Monday, June 17, 2019

Birdie & Jude, by Phyllis H. Moore

Phyllis H. Moore, March 2018

Birdie Barnes is a middle-aged woman living in her family's longtime home near the beach in Galveston. Her only surviving family is her nephew, her brother's son. Her parents, her brother and his wife, and even their other son, have all died over the years. Her nephew lives in Houston now, but he comes back every month to see her and take her to church, and make sure she's all right.

Now, though, there's a hurricane bearing down on Galveston, and she's taking her dog, Ollie, out for a walk for what's likely to be the last opportunity till after the storm is over. And on this walk, they find a young woman, Jude, lying in the sand, with blood in her hair and on her clothes from obviously recent but not fresh injuries, and it's a challenge to get her to agree to get up and move even though the tide is coming in and the storm is approaching. Once home, she persuades Jude to shower, let Birdie put her clothes in the wash, nap, and eat a meal.

And talk.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Will Travel for Trouble #7-9, by Minnie Crockwell (author, narrator)

Bess McBride, June 2019

Minnie Crockwell and her ghostly companion, Ben, are on the road again, this time headed for warmer climes as the winter months arrive. Their first stop is Tombstone Tommy's RV Park, the nicest RV park near Tombstone, Arizona.

When they head into Tombstone with Kathy Swanson, another woman staying at the RV park, they watch a "Shootout at the OK Corral" reenactment that goes horribly wrong. And everyone in the reenactment group seems to have had a possible motive for killing the reenactor who was shot with a real bullet instead of a blank.

Minnie's ex, John, continues to email her, with increasing hints that he might want to renew their relationship. Minnie is both interested, and feeling guilty, because, of course, her major problem with Ben is not that she doesn't want him in her life, but that, being a ghost, he doesn't have any physical presence.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1), by Rebecca Roanhorse

Saga Press, ISBN 9781534413498, June 2018

Earthquakes, global warming, and rising waters--the Big Water--have done a job on most of the world, but Dinétah, formerly the Navaho reservation, has been reborn. It's not paradise, but behind walls both built by humans and remade by Diné gods, Diné culture lives.

This includes Diné gods and monsters once again walking the land.

Maggie Hoskie is a Diné monsterhunter, taught by Neizghάni, one of the Diné immortals, now abandoned by him, and struggling along on her own. When a village sends for her to kill a monster and recover a little girl the monster stole, because Neizghάni seems to have abandoned everyone, she goes. She can't save the girl, but she does kill the monster, and take its head.

Deeply disturbed by this particular monster, she takes the head to Tah, an old medicine man who, unlike most people, likes her. This is the real start of her troubles. Or her real troubles started years ago, when Neizghάni rescued her from the monsters that killed her grandmother.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ayiti, by Roxane Gay (author, narrator)

Audible Studios, July 2018 (original publication October 2011)

This is a collection of short stories about Haitian women, in Haiti and in the US. It's read by the author, who has a wonderful voice--in both senses.

The background and experience behind these stories is unfamiliar to me and therefore sometimes confusing. Yet the more I listened, the more grounded I felt and more open to enjoying the next story. These are stories of life in a country and setting very different from my own, and stories of an immigrant experience both like and unlike my grandparents' immigrant experience in the first part of the 20th century. They're stories very well-told, and they drew me in.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Coffee & Cigarettes: Pulp-Noir-Short Stories, by Eric Leckey (author), Bill Nevitt (narrator)

Eric Leckey, May 2019

This is, as the subtitle suggests, a collection of short stories recalling the tone, style, and subject matter of film noir and the pulp hardboiled detective and crime fiction that it grew out of it.

These stories are competent and serviceable in their way, set in the same era and capturing the tone and attitude perhaps a little too well. The times, social setting, and social mores of the noir era are what one would expect of the stories and characters, but there's no apparent awareness that the readers, a century later, might not. That might be a deliberate choice. I think it's a weakness; there could have been greater depth to the stories if the distance between readers and characters were in some way acknowledged.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Belles (The Belles #1), by Dhonielle Clayton (author), Rosie Jones (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, February 2018

In the land of Orleans, everyone is born gray, and plain, and only the Belles and their arcana can make people beautiful.

And being beautiful is the most important thing for everyone in Orleans.

Camilla Beauregard and her sisters, the new generation of Belles look forward to going to the palace. Each dreams of being the Favorite, the Belle who will live in the Palace and serve the Queen and her Court. Yet when they arrive, they discover that life at the Palace is no bed of roses. There is intrigue and danger at every turn, and you can't tell who is an enemy, and who, if anyone, is a friend.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Shout of Honor (Adventure in the Liaden Universe #29), by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, May 2019

It's shortly after Clan Korval was evicted from Liad, and relocated to Surebleak. Reverberations are still running through inhabited space, and the Yxtrang Ambassador, Commander Vepal, stumbles across one of them on Inago Station, where a military job fair is in progress.

The hiring agent is Perdition Enterprises, who won't reveal any information at all without a signed NDA. That's not normal, and it's disturbing, but they are, without specifics, promising competitive pay and excellent profits, so quite a few have signed that NDA, and signed on to the contract.

Yet some who have done so are clearly worried.

The recruiting agents are Liaden, which might mean anything or nothing. Except Liadens can write very tricky contracts.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Spellbound & Starcrossed (Suburban Witch Mysteries #5), by Ruby Blaylock

Ruby Blaylock, June 2019

Seneca Wolfram's beloved dog, Alistair, has suddenly turned into a handsome young man.

And it was her missing father, Viktor Voltaire, who had given Seneca her dog, who had originally turned Alistair from young man to canine.

Viktor has not lived an entirely blameless life, and in fact is supposed to be serving a long prison sentence for crimes both magical and financial. These crimes included involvement with the maestrioso, the magical mafia. and Alistair is the son of Alexander Orlikov, a leading maestrioso whom Viktor insists was really a good guy, and who was murdered.

Viktor turned the then teenage Alistair into an English bulldog, and gave him as a pet to daughter Seneca, also a teenager at the time. He also put a binding spell on them so that they can't ever be too far apart. Shortly after that, he was convicted of his crimes, and went into hiding rather than going to prison. Now the transformation spell has worn off, Alistair is human again, and the maestrioso know that he's alive.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson, March 2018

In a future, post-ecological disaster and economic collapse Earth, Minh is part of the first generation to move back to the surface from the underground refuges humanity built to survive, and has spent her career doing river ecosystems. Unfortunately, funding for that work has now dried up, following the invention of time travel. The main uses of time travel are tourism and historical research, but now, at last, there's a proposal to use it for past-state research on the Tigris and Euphrates river system. Minh jumps at the chance, putting together a small but very capable team.

It wouldn't be right, exactly, to say everything goes horribly wrong.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Binti: The Night Masquerade (Binti #3), by Nnedi Okorafor, ISBN 9780765393135, January 2018

I previously read and reviewed the first two Binti novellas,
Binti and Binti: Home.

With the Khoush heading for Osemba intending to kill Okwu and restart the war with the Meduse, Binit is also rushing home from her stay with her father's people, the Enyi Zinariya, because her newly activated abilities, both Meduse and zinariya, tell her that her family is in immediate danger. Binti is struggling to learn about herself, even as she needs to learn about secrets not just from her father's people but the secrets of her own Himba people.

And she needs to do it even when she arrives to find her family's home burned with them inside, the Khoush having restarted the war with the Meduse, and the Himba council reluctant to play any part in trying to end it even though they'll be caught in the middle and be crushed, too.