Thursday, May 26, 2016

First Death (Seventeen 0.1), by A.D. Starrling (author), Michael Bower (narrator)

AD Starrling, March 2016

This short story is a prequel in the world of "Seventeen," Starrling's ongoing saga of two races of immortals living alongside normal humans throughout our history. In thee first book, there are references to Lucas parents being killed--repeatedly, because the immortals revive back into life the first sixteen times they're killed--and Lucas himself being killed a time or two before he manages to escape into the woods.

"First Death" tells that story from the viewpoint of seven-year-old Lucas. It's well-told,with a convincing child's view of the world, and contains hints of things that are more fully developed in the novels. Worth reading for any fan of the series, and an easy "taster" introduction if you haven't found them yet.

Recommended.

I received a free copy of the audio of this story from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1), by N.K. Jemisin (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Hachette Audio, August 2015

Our story begins with the fall of civilization.

Our story begins with a woman who has just found her murdered son's body.

This is a world with a long history of civilizations that fall, when the arrival of a "fifth season," a years-long winter triggered by earthquakes and volcanoes, lasts long enough that larger political systems can't outlast it.

This is also a world with a body of traditional knowledge, the Stone Lore, that is passed down even through the fall of civilizations and the rise of new ones, because it's about how to survive these unpredictable "fifth seasons.." And it's about the orogenes, the people who have the power to move or still the earth, to cause or prevent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The House at Riverton (The Shifting Fog), by Kate Morton (author), Caroline Lee (narrator)

Bolinda Publishing, ISBN 9781921334863, April 2008 (original publication 2006)

Dr. Grace Bradley, archaeologist, 97 years old, is dying. Before she she dies, she's recording for her grandson the story of her early life, starting with the day she arrived at the house at Riverton before the start of the First World War, to begin service as a housemaid in the home where her mother was previously a housemaid.

Grace tells us in alternating sections about her years at Riverton with the Hartford family, and the story of her last months, in 1999, worrying about her grieving and wandering grandson, her sometimes difficult relationship with her daughter, and a new friendship with a young filmmaker who wants to tell the story of a crucial year in the lives of the Hartfords.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Three Truths and a Lie (Detective D.D. Warren #7.5), by Lisa Gardner (author), Kirsten Potter (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, January 2016

Boston Homicide Detective D.D. Warren faces a terrifying challenge--standing in front of an audience of thriller writers and educating them about the realities of police work for an entire fifty-minute class. They are ravenous. They are bloodthirsty. Most police work is relatively dull.

So D.D. reaches deep into her bag of tricks, and pulls out one of her twistiest cases. It features drugs, prostitution, a dead body, and a severed leg.

A severed leg packed in dry ice.

And security cameras show no one entering or leaving the motel room until the night manager checked and found the body, and vomited. And then called the police.

This is a short story, and Gardner keeps it moving fast, and builds the tension with surprising twists and well-used detail. It may help a bit to have some prior familiarity with the larger series, but it's not vital. What's key here is the puzzle, and it's very well-done.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rivers of London (Peter Grant #1), by Ben Aaronovitch (author), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (narrator)

Tantor Audio, September 2012

Peter Grant has come to the end of his two years as a probationary constable with the Metropolitan Police Service, and is about to get his permanent assignment. He desperately hopes to avoid the Case Progression Unit, i.e., the unit that does the paper work so real cops don't have to. His chances aren't looking good.

Then on what would likely be one of his last shifts as a constable on the street, he guards the scene of a seemingly inexplicable murder, he meets an unexpected and potentially valuable witness: a ghost.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1), Elizabeth Wein (author), Morven Christie (narrator), Lucy Gaskell (narrator)

Bolinda Publishing, June 2012

Code Name Verity opens with a young woman, a prisoner of the Germans in France during World War II, writing the confession they have demanded of her, in order to escape the torture she hasn't been able to withstand. As the story progresses, it become clear we are getting the stories of two young women. Onc is Maddie, daughter of a bicycle shop owner, who  rescues a pilot from a crashed plane, starting a chain of events leading to her becoming a transport pilot once the war starts. The other is a young woman called Queenie, initially a wireless operator, who speaks German. She gets recruited first as a translator, and then as an interrogator.

Both women want to contribute more directly to the war effort.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements, by Adrienne Marie Brown (editor), Walidah Imarisha (editor), Je Nie Fleming (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2016 (original publication AK Press, 2015)

As the subtitle makes clear, this is an anthology with an agenda, and it's an agenda that will inflame certain parties in recent kerfuffles in the science fiction community.

That said, this is an enjoyable collection. The stories are varied in setting, viewpoint, and kind. There's an incipient uprising against both a hoard of zombies and the politically repressive response to the zombie hoard. There's a gentle story of a woman attempting to reconnect with both her dead grandfather and her very much alive daughter, in an alternate history where the Civil War started in 1859, and the slaves won. A woman has to decide how she's going to react to a government that's finally responding to global warming, in a way that may be both too much, and not enough. One choice will cut her off from her mother and the place she grew up; another will cut her off from her partner and her life now. Is there a third choice, and can she do it? A young man who is the token black superhero opts out of the nonsense--until he finds out how he matters to young people, and a away to make a contribution that matters to him.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman (author and narrator)

Harper Audio, ISBN 9780062255686, June 2013

The day of his father's funeral, a man starts driving randomly between the end of the funeral and start of the post-funeral reception at his sister's house. He winds up in the neighborhood they lived in as kids, and specifically he winds up not where they house they lived in was, at the top of the lane, but at the end of the lane.

At the old farmhouse where Letty Hempstock lived.

And he starts remembering long-buried events of his childhood. That Letty always said that the quiet little pond near her house was in fact an ocean is the least surprising of those memories.

This is an utterly charming little story, terrifying in all the right places. The Hempstocks are a remarkable family, but the narrator, while young, naive, and lacking in sold knowledge of the fantastic, proves to have a strength of character unsuspected even by himself.

A very rewarding, quiet read. Recommended.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wedding Girl, by Stacey Ballis

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780425276617, May 2016

Sophie Bernstein is about to have her dream wedding--the perfect location, the perfect dress, and most important of all from the viewpoint of this rising young pastry chef, the perfect. And then she and her groom are going to found their dream restaurant, and tun it together.

Except perfect groom Dexter has different plans, and doesn't bother to tell Sophie. While she and the guests are wondering why Dexter is late, word arrives that Dexter and a woman they've both worked with, Cookie Kelly, are in the Caribbean, where they just got married.

Sophie insists on holding her head high and having the party with all that lovely food anyway, but afterwards her wedding photographer sells to the media his pictures of the unrestrained, drunken bash the party became. Overall, it's a massive, very public, humiliation.

And then Sophie pisses away all the sympathy and goodwill she could have had by becoming snippy, difficult, and careless at work. But that's not the story.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Obsession in Death (In Death #40), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Ericksen (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, February 2015

Eve Dallas has a fan.

An obsessed fan. A fan convinced that she and Dallas are friends and partners, and that the law, the overly-restrictive rules, are preventing Dallas from meting out true justice.

And she's really angry that anyone shows Dallas any disrespect.