Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Last Witness, by K.J. Parker (author), P.J. Ochlan (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, October 2015

In a world that is recognizably not our 18th or early 19th century, the teller of this tale is a man with an interesting talent. He can take memories from your mind so neatly that you'll never know the stolen memory is gone. He's made a nice business of this. Some people will always have memories that are too painful and they wish to be free of. Others will have memories that it would make their lives easier to have someone else forget. Unfortunately, once he's removed a memory from your mind, he has it in his--forever.

And some of the people he does business with are dangerous men, who might want to eliminate the last "last witness." Eventually, he outwits the gambling compulsion he picked up somewhere along the line, and manages to retire in relative comfort, with little need to associate with other people at all.

That's when he discovers there's someone else in the world who has his talent, and e'sven fewer ethical standards. It's someone to whom he has a connection that's painfully close.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Saddled With Trouble (Michaela Bancroft #1), by A.K. Alexander (author), Michelle Scott (author), Suehyla El Attar (narrator)

Audible Studios, July 2016

Michaela Bancroft is having a rough time. She's in the process of divorcing her husband, Brad Warren, after ten years of marriage. Brad's new fiancee, Kirsten, is actively harassing her to get her to sign the divorce papers instantly--without holding out for the thousands of dollars Brad owes for the medical bills insurance wouldn't cover in pursuit of a pregnancy they never achieved. Her wild friend Camden has moved in with her while waiting for the settlement on her divorce, too. And with all the bills, Michaela is running her horse ranch on minimal help.

And then her beloved Uncle Lou misses a breakfast with her that he had suggested. She goes to his ranch--and finds him in his prize stallion's stall, with a pitchfork through his back.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, September 2015

Binti is a teenager of the Himba people, a rather insular minority greatly outnumbered by the majority Khoush. Insular though they are, the Himba have become specialists in mathematics, "harmonizing," and the making of astrolabes, apparently this era's smartphones. And Binti, young as she is, is already a Master Harmonizer, the most promising candidate to take over the family business from her father when he retires.

Except that Binti has won a scholarship to Oomza University, a very distinguished school--and on another planet. Her family is shocked at the very idea that Binti would actually accept it and go--but their dreams are not her dreams, and she does. And on her way there, the ship she's on is attacked and boarded by the Meduze, an alien species that has a very real and serious grievance against Oomza University.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Parrots Prove Deadly (Pru Marlowe #3), by Clea Simon (author), Tavia Gilbert (narrator)

Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 9781470843731, April 2013

Pru Marlowe is still adjusting to being back in her little hometown of Beauville in western Massachusetts, and working to establish her business of walking dogs and working with dogs and other animals as a behaviorist. She doesn't have her degree, yet; she had to cut short her education and get out of New York City for the same reason she has a slight edge over the average animal care professional.

She can communicate with animals mind to mind, sometimes even when she doesn't want to.

Her latest adventure starts when she gets a frantic phone call asking her to come help fix the behavior of a foul-mouthed African Grey Parrot. Randolph's human, the mother of the woman who called Pru, has died, and there is no one willing to take in the bird if his vocabulary doesn't get cleaned up.

Much of what he says seems to indicate that his person, Polly, was getting angry with people she believed were taking her things. Then he livens things further by making the sound of the elderly woman's walker being thrown to the ground.

Monday, June 27, 2016

NeuroTribes:The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, by Steve Silberman (author), William Hughes (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, August 2015

Autism used to be considered a very rare condition, and one that was basically a death sentence for living a normal life. Parents were told to just institutionalize their autistic children and forget them. Now, autistic people are everywhere, and we all know someone who is autistic, has Asperger's Syndrome, or is "on the spectrum."

Silberman looks at how we got here from there, and makes a very lively, interesting story of it. We start with the story of Henry Cavendish, a British physicist and chemist, or in the language of the day, a natural philosopher, of the 18th century. He did extremely important scientific givwork, made major breakthroughs, and showed many behavior patterns and traits in keeping with the contemporary conception of what autistic people are like, not the earlier conception of them as doomed to nothing better than institutionalization.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Dog Eat Dog (Melanie Travis #3), by Laurien Berenson (author), Jessica Almasy (narrator)

Audible Studios, November 2015 (original publication 1996)

Melanie Travis has survived the events of the past year, and is now the owner of ten-month-old poodle puppy Faith, as well as the mother of five-year-old son Davey, and teacher in the school Davey attends.

And Aunt Peg is pulling her ever deeper into the world of dog breeding and showing. Peg's most recent maneuver is to bring Melanie to meetings of the Bell Haven Kennel Club, as her guest. It's just an unfortunate coincidence that her first meeting starts with an announcement that the previous meeting's dinner checks have gone missing, and the evening then finishes with the club's corresponding secretary being murdered right after the end of the meeting, just out of sight of other members in the dark.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Uprooted, by Naomii Novik (author), Julia Emelin (narrator)

Random House Audio, May 2015

Agnieszka is the daughter of a woodcutter, living in a quiet village in a peaceful valley--bounded by a menacing Wood where dark forces lurk. The Dragon, a cold and remote wizard, is their valley's defense against the Wood, but there is a price: every ten years, he chooses one seventeen-year-old girl to serve him for the next ten years. The girls emerge from the tower at the end of their service seemingly unharmed, but changed. They don't stay in the valley; they take the dowry the Dragon gives them and move elsewhere. Admittedly to prosperous, successful lives, but leaving the valley seems unimaginable.

Agnieszka and her best friend, Kasia, are "Dragon-born," i.e., seventeen years old in the year the Dragon will next claim a new servant. Everyone knows that that new servant will be Kasia. Kasia is everything the Dragon looks for--beautiful, clever, kind, and brave. Agnieszka dreads losing her friend forever.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Touch & Go (Tessa Leoni #2), by Lisa Gardner (author), Elisabeth Rodgers (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, February 2013

Libby and Justin Denbe have been married for eighteen years, and have a beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Ashlyn. Justin runs the construction company his father built, and has grown it to a $100,000,000 company. Libby is a successful jewelry designer.

They have it all.

Or it looks like they do.

For the last six months, Libby and Justin have been struggling with the aftermath of Libby discovering Justin had been having an affair. They go out for a Friday night date night as part of their effort to rebuild the marriage--and come home to a team of very professional kidnappers.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Single and Catholic: Finding Meaning in Your State in Life, by Judy Keane

Sophia Institute Press, ISBN 9781622822409, June 2016

This is intended as a serious, helpful manual for single Catholics attempting to live a life that is both fulfilling and moral while, potentially (Keane is quite clear that not every single is), hoping/planning/seeking to meet that one person with whom they will make a family and live out their lives. It's addressed equally to men and women. It's well-written and clear. It is of course grounded in Catholic values, beliefs, and doctrine, but that's appropriate and expected, given the publisher and target market. There's useful and practical advice here, about not living your life on hold, and on not accepting "good enough" when it isn't, simply out of a fear of being alone. Keane points out clearly and compassionately that marriage is no guarantee against winding up widowed and unpartnered for years, even after a happy marriage, and that being single deasn't automatically mean not having strong and close relationships with family and friends. There's even helpufl advice here about making good, intelligent, careful use of Catholic-oriented online singles dating/matchmaking sites. (And yes, the assumption here is that if you're reading this book, finding a mate who shares your religious beliefs and commitment is important to you.)

However.

As part of Keane's complete fidelity to official Catholic teaching, she makes certain assertions that even most devout, practicing Catholics will recognize as factually untrue. Most critically, no, use of contraception does not increase the frequency of abortion. It's this and a few similar details that will annoy the non-Catholic and even many Catholics, even some Catholics who may respect the Church's teaching against using contraceptives, and limits the usefulness of an otherwise good, useful book.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Scout's Progress (Liaden Universe #6) (Space Regencies #2), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Bernadette Dunne (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, September 2012 (original publication April 2002)

Aelliana Caylon has a problem, and it's her brother. He's abusive, contemptuous, and heir to the Delm of Clan Meisel. He cares nothing for the fact that she's a brilliant mathematician and revisor of the Ventura tables on which all pilots depend. He feels she's worth nothing except what she'd bring in a contract marriage--and the Delm, their mother, has granted Aelliana's plea that she be allowed to make no more contract marriages.

So brother Ran Eld is looking for other ways to humiliate her. He's also in serious need of funds, as a creditor with no sense of humor is demanding immediate repayment.