Thursday, October 29, 2015

Without Limits, by Dustin Grinnell

Amazon Digital Services, March 2015

Evan Galloway is a human limits physiologist working for DARPA--the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, the same folks who brought us the internet. Evan's project, of course, is quite different. He's developing a nanotech method for dramatically improving human athletic performance, by increasing the amount of oxygen the human blood can carry. The army wants it for soldiers, but as with much of what DARPA does, there are obvious civilian applications.

Of course, the most obvious of those applications would be classed as cheating. Some people don't mind that, though. Some people are quite comfortable with cheating.

One of those people is billionaire and extreme athlete Jack McKnight--who happens to be the former lover of Evan's boss, Dana Brines. And Dana and Jack have a son together. Or they did, until last year. Michael died suddenly, after running an ultramarathon.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The New Mother, by Eugene Fischer

Asimov's Science Fiction, April/May 2015

Tess Mendoza is working on an important new article for the biggest magazine she's ever worked for. She's also pregnant, and starting to feel her baby moving.

These two facts are connected in an uncomfortable way.

Tess and her partner Judy chose to use an anonymous donor from a sperm bank to avoid any possible complications of the father someday wanting parental rights. The story Tess is researching concerns a new disease, still going by a number of names--one of which is Human Communicable Parthenogenesis. Women are getting pregnant without men, producing baby girls who are essentially clones of themselves. This is a sexually transmitted condition; whatever the as yet unidentified infectious agent is, it renders men sterile and women parthenogenic reproducers.

The Just City (Thessaly #1), by Jo Walton

Tor Books, ISBN 9780765332660, January 2015

In the aftermath of his pursuit of Daphne, in which she chose to have Artemis transform her into a tree rather than yield to him, Apollo seeks an explanation from Athene. The goddess of wisdom talks about puzzling concepts like volition and equal significance--it hadn't occurred to him that just because he wanted her, Daphne didn't necessarily want him. She then recruits him to a little project of her own: building Plato's Just City, from The Republic.

It's just an experiment.

They choose an island that will later be destroyed by a massive eruption, destroying the evidence of their experiment and leaving only the legend of Atlantis behind. The teachers, the Masters, are three hundred men and women from across time who have read The Republic in Greek, and have prayed to Athene that they be allowed to participate in building the Just City.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries #1), by Charles Finch

St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books, ISBN 9780312359775, June 2007

It's 1865, and Charles Lenox is a gentleman, the younger brother of  baronet Sir Edmund Lenox, living in London and pursuing his hobbies and passions.

One of his hobbies is planning foreign travel. He rarely takes these carefully planned trips, because one of his passions is solving crimes. He has a friend who sometimes assists him, Dr. Thomas McConnell, but that fact and his ability to deduce interesting facts about people from evidence that others miss is really where the resemblance to that other great Victorian-era detective ends. Lenox is not a professional, a consulting detective. He's an amateur, doing this for love and usefulness. When his neighbor and friend, Lady Jane Grey, asks for his help, he immediately cancels his latest planned trip.

A former housemaid of Lady Jane's, Prudence Smith, has died, either by murder or suicide, at the home of her new employer, George Barnard. Barnard is an acquaintance, and also the head of the Royal Mint, and is more interested in preventing scandal than finding the truth.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Heartsong Cottage (Eternity Springs #10), by Emily March

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250072962, November 2015

Shannon O'Toole is living in Eternity Springs, Colorado, running Murphy's Pub, and renovating a cottage for resale. Oh, and she's also teaching yoga classes. She's pretty busy, but she needs to have a good nestegg on hand, so that she can move quickly anytime she needs to.

Shannon has a dangerous stalker, and Shannon O'Toole isn't the name she was born with.

But this time she really doesn't want to move on. She's enjoying owning and running Murphy's Pub, and she's made friends here. She's in danger of putting down roots.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Banished of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #1), by Jeff Wheeler

Amazon Publishing/47North, ISBN 9781503945326, August 2015

This is a deeply frustrating book. In theory, it has so much promise.

Maia is the only daughter of the King of Comoros. By law she can't inherit, but she is the apple of her father's eye--until he decides he must have a male heir.

It's no surprise that the Seven Kingdoms don't recognize female inheritance rights; women aren't allowed to learn real magic or even learn reading & engraving. And yes, you read that right. Not "reading & writing"; reading and engraving. Even though in context it's clear that "engraving" is done on parchment with pen and ink. It's the first of many troubling signs.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Duke and Miss Christmas (The Heirs' Club of Scoundrels #2.5), by Amelia Grey

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250085153, October 2015

This is a fun little Christmas novella.

Gwen Prim and her younger sisters are living with their eldest sister, Louisa, and her husband, the Duke of Drakestone. Crispin, the Duke of Hurst, is recently returned from traveling in America with his mother's second family, and has been invited to the Drakestone Christmas ball. They meet by chance a few days prior, when Crispin finds the youngest Prim sister, Sibyl, who has fallen from a tree and sprained her knee and ankle. Gwen catches up with her wayward little sister just in time to think Crispin is abducting her, and hits him with a basket.

This is, of course, the start of true love.

Crispin has a scandal in his past involving a wager about inducing young ladies to lose their hearts to him. Gwen has a failed courtship with a man who turned out to be a heartless rake to regret. It wouldn't be a romance if there weren't bumps along the way to Christmas Eve and a proposal.

If you're looking for a light Christmas romance to help get you in the spirit of the season, this is worth your time.

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Shattered Blue (The Light Trilogy #1), by Lauren Bird Horowitz

Amazon Publishing/Skyscape, ISBN 9781503949973, September 2015

Noa Sullivan and her family are coping with the sudden death of her sister Isla in an accident some months back. The new school year is starting, and Noa will now be a commuter at Harlow, the prestigious boarding school she and Isla had both attended, and roomed together at. Because her mother is so shattered that she can't be relied on to care for youngest daughter, Sasha, Sasha will also be attending Harlow, even though she's a year too young to enroll normally.

At Harlow, she meets a new student, Callum Forsythe. There's something different about Callum--literal sparks fly when they collide going through a door. It takes a while before she finds out what's really going on with him. Callum is Fae, banished from the Fae realm of Aurora for a crime he says he's innocent of. It was his brother's prank that went horribly wrong, and caused the death of their little sister, Lily. Callum took the blame to protect his brother Judah.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sneak Thief (Dog Park Mysteries #4), by C.A. Newsome (author), Jane Boyer (narrator)

Two Pup Press, September 2015

Aritst Lia Anderson is donating her time to paint murals at a local convalescent home. To keep paying the bills, she's working an evening job scoring academic proficiency tests. There, she meets and befriends Desieree Willis, a budding young jeweler who is also a friendly, funny pocket-sized sexpot.

Desiree has a rescue beagle named Julia, who is constantly stealing and squirreling away small items--often, but not always, Desiree's underwear. She also has a stalker, someone who is leaving her little dolls, and once a whole diorama, made of cleverly folded tinfoil. What she doesn't know is that he's also gotten a camera into her bedroom.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Home for Christmas (Sanctuary Island #4), by Lily Everett

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250074041, October 2015

It's October, and the Christmas romance titles are coming fast and furious now. This is a good one.

Libby Leeds "America's Favorite Cook," has a popular column in Savor magazine, about her life and adventures as a traditional homemaker on Sanctuary Island, off the coast of Virginia. It's cheerful and heartwarming, and unfortunately, complete fantasy. Libby spent part of her childhood there, but when her parents were killed in a car crash, Libby was sent to live with her Uncle Ray, in New York City. Ray and his father, Libby's grandfather, Dabney Leeds, have been estranged for decades, and it's the last Libby sees of Sanctuary Island.

But now her boss, Savor publisher Hugo Downing, has a Clever Plan, and he's acted on it before he tells Libby. Libby and her family, he informs her, have invited America's current favorite war hero, Army Ranger Sergeant Owen Shepard, to spend Christmas with them at their home on Sanctuary Island. The invitation includes the sergeant's young daughter, Caitlin, currently living with his sister Andie--the island's sheriff.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Hours Count, by Jillian Cantor

Riverhead Books, ISBN 9781594633188, October 2015

Millie Stein is a young mother living with her husband Ed and two-year-old son David in Knickerbocker Village in New York in 1947. They're on the eleventh floor, and their down-the-hall neighbors are Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Millie and Ethel become friends. When Ed, a Russian immigrant, loses his job over the loyalty oath now being pushed, Julius hires him at his own company, Pitt Machine.

Ed is a cold and inattentive husband, and Millie envies Ethel her warm and loving relationship with Julius--but he and Ed are moving in the same communist circles.

This is a fictional account of the Rosenberg spy case, seen through the eyes of a neighbor struggling with her own marriage, her own child (who is apparently autistic, though that's not a word much in use in 1947), and her own issues. She and Ethel become friends, close in many ways, and mutually supportive even when there are secrets and strains, as well.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Galaxy Game, by Karen Lord (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2015 (original publication January 2015)

Rafi is fourteen years old, on the verge of legal adulthood as a Homesteader on Cygnus B, and a student at the Lyceum, a school for the psionically gifted. Unfortunately, on Cygnus, psionic powers are mostly feared, and the Lyceum is as much about keeping the students from becoming dangerous as it is about teaching them to use their powers well. Rafi, with powers that will enable him to help people or to control them, is not being helped by the school's treatment of him; instead, he's having nightmares and feeling less and less secure.

Fellow students Ntenman and Serendipity are communities that do support psi powers, and are a little more protected, but have their own reasons for wanting to leave.

So Rafi does, using his powers to help him slip out, and heads first to his mother's home, and then to his aunt's. Serendipity and Ntenman soon follow. It's not long before all three are off Cygnus, on another world, faced with new challenges and about to experience violent political change.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Abandoned Countess: Abigail's Story, by Shannon Salter

Smashwords, ISBN 9781291682465, December 2013

This book does need a better copyedit. There are also incidents of "Abigail does obviously stupid thing because PLOT."

Despite that, this is a fun book. In Regency England, during the period when Napoleon was imprisoned on Elba, Abigail Crawford, Countess of Raybourne, is searching for information about her missing husband. Two years previously, just a few weeks after their wedding, the Earl disappeared without a trace. It became a scandal that drove Abigail from most polite society; however, she has a few friends, such as her dear friend Sophia Jacobs, who are still loyal. returning one evening from a failed rendezvous with a potential informant who had identified himself only as "JB" in the note he sent, she and her coachman find an injured, unconscious man by the side of the road. They bring him to her home, and send for the doctor to treat his wounds. Initially, he has no memory. When it seems his memory might be returning, he vanishes.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers

ISBN 9781500453305, July 2014

The Wayfarer is wormhole tunneling ship, captained by Human Ashby Santoso, in a galaxy in which Humans are a fairly minor species, the newest members of the Galactic Commons. His crew includes three Humans, techmechs Kizzy and Jenks, as well as algaeist Arvis Corbin, but also the reptilian Aandrisk pilot Sissix, Sianat Navigator Ohan, and the Grum doctor and chef whose name is unpronounceable for Humans, so he goes by Dr Chef. Oh, and I nearly forgot, quite inexcusably, the AI, Lovey, who is an important part of the crew.

They're all technically very competent, but Ashby's record-keeping isn't quite up to Transport Board standards. so in response to some prodding, he hires a clerk--a young Martian woman named Rosemary Harper. Rosemary is making her very first trip into space, and she has a secret she hopes she can leave behind forever.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Death Before Decaf (A Java Jive Mystery #1), by Caroline Fardig

Random House/Alibi, ISBN 9780804181303, November 2015

Juliet Langley has come back to Nashville after losing her fiancé and business partner, her best waitress, and ultimately her café when the fiancé skips town with the waitress and every penny in the company's accounts. Now, days short of her thirtieth birthday, she's starting over, taking over as the manager of Java Jive, a café owned by old friend Pete Bennett.

The existing staff isn't thrilled to meet her, especially Dave Hill, the head cook. Dave's been acting manager in the café Pete inherited from his father George a few months ago. Pete's been dividing his time between Java Jive and the recording studio where he's a sound engineer. Juliet's appalled to see how standards have slipped since George's death, and she has two arguments with Dave that first day. She takes a break after the second one, and returns to find Dave has left at the end of his shift.

That night, at closing time, she's doing the last of the clean-up by herself, and finds Dave's body in the dumpster.