Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Rapture Effect, by Jeffrey Carver (author), Mirron Willis (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, September 2012

Earth is involved in an interstellar war, and almost no one knows it.

High-level politicians know, of course, and the upper levels of the McConwell Corporation, which owns the gnostic system which is actually running the war. What no one wants to tell the public is not just that Earth is at war with an alien species, but that it's a war over the planet Argus--where Earth's colonial fleet is headed, intending to colonize.

Amanda's Story, by Brian O'Grady

The Story Plant, ISBN 9781611880472, November 2012

Amanda Flynn is a young widow recovering from the death, just a year ago, of her husband and young son. She has relied heavily on the emotional and practical support of her in-laws, Greg and Lisa, but now she's finally ready to try to strike out on her own and start a new life. She joins the American Red Cross as part of a disaster response team, and has barely completed her training when a hurricane hits Honduras, and she is deployed with her team to the most seriously affected area.

The hurricane's effects are the least of their problems. A strange illness is stalking the area, apparently brought in by a vulture possibly blown in by the storm. The mortality rate is terrifying; everyone dies.

Except Amanda.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Problem of Proportion (The Human Division #11), by John Scalzi (author), William Dufris (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, March 2013

Ambassador Abumwe and her diplomatic B-Team show up for a secret meeting with Conclave representative Hafte Sorvalh--but the "secret meeting" is not so secret, as they discover when their ships are attacked. As the two groups eye each other suspiciously, they work to discover who is behind the attack--and what they find threatens both the Conclave and the Colonial Union.

This episode is tightly plotted and elegantly written, and I can't half begin to describe its excellences without major spoilers. I'll skip the spoilers, and just tell you: Read this. It's richer and better if you've read previous installments and know the characters, but even without that, this is a story that fully stands on its own, and is well worth reading.


I bought this story.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Messenger of Truth (Maisie Dobbs #4), by Jacqueline Winspear (author), Orlagh Cassidy (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781593979713, August 2006

Months after her painful experiences in France and the rupture of her friendship with her mentor, Maurice Blanche, Maisie Dobbs is still recovering from her breakdown. She has returned to work before anyone thought she should, but she can't let go and relax; she needs to work.

The latest case comes to her through her Girton College past; another former student, journalist Georgina Bassington-Hope, consults a former professor about investigating her artist brother's death, and the professor recommends Maisie.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs #3), by Jacqueline Winspear (author), Orlagh Cassidy (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781593978143, August 2005

Maisie Dobbs is back, and her private investigation business is growing despite the difficult economy. She's also starting to spread her wings a bit, to operate a bit more independently of her mentor, Maurice Blanche.

Then Lord Julian Compton, whose family helped her get an education and start her business, asks her to take on a case for a friend. His son was a pilot killed in the First World War, but his body was not returned and his wife never believed in their son's death. On her deathbed, she made her husband promise to find him.

This Must Be the Place (The Human Division #10), by John Scalzi (author), William Dufris (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, March 2013

Hart Schmidt, Ambassador Abumwe's B-Team diplomatic aide, is on his home planet of Phoenix for a Harvest Day visit with his family. His politically active and powerful family is by no means convinced that their youngest son is making the best use of his talents as a low-ranking diplomat for the Colonial Union. Hart loves his family, but he's quickly reminded that it's not just the distances involved that cause him to limit his visits to the annual Harvest Day holiday. As he struggles with the normal family dysfunction around him, his father takes him aside and makes him an offer--if he'll just resign from the diplomatic corps and come home for good--that's awfully hard to refuse.

Hart, whom we normally see mainly as a secondary character and Harry Wilson's foil, is center stage here, re-evaluating his life and making critical decisions about his values, his career, and his future direction.


I bought this story.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, by Nathaniel Philbrick

Viking Adult, ISBN 9780670025442, April 2013

This is a very thorough and highly readable account of the Battle of Bunker Hill--what led up to it, the battle itself, and its consequences in the unfolding conflict between England and the colonies that was not yet an outright war for independence.

Philbrick introduces us to the major players on both sides, and the complications of the situation that have largely been lost in the patriotic glow with which we remember these events. Many of the figures on the British side most hated by Americans were in fact trying to soften British policy towards the colonies. General Thomas Gage had an American wife and strong ties in the colonies. He wasn't prepared for the hostility he encountered in Boston. Likewise, Benjamin Franklin went to England as Pennsylvania's colonial agent a strong supporter of the British Crown, and returned, several years later, and after repeated, intentional, public humiliation, a committed American patriot.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Observers (The Human Division #9), by John Scalzi (author), William Dufris (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, March 2013

Another entry in the unfolding episodic novel, The Human Division, now out in its complete form. In this, the ninth episode, the Colonial Union, in an ongoing attempt to mend relations with Earth, has invited a contingent of Earth diplomats to observe Ambassador Abumwe's negotiations with the Burfinor, trading ships for medical technology.

Unfortunately, negotiations are barely begun when one of the Earth diplomats turns up dead--and an autopsy shows that it's not due to natural causes.

Wilson and a very interesting member of the Earth team have to find the killer to prevent the CU-Earth part of the mission from blowing up, while Abumwe has to block the Burfinors' attempts to take advantage of their suddenly precarious situation.

Still a lot of fun, with the Scalzi sense of humor on full display, while we inch closer to hints of what's really going on in the overarching conflict that unites the episodes.


I bought this story.