Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Moonlit Harem (Part I), by N. M. Howell

Dragon Media, July 2017

Riley is a vampling, a new vampire not yet fully changed.

Riley doesn't want to be a vampire. She's a vegan.

The vampires found her, wounded and dying, in a field, and decided she was the one they needed to bring their coven up to its regulation twelve members. They saved her life, but she's not sure she's glad they did. She's absolutely determined not to kill human beings to feed.

Her mentor, Draven, is calm and reassuring, and as the vampires' alchemist, he's developed a synthetic fluid that, at least in until she is fully changed, will sustain her. Yet he encourages her to accept the necessity to consume human blood, and her twenty-first birthday, when she must complete the change, is rapidly approaching. As part of the ceremony, she must kill a human being. If she refuses, she'll be executed for breaking the sacred customs of the coven.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mother of Souls (Alpennia #3), by Heather Rose Jones

Bella Books, ISBN 9781594935176, November 2016

Serafina Talarico has been looking for a place where she and her magic can fit in. She has felt she might have found a place, with her landlady, Luzie Valorin, with whom she has been collaborating on an opera about the historic woman scholar, Tanfrit. Yet as close as they've become, Luzie can't offer her what she really wants.

Meanwhile, some strange weather magic continues to plague Alpennia, Margarit's young cousin Iulien has arrived unexpectedly, and Barbara, the Baroness Saveze, has been shot and badly wounded.

There are many difficult decisions to make. Margarit's planned Tanfrit University needs a staff. Barbara has no heir. Margarit is reluctant to accept that what Luzie and Serafina have been doing together is not greatly different from the mysteries she works on in a more religious context. And the weather mystery seems to be an attack, but what are they to do when they can't find its source?

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout (author), Shelly Frasier (narrator)

Tantor Audio, July 2005 (original publication January 2005)

The sociopaths who come to public attention are often violent criminals, but sociopaths are 4% of the population overall, and most of them aren't violent criminals.

That doesn't mean that they're nice or even non-harmful people to be around. Or that you're not likely to meet any. 4% of the population means roughly one in every twenty-five people you know will be a sociopath. They'll all be equally ruthless in pursuing what they want, but sociopaths differ as much in goals, drives, and intelligence as anyone else. They don't all want to be dictator of small nations, or captains of industry. Stout talks about the sociopaths we're likely to meet in our everyday lives, how we can recognize them, and how to defend ourselves.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Arkwright, by Allen Steele (author), Stephen Bel Davies (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2016

Nathan Arkwright is an aging science fiction writer with a dream.

One of the Big Four of the Golden Age of science fiction (along with Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke), Arkwright wrote the Galaxy Patrol series, which became a tv show and a movie franchise. In his waning years, he wants what he's always wanted: real, manned space exploration.

He's also worried that an asteroid collision could cause another mass extinction, this time wiping out humans.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Horror in the Highlands (Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery #5), by Alison Golden (author), Jamie Vougeot (author)

Alison Golden, June 2017

Reverend Annabelle Dixon is off for a quiet visit with her brother and niece, on a little island off the coast of Scotland. It will be a time for rest and relaxation, with the only work being filling in for the village's regular vicar, who is taking a well-deserved vacation himself.

Surely it won't be anything like the busy excitement Upton St. Mary's has experienced recently.

Annabelle meets some interesting people, including an American couple who have purchased a lairdship on the island and want to see the three square feet of land that goes with it, a retired rock star, and Harry Anderson, the pub owner and bagpipe player who enlivens everything he can with his bagpipes.

This is all within the range of the expected. What isn't expected is a theft from the church safe, followed by Harry's brutal murder.

Clues lie with her niece Bonnie's young friend Felicity, Felicity's rather unpleasant aunt, Kirsty, and retired rock star, Pip Craven, who is suspected of being the source of the drugs suddenly circulating in the area. The American couple, Mitch and Patty, and their increasingly frustrating quest to meet the man who sold them the lairdship and see their tiny patch of Scottish land, is surely a distraction.

It's a quaint, charming village peopled by quite real human beings. Golden gives us humor without laughing at her characters. It's warm and comfortable while being a mystery more than interesting enough to hold the reader's attention--very much what I want a cozy to be.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the author and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Due Diligence

Pinbeam Books, July 2017

Fer Gun pen'Uldra is a young Liaden pilot, stranded without his license because he was carrying something for his Terlune cousins. He's got a two-cantra fine to pay, and no prospect of paying it with his license suspended.

Abandoned by his cousins, with barely enough money in his pockets to by for a meal and a bed that night, it seems like a good prospect when an older but still attractive pilot approaches him. It turns out, though, that she's not looking for a night's pleasure, but a contract marriage likely to produce a pilot child.

This woman is of Clan Korval, of the yos'Phelium line, and looking to have a child who can one day be Delm, as her daughter Kareen is excellent in all ways except having the speed and reflexes to be a pilot. Fer Gun's life is about to change completely; he has no idea how much.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek, by Manu Saadia (author), Oliver Wyman (narrator)

Audible Studios, August 2016 (original publication June 2016)

We don't ordinarily think much about the economics of Star Trek when watching an episode or a movie, but when we step back from the stories themselves, it's a pretty interesting question. How does the Federation's economy work? Although there are references to a currency called simply "credits" scattered through The Original Series, that's later retconned to "just a figure of speech." As explicitly stated in Next Generation and Deep Space 9, the Federation operates without money.

How does that work? Can it work?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Raven Stratagem (The Machineries of Empire #2), by Yoon Ha Lee (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Recorded Books, June 2017

Our story begins where Ninefox Gambit left off: The mad revenant, Shuos Jedao, has seized control of the body of Captain Kel Cheris, and gone on to seize command of General Khiruev's swarm, relying on formation instinct and the fact that Kel Command is far away. He quickly offloads everyone who can't be controlled by formation instinct--the non-Kel, and Lt. Colonel Kel Brezen, who is a crashhawk, one of the rare Kel in whom formation instinct didn't take.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back, by Clark Elliott (author), Arthur Morey (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, June 2015

In 1999, Clark Elliott was a research professor with a rising career in artificial intelligence. Then he was the victim of a rear-end car collision, and his life was transformed overnight.

Simple tasks had become difficult. He sometimes had difficulty remembering his children's names. He sometimes had difficulty walking through doors, or down corridors. He had difficulty making decisions--simple decisions. A sign on a shop door saying "Come in" once held him in place for several minutes, knowing he didn't want to go into that shop, but unable to simply ignore its instruction.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fueled by Dragon's Fire (Return of the Dragonborn #2), by N.M. Howell

Dungeon Media Corp., May 2017

In keeping with my usual happy disregard for order in series, this is #2, and I haven't read #1. Despite that, I was able to pick up enough of what happened previously to follow this  story.

Andie (Andryne) is a young woman who is of both sorcerer and dragonborn blood, and has a unique set of abilities. Unfortunately, the dragonborn were nearly wiped out a thousand years ago, and Andie, with her mother dead and her father able to teach her only so much, went off to the University to get as much education as possible.

This lead, due to events in the previous installment, to her being on the scene to help pull the dragonborn and their dragons through the time rift they escaped into those thousand years ago, into the present. After a big battle with the sorcerers, the dragonborn and dragons fled to the mountains, and Andie and her friends and allies fled into the caverns beneath the University. Now they're coming out, and the battle will begin again.