Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Sound of Rebellion (The Human Division #8), by John Scalzi (author), William Dufris (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, March 2013

Another entry in The Human Division, and this time the focus turns away from the Clarke and her diplomatic "B Team." The stability of the Colonial Union is being challenged, and Colonial Defense forces, normally dedicated to defending the CU against alien enemies, has to put down a local rebellion on one of the CU planets. When they think it's over, a small group of CDF soldiers discover there's a second act, and find themselves prisoners of someone who hasn't accepted the result of the first act. Lieutenant Heather Lee, last met in We Only Need the Heads, wakes up alone, bound, blindfolded, and talking to a disembodied voice. She has no resources except her brain in finding a way to identify her captors and escape from them.

Character development and plot are as tightly bound together as possible in this story, with considerable success. This is also a case where the story is enhanced by listening to the audio version, which William Dufris as usual reads extremely well.


I bought this story.

Hide (Detective D.D. Warren #2), by Lisa Gardner (author), Maggie Meg Reed (narrator)

Books on Tape, ISBN 9781415935507, January 2007

On the grounds of the now-defunct Boston State Mental Hospital, an underground chamber containing the bodies of six young girls is found. One of the bodies has a locket with a name engraved on it--Annabelle Granger.

Annabelle Granger, now living in the North End, building up her own small window treatments business, is not as startled as one might expect by the news of her own death, but she is very alarmed. She's been living in hiding and on the run since the day in 1982 when her parents packed their family belongings into five suitcases, put them in the car, and drove away from their Arlington, MA home forever.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs #8), by Jacqueline Winspear (author), Orlagh Cassidy (narrator)

Harper Audio, ISBN 9780062072764, March 2011

Maisie is beginning to adjust to the loss of Maurice Blanche, and to her new wealth, but her life is still in transition. As she is weighing her relationship with James Compton, and trying to convince her father to move from his cottage into the dower house, she is approached by Special Branch to take on a job rather different from her usual: On behalf of Special Branch and the Secret Service, she is asked to take a position as the junior lecturer in moral philosophy at the College of St. Francis in Cambridge, to look for any evidence of activity "not in the interest of the British Crown." The concerns of Special Branch and the Secret Service center around the pacifism and suspected leftist politics of the founder of the college and the senior staff.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Neptune Project, by Polly Holyoke

Disney Book Group, ISBN 9781423157564, May 2013

Global warming has continued to do its worst. Earth is hotter; the seas have risen; climate zones have moved; there has not been the wonderful increase in arable land envisioned by some optimists. As a result, political upheaval has produced new, fragmented, and from what we see, mostly repressive governments.

Nere Hanson is a teenage girl living in the Western Collective, somewhere along what was the southern California coastline. She remembers a happier family past when her father and mother were both marine scientists, and her older brother was still with them. Now, her father is dead, her brother has run off after a steady deterioration of his relationship with their mother, and Nere herself, with weak eyes and weak lungs, is not happy anywhere but in the ocean, with the dolphins her mother still works with. It's a tough life, but it is a life.

Their dangerous secret is that Nere and her mother, Gillian, are both telepaths.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Vote of Confidence (The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs), by Robin Lee Hatcher (author), Kathy Garver (narrator)

Zondervan, ISBN 9780310302421, April 2009

Guinevere Arlington has made a good, independent life for herself in Bethlehem Springs, Idaho, near her father and sister on their ranch, but inside the town, with neighbors, friends, and students for the music lessons she offers. When the mayor of the town has to step down due to illness, though, and the only candidate to replace him is the hard-drinking owner of the local saloon, both her sister Cleo and the editor of the local paper, for which she writes a weekly column, suggest that she run for major. As mayor, she'll be able to push for the modern changes that Bethlehem Springs needs in order to thrive.

Monday, May 13, 2013

An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs #5), by Jacqueline Winspear (author), Orlagh Cassidy (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781427203014, February 2008

Maisie and her former mentor, Maurice Blanche, are still estranged after their conflict last year over Maurice's secrets. The Beales are still mourning the loss of their young daughter, Lizzie. The sputtering economy of the early thirties is putting a strain on everything, including Maisie's business. It's a relief when James Compton brings her a seemingly straightforward case that sends Maisie and the Beales to the village of Heronsdene, in Kent, to investigate some odd events around some property he's planning to purchase for the Compton Company.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds (Sunday Philosophy Club #9), by Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, ISBN 9780307907349, October 2012

Isabel and Jamie's son Charlie is now walking, talking, and attending nursery school. Grace the housekeeper is as devoted and as pig-headedly difficult as ever. Isabel's niece, Cat, is for once not involved in a disastrously inappropriate relationship.

And the mystery Isabel has been asked to apply her philosophical skills to is a real and genuine mystery, the theft of a valuable work of art, a smaller work by Nicholas Poussin, a leading French Baroque painter.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Money Bird, by Sheila Webster Boneham

Midnight Ink, ISBN 9780738734873,  September 2013

Janet McPhail, photographer and serious dog enthusiast, is back, along with her Australian shepherd Jay, her ex-flower child friend Goldie, and hunky botanist and Labrador retriever owner Tom, as well as the rest of the Fort Wayne dog sports community.

Janet, Tom, and their dogs are out at a privately owned parkland popular for training and exercising retrievers when Tom's Lab, Drake, abruptly abandons the exercise, leaps into the river, and returns from a small island with a blood-soaked canvass bag. Inside the bag is a torn $100 bill, and one red feather, which certainly isn't from any local birds.

This is of course just the tip of the iceberg, and a wild few days including a peculiar local cult, exotic birds, a child (not a dog!) with an excellent set of teeth, a high school crush of Janet's, and Tom's potentially alarming announcement that he and Drake want to "expand their family."

Monday, May 6, 2013

Iceworld, by Hal Clement (author), Kent Cassella (narrator)

Audible, February 2013 (first published 1951)

This is a wonderful old classic, that still holds up very well more than half a century later.

Salmon Ken is an ordinary high school science teacher, who gets recruited by the narcotics cops to help track down the source of a new drug. It's been around in small quantities for about twenty years, but authorities are worried because it is dispersed in the air (making it possible to expose the unwilling) and a single dose is enough to create a powerful addiction. It is, potentially, the most dangerous drug in the galaxy. The narcotics agency persuades him to accept a job with the smuggler, who wants someone with some science background to help him synthesize the drug rather than buy it. The narco cops hope Ken will be able to find the source so they can stop it.

Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries #1), by Rhys Bowen (author), Katherine Kellgren (narrator)

Audible, January 2007

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, a.k.a. Georgie, is a very minor royal, 34th in line to the throne, and half sister of the Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch. Unfortunately, it's the 1930s, and their father, the previous Duke, lost the family fortune and shot himself. Conditions at Castle Rannoch are grim, and made grimmer for Georgie when she discovers that a house party is planned to throw her together with Prince Siegfried of Romania, a potential suitor whom she has already rejected as "Fish-Face." Dull, stiff, unattractive.

She decides to go to London, with an invented excuse of a school friend's wedding, and find a way to support herself and, happily, avoid Siegfried.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Galaxy Blues (Coyote Universe), by Allen Steele (author), Marc Victor (narrator)

Playaway, ISBN 9781608128525, May 2009

Jules Truffaut has been having a rough time. Because of a cheating scandal involving his younger brother, he's been thrown out of the Union Astronautica and can't, legally, work as a spacer again. He's determined not to accept that, though, and has created not one but two false identities to get back into space, get work loading cargo--and stow away on a starship headed to Coyote, the human race's first colony on a world outside the solar system.

Unfortunately, he has barely escaped from that starship and landed on Coyote in a lifeboat before he's arrested and tossed in the stockade in Liberty. Now, at best, he's looking at a long prison term on Coyote, and at worst, deportation back to the Western Hemisphere Union on Earth.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, by William Klaber

Greenleaf Book Group, ISBN 9781608325627, June 2013

This is a fictionalized biography of a quite remarkable but little-known 19th-century figure, Lucy Ann Lobdell, a woman who lived most of her adult life as a man.

Born in 1829 in upstate New York, Lucy learned from her father to hunt and to play the violin, both unusual activities for a female at that time. She did marry, but after the marriage failed, and she had a young daughter to support, her life started to veer off in unexpected directions. Leaving her daughter with her parents, Lucy left home dressed as a man, taking the name Joseph Israel Lobdell, setting out to make enough money that she could send for her daughter and make a life for them together.

She never lived with her daughter again.

As Joseph Lobdell, she started a school of music and dance in a Pennsylvania town. While quite successful for a time, she was eventually discovered, and had to flee on very short notice.

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency #13), by Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, ISBN 9780307378408, April 2012

Mma Ramotswe is back, and she and Mma Makutsi are facing some real crises in their extended family this time. Mma Potokwane has been dismissed from her position as matron of the orphan farm, for opposing changes she rightly views as bad for the children. Fanwell, the reliable, hard-working apprentice at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, did some moonlighting work with an old school acquaintance, and is now in serious trouble with the law, defended by the worst lawyer in Gabarone. Mma Makutsi and her new husband, Phuti Radiphuti, are building their dream house, but their builder is rude to her, condescending to Phuti, and may not be entirely honest.

Are they all headed for disaster?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Fire Rose (Elemental Masters #1), by Mercedes Lackey (author), Kate Black-Regan (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, January 2010

It's 1905, and Rosalind Hawkins, her father recently dead after losing all their money in ill-advised investing, needs to give up her  pursuit of a university degree and a scholarly career, and find paying work. When an offer arrives of a position as a governess for two bright children in San Francisco, it seems like a Godsend. She's soon on the train from Chicago to San Francisco.

Rose arrives to find that her employer, Jason Cameron, is extremely wealthy, as well as quite eccentric, and the position is rather different than she anticipated. Specifically, there are no children, and Mr. Cameron wants her to read to him through a speaking tube. Her scholarly background is important because he wants her to read books in foreign and classical languages, and translate them for him.

They are all books of alchemy and magic.