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.

Love, Lies, & Hocus Pocus: Allies (Lily Singer Adventures #3), by Lydia Sherrer

Chenoweth Press, ISBN 9780997339154, April 2017

As I continue my habit of reading books in series out of order, this is book three of the Lily Singer adventures. Sebastian and Lily are, however reluctantly, starting to face up to their feelings about each other. Even Madam Barrington is beginning to be forced to reevaluate her opinion of Sebastian.

All this reexamining is helped along by the fact that Lily now knows a good deal of the information about her past that first her mother and then her mentor, Madam Barrington, had kept from her in a not altogether well-thought-out plan "for her own protection."

Sebastian is still keeping secrets "for her own good." Her new maybe-boyfriend, FBI Agent Richard Grant, is also keeping secrets, and some of that may also be "for her own good," although some of it is just for the sake of his case.

What adds insult to injury is that her cat, Sir Edgar Allan Kipling, is in cahoots with Sebastian to protect her...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Faery Swap, by Susan Kaye Quinn (author), Mark Mullaney (narrator)

Susan Kaye , October 2014

Finn has a problem. Three years ago, his mother was killed in a car crash, and since then, his father has been "parentally missing in action." This has made Finn responsible for taking good enough care of his little sister, Erin, that she doesn't get taken away by Child Protective Services.

Since Finn is even now only fourteen, this has been a heavy burden, but he loves his sister and has to do it to hold together what family he still has. Now his father has moved them from sunny California to less-sunny England, and Finn has to be the new kid in school and learn a whole new culture, while continuing to care for his sister.

So it's a bit inconvenient when a faery named Zaneyr steals his body and sends his soul into the Otherworld.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (author), Alyssa Bresnahan (narrator)

Audible Audio, January 2016

Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead  are both misfits at school, and out of that they build a fragile friendship. Their interests are very different, though. Laurence is into all things science and technology; he even skips school and runs away to watch a rocket launch. Patricia is into nature. Really into nature. She discovers she can, quite literally, talk to animals, and once, when she was six, she attended the Parliament of Birds. When they part company on leaving high school, they never expect to see each other again.

They're living their lives on the same warming planet, though, and they each are trying to make things better in their very different ways. Patricia has become a powerful witch and healer. Laurence is a high-profile member of the 10% Project, aimed at getting at least 10% of Earth's population off the planet before a global catastrophe.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Rare Book of Cunning Device (Peter Grant/Rivers of London #5..6), by Ben Aaronovitch (author), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2017

London PC Peter Grant gets called to the British Museum, which has a serious problem in one of its many basements. They think it's a poltergeist; something, at least, is moving things around in ways that can't be accounted for by the actions of staff and users.  Grant thinks this is unlikely, because of how modern the building is, but given the ancient, rare, historical, and otherwise valuable items in the collection, can't rule it out.

And so he goes hunting through the basements. But is he hunting a ghost, a poltergeist, something else?

And has he brought the right equipment?

This is a nice little short story, an Audible exclusive, that adds to the world-building and character development of the series. It's an additional little treat if you've been reading the series, and a nice introduction to Peter Grant if you haven't been.

This story was free on Audible when I downloaded it.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks (author, narrator)

Penguin Audio, August 2010

Anna Frith is a young widow with two young children to raise, in a little village in Derbyshire, England, as the year of 1665 draws to an end. She is quiet, unassuming, and not inclined to make waves. She takes in a lodger sent to her by the local rector, to help make ends meet now that her husband's income from the mine is gone.

The lodger is a tailor, and he receives a deliver of cloth from London. Quite innocently, with that cloth, he has brought bubonic plague into the village. Over the next year, she faces previously unimaginable challenges, as her neighbors and friends die, and she needs to become a healer and leader among those not yet sick.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The London Stories (Emily Castles Mysteries), by Helen Smith

Tyger Books, ISBN 9780956517098, November 2014

This collection includes the stories "Three Sisters," "Showstoppers," and "Real Elves." Each of them presents Emily Castles with a puzzle to solve.

Each is centered around her neighbors and coworkers.

Two of them involve murders.

They all feature Emily Castles, a young woman living in London

These stories all seem intended to be funny. Unfortunately, most of Emily's neighbors and coworkers are portrayed as shallow idiots. Emily herself comes off slightly better in both character and intelligence, but mainly in comparison to the friends and neighbors. Dr. Muriel, a professor of, I believe, ethics, who lives across the street from Emily, seems to be the only one with both sense and intelligence, but she is, alas, not the viewpoint character. These are about Emily, not Dr. Muriel.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Lady of the Lake (Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries #4), by Karen Musser Nortman (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Karen Nortman, April 2017

The Shoemaker and their friends are off on another camping adventure, this time to a campground near one of Donna Nowak's many childhood homes. They're all set for an enjoyable trip down memory lane, and Donna is connecting with old friends, when she discovers to her horror that her abusive ex-foster father is the campground's handyman.

The next day, he turns up dead.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies, by John Joseph Adams (editor)

Saga Press, April 2017

This is just one kickass good anthology. Go buy a copy in your preferred format now.

Okay, okay, you want to know more.

Every one of these stories is, as advertised, far-future, galaxy-spanning, and involves people confronting huge problems caused by technology, in some cases so advanced as to be, as Arthur C. Clarke said, "indistinguishable from magic."

They vary wildly in tone, also.

Charlie Jan Anders' "A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime" is just really funny.

"The Chameleon's Gloves" by Yoon Ha Lee features an interstellar thief saddled with the unenviable job of committing one theft not for profit but to prevent the deaths of billions. I hadn't been attracted to what I've heard of Ninefox Gambit, but now I very much want to read it.

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?