Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, by Lyndsay Faye (author), Simon Vance (narrator)

Highbridge, March 2017

These are the Sherlock Holmes stories that Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote--stories from before he met Watson, stories that couldn't be told because they would have harmed innocent people, stories told from Holmes' point of view. What, for instance, was he doing in when he stayed in London during the first part of The Hound of the Baskervilles? There's even one story that concerns an experience Watson had during his time in San Francisco, long before he met Holmes.

And they are, from my perspective, good, solid, enjoyable stories, close enough in tone to Doyle that I wasn't annoyed or frustrated or kicked out of the stories.

An enjoyable read or listen.

I bought this audiobook.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Seven Days of Us, by Francesca Hornak

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451488756, October 2017

The Birch family is going to spend Christmas all together for the first time in several years. Older daughter Olivia, a doctor, is coming home from Liberia after working on relief for the Haag epidemic. Haag sounds a great deal like Ebola, except that being fictional, it has an incubation period of just seven days, making it more convenient for a a contained family drama.

The Birch family will have to share Olivia's quarantine, starting December 23, and ending December 30. Emma, mother of Olivia and her younger sister, Phoebe, is thrilled that they will all be together. Quite determinedly thrilled.

Emma gave up her intended catering career when the second baby, Phoebe, was born. With two children, she pushed husband Andrew to give up his war correspondent career. He's now a restaurant critic. He's always doted on Phoebe, who is bright, cheerful, goes with him to restaurants he's reviewing, and pursuing a tv career. Phoebe and Emma are close in other ways, but perhaps not as close as Phoebe and Andrew.

Olivia seems distant to all of them. This is the first time in years she's come home for Christmas.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, by Abigail Tucker (author), Arden Hammersmith (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, October 2016

Such a promising title.

And such a disappointment.

Tucker says she's a cat lover, and I think she probably is. Yet she conveys an impressively negative tone in this book, as if she feels guilty about liking our favorite little carnivores. She's very insistent that cats serve no real, practical use in human settlements, citing for instance studies that seem to show that cats are not very effective ratters. Nowhere does she mention that in fact cats are primarily thought of as mousers. For serious rat killing, yes, you mostly want the smaller terrier type dogs.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Home is Where Your Boots Are (MisAdventures of Miss Lilly #1), by Kalan Chapman Lloyd (author, narrator)

Lloyd Words, June 2015

Lilly Atkins left small town Brooks, Oklahoma to be a big city lawyer in Dallas, and was quite successful at--until everything came crashing down with the discovery of her fiancé in their shared bed with his secretary. Now she's home in Brooks, setting up a local law practice.

She knows she's got trouble when her high school on-and-off boyfriend walks in the door, wanting her to handle his divorce. She just doesn't know how much trouble.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Swing Vote (Safe Harbors #3), by Donna K. Weaver

Donna K. Weaver, October 2017

Marc North and Ike Gordon are two ex-Marines who need to build new lives. Ike came home to a new life waiting for him; his father and stepmother died within weeks of each other, and his stepsister, Mackenzie Terkildsen, needs his help raising their two younger half-brothers, Noah and Caleb. He resigned his Marine career, and went home to Utah.

Marc, on the other hand, lost his Marine career to a devastating injury in an IED explosion. He didn't lose his leg, and defying expectations, he is walking well again. He's not alone; his sister Lyn was part of the cruise that was interrupted by a pirate hijacking, and he is now part of the extended, chosen family that formed out of the survival of that disaster.

But that doesn't give him a career, and both he and Ike need to work. They're helicopter pilots, and Ike's home town of Canyonland, Utah, is now a boomtown, with a new launch site and new industries. They join together to start a new business, giving helicopter tours of the picturesque and currently underserved area, for tourists and new residents alike. What Marc isn't prepared for is how tense the clashes between Newcomers and Oldtimers have made the small town politics they'll have to negotiate to get their business fully permitted and off the ground.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Heiress of Linn Hagh (Detective Lavender Mysteries #1), by Karen Charlton (author), Michael Page (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, June 2015 (original publication 2012)

Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Ed Woods, of the Bow Street Magistrates' Court are summoned to Northumberland to solve the disappearance of a beautiful young heiress, Helen Carnaby, from her locked bedroom in a tower.

The local residents have already decided it's witchcraft, the better to blame their favorite villains, the gypsies who reside in Hareshaw Woods. Neither the gypsies nor the servants at Linn Hagh, home of the Carnaby family, want to talk to the authorities.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Geekerella, by Ashley Poston (author), Eileen Stevens (narrator), Tristan Morris (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9781455116379, April 2017

Cinderella, with a side dish of The Shop Around the Corner/She Loves Me/You've Got Mail (depending on your generation and movie viewing habits.)

Plus the joy of science fiction fandom and geek culture.

Elle Wittimer isn't just a dedicated fan of cult sci-fi show Starfield; she's also the daughter of two big name fans. Her mom and dad met at a convention, and her father was one of the founders of what's now one of the biggest conventions, Excelsicon. But her mother died, and her father remarried, giving her a stepmother and two stepsisters. Then her father died, too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Murder in an Irish Village (Irish Village Mystery #1), by Carlene O'Connor (author), Caroline Lennon (narrator)

Dreamscape Media, February 2016

It's been a year since the O'Sullivan parents died in a terrible car crash, and their six children are still struggling a bit, both emotionally, and in keeping their restaurant, Naomi's Bistro, open and running. Siobhan, the eldest daughter, is guardian of the four younger children, and manager of the bistro, putting aside for now her plans to attend university. The eldest O'Sullivan, James, is not doing these jobs because he slipped into alcoholism after his parents' deaths. At six months sober, Siobhan is not ready to rely on him too far yet.

With the anniversary of the deaths approaching, it's not a good time for them. It gets worse when, on the morning of the anniversary, they enter the bistro to find Niall Murphy, brother of the young man who was driving drunk and is now in prison for killing their parents, sitting at one of the tables, quite dead, with a pair of scissors in his chest.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars, by Dava Sobel (author), Cassandra Campbell (narrator)

Penguin Audio, December 2016

In the mid-19th century, the Harvard Observatory began employing women as computers, to do the calculations that were the necessary next step after observations were made and recorded. It was considered inappropriate to subject women to the rigors of nighttime observation work, but there was no reason they couldn't do the essential mathematics. Initially, these women were often family members of the director or other astronomers, introduced to the field by their husbands, brothers, or fathers. As time went on and the demand for good computers grew, though, it became a field of science unusually open to women who were increasingly able to pursue formal scientific education.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill (author), Paul Ansdell (narrator)

Long Barn Books, October 2006

Arthur Kipps is a young lawyer in a law firm in London when the owner of the firm, Mr. Bentley, sends him to the remote English countryside to settle up the affairs of a client, an elderly woman who has just died. Kipps introduces us to the story, many years later, on a Christmas Eve when his stepchildren, now young adults themselves, are telling ghost stories.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Any Witch Way But Dead (A Hedgewood Sisters Paranormal Mystery #2), by Ruby Blaylock

Ruby Blaylock, September 2017

The Hedgewood sisters--Twyla, Ree, and Sissy--are still adjusting to the unexpected return of their fae father, Joe Embriar, after an absence of over twenty years. That to him it's been more like a few weeks doesn't make it any better.

He's also brought along two friends, fae men named Napoleon and Eldon, who are living in the Hedgwood home. The young women's mother, Loretta, seems happy about Joe's return, and doesn't seem to mind his friends, but the sisters are unconvinced

Oh, and the Hedgewood sisters, all witches, are adjusting to Joe's announcement that they are the most powerful witches to be born in centuries. There's a prophecy connected to them.

This is all well and good, but they really want no part of prophecies, and would like more explanation than they're getting from Joe about why he's back, and what the current political conflict in the fae homeland has to do with them.

Then fae and other "supes"--supernatural beings--start being murdered by a fae weapon.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal, by Eugene Soltes (author, narrator), Johnny Heller (narrator)

Highbridge, a Division of Recorded Books, October 2016

Eugene Soltes examines the problem of white collar crime--what makes some of the most successful and respected businessmen in the country (and the world, but his focus is mainly on the US) commit financial crimes that destroy their careers and land them in jail. He takes a hard and detailed look at how our views of white collar crime have evolved, as well as why white collar criminals do it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Light Falls: Space, Time, and an Obsession of Einstein, by Brian Greene (author, narrator), Paul Rudd (narrator), Peter Ganim (narrator), Suzanne Toren (narrator), Edoardo Ballerini (narrator), Julian Elfer (narrator), Kevin Pariseau (narrator), Jonathan Davis (narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2016

Brian Greene, plus a cast of excellent voices reading the words of Einstein and his family, friends, admirers, and challengers, gives us a wonderful look at Einstein's work as well as his worldview and professional world. His competitors and the ways in which his work overturned the way we viewed the universe are beautifully presented here. Greene is always a joy to listen to when talking about the physics and cosmology he loves. This one won't take much of your time; just a couple of hours. Don't miss it.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Shadow Over the Fens, by Joy Ellis (author), Henrietta Meire (narrator)

Tantor Audio, December 2016

Det. Sgt. Joseph Easter is recovered from his injuries, returned to duty, and now a permanent part of DI Nikki Galena's team. Unfortunately,  his first day back on the job includes the apparent suicide of Nikki's friend and neighbor, and a brief encounter with a man he's sure is a nightmare figure from his past.

It's not long before bodies start turning up, killed execution-style, and all bearing a strong resemblance to Easter's hated former fellow special forces soldier, Billy Sweet--a man only Joseph says he's seen in the area. There's a serial killer in the area, and the gradually starts to seem that Joseph Easter is either the ultimate target, or something worse.

Meanwhile, it quickly becomes clear that there's something seriously wrong about the death of Nikki's neighbor Martin's death. It's not just that there's no evident reason for his suicide. He turns out to have been high on a ganger oyster hallucinogen that he had no apparent access to. The cancer clinic that has been monitoring his condition for any return of his cancer for years claims never to have heard of him. And he was, years ago, involved in a clinical trial. Two other members of the trial have also died in strange circumstances.

Two big, peculiar, dangerous, unrelated cases at the same time. It's so obvious there's no connection between Easter's serial killer and an odd cluster of apparent suicides that no one questions it.

We see both the newly returned Joseph Easter and the newly somewhat reformed Nikki Galena's under extreme pressure, and newly reconstituted team they lead responding to the pressure along with them. It's an interesting plot, but also good characters continuing to grow and change.


I bought this audiobook. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Distant View of Everything (Isabel Dalhousie), )by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Davina Porter (narrator)

Recorded Books, July 2017

Isabel and Jamie have a new baby, another boy, named Magnus. They and their housekeeper, Grace, are thrilled. Their older boy, Charlie, not so much. He's certain he can come up with good arguments for excluding Magnus from the family!

But that's just a normal parenting challenge, and they'll cope as most parents do. Bigger puzzles include Cat's new part-time shop-assistant, Peg, whom Cat seems unusually enthusiastic about. Where did Cat meet her? Why is she so vague about her background?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice #1), by Christina Henry (author), Jenny Sterlin (narrator)

Recorded Books, January 2016 (original publication August 2015

Alice is a young woman living in an insane asylum in a city divided.

She grew up in the New City, and at sixteen, she went with a friend, Dor, on an adventure into the Old City. The Old City is completely surrounded and contained by the New City, and contains all that the New City would like to deny. That includes dirt and poverty, but also crime and magic.

The adventure did not go well, and Alice is returned to the New City talking only of a tall man with long rabbit ears. Soon she is hospitalized, and is fed powders with every meal that dull her senses and awareness.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen (author), Gemma Dawson (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2017

I've read several of Bowen's Her Royal Spyness books, and found them silly and superficial enough that it made me reluctant to try In Farleigh Field. The description and the sample moved me to try it anyway, and I'm glad I did.

With World War Two starting, the five daughters of Lord Westerham are all faced with their separate challenges. The eldest, Livy, is married and has a baby, and her husband has been sent off to the Bahamas, as part of the "security" for the Duke of Windsor. Lady Margaret is in France, trapped there when she chose not to leave her French lover as the Germans advanced. As he's part of the French resistance, she's in real danger.

It's the third daughter, Lady Pamela, who is most central to the story. She's been more or less in love with neighbor Jeremy Prescott, bad boy & RAF flyer. Unfortunately, he's now been shot down and captured by the Germans. Neighbor and local vicar's son Ben Cresswell was injured in a flying accident--with Jeremy as the pilot--just prior to the war, and is now doing a dull, government office job in London, as is Pamela.

What neither their families nor any of their friends know is that Ben is an MI5 agent, and Pamela is a Bletchley Park code breaker.

What Pamela doesn't know is that Ben is in love with her.

Meanwhile, back at the Sutton family home, Farleigh, a parachutist whose chute never opened has fallen and died in a nearby field. He's wearing a British uniform, but it's not quite right, and he doesn't have identification.

Margaret, known as Margo, is arrested by the Gestapo. Jeremy returns to Britain, with a heartwarming story of escaping from the Germans. Pamela and Ben have each been giving mysteries to solve.

Youngest daughter, Lady Phoebe, befriends the young London evacuee, Alfie, with whom she found the dead parachutist.

There's a plot afoot, related to the planned German invasion, and no one is safe and no one knows where the danger is coming from.

This is rich, well plotted, tightly paced, with interesting, well-developed characters.


I bought this audiobook.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Charm (A Cinderella reverse fairytale) (Reverse Fairytales Book 1), by J.A. Armitage

Armitage, September 2017

This is a modern retelling of Cinderella.

Princess Charmaine is the second daughter of King Aaron of Silverwood, with no worries about ever being the heir and eventually the queen. At least, not until her elder sister, Grace, dies suddenly of an unsuspected heart defect. Quite abruptly, she's thrust into the plans made for her sister, which include a large ball in just a few weeks, at which she will meet one hundred eligible men.

And from those eligible men, she must select five to stay and "date" her, with the goal of selecting one to be her bridegroom, at the already-planned wedding which will take place in just six months. Some young women might welcome this as terribly romantic. Charmaine is horrified, even apart from her grief for her sister and the fact that she'd rather not be queen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Aesop's Fables, by Aesop (author), Jonathan Kent (narrator)

Tantor Audio, August 2005

This is an enjoyable, quick (under three hours) reading of all of Aesop's fables. There are a few where I thought that this must not be the same translation I read as a kid, but that was a long time ago, and I don't read Greek, so who am I to argue? Regardless, it's well done and worth a listen.

I bought this audiobook.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Secrets in Death (In Death #45), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Erikson (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2017

Eve Dallas is back again, and this time the murder victim almost literally drops at her feet. She's reluctantly having a drink with Garnet de Winter at a bar Roarke owns, a French-oriented bar called Du Vin. She's noticed that a well-known gossip columnist, Larinda Mars. She barely notices when Mars heads downstairs to the ladies' room, but everyone notices when she comes back up into the bar.

Mars' arm is soaked in blood, and she is staggering and seemingly barely aware. It's not long before Dallas, Roarke, and Peabody are tracking down her killer, a search which gets ever more interesting when they discover she's been blackmailing the well-heeled.

Soon they find she was choosing her targets very carefully.

Also, that her background may not be the one her official records show.

I'm impressed that even 45 books in, J.D. Robb is still keeping the In Death series, fresh, interesting, and completely absorbing.


I bought this audiobook.

Little Girl Lost (DI Robyn Carter #1), by Carol E. Wyer (author), Emma Newman (narrator)

Bookouture, January 2017

DI Robyn Carter is just about to return to work on the police force after an extended leave following the death of her husband and unborn child. During her leave, she's worked temporarily with a friend, Ross Cunningham. He's a former police officer who now runs a private detective agency. For her last case with him, he hands her a woman, Mary Matthews, whose husband has disappeared. There's no apparent reason, and also no apparent evidence of foul play, and initially very little to go on.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities, by Amy Stewart (author), Coleen Marlo (narrator)

Tantor Audio, June 2011

If you need to research some clever poisons for your next murder mystery, you could do worse than start your search for candidates here. It's a quick and readable introduction to the wide world of dangerous plants, with the fun and exciting (well, if you share some of my gallows humor) basics on the major ones plus the relatives of these dangerous plants.

But that's not all this book offers. It's not just clever murder methods. It's also the stuff won't kill you (probably), but will make you sick and very uncomfortable. It's the stuff it would never occur to you to eat, but might kill your animals.

It's the stuff you probably don't want to plant in your garden, especially if you have allergies, or care about people who do.

It's the invasive plants that are choking waterways.

It's the nasty stuff that global warming will help invade areas currently free of it.

It's those fascinating carnivorous plants.

Did I mention it's a lot of fun?


I bought this audiobook.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Shark (Forgotten Files #1), by Mary Burton (author), Christina Traister (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, May 2016

Riley Tatum is a Virginia state trooper now, but twelve years ago she very nearly died at the hands of a serial killer in her childhood home of New Orleans. It was a painful lesson in the dangers of the streets she had fled to when her mother died and her stepfather proved to be a predator, and she still has no idea how she escaped and wound up at a bus stop in Virginia.

Riley is a topnotch investigator who had the chance to be promoted to agent, but turned it down to stay with her search dog, Cooper. She's also in the process of adopting a former runaway, Hannah, and is just a couple of weeks away from the adoption being finalized. The last think she needs, she feels, is her carefully concealed past to come out now, and possibly mess up the adoption.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Strange Scottish Shore, by Julianna Gray

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780698176492, September 2017

Emmaline Truelove, Lord Silverton, and their friend Max Haywood, now the Duke of Olympia, are once again seeking the answers to the strange events in Greece last year. No longer the Duke's secretary, Truelove is now the
Director of the Haywood Institute, created to be the organizing force in the Duke's research into history, archaeology, and anachronisms--and last year's events, recounted in A Most Extraordinary Pursuit, are currently a major focus.

And a puzzling adversary, a ginger-haired man who seems determined to stop something the new Duke of Olympia will do at some point in the future, is becoming ever more dangerous.

Silverton disappears--just disappears--while he and Truelove are traveling north to meet up with the Duke, who is meeting a possible new Duchess. In Scotland, at the castle of Thurso, Truelove and the Max negotiate tricky social waters created by the rumors they are lovers, and also the puzzling reasons for the ginger-haired man's pursuit.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Dangerous Talent (Alix London #1), by Charlotte Elkins (author), Aaron Elkins (author), Kate Rudd (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, April 2012 (original publication January 2012)

Alix London is trying to build a career as an art restorer and as an art consultant, nine years after her father, Jeffrey London, once a noted art restorer, was convicted of art forgery. She's on the coolest of terms with her father, now out and in the art importing business, who nevertheless persists in trying to maintain contact with her.

Then one day she's approached for a job that could be the true start of her consulting career. A woman just beginning in collecting art wants Alix to evaluate a Georgia O'Keeffe painting she has been offered. Soon she's on a chartered plane from Seattle to Santa Fe.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

On Stranger Tides, by Tim Powers, (author), Bronson Pinchot (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9781441755025, October 2010 (original publication 1987

This book was the basis of the fourth of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean. On the one hand, it's surprising they took so long to notice it--this was originally published in 1987. On the other hand, Powers doesn't write the same thing over and over, and this is his only "pirates of the Caribbean" novel.

Also, the movie is based very loosely on the book.

John Chandagnac is the son of a French puppeteer, who eventually left his father's business to become an accountant with an English merchant company. He's on his way to the Caribbean to track down his uncle, Sebastian, who cheated his father of his rightful inheritance when the ship, Vociferous Carmichael, is attacked by pirates. It's not long before he's pressed into pirate service, and renamed Jack Shandy.

And not long after that, working with the most famous pirate of all: Blackbeard.

Vodun, or voodoo, magic is a big part of this story, with dire consequences for quite a few people Jack comes to care about. On his trip out, he'd met Elizabeth Hurwood and her father, Benjamin, who turns out to have really dire plans for her. Hurwood's partner in magic, Leo Friend, has his own terrible plans for Elizabeth.

So does Blackbeard.

Jack at least wants to have better plans for her.

If he can outwit three powerful magicians.

The plot takes many interesting twists and turns, and Jack finds some very unexpected use for his puppetry skills.

This is, as always with Powers, smart, well-written, creative, clever, and thoughtful. The characters keep surprising the reader in ways that are utterly plausible and convincing. Powers also never fails to do his research, giving the novel an overall depth and reality that just can't be counted on in freewheeling historical fantasy.

I loved it.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America's Canine Heroes, by Maria Goodavage (author), Nicole Vilencia (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, March 2012

Maria Goodavage, like many people, became seriously interested in Military Working Dogs after hearing about Cairo, the dog who was part of the mission to get Osama bin Laden. She thought that surely this wouldn't be a hard subject to investigate; after all, these are dogs, not not nuclear weapons or stealth fighters.

It turns out that this is a very challenging area to investigate, precisely because these are "just dogs" and dogs who are in many ways quite secret. In many ways, in many places, they officially don't exist. This includes in veterinarian's offices, where the normal paperwork simply does not occur. She had her work cut out for her just getting in touch with the people who could tell her about these dogs and introduce her to their handlers.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Duke and I (The Bridgertons #1),, by Julia Quinn (author), Rosalyn Landor (narrator)

Recorded Books, October 2016 (original publication January 2000)

Daphne Bridgerton has a problem.

'sShe beautiful, bright, charming, and everyone's friend. She grew up with four brothers, three of them older than herself, and the gentlemen love to talk with her. They just don't think of her as a romantic prospects, and in her second season, she has received proposals only from the elderly and, in one case, the crashingly stupid. Her mother and her eldest brother, the new Viscount Bridgerton, are not going to compel her to make an unhappy match, and she's in danger of being on the shelf.

The Duke of Hastings has a problem.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Perfect Plan (Wiltshire Chronicles #1), by Alyssa Drake

Dream Big Publishing, May 2016

Ten years ago, Lord Matthew Hastings died, in odd circumstances, but the doctor determined it to be natural causes. Shortly thereafter, his wife also dies, leaving his children as orphans.

The son and heir, Edward, marries, has three daughters, and eight years later, leaves on a trip to France for business reasons.

He does not return. His fate is unknown, but he is ruled to be dead.

Two years later, his widow, Wilhelmina, reluctantly decides it is time for her to remarry, and for Edward's younger sister, Samantha, now twenty, to also marry.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Home Front: Life in America During World War II, by Audible Original, Martin Sheen (narrator)

Audible Original, September 2017

This is an Audible Original production; there is no previous book. It uses oral histories including contemporaneous materials to look at what life was like at home during World War II.

Long ago when I was young, World War II was truly a living memory; not only did we study it in school, but our parents had lived through it, often served in the war. We knew about Pearl Harbor, and we knew about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Depending on where we lived, even if we were not Jewish we were likely to know people who had sadly truncated families because so many relatives had died in the death camps. We knew the names of the major battles in Europe and in the Pacific.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Called by Dragon's Song (Return of the Dragonborn #3), by N. M. Howell

Dungeon Media, July 2017S

Andie, Saeryn, and their friends and allies have won a great victory, but the war isn't over. Ashur has taken the Battalion out of Arvall to recover and plan a new attack. The Church of Sea and Stone is determined to recruit Andie--willingly or not--and make her their leader and tool to conquer Noelle. An old enemy of the dragonborn, an even older line of dragon-descended humans, who call themselves The Beautiful Dead, are determined to destroy the dragonborn and steal their magic.

All three of these enemy groups are joining as allies, at least temporarily cooperating to destroy the dragonborn and their allies in Arvall.

While they are fighting all these enemies, they have conflicts enough among themselves. Andie and Raesh have to work out their romantic issues. Andie and Saeryn have  serious disagreements about how to lead their people, and while they both have valid points, they also both manage to be remarkably pig-headed about it. Someone long thought dead returns unexpectedly, and has a new friend that Andie has a hard tome accepting as an ally.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3), by N.K. Jemisin (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Hachette Audio, August 2017

What can one say about The Stone Sky?

It's the utterly wonderful third book of an uttlerly wonderful trilogy. One could make equally excellent cases for it being science fiction or fantasy, but Jemisin says it's fantasy. (And as the author, she gets a vote, right?)

It's the most complete, compelling, original world-building I've seen in fantasy in years. The characters are complex, interesting, and compelling.

The trilogy starts with the end of the world, and why not? And then we learn both how we got there, and where we're going after.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Emma (The Austen Project #3), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Susan Lyons (narrator)

Recorded Books, April 2015 (original publication November 2014)

Retellings of the works of Jane Austen aren't exactly a new idea, but I really like what Smith has done with Emma. He's moved it to the 21st century, but otherwise left its setting unchanged, the small and close-knit English town of Highbury. The changes are only the changes of moving forward two centuries, uncomplicated by a move to, to use one example, Hollywood.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine (Isabel Dalhousie #10.7), by Alexander McCall Smith

Vintage, May 2016

Isabel Dalhousie is selecting the perfect Valentine's gift for Jamie when she encounters an old school acquaintance who wants to show her a painting on view at a nearby auction house. The school acquaintance, Roz, has run into some money difficulties, and believes she's identified the painting as misidentified and by a far more important artist than listed. Roz hopes to repair her fortunes by picking up the picture for a song and reselling it much closer to its true value.

Isabel promises to keep quiet, but has misgivings. A promise is a promise, though, so...

Then she discovers that the seller is an old friend whose mother is in a nursing home and whose financial reversals have been far more serious.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Silence of the Snakes (Madigan Amos #2), by Ruby Loren

Ruby Loren, September 2017

Madigan Amos is on her second-ever zoo consulting job, doing a review of animal welfare conditions with the aim of recommending improvements. The Snidely Wildlife and Safari zoo is very different from the Avery zoo where she previously worked, including such additions as an impressive collection of venomous snakes and reptiles.

The Snidely family itself is more than a bit odd, even before more distant connections start turning up.

Madigan finds herself caught off guard by the venomous snakes, a string of thefts, and the unexpected arrival of Lowell, the detective who investigated the unexpected deaths at Avery.

The story is a bit haphazard, and not likely to be lasting literature, but it's entertaining and enjoyable.

Recommended for a light, quick read.

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

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes #1), by Laurie R. King (author), Jennie Sterlin (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, January 2014 (original publication January 1994)

In 1915, the aging Sherlock Holmes meets teenage Mary Russell, and is taken enough with her that she becomes a student and apprentice. There's war in Europe, old social rules and barriers are breaking down at home, and life is never going to be the same.

Mary Russell won't have to waste her energy, intelligence, and the education Holmes is giving her.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Denver Homicide (The City Murders #5), by John C. Dalglish (author), Richard McVicar (narrator)

John C. Dalglish, August 2017

Denver homicide detectives Kate Walker and her young partner Tanner Austin , are called to the scene of a murder. An airline pilot has arrived home from his Las Vegas flight on Easter Sunday, to find that his wife has been shot to death.

His wife had had an affair, so that's a possible motive for the husband, always the most obvious suspect. The lover, though, is also an obvious suspect, and he seems to be a bit of a creep.

Then they get called to another murder, and the M.O. is identical.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Way Station, by Clifford D. Simak (author), Eric Michael Summerer (narrator)

Audible Frontiers, July 2008 (original publication November 1963)

Enoch Wallace returned to his family's farm after the Civil War,  and farmed it with his father until a freak accident left him alone on it. Then, after some grieving and meditation on what the future might hold, he receives a most unusual visitor--a traveler from further away than he could have imagined.

Ulysses--the name Enoch gives him, suitable to the human tongue--is an emissary from Galactic Central, here to recruit Enoch to operate a way station for galactic travelers. A century later, he's still running it, and hasn't aged a day.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Next Always (The Inn BoonsBoro #1), by Nora Roberts

Brilliance Audio, November 2011

The three Montgomery brothers, Beckett, Owen, and Ryder, and their mother Justine, have bought an old inn and are rehabbing it to reopen as a high-end bed & breakfast.

Widowed Claire Brewster is raising her three boys, and running a bookstore called Turn the Page across from the old inn. Her best friend Avery runs a restaurant, Vesta, nearby.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Favorite Universe (Great Courses #158), by Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Great Courses, April 2016 (original publication 2003)

Neil deGrasse Tyson delivers twelve lectures on what makes our universe so fascinating, and in some ways so different from what we see with our naked eyes and common sense. He covers the probable origins of the universe, why things are, beyond a certain size, mostly round, the age of the universe, the discovery of planets outside our solar system, whether we're likely to find intelligent life, and the probable death of the universe, along with other topics that are more fascinating than we could have guessed.

And of course, Dr. Tyson is much more fascinating, educational, and entertaining on these topics than a mere fascinated listener can be. Go get a copy of this audio book and listen to it instead of reading what I have to say about it.

I bought this audiobook. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Regulars, by Georgia Clark

Emily Bester Books/Atria Books, ISBN 9781501119613, August 2016

Krista Kumar, Evie Selby, and Willow Hendriksen are best friends, young women living in New York City. Krista's an aspiring actress after dropping out of law school, Willow a photographer who has just had her first gallery show, and Evie  is a writer. Evie anonymously writes the blog, Something Snarky. Her paying job, though, is as a lowly copy editor for a women's magazine called Salty.

Krista is not getting a lot of jobs, not even trivial ones. Willow's gallery show was a failure. Salty publishes mostly the superficial, sexualized, "buy this to be beautiful enough to matter" stories that Evie, an intelligent, aware, passionate feminist, most hates.

And they are all depressingly aware that they don't meet the societal beauty standards pushed in, among all the media outlets, Salty.

One day, Krista meets someone she took a class with, her gives her a little bottle of something called, simply, "Pretty." One drop each will make them beautiful. The effect will only last a week.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Get Well Soon

Blackstone Audio, February 2017

Not everyone enjoys books about the history of plagues. I don't know why.

Well, all right, I do know. But I've always found them fascinating.

This is an overview of some of the greatest plagues in the recorded history of the world, starting with the Antonine plague in Rome under Marcus Aurelius, and ending with AIDS.  What Wright is focused on is less the medical details than the way both people generally and government and social leadership responded.

Friday, August 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I bought this audiobook.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Not Alone, by Craig A. Falconer

Audible Studios, August 2016 (original publication December 2015

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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

Skyboat Media, January 2017

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

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

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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

Blackstone Audio, January 2017 (original publication January 2010)

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

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

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

Tantor Audio, December 2008 (original publication 1986)

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

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

With all his memories of his previous life intact.

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

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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

Tantor Audio, January 2012 (original publication 1982)

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

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

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

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

I bought this audiobook.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

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

Winged Publications, July 2017

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

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

Tor Books, ISBN 9780765383297, June 2017

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

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

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