Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters #2), by Mercedes Lackey (author), Michelle Ford (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, October 2009

Maya Witherspoon is the daughter of a British military officer and physician, and a Brahmin woman of a high-ranking family. Raised in the British Raj, educated as a physician by her father and then at the University of Delhi, she is nevertheless adrift when her parents both die, not far apart, in natural-seeming yet unlikely circumstances. She packs up her possessions, the Indian servants who are like family to her, and her mother's pets, and leaves India for London.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Cold, White Sun (A Constable Molly Smith Mystery), by Vicki Delany

Poisoned Pen Press, ISBN 9781464201585, August 2013

Constable Molly Smith, of Trafalgar, BC, is back, with a puzzling murder to solve.

Cathy Lindsey is a high school English teacher at the local high school, mother of a borderline juvenile delinquent teenage son, and a sweet ten-year-old girl. She also teaches creative writing at the local adult education center. Her marriage to her husband, Gord, is imperfect, a bit frayed at the edges, but not on the verge of breaking apart.

There's no obvious reason for her to be killed one sunny winter Saturday morning, by a skilled sniper who covers his tracks in a very professional manner.

Friday, July 26, 2013

At Winter's End (The New Springtime #1), by Robert Silverberg

Open Road Media, ISBN 9781480418288, May 2013

This is an older treasure (original publication 1988) from one of our science fiction greats. It's got Golden Age sense of wonder, a contemporary attitude about gender equality, and an optimism that's been hard to find in the last decade or so.

That's on top of the excellent writing, world-building, and character development.

The People have been living underground in the Cocoon for 700,000 years, ever since the fall of the Death Stars ended the civilization of the Great World and brought the Long Winter to Earth. They've had to limit births, and send their aging tribe members out into the desolate cold to die at the limit age of thirty-five, but it has been overall a comfortable life, and a good one. Now, though, omens of change surround them. Thaggoran, the tribe's "old man," or chronicler (and the only member not subject to the limit age), detects signs that, as predicted by the chronicles, the giant ice eater worms are approaching through the rock and ice below the cocoon. When they reach it, the cocoon will be destroyed. Riyyig Dream Dreamer, a strange-looking creature with no fur, no sensing organ/tail, awakens and announces the coming of the New Springtime, and then dies.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Should Not--and Put Ourselves in Great Danger, by Daniel Gardner (author), Scott L. Peterson (narrator)

Your Coach Digital, ISBN 9781596594326, July 2009

Gardner takes a clear-eyed, reality-driven look at the things we fear and the things we don't fear, and why gut so often overrides head even when we have all the information we should need.

We spend much of our time worrying about terrorists, environmental toxins, random street crime, damage to our children's health from vaccines, and "stranger danger" to our children. In reality, while these dangers are real in the sense that yes, they can happen, their actual incidence is very, very low. 9/11 was the worst terrorist attack in history, and if we had an equivalent attack every month for a year, it still wouldn't come close to equaling the number of Americans killed in car accidents. Yet we happily get into our cars every day and drive to work, the supermarket, visits to our friends, and maybe resent the laws that require us to wear our seat belts. There are many reasons to be concerned about what we're pumping into our environment, but the simple and direct fear of cancer and other terrible illnesses from toxins is not one of them, based on the ability of the few-parts-per-billion levels of toxins in our food and water to cause illness.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Royal Pain (Her Royal Spyness #2), by Rhys Bowen (author), Katherine Kellgren (narrator)

Audible, Inc., August 2010

Georgie Rannoch is just hoping to get through the summer in London without having to go back to Castle Rannoch and be dependent on her brother and obnoxious sister-in-law. Instead, the Queen summons her to the Buckingham Palace to ask a favor of her--play hostess to Princess Hannelore of Bavaria, who will be arriving soon and whom the Queen hopes will distract the Prince of Wales from the very unsuitable Mrs. Simpson. The Queen imagines that the Princess will be happier with another young person, and that Lady Georgiana will enjoy entertaining her and showing her around, as well as being able to bring her to David's attention without it being obvious that the Queen is pushing this.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Little Joe (Round Rock #1), by Michael E. Glasscock III

Greenleaf Book Group Press, ISBN 9781608325665, June 2013

It's October 1942, and the Stout family--Ann, Joe, and their young son, Little Joe--are on their way to visit Ann's family before Joe, an Army pilot, takes up his new assignment in Indiana. There's a storm and the road conditions are terrible, though, and when a tire blows out, Little Joe is the only survivor of the resulting accident.

The loss of his parents, the abrupt transition from life in urban Texas to life in rural Tennessee, and the shock knowing the animals he's eating for dinner on his grandparents' farm, are all hard on Little Joe. Daddy and Mother Washington--Persifor and Frances--are strong, loving, and understanding, though, and work to give him a sense of security and a grounding in values that will last him a lifetime.
Because World War II is under way, they deal with rationing, with troops moving into the area for training and maneuvers, and getting word of the deaths of young men they know.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Royal Flush (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries #3), by Rhys Bowen (author), Katherine Kellgren (narrator)

Audible, Inc., August 2010

Lady Georgiana Rannoch, a.k.a. Georgie, is still in London, living alone in Rannoch House, and trying to support herself with her cleaning business. Unfortunately, her clientele are all in the country for the summer, and business has dried up for the moment. She has the brilliant idea of hiring herself out as a dinner companion for men traveling alone--and this goes wrong in exactly the way you'd expect.

Georgie finds herself packed off to Castle Rannoch by Scotland Yard to avoid scandal. En route, she finds herself more or less coerced into helping Special Branch with a little problem: the royal heirs have been experiencing an unlikely series of potentially fatal accidents, and she is to keep her eyes and ears open, looking for anyone in their social set who might be responsible.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Someday the Stars (Lunar Free State #2), by John E. Siers

Mill City Press, ISBN 9781626521056, May 2013

This is an incredibly frustrating book.

The bulk of it is a really good story, well written, well plotted, with decent character development. The Lunar Free State, a decade after its successful establishment as an independent country, continues to grow (to the asteroids and Mars), and continues to advance in technology, outstripping the nations and alliances of Earth in space drive technology in particular. Then  a scientific mission to Jupiter accidentally wakes up an alien probe, which promptly heads out of the system, toward the alien power that planted it.

Ian Stewart, CEO of the Lunar Free state, Lorna Greenwood, Admiral in the LFS fleet, and other characters both new and from the earlier book, scramble to prepare for coming First Contact. And when the aliens, the plantlike Mekota, arrive on an apparently peaceful visit, and treacherously kill Ian Stewart and leaders of two Earth nations who were part of the first contact delegation, the survivors rally to take out the small Mekota squadron, and prepare for the arrival of a larger fleet.

The Family Vault (Sarah Kelling & Max Bittersohn #1), by Charlotte MacLeod

Mysterious Press/Open Road Media, ISBN 9781453277409, October 2012

This is the first of the very popular Sarah & Max mysteries, featuring Sarah Kelling and her wonderfully mad old New England family. Having married her cousin and become a fairly young widow, Sarah finds herself dealing with a series of unexpected and increasingly distressing problems. These include the discovery of the corpse of a long-missing exotic dancer, Ruby Redd, in the family vault where her late husband wished to be buried.

It turns out that's the least of her troubles. Art fraud, blackmail, and an attempt to cheat her out of her inheritance, along with someone willing to kill to evade discovery of these crimes, enliven her days and, unfortunately, nights. Along with these little problems is the puzzle of Max Bittersohn. Is he friend? Enemy? Potential killer?

This book and its sequels are a bit more serious than MacLeod's other series, but it's still very entertaining, with characters that are a joy to spend time with.

Highly recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1), by Seanan McGuire (author), Mary Robinette Kowal (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, June 2010

October Daye is not having a good year. Or decade.

October (Toby) is half-human, half-fae, and currently on the outs with everyone in both parts of her life. In 1995, she was on a stake-out in a case involving her fae liege, Duke Sylvester, trying to track down his brother Simon, who had kidnapped and hidden Sylvester's wife Luna and their young daughter. Simon discovers her, and his partner in crime turns her into a koi, and she's tossed into the koi pond.