Monday, March 27, 2017

Afar, by Leila del Duca (author), Kit Seaton (illustrator)

Image Comics, April 2017

Boetema and her younger brother Inotu find themselves on their own when their father loses his job and he and their mother leave them with money and some supplies, and go off to seek work in another city. When the money runs out, fifteen-year-old Boetema gets a job, but things get complicated when she starts having strange dreams that disrupt her sleep.

It's a while before she fully realizes they're not just dreams. She has started astrally projecting into the bodies of people on other worlds, lightyears away. When she accidentally causes a man to be hurt while occupying another girl's body, she becomes determined to get back to that world and find a way to right the wrong she did. Unfortunately, she doesn't yet have that much control; she just winds up where she winds up. She needs a teacher; can she find one?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Immortal Irishman:The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero, by Timothy Egan (author), Gerard Doyle (narrator)

Brilliance Audio,  ISBN 9781480562752, March 2016

Thomas Francis Meagher was born into a wealthy family in Ireland, yet at the time the rights of Catholics under British law were still severely restricted. As he was growing up to be an educated, idealistic young man, a disaster was beginning to unfold in Ireland: the start of the Great Famine.

The vast majority of Ireland's Catholics lived almost entirely dependent on the potato crop, een as the lands of the absentee landlords whose fields they worked produced large crops of vegetables and grain, as well as beef and lamb and pork, which were almost entirely sold at export. When the potato crop failed not one year but several years in a row, those other crops continued to be exported, while the Irish peasants starved to death, or fled Ireland in what became known as "coffin ships" because so many of their passengers died.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Belfry, by Gabriel Hardman

Image Comics, February 2017
This is a horror short story. It's graphic story with impressive artwork, but be warned some of the images are graphic in the other sense too: both nudity, and some horrific injuries shown in great detail.

A plane crashes in the jungle, and passengers and crew are at first relieved that, while there are a lot of injuries, no one is dead. Then they see the captain's injury, a substantial stick in his eye.

Yet he's not dead. He's not even unconscious. He can't remember what happened, although he thinks he could if he could remove the stick...

The passengers and crew are about to find out that the plane crash is only the beginning of their problems. Horrors exist in the jungle that have nothing to do with lions or cheetahs or any other mundane predators.

I'm not a big reader of horror, and this won't change my mind. It's quietly effective, though, and the art is excellent.

I received a free advance review copy from the publisher, and I am reviewing it voluntarily.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2), by Becky Chamberss

Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 9781473621442, October 2016

Lovelace, the AI that operated on Wayfarer, the ship in Becky Chambers excellent first novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, decided she wanted a different life. A life in an autonomous, human-format body.

A life that, in the Galactic Commons, is rather inconveniently very, very illegal.

In this standalone sequel, Lovey has awakened in a new body which very convincingly imitates a human body, after a total system shutdown and reboot, which has left her with no idea why her previous installation wanted this new life with these new and strange limitations (such as not being connected to the Linkings fulltime.)

Yet  here she is, in this new, freer yet more limited form, still learning what it's like to be apparently human, traveling with the rather volatile engineer, Pepper, to Pepper's home to learn who she is in this new form.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Hairy Tail, by Jamie Campbell

Kindle Edition, March 2013

Hannah, under pressure from her mother to "get out of the house" during the summer, decides to volunteer at the local animal shelter. On her first day there, she meets Basil, a very sad dog who has been there, unclaimed, for months. She also meets Harry, another high school student and fellow volunteer. Convinced that a dog as nice as Basil, and as sad, must be missing his family and his family missing him, she convinces Harry that they have to find Basil's family.

This is a short, light, fun story about two teenagers doing something positive with their summer. Recommended.

I bought this book.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Arclight, by Brandon Graham (story), Marian Churchland (art, colors), Ariana Maher (letters)

Image, ISBN 9781534300972, March 2017

Lady Kinga is trapped in the body of a monster, living in exile on the edges of the kingdom, and supported only by her loyal knight, Arclight. Then someone turns up wearing her old body, and using her high rank for their own purposes. She and Arclight need to return to the city and fight against an invading power to save their world. the question is, will their magic be strong enough?

This is a graphic novel, and I found the art pleasing and restful for my eyes. I especially liked the goose (sorry, any explanation would be a spoiler), and the way its personality was depicted. This is a fantasy. The goose is dead, or perhaps more accurately, undead; the Lady occupies the body of a monster; a traveling palace is made of the bones of the ancestors of the Blood House, and gets larger with every generation. I can't honestly claim the story made much sense; on the other hand, I can't honestly claim I cared. The hour or so I spent with this book was very enjoyable.

Recommended for a light, pleasant read.

I received an advance reader's copy of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Her Last Chance (Her #2), by Toni Anderson (author), Eric G. Dove (narrator)

Toni Anderson, January 2017

Eighteen years ago, at nine years old Josie Maxwell was the first victim of a man who became the serial killer now known as the Blade Hunter. Josie, unlike later victims, survived, but this wasn't the only event in her life that taught her it's a struggle for survival.

Six months ago, Josie nearly died at the hands of another killer, and drugged and betrayed FBI Special Agent in Charge Marshall Hayes to protect the hiding place of her friend.

Now the Blade Hunter is back, and he's found Josie again. This time, he's determined to finish the job he started eighteen years ago. The only person who's going to put the pieces together fast enough is Marshall Hayes, the man she betrayed.

Monday, March 20, 2017

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise, by Chris Taylor (author), Nick Podehl (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, October 2014

In 1973, George Lucas sketched the first notes of what would become his epic space fantasy movie, Star Wars. More than four decades on, Star Wars has become a $37 billion movie franchise and media empire, and an enormous cultural force.

Taylor gives us both the history forward from that beginning through the making of the films and the sale and rebirth of the franchise under Disney, and the path from the middle class kid growing up in Modesto to the man who made that first Star Wars film and its two sequels. (No, it wasn't originally called A New Hope; I saw the first movie when it first came out. And yes, Han Solo did shoot first, whatever George Lucas now wants us to believe.) Both Lucas' own story, and the story of the Star Wars franchise, are complicated, confusing, and fascinating. Taylor gets quite thoroughly caught up in the story and his own pursuit of it, and makes it reasonably inviting for the reader or listener to jump on that ride with him.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Call of the Herald (The Dawning of Power #1), by Brian Rathbone (author), Chris Snelgrove (narrator)

Brian Rathbone, April 2013 (original publication January 2008)

Caitrin, her cousin Chase, and their friends Osbourne and Strom are farmer's kids, living ordinary lives, until events start to close in on them. Their land is about to be invaded by a powerful and expanding empire, and a religious prophecy is about to come to fruition. Uncomfortably for her, Caitrin, it seems, is the Herald of the return of the Comet, which is the symbol or vehicle of a goddess.

With the Comet becoming visible in the sky, Caitrin now has power, and and this teenager who never expected this is quite convincingly inept and clumsy in her first (initially accidental) uses of it. This quickly gets her a reputation as a witch--the dangerous kind that no sensible person wants around.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Possibility Dogs: What a Handful of "Unadoptables" Taught Me About Service, Hope, and Healing, by Susannah Charleson (author, narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9781482912043, June 2013

Susannah Charleson is best known for a previous book, Scent of the Missing, about her experiences in search & rescue, and working with a search dog, the Golden Retriever, Puzzle. Over the years of her search & rescue work, though, she began to experience health problems, both physical, and reactions to the stress and trauma often involved in such searches. She also began to meet a new kind of working dog: psychiatric service dogs.