Monday, January 18, 2021

Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold by Māori Writers, by Witi Ihimaera (editor), Whiti Hereaka (editor)

Random House New Zealand, May 2019

This is a collection of recent fantastic fiction by Māori writers, based on Māori creation myths and legends. There's a wide variety, here, some retelling Māori creation myths, some telling the tales of Māori legendary heroes, both in something like their original context, and some in more modern settings. Still others are the Māori gods and mythological figures interacting with humans in very contemporary settings.

Most of these stories worked very well for me, despite my having little to no prior exposure to Māori mythology and culture. Yes, the mythological personalities and their stories don't have the recognizable familiarity for me that Greek or Celtic or Norse mythological figures and tales do, but that's part of the fun, meeting new stories and personalities, and figuring out what it means or represents.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Beatrice Stubbs Series: Box Set One (DI Beatrice Stubbs #1-3), by J.J. Marsh (author), Jill Prewett (narrator)

Prewett Bielman Ltd., March 2020 (original publication November 2013)

Beatrice Stubbs  is a detective inspector with the Metropolitan Police, middle aged, graying, suffering from bipolar disorder--and her career somewhat stalled since a suicide attempt a year or so ago. In the first of these first three books of the series, her superior officer, Hamilton, has arranged for her to lead an international team in Zurich. The team will be investigating what look superficially like a series of unconnected suicides by prominent businessmen with shady reputations. Yet there seems to be a theme; the men have all died in ways that look like poetic justice for their particular vile actions. And when the team looks at the DNA evidence from each of these deaths, happening on average a year apart over nearly a decade, the only DNA not belonging to the dead men is the same at each scene--an unknown man who is otherwise not in evidence at all.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

On Ordeal: Mamvish fsh Wimsih (Young Wizards), by Diane Duane

Errantry Press, 2016

Readers of the Young Wizards series have several times encountered one of Nita's favorite fellow wizards, the dinosaur-like being, Mamvish fsh Wimsih. This novella is Mamvish's origin story, her childhood up to her Ordeal.

Wimst is in many ways a bleak and barren planet, bleak enough that the sapient species have developed a form of consensual cannibalism. It not only provides increased nourishment to the next generation; it also passes on the learned experience of the eaten to the eater.

Why, yes, this is handled gracefully enough that anyone old enough to read the Young Wizards generally should be able o handle this easily if they decide to. Not everyone will want to, and that's completely fair. However, Duane is clear about what's happening without choosing to focus on gruesome detail.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Wickeds (Faraway Collection #5), by Gayle Forman (author), Frankie Corzo (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, December 2020

Elsinora, Gwendolyn, and Marguerite--the wicked stepmothers of "Cinderella," "Snow White," and "Rapunzel,"--meet at their cosmetician's office, and start getting together and discussing all the unfair press they've gotten due to the young girls they raised.

Because really, they don't deserve it. They did their best by those ungrateful girls, and weren't appreciated. When the girls rebelled, it's "the wickeds" who paid the price.

Maybe it's time to get revenge, and set the record straight. They hatch a plan. They set out to travel to the fair where "the princesses" will be expecting more triumphs, and will instead be confronted with the truth of how unfair they were.

I'll freely admit I did not at first have any idea where this was really going. It's funny, engaging, has some unexpected twists, and a satisfying ending. Just a lot of fun, in a small package.


I bought this audiobook.

Monday, January 11, 2021

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, by Jessica Redland

Boldwood Books, ISBN 9781838892289, January 2021

In the previous book, Samantha inherited the farm at Hedgehog Hollow, along with funds to establish it as a hedgehog rescue center. Her veterinarian boyfriend, Josh, is a major support, and although not officially moved in yet, is in fact spending  most nights at Hedgehog Hollow. Samantha is enjoying her new work, and in many ways, things are going very well.

Unfortunately, the rescue center also has enemies, and Samantha is, at the start of this book, just recovered from serious injuries received when she was rescuing some of her first hedgehog patients when those enemies torched the barn they were housed in. Also, while the rescue center is quickly becoming a full-time job, she's also still working full-time as a teacher and tutor at the local college. Even if she were completely recovered from her previous injuries, two full-time jobs would be too much.

The story is told in Samantha's voice and Josh's, in alternating chapters, giving us insight into both main characters, and the past traumas and current strains of their personal and familial pasts.

Friday, January 8, 2021

The Vanished Birds, by Simon Jimenez (author), Shayna Small (narrator)

Penguin Random House Audio, ISBN 9780593167847, January 2020

The universe of The Vanished Birds is one of, perhaps faster than light travel, but not so fast that crew on trading ships aren't separated from family and friends, staying young while those they leave behind grow old.

Nia Imani is a ship's captain who is a bit isolated, and haunted by guilt at leaving her sister behind to deal with their late father's debts herself.

Kaeda, when we meet him, is a young boy growing up on an agricultural world, a Resource World for the Umbai Corproation. Umbai controls much interstellar trade, and is quite ruthless, but we don't see that in the visits Nia makes to Kaeda's world collect their crop. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Murder and Chocolate Cake (Daley Buzz #17) (Mysteries of Treasure Cove #2), by Meredith Potts (author), Carrie Burgess (narrator)

Meredith Potts, September 2018

Sabrina Carlson, and her police detective husband David are faced with an alarming dilemma. Wade Becker, who years ago murdered Sabrina's sister, and a few years ago was finally caught by Sabrina and David, and subsequently convinced and locked up for life, as escaped.

And he's out for revenge.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Cleaners (Faraway Collection #4), by Ken Liu (author), Kate Rudd (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, December 2020

Giu is a cleaner, the owner of A Fresh Start, and he cleans away the unpleasant memories that have adhered to his customers' personal possessions. Giu has an unusual handicap in this world; he's memory-blind. He's not able to feel or read even his own memories on objects, and that created a challenge for his parents in teaching him their trade. Yet it also gives him certain advantages; he doesn't feel the pains of the bad memories he's scraping away.

Beatrice is hyper-sensitive, and makes a very good living doing forensic readings of memories attached to items involved in legal cases.

Clara has a fairly normal level of memory sensitivity, and after a bad breakup with her former boyfriend, wants to rid their shared items that he left behind of the painful memories. For this, she turns to Giu.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Thicker Than Water: The Untold Story of the Theranos Whistleblower, by Tyler Schultz (author, narrator)

Audible Originals, August 2020

Tyler Schultz is the grandson of former Secretary of State George Schultz, and it was largely due to that connection that he landed an internship at Theranos, a startup claiming to have a new technology that would allow blood testing for a wide range of conditions, in little clinics in Walmart and similar locations, with just one drop of blood, and of course, far more cheaply. Stated baldly like that, it looks pretty transparent, but the CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, was apparently very charismatic, and charmed and persuaded a number of prominent, influential people--including George Schultz, but also Henry Kissinger, James Mattis, and Betsy DeVos, among others.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Hazel and Gray (Faraway Collection #2), by Nic Stone (author), Kimberly Woods (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, December 2020

This is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Instead of brother and sister, they are young lovers, and their immediate problem is Hazel's stepfather, a.k.a. The Monster. He's very strict and controlling, and forces her to break up with Gray. She does, because her approach to her difficult life with her mother, with her highs and lows, and until now her constantly changing boyfriends, has been to adapt and adjust.

This time it isn't working. The Monster is watching her, looking at her in ways that make her feel not just uncomfortable, but unsafe. She contacts Gray once more, and they plan a picnic in the woods.