Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Third Eagle, by R.A. MacAvoy (author), Clinton Wade (narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2012 (original publication January 1989)

At first this book seems to be a fantasy, about a warrior of a privileged and constrained warrior class in a pre-tech culture. We quickly learn, though, that Wanbli, while a member of a warrior class, and one of the few to earn the cherished third eagle feather tattoo, is far in our future. His world is not primitive, but it is poor. His career options are basically limited to being a bodyguard for the same man his mother guarded, and who may or may not be his father. And while he's very, very good at it--witness his third eagle feather tattoo--he does not find the satisfaction and pride in it that he knows he's supposed to.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Devil You Know (Saloninus #2), by K.J. Parker (author), Will Damron (narrator)

 Macmillan Audio, March 2016

Saloninus is the greatest philosopher of all time.

He's also the greatest liar and trickster of all time.

So when he offers to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for a mere twenty years to complete his life's work, the assistant devil assigned to handle his case is certain he's up to something. But what? The contract, as always, is airtight; the Lord of Lies has the very best lawyers.

It would be wrong to say more than that. The story is funny, and tricky, and we get both the assistant devil's side of the story, and Saloninus' side. Enjoy!

Recommended.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Players (Detectives Seagate & Miner #7), by Mike Markel (author), Wendy Almeida (narrator)

Mike Markel, December 2016

Detectives Seagate and Miner are on a puzzling, difficult case. A man has died in a homeless camp in a city park, apparently of an overdose--but this homeless man was Lake Williams,  a former star football player for Central Montana University. His name was Lake Williams, and he was expected to go pro until a knee injury ended his career.

The OD that killed him was an injection of nearly pure heroin. Where would he have gotten it? When it becomes clear that a woman was paid to deliver the drug to him, paid by someone who knew Williams would inject it and die instantly, it doesn't become any clearer. Why would anyone want to kill a washed-up ex-college ball player?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pieces of Hate (Asassin #1-2), by Tim Lebbon (author), Scott Sowers (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, March 2016

A man whose family and entire village was killed by a demon was given the task by, possibly, another demon, to hunt down and destroy that demon. Centuries later, he's still at it, and keeps arriving just too late to stop the demon from committing his latest assassination.

This is a horror story. There is no one likeable in it, except for possibly one individual that we are seemingly expected to regard as a fool. I may be being unfair, because I don't like horror, and should never, ever let myself be suckered into reading or listening to it.

Sometimes, though, I am.

Not recommended. Take that with a grain of salt because, as noted, I don't like horror anyway.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle (author), Kevin R. Free (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, February 2016

Tom is a young black man, living in New York City with his father, in the pre-Civil Rights era. Life is not easy, or safe, but Tom has gotten very skilled at presenting a non-threatening front and making money in ways that may not meet his father's high ethical standards, but do meet his looser ones. Mostly, this involves running errands white people with money, but maybe not the highest ethical standards themselves.

And one day, his legal sideline of playing the guitar gets him a really unlikely job. A white man sees him, listens for a bit, and hires him on the spot to play at a party he'll be throwing at his home in one of the fancier neighborhoods.

Tom isn't that good. It makes no sense, but the pay offered is excellent.

It's the beginning a trip down a rabbit hole of epic proportions.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful (Montana Fire), by Susan May Warren (author), Jackson Nickolay (narrator)

SDG Publishing, December 2016

CJ St. John and Hannah Butcher meet while spending a summer as smoke jumpers in Montana. For CJ, it ends with some serious injuries, and Hannah saving his life. For Hannah, it ends with the conviction that she'll never overcome her temptation to freeze in moments of crisis--that she shouldn't even complete her training as a nurse because she'll be useless.

They've both got a lot to work through. Each can see the other's strengths, but only their own weaknesses. Despite bonding as teammates in an online adventure game, they both avoid meeting for months, until finally brought together again.

They're both kind, decent, likable people, and despite their own self-defeating impulses, they fortunately have other kind, decent, likable people around to push them in the right directions.

It's a novella, so not very long, and a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cupcakes and Cowboys (Sunset Plains Romance #1), by Lindzee Armstrong (author), Stacey Glembowski (narrator)

Snowflake Press, July 2016

Cassidy is running a cupcake bakery and not really getting over her jilting by her fiancé, an actor who left her behind for Hollywood and his career. Jase is a far bigger, more established actor, staying at Cassidy's parents' ranch to learn about ranch life for an upcoming movie.

Cassidy is not happy to have him around. The last thing she needs is another dishonest, ambitious actor in her life.

Too bad he's so attractive, polite, friendly, and kind. It's a good thing she's too smart to fall for that.

What she doesn't know is that Jase is really, really tired of Hollywood, and a career he was born into more than chose, due to his mother being a big-name movie director.

In this fairly short work, Jase and Cassidy manage an impressive number of misunderstandings and make-ups, and face some impressive but plausible challenges. Both Cassidy and Jase are likable characters. Overall, this is an enjoyable couple of hours of light listening.

I received this book as a gift.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Song for No Man's Land, by Andy Remic (author(, Tim Gerard Reynolds (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, February 2016

Robert Jones has been haunted by visions and creatures since childhood, some friendly, some not. He's been on balance something of a failure in life, but now The Great War has broken out, and he enlists in the hope of finally making his family proud of him.

When he's lying badly wounded on the battlefield, and thinks things can't get worse, his creatures appear again.

The story alternates between Jones as a young boy, Jones as a soldier in the war, and Jones writing his diary and his memoirs.

This is a beautifully told story, unfolding its mysteries layer by layer. Is Jones strong enough for the war? Is he strong enough for what haunts him? What choices can he face harder than killing his fellow man in combat?

It's lyrical and moving, and well worth your time. Recommended.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Drowning Eyes, by Emily Foster (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, January 2016

Tazir has been plying the sealanes in her trade ship for many years, and is facing the same challenges all her competitors are, in these hard days when the Dragonships have started ravaging those some sealanes and the communities near them. She has no interest in anything other than keeping her ship and crew afloat and profitable--even if only barely--and no interest in challenging the Dragonships.

Shina is a young woman fleeing something, probably an unwanted marriage, but she has the money to hire the ship to make an unlikely journey, and that's what Tazir and her crew care about. That's the business they're in. It's no fault of theirs that they don't know what her real purpose is, or that they start to like her quite a bit.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Harp of Imach Thyssel (Lyra #3), by Patricia C. Wrede (author), Nicole Greevy (narrator)

Audible Studios, July 2013 (original publication 1985)

Emereck the minstrel is traveling with Flindaran, a nobleman masquerading as a mistrel, when he discovers, in an abandoned castle, an ancient, and magical, harp. He would much rather have not found it, because all magic has its price. He has an obligation to bring it to the guild, though, and that means he has to deal with other people's desires surrounding it.

Because the Harp of Imach Thyssel can make a badly wounded man whole, or kill an entire city.