Wednesday, April 26, 2017

News of the World,by Paulette Jiles (author), Grover Gardner (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2016

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, former printer, is, in 1870, an old man, in his seventies. Having lost his business in the economic collapse of the Confederate states after the war, he's making his living as an itinerant news reader. Kidd travels the state of Texas, going from small town to small town, reading selections of national and international news to listeners who pay ten cents a person to listen. It's a form of entertainment as well as a way to get the news.

After one of these readings, he's asked to take a young girl, captured and raised by Kiowa Indians, back to her relatives The problem is that the girl, now ten years old, was six when her family was murdered and she was taken, and she seemingly remembers nothing of her life before that trauma.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mutineer (Kris Longknife #1), by Mike Shepherd (author), Dina Pearlman (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, May 2009 (original publication January 2004)

Kris Longknife is the daughter of a distinguished political family. Her father is the prime minister of the planet Wardhaven, a member of the Society of Humanity, a union of nearly six hundred worlds. She's joined the navy rather than pursuing either a political or a social career because she wants to do something useful.

She's smart and capable and sincere, and she has no idea what she's in for.

Her first assignment as an ensign is rescuing a kidnapped six-year-old girl, the daughter of another prominent political family on another planet. And Kris is nearly killed by a shuttle malfunction that only affects Kris's shuttle.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Winter is Coming:Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped, by Garry Kasparov (author), George Backman (narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2015

This is a really excellent and important book, still important two years after publication and with a new president in office. Kasparov is intelligent, knowledgeable, thoughtful, has watched Russia's transition from communism to Putinism from the inside, and has been actively involved in pro-democracy, anti-Putin resistance for years. There's a lot to be learned here, and you're making a mistake if you don't read this book.

But I have one criticism, and it's a big one.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Serial Date (Leine Basso #1), by D.V. Berkom (author), James Killavey (narrator)

DV Berkom, December 2013

Our protagonist is Leine Basso, former professional assassin.

The story is centered around a tv reality show, Serial Date, in which the pretty, young contestants are vying to become True Love of one of the shows "serial killer" hot guys. Of course, the men aren't really serial killers, because that would be way too dangerous and we can presume the insurance company nixed that. However, the young women don't know that until after they've signed the non-disclosure agreement, so we can take it as a given that they have neither standards nor any sense of self-preservation.

And of course a real serial killer is stalking the show.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Quiet Life in the Country (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery #1), by T.E. Kinsey (author), Elizabeth Knowelden (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, October 2016

Lady Hardcastle, a widow in her forties, has bought a house in the country and retired there with her lady's maid, Florence Armstrong, in 1908. The narrative voice is Armstrong's, and she comments several times that Lady Hardcastle has promised that they will have a quiet life in the country.

Aside from the fact that any lead character in a work of fiction should know those are the Words of Doom, it also raises the question of what kind of life they had prior to this. We quickly gather that it was not an endless round of balls and dinner parties in London, but the outlines of the real situation emerge gradually over the course of the story. It's rather a strong hint, though, that when the two women discover a dead man hanging from a tree, far from having hysterics, they quickly notice, and politely point out, details that the local constabulary, when called to the scene, were in danger of overlooking.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Peete and Repeat (Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries #3), by Karen Musser Nortman (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Karen Nortman, August 2016

Frannie Shoemaker and her friends are off on another campground adventure, and this one features a pair of adult identical twins, who still dress identically and even move in unison much of the time.

The conflict between them is not apparent until an old flame of one of the women walks into the pie shop where Frannie and friends have been noticing the twins eating with movements uncannily like synchronized swimmers. One woman is sad, the other is angry, and the man is very, very confused.

The friends are puzzled, but it's not their business, and there's no reason for them to go prying. The rumors of a meth lab in the area, and the rundown camper on a property adjoining the campground that looks like a candidate for the rumored meth lab, are much more concerning.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Best of All Possible Worlds, by Karen Lord (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Audible Studios, February 2015

Sadira's enemies have wiped out all life on Sadira, in a shocking genocidal attack. The only survivors are those who were off planet at the time. Most of the survivors have settled on New Sadira, but there was a gender imbalance. The surplus males created stress and conflict, so they have traveled to the planet of Cygnus Beta.

Cygnus Beta has a very mixed population, with the varied human races and cultures from all over the galaxy who themselves settled there as refugees from their own past disasters. The surviving Sadiri want to preserve as much of their culture by recruiting potential wives from the cultures that preserve Sadiri genetic traits, including telepathic abilities, as well as cultural traits.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Unstoppable, by Lisa-Marie Cabrelli

April 2017

Maureen is working, not very happily, at Telco in Hoboken, NJ, when her boyfriend Phil, who also works at Telco, dumps her.

She's determined to shed her Mousy Maureen image, and make herself over into Magnificent Mo. With some help from her best friends, Sally and Claire, she gets herself set to go into the office Monday morning. She'll confront her boss (and Claire's significant other), Satish, and demand a better assignment.

But before her meeting with Satish, she overhears secretaries talking int the ladies' room, and becomes convinced he's going to demote her, assign her to be scretary for the hated Ron. So she goes to Satish and, after a few minutes of talking at cross-purposes, she quits.

Magnificent Mo has no job, and she still feels like Mousy Maureen. Sally sets up a dinner in which the goal is that Maureen will meet Brad, an art collector who's a client of her boyfriend Tod. Brad is obviously a catch, right?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Musubi Murder (Professor Molly Barda Mysteries #1), by Frankie Bow (author), Nicole Gose (narrator)

Frankie Bow, January 2015

Molly Barda is a junior, untenured professor at Hawaii's (apparently fictional) Mahina State University, in the College of Commerce. She just wants to teach, publish, and keep out of trouble until she gets tenure.

Instead, she attends a breakfast honoring the college's largest benefactor, ever. The guest of honor, Jimmy Tanaka, doesn't show up, but a skull does show up, in a fruit plate. This isn't how anyone wanted the breakfast enlivened.

But the strange events have only begun. Molly has to cope with students who don't want to do their assignments, a dean and a "student retention office" who don't want academic rigor driving away the paying customers, and, oh yes, the skull turns out not to be a theater department stage prop, but the skull of the missing Jimmy Tanaka.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Crash & Burn (Tessa Leoni #3), by Lisa Gardner (author), Christina Traister (narrator), Mikael Naramore (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, February 2015

A woman wakes up in a hospital, injured, and has amnesia. They tell her that her name is Nicole Frank. There's a man whom they tell her is her husband, Thomas Frank. She crashed her car off a steep embankment, and she crawled out of her car, and climbed the embankment, looking for a little girl, Vero.

Some of this is true.

Nikki Frank has just had her third concussion in six months, and her memory is at best unreliable, while images that might be memories from the past keep surfacing. Her husband wants her to move on, forget the questions about the past, and build their new life together. Police detectives Wyatt Foster and Kevin Santos suspects her accidents aren't accidents, and Thomas is an abusive husband.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fury Rising (Fury Unbound #1), by Yasmine Galenorn

Nightqueen Enterprises, July 2016

Kaeleen Donovan, a.k.a. Fury, is a Theosian, a minor goddess, bound to Hecate. She lives in a distant future Seattle where civilization has more or less rebuilt after Gaia lost patience with humanity for the damage we were doing. The triggering event for her rage was the Weather Wars, and while magic is now an ordinary fact of everyday life, weather magic is absolutely forbidden.

So when an underground cult starts using weather magic to create chaos, it's not just a problem. It's a looming disaster. Hecate sends Fury to recover an ancient device from the Weather Wars, the thunderstrike, that the radical cult, the Order of the Black Mist, has acquired and is using.

Fury's friends and allies include the hawk shifter Jason Aerie, a member of the Bonny Fae named Tam, and her spirit guide, Queet. And, of course, Hecate herself, though things might be much easier if the Elder Gods could intervene directly. They can't. She can direct her servants and supporters. She can arm and supply them. But she can't intervene directly. And they have very little time to retrieve the thunderstrike, before Gaia and her agents simply remake the world again and eliminate the annoying, troublesome humans.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Black Wolves of Boston(Black Wolves of Boston #!), by Wen Spencer

Audible Books, February 2017

Silas Decker is a vampire more than three centuries old, and finding it increasingly hard to keep rebuilding his life as people die and the world keeps changing. Living alone with no friends and few acquaintances, he sees less and less reason to keep trying.

Eloise is a Virtue, a soldier of God against evil. She's made being that soldier the only thing she is, lest human connections weaken her.

Seth is the sixteen-year-old Prince of Boston, a werewolf, the only survivor of his murdered family. His only living close relative is his cousin Jack, and the Wolf King, Alexander, is keeping Seth in New York, not letting him return to Boston for reasons he doesn't clearly explain.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, by Mike Massimino (author, narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2016

Mike Massimino watched the moon landing on tv at seven years old, and he knew before that he wanted to go into space.

His other dream was to be a player for the Mets.

In the years that followed, the Apollo program wound up and space became boring. Massimino's interests focused elsewhere, and he became an industrial engineer.

Then the shuttle program and the international space station reignited interest in the space program. And Massimino had become focused on, specifically, robotic systems and their "human factors," human usability. He was interested in space again, and though it took some time and a lot of work, the space program was interested in him.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Fatal Thaw (Kate Shugak #2), by Dana Stabenow

Brilliance Audio, December 2011 (original publication January 1993)

Kate Shugak has had months of relative peace, unbothered by the demands of her former profession. That's broken by not jus t a murder in the park, but a massacre one bright, sunny, Alaska-spring morning. Kate is the last person he comes after, because she's warned of the shootings and the fact that the man is headed her way. She and her wolf cross, Mutt, manage to take him down alive.

There are nine dead. But did the man kill all nine, or only eight? One of the dead, a woman, was killed by a bullet from a different gun. Same type, same caliber, but not the same gun.

Two killers, with the same type of gun, the same sunny morning?

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengence and Survival, by John Vaillant (author, narrator)

Random House Audio, August 2010

In a remote village in Russia's Far East, in the bitter cold of December 1997, a tiger started killing and eating people.

As terrifying as that was, it soon became clear that the attacks weren't random; the tiger was engaged in a vendetta. The first man killed, a poacher named Vladimir Markov, had not just injured but antagonized the tiger, and the wounded, sick, starving beast was hunting down everything with the smell of him or his dogs on it.

The lead tracker is Yuri Trush, an officer of Russia's Inspection Tiger, intended to protect the tiger, prevent poaching, and kill tigers only when absolutely unavoidable. Trush and his team have to track the tiger on foot, in a frigidly cold winter, with public fear and anger on the rise as the tiger stalks them.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Woman on the Orient Express, by Lindsay Jayne Ashford (author), Justine Eyre (narrator)

Audible Audio, September 2016

In 1928, Agatha Christie took a trip on the Orient Express under an assumed name, escaping the news coverage of her divorce from Archie Christie. On the train, she meets two other women, Katherine Keeling and Ann Nelson, each of whom also has a secret.

The women do not immediately trust each other. Ann is fleeing her husband, and was expecting her lover to join her. Katherine, working for the British Museum as an archaeological artist, is on her way to marry Leonard Woolley, head of the expedition to Ur. She's a widow burdened with a secret from her first marriage, which profoundly affects this new one, and she wants to avoid the whole subject. Agatha wants no one to know who she is, so she can avoid questions about her divorce, as Archie's wedding to the woman he left her for approaches.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Violent Love (Volume 1:Stay Dangerous), by Frank J. Barbiere (story), Victor Santos (art)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534300446, May 2017

A young girl named Penny visits a neighbor, a friend of her mother's, who we gradually learn is a retired federal marshal. Back in the 1960s, he was involved in investigating a pair of violent killers, Daisy Jane and Rock Bradley. Penny sees some newspaper clippings he's kept, and he tells her the rest of the story.

That story is most of this book, with Penny and the marshal as a frame story.

Daisy Jane enters the story as a young girl as innocent as Penny, but her life is about to hit some very rough waters.

Her father, who loves her and supports all her ambitions of going to college and making something of herself, runs an auto repair garage now--but he used to be a gangster. A fortuitous car accident puts him back in tough with old associates, and he sees an easy way to make the money Daisy Jane needs to go to college. She goes happily off to UCLA, having no idea what her father is doing.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Quantum Tangle (Targon Tales--Sethran #1), by Chris Reher

Chris Reher, February 2014

It's the distant future, and a star-spanning civilization, populated by multiple human-descended species, known as "Prime" species, as well as a number of genuinely alien intelligent species.

Centauri pilot Sethran Kada unexpectedly drops out of subspace into the wrong sector of space, and quickly discovers he has an unexpected stowaway. The stowaway is a being from subspace, a member of a newly evolving species native to subspace, and has stowed away in his brain. searching through his data files, the being constructs an appearance and a personality, and decides she's female and names herself Khoe.

She wants his help stopping the kidnapping of her people into realspace, and especially his help in recovering the being she calls the Alpha--an individual vital to her species' continued existence.

They are both in for a wild ride.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Not My Father's Son:A Memoir, by Alan Cumming (author, narrator)

HarperAudio, October 2014

Alan Cumming was asked to appear on the celebrity genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are in 2010. At that point, he assumed the focus of the show would be on a family mystery on his mother's side. Her father, Tommy Darling, had served in World War Two but never returned to the UK. He went off into the far east, and died in a shooting accident. Why didn't he ever come home?

But Alan Cumming had, to put it very mildly indeed, issues with his own father, Alex Cumming. He was verbally and physically abusive to Alan and his older brother Tom for years, and Alan hadn't, at the time he was approached for Who Do You Think You Are, spoken to him for many years.

Then shortly before filming started, Alex Cumming called Alan, to give him some shocking news, news he said he didn't want Alan to find out via the tv show.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2), by N.K. Jemisin (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Hachette Audio, August 2016

Essun--previously Syenite, previously Damaya--has found shelter in an underground comm, where orogenes are not hated; in fact, the leader is an orogene. She has not found her daughter, Nassun. Instead, she has found Alabaster Tenring, former lover, author of the destruction of the world. He has a request for her. He wants to train her as his successor, to complete his work--which has started the destruction of the world

Meanwhile, Nassun, carried off by her father after he killed her brother, is struggling to survive--including surviving her father, without whom, a little girl of nine, she can't survive alone. They've been found by a Guardian who recognizes Nassun's potential, and whose daughter she is. He promises her father that in his school, he can teach Nassun not to be an orogene.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Her Sanctuary (Her #1), by Toni Anderson (author), Eric G. Dove (narrator)

Toni Anderson, January 2017 (original publication January 2009

After listening to Her Last Chance, the second in this series (yes, I read series out of order, all the time), I wanted to listen to this one. Nat Sullivan is a different kind of romantic hero than Marsh Hayes, and Elizabeth Ward is likewise a very different person than Josephine Maxwell. Once again, though, we have two strong, determined characters who don't quit in the face of trouble and danger.

The events of this book are hinted at in its sequel, but here we get the full account--Elizabeth and Nat's story, but also the missing bits of Josie and Marsh's story. Elizabeth and Nat are the main event here, though, and we follow the terrifying events that bring her to the Sullivan ranch, under a false name, in hiding from the mafia.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Street Angel: After School Kung Fu Special, by Brian Maruca (story), Jim Rugg (story), Jim Rugg (art, cover)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534302877, May 2017

Jesse "Street Angel" Sanchez is trouble. She's usually late for school, occasionally pays attention in class, and fights really, really well.

One day, Jesse finds a note in her locker from "the Ninja Kid," challenging her to a fight. And it's just a few days before the big school dance--a Sadie Hawkins dance, the girls invite the boys.

Friends urge her to dodge the fight. Friends urge her to invite a boy to the dance. They have candidates for her!

What will happen? Who will win the fight? Will anyone go to the dance?

I don't think anyone had a serious thought in their heads when creating this book, but it is fun. There are also concept sketches and comments from the creators in the back.

Fun if this is the mood you're in.

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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

We Thought We Knew It All (Invincible #2), by Michelle Lynn

Creativia, March 2017

The teenagers from We Thought We Were Invincible are back, ten years older, ten years...wiser?

Callie went to California, got to know her father, married her father's assistant, Dylan, and had three sons. And now they're divorced. She's already headed back to Gulf City, Florida, when she hears the news that Senator Mark Daniels, Jay and Jamie's father, has died.

Her twin brother, Colby, is already there. He went to medical school, and came back to Gulf City for his residency. He knows his father and his nephews, but stayed in the place he grew up, doing what he always wanted to do.

Morgan is an accountant, working in London.

Jay also stayed in Gulf City, taking over his father's law firm. He's married a woman from elsewhere, someone who wasn't there for the shooting at the school dance that changed all their lives.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Let's Misbehave, by Lisa Plumley

Lisa Plumley, December 2014 (original publication July 2007)

I'll start by making two things clear: 1. There's a dog in the book, but it's an elderly German shepherd, not the cute little thing on the cover. 2. Despite his advanced age, the dog does not die. He survives the book.

 Marisol Winston is heiress to the Home Warehouse DIY chain store fortune, and her main skills are fashion and shopping. She may be getting a bit bored with having no real purpose to her life, because she's conceived an ambition to start a deluxe fashion boutique in L.A. Unfortunately, her family and friends stage an intervention, and her father won't fund her start-up until she completes a stint in shopaholic rehab.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Velvet:Deluxe Hardcover Edition (Velvet, 1-3), Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (artist), Elizabeth Breitweizer (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Drew Gill (designer)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781632159151, April 2015

Velvet Templeton is a secretary at the super-secret espionage agency, ARC-7, in London in the 1970s. Just a quiet, competent secretary, liked and trusted by her coworkers and the agents.

But Velvet has a past her fellow secretaries and most of the agents don't know, and when an agent is killed in circumstances implicating another agent as a double agent, she's not about to sit idle. She starts investigating on her own.

Velvet is a former agent herself, a highly skilled and dangerous agent, and her skills are still with her.

There's a reason she's not a field agent anymore; a reason she sits quietly behind a desk and very few know her professional past. And when she starts investigating the circumstances behind Agent X-14's death, she discovers that things she believed about that past were lies. That there's a bigger conspiracy than she suspected.

That she has no idea who she can or can't trust.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1), by John Scalzi (author), Wil Wheaton (narrator)

Audible Audio, March 2017

Physics rules us all, and physics means faster than light travel is impossible--until the discovery of the Flow. It is, more or less, an interdimensional field that can be accessed at certain points and make something that at least functions as faster than light travel possible. The Flow makes possible an interstellar empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that each inhabited system be dependent on the others for some essentials.

It's a hedge against interstellar war.

It's a guarantee of power and control for the rules or the empire.

And now the Flow is proving to be less stable than long assumed. In fact, it's collapsing, and the empire can't survive.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Afar, by Leila del Duca (author), Kit Seaton (illustrator)

Image Comics, April 2017

Boetema and her younger brother Inotu find themselves on their own when their father loses his job and he and their mother leave them with money and some supplies, and go off to seek work in another city. When the money runs out, fifteen-year-old Boetema gets a job, but things get complicated when she starts having strange dreams that disrupt her sleep.

It's a while before she fully realizes they're not just dreams. She has started astrally projecting into the bodies of people on other worlds, lightyears away. When she accidentally causes a man to be hurt while occupying another girl's body, she becomes determined to get back to that world and find a way to right the wrong she did. Unfortunately, she doesn't yet have that much control; she just winds up where she winds up. She needs a teacher; can she find one?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Immortal Irishman:The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero, by Timothy Egan (author), Gerard Doyle (narrator)

Brilliance Audio,  ISBN 9781480562752, March 2016

Thomas Francis Meagher was born into a wealthy family in Ireland, yet at the time the rights of Catholics under British law were still severely restricted. As he was growing up to be an educated, idealistic young man, a disaster was beginning to unfold in Ireland: the start of the Great Famine.

The vast majority of Ireland's Catholics lived almost entirely dependent on the potato crop, een as the lands of the absentee landlords whose fields they worked produced large crops of vegetables and grain, as well as beef and lamb and pork, which were almost entirely sold at export. When the potato crop failed not one year but several years in a row, those other crops continued to be exported, while the Irish peasants starved to death, or fled Ireland in what became known as "coffin ships" because so many of their passengers died.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Belfry, by Gabriel Hardman

Image Comics, February 2017
This is a horror short story. It's graphic story with impressive artwork, but be warned some of the images are graphic in the other sense too: both nudity, and some horrific injuries shown in great detail.

A plane crashes in the jungle, and passengers and crew are at first relieved that, while there are a lot of injuries, no one is dead. Then they see the captain's injury, a substantial stick in his eye.

Yet he's not dead. He's not even unconscious. He can't remember what happened, although he thinks he could if he could remove the stick...

The passengers and crew are about to find out that the plane crash is only the beginning of their problems. Horrors exist in the jungle that have nothing to do with lions or cheetahs or any other mundane predators.

I'm not a big reader of horror, and this won't change my mind. It's quietly effective, though, and the art is excellent.

I received a free advance review copy from the publisher, and I am reviewing it voluntarily.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2), by Becky Chamberss

Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 9781473621442, October 2016

Lovelace, the AI that operated on Wayfarer, the ship in Becky Chambers excellent first novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, decided she wanted a different life. A life in an autonomous, human-format body.

A life that, in the Galactic Commons, is rather inconveniently very, very illegal.

In this standalone sequel, Lovey has awakened in a new body which very convincingly imitates a human body, after a total system shutdown and reboot, which has left her with no idea why her previous installation wanted this new life with these new and strange limitations (such as not being connected to the Linkings fulltime.)

Yet  here she is, in this new, freer yet more limited form, still learning what it's like to be apparently human, traveling with the rather volatile engineer, Pepper, to Pepper's home to learn who she is in this new form.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Hairy Tail, by Jamie Campbell

Kindle Edition, March 2013

Hannah, under pressure from her mother to "get out of the house" during the summer, decides to volunteer at the local animal shelter. On her first day there, she meets Basil, a very sad dog who has been there, unclaimed, for months. She also meets Harry, another high school student and fellow volunteer. Convinced that a dog as nice as Basil, and as sad, must be missing his family and his family missing him, she convinces Harry that they have to find Basil's family.

This is a short, light, fun story about two teenagers doing something positive with their summer. Recommended.

I bought this book.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Arclight, by Brandon Graham (story), Marian Churchland (art, colors), Ariana Maher (letters)

Image, ISBN 9781534300972, March 2017

Lady Kinga is trapped in the body of a monster, living in exile on the edges of the kingdom, and supported only by her loyal knight, Arclight. Then someone turns up wearing her old body, and using her high rank for their own purposes. She and Arclight need to return to the city and fight against an invading power to save their world. the question is, will their magic be strong enough?

This is a graphic novel, and I found the art pleasing and restful for my eyes. I especially liked the goose (sorry, any explanation would be a spoiler), and the way its personality was depicted. This is a fantasy. The goose is dead, or perhaps more accurately, undead; the Lady occupies the body of a monster; a traveling palace is made of the bones of the ancestors of the Blood House, and gets larger with every generation. I can't honestly claim the story made much sense; on the other hand, I can't honestly claim I cared. The hour or so I spent with this book was very enjoyable.

Recommended for a light, pleasant read.

I received an advance reader's copy of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Her Last Chance (Her #2), by Toni Anderson (author), Eric G. Dove (narrator)

Toni Anderson, January 2017

Eighteen years ago, at nine years old Josie Maxwell was the first victim of a man who became the serial killer now known as the Blade Hunter. Josie, unlike later victims, survived, but this wasn't the only event in her life that taught her it's a struggle for survival.

Six months ago, Josie nearly died at the hands of another killer, and drugged and betrayed FBI Special Agent in Charge Marshall Hayes to protect the hiding place of her friend.

Now the Blade Hunter is back, and he's found Josie again. This time, he's determined to finish the job he started eighteen years ago. The only person who's going to put the pieces together fast enough is Marshall Hayes, the man she betrayed.

Monday, March 20, 2017

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise, by Chris Taylor (author), Nick Podehl (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, October 2014

In 1973, George Lucas sketched the first notes of what would become his epic space fantasy movie, Star Wars. More than four decades on, Star Wars has become a $37 billion movie franchise and media empire, and an enormous cultural force.

Taylor gives us both the history forward from that beginning through the making of the films and the sale and rebirth of the franchise under Disney, and the path from the middle class kid growing up in Modesto to the man who made that first Star Wars film and its two sequels. (No, it wasn't originally called A New Hope; I saw the first movie when it first came out. And yes, Han Solo did shoot first, whatever George Lucas now wants us to believe.) Both Lucas' own story, and the story of the Star Wars franchise, are complicated, confusing, and fascinating. Taylor gets quite thoroughly caught up in the story and his own pursuit of it, and makes it reasonably inviting for the reader or listener to jump on that ride with him.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Call of the Herald (The Dawning of Power #1), by Brian Rathbone (author), Chris Snelgrove (narrator)

Brian Rathbone, April 2013 (original publication January 2008)

Caitrin, her cousin Chase, and their friends Osbourne and Strom are farmer's kids, living ordinary lives, until events start to close in on them. Their land is about to be invaded by a powerful and expanding empire, and a religious prophecy is about to come to fruition. Uncomfortably for her, Caitrin, it seems, is the Herald of the return of the Comet, which is the symbol or vehicle of a goddess.

With the Comet becoming visible in the sky, Caitrin now has power, and and this teenager who never expected this is quite convincingly inept and clumsy in her first (initially accidental) uses of it. This quickly gets her a reputation as a witch--the dangerous kind that no sensible person wants around.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Possibility Dogs: What a Handful of "Unadoptables" Taught Me About Service, Hope, and Healing, by Susannah Charleson (author, narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9781482912043, June 2013

Susannah Charleson is best known for a previous book, Scent of the Missing, about her experiences in search & rescue, and working with a search dog, the Golden Retriever, Puzzle. Over the years of her search & rescue work, though, she began to experience health problems, both physical, and reactions to the stress and trauma often involved in such searches. She also began to meet a new kind of working dog: psychiatric service dogs.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ghostnip, by G.B. Brulte

December 2016

Franny is at home on a Saturday morning, eating ice cream and lamenting her lack of a romantic life, when a handsome photographer rings her doorbell and asks if he can take pictures of her cat.

Her half-Bengal, half-Savannah cat. Twenty-two pounds of handsome cat.

It's the start of a silly but fun story, in which pictures of the cat unexpectedly include pictures of ghosts who previously owned the furniture used. Franny and Jason (the handsome photographer), first see a little girl in "old-timey" clothes, whom they call Alice.

Alice is the first, but far from the last, and they are even more intrigued when they realize the cat and the ghosts are able to interact.

In many ways, Jason is just too perfect. He's not only a successful photographer. He also sings, and plays the piano, and cooks. It's all a bit much. Franny is nice, Jason is nice, the cat is nice, pretty much everyone they know is nice. I like having characters who are good people in the fiction I read, but this lack of any real conflict is not a strength in fiction.

And yet, Brulte does go somewhere interesting with the ghost photography, and while not a very strong story, it is fun.

Recommended for a light read.

I think this book was a gift. I am reviewing it voluntarily.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Unknown Universe: A New Exploration of Time, Space, and Modern Cosmology, by Stuart Clark (author), Stephen Hoye (narrator)

Audible Audio, September 2016

It's been fun, over the past few years, reading accounts of recent developments in physics, astronomy, and cosmology. The universe doesn't look the way we thought it did at the start of the 20th century. There are many galaxies, not just one. The universe is expanding. There doesn't appear to be enough matter--enough ordinary matter--to keep the galaxies together, and the rate at which the universe is expanding appears to be accelerating.

The explanations offered for these last two developments are dark matter and dark energy. In this case, "dark" merely means that we do not have the faintest idea what they really are. We can't detect them. They don't seem to interact with ordinary matter at all. Except they hold galaxies together and expand the universe...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Librarian: A First Contact Story, by M.N. Arzu

CreateSpace, ISBN 9781514142059, June 2015

These aliens don't arrive in giant spaceships hovering over major cities.

They don't blast us from space.

They didn't even intend to make contact. They just wanted to study us, quietly and unobtrusively.

That worked, right up until the retrieval of their investigator didn't go as intended.

An ordinary, happily married, librarian waiting for her husband to come home from a day of hiking gets a knock on the door that lands her in the middle of something she would have thought impossible.

Now she has to figure out if this alien who looks like her husband, who says he is her husband of twelve years, is here for good reasons or bad, and what he wants and intends, because he won't talk to the military or anyone at all except her.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

HarperAudio, September 2016

Superficially, this book covers the same territory as The Rise of the Rocket Girls, published earlier the same year. Although the books both tell the story of women breaking into mathematics, engineering, and the space program, starting int the early 20th century, via the originally rather mundane role of "computers," in reality there's a very important difference. The Rocket Girls at what became NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory were overwhelmingly white. Shetterly follows black women charting the same course at Langley, in Virginia, where in addition to facing the obstacles women faced simply for being women, the black women were also challenging institutionalized racism in one of the states where it was most entrenched. They had an opening because the demand for mathematicians who could do the work was so high that white men, especially in the WWII years, weren't available in the numbers needed. Holding on and moving ahead depended on their own talent and hard work, plus the persistence and resilience to overcome the discrimination.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1), by Kalayna Price (author), Emily Durante (narrator)

Tantor Audio, April 2011 (original publication September 2010)

Alex Craft is a grave witch--a witch able to summon the shades of the dead and question them--in an alternate present where magic and the Fae returned to the world about seventy years ago. One of the cascading effects of this change is that now there are more states in the USA, and Alex lives in one of them, Nekros.

Another effect is that there's an anti-Fae, anti-witches political party, the Humans First party. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Nekros are members of the Humans First party.

Lt. Governor Kane is Alex's father, a deeply buried secret neither of them wants revealed. It all gets very awkward when Governor Coleman turns up dead, and Alex notices something very, very peculiar about his body.

Friday, March 10, 2017

We Thought We Were Invincible, by Michelle Lynn

Creativa, March 2017

In Gulf City, Florida, a group of high school friends are starting their last year of high school. The two viewpoint characters are Callie (California) McCoy, and Jamie Daniels. Callie and her twin brother Colby live with their Aunt Kat, working in the diner they inherited from their mother, Allison, when she died six years ago. They know nothing about their father. Callie, like her mother, is an enthusiastic and very good surfer. She is not otherwise either very social, or very interested in school.

Jamie Daniels is the younger son of a state senator with higher ambitions. The older brother, Jayden, is the apple of his father's eye, and also Callie's boyfriend, or so it appears to everyone except Callie and Jay. Jamie has a bad relationship with his father for reasons that no one outside the family knows. Jamie is also rather a troublemaker.

With the end of the summer, Jay is gong off for his first year of college. Callie, Colby, Jamie, Colby's girlfriend Morgan and her sister Parker are going through their momentous final year of high school together.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Shadow of Doubt (Detective Jason Strong #15), by John C. Dalglish (author), Bill Burrows (narrator)

John C. Dalglish, February 2017

Jason Strong is working with a new, he hopes temporary partner, Diana Torres. It's not that he has any objection to Torres; she's a good cop, and a good detective. But the reason for the change is that Vanessa Lane is on suspension, awaiting a disciplinary hearing after she struck a suspect in a previous case.

But things are about to get much, much worse, because Strong and Torres are called to the scene of a homicide, and the dead man is Lane's husband.

He and Lane had argued earlier, and he had asked her for a divorce.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How Great Science Fiction Works (The Great Courses), by Gary K. Wolfe (author, narrator)

The Great Courses, January 2016

Gary K. Wolfe is both a reader and a scholar of science fiction, and this is a great, comprehensive look at the history of the field, the ideas it has explored, and the literary influences that have affected it.

He dates the beginning of real science fiction, rather than simply stories that in retrospect somewhat resemble it, to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Frankenstein, and looks at the social, intellectual, and physical world changes that helped inspire it. Wolfe then follows these themes forward through the next two centuries.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak #1), by Dana Stabenow (author), Marguerite Gavin (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, ISBN 9780425133019, October 2011 (original publication 1992)

Kate Shugak left her job as a detective on the Anchorage police force, and retreated to her late father's homestead in a national park in the interior of Alaska. That apparently isn't remote enough, though. Her ex-boss, Jack Morgan, and an FBI agent find her and ask her to take on a case of two missing people. The first is a Park Ranger with powerful connections--and whom Kate was previously involved with. The other is the previous FBI agent that went looking for him.

With one missing six weeks, and the other missing two weeks, there's not really any chance that either is alive.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Up Against It, by M.J. Locke (author),Cassandra Campbell (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, September 2011

Geoff and his friends on the asteroid Phocaea, just graduated from school, pull of an epic technical hack. They successfully dodge the omnipresent camera remotes of "Stroiders, a reality show broadcasting the lives of the Phocaeans to the entire system. It's a triumph.

It's quickly followed by someone's shocking act of sabotage that kills Geoff's brother, wtih Geoff and his friends, as well as Carl's boss, arriving too late to save him.

And even that is just the start.

The sabotage that kills Carl starts a meltdown of a delivery of much-needed water and methane ice, vital not just to the colony's economy but its survival.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Piano Girl (Counterfeit Princess #1), by Sherri Schoenborn Murray (author), Sarah Zimmerman (narrator)

Christian Romances, July 2016

Princess Alia is a gifted pianist, and also the heir to the crown of the kingdom of Blue Sky. Her kingdom has been at war for twelve years, and it has just ended.

On the day after her sixteenth birthday, Princess Alia discovers she's being given away in marriage to a man she's never met. For her safety, she's got to travel in secret, disguised as a chicken farmer's daughter, to the kingdom of Yonder. She's about to get an education she never imagined.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Trouble at the Animal Shelter (Cedar Bay Cozy Mystery #10), by Dianne Harman

Amazon Digital Services, January 2017

A cozy mystery involving dogs--I really wanted to like this one. And the characters are likable, at least the ones who are supposed to be.


The basic setup is pretty straightforward. Maggie Ryan taught school in Cedar Bay for many years, but retired a few years ago, and has since become a bit of a recluse. When the local police get a call about barking dogs, they arrive to find her house on fire, about thirty dogs there, and Maggie Ryan dead from a bullet hole in her head. Who killed her, why, and where did those thirty dogs come from?

I have two basic types of complaint about the book. The first is what is known in science fiction reading world is known as "As you know, Bob"; information the reader needs is conveyed by the characters telling each other things they both already know.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Woman Misunderstood (Tennessee Delta #2), by Melinda Clayton (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Thomas-Jacob Publishing, February 2017

Rebecca Reynolds returns to her parents' home for her weekly visit only to literally stumble over her wheelchair-bound sister's dead body.

Her parents are also dead, all three hacked to death with an ax.

She calls 911. She wonders where her other sister, Lena, disowned by the family years ago, is. And she wonders how long it will be before Lena is arrested.

It's a very effective, chilling set-up for chilling psychological suspense. We see the story through three sets of eyes--Rebecca's, Lena's, and those of the lawyer Rebecca hires for her sister (who is indeed arrested as the most likely suspect), Brian Stone.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dallas Homicide (The City Murders #4), by John C. Dalglish (author), Rich McVicar (narrator)

John C. Dalglish, January 2017

A man arrives home, late, intentionally because since his divorce there's no pleasure in it anymore. Unfortunately, on this night, it's worse than usual: A killer is waiting. He is shot and killed.

Peter Brandt, a Dallas homicide detective, begins to investigate and quickly finds himself deep in the weeds of politics, corporate intrigue, and a love triangle. This is a short novel, a tightly plotted police procedural set in Dallas. Dalglish builds up his characters--both living and dead--convincingly. This is written with respect for the police but not a false sense that they're perfect, and I like to see both those traits in a good police procedural.

I don't know Dallas, so I can't say how true it is to the city, but other readers who say they know Dallas seem happy with it, so probably no major blunders. The narrator has a good, clear, strong voice, which is not only true to the main viewpoint character, but also good for the listener.


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