Friday, August 18, 2017

My Man Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse (author), Simon Prebble (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9780786153282, February 2006 (original publication May 1919)

Bertie Wooster is a young English gentleman of wealth and leisure, living in New York City, with his man, Jeeves.

Jeeves is considerably the smarter of the two, a fact which Bertie acknowledges freely. Bertie gets into difficulties and scrapes, or his friends do, and Jeeves gets them out, with style, grace, and aplomb.

About half of these stories are about Bertie and Jeeves. The other half are about another young English gentleman of wealth and leisure, Reginald Pepper, who lives in London and travels rather freely. He has a man, too, but his is far less active than Jeeves, and Reggie has to solve his own problems, for the most part. They're both good-natured young men, meaning only the best to their friends and no harm to anyone, and for the most part, that's what they achieve.

These are light, humorous stories, pure entertainment, and they were contemporary fiction when they were written. They're fun, with no pretensions to be anything more.

Recommended for the light entertainment they're intended to be.

I bought this audiobook.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Not Alone, by Craig A. Falconer

Audible Studios, August 2016 (original publication December 2015

Dan McCarthy, a young man who has long believed aliens are real and the government knows it, stumbles across proof that aliens are real and the government knows it. He immediately leaks this proof--attempting, unsuccessfully, to do it anonymously--and immediately finds himself at the center of not just a national but an international firestorm. A high-powered PR firm sends someone to represent him, without asking him first; a former war hero, former US Senator, current head of an offbeat federal space research agency, decides he's going to discredit and destroy Dan to keep the secret; Prime Minister Godfrey of the UK decides that supporting Dan and his claims is the best way to simultaneously distract from his domestic woes and hit back at US President Valerie Slater.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Lady of the Open Road and Other Stories from the Long List Anthology, Volume 2, by David Steffen (editor)

Skyboat Media, January 2017

This is, as it says, stories from the Long List Anthology, stories that placed high but didn't quite make the Hugo Finalists ballot for 2016. The six works included here are as diverse as David Levine's "Damage," a military sf story of artificial intelligence, and Ursula Vernon's "Pocosin," fantasy influenced by Native American mythology. What they all have in common is that they are all excellent, and all would have done the Hugo Finalists ballot proud had they made the cut.

I don't really have a great deal more to say, except do yourself a favor, and listen to this audiobook, or read the individual stories elsewhere.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Slow Horses (Slough House #1), by Mick Herron

Blackstone Audio, January 2017 (original publication January 2010)

River Cartwright was a rising young star in the British secret service, until suddenly he wasn't. Now he sits at Slough House, one of the "slow horses," transcribing cell phone conversations and hoping for a real assignment.

And then a young man is kidnapped by a shadowy group who claim they'll cut off his head on live tv. This particular young man seems like no one at all, the son of Pakistani immigrants who run a soft goods store. The catch is that he's the nephew of a very senior member of the Pakistani intelligence services.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Replay, by Ken Grimwood (author), William Dufris (narrator)

Tantor Audio, December 2008 (original publication 1986)

Jeff Winston, 43 years old, dies suddenly of a heart attack, in October 1988.

Then he wakes up, in 1963, eighteen years old and a freshman in college.

With all his memories of his previous life intact.

He's got it all to do over again, except that this time he can do it right. He can amass all the wealth, fame, and success he missed out on the first time around.

But his death happens again, on the same date, and he has a third chance. And a fourth. What's going on? Why is this happening? And is Jeff all alone, or are there others like him?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Tao of Pooh (The Way, With the Enchanted Neighborhood), by Benjamin Hoff (author), Simon Vance (narrator)

Tantor Audio, January 2012 (original publication 1982)

Benjamin Hoff uses Winnie the Pooh and his friends to explain the principles of the Tao.

There really is a fair bit of gentle wisdom to be extracted from the stories of Winnie, Eeyore, and the others, and Hoff does a decent job of it. Sadly, it's no more than decent. There's an insistent, one-note, "if you don't agree then clearly you just don't understand, and are wrong" tone that rears its head repeatedly. It does grate on me from time to time.

Yet at the same time, he also does, often, throughout this short book, quite nicely and charmingly capture the ways in which simple, uncomplicated Pooh can find the right answer while his "smarter" friends are getting lost in complications of their own making.

Overall, I enjoyed it, but perhaps just reading or listening to Milne's own stories might be even more rewarding.

I bought this audiobook.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Bloodstone Vial (Belrose Abbey Mystery #2), by Anita Higman (author), Hillary McMullen (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Winged Publications, July 2017

Anne and her mother, Dauphine, have gone quite suddenly from barely getting by to the new owners of Belrose Abbey and its late owner's fortune. The catch is, they have to live at Belrose Abbey...

One might think that with Ivan Helsberg safely dead, all would be well at Belrose Abbey now, but it seems there are still secrets to be uncovered. It's not just that the staff are still for the most part the staff that served Ivan; there's mounting evidence that there's someone, or something, living on the estate that they don't know about.

When Anne and Ivan's stepson Wyatt see a strange-looking person wandering the estate, and Dauphine finds blueprints that claim to be the plans for an insane asylum to be built on the estate, they start to get really alarmed.

It's all nicely atmospheric, with characters who are seemingly simple turning out to be interestingly complex.

Recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom: A Novel of Retropolis, by Bradley W. Schenck (author, illustrator)

Tor Books, ISBN 9780765383297, June 2017

Retropolis is a city of the future as imagined in the first part of the 20th century. Robots walk the streets and work in many jobs that require physical abilities and machine precision that humans don't have. They're intelligent, and while they start out as indentured workers, they earn their full freedom over time, and have formed a pretty powerful union.

Meanwhile, humans do other work. Everyone relies on InfoSlates, which are a lot like our phones, except perhaps standardized more at the size of an iPad. That's my impression of them, anyway. Another difference between InfoSlates and either iPads or phones is that they rely on human switchboard operators.

Nola Gardner is a switchboard operator, and she and her sister operators (remember, think 1930s rather than present day) abruptly find themselves out of jobs after a surprise efficiency review. What they can't seem to find out is who replaced them.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Useful Woman (Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #1), by Darcie Wilde (author), Sarah Nichols (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, January 2017 (original publication May 2016)

Rosalind Thorne was a privileged daughter of the aristocracy, and then her father defaulted on an enormous quantity of debt, and fled the country with Rosalind's older sister, Charlotte. Rosalind and her mother took refuge with Rosalind's godmother, Lady Blanchard. Rosalind's mother has since died. Her father reappeared, briefly, attempting to demand money from the Blanchards, and Rosalind had set up her own extremely modest household.

Since then she has been clinging to the edges of gentility, on the strength of her godmother's friendship (Lady Blanchard is one of the patronesses of Almack's), excellent manners, and her willingness to be useful when ladies of the ton need it. so when it becomes known Lady Blanchard is resigning from Almack's, in the same week that Jasper Ainsworth, son of a baronet, is found dead on the floor at Almack's, quite a few people want her to be useful. Also, of course, others who want her to stay out of it altogether.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Moonlit Harem (Part I), by N. M. Howell

Dragon Media, July 2017

Riley is a vampling, a new vampire not yet fully changed.

Riley doesn't want to be a vampire. She's a vegan.

The vampires found her, wounded and dying, in a field, and decided she was the one they needed to bring their coven up to its regulation twelve members. They saved her life, but she's not sure she's glad they did. She's absolutely determined not to kill human beings to feed.

Her mentor, Draven, is calm and reassuring, and as the vampires' alchemist, he's developed a synthetic fluid that, at least in until she is fully changed, will sustain her. Yet he encourages her to accept the necessity to consume human blood, and her twenty-first birthday, when she must complete the change, is rapidly approaching. As part of the ceremony, she must kill a human being. If she refuses, she'll be executed for breaking the sacred customs of the coven.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mother of Souls (Alpennia #3), by Heather Rose Jones

Bella Books, ISBN 9781594935176, November 2016

Serafina Talarico has been looking for a place where she and her magic can fit in. She has felt she might have found a place, with her landlady, Luzie Valorin, with whom she has been collaborating on an opera about the historic woman scholar, Tanfrit. Yet as close as they've become, Luzie can't offer her what she really wants.

Meanwhile, some strange weather magic continues to plague Alpennia, Margarit's young cousin Iulien has arrived unexpectedly, and Barbara, the Baroness Saveze, has been shot and badly wounded.

There are many difficult decisions to make. Margarit's planned Tanfrit University needs a staff. Barbara has no heir. Margarit is reluctant to accept that what Luzie and Serafina have been doing together is not greatly different from the mysteries she works on in a more religious context. And the weather mystery seems to be an attack, but what are they to do when they can't find its source?

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout (author), Shelly Frasier (narrator)

Tantor Audio, July 2005 (original publication January 2005)

The sociopaths who come to public attention are often violent criminals, but sociopaths are 4% of the population overall, and most of them aren't violent criminals.

That doesn't mean that they're nice or even non-harmful people to be around. Or that you're not likely to meet any. 4% of the population means roughly one in every twenty-five people you know will be a sociopath. They'll all be equally ruthless in pursuing what they want, but sociopaths differ as much in goals, drives, and intelligence as anyone else. They don't all want to be dictator of small nations, or captains of industry. Stout talks about the sociopaths we're likely to meet in our everyday lives, how we can recognize them, and how to defend ourselves.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Arkwright, by Allen Steele (author), Stephen Bel Davies (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2016

Nathan Arkwright is an aging science fiction writer with a dream.

One of the Big Four of the Golden Age of science fiction (along with Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke), Arkwright wrote the Galaxy Patrol series, which became a tv show and a movie franchise. In his waning years, he wants what he's always wanted: real, manned space exploration.

He's also worried that an asteroid collision could cause another mass extinction, this time wiping out humans.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Horror in the Highlands (Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery #5), by Alison Golden (author), Jamie Vougeot (author)

Alison Golden, June 2017

Reverend Annabelle Dixon is off for a quiet visit with her brother and niece, on a little island off the coast of Scotland. It will be a time for rest and relaxation, with the only work being filling in for the village's regular vicar, who is taking a well-deserved vacation himself.

Surely it won't be anything like the busy excitement Upton St. Mary's has experienced recently.

Annabelle meets some interesting people, including an American couple who have purchased a lairdship on the island and want to see the three square feet of land that goes with it, a retired rock star, and Harry Anderson, the pub owner and bagpipe player who enlivens everything he can with his bagpipes.

This is all within the range of the expected. What isn't expected is a theft from the church safe, followed by Harry's brutal murder.

Clues lie with her niece Bonnie's young friend Felicity, Felicity's rather unpleasant aunt, Kirsty, and retired rock star, Pip Craven, who is suspected of being the source of the drugs suddenly circulating in the area. The American couple, Mitch and Patty, and their increasingly frustrating quest to meet the man who sold them the lairdship and see their tiny patch of Scottish land, is surely a distraction.

It's a quaint, charming village peopled by quite real human beings. Golden gives us humor without laughing at her characters. It's warm and comfortable while being a mystery more than interesting enough to hold the reader's attention--very much what I want a cozy to be.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the author and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Due Diligence

Pinbeam Books, July 2017

Fer Gun pen'Uldra is a young Liaden pilot, stranded without his license because he was carrying something for his Terlune cousins. He's got a two-cantra fine to pay, and no prospect of paying it with his license suspended.

Abandoned by his cousins, with barely enough money in his pockets to by for a meal and a bed that night, it seems like a good prospect when an older but still attractive pilot approaches him. It turns out, though, that she's not looking for a night's pleasure, but a contract marriage likely to produce a pilot child.

This woman is of Clan Korval, of the yos'Phelium line, and looking to have a child who can one day be Delm, as her daughter Kareen is excellent in all ways except having the speed and reflexes to be a pilot. Fer Gun's life is about to change completely; he has no idea how much.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek, by Manu Saadia (author), Oliver Wyman (narrator)

Audible Studios, August 2016 (original publication June 2016)

We don't ordinarily think much about the economics of Star Trek when watching an episode or a movie, but when we step back from the stories themselves, it's a pretty interesting question. How does the Federation's economy work? Although there are references to a currency called simply "credits" scattered through The Original Series, that's later retconned to "just a figure of speech." As explicitly stated in Next Generation and Deep Space 9, the Federation operates without money.

How does that work? Can it work?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Raven Stratagem (The Machineries of Empire #2), by Yoon Ha Lee (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Recorded Books, June 2017

Our story begins where Ninefox Gambit left off: The mad revenant, Shuos Jedao, has seized control of the body of Captain Kel Cheris, and gone on to seize command of General Khiruev's swarm, relying on formation instinct and the fact that Kel Command is far away. He quickly offloads everyone who can't be controlled by formation instinct--the non-Kel, and Lt. Colonel Kel Brezen, who is a crashhawk, one of the rare Kel in whom formation instinct didn't take.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back, by Clark Elliott (author), Arthur Morey (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, June 2015

In 1999, Clark Elliott was a research professor with a rising career in artificial intelligence. Then he was the victim of a rear-end car collision, and his life was transformed overnight.

Simple tasks had become difficult. He sometimes had difficulty remembering his children's names. He sometimes had difficulty walking through doors, or down corridors. He had difficulty making decisions--simple decisions. A sign on a shop door saying "Come in" once held him in place for several minutes, knowing he didn't want to go into that shop, but unable to simply ignore its instruction.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fueled by Dragon's Fire (Return of the Dragonborn #2), by N.M. Howell

Dungeon Media Corp., May 2017

In keeping with my usual happy disregard for order in series, this is #2, and I haven't read #1. Despite that, I was able to pick up enough of what happened previously to follow this  story.

Andie (Andryne) is a young woman who is of both sorcerer and dragonborn blood, and has a unique set of abilities. Unfortunately, the dragonborn were nearly wiped out a thousand years ago, and Andie, with her mother dead and her father able to teach her only so much, went off to the University to get as much education as possible.

This lead, due to events in the previous installment, to her being on the scene to help pull the dragonborn and their dragons through the time rift they escaped into those thousand years ago, into the present. After a big battle with the sorcerers, the dragonborn and dragons fled to the mountains, and Andie and her friends and allies fled into the caverns beneath the University. Now they're coming out, and the battle will begin again.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Devil's Due (A Jack Carson Story #1), by C.M. Raymond (author), L.E. Barbant (author), Ben Smith (narrator)

Snake and Steel Press, June 2017e

There's been a horrific bombing at a major industrial site in Pennsylvania, and two Special Agents who don't much like each other are off to hunt down the suspected terrorist behind it. They have only a grainy, black and white picture of him, and no I.D. Everyone at the site was killed; the CEO is in Europe and not back yet.

Jack Carson is on the run, and he's got only thirty bucks and a Polaroid of a beautiful woman on him. He doesn't seem like the terrorist type, or any other kind of mass murderer, but he is running from that bombing, and is determined to avoid the authorities.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Pop Gun War: Gift (Pop Gun War #1), by Farel Dalrymple (author, illustrator)

Dark Horse Books, ISBN 9781569719343, July 2003

Sinclair is a boy living in a superficially normal yet utterly fantastic inner city environment. His sister, Emily, is an aspiring rock musician with her own band and a regular gig at Smith's bar. A very short man named Sunshine Montana has a fish that follows him around, floating through the air. Addison is a homeless artist. Koole is a very peculiar and somewhat sinister monk whom everyone finds a bit alarming.

Sinclair has wings, and can fly.

No one thinks Sinclair is much more peculiar than anyone else.

But while everyone goes about their business, Emily is approached by a strange man who says he works for a big corporation, and can make her rich.

The same man approaches Addison with the promise of making him a rich, successful artist.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Treachery in Death (In Death #32), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Eriksen (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, February 2011

Peabody, who has now made detective and is Eve's partner, not her aide, takes primary on a homicide for the first time. It's the murder of a well-liked local shopkeeper, and it doesn't take long to track down and arrest the young toughs who did it. This leads to Peabody staying late at Central to finish up the paperwork, and take some time in the gym at Central--not the new, spiffy, gym, but the old one, that no one uses anymore because the new one is so much nicer. She'll be able to work out in privacy.

Or so she thinks. When she's done working out and heads for the showers, she gets trapped, hiding naked in a shower listening to two cops talk about murder and their drug business.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beneath the Skin: The Sam Hunter Case Files, by Jonathan Maberry (author), Ray Porter (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, December 2016

Sam Hunter used to be a police detective, but he got kicked off the force for excessive force. Bad things tended to happen to child molesters and others who preyed on the truly innocent. Their injuries were strange, too--as if they'd gotten mauled by a dog.

Now Sam is a private detective in Philadelphia, and he attracts an interesting clientele with interesting problems. Problems they can't even explain to the police.

Problems better addressed by a werewolf.

Sam is a monster who protects people from other monsters.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken (author, narrator)

Hachette Audio, May 2017

Al Franken grew up a Jewish kid in suburban Minnesota, went to Harvard, and became a comedian. That's vastly oversimplified, and he tells the story much more entertainingly as well as much more completely.

His career as a comedian, though, including being one of the original writers, and eventually a performer, on Saturday Night Live. It was never a timid show, though they also tried to avoid leaning too much to either side politically. They were entertainers, not political pundits.

Franken, though, had very definite political views, and this book is, mainly, about how he moved from comedy to politics, became a Senator, and what he's done since.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Words on the Move:Why English Won't--and Can't--Sit Still (Like, Literally), by John McWhorter (author, narrator)

Audible Studios, September 2016

English is a wonderfully weird and strange language, having gotten that way from a a wholesale theft of vocabulary from other languages, and wearing down the parts of speech due to the mingling of populations that included speakers of the North Germanic language called English, Norse, Celtic tongues, and French.

This book isn't about our weirdly varied vocabulary and wholesale theft of words, though. It's about the changes in words, their shapes, sounds, and meanings. It's about why the use of "literally" to mean "figuratively," along with apparently useless interjections like "like" sprinkled through our sentences are in fact completely normal, appropriate changes in the language.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Presidents Club:Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity, by Nancy Gibbs (author), Michael Duffy (author), Bob Walter (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442350311, April 2012

The Presidents Club is real. It had an official founding (after Eisenhower's inauguration, when Truman and Hoover agreed on it), and over the years has acquired a newsletter, a clubhouse, and a variety of perks as well as the responsibility of being there when the sitting President needs them. Only other people who've held the office truly understand its pressures and demands; in that sense they are sometimes the only source of truly informed advice.

And sometimes, a former President is the best or the only appropriate emissary for a trip the President can't make himself.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Door into Ocean (Elysium Cycle), by Joan Slonczewski

Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 9781433253171, January 2012 (original publication February 1986)

This is a book that, in my opinion, does not show its age. It could have been published last week,

Two inhabited moons with very different cultures are part of a larger galactic empire, and increasing contact with the empire is causing its own strains. The more industrialized, military-inclined culture of Valendon wants to exploit the resources of Shora, a world virtually without land.

The Shorans have different ideas.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pop Gun War Volume II:Chain Letter, by Farel Dalrymple

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534301924, June 2017

Emily is a young girl living in a small town, and currently her family's van is broken, so she's kind of trapped.

Her brother has wings, and can fly. If there is a backstory that explains this, it's in the previous volume.

Emily, in search of distraction, follows some shady characters into a series of tunnels, and comes upon three video monitors. The monitors show the past, the present, and a surreal future.

I'm sorry to say the story didn't do much, or really, anything for me. I like the art, in a laid-back sort of way. It's pleasant and interesting. If the characters have any clear motivations for anything they do, other than Emily's search for distraction, it's not apparent to me.

I'm sorry I can't say anything more positive about it.

Not recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Loose Ends (Loose Ends #1-4), by Jason Latour (writer), Chris Brunner (illustrator), Rico Renzi (illustrator)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534302150, July 2017

Sonny Gibson already has a tough past when he turns up at his old favorite honky-tonk, "The Hideaway." He spent time in Iraq during the war, and he's had some shady connections both over there and since he's been back.

But he's been out of sight for a while.

Now he's turned up again, and some old connections have some old business they want to discuss. A gunfight and a death start a crime spree that runs from the Carolinas down to Florida.

The art is good. I believe in these people physically, how they look and how they move. I also believe in them as people; there are certainly people like them, making up a good part of the crime-committing population. They're violent, impulsive, not overly smart, not much inclined to think things through even after the fact.

Some of them are veterans, too. The military doesn't make everyone stronger and more disciplined; some people are wrecked by it, and not just physically.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Evangeline (A Joseon Fairy Tale), by Erica Laurie

Createspace, ISBN 9781543286953, May 2017

Evangeline Lane is grieving, confused, and alone.

Her mother has died of cancer, and her father has become distant and apparently completely wrapped up in his work--for which he travels frequently. She loves the Korean dramas of her mother's heritage, and was previously an excellent student in high school, but she finds it increasingly hard to focus. Her grades are slipping.

She feels that her father doesn't love her, and fears that perhaps he never loved her mother, either.

Then one day, in a bookstore, she finds a marvelous book. The bookseller says that it's a book that finds its reader, something which makes no sense to her. But he lets her borrow it, and she is soon wrapped up in the book.

And then she is inside the story.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde (author), Steven Crossley (narrator)

Recorded Books, 1997 (original publication June 1890)

Dorian Gray is a young man with everything--looks, wealth, charm, position in Victorian society. He charms the artist Basil Hallward, who paints his portrait and accidentally introduce him to another friend, Lord Henry Wotten.

Hallward is a very good artist.

Wotton is a very bad influence.

Basil recognizes that Lord Henry says shocking, outrageous things, but doesn't take them seriously and assumes Lord Henry can't possibly believe them himself. But Dorian Gray is barely twenty, He's quite easily led to the point of saying he would give his soul if the portrait instead of him could bear the signs of his sins and his aging, and he remain eternally youthful.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Find Her (Detective D.D. Warren #8), by Lisa Gardner (author), Kirsten Potter (narrator)

Audible Audio, February 2016

This is the eighth of the D.D. Warren mysteries, and it's a good one.

Flora Dane was kidnapped and held for over a year before she was rescued and her kidnapper killed. She's a survivor--but she's never really moved past it. Things happened during that year that she's never told anyone, and as a result she has a mission she's never shared with anyonxe, either. And one night in Boston, she goes out to a bar, and winds up killing the hunky bartender who tried to kidnap her.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

And Still I Rise:A Selection of Poems Read by the Author, by Maya Angelou (author, narrator)

Random House Audio, ISBN 9780375419492, August 2001 (original publication 1978)

Maya Angelou is one of America's great poets, and this is one of her most treasured collections. These poems are about the very personal, about being black in America, and about being a woman. The individual poems are mostly short, but taken together they build up a layered and complex whole. Angelou express the strength and the struggles of the working poor,of women, of black Americans, and the intersection of those three identities.

And in this audio edition we hear her words in her own voice, strong, a little rough, and rich with feeling and expression.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Torn Canvas, by Donna K. Weaver

Emerald Arch Publishing, May 2014

This is a fascinating look at a man with a painful past--both recent past and further past.

Jori Virtanen, twenty-four-year-old model, has had a life-changing experience: While on a cruise with new friends, he and those friends are captured by pirates. Jori, used to being the handsome, superficial model making no commitments, is a leader in overcoming the pirates.

In the process, his perfect face is slashed open, and he faces months of reconstructive surgery with no expectation that he can ever return to modeling. He needs to set a new course in life. What he decides to do is pursue the art that has been relegated to hobby status in the interest of making money from his own looks.

Jori has set out on a journey of self-discovery and reinvention. In the process, he has to confront both the painful experiences that led him to live his home in Finland at eighteen, and his own shallow, manipulative behavior since then.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Accidental Alchemist (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery #1), by Gigi Pandian (author), Julia Motyka (narrator)

Audible Audio, January 2015

When Zoe Faust arrives in Portland, Oregon, and finds what she thinks can be her new home for a while, she's been traveling for a long time.

A very long time..

Zoe was born in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1670s, and her name wasn't Zoe Faust at the time. She was a young herbalist, and so all too vulnerable at the time of the Salem witch trials. She sailed to England, and wound up in France, training as an alchemist. When the plague moved through the village where she lived, she tried to save her loved ones--and accidentally created an elixer of life that did not save others, but did exempt her from aging. She's been traveling since then to avoid suspicion, and starts rethinking her decision to settle in Portland when she finds a dead body on the porch of her new home, both poisoned and stabbed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mother's Day: A Professor Molly Mystery #6), by Frankie Bow

Hawaiian Heritage Press, May 2017

Professor Molly Barda's money-motivated dean has another fundraising project for her: being the "tutierge" (tutor-concierge) for an academically struggling student whose wealthy mother is believed to be dying. She'll be tutoring him in statistics, a course she's never taught.

And Molly, still concealing her pregnancy at work, will be tutoring him at his home, filled with smells that are a challenge to her stomach, still queasy with morning sickness. Donnie suggests to her that they don't really need the income she'll be giving up if she refuses this assignment, but Molly is determined not to create problems, either for herself or for the next pregnant professor, at a school that sill hasn't totally reconciled itself to Title IX.

These little problems turn out to the least of her worries, once her tutoring starts. The young man she's tutoring is Bernardine Brigham's stepson, not her son, and she doesn't want him inheriting her carefully accumulated wealth.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Winnie-the-Pooh: A.A. Milne's Pooh Classics Volume 1, by A.A. Milne (author), Peter Dennis (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, October 2004 (original publication October 1926)

Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, and all their friends have adventures in the woods and meadows around Christopher Robin's home. Eeyore is always depressed but included in the friends' adventures. Pooh has, as he himself says, very little brain, and he loves his honey, but he tries to be kind and generous, even if he doesn't always get it right. Owl lives in the Hundred Acre Wood, and everyone knows he's the wisest of them, even if perhaps he doesn't know quite as much as he might. All the friends are distressed and alarmed, and perhaps a little jealous, because of the arrival in their forest of Kanga, and her tiny child, Roo, whom she carries in her pocket.

These are delightful stories that most adults will remember from childhood, and Peter Dennis reads them beautifully.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1), by Yoon Ha Lee (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Recorded Books, June 2016

Captain Kel Cheris is disgraced, having won a battle against heretics using unconventional tactics. Her only chance at redemption is to retake the star fortress called the Fortress of Scattered Needles, recently captured by heretics.

She has a plan. It's a desparate plan, involving reviving an undead tactician who has never lost a battle, General Shuos Jedao. Of course, in his original life, Jedao went mad and wiped out two armies, one of them his own, and he's a famous traitor, but if Cheris didn't believe in taking risks, she wouldn't be in this situation to begin with.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Loose Lips (Lady Marmalade #2),, by Jason Blacker

Lemon Tree Publishing, October 2012

This is a sadly disappointing story.

There's a perfectly decent little story in here, but unfortunately, it's buried in clunky, obvious prose and dialog that is so obvious that the only comparison is to the "As you know, Bob" clunkers much mocked in science fiction. The characters in a science fiction story don't need to explain to each other how the everyday tools of their world work. Lady Marmalade doesn't need her friends to explain to her things she's known for years.

Harry and Genevieve Appleback are old friends of Lady Marmalade. They've lived in the current abode in Hightown since 1941. It's now 1947, and Frances Marmalade last saw them six months ago. So why does she need to hear the story of how and why they bought the place as if it's new information? So that the reader will know! And the author can't think of any more subtle or plausible way to convey the same information.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Thousand Names (the Shadow Campaigns #1), by Django Wexler (author), Richard Poe (narrator)

Recorded Books, July 2013

Captain Marcus D'Ivoire is captain of the 1st Battalion of the Colonials, the Vordanai empire's colonial garrison in a land where rebellion has suddenly exploded. His job has just become much tougher, and it's not made easier of the new colonel. Marcus, as senior captain, has been running the regiment since the death of Colonel Juarez. He's happy to be relieved of the paperwork and extra responsibility that goes along with that, but Count Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich Mieran turns out to be a very odd character indeed. He's here to put down the rebellion, but he has another mission, too, that he isn't telling anyone about.

Monday, May 15, 2017

How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): How the Silver Fox Became a Dog, by Lee Alan Dugatkin & Lyudmila Trut

University of Chicago Press, ISBN 9780226444185, March 2017 (original publication January 2016)

In the 1950s, a Russian biologist named Dmitry Belyaev began a dangerous  experiment in fox domestication. It was dangerous not because of the foxes, but because of the primacy in Russian science of Trofim Lysenko, an agronomist who rejected Mendelian genetics. Belyaev and his partner, Lyudmila Trut, persisted anyway, working with Russian commercial silver fox farms. Initially, they presented their work as an effort to increase the productivity of the fox farms. Many domesticated animals can breed more that once a year, and this could be a great boost to productivity.

But in time, as Lysenko's grip on Soviet science faded, and as the first generations of their fox work began to show results, they were slowly able to come out of the shadow. Belyaev became director of the Institute of Cytology & Genetics, while Trut directly headed the silver fox project. She selected the calmest foxes, bred them and selected the calmest of the pups, and in just a few generations, they had calm, friendly, even affectionate foxes.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Flicker Men, by Ted Kosmatka (author), Keith Szarabajka (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, July 2015

Eric Argus is a physicist who was doing important work when he had a breakdown. It was spectacular, culminating in a drunken episode in which he broke his sister's hand, and he's made himself unemployable.

Almost.

One friend, a senior executive at a research company called Hanson, in the Boston area, offers him a job. It's the standard Hanson deal: three months to do whatever research he wants, and then at his first quarterly review, the company will decide if they'll keep him on and continue to fund his research. He tells his friend, Jeremy, that he's wasting the company's money, but Jeremy insists, and Eric isn't really in a position to say no.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Gathering Edge (Liaden Universe #19) (Theo Waitley #5), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Eileen Stevens (narrator)

Audible Studios, May 2017

Theo Waitley and her intelligent, self-aware ship, Bechimo, are still looking for the proper balance between them, even as they try to make the best choices in a galaxy where it seems everyone is out to get them. Both the Scouts and rather darker forces want to seize Bechimo; various powers want to arrest various members of her crew, and of course Theo has learned she has an unlooked-for connection to Clan Korval, a connection which possibly brings her allies, but certainly makes her a target.

So she and Bechimo have temporarily retreated to his "safe space," which has been essentially a dead zone. Now, though, things are leaking through there, from another galaxy, or another universe.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Bones of Paris (Harris Stuyvesant #2), by Laurie R. King (author), Jefferson Mays (narrator)

Recorded Books, September 2013

In Jazz Age Paris, Harris Stuyvesant is looking for a young woman who seems to have dropped out of sight at the end of March. It's now August, and her family is very worried. Harris has a past as an FBI agent, and a friend recommended him to Phillipa Crosby's family to track her down.

Paris isn't new territory for him, but he hasn't been there in a while, and he didn't previously spend his time looking into the darker corners of the Paris art world. As he looks for Phillipa--Pip, as he knew her briefly back in February--the same three names keep cropping up--Man Ray, Didi Moreau, and a distinguished war hero mostly known simply as le Comte. Pip was drawn into the surrealist art world, whose artists react to the brutality of the Great War by challenging all social norms and bringing dreams and nightmares to life.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Campy Christmas (Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries #6), by Karen Musser Nortman (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Karen Nortman, October 2016

Christmas is coming, and Frannie and Larry Shoemaker are not happy. Their children and grandchildren won't be coming.Their son is taking his wife and kids to Disneyland instead. Their daughter is headed to skiing in Switzerland with the current guy in her life, and promises, in lieu of the usual week at Christmas, a weekend near the end of January.

The Ferraros are similarly bereft of visiting offspring, and they all decide that, instead of sitting at home without their offspring, they'll hook up the campers and go visit Larry and Jane Anne's other brother and his family in Texas.

To get there, though, they have to travel through Missouri, where they get snowed in at a campground by a rogue storm.

There are no dead bodies or kidnappings this time, but Frannie and friends still find a mystery to solve: a homeless man who tells them to call him JC, and the dog he's been hanging out with.

This is just an enjoyable visit with old friends, a holiday trip that turns into a lot of fun in ways they never expected.

Recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Jungle Book: Mowgli Stories, by Rudyard Kipling (author), Bill Bailey (narrator), Richard E. Grant (narrator), Colin Salmon (narrator), Tim McInnerny (narrator), Bernard Cribbins (narrator), Celia Imrie (narrator), Martin Shaw (narrator)

Audible Studios, August 2015

This is a childhood favorite, and for me at least, it stands up quite well. Included here are only the Mowgli stories from The Jungle Book, taking him from his first arrival in the jungle as a toddler nearly killed by the tiger, Shere Khan, through to manhood. Along the way, he has fantastic adventures and learns many life lessons.

Kipling was born in India, and later spent years there as a journalist, and he knew the land, its people, and its animals. He was imperialistic and jingoistic, but that mainly affected his poetry, not his fiction, and he was also a close observer and an excellent storyteller. Mowgli has depth and dimension, and grows believably from early childhood to early manhood over the course of these stories.

And they are just plain fun to read or listen to. This audiobook presentation is excellent, with the multiple voices adding to the depth and variety of the characters. Well worth listening to, especially if you have children in the right age range.

I think this was a free download from Audible, or it may have been a Daily Deal.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Starman Jones, by Robert A. Heinlein

Max Jones is a young farmer, working hard to support his unlovable stepmother after his father's death, but he dreams of the life his Uncle Chet lived, as a member of the Astrogators' Guild. Chet had promised him that he'd nominate him for membership, but died while Max was still too young to join, and then Max's father, before he died also, made him promise to take care of his stepmother.

But when his stepmother remarries and she and her new husband sell the farm out from under him, he runs away, taking his uncle's astrogation books with him. The books get stolen from him by a deceitfully helpful conman, and then he discovers that his uncle had died before nominating him for the guild, and all his dreams seem crushed forever. But then he meets that charming conman again, who decides that they can help each other get what they both really want—a berth on a starship. For Max, it's a berth as a steward's mate, and he's tending farm animals again, but he's on a starship, and he's a plucky, resourceful, just plain likable young Heinlein hero, who makes you buy into every improbable plot twist along the way to his dream.

Once again, great fun.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (author, narrator)

Hachette Audio, February 2017

Maria Arena is one of the six crew members of the generation starship Dormire.

Like the other five crew members, she's a clone. Clones at this time have some specific rights, and some specific limitations on their rights, compared to non-clones, who are simply called "humans."

While waking up in a cloning vat isn't unusual, it is unusual to to wake up covered in blood, and to have no memory of how you died. It's even more unusual to discover you and four other members of the crew have been murdered, and the sixth crew member, the captain, is lying in the medical bay injured and in a coma. But her new clone has been awakened, too, making one of them an illegal copy.

They've been en route nearly twenty-five years, and the mind maps they presumably made in that interval have all been wiped. One of them is a murderer, and they have no idea which one or why, and they have no memories of the quarter century of time they've spent in space together and the events that may have led up to the crime.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Ruby Locket (Belrose Abbey Mystery #1), by Anita Higman (author), Hillary McMullen (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Winged Publications, February 2017

When Anne's mother accepts a proposal of marriage from a somewhat mysterious, wealthy gentleman, Anne is happy to see her mother finding love and happiness again. Yet something seems a little off. Things get stranger when they arrive at Ivan Helsburg's home, Belrose Abbey, for the first time. It's a looming, old castle, hard to reach and easily cut off from the town by bad weather, and cold and dark. The housekeeper seems oddly hostile to them, as if she'd rather drive them away.

There's also Ivan's stepson from his previous marriage, which Anne's mother hadn't known about, and which seems to have been remarkably brief, and ended in the lady's apparent suicide.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Love, Lies, & Hocus Pocus: Beginnings (Lily Singer Adventures #1), by Lydia Sherrer

Chenoweth Press, ISBN 9780997339109, April 2016

Lily Singer is the book-loving wizard who manages the archives of the Agnes Scott Institute, a women's college in Atlanta. She's learned everything she knows about wizardry from her mentor, Madam Barrington

It turns out not to be everything Madam Barrington knows about wizardry, and not just because there hasn't been time to teach her everything yet, but that's another story.

This one is about Lily and Madam Barrington's disreputable nephew, Sebastian Blackwell, discovering they can work together. Sebastian, you see, is a witch. Even though he comes from an old wizard family, he has no magical power of his own. That's why he ventured into witchcraft. Witches work with the fae, bargaining with them for the use of their powers and gifts. Some also bargain with demons, and that's why Madam Barrington, and many other wizards, regard witches as disreputable and sometimes worse. Sebastian, though, uses his professional skills as a witch to provide assistance to those in need of it, for reasonable fees. Their first adventure begins when Sebastian's latest client turns out not to need a ghost banished, but a curse broken.