Saturday, February 3, 2024

The Dragon's Den (Warders #3), by Armen Pogharian (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Armen Pogharian, ISBN 9798868720390, November 2023

The Warders, the secret protectors of the city of Eridan, are facing a new danger. It's alarming enough when an agent working in another city is killed, and a magical artifact stolen. When the local head of the Thieves' Guild contacts the Warders, the message, and one of the messengers, is even more alarming.

The unexpected messenger is a rogue Shaulan assassin, Khelan, and the message concern a plot whose roots are in a centuries-old conflict between two groups of elves. A Chaotic Order sorceress is determined to gain control of the long-suppressed elven magic, and use it to seize power over the entire Federation of which Eridan is a part. 

Friday, February 2, 2024

My Teacher Flunked the Planet (My Teacher is an Alien: Book #4) by Bruce Coville (author, narrator), Rueby Wood (narrator), Full Cast Audio crew (narrators)

Full Cast Audio, ISBN 9781955324052, January 2023 (original publication June 1992)

Seventh-grader Peter Thompson and his friends, Susan Simpson and Duncan Dougal, have had some pretty startling experiences over the past year. For instance, several of their teachers have turned out to be aliens, on Earth to investigate our species and our culture. Along the way, they've experienced some pretty weird effects of the aliens' technology first-hand. Now they've been kidnapped by the aliens, and learned where all this has been headed.

The alien are trying to decide whether it's safe to let humans continue to advance our technology and emerge into the galaxy, or whether it would be the safer and wiser choice, given how violent we are even towards each other, to destroy us now before we can do any damage outside our own system. The consensus is tilting pretty heavily toward "wipe them out now."

Monday, January 15, 2024

Snipers, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

WMG Publishing, 2013

In the winter of 1913, Vienna Police Detective Johann Runge investigates the murders of two men in a cafe--Lev Bronstein and Viktor Adler. It's puzzling enough to start with, but it's soon followed by more sniper killings. Soon five men are dead, some famous, some unknown--at least in 1913.

In Vienna in 2005, bestselling crime writer Sofie Branstadter is researching what she intends to be the definitive book on the still unsolved Carnival Sniper killings. As she does her research, we gradually realize that Sofie isn't living in the same timeline we are. This timeline had The Great War, lasting ten years, and no Second World War. The League of Nations survived, and international politics is quite different. What happened?

Thursday, January 11, 2024

The Counterfeit Count (Warders #2), by Armen Pogharian (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Armen Pogharian, September 2023

Adara is undergoing her field trial test, the final step in completing her preparation to become a full-fledged member of the Warders, the secret organization that protects Eridan. Geren has assigned her to secretly follow the coach of the Count of neighboring Cruese. She's shocked when she hears sword striking sword, and comes into view of the coach to see Geren fighting the Count's personal guard. Has he gone mad? Has he gotten sucked into Cruese's complex political conflicts? Is it the trickiest part of her test? Instead of finishing up her field trial, she now has a dangerous mystery to untangle.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Becoming Terran, by Mark Roth-Whitworth

Novus Mundi Books, February 2024

It's 2077, with climate change hitting hard, trillionaires bent on world control, and ordinary people in many places struggling to survive.

A young woman from Niger is working in a hotel in North Africa, when it is seized by one of those trillionaires, Phillippe Tolliver. She catches his attention, and manages to impress him enough that he decides she worth recruiting as his newest personal aide. Renamed Francoise Trouve, she insists on taking her little sister, renamed Amelie, with her.

She takes advantage of all the education he gives her, by AR and intense study, and her sister is tutored until she's sent off to an elite private school in England. They both get genetic engineering to soften their curls and lighten their skin, and Francoise works hard at making herself indispensable to him. First as his aide,and later as a skilled business operative he can send into any of his corporations, both to learn more herself and identify and solve problems, she does.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Into the Riverlands (The Singing Hills Cycle #3), by Nghi Vo

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250851420, October 2022

Chih and the talking bird with the indelible memory, Almost Brilliant, travel into the riverlands to gather the stories of near-immortal martial artists that characterize the area. Along the way, they meet up with two young women (a martial artist, and her friend who makes sure the bills get paid), and an older couple, who might be a bit more than that seem. Including a bit older than they seem. The six of them band together to continue traveling to Betony Docks, where they are all bound.

After a lively debate about whether the ferry (safer) or the road (faster) is the better choice, including discussion of just how dangerous the road really is, in these calmer, more settled times, they set off on foot.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Even Though I Knew the End, by C.L. Polk

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250849458, November 2022

This story was definitely not for me.

I had bad feelings just reading the title. It telegraphs that there's something not positive about the ending, right? And the publisher's blurb for it cheerily states that the protagonist, Helen, sold her soul to save her brother's life. This is accurate.

As a direct result, she and her brother are no longer on good terms, or even in contact. She also got kicked out of the magical order they belonged to because, of course, damned soul.

Then years later, her time is almost up, and she gets pulled into the investigation of Chicago's White City Vampire, a serial killer who is apparently a demon. She doesn't want to be involved; she has only three days left and wants to spend them with her girlfriend, Edith. Her client offers irresistible bait, though--the chance to win her soul back, and have a lifetime with Edith.

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables #2), by Alix E. Harrow

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250766656, June 2022

Zinnia Gray is five years into her accidental career as a fairy tale fixer. Well, Sleeping Beauty tale fixer.

And she's getting kind of sick of it. The "happy ending" weddings at the end are wearing on her. Why can't some of these princesses solve their own problems?

She's also feeling like a bit of a third wheel, in the apartment she shares with her very first "happy ending," Charm and Primrose. Although, it should be noted, Charm and Prim seem to think this particular third wheel is entirely appropriate.

Planning to cut out early from the latest wedding she's attending, a beautiful, malevolent face looks out at her, a hand reaches for her--and pulls her into a different, and darker, fairy tale. This is the Evil Queen from Snow White.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Two to Tango (Brits in Manhattan #2), by Laura Carter

Boldwood Books, ISBN 9781785135392, September 2023

Brooks Adams owns a very successful gym in New York City, and is an extremely successful personal trainer. Having come up from nothing, he's motivated in part by the need to prove his real worth to those who doubted him--most importantly, to Alice, the high school girlfriend with whom he had a child while they were still in high school. They never married, and their daughter is starting college now, and Brooks still thinks his life will be fixed if he can prove to Alice that he's really good enough.

Izzy is British, a daughter of a mother whose main focus is social success, and a fitness guru with a very different approach than Brooks's. She's just published her first book, and she's in NYC for her first book tour. Sales aren't off to a good start, but egged on by her publicity manager, she slams Brooks and his gym, and every time she does, her book sales jump.

Soon this leads to a challenge that has them working together, each working out, and eating, according to the other's program.

What Moves the Dead (Sworn Soldier #1), by T. Kingfisher

Tor Nightfire, July 2022

This is a retelling of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." Kingfisher discovered on a rereading that Poe's story was much shorter than she remembered, and that there was room for...more.

More background and explanation of why this happened, in particular.

It's 1890, and Alex Easton is a retired soldier, plagued by tinnitus, from a tiny European kingdom called Gallacia. Kan is a "sworn soldier," a status which requires an exchange of gendered for nongendered pronouns. Kan is also the childhood friend of Roderick and Madeline Ussher, and travels to their ancestral home in Ruritania, in response to a letter from Madeline.

Madeline says she's dying.

Easton is nearly there when they encounter Miss Eugenia Potter, a knowledgeable and practical English mycologist, who shows them some of the creepier mushrooms of the area. This proves to be important information.