Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Galaxy Game, by Karen Lord (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2015 (original publication January 2015)

Rafi is fourteen years old, on the verge of legal adulthood as a Homesteader on Cygnus B, and a student at the Lyceum, a school for the psionically gifted. Unfortunately, on Cygnus, psionic powers are mostly feared, and the Lyceum is as much about keeping the students from becoming dangerous as it is about teaching them to use their powers well. Rafi, with powers that will enable him to help people or to control them, is not being helped by the school's treatment of him; instead, he's having nightmares and feeling less and less secure.

Fellow students Ntenman and Serendipity are communities that do support psi powers, and are a little more protected, but have their own reasons for wanting to leave.

So Rafi does, using his powers to help him slip out, and heads first to his mother's home, and then to his aunt's. Serendipity and Ntenman soon follow. It's not long before all three are off Cygnus, on another world, faced with new challenges and about to experience violent political change.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Abandoned Countess: Abigail's Story, by Shannon Salter

Smashwords, ISBN 9781291682465, December 2013

This book does need a better copyedit. There are also incidents of "Abigail does obviously stupid thing because PLOT."

Despite that, this is a fun book. In Regency England, during the period when Napoleon was imprisoned on Elba, Abigail Crawford, Countess of Raybourne, is searching for information about her missing husband. Two years previously, just a few weeks after their wedding, the Earl disappeared without a trace. It became a scandal that drove Abigail from most polite society; however, she has a few friends, such as her dear friend Sophia Jacobs, who are still loyal. returning one evening from a failed rendezvous with a potential informant who had identified himself only as "JB" in the note he sent, she and her coachman find an injured, unconscious man by the side of the road. They bring him to her home, and send for the doctor to treat his wounds. Initially, he has no memory. When it seems his memory might be returning, he vanishes.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers

ISBN 9781500453305, July 2014

The Wayfarer is wormhole tunneling ship, captained by Human Ashby Santoso, in a galaxy in which Humans are a fairly minor species, the newest members of the Galactic Commons. His crew includes three Humans, techmechs Kizzy and Jenks, as well as algaeist Arvis Corbin, but also the reptilian Aandrisk pilot Sissix, Sianat Navigator Ohan, and the Grum doctor and chef whose name is unpronounceable for Humans, so he goes by Dr Chef. Oh, and I nearly forgot, quite inexcusably, the AI, Lovey, who is an important part of the crew.

They're all technically very competent, but Ashby's record-keeping isn't quite up to Transport Board standards. so in response to some prodding, he hires a clerk--a young Martian woman named Rosemary Harper. Rosemary is making her very first trip into space, and she has a secret she hopes she can leave behind forever.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Death Before Decaf (A Java Jive Mystery #1), by Caroline Fardig

Random House/Alibi, ISBN 9780804181303, November 2015

Juliet Langley has come back to Nashville after losing her fiancé and business partner, her best waitress, and ultimately her café when the fiancé skips town with the waitress and every penny in the company's accounts. Now, days short of her thirtieth birthday, she's starting over, taking over as the manager of Java Jive, a café owned by old friend Pete Bennett.

The existing staff isn't thrilled to meet her, especially Dave Hill, the head cook. Dave's been acting manager in the café Pete inherited from his father George a few months ago. Pete's been dividing his time between Java Jive and the recording studio where he's a sound engineer. Juliet's appalled to see how standards have slipped since George's death, and she has two arguments with Dave that first day. She takes a break after the second one, and returns to find Dave has left at the end of his shift.

That night, at closing time, she's doing the last of the clean-up by herself, and finds Dave's body in the dumpster.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Banquet of Consequences (Inspector Lynley #19), by Elizabeth George

Viking, ISBN 9789525954330, October 2015

Thomas Lynley, Barbara Havers, and others are back after some fairly harrowing events in previous novels.

Havers has a transfer to Berwick-on-Tweed hanging over her, with Chief Superintendent Ardery ready to sign it at the least excuse. She's gotten completely restrained in dress and behavior--and Lynley feels he's effectively lost the use of his partner, previously an excellent detective. Havers needs some leeway if she's to do anything useful. Dorothea Harriman, department secretary, tries befriending Havers in the hope of changing her focus  just a bit, with mixed results.

Then a famous feminist author Havers has met briefly, Clare Abbott, dies suddenly, and her editor, Rory Statham, doesn't believe it's "just" a heart attack. At Havers' urging, Lynley pushes for and gets a second autopsy--which finds evidence of poison, specifically sodium azide.

Then Statham is found barely alive, apparently of the same poison.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Deadly Ties (A Waterside Kennels Mystery), by Susan Holmes (author), Robin Rowan (narrator)

Susan A. Holmes, September 2014

Maggie Porter has come home to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, reopening her grandfather's Waterside Kennels. She's been gone from the town since she was five, when her mother left the family and her father moved to Florida, taking her and her grandmother--her mother Margaret's mother. Now her grandmother is gone, Maggie has inherited the property, and it's time to start living her own dreams rather than trying to keep her father happy.

Maggie has found many people happy to welcome her back, and Waterside's pet boarding business is off to a strong start. The local veterinarian, Angus Sheppard, has enough confidence in her that he closes his clinic and his own kennel for remodeling, sending the boarding business her way. She's hired a groomer, and has hired part-time staff, some of whom worked for her grandfather in his last few years. There are old family friends eager to lend a hand when needed.

But then the anonymous letters put together from words and letters cut out from newspapers and magazines start to arrive. Also heavy-breather phone calls. Doreen, the receptionist she employed for a few weeks who then quit without notice turns up dead--with a locket that had belonged to Maggie's mother. There are break-ins, and once the boarding dogs are let loose on the property. What's going on?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Christmas at Evergreen Inn, by Donna Alward

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250086945, October 2015

This is a gentle little Christmas romance to help you get ready for the holidays.

As teenagers in Jewell Cove, Lainey Price and Todd Ricker were a bit wild, and very popular with the opposite sex. Ironically, they regarded each other as a bit out of reach. Then Lainey went off to college and came back engaged to Jason. She also took over the Evergreen Inn, restored it, and built up its business. Meanwhile, formerly wild Todd became a police officer in Jewell Cove.

When a major nor'easter hits Jewell Cove and the entire region a few days before Christmas, Todd is out on his last, very tricky patrol of the roads when he sees a car that's slid off the road into the ditch. He pulls the driver, Mr. Sewell, out of his car and drives him to the only place in town that might still have room-Evergreen Inn. It's full, too, but by now the roads have been closed, and Sewell and Todd are stuck there. Lainey finds space for Sewell, and puts Todd on her couch in her own cottage behind the inn.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Mare, by Mary Gaitskill

Pantheon, ISBN 97803073, November 2015

Velveteen Vargas is eleven years old and living with her mother, Sylvia, and brother, Dante, in Crown Heights, New York. Her mother is from the Dominican Republic, and still only speaks Spanish, but Velvet and Dante were born here.

Sylvia signs her children up for a program that will send them out of the city for two weeks, By the rules of the  program, the siblings go to different families in different locations.

Velvet goes to Ginger and Paul, in upstate New York. Ginger and Paul live across from a stable, and Velvet meets a horse called Fugly Girl, whom one of the trainers, Pat, rescued from a life of abuse. She winds up staying with her hosts for a full month, and it's the start of a long relationship.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Magician and Laplace's Demon, by Tom Crosshill

Clarkesworld Magazine, December 2014

A magician and an AI are locked in a long, long duel.

The AI is programmed to keep humanity safe and happy. Magic is unpredictability, and that's not safe...

When the AI meets a real magician and discovers what she can do, it's clear it needs to first, understand magic, and second, eliminate magic and the threat the magicians represent.

This is a neat little conflict, seen entirely through the eyes of the AI, who over the centuries comes to permeate and control all of human existence--except the magicians. It takes over a thousand years to get lucky and find the crucial information that enables the identification and elimination of magicians, one by one.

But what if magic and magicians are essential to the survival of the universe?

And what really happens at the end?

Quick, enjoyable, and interesting. Recommended.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Case of the Passionless Bees, by Rhonda Eikamp

Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014

Steampunk Holmes!

Gearlock Holmes is an "amalgamated person," what we in less enlightened times than Holmes' might call a robot, or a droid. He's been retired to the countryside for some time now, raising bees, but when a crisis arises, he sends for his old friend, Dr. Watson.

The crisis is that his housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson--also an amalgamated person--has been taken into custody for the murder of one of Holmes' guests.

It's a neat little mystery, and both the characteristics and the legal standing of amalgamated persons are crucial to how the story plays out.

Recommended for a quick, fun read.