Monday, August 22, 2016

The Jester (Riyria Chronicles #2.5), by Michael J. Sullivan (author), Tim Gerard Reynolds (narrator)

Audible Studios, January 2014

This is a short in the ongoing adventures of a group of thieves. In this one, they're seeking the treasure of a jester who didn't much like the people he entertained. He amassed great wealth, and had an elaborate, hidden tomb built. There's a map to the tomb, but it was torn into eight pieces hidden in different places.

At the time this story opens, our little band of thieves has acquired the final piece of the map, and is nearly there. They now have to figure out all the tricks and traps the jester used to protect his corpse and his treasure.

It's a puzzle story, and to reach the treasure they have to figure out not just what traps there are, but what the jester was thinking. Did he intend to stop anyone from finding his treasure? Or did he just intend to frustrate the people he hated? And how?

Light but fun.

I bought this book.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #2)

Macmillan Audio, March 2014

Isabella Camherst is now a mostly reclusive widow, and her son, born after her husband Jacob died, is three years old. She's still pursuing her study of dragons, and she has a new expedition planned, funded by Lord Hilford. This expedition will be to Eriga (in our world, Africa.) She'll be accompanied by Lord Hilford's granddaughter Natalie (who does not have her father's permission), and Thomas Wilker, an associate from the Vystrana expedition. Her mother is outraged, Isabella herself feels guilty about leaving her son for so long as well as for apparently lacking the maternal instincts society expects her to have, and Natalie's father attempts to stop Natalie from joining her.

They barely make it onto their ship, and only with the helpful interference of Lord Hilford.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The French War Bride, by Robin Wells

Wedding Tree/Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780425282441, August 2016

Amelie Michaud is sixteen and living a happy life in Paris when World War II starts. At first little seems to happen, even with her brothers going off to join the army, but then little troubles become big troubles and finally major hardship. Amelie and her best friend, Yvette, wind up on their own in Paris, working menial jobs to survive, and spying for the Resistance.

Meanwhile, we have the frame story--Amelie O'Connor, seventy years later, likes to keep the door to her little apartment at her assisted living facility open, to receive visitors. One day she receives a very unexpected visitor--Kat Thompson, former fiancée of her late husband, Jack O'Connor. Kat has never gotten over resenting the fact that her fiancé came home with a French war bride. Now that she's dying of cancer, her hospice counselor says she needs to forgive for her own peace of mind, and her minister tells her she needs to forgive for the sake of her own soul. So now, she wants the story of what happened between Amelie and Jack. Right now.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Emperor's Agent (The Numinous World #5), by Jo Graham

Crossroads Press, July 2013

Elza Ringelinge, a.k.a. Ida St. Malme, is a Dutch woman living in Paris in 1805. She left her Dutch husband for French General Moreau, and left Moreau for Michel Ney, who eventually became Marshall Ney.

When we meet her, she is parted from Ney, working as an actress, and she receives a summons from Fouche, chief of the secret police. It's the start of an alarming sequence of events that leads to her becoming a secret agent for Napoleon Bonaparte, charged with locating the spy within the highest levels of the French army poised to invade England.

Elza embarks on an alarming, challenging, by turns frustrating and exhilarating adventure. Ney and others from her past figure prominently--as do abilities she has long denied even to herself that she possesses.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Little Book of Holy Gratitude, by Fr. Frederick Faber

Sophia Institute Press, ISBN 9781622823437, August 2016

This is a gentle, helpful manual for meditation aimed at gratitude and spiritual growth, rather than harsher disciplines of penance. Fr. Faber offers guidance on good resources and texts for guided meditation, some history, and spiritual examples. This is written from a distinctly Catholic perspective, but may also be welcoming to "Catholic-adjacent" believers such as Episcopalians. It's not intended for non-religious meditation.

Recommended with the above caveat.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Merit Badge Murder (Merry Wrath Mystery #1), by Leslie Langtry (author), Bailey Carr (narrator)

Audible Studios, July 2016 (original publication October 2014)

Merry Wrath was a CIA agent, and a good one. Then she was "accidentally" outed in a bit of Washington political hardball, and forced into early retirement. "Merry Wrath" is her new name, derived from a middle name and her mother's maiden name. Her hair is now blonde, and her eyes, thanks to contact lenses, blue.

And of course her Deep Cover Dead Secret new home is the small town in Iowa where she grew up. Did I mention that her father is a US Senator from Iowa?

So the completely unaddressed mystery here is why no one except her best friend from childhood, Kelly, recognizes her.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Sleeping with the Enemy (adventures in the Liaden Universe #22), by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, July 2016

This chapbook contains two novellas, "Chimera," and "Friend of a Friend." They're both set on Surebleak, and involve none of the Liaden series' major characters.

"Chimera" involves some of the smaller, more intimate aspects of Surebleak and Liadens adapting to each other. Darby's family, especially his brother Farnch, hate the Liadens and the changes they've brought. Darby isn't so sure--and even their sister Jewl wants to take advantage of their school for her twin sons. One night, Darby rescues Kez Rel ter'Ista from a street thug, and brings him home to arrange safe transportation for him. But Jewl is very ill, and Farnch is on his way home.

"Friend of a Friend" tells the story of Villy, Sticks dealer at the Emerald, and haetara at Miss Audrey's pleasure house. He has a mildly disturbing encounter at the casino, that turns alarming when the same off-world Liaden turns up as customer at Miss Audrey's--asking specifically for Villy.

These are both character-driven stories, and one of the characters is Surebleak itself. The world they live in and the clash of cultures that constitutes everyday life for both Liadens and Surebleakers affects how everyone thinks, feels, and reacts.

Recommended.

I bought this book.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Domnall and the Borrowed Child, by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (author), Tim Gerard Reynolds (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, November 2015

Domnall, an old, cranky, and insufficiently respected Fae scout, is sent on a mission to find a human home with a young baby and a nursing mother. Maeve's daughter is sick and not recovering, and needs the human magic  of mother's milk or she may die. He finds a suitable nursing mother, and does the switch, and all is going to be well.

Until he discovers that the humans are planning a baptism in just a few days' time. He manages to do the switch again, but in the process the Fae child is injured, and sicker than ever.

And the Fae child still needs human mother's milk, and they'll have to go even further afield to find one in a place where the humans won't be on high alert because of this incident. So Domnall comes up with an even more dangerous plan.

Old, cranky Domnall won't give up, and, purely out of necessity, keeps coming up with ideas that are Just Not Done, especially in a community of Fae that has grown few in number, and very cautious. In the process, Domnall grows, some of those around him grow, and maybe there's a breakthrough with some unfriendly neighbors.

And maybe Domnall isn't quite as past it as he thinks.

It's an interesting and charming tale. Recommended.

I bought this book.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Death, Taxes, and a Satin Garter, by Diane Kelly

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250094827, August 2016

Tara Holloway is an IRS special agent, and she's on the trail of a tax dodger. Florence Cash, host of Flo Cash's Cash Flow Show, and owner of the station it runs on, has been reporting remarkably low income for years. The station's ad revenue is also oddly low, and the number of paying advertisers reported is quite low compared to the number of advertisers Tara hears on the air. This is all especially puzzling since, before she inherited the station from her father, Flo Cash was collecting a six-figure salary, and the station ad revenues were very healthy indeed.

Given all the reported numbers, it's hard to see how the station is even still afloat, even with Cash taking a minimum wage salary, much less with Cash living her very comfortable lifestyle. Where is the money coming from?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Envy of Angels (Sin du Jour #1), by Matt Wallace (author), Corey Gagne (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, October 2015

Lena and Darren have lost their jobs at a fancy New York restaurant, and have not been having an easy time finding a new one. When they get a call from a chef they both thought had died, offering them jobs in his catering business, Sin du Jour, they leap at the chance.

First they have to audition to prove they'll be a fit with the crew and Sin du Jour's high standards.

Then they start to work, and run low on a crucial ingredient for the appetizers they're making. Darren enters the forbidden pantry...

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And now they're crew, with permanent, not temporary, jobs. They now know who the clientele are.