Monday, March 28, 2022

Abandoned in Death (In Death #54) by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Ericksen (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250835512, February 2022

A young woman is found dead in a New York City children's playground. She's dressed in a style decades out of date, and has brand-new piercings and a new tattoo.

Hidden by a ribbon around her neck is a knife slash through her throat, the cause of death.

As Eve Dallas and her team search for clues, they also discover that at least two other women, of roughly the same age and physical appearance are also missing.

Friday, March 25, 2022

First Steps: How Upright Walking Made Us Human, by Jeremy Desilva (author), Kaleo Griffith (narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780062938534, April 2021

Jeremy DeSilva gives us a fascinating look at the early evolution of humans, from the, to me, unfamiliar perspective of the human foot and why we walk upright. It's an account that's conversational, clear, empathetic to both early hominins and to fellow researchers, past and present, and careful to present good scientific information, the prevailing understanding of it or his view of it, as well as competing views, with the evidence that supports the competing views. It's fair to say he's not overburdened with ego, and he has a good sense of humor.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Small Town Hot Shot Bride (Small Town #3), by Stephanie Queen (author)

Stephanie Queen, April 2015

Tammy Murphy is a girl from an ordinary family in small town Hamlin, New Hampshire. She has ambitions--she's starring her own fashion line--but she intends to do it while keeping her home town as her home base. Her best friend has just gotten married, and left on an extended honeymoon, and Tammy's latest crush, the wedding photography, has returned to his high-flying home turf in London. She's feeling a bit lost.

Roark Donovan is the son of a wealthy Boston family, staying in Hamlin, interning at the local bank, while his family is summering in their nearby summer home on Lake Winnipesauke. He's not really feeling it with any of the careers his family would like him to pursue, and he's not really feeling it with the young woman he's known all his life, whom his family and hers have hoped he will marry. He really does like her, but marriage? No.

Then Tammy and Roark meet in the local diner. Sparks fly, and anyway, he's obviously not staying, and Tammy isn't looking for another summer fling with a man who is only in town for a few weeks.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore (author), David Baker (narrator), Chelsea Mixon(narrator), Zachary Exton(narrator), Mark Bruzee(narrator), Richard McKee(narrator), Dominic Lloyd(narrator), Jordan Glaski(narrator), Andrea Leonard(narrator), Mark Austin(narrator), Bruce Coville(narrator), Ben Elms(narrator), Tim Green(narrator), Tate Green(narrator), Kate Huddleston(narrator), Brian Pringle(narrator), Jacob Morris-Knower(narrator), J.P. Crangle(narrator), Alice Morigi(narrator), Daniel Bostick(narrator), Todd Hobin(narrator), Trevor Hill(narrator), Tim Purcell(narrator), John Brackett(narrator), Nathan Bostick(narrator), Greg Banecker(narrator), Seth Danner(narrator), Michael Kavulic(narrator), Peter Moller(narrator), Gerard Moses(narrator), Ian Boudreau(narrator), Kathe Leonard (narrator)

Full Cast Audio), ISBN 9781934180976, June 2009 (original publication October 2008)

Lady Katsa is the niece of King Randa, but more importantly, at least to Randa, is that she's a Graceling--one of the people born with a special power. Katsa's Grace, showing itself at an uncomfortably early age, appears to be killing. Randa has her trained in all the fighting arts, and then uses her as his enforcer. When a prominent subject, or someone he's trading with, or others anger him, he sends Lady Katsa, along with Armsmaster Oll, and Lord Giddon, to deliver his message. Katsa is the one who delivers the painful, or sometimes fatal, part of the message. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Then Came You (A Bradford Sisters Romance #0.5), by Becky Wade

Becky Wade, March 2017 

Garner Bradford is working for the family company, Bradford Shipping, living quietly, and expecting to live a conventional life, eventually becoming head of Bradford Shipping. When he meets Sylvie, a French woman who is traveling the world, she tells him within the first ten minutes that she will be leaving. She's not in his small town in Washington state to stay.

When they become lovers, he thinks that may change. When she becomes pregnant, he's sure of it. When she has the baby, a girl she names Willow, there's no doubt left.

When Willow is four weeks old, Sophie leaves. Garner is a single father with no idea how to adequately care for a baby, and he's working, and he's also shocked many in the rather conservative community by having a baby out of wedlock. He succeeds in finding a nanny, but it's still hard.

When he meets Robin, and they fall in love, life seems to have taken a dramatic turn for the better. In a surprisingly short time, Garner goes from being the single father of one daughter, to being the married father of two daughters. And then tragedy strikes.

Friday, March 18, 2022

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, by C.A. Fletcher

Orbit, ISBN 9780316449472, April 2019

Griz's family lives on a little island in the Outer Hebrides, on a mostly depopulated Earth. Over a century before, something unknown, but referred to as the Gelding, caused the human reproduction rate to plummet to almost nothing. Griz's ancestors were among those who, as the population crashed, moved to remote areas where they wouldn't meet other people accidentally. The family consists of Griz, Griz's parents, and brother and sister Ferg and Bar. There was another sister, Joy, not much older than Griz, who is the youngest..Griz tells us the heartbreaking story of his sister Joy chasing a kite that got loose, and accidentally tumbling over the cliff.

Between the rocks and the powerful surf, she couldn't survive, and they could never recover her body.

One day, a ship with red sails arrives in their little harbor, carrying a man called Brand, who says he wants to trade. Brand, we soon learn, is a charmer, a storyteller, a liar, and a thief.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Then and Now, by R.J. Gould

RJ Gould, March 2022

Fifty years ago, four young people, three young men and a young woman, from quite varied backgrounds, started university. They lived in the same housing block, and were all studying geography. 

In the present day, fifty years after starting university, three of them decided to go to their class reunion and meet up again, for the first time since graduation.

Sandy was the only daughter of well-off, upper middle class swingers. This is never admitted to their daughter, of course, but in her teens, Sandy figures it out. She's smart, talented, charismatic, and precariously balanced her own wild teenage life with being a decorous and dedicated student--and finally settles on a new university that isn't at all what her parents or teachers anticipate.

Michael has a childhood troubled by the fact that his father is a kind, loving, gentle parent, and committed but utterly inept thief. His mother is honest and reliable and rigid--possibly understandably. She's certainly not wrong when she finally kicks her husband out for good, but it doesn't make Michael's life easier. School, and ultimately a grant that allows him to attend university, becomes his escape.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Antiques Ravin' (A Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery #13), by Barbara Allan (author), Romy Nordlinger (narrator)

Highbridge Audio, ISBN 9781684417452, April 2019

Seventy-something Vivian Borne, co-owner with her daughter Brandy of antiques store Trash 'n' Treasures, has, due to events in earlier entries in the series, been elected sheriff of Serenity County. She has actually done some useful things, such upgrading the county's emergency communications, so that police, fire, and EMS can all communicate directly with each other when need. Vivian has also, though, appointed her daughter Brandy as a very reluctant deputy to be her driver. This is necessary because, oops, Vivian's driver's license has been revoked because of her reckless driving, and she can't legally drive her spiffy new official vehicle anywhere. The third member of their little team is Sushi, their shih tzu, who, unlike most small dogs in fiction, acts like a real dog, and a fairly smart one at that.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale (Newford #19) by Charles de Lint (author), Charles Vess (illustrator)

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, February 2014 (original publication May 2002)

The Dillards are a family of eight now; a widowed mother and her seven daughters--including two sets of twins. They're living now on a farm near a small town, and a large forest. There are odd stories about the forest, about fairies and other magical creatures, and strange disappearances. Further into the woods than the Dillards' home is the little house of Lillian Kindred. Lily is an old woman who lives alone, and grows and processes most of her own food. She also collects wild-growing ginsang, or as she calls it, 'sang, to sell in town and buy the few things she can't make herself. A lot of the work is hard, heavy work, though, and when Lily and the fourth of the Dillard girls, Sarah Jane, and Lily take a liking to each other, Mrs. Dillard doesn't object to Sarah Jane spending her free time helping Lily Kindred.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas, by Jennifer Raff (author, narrator), Tanis Parenteau (narrator)

Twelve Books, ISBN 9781549148385, February 2022

The peopling of the Americas, the arrival here of anatomically modern humans, and their development  into the peoples I was originally taught to call American Indians and a little later Native Americans, is far more complicated than I was taught in school. It's pretty clear at this point that humans didn't first arrive here a mere ten to twelve thousand years ago. It also appears clear, based on genetic evidence, that they arrived in more than one wave.

And beyond that, it's really, really complicated. The reasons for the complexities are partly the fact that it's very difficult to recover ancient DNA, especially from bones that were buried in warm, wet environments. We also don't have a lot of tools much older than 12 to 15 thousand years ago that are clearly human-made tools. Some, but not enormous numbers.

Friday, March 4, 2022

DoubleBlind (Georgia Davis #6), by Libby Fischer Hellmann

The Red Herrings Press, March 2022

Georgia Davis, former cop, now Chicago PI, hasn't had much work during the pandemic. So she's got less reason to hesitate than she might otherwise have had, when Ellie Forman asks her to look into the death of her best friend Susan Siler's aunt. Why would she hesitate? Susan's aunt died almost immediately after getting a covid vaccine shot, and so did another elderly recipient, a man, at the same vaccine site at the same time. The two unfortunate dead have no other connection. A previously undetected, fatal risk associated with the vaccine seems wildly unlikely, especially considering that Susan's aunt had received the first shot without incident. Yet it also seems unlikely that anyone targeted Susan's aunt and this unrelated man. Georgia starts by checking out the doctor and the hospital running that clinic, and finds that the doctor and his wife have abruptly left Chicago. She turns to trying to track down not just the source of the vaccine but the specific lot used for the shots that killed two recipients. Georgia runs into roadblocks there, too, and has to turn some of her questions over to people who can dig deep into the relevant databases. 

A Nose for Mischief (Riverbend K-9s #1), by K.T. Lee (author), Ann Richardson (narrator)

Vertical Publishing Line, ISBN 9781947870192, January 2022

Zoey Butler is a material scientist, and she has landed her dream job. She's involved in working on improved storage batteries that will make a significant contribution to both energy conservation and protection of the environment. Unfortunately, in her testing, she's not seeing the results the development side is claiming. At first she assumes it's her testing that's failing. When she realizes that development is faking their results, it's right before the FBI walks in the door. Soon, she's cleared of any involvement in the fraud, but she's also unemployed. And, it seems, unemployable, anywhere in the industry.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power, by Deirdre Mask (author), Janina Edwards (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, ISBN 9781799751786, April 2020

This is a fascinating examination of the history and development of a mundane fact of everyday life--addresses. We all have addresses; how else would we get our mail or tell people where we live?

Except we don’t all have addresses, and it's not just the homeless who lack them. In large parts of the world, including rural areas of the US, poorer and less privileged areas don't have street names and house numbers. That lack creates problems not just in telling potential visitors where you live, but in getting mail, applying for jobs, registering to vote, and qualifying for aid such as unemployment benefits. Or getting an ambulance to your house in an emergency. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

The Original Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest (Bambi #1), by Felix Salten (author), Jack Zipes (translator), Peter Marinker (narrator), John Chancer (narrator)

Princeton University Press, ISBN 9780691234885, February 2022 (original publication 1923)

This is a new translation of the 1923 novel Bambi, on which the Disney movie was based. Or, more accurately, the movie was based on the 1928 English translation, but Whittaker Chambers. Yes, that Whittaker Chambers, if you recognize the name. If you do, you're most likely a Boomer like me. If you don't, that bit of weird background would probably not be that interesting to you.

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Joy and Light Bus Company (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #22), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Bianca Amato (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781980094074, November 2021

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are finding that their tiny detective agency is slowly growing more profitable, and there are some steps they can take to improve that (such as improving their billing practices!) They also have a new client coming in, a wealthy businessman who thinks his father, declining in health, has been manipulated into changing his will to leave the family farmstead to his nurse. The case turns out to be more complicated than it seems on the surface.

Meanwhile, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni goes to a one-day business course, not certain it will be of any use, but willing to give it a try. One of the speakers turns out to be an old school friend from his home village. That friend recognizes him, and later approaches him with a business proposal. He wants J.L.B. Matekoni to join him in starting a bus company. They'll go 50-50 on the initial investment, and on the profits when they have them. But to raise his share of the investment capital, Mr. Matekoni will have to mortgage Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1), by Sue Lynn Tan (author), Natalie Naudus (narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780063031340, January 2022

This is a story based on the myth of the Chinese Moon Goddess, Chang'e. She stole the Celestial Emperor's elixir of immortality, and used it to save herself and her unborn daughter. Cheng'e was punished by being sentenced to spend her immortal life confined to the Moon. She kept secret the existence of of her daughter, Xingyin--until the girl's magic flares, and reveals her existence. She has to flee home and her mother, and survive on her own in the Celestial Kingdom. Xingyin vows to free her mother from her imprisonment, but first she has to learn to use her magic, and fight, and how to find a way into the upper levels of Celestial society and function there as if she belongs.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider: How Scientific Names Celebrate Adventurers, Heroes, and Even a Few Scoundrels, by Stephen B. Heard (author), Jonathan Todd Ross (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781977300317, March 2020

When Carl Linnaeus invented the binomial naming system, he revolutionized taxonomy, and aside from the purely practical effects, he made possible eponymous naming--naming plants and animals after people. Stephen B. Heard gives us a very lively account of eponymous names, the people they commemorate, and the personalities involved. There are, as the subtitle says, "adventurers, heroes, and even a few scoundrels." It's very entertaining! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Furmidable Foes Mrs. Murphy Mysteries #29, by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown (authors), Kate Forbes (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781980040811, May 2020

I liked this audiobook.

Normally, I love Rita Mae Brown's books. Mystery, cats, dogs, and occasionally other animals as characters, people I like. In this one, though, she does, repeatedly, a thing that annoys me, a basic factual error, that isn't particularly important to the story--except it's apparently very important to one of the characters, given how often it comes up with that character. But more about that later.

Two of the women in the Dorcas Guild, at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, are running a craft brewery, and they're getting wider notice now. Unfortunately, they've had storage broken into, and a delivery truck broken into, and in both cases the beer stolen.

Monday, February 14, 2022

The Contract with the Billionaire: A Standalone Billionaire Romance Book 3: A Fake Marriage Series, by Anne-Marie Meyer (narrator not identified)

Anne-Marie Meyer, February 2022 (Contract with the Billionaire on YouTube)
Thinking she's going to interview for a personal assistant position with billionaire Reed Williamson, Lillian Brunette meets a distinguished older woman, and after a surprisingly brief interview, finds herself signing a contract. She's surprised, but she's in a tough spot. She's pregnant for the second time, after losing the first prematurely. When she announced she was pregnant for the second time, her husband, Joshua, divorced her. Expecting that this will also be a problem pregnancy, Lillian needs the comprehensive medical insurance the job offers, even more than the generous salary.

Reed has an entirely different problem. He's suffered his own painful breakup, his ex is now with his half-brother, and his grandfather has announced that if Reed doesn't get married, the half-brother (product of his father's affair, and not a pal at all), will inherit the company. As angry as he is about that, he's not the one who called an elite matchmaking agency to find him a contract wife. It was his mother who did that.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Bark If It’s Murder (Dog Club Mystery #3), by V.M. Burns

Lyrical Press, August 2019

This is a mystery where the amateur sleuths actually avoids doing anything pointlessly dangerous. Also, the dogs, large and small, are treated like real, normal dogs, and not stereotyped based on either size or breed by the author. That's a nice change, after some books with dogs I've read lately.

Lilly Ann Echosby has moved from Indiana to Tennessee. Her husband was murdered. These events were covered in the two previous books that I haven't read, but I had little difficulty picking up the essentials to follow the story. Lilly is a CPA, currently working at a museum in Chattanooga, getting them ready for tax time. She also owns a six-pound toy poodle named Aggie, whom the author, quite amazingly in my recent experience, depicts as a real, normal dog. Lilly and Aggie are even taking obedience classes--which is where Lilly has met most of her local friends.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Her Athlete's Wedding Secret (Maple Creek Sweet Romance #3), by Cindy Ray Hale (author), LIz Krane (narrator)

Cindy Ray Hale,, January 2022

Tessa Randall, reporter for the only newspaper in her home town of Maple Creek/ She has bigger dreams, though. The more modest one is to become editor of the paper when the current editor retires in the near future. However, this is obstructed by the fact that the paper has another reporter, older and more experienced, and very well thought of by the retiring editor.

Her other dream, closer to her heart, is to land a job as a sports reporter in New York City. Aside from the obvious reasons why a small town reporter, however good, doesn't have a good shot at getting such a job quickly, if it happens she'll have some big decisions to make about care for her mother. Mrs. Randall is bipolar, a hoarder, and a bit of a crazy cat lady. And she's not good at cooperating with her treatment.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Light Years From Home, by Mike Chen (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Harlequin Audio, ISBN 97814884213434, January 2022

Fifteen years ago, the Shao family suffered a complicated tragedy. The family, or rather Arnold Shao and the three kids, twins Jakob and Kassie, and younger sister Evie, go on a trip to a cabin by a lake. The real purpose of the trip is for Arnold to have yet another Serious Talk with Jakob, trying to get him to get his act together, and stop goofing off and get serious about his college education. Sophia, Arnold's wife and the mother of their three children, refuses to go because she believes the result won't be any different than previous attempts. 

It is different, but not in the way Arnold intended. Jakob and Arnold get kidnapped by aliens. Jakob is being recruited for the war against the Awakened; Arnold was just standing too close to him at the time. A few days later, Arnold reappears, but with no real memory of what happened.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Paper, Scissors, Death (Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-n-Craft Mystery #1), by Joanna Campbell Slan

Luminary LLC, 2020 (original publication September 2008)

Kiki Lowenstein is married to a very successful businessman, mother of an eleven-year-old girl named Anya, and an enthusiastic scrapbooking hobbyist. She's good enough that Dodie, the owner of her favorite scrapbooking shop has tried a couple of times to recruit her to teach classes.

Then her husband, George, is found dead in a hotel room, apparently of a heart attack. And yet, the circumstances are strange. He'd just had a full medical exam that found him completely healthy, including no signs of heart trouble. The housekeeper who found him seems to have left the area. He was seen earlier in the day in a high-end restaurant, with two young women.

Monday, January 31, 2022

The Really Big Ka-Boom: A Spade/Paladin Conundrum, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

WMG Publishing, December 2015

Another Spade and Paladin short story, this time not actually at a science fiction convention.

Spade encounters Paladin, purely by chance, in a mall on Black Friday, a place they'd never be on that date ordinarily. They each have their reasons, though we don't learn Paladin's. Spade suggests she come to Chinese Food Con on Christmas, to which she replies, "I'm working." She repeats this a couple more times, and Spade takes this as a no.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

A Killer Plot (Books by the Bay Mysteries #1), by Ellery Adams (author), Karen White (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781494586225, August 2015

Olivia Limoges lived her first few years in the little town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina. Her mother died in a freak accident during a storm when she was seven, though, and her father, a fisherman, died when she was ten. The little village pulled together to care for her until her grandmother arrived to take custody of her, and take her away. Many years later, she has returned, a successful businesswoman, and has been investing her money in redeveloping Oyster Bay in ways that preserve and enhance the existing character of the community.

But Olivia isn't outgoing and social, and she resents any questions, perfectly normal in most circumstances, that might lead to talking about her childhood traumas. She really has only one close friend in Oyster Bay, and is the subject of gossip.

Friday, January 28, 2022

A Plethora of Phantoms (Shades, Shadows, and Spectres #2), by Penny Hampson

Darkstroke Books, December 2021

Freddie Lanyon, eldest son of the Earl of Batheaston, heir to the title and to the beautiful house and estate of Lanyon Park, with a loving family, and enjoying the work of helping his father restore and maintain the old place after the depredations of the generation that preceded his father, has a problem.

Well, actually, two problems.

Lanyon Park is haunted, and Freddie can see the ghosts and sometimes talk to them. Some are friendly; some are not. The problem, though, is that his father is adamant that ghosts don't exist, so he really can't talk about it.

Freddie's other problem is that he's gay, and he's convinced that his loving, kindly, devoted parents will reject him if he comes out. He was badly bullied in school, by boys who sensed he was different. University was better, but not coming out limited his ability to make any really close friends.

Now, though, after several years working in London, he's back at Lanyon Park, enjoying learning about the running of the estate, and has purchased a lovely, antique, men's dressing case at an antique shop in Bath. He soon discovers, of course, that it's haunted.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Legacy Systems (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #19), by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, ISBN 9781935224921, February 2012

Two more Liaden stories, looking into the past, prior to the "current" stories where Val Con and Miri are together Delm Korval.

"Intelligent Design" features Val Con as a boy, with Shan just a few years older. They're heading off on what will be Val Con's first trip as cabin boy on Dutiful Passage, with Er Thom as captain, and Shan as apprentice trader/cargo hand. They're setting off just after Jelaza Kazone has lost its butler due to the butler's clan Delm having no good opinion of Er Thom having married a Terran, Anne Davis. The possibility of more service clans withdrawing from Korval is a background worry as Dutiful Passage sets off.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction, by Terry Pratchett (author), Neil Gaiman (foreword), Michael Fenton Stevens (narrator)

Random House Audio, ISBN 9780803193634, September 2014

Terry Pratchett was a popular, indeed beloved, fantasy writer, with many bestsellers, many of them featuring the Discworld, a flat disc carried on the backs of turtles.

He also wrote quite a few non-fiction essays, speeches, newspaper articles, and pieces for the souvenir books of science fiction conventions. This collection spans his entire writing career, It reflects the range of his interests, and is roughly divided into three themed sections.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

A Stranger’s Revenge, by K. J. McGillick

K.J.McGillick,January 2022

Abigail Clarke is an attorney in Maine, specializing in art law and representing art collectors in avoiding the purchase of fakes and art works of dubious provenance. One day, a man by the name of Gabriel Waterstone arrives in her office, without the usual referrals and her secretary's expert background check. The secretary, Edna, does a crash background check. Waterstone and Abigail sign an agreement for her to represent him at an art auction at a small Boston auction house, for his intended purchase of two pictures that have seemingly resurfaced after being  out of circulation for a long time. The paintings are withdrawn from sale at the last moment, and they go their separate ways. It's the single most unbelievable part of this novel that's really excellent overall.
After she's back in Maine, an FBI agent, Robert McDermot,  who is there on what he thinks is the first step in notification of the family and connections of a woman found murdered in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. The woman had no ID on her, but running her photo through databases the police use for the purpose pulls up Abigail Clarke's driver's license. They think she's the dead woman.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children #7), by Seanan McGuire (author), Whitney Johnson (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 978250841247, January 2022

Cora Miller, the girl who went through the Door to the world of the Trenches, became a mermaid, had the experience of being a true hero but overall very traumatic experience in the Moors, and returned home to our world, has loved Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children. Unfortunately, it hasn't been helping her in the way she thinks she needs. After much thought, she asks to be transferred to the other school for returning travelers, The Whitehorn Institute.

The Whitehorn Institute is a very different place, very strict, very disciplined, very inflexible, aimed at making the students forget their alternate worlds and the doors that took them there. It's not a kind place, or a safe one.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Dastardly Dognapping (Grammy B. Cozy Mystery Series #1), by Jordan Wood

Jordan Wood, December 2019

Helen Boyko is a woman with grown but not yet married grandchildren, living in an apartment in a building run by an elected board of the residents. She has an elderly cockapoo named Duffy. This is not the the dog that gets dognapped. Her neighbors include the president of the board, Gloria Vaunn, who has a large, friendly, completely untrained St. Bernard mix named Gunther; cranky old man Harold Keen, who has no pets and no friends; and Helen's best friend, Rita Hawthorne. There are other residents, but these are the ones we meet. Gloria Vaunn has a housekeeper named Lynn, and a son, Stewart, who is apparently financially successful, but we don't know what exactly he does.

Very near the apartment building is a café, owned and run by Carol Wildman.

Late one evening, while Gloria is out, Gunther is stolen. She comes home from a fundraising event to find her apartment door closed and locked, a glass table near the entrance knocked over and broken, and Gunther missing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Hunted, by Caro Savage

Boldwood Books, ISBN 9781838895389, January 2022

Detective Constable Bailey Morgan went undercover to get the goods on a major drug dealer in London, and now in just a few weeks' time, she'll be a key witness in his trial. This guy doesn't want to spend the next twenty years in prison, though, so he's hired a hitman--a topnotch hitman, who always gets his target.

Bailey's supervising officer for undercover operations wants to put her in a safe house until she testifies at the trial. Bailey, though, decides, and convinces her boss, Stella, that it's a better plan for her to go undercover to hunt the hitman who's hunting her. A chance to catch the guy!

I wasn't convinced it was actually sensible, but that's the kind of not-quite-sensible decision you can easily accept for the sake of the story.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

To the Vanishing Point, by Alan Dean Foster (author), Joel Richards (narrator)

Dreamscape Media LLC, ISBN 9781520051574, December 2016 (original publication January 1988)

This book was written in the late 1980s, and to the extent that it's set on our world, it's set in the late 1980s. An upper middle class American family sets out on an RV road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Husband and father Frank Sonderberg was sure it would be a fun, educational adventure for his kids, sixteen-year-old Wendy and 10-year-old Steven. Wife and mother Alecia was not so sure, and really, Frank should have listened to his wife. The kids are hating it--and it turns out, the area they're traveling through is less interesting than Frank expected.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Hunter's Rules (Edinburgh Crime Mysteries #6), by Val Penney

Darkstroke Books, January 2022

DI Hunter Wilson and Dr. Meera Sharma are out for a romantic evening that comes to an abrupt halt when they leave the restaurant for the hotel's elevator. When the elevator door opens, they find a young woman laying on the floor, bleeding, with her eyes missing--completely missing.

Unlike the two previous women found with their eyes removed, she's not dead. She's still alive, if only barely, and Meera sets to work caring for her, while Hunter calls an ambulance and a police crime scene team.

When she is able to regain consciousness they learn that her name is Eileen Maguire, and her date's name was Frederick. They met on a dating app, and she doesn't know his last name. She can describe, but since she is now blind, she can't look at pictures to help narrow down the possible matches.

Having initially no real lead on the man is one complication. Another is that  Eileen Maguire is the sister of Linda Maguire, the girlfriend of Jamie Thomson, who with his cousin, Frankie, is currently running Thomson's Top Cars, owned by Jamie's father, who is currently doing a rather long prison sentence. Jamie and Frankie are relatively small-time crooks, and oddly friendly and likable, but it's going to be awkward on both sides for them to be effectively the victim's next of kin. And Jamie can be a little hot-headed at times.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Courier Run (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #18), by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, ISBN 9781935224907, December 2011

Two Liaden stories, telling some of the backstory of some major characters.

In "Guaranteed Delivery,"Aeilliana and Daav are just starting to build their reputation in their courier business in Ride the Luck. They take on a contract to carry ao valuable family jewel to another family location. They of course take out insurance to protect against any loss, even though they have no intention of allowing that. It's not entirely a surprise when they are ambushed when they enter the port, headed for their ship. Someone else does get a surprise, however.

In "Kin Ties," set right after the events in I DareRen Zel and Anthora are sent out to visit Korval allies and business partners, to assure them that Korval is still able to fulfill existing contracts, despite having been banished from Liad in disgrace. One of their stops is Casia, to call on Clan Obrelt. Ren Zel dea'Judan, now Anthora's lifemate and a member of Clan Korval, was once Ren Zel dea'Judan Clan Obrelt, who contract married, at his Delm's direction, a member of Clan Jabun. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Skyblaze (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #17), by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, ISBN 9781935224129, April 2011

Vertu dea'San Clan Wylen, Delm Wylen, is running her clan's taxi agency in Solcintra when the climax of the first part of Clan Korval's direct conflict with the Department of the Interior comes. Vertu signs a contract with some mercs, to transport them to their picnic at a field outside the city, and pick them up again.

Unfortunately for Vertu, the mercs aren't there for a picnic, and the day, which ends in what comes to be called Skyblaze, does not end well for Vertu.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Dreams of Distant Shores, by Patricia A. McKillip (author), Tim Campbell (narrator), Amy Landon (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781705205945, June 2020

This is a collection of short fiction by Patricia A. McKillip. I've always loved her novels, but I have to confess I wasn't aware she had any short fiction. In this book are five short stories, two novellas, a non-fiction essay by McKillip, and an afterword by Peter S. Beagle.

It is, of course, wonderful. It's McKillip.

A witch, already old, accepts the invitation to be the Moon Goddess's body for a century. A century later, in our modern day, she wakes up out of a more-than-life-size statue of a mermaid, returning to the world as a strong, powerful, beautiful woman. A group of young men are suspected of stealing the mermaid from the bridge (they really tried), one of them is in trouble with his girlfriend because they had promised to have it for friend's wedding. The witch herself is puzzled by parts of the modern world and delighted by others, and there's the problem of the fishermen who regard cormorants as intolerable competitors and are trying to wipe them out. No, I'm not doing justice to the story.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Under the Whispering Door, by T.J. Klune (author), Kirt Graves (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250790163, September 2021

Wallace Price is a successful lawyer, partner in the prestigious firm he and his partners built, and he's a rather terrible human being. Cold, harsh, never kind, sometimes actively cruel.

And then one day, he dies, quite suddenly, of a heart attack, all alone in the office on a Sunday afternoon. For the next few days, he's frustrated that no one can see or hear him. Finally, at his funeral, someone does--his Reaper, come to collect him. The Reaper, a young woman named Mei, is on her first solo job, but she's good at it, and she brings him to Charon's Tea and Treats Shop. It's a real tea shop, but it's also the home base of Hugo Freeman, the Ferryman. Or at least, a Ferryman.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Halfling Moon (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #16), by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, ISBN 9781935224242, April 2011

In the aftermath of Clan Korval's head-on clash with the Department of the Interior, and firing on Solcintra to destroy DoI's death machinery. Korval is removing to the backward world of Surebleak. Pat Rin yos'Phelium has, somewhat by coincidence, created a plausible refuge for them there. They're evacuating in great haste, under the Plan B they have trained diligently on even while hoping not to need it. DoI is chasing them, hoping to do, at the least, irreparable damage to Korval.

In these two stories, we see some of this crisis and chaos from less common viewpoints in the Liaden stories.

In "Hidden Resources," young Quin yos'Phelium is the halfling who is suddenly the senior pilot for the escape ship for the clan's children. In addition to the next-oldest pilot, Padi, he's got his grandmother, Kareen; his grandfather, Luken; and all the children. Not large numbers, but a large responsibility. When the unfamiliar ship that's been nearby for a while vanishes, and another ship arrives, with all the right codes but an unfamiliar pilot--"Inas Bhar, called Natesa," as the pilot, he has to rely on his elders, but can't completely cede responsibility to them.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Greyhound of the Baskervilles: A New Take on A Classic Mystery (Greyhound Classics Book 1), by John Gaspard (adapter), Arthur Conan Doyle (author)

Albert's Bridge Books, January 2019

This is Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles," only slightly altered. This time it's narrated by a previously unmentioned character, Septimus, Holmes' rescue greyhound. It's Septimus who tells us the story this time, and being a dog, he often has useful bits of information that he can't easily share with the humans. Being a greyhound, this is sometimes fine details seen at a distance, such as the little hooks holding on the fake beard of the man in the cab who had been following Sir Henry Baskerville.

Septimus accompanies Watson, when they travel to Baskerville Hall with Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry, and they quite competently do their job of keeping Sir Henry safe while getting acquainted with the neighborhood. The story doesn't change except in details, and in Septimus' heroic role in the climax of the story.