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.