Wednesday, January 25, 2017

One of Us by Tawni O'Dell

Danny Doyle overcame a tragic, white-trash childhood to become a slick TV-ready criminal psychologist, but when his beloved grandfather becomes ill, Dr. Sheridan Doyle is forced to revisit his past. On a whim, he finds himself helping an old friend with a murder investigation that has stirred up generations of bad blood and ill will in this small Pennsylvania town.

Scarlet Dawes is the mine owner's daughter, rich and spoiled ... and a complete psychopath. Chapters alternate perspective between Danny and Scarlet, so we know right away that she's guilty. But maybe that's not the real mystery.

I love Tawni O'Dell's Appalachian mining town fiction - she's got such a good voice for the small town people in these depressed communities. This one's got intense suspense and a lot of history - but also a lot of fashion: both Danny and Scarlet love proving they're no longer po-dunk, with all their designer labels!

I listened to the audiobook - read by Nick Podehl and Amy McFadden - and the eight hours passed in no time while I was wrapped in the drama.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman

I love everything from Neil Gaiman, and I especially adore the audiobooks where he reads it himself. So pretty much, I loved this collection of poetry and short stories from 2006.

Many of these stories have links to other Gaiman works - one was an early idea for The Graveyard Book, and one that's part of the world of American Gods. Many have won awards. My favorite is a backwards, unwinding of the book of Genesis.

In an audiobook this collection of vignettes could be a bit confusing (I found it hard to hear the breaks between stories, sometimes - to know I was moving into a new world). Also, sometimes I have to review poetry more than once for it to more fully absorb. To solve these challenges, I also kept a paper copy of the book for reference and review.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars by Jessica Abel

Come on, with a title like that you know I had to check it out!

In the future, former Earthlings now are farming Mars for water. Many were contracted into virtual slavery in the process, so contracts have a bad reputation as being exploitive and evil.

Which is why no one's exactly celebrating when Patricia Nupindju rashly signs as a skategirl with the hoverderby league, leaving her farmer family in a lurch without the help - both her labor and her mechanical aptitude.

This volume is an interesting setup - it lays the groundwork for a longer, more detailed story. I especially enjoyed the "wikipedia" entries at the back that give more in-depth explanation of immigration, terraforming, and hoverderby.

I'll be looking for the next volume (fall 2017) to continue the drama.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Over several decades, the owners, editors, and reporters of a Rome-based English newspaper deal with one another, the quick-turnaround news cycle, family, life abroad, and the decline of print journalism in this comic novel.

The book's like an interconnected series of short stories - vignettes of life from the modern-day editor of the paper, the original founder, his descendants, the copy editors, a wanna-be stringer, and more. There's love, there's hate, it's funny and it's sad.

I really liked this book - it's a gossipy bit of behind the scenes in the world of journalism. I've been listening to the audiobook in the quilting studio, and it's been sort of like serial television: office rivalries and home life and a lot of the challenges of expatriates in Italy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


by Neal Bascomb

One of the oft-forgotten stories of WWII is that of the people who resisted Nazi occupation within their homelands. While Norway was able to remain neutral in the first world war, scientific discoveries made that country uniquely attractive to Hitler's regime.

This book details the ways in which Norwegians worked to prevent the Nazi's from gaining access to one of the most crucial components of their scientific process to become the first nation with an atomic bomb. The Vemork hydroelectric power station was capable of producing heavy water, an element determined to make such a weapon possible. Hitler's team of scientists encouraged use of the plant and so it became a target for the resistance.

In a country without its own military, civilians became spies and warriors. This book chronicles the ways one group of men worked to overcome the highly trained military that had overtaken their homeland. These individuals survived treacherous winter conditions, crossed the sea to be trained with British soldiers, and outrun soldiers on a massive manhunt. They become spies and saboteurs in hopes of preventing their homeland from having any part in one of the most devastating atrocities ever committed by man.

I was riveted by this story and pictured some of the mentioned locations clearly. I gasped aloud when towns where mentioned where my ancestors once lived. I cheered for each victory the locals managed and when they were able to provide compassionate care for wounded and starving resistance fighters. Since reading this title, I've purchased it as a gift, and recommended it to history buffs and everyone I know with Norwegian heritage.