Marie

This is the story of young Allan Quatermain. He's in love with his childhood French language classmate Marie. But there's a problem. He's English and she's a Boer. It's something like Romeo and Juliet set against the backdrop of the Cape Frontier Wars in Africa. And another complication: Marie has a cousin that wants her for himself.

The characters in this book include actual historical figures and participate in some historical events of the war including the Weenan massacre. There's plenty of drama with a racial "I like you but stay away from my daughter" plot and plenty of exciting and sometimes distressing action with Boers and Zulus. Marie's family dislike any English but have to depend on Allan. He's a smart tactician and the best marksman on the continent.

Check out Marie (1912) by H. Rider Haggard today. Shelly Frasier does well with French, English, American, and Dutch accents. Visit Hoopla to listen to the audiobook or read the ebook.

The Lost Continent

It's the 22nd century and the Pan American Navy aero-submarine Coldwater is in trouble. Coldwater's antiquated engines, anti-gravity screens, and communications have all failed. The vessel heads for the English coast for repairs. Devastating war has left Europe a forbidden zone for 200 years. Nevertheless, Lieutenant Turck and a few crewmen use a small boat to find food and fresh water ashore. Instead, they find civilization living in primitive camps and wild beasts, descendants of escaped zoo animals, prowling free.

This is classic Edgar Rice Burroughs. What makes this edition special is the narrator. Finn J. D. John teaches New Media Communications at Oregon State University. He begins The Lost Continent (1916, originally titled Beyond Thirty) with a foreword that sets the background for the book and a thumbnail biography of Burroughs. His organization, Pulp-Lit Productions, features annotated editions of Blackwood, Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Lovecraft, and Seabury Quinn.

Visit Hoopla to listen to the audiobook or read the ebook today.



The Hit

Government assassin Jessica Reel has gone rogue. Someone has to stop her, but no one can match her skill and resourcefulness, except maybe Will Robie.

A hitman sent out to stop a fellow hitman is a pretty tired plot. But David Baldacci keeps it interesting and suspenseful in this second book of the Will Robie series

The Hit (2013) has plenty of action and tension as Jessica and Will try to get the upper hand on each other.

In addition to the compelling story, I enjoyed the audiobook for its background music, sound effects, and dual narrators (Ron McCarty and Orlagh Cassidy).

Visit Overdrive to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook today.



The Lemesurier Inheritance

A medieval ancestor of Hugo Lemesurier killed his wife and child. Her dying words put a curse on the family. No first-born son will be allowed to inherit the substantial Lemesurier estate. The curse proves lethal over the centuries.

Fast forward to the twentieth century: Hugo's frantic wife calls in Poirot and Hastings to investigate suspicious accidents happening to eight-year-old Ronald, Hugo's first-born son and next in line for the inheritance. Since this is Agatha Christie, there's a surprise at the end.

This little-known Poirot short story is read by Charles Armstrong. He's the British voice of narrator Hastings. He then switches to the French accent and delivery I've come to expect from Poirot.

The Lemesurier Inheritance (1923) takes twenty-two minutes to hear: perfect for when you need a quick interesting mystery. Visit Hoopla to listen to the audiobook or read the ebook—plus discover the rest of Hercule Poirot's adventures.



The Grand Design

Physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow bring the latest thinking about the nature of reality to the general, non-scientific public in this interesting and entertaining book. The Grand Design (2010) traces mankind's progress from mythology to science. And do we really have free will? Observer created reality, quantum, string, and M theory are presented. The big bang and multiple universes are discussed.

There is no math in this book, which helps by making the theoretical concepts accessible to those without a masters in physics. The authors have presented much to think about in a very brief book (200 pages or 4.5 hours). In the end, the explanations of our reality in The Grand Design are only theories. And those theories are, so far, unprovable.

Read the ebook or listen to the audiobook via Overdrive today.



Zoo 2

In this short story sequel to Zoo, the adventure starts with Jackson Oz narrowly escaping from a polar bear. He and his family have set up housekeeping in the arctic thinking they would be safe from infected animal attacks.

Oz and wife Chloe were considering the dubious safety of Greenland when Oz gets invited to join a new effort to end the pandemic of animal attacks. There is a concern that the infection could spread from animals to microbes. Then the infection begins to be noticed in some humans in remote areas. Oz joins a team of researchers to capture an infected human alive. Infected humans are as savage as their animal counterparts but can speak and know how to use weapons.

This is an exciting standalone story but I recommend reading Zoo first—and check out my review of that title. Jay Snyder's excellent reading won't let you put this audiobook down till the end. Listen to the audiobook via Hoopla or read the ebook via Overdrive. Check out Zoo 2 (2016) by James Patterson and Max DiLallo today.



Zoo

Grad student Jackson Oz has been noticing an uptick in violent animal attacks in this sci-fi bestseller. No one important will listen. He's dismissed as a crank. He travels to Africa to research the phenomenon firsthand. There he meets ecologist Chloe Tousignant. He would rather research Chloe but he has a serious girlfriend back home in the U.S. The lions snap (pun intended) him back to business.

The animal attack scenes are pretty exciting and following the search for the cause of the animal behavior is interesting. Zoo (2012) is a good thriller. I really liked it. I'm not sure how much of this book is James Patterson and how much is Michael Ledwidge, but Zoo is sometimes referred to as Zoo 1 because Patterson teamed up with someone else, Max DiLallo, to write Zoo 2, a short story sequel.

Visit Overdrive to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook of Zoo. Then, check out the ebook or audiobook of Zoo 2 for more stories in the same universe.



Beat the Reaper

This is a funny book, but the humor is very dark. Peter Brown tells the story himself. He is an emergency room intern. His real name is Pietro Brnwa, and he's a mob hitman. Because the story is told by this former hitman, the language is pretty crude. Very crude. But it has to be, given his background. And the violence is bone crushingly graphic. Still, Beat the Reaper (2009) is really funny. Author Josh Bazell has an M.D. from Columbia (the university, not the country), giving authenticity to Dr. Brown.

The tough guy narration by Robert Petkoff brings Dr. Brown to life. This audiobook is first class entertaining (if you're okay with language and violence). Get this audiobook and thank me later.

Listen to the book on Hoopla or read the book on Overdrive.



A Study in Scarlet

This book started it all. Watson needs to find a cheaper place to live. Holmes is looking for a roommate. They move to 221B and the legend is born. The first use of a magnifying glass by a detective is here too.

The mystery: Scotland Yard asks Sherlock Holmes for help investigating a murder. Holmes has a look around and says the murderer is 6 feet tall, has long fingernails on his right hand, smokes cigars, was taken to the scene in a carriage pulled by a horse with 3 old shoes and 1 new one, and the man was poisoned. Wow! But that's Sherlock.

Arthur Conan Doyle was criticized for his depiction of Mormons in this book. He eventually apologized. And Holmes kills a dog to find out if a pill contained poison. It did. I didn't much like that scene but that was the 1880s and sensibilities were different then. Check out the classic mystery A Study in Scarlet (1887). 

I listened to the audiobook read by Stephen Thorne (4.5 hours), and you can too through Hoopla. If you prefer to read the book, that's in Hoopla too. Check out the series list.



11/22/63

This is a long book, over 30 hours, but worth every minute. It's the story of Jake Epping. His friend Al has found a time portal to September 9th, 1958. Al has been using it to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. But now Al is dying. He shows the portal to Jake and convinces him to take over the project. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. The portal has rules. First, while everyone else is whatever age they were in 1958, Jake is still aging normally. Second, the past doesn't want to be changed. The bigger the change, the bigger the resistance to change. Third, every trip through the portal erases any changes made during previous trips. Jake has to start from scratch each time he enters the portal.

Stephen King did a great job researching Lee Harvey Oswald. Jake has to be sure he's got the right man.And then there's Sadie.

Check out 11/22/63 (2011) today. You can read or listen to the book via Overdrive.


In the Garden of Beasts

Take a fascinating and frightening look at the early years of Germany under Nazi rule. The perspective is from the Dodd family. The Dodds moved from Chicago to Berlin when Professor William Dodd became the U.S. ambassador.

1933 Berlin is a glittering, exciting, and prosperous capital. The Dodds are expected to make connections with Berlin's elite by hosting lavish dinner parties at their own expense. And Dodd is supposed to get Hitler to be less vocal about the Jews.

While America turns a blind eye, Dodd slowly begins to see what's really going on behind the scenes in Berlin. His warnings and reports to the State Department are ignored. Then, Dodd's daughter, Martha, a free spirit, starts dating Rudolph Diels. He's handsome, cultured, important, and the head of the Gestapo!

This book is nonfiction but reads like a riveting suspense thriller once it gets going. Check out In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (2011) by Erik Larson on Overdrive today: read the ebook or listen to the audiobook. Then, check out our list: we've got more titles of nonfiction that reads like fiction.



The Heist

Kate is a tough, smart, and determined FBI Special Agent on the hunt for the elusive Nick, an international thief and charming con man. She finally catches him, but he talks her FBI boss into letting him work for them. And he's to be Kate's partner on her next mission: stopping a crooked banker on a private island.

Fighting bodyguards, pirates, and each other, the action is pretty farfetched, but it's so much fun you won't mind. This is fiction after all.

The Heist (2013) is a fast-paced and entertaining adventure, but it's the fun kind, not the gripping white knuckle kind. The flirty sexual tension between Kate and Nick help keep this story light.

The Heist is the first book in the Kate O'Hare and Nicholas Fox series written by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.

Narrator Scott Brick is a solid storyteller and a pleasure to listen to—visit Overdrive to listen to the audiobook or read the ebook today.



Bird Box

Imagine you hear a noise in a completely dark room. You think there very well might be a big crazy guy with a large knife ready to pounce right in front of you. Would you turn on the light?

That's the creepy tense feeling of Bird Box (2014). No crazy guy with a knife, but some strange abstract entities that cause people and animals that see them to go insane, kill others around them, and kill themselves.

This is the story of Malorie and her children as they try to find safety blindfolded and in a blindfolded world. Taking off the blindfold outside could mean madness and death. The book starts a few years into the ongoing horror then alternates flashbacks and current action.

Cassandra Campbell narrates with a calm but serious voice. You will want to hear the whole book by Josh Malerman in one sitting (about 9 hours). Visit Overdrive to read or listen to the book today.



The Cuckoo’s Calling

The first book in the Cormoran Strike detective series made me a fan— and I have three more Strike novels to look forward to.

Strike is a British private detective. Unfortunately, he and his business are a mess. Just as he gets to the end of his rope, a wealthy man hires him to investigate the death of his sister, a famous celebrity high fashion model. Everyone except the victim's brother thinks it was a suicide. Strike has a temp secretary, Robin, who helps him with the case. Their interactions make this sixteen-hour audiobook seem like a quick read (and Robert Glenister narrates with a dignified British accent).

The Harry Potter series wasn't for mewrong generation, I guess. What I didn't know was that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling. That was a surprise. Terrific job, J. K.

The Cuckoo's Calling (2013) is available to read or listen to in Overdrive—and if you get hooked, you can read the rest of the series too. Also, the first three novels were adapted into a British TV show called C. B. Strike.



Crime Scene Cleaner

This TV show is classified as a comedy, but it's much, much more than that. Heiko Schotte works with, but not for, the police, cleaning up blood and gore at the scenes of violent crimes. While he works, he becomes involved with homeowners and people visiting the places he's cleaning. Schotty, as he calls himself, doesn't get much cleaning done. Most of the episodes are Schotty and someone else just talking. It's philosophical with really thought-provoking observations on humanity and life—all with some laugh out loud moments.

There are ten 25-minute episodes in season 1. Crime Scene Cleaner (2011-2018) has some adult situations and is not for children.This series is worth a look. Start with season 1 on Hoopla. So far, Hoopla has the first two seasons of this interesting sophisticated seriesIn German with English subtitles.