Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Winnie-the-Pooh: A.A. Milne's Pooh Classics Volume 1, by A.A. Milne (author), Peter Dennis (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, October 2004 (original publication October 1926)

Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, and all their friends have adventures in the woods and meadows around Christopher Robin's home. Eeyore is always depressed but included in the friends' adventures. Pooh has, as he himself says, very little brain, and he loves his honey, but he tries to be kind and generous, even if he doesn't always get it right. Owl lives in the Hundred Acre Wood, and everyone knows he's the wisest of them, even if perhaps he doesn't know quite as much as he might. All the friends are distressed and alarmed, and perhaps a little jealous, because of the arrival in their forest of Kanga, and her tiny child, Roo, whom she carries in her pocket.

These are delightful stories that most adults will remember from childhood, and Peter Dennis reads them beautifully.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1), by Yoon Ha Lee (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Recorded Books, June 2016

Captain Kel Cheris is disgraced, having won a battle against heretics using unconventional tactics. Her only chance at redemption is to retake the star fortress called the Fortress of Scattered Needles, recently captured by heretics.

She has a plan. It's a desparate plan, involving reviving an undead tactician who has never lost a battle, General Shuos Jedao. Of course, in his original life, Jedao went mad and wiped out two armies, one of them his own, and he's a famous traitor, but if Cheris didn't believe in taking risks, she wouldn't be in this situation to begin with.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Loose Lips (Lady Marmalade #2),, by Jason Blacker

Lemon Tree Publishing, October 2012

This is a sadly disappointing story.

There's a perfectly decent little story in here, but unfortunately, it's buried in clunky, obvious prose and dialog that is so obvious that the only comparison is to the "As you know, Bob" clunkers much mocked in science fiction. The characters in a science fiction story don't need to explain to each other how the everyday tools of their world work. Lady Marmalade doesn't need her friends to explain to her things she's known for years.

Harry and Genevieve Appleback are old friends of Lady Marmalade. They've lived in the current abode in Hightown since 1941. It's now 1947, and Frances Marmalade last saw them six months ago. So why does she need to hear the story of how and why they bought the place as if it's new information? So that the reader will know! And the author can't think of any more subtle or plausible way to convey the same information.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Thousand Names (the Shadow Campaigns #1), by Django Wexler (author), Richard Poe (narrator)

Recorded Books, July 2013

Captain Marcus D'Ivoire is captain of the 1st Battalion of the Colonials, the Vordanai empire's colonial garrison in a land where rebellion has suddenly exploded. His job has just become much tougher, and it's not made easier of the new colonel. Marcus, as senior captain, has been running the regiment since the death of Colonel Juarez. He's happy to be relieved of the paperwork and extra responsibility that goes along with that, but Count Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich Mieran turns out to be a very odd character indeed. He's here to put down the rebellion, but he has another mission, too, that he isn't telling anyone about.

Monday, May 15, 2017

How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): How the Silver Fox Became a Dog, by Lee Alan Dugatkin & Lyudmila Trut

University of Chicago Press, ISBN 9780226444185, March 2017 (original publication January 2016)

In the 1950s, a Russian biologist named Dmitry Belyaev began a dangerous  experiment in fox domestication. It was dangerous not because of the foxes, but because of the primacy in Russian science of Trofim Lysenko, an agronomist who rejected Mendelian genetics. Belyaev and his partner, Lyudmila Trut, persisted anyway, working with Russian commercial silver fox farms. Initially, they presented their work as an effort to increase the productivity of the fox farms. Many domesticated animals can breed more that once a year, and this could be a great boost to productivity.

But in time, as Lysenko's grip on Soviet science faded, and as the first generations of their fox work began to show results, they were slowly able to come out of the shadow. Belyaev became director of the Institute of Cytology & Genetics, while Trut directly headed the silver fox project. She selected the calmest foxes, bred them and selected the calmest of the pups, and in just a few generations, they had calm, friendly, even affectionate foxes.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Flicker Men, by Ted Kosmatka (author), Keith Szarabajka (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, July 2015

Eric Argus is a physicist who was doing important work when he had a breakdown. It was spectacular, culminating in a drunken episode in which he broke his sister's hand, and he's made himself unemployable.

Almost.

One friend, a senior executive at a research company called Hanson, in the Boston area, offers him a job. It's the standard Hanson deal: three months to do whatever research he wants, and then at his first quarterly review, the company will decide if they'll keep him on and continue to fund his research. He tells his friend, Jeremy, that he's wasting the company's money, but Jeremy insists, and Eric isn't really in a position to say no.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Gathering Edge (Liaden Universe #19) (Theo Waitley #5), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Eileen Stevens (narrator)

Audible Studios, May 2017

Theo Waitley and her intelligent, self-aware ship, Bechimo, are still looking for the proper balance between them, even as they try to make the best choices in a galaxy where it seems everyone is out to get them. Both the Scouts and rather darker forces want to seize Bechimo; various powers want to arrest various members of her crew, and of course Theo has learned she has an unlooked-for connection to Clan Korval, a connection which possibly brings her allies, but certainly makes her a target.

So she and Bechimo have temporarily retreated to his "safe space," which has been essentially a dead zone. Now, though, things are leaking through there, from another galaxy, or another universe.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Bones of Paris (Harris Stuyvesant #2), by Laurie R. King (author), Jefferson Mays (narrator)

Recorded Books, September 2013

In Jazz Age Paris, Harris Stuyvesant is looking for a young woman who seems to have dropped out of sight at the end of March. It's now August, and her family is very worried. Harris has a past as an FBI agent, and a friend recommended him to Phillipa Crosby's family to track her down.

Paris isn't new territory for him, but he hasn't been there in a while, and he didn't previously spend his time looking into the darker corners of the Paris art world. As he looks for Phillipa--Pip, as he knew her briefly back in February--the same three names keep cropping up--Man Ray, Didi Moreau, and a distinguished war hero mostly known simply as le Comte. Pip was drawn into the surrealist art world, whose artists react to the brutality of the Great War by challenging all social norms and bringing dreams and nightmares to life.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Campy Christmas (Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries #6), by Karen Musser Nortman (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Karen Nortman, October 2016

Christmas is coming, and Frannie and Larry Shoemaker are not happy. Their children and grandchildren won't be coming.Their son is taking his wife and kids to Disneyland instead. Their daughter is headed to skiing in Switzerland with the current guy in her life, and promises, in lieu of the usual week at Christmas, a weekend near the end of January.

The Ferraros are similarly bereft of visiting offspring, and they all decide that, instead of sitting at home without their offspring, they'll hook up the campers and go visit Larry and Jane Anne's other brother and his family in Texas.

To get there, though, they have to travel through Missouri, where they get snowed in at a campground by a rogue storm.

There are no dead bodies or kidnappings this time, but Frannie and friends still find a mystery to solve: a homeless man who tells them to call him JC, and the dog he's been hanging out with.

This is just an enjoyable visit with old friends, a holiday trip that turns into a lot of fun in ways they never expected.

Recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Jungle Book: Mowgli Stories, by Rudyard Kipling (author), Bill Bailey (narrator), Richard E. Grant (narrator), Colin Salmon (narrator), Tim McInnerny (narrator), Bernard Cribbins (narrator), Celia Imrie (narrator), Martin Shaw (narrator)

Audible Studios, August 2015

This is a childhood favorite, and for me at least, it stands up quite well. Included here are only the Mowgli stories from The Jungle Book, taking him from his first arrival in the jungle as a toddler nearly killed by the tiger, Shere Khan, through to manhood. Along the way, he has fantastic adventures and learns many life lessons.

Kipling was born in India, and later spent years there as a journalist, and he knew the land, its people, and its animals. He was imperialistic and jingoistic, but that mainly affected his poetry, not his fiction, and he was also a close observer and an excellent storyteller. Mowgli has depth and dimension, and grows believably from early childhood to early manhood over the course of these stories.

And they are just plain fun to read or listen to. This audiobook presentation is excellent, with the multiple voices adding to the depth and variety of the characters. Well worth listening to, especially if you have children in the right age range.

I think this was a free download from Audible, or it may have been a Daily Deal.