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A Rare Interest in Corpses

In 1864 London, destitute Lizzie Martin has accepted a paid position as companion to her godfather's widow, Mrs. Perry. Lizzie gets curious about Mrs. Perry's previous companion, Madeline, who had abruptly disappeared. Her inquiries lead her to Benjamin Ross, a childhood friend and now a Scotland Yard Inspector. Ben and Lizzie find adventure, danger, and more, exploring the fate of the unfortunate Madeline.

A Rare Interest in Corpses (2007, alternate title The Companion) is the first of the seven book Lizzie Martin mystery series. The books can be read in any order, but it's best to start with this one since it sets the background for Lizzie and Ben. Ann Granger takes the time to make the reader feel and see Victorian England in detail. I think this is one of the great strengths of this series and this author.

Start the series by checking out the ebook on Hoopla today. 


The Black Widow

Israeli master spy Gabriel Alon is called on to find and stop the mysterious ISIS terrorist Saladin in this suspense thriller. Following a deadly ISIS attack in Paris, Alon recruits Natalie Mizrahi, a Jewish female doctor, to infiltrate ISIS, then locate and identify Saladin. Posing as Leila Hadawi, a Palestinian doctor with a vengeful rage against Israel, Natalie becomes the black widow.

The Black Widow (2016) by Daniel Silva is the sixteenth book in the Gabriel Alon series, but it was my first. You don't need to read any of the previous Alon books to be absorbed by this one.

George Guidell narrates the audiobook in just under 14 hours, but the very intense action and surprising twists make it seem much quicker. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and award-winning George Guidell is one of my favorite readers.

Visit eMediaLibrary to read the book or listen to the audiobook today.


The Host

Human beings are "the host" for space parasites in this sci-fi novel. Most of the human race has been taken over by the "souls" from space. These invaders destroy human consciousness but leave human memories. That is, until a soul named Wanderer is implanted in Melanie. Her consciousness fights back, leaving her with a kind of split personality. Wanderer has a superior named Seeker. Seeker wants to make sure all humans have been converted and nags Wanderer to hurry up and get on with Melanie's take over.

There is so much more to tell, but I don't want to give away too much. It's really good. The unique aspect of the story is that it's told from the viewpoint of Wanderer, the parasite.

The Host (2008) by Stephenie Meyer is available via Overdrive. You can read the ebook or listen to the audiobook. If you choose to listen, you're in for a treat: narrator Kate Reading does a good job matching voices with personalities.

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Child of Storm

The terrific second book in the Zulu series tells of Mameena, a Zulu girl of hypnotic beauty. Her name means Child of Storm in English. Mameena uses her unparalleled beauty and charm on men to climb up the Zulu social ladder, leaving misery and death in her wake. She even tests her wiles on young but stalwart Allan Quatermain.

Child of Storm (1913) is a nonstop thrilling tale of revenge, jealousy, witchcraft, and war. Very interesting and exciting stuff written with H. Rider Haggard's poetic description of 19th century Africa. Some characters in the book are real historical persons and some of the events actually happened, including the descriptions of the tribal battles.

While this audiobook is very hard to put down on its own, listeners would benefit from first reading Marie, the first book in the trilogy. Check out my review of Marie


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



The Land that Time Forgot

A rip-roaring adventure from the creator of Tarzan. It's 1916 and the Great War is raging. The U-33 has been sinking allied ships and capturing survivors. A series of twists leaves the survivors in charge and the U-33 off course and lost. The sub, following an underwater passage, surfaces to find itself on a thermal crater lake in a strange land and almost out of fuel. There is high drama, double cross, and dirty tricks as the German crew and their English and American captors fight dinosaurs, sub-humans, and each other.

The Land That Time Forgot (1918) by Edgar Rice Burroughs is told in first person from a manuscript found in a bottle at the Greenland coast. The manuscript was written by an American from California but it is a British citizen that finds the bottle and reads the manuscript. Narrator Raymond Todd reads the story with a British accent.

This is the first book in the Caspak trilogy. Listen to the audiobook or read the ebook via Hoopla.



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.