Sunday, May 29, 2016

Journey to Munich (Maisie Dobbs #12), by Jacqueline Winspear (author),Orlagh Cassidy (narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780062220646, March 2016

Minor spoilers ahead, but not for the main plot of this book.

Maisie Dobbs, properly Lady Compton, but she won't use it because it reminds her of what she's lost, is starting, very slowly, to recover from the loss of her husband and her unborn child. She's back in England, spending time with her friend Priscilla, her father Frankie, and her stepmother Brenda. Europe is sliding toward war, though, and British intelligence has a mission for her though, something they believe only can do well enough.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (author), Mary Robinette Kowal (narrator), Will Damron (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, May 2015

On a lovely early summer evening, some fast-moving object slams into the moon and shatters it into seven major pieces, and an unknowable number of smaller ones. At first, there's surprise, fascination, and the longterm anticipation of Earth eventually having rings. But when the big pieces start crashing into each other and breaking up, it becomes clear the future is much grimmer.

This is going to be a meteor storm to make life on Earth extinct. There are only a few years available to construct a solution that will preserve enough human life to to terraform and recolonize Earth--in a few thousand years, when the "hard rain" of the meteor storm and its aftermath are over.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Einstein's Cosmos: How Albert Einstein's Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time (Great Discoveries) by Michio Kaku

Audible Studios, July 2013

Einstein was probably the greatest mind of the twentieth century, revolutionized physics, and his work is still producing new breakthroughs today. Michio Kaku recounts both his scientific contributions and something of his personal life in a completely engaging, entertaining way.

While Einstein was late in starting to talk, it's not true that he was a poor student in school. What he was, was a stubborn student. He had no interest in rote learning, which was the accepted pedagogic technique in Germany at the time. He would read, and think, and ask questions--and that mainly in the subjects he cared about.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

First Death (Seventeen 0.1), by A.D. Starrling (author), Michael Bower (narrator)

AD Starrling, March 2016

This short story is a prequel in the world of "Seventeen," Starrling's ongoing saga of two races of immortals living alongside normal humans throughout our history. In thee first book, there are references to Lucas parents being killed--repeatedly, because the immortals revive back into life the first sixteen times they're killed--and Lucas himself being killed a time or two before he manages to escape into the woods.

"First Death" tells that story from the viewpoint of seven-year-old Lucas. It's well-told,with a convincing child's view of the world, and contains hints of things that are more fully developed in the novels. Worth reading for any fan of the series, and an easy "taster" introduction if you haven't found them yet.


I received a free copy of the audio of this story from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1), by N.K. Jemisin (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Hachette Audio, August 2015

Our story begins with the fall of civilization.

Our story begins with a woman who has just found her murdered son's body.

This is a world with a long history of civilizations that fall, when the arrival of a "fifth season," a years-long winter triggered by earthquakes and volcanoes, lasts long enough that larger political systems can't outlast it.

This is also a world with a body of traditional knowledge, the Stone Lore, that is passed down even through the fall of civilizations and the rise of new ones, because it's about how to survive these unpredictable "fifth seasons.." And it's about the orogenes, the people who have the power to move or still the earth, to cause or prevent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The House at Riverton (The Shifting Fog), by Kate Morton (author), Caroline Lee (narrator)

Bolinda Publishing, ISBN 9781921334863, April 2008 (original publication 2006)

Dr. Grace Bradley, archaeologist, 97 years old, is dying. Before she she dies, she's recording for her grandson the story of her early life, starting with the day she arrived at the house at Riverton before the start of the First World War, to begin service as a housemaid in the home where her mother was previously a housemaid.

Grace tells us in alternating sections about her years at Riverton with the Hartford family, and the story of her last months, in 1999, worrying about her grieving and wandering grandson, her sometimes difficult relationship with her daughter, and a new friendship with a young filmmaker who wants to tell the story of a crucial year in the lives of the Hartfords.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Three Truths and a Lie (Detective D.D. Warren #7.5), by Lisa Gardner (author), Kirsten Potter (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, January 2016

Boston Homicide Detective D.D. Warren faces a terrifying challenge--standing in front of an audience of thriller writers and educating them about the realities of police work for an entire fifty-minute class. They are ravenous. They are bloodthirsty. Most police work is relatively dull.

So D.D. reaches deep into her bag of tricks, and pulls out one of her twistiest cases. It features drugs, prostitution, a dead body, and a severed leg.

A severed leg packed in dry ice.

And security cameras show no one entering or leaving the motel room until the night manager checked and found the body, and vomited. And then called the police.

This is a short story, and Gardner keeps it moving fast, and builds the tension with surprising twists and well-used detail. It may help a bit to have some prior familiarity with the larger series, but it's not vital. What's key here is the puzzle, and it's very well-done.


I bought this audiobook.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rivers of London (Peter Grant #1), by Ben Aaronovitch (author), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (narrator)

Tantor Audio, September 2012

Peter Grant has come to the end of his two years as a probationary constable with the Metropolitan Police Service, and is about to get his permanent assignment. He desperately hopes to avoid the Case Progression Unit, i.e., the unit that does the paper work so real cops don't have to. His chances aren't looking good.

Then on what would likely be one of his last shifts as a constable on the street, he guards the scene of a seemingly inexplicable murder, he meets an unexpected and potentially valuable witness: a ghost.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1), Elizabeth Wein (author), Morven Christie (narrator), Lucy Gaskell (narrator)

Bolinda Publishing, June 2012

Code Name Verity opens with a young woman, a prisoner of the Germans in France during World War II, writing the confession they have demanded of her, in order to escape the torture she hasn't been able to withstand. As the story progresses, it become clear we are getting the stories of two young women. Onc is Maddie, daughter of a bicycle shop owner, who  rescues a pilot from a crashed plane, starting a chain of events leading to her becoming a transport pilot once the war starts. The other is a young woman called Queenie, initially a wireless operator, who speaks German. She gets recruited first as a translator, and then as an interrogator.

Both women want to contribute more directly to the war effort.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements, by Adrienne Marie Brown (editor), Walidah Imarisha (editor), Je Nie Fleming (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2016 (original publication AK Press, 2015)

As the subtitle makes clear, this is an anthology with an agenda, and it's an agenda that will inflame certain parties in recent kerfuffles in the science fiction community.

That said, this is an enjoyable collection. The stories are varied in setting, viewpoint, and kind. There's an incipient uprising against both a hoard of zombies and the politically repressive response to the zombie hoard. There's a gentle story of a woman attempting to reconnect with both her dead grandfather and her very much alive daughter, in an alternate history where the Civil War started in 1859, and the slaves won. A woman has to decide how she's going to react to a government that's finally responding to global warming, in a way that may be both too much, and not enough. One choice will cut her off from her mother and the place she grew up; another will cut her off from her partner and her life now. Is there a third choice, and can she do it? A young man who is the token black superhero opts out of the nonsense--until he finds out how he matters to young people, and a away to make a contribution that matters to him.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman (author and narrator)

Harper Audio, ISBN 9780062255686, June 2013

The day of his father's funeral, a man starts driving randomly between the end of the funeral and start of the post-funeral reception at his sister's house. He winds up in the neighborhood they lived in as kids, and specifically he winds up not where they house they lived in was, at the top of the lane, but at the end of the lane.

At the old farmhouse where Letty Hempstock lived.

And he starts remembering long-buried events of his childhood. That Letty always said that the quiet little pond near her house was in fact an ocean is the least surprising of those memories.

This is an utterly charming little story, terrifying in all the right places. The Hempstocks are a remarkable family, but the narrator, while young, naive, and lacking in sold knowledge of the fantastic, proves to have a strength of character unsuspected even by himself.

A very rewarding, quiet read. Recommended.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wedding Girl, by Stacey Ballis

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780425276617, May 2016

Sophie Bernstein is about to have her dream wedding--the perfect location, the perfect dress, and most important of all from the viewpoint of this rising young pastry chef, the perfect. And then she and her groom are going to found their dream restaurant, and tun it together.

Except perfect groom Dexter has different plans, and doesn't bother to tell Sophie. While she and the guests are wondering why Dexter is late, word arrives that Dexter and a woman they've both worked with, Cookie Kelly, are in the Caribbean, where they just got married.

Sophie insists on holding her head high and having the party with all that lovely food anyway, but afterwards her wedding photographer sells to the media his pictures of the unrestrained, drunken bash the party became. Overall, it's a massive, very public, humiliation.

And then Sophie pisses away all the sympathy and goodwill she could have had by becoming snippy, difficult, and careless at work. But that's not the story.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Obsession in Death (In Death #40), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Ericksen (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, February 2015

Eve Dallas has a fan.

An obsessed fan. A fan convinced that she and Dallas are friends and partners, and that the law, the overly-restrictive rules, are preventing Dallas from meting out true justice.

And she's really angry that anyone shows Dallas any disrespect.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Muzzled (Kate Turner, DVM #1), by Eileen Brady (author), Caroline Shaffer (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, July 2015

Kate Turner is four months into her year-long contract as the substitute veterinarian covering for the practice owner, who has gone on a round-the-world tour. It's life in a small town in upstate New York, and it's a practice that does house calls. but Kate is starting to settle in and enjoy it.

But on this particular rainy day, she arrives at the home of the Langthornes to find their door open, all their 27 Cavalier King Charles show dogs running loose in the house, and the Langthornes dead--gunshot wounds to their chests. She calls 911, and her life starts to get very, very complicated.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kingfisher, by Patricia A. McKillip (author), Bernadette Dunne (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2016

In a world where modern technology exists alongside magic, the magical beasts are not yet quite extinct, and King Arden reigns in the capital city of Severluna, Pierce Oliver has grown up the son of a sorceress who has retired from court to raise her son on a rather bleak cape, where she runs a restaurant. When she finally tells her son the truth about his father, a knight at King Arden's court, she sets off a chain of events that will have major repercussions.

Pierce sets out for Severluna, driving his car because that's the kind of fantasy this is. He's not quite there when he finds himself in Chimera Bay, at the Kingfisher Inn--or at least the restaurant that operates in the remains of the Kingfisher Inn. One of the men there is also a wolf; a young woman who cooks there is strange in her own ways--and is about to make a big mistake. And while there, Pierce witnesses a strange ritual involving a large knife, which he then feels compelled to steal.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Don't Let the Wind Catch You (LeGarde Mystery #6), by Aaron Paul Lazar

Aaron Paul Lazar, December 2013

Gus LeGarde is twelve years old, it's 1965, and it's high summer. What could be better? He and his friends, the twins Elsbeth and Siegfried, ride their horses and boat on the lake and generally to all the unsupervised wandering around that kids did in the 1960s.

In the course of that wandering, they discover a local hermit, Zachariah Tully, living alone in an old cottage with no electrical power. Except he seems not to be alone; he talks to someone he calls Penni. He's a grumpy man, and threatens to shoot them if they don't get away from his home immediately when he discovers them lurking outside.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Trade Secret (Liaden Universe #4) (Books of Before #4), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Kevin T. Collins (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, November 2013 (original publication  July 2012)

Jethri Gobelyn is now an adopted son of Clan Ixin, and he's back on his new mother's trade ship, Elthoria after his time on Irikwae learning Liaden ways and getting his certification as a junior trader. He still has a lot to learn, though, and when Scout ter'Astin arrives with word that the book and other items Jethri entrusted to the Scouts for study have been stolen by someone inside the Scout, it sets in motion a much riskier "learning experience." He's soon off with ter'Astin, pursuing his stolen property and representing Clan Ixin as a trader without the backup of his new mother and his friend s on Elthoria.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Finding Fraser, by KC Dyer

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780399584374, May 2016

Emma Sheridan is twenty-five, divorced, and survivor of an overall badly failed love life. She's also just been fired from her job as a barista at a Chicago Starbucks. She also has a sister is more than prepared to tell Emma exactly what's wrong with every decision and choice she's ever made in her life.

But Emma has a plan. She's sold all her possessions, cashed in all her savings, and is going to Scotland to look for her very own Jamie Fraser. For the one or two people out there who may not know, Jamie Fraser is the male romantic lead in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander time travel romance series. And she's going to blog about her adventures.

Emma is a smart, capable young woman who is willing to work hard, and she makes some incredibly dumb decisions. I don't mean just romantic decisions, although some of her decisions she makes after meeting Hamish make me want to shake some self-respect into her.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School, by Kim Newman (author), Joan Walker (narrator)

Audible Studios, February 2016 (original publication October 2015)

It's 1920. Amy Thomsett's mother finds her sleeping on the ceiling, and a week later packs her off to the Drearcliff Grange School, a boarding school on a rather bleak stretch of the English coast. Drearcliff is a special sort of school in some respects; the more mundane way is that many of the girls who attend there are missing one or both parents.

The other way in which it's special is that many of the girls are what the headmistress, Miss Swan, calls "unusuals." Like Amy, they have abilities or attributes that don't seem entirely natural.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Woof (Bowser and Birdie #1), by Spencer Quinn (author), Jim Frangione (narrator)

Scholastic Audio Books, ISBN 9780545838351, April 2015

Bowser is a mutt with a sketchy past, and after a rough life in the city, he's locked up in a pound in a small town in Louisiana. But he finally gets his lucky day--eleven-year-old Birdie Gaux comes in with her Grammy to get her late birthday present--a dog.

It's also Birdie and Grammy's lucky day, though right now only Birdie thinks so. Bowser smells trouble here in the swamp, and he's determined to protect his new buddy, Birdie.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Balance of Trade (Liaden Universe #3) (Books of Before #3), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Kevin T. Collins (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, September 2012 (original publication 2004)

It's some centuries after Cantra yos'Phelium and Tor An yos'Galen lead the great migration from humanity's previous home universe. Jethri Gobelyn is a young trader, living and working on his family's ship, Gobelyn's Market. He knows a little bit about all the different areas he needs to know as a trader, and is learning more--including about the Liadens. He's even learning the Liaden language

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. His knowledge of Liadens is just enough to get him in a major tangle that leads learning a lot more about Liadens.

And about his deceased father. And about himself.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (author), Cynthia Hopkins (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781427279095, April 2016

Nancy is the newest arrival at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children--in reality, children like Nancy, who have experienced unreality in the form of fantasy-like alternate worlds. They stumbled through doorways that shouldn't have been there, and found themselves in worlds where they felt more at home than they ever had in their "real" homes.

Nancy spent time in the Halls of the Dead, learning stillness, silence, and patience. Nancy's roommate, Sumi, spent time in a "high nonsense" world and is in love with a Candy Corn farmer who is now, she assumes, lost to her. Kade sojourned in Faerie, and was thrown out when they realized he was only biologically female; Kade is a transgender boy. Jack (Jacqueline) and Jill (Jillian) are identical twins who spent time in a horror movie come to life, where Jill fell in love with a vampire and Jack trained to be a Mad Scientist. They all hope to get home again, and they all know their chances are really, really low. But at least they're among people who understand, people they can trust.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Scents and Sensibility (Chet and Bernie Mystery #8), by Spencer Quinn (author), Jim Frangione (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781470333300, July 2015

Chet and Bernie are back, and Chet's romantic past catches up with him.

The discovery of the puppy, Shooter, proves to be a small but critical clue in a mystery that, this time, starts with their neighbor, Daniel Parsons, owner of Chet's buddy, Iggy. Mrs. Parsons is in the hospital, Mr. Parsons is alone except for Iggy, and one day gets an unexpected gift from their son, Billy Parsons. It's saguaro, and not long after the arrival of the saguaro comes Agent Ellie Newberg, of the Arizona Dept. of Agriculture, in search of one stolen saguaro.