Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Cruise to Die For (Alix London #2), by Charlotte Elkins (author), Aaron Elkins (author), Kate Rudd (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2013

Alix London, after not hearing from Ted Ellesworth for much longer than she expected, gets a call from him at last.

He wants her to do another job for the FBI, and this one is undercover. Well, not really, he says. She'll be going on a luxury cruise with a Greek financier and art investor. The Greek tycoon, Panos Papadakis, is auctioning off twenty-three highly valued art works, and he wants someone to talk to his guests/customers about art in general and these works and artists in particular. The FBI wants her to just listen for any tidbits about his fractional investment scheme, which they suspect of being in reality a Ponzi scheme. What could be easier?

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy #1), by N.K. Jemisin (author), Casaundra Freeman (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2010

I keep telling myself that N.K. Jemisin's work is exactly the sort of dark stuff I don't like.

And I keep loving it.

Yeine Darr is the ruler of a small kingdom in the north, a kingdom slowly dying from the hostility of her grandfather. Yet after her mother's mysterious death, her grandfather summons her to the fabulous city of Sky, where to her shock she is named one of his heirs.

This is not the good fortune it appears. It locks her in a death struggle with two cousins she had never met before--and she soon realizes she is supposed to lose, and die in the process.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Lilac Bouquet, by Carolyn Brown (author), Brittany Pressley (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2017

With a family history that includes three generations of Massey women having children out of wedlock, Emmy Jo Massey is determined to have a big, formal wedding with as much as possible of the town of Hickory, Texas in attendance. Raising the money for the big wedding includes taking a two-month job as a home health aide to town recluse Seth Thomas.

Her great-grandmother, Tandy, is absolutely opposed. She wants the child she raised when her granddaughter died going nowhere near Seth Thomas. Of course, she's also dead set against Emmy Jo marrying Logan Grady, too, and that's not stopping Emmy Jo. But Tandy won't tell her why she's so opposed. The only answer she'll give is that she refuses to talk about the past--an answer that quite reasonably doesn't sway Emmy Jo to her point of view.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Voice of the Whirlwind (Hardwired), by Walter Jon Williams (author), Don Leslie (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9781433252990, January 2012 (original publication May 1987)

Steward is a clone, the clone of a man who spent years as a member of a military polycorp called Coherent Light. The original, or "alpha," was murdered, and the clone, or "beta," is determined to find out who and why.

Unfortunately, he's been revived with fifteen years of memory missing. Nor is this an accident. It's a deliberate choice his alpha made, and chose not to explain. Steward has a lot of information to recover before he can hope to complete his mission, and every step of the way is dangerous. He's chasing through the solar system, one space habitat after another, and the history he missed includes the arrival of a significantly more advanced alien species known as the Powers.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Eternal Empire, Vol. 1 (Eternal Empire #1-5), by Sarah Vaughn (writer), Jonathan Luna (artist)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534303409, November 2017

In a world where the Eternal Empress has ruled for a thousand years, she's on the verge of conquering the last parts of it still not under her control. Into this world, two unusual young people have been born. Tair is white-haired and very pale; Roin is oddly orange in color.

When they find each other, they discover they have the power to control fire. Events soon convince them they have no choice but to use this power to fight the empire, but how?

Tair and Roin are both likable and interesting, with plausibly different points of view. The world is definitely not our world; it has three suns.

It also has dragons, and that turns out to matter a great deal.

The story doesn't seem terribly original, but it's enjoyable, and our protagonists are likable. I also enjoyed the art, which helped me slip into the story. It's a pleasant way to spend some down time.

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

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Drug Hunters: The Improbable Quest to Discover New Medicines, by Donald R. Kirsch (author), Ogi Ogas (author), James Foster (narrator)

Tantor Audio, January 2017

Donald Kirsch is a drug hunter--a scientist who works for pharmaceutical companies working to develop new drugs. He's worked for several different companies over the course of his career, and has lived through finding new drugs, having the quest to develop a new drug end in failure, or in the development of something entirely different from what they were after. He's lived through employers not thinking a promising new potential drug was promising enough, and the frustrations of getting drugs through the regulatory approval process.

This started out as a book about why drugs are so expensive. It wound up being about the excitement, tedium, adventure, frustration of drug development. And, oh yes, why it makes the end products so expensive.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Year of the Hare, by Arto Paasilinna (author), Herbert Lomas (translator), Simon Vance (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9781441772169, December 2010 (original publication 1975)

Vatanen, a Finnish journalist, is out on assignment with a photographer when they hit and injure a wild hare. Vatanen decides to rescue the hare, and the photographer, after waiting and calling for some time in increasing exasperation, drives off.

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.