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 She's dressed in a style decades out of date, and has brand-new piercings and a new tattoo.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.