Thursday, March 4, 2021

Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, by Emma Byrne (author), Henrietta Meire (narrator)

Highbridge, January 2018 (original publication November 2017)

This is a lively, funny, informative book about foul language.

Emma Byrne, a computer scientist specializing in artificial intelligence, has always loved a good swear. In this book, she lays out, using peer-reviewed science, why swearing and foul language is really good for you, for work teams, and society as a whole.

A key "news you can use" bit is that swearing is a very effective pain reliever. Whether you've hit your thumb with a hammer, or are sticking your hand in a bucket of ice (part of a real study to test this effect), or being treated for cancer, swearing really, measurably, helps your ability to handle the pain. The bad news? If you're a woman, even if you're being treated for cancer, even your female friends will judge you for this, and may drift away.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

An Unexpected Peril (Veronica Speedwell #6), by Deanna Raybourn

Berkley, ISBN 9780593197264, March 2021

Veronica Speedwell and her lover, Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, a.k.a. Stoker, have been living in unaccustomed and not entirely comfortable domesticity. They're staying at home in London, and preparing an exhibit for the Curiosity Club, the women's adventurers club of which Veronica is now a member. The exhibit is to honor a recently deceased mountain climber, Alice Baker-Greene, and will be attended, and is sponsored by, Her Serene Highness Princess Gisela of Alpenwald. (Alpenwald is the fictional independent German principality in which Miss Baker-Greene had recently settled permanently.

Stoker and Veronica, in the course of preparing for the opening of the exhibit, discover evidence that Miss Baker-Greene's death was not a tragic mountain-climbing accident, but murder. They tell the Princess, who has come to inspect the exhibit. The Chancellor assures them that the matter will be handled--but they are both skeptical. This trip, with the exhibit featuring the charms of Alpenwald, an opera featuring both an Alpenwald composer and an Alpenwald soprano, is all about boosting the principality's image and charms as a tourist destination. Murder wouldn't fit that.

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Other Daughter, by Lisa Gardner (author), Brittany Pressley (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, December 2018 (original publication July 1999)

At nine years old, a little girl with no memory of her past was abandoned in a hospital, and after several months was adopted by the wealthy Stokes family--a cardiac surgeon, his wife, and their son Brian, a family grieving the kidnapping and murder of the Stokes' four-year-old daughter, Meghan, five years earlier.

Twenty years later, Melanie Stokes is happy, confident, loving and loved by her adoptive family. She volunteers for various charities, especially the American Red Cross. On the night of one her major events, a party plus blood donation event plus "donate a rare book" to raise funds, a voice out of the past intrudes. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Chaos in Cambridge, by Alison Golden

Mesa Verde Publishing, July 2020

This novella is an "Insiders Exclusive," for subscribers to Alison Golden's Insiders newsletter.

It's a prequel to her Reverend Annabelle Dixon mysteries, and in this one, Annabelle is just eighteen, and starting as a student at the Divinity school at Cambridge University. She has barely settled into her room when she meets the previous occupant of that room, a departing student who cheerfully announces that she's known as Clumsy Clara. Clara still has a few last things to get out of the room, and Annabelle offers to help her. They get Clara's things to her van, and then Clara gives her a tour of the campus, and an introduction to Professor Baskerville, one of the Divinity professors. Clara departs, and Annabelle gets acquainted with Professor Baskerville.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Witches of Bourbon Street (Jade Calhoun #2), by Deanna Chase (author), Gabra Zackman (narrator)

Bayou Moon Press, June 2019 (original publication February 2012)

Jade Calhoun is a powerful empath, and witches she knows tell her that she's a powerful white witch, too. She steadfastly denies it, because she blames witchcraft for the loss of her mother when she was just twelve years old. Jade has a point; her mother vanished during a coven ritual. The head of her mother's coven then gave the extremely distressed Jade a spelled herbal drink that sent her to sleep for two days. She woke up in a hospital, where this was diagnosed as a psychological reaction, not a result of a drug.

But Jade is now living in New Orleans, and has a boyfriend (Kane) who's a sleepwalker, a friend (Ian) who's a ghost hunter, an acquaintance (Lailah) who's a minor angel, and of course Ian's Aunt Bea, who is the leader of the local coven. When Bea and Lailah tell her she's a powerful white witch, it's harder to ignore. Yet she still blames witchcraft for her mother's loss, and is determined to have no part of it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Tea and Murder: Stories of the Xuya Universe, by Aliette de Bodard (author), Stefan Rudnicki (narrator), Kate Orsini (narrator)

Skyboat Media, February 2021

This audiobook consists of two novellas, both set in the Xuya universe, but otherwise unconnected.

In The Citadel of the Weeping Pearls, it's thirty years after Empress Mi Hiep quarreled with her daughter, the Bright Princess Ngoc Minh, and Ngoc Minh took her followers, created the Citadel of Weeping Pearls, and pursued studies not approved of at the Imperial Court. This led to the ability to teleport, and weapons small enough to be smuggled anywhere, yet devastatingly powerful. Alarmed by these weapons, the Empress sent a fleet to destroy the Citadel, and the Citadel disappeared.

Friday, February 19, 2021

On a Red Station, Drifting (Universe of Xuya), by Aliette de Bodard (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781977331724, April 2019

Lȇ Thi Linh is a scholar, a lady of some rank, and the magistrate of a district on the Twenty-third planet. Or rather, she was. She sent a blunt letter to the Emperor concerning his purely defensive conduct of the war, protecting mainly the more central planets of the empire, leaving more remote planets, like her own, at risk. This led to her need to depart her district and the planet, and take refuge among rather distant relatives on the space station of Prosper.

Lȇ Thi Quyen is the administrator of Prost per Station. She's less educated than Linh, and feels her lower rank, but the station is her responsibility. Many of the higher-ranked husbands and wives on the station are away, fighting the war, and Quyen is struggling to control the deteriorating situation on Prosper, both within her family and in the station generally.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Owl Be Home for Christmas (Young Wizards Universe), by Diane Duane

Errantry Press, December 2020

In 2020, as Christmas approached, the Christmas tree for Rockefeller Center was brought to New York City from upstate New York. When it arrived, it was discovered to have a passenger, or rather, a resident. Rocky the saw-whet owl had been living in the tree--and she was not happy about what had been done to her home.

She was rescued, taken  to a wildlife rehab center, and when recovered from her traumatic experience, released back into the wild.

Officially, that's the end of the story.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey

Tor Books, ISBN 9781250174666, February 2021 

Evelyn Caldwell is a geneticist, a leader in the field of producing clones for specific, and generally short-term, uses, is at the height of her career, and has just won a major award. She's recently divorced, but the most important thing is to keep everyone believing it's a completely amicable divorce. Nothing to see here, move along!

The secret she needs to keep is that her ex-husband, Nathan, in the same field but on the faculty of a nearby university, not in private industry like Evelyn, has cloned her.

Cloned her, but slightly modified. Martine is calmer, gentler--more obedient. More deferential. Nathan has, he thinks, made the perfect wife.

When Evelyn finds out Martine is pregnant, she's shocked, outraged--but mostly shocked. Clones are incapable of getting pregnant, by design, and by law. Cloning is not about creating people. Clones are tools, short-term tools, who will put down like terminally ill pets when their usefulness is over. And there is no reason for them to ever be pregnant. If this is discovered, it won't just ruin Nathan. It will ruin her, too, because it's her work he's using.

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Bookshop of Yesterdays, by Amy Meyerson (author), Ann Marie Gideon (narrator)

Harlequin Audio, June 2018

Miranda Brooks spent her childhood in frequent visits to her Uncle Billy's bookshop, Prospero Books, learning a love of reading and literature, and solving the scavenger hunts he set for her. She also spent time wondering if he would show up for expected visits, or be suddenly called away by his real job, as a seismologist responding to major earthquakes all over the world.

Then, when she was twelve, her mother and Billy had a major falling-out, and Billy disappeared from her life. Miranda didn't hear from him again for sixteen years. She was by then living on the east coast, in Philadelphia, teaching eighth grade history, and living with her boyfriend, Jay.

Billy has died, and had arranged for a book to be mailed to her. It contains the first clue in the last scavenger hunt he set up for her.