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.