI Isaac Cook #13), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, October 2020

DCI Cook and the Challis Street Station homicide team have a new murder on their hands. Major local crime boss Joe Foster has been shot dead, in broad daylight, in the street. A niggling little detail is that the street is Basing Street, a place he has no obvious reason to be.

In their search for the killer, they're soon studying not just his rivals, but his family--first wife, four sons and one daughter; second wife, one son, one daughter.

Relations between the two families are not good.

The oldest son of the first family, Terry, is ambitious and violent. Samantha, second-born, is smarter and more strategic. Tom is an unambitious drunk; Billy has his own quite profitable criminal career involving stolen cars, and has no real interest in Joe's criminal organizatio. The youngest, Ben, has a completely legal, and successful, career, and professes no interest in being involved in crime.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Minding Miss Manners: In an Era of Fake Etiquette, by Judith Martin (author), Jacobina Martin (narrator)

Andrews McMeel Audio, ISBN 9781524858353, June 2020

Miss Manners, a.k.a. Judith Martin, is back with another small volume of helpful advice in navigating the modern world politely. A major topic in this book is, of course, social media, and how to handle the lack of normal social courtesy and restraint that it enables.

No, you don't have to treat invitations to donate to charitable causes, or to purchase things you don't want from children who have been hijacked into fundraising for their schools, as social invitations. They are not, even when they are disguised as such. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Graceful Burdens (Out of Line Collection), by Roxane Gay (author), Samira Wiley (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2020

At an unstated point in the future, young adults are genetically screened to determine their suitability for reproduction. Those who are deemed genetically suitable, are licensed to reproduce. Those who don't, will never be allowed to have children. It's a judgment that determines the entire course of lives--especially women's lives.

Hadley is an unlicensed woman, working a poorly paid job and living in a meager apartment. She would say that she is glad to be unlicensed, with the greaater freedom that gives in some ways. Yet, she goes to the local public library, to an upper floor--and checks out a baby, a little girl named Gemma.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

To the Land of Long Lost Friends (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency #20), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Lisette Lecat (narrator)

Recorded Books, October 2019

Precious Ramotswe attends a wedding, and thinks she sees a ghost--an old friend whom she hadn't seen in years, and whose death had been reported in the newspaper months ago. It turns out the friend is very much alive, and the newspaper reported the death of a woman of the same name, and mistakenly used the wrong picture. The friends reconnect--and the friend, Calvinia, has a problem she'd like Mma Ramotswe to look into. Her daughter, an adult with a good job, has started avoiding her mother. Calvinia is hurt, and can't find out why her daughter has cut contact. Can Mma Ramotswe?

Another old friend of Mma Ramotswe and Calvinia has apparently been swindled of all her money by a charismatic preacher.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke

Bloomsbury Publishing, September 2020

Our narrator is a man whom, for convenience, we'll call Piranesi. He lives in the House, a strange and grand structure of vast size, with vestibules, halls, corridors, and not least statues, stretching apparently infinitely in all directions. Piranesi carefully maps the House and its features, and tracks the tides that can flood the House to dangerous depths. By understanding both the tides and the halls, he can keep himself safe from the floods. He lives on fish and seaweed, and finds the House to be a source of comfort, peace, and understanding. All that he learns about his world, he carefully records in his journals. He regards his work as a serious and scientific project to understand the world.

There's another person in the House, a man he calls the Other, whom he regards as a friend. They meet every Tuesday and Thursday, and the Other asks Piranesi to gather information that assists in his own rather different research. He says it's about regaining what he calls the "Great and Secret Knowledge" that he says was lost in the pursuit of "progress," of which he has a very dim view.

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E. Harrow (author), Gabra Zackman (narrator)

Hachette Audio, ISBN 9781549186424, October 2020

In 1893, in an alternate world slightly but crucially different from our own, witchcraft has been crushed out of existence by brutal purges and burnings, A few, small charms continue to exist, passed down from mother to daughter. Women who want any real power are seeking, in the US, to get the vote. Three sisters, though, raised on a hardscrabble farm by their abusive father, have their own viewpoint.

Beatrix Belladona, Agnes Amaranth, and James Juniper Eastwood (yes, the girls' father decided to name the youngest daughter James, after himself) grew up a closely united trio, protecting each other against their father, and learning the basics of witchcraft from their grandmother, Mags. Then something happeened, and Bella and Agnes have left not just the farm but the whole area, leaving Juniper behind. Juniper feels abandoned and betrayed, especially as years drag on and they never return for her, nor does she receive any word from them.

Then the day comes when Juniper, burning with long-stoked rage, and attacked by her father yet again, kills him.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

This Telling (Out of Line #1), by Cheryl Strayed (author), Kristen Bell (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2020

In 1964, Geraldine Waters gets pregnant, and has to decide how she's going to deal with that. Many years later, she has to decide how to respond when the long-delayed consequences of her decision reach her. It's difficult to say much else without major spoilers. However, this is an interesting look at how social standards and expectations since then have changed.

A short, interesting read or listen, with some room for thought and reflection.

I received this story as part of the Audible Originals program, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Hollow Places, by T. Kingfisher

Gallery Books, ISBN 9781534451124, October 2020

Kara is recently divorced, and living in the spare room in the Wonder Museum that her Uncle Earl conveniently just happened to have ready for her. This means she doesn't have to go stay with her mother; both Kara and Earl know there would surely be murder done if she and her mother (Earl's sister) tried that. And really, Earl isn't as mobile as he used to be, and could use the help running the museum. His knee, in particular, isn't what it used to be.

The museum is filled with pretty strange and weird items, include
 But that's all normal enough, considering this is Uncle Earl and the Wonder Museum. When Earl's knee goes out completely, and he has no choice but to agree to surgery, Kara is lefte  running the museum on her own--and discovers a hole in the wall on the second floor, that opens onto concrete corridors stretching further than is possible in the building the museum is in. Oh, and there's a dead body, reduced almost just to bones, in a room off one of those corridors.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Force Multiplier, by Cory Doctorow (author, narrator)

Macmillan Audio, October 2020

This is a short story in the Little Brother series, initially published as part of the Kickstarter for the new novel, Attack Surface, i.e., Little Brother #3.

Marcus is contacted by an old friend who is trying to dig herself out of a truly horrendous proplem: a doxxing and cyberbullying campaign by a man she dated briefly. Repeated attempts to regain control of her devices and accounts have failed or quickly been overcome; her enemy seems to have more information about her than she has about herself.

She's turned to Marcus because he's the one person she trusts who might be able to figure out what's going on.

It's nicely done, and of course, points out just how vulnerable we are to even measures intended to make our information more secure. You will be a bit more worried at the end!


I received both the ebook and audiobook editions of this story as part of backing the Kickstarter for the audiobook edition of Attack Surface, and am revieiwing it voluntarily.

Monday, October 19, 2020

A Conspiracy of Silence (DI Gillian Marsh #5), by Anna Legat

Headline Accent, October 2020

DI Gillian Marsh takes on the case of Bradley Watson, found dead on the grouncds of prestigious private (in English parlance, "public") school, Whalehurst. He's the son of the groundskeeper, and for that last year and a half has been working as the groundskeeper's assistant. He also has a history of drug dealing, for which he has served time. Yet in the last couple of years, he's either gone straight, or become much more careful.

He also has a memory card in his pocket, with very stalkerish pictures of Rachel Snyder, a Whalehurst student who has diseappeared. The autopsy soon confirms that Watson died either the night she disappeared, or very early the next morning.

At Whalehurst, no one wants to talk. The headmaster, Dr. Featherstone, who might be expected to want to get to the bottom of this mystery to protect his charges, even attempts to bar the police from the grounds. What's going on?