Saturday, February 25, 2017

Warrior Monk (Seventeen Series #2.1), by A.D. Starrling (author), Michael Bower (narrator)

AD Starrling, January 2017 (original publication April 2015)

This is a short story in the Seventeen series, and it follows characters we haven't seen center stage before: the Order of the Three Spears, the Buddhist, or Buddhist-adjacent, warrior monks who are loosely allied with the human-friendly faction of the immortals. (That's not altogether accurate, but it's accurate as I think I can be without spoilers.) Warrior Monk is the monk's-eye view of the episode in #2 involving the rather exciting events at an archaeological site in Egypt. When word of the reappearance in the West of an old and powerful enemy reaches the monks, they send out one of their more, ah, difficult members to investigate. These are events we've seen previously, but from a new perspective, with new things to learn about what, exactly, is going on.

It's short, quick-moving, and interesting background for the overall story and the characters involved. Recommended if you've enjoyed other entries in the series.

I bought this book.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Young Wives Club, by Julie Pennell

Atria Books, ISBN 9781501136467, February 2017

In retrospect, it's fair to say I wasn't the target demographic for this book. It's not that it's about "young wives" that's the problem. It's that the oldest of these young wives is all of twenty-one years old. The youngest is eighteen, dropped out of high school to marry her quarterback boyfriend who was headed off to play football for LSU, and has now realized, after more than a year of marriage, that maybe this wasn't such a great idea. Maybe she wanted, for instance, to finish high school and be doing her own college-level work rather than her husband's.

In fairness, Laura is the only one of the four "young wives" whom anyone (specifically, her mother) tried to suggest should wait.

Laura, Claire (the old lady of the group, married to a minister), Gabby, and Madison are all likable, well-drawn characters. Their men, and their families, friends, and neighbors, are all well-drawn as well. The writing is good. None of that is the issue I have with this book.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Libre (Silver Ships #2), by S.H.Jucha (author), Grover Gardner (narrator)

Audible Audio, January 2016 (original publication July 2015)

The Méridiens of the ship Rêveur have returned to Confederation space with their new allies, the New Terrans, expecting to be welcomed delightedly after their long absence and presumed loss. Instead, they find that the same silver ships that nearly destroyed Rêveur have destroyed half the Confederation, and the surviving Méridiens have no plan except to flee, abandoning their long-settled worlds.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Little Donkey (Frogmorton Farm #1.5), by Jodi Taylor (author), Lucy Price-Lewis (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2015 (original publication November 2014)

The Vicar really should have known better than to ask to borrow the donkey, Marilyn, from Frogmorton Farm for the Nativity Play.

Jenny Checkland did know it was a mistake, but what else could the Checklands say? The Nativity Play needed a donkey, and there wasn't another available, and Marilyn really is a very pretty little donkey. But this really does unleash chaos, on Frogmorton Farm, and on the parish.

It's the kind of chaos that's great fun to read about, if not so much to be in the midst of. Jenny and the rest of the Checklands are a delight, and there's even a touch of the fantastic thrown in.

The hour or so spent listening or reading won't be wasted!

Recommended.

I believe this was free on Audible when I downloaded it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Fairest of Them (Rae Hatting Mysteries #1), by Heather Osborne (author), Flora Plumb (narrator)

Heather Osborne, December 2016 (original publication June 2015)

Luke Thompson is a police detective who solved a string of serial killer cases, and then sought a more peaceful life as a detective with the police in Mendocino County, California.

Unfortunately, after a deceptive lull, he finds himself hunting a serial killer again, someone who dresses his victims as figures from fairy tales. He also finds love, in the person of an FBI profiler

Then tragedy strikes too close to home.

Luke is thrown into a tailspin, but the serial killer is still at work.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts, by Joshua Hammer (author), Paul Boehmer (narrator)

Highbridge, ISBN 9781681681429, April 2016

Timbuktu is a city with a storied history, and one lesser-known piece of that history is that twice during the Middle Ages it was the center of a flowering of education and scholarship. In the 1980s, a young man named Abdel Kader Haidara, a collector for a government library, traveled the Sahara Desert and the Niger River, collecting ancient Arabic manuscripts, both religious and secular, rescuing them from decay and destruction, and bringing them back for preservation. This part of the story include some amazing adventures in itself. But there's more.

Haidara over the years matured into a mild-mannered archivist and historian, along with marrying and raising a family. Then in 2012, Al Qaeda militants seized control of Mali, including Timbuktu, and the marvelous collection and the scholarship around it was in danger of being destroyed.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Third Eagle, by R.A. MacAvoy (author), Clinton Wade (narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2012 (original publication January 1989)

At first this book seems to be a fantasy, about a warrior of a privileged and constrained warrior class in a pre-tech culture. We quickly learn, though, that Wanbli, while a member of a warrior class, and one of the few to earn the cherished third eagle feather tattoo, is far in our future. His world is not primitive, but it is poor. His career options are basically limited to being a bodyguard for the same man his mother guarded, and who may or may not be his father. And while he's very, very good at it--witness his third eagle feather tattoo--he does not find the satisfaction and pride in it that he knows he's supposed to.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Devil You Know (Saloninus #2), by K.J. Parker (author), Will Damron (narrator)

 Macmillan Audio, March 2016

Saloninus is the greatest philosopher of all time.

He's also the greatest liar and trickster of all time.

So when he offers to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for a mere twenty years to complete his life's work, the assistant devil assigned to handle his case is certain he's up to something. But what? The contract, as always, is airtight; the Lord of Lies has the very best lawyers.

It would be wrong to say more than that. The story is funny, and tricky, and we get both the assistant devil's side of the story, and Saloninus' side. Enjoy!

Recommended.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Players (Detectives Seagate & Miner #7), by Mike Markel (author), Wendy Almeida (narrator)

Mike Markel, December 2016

Detectives Seagate and Miner are on a puzzling, difficult case. A man has died in a homeless camp in a city park, apparently of an overdose--but this homeless man was Lake Williams,  a former star football player for Central Montana University. His name was Lake Williams, and he was expected to go pro until a knee injury ended his career.

The OD that killed him was an injection of nearly pure heroin. Where would he have gotten it? When it becomes clear that a woman was paid to deliver the drug to him, paid by someone who knew Williams would inject it and die instantly, it doesn't become any clearer. Why would anyone want to kill a washed-up ex-college ball player?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pieces of Hate (Asassin #1-2), by Tim Lebbon (author), Scott Sowers (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, March 2016

A man whose family and entire village was killed by a demon was given the task by, possibly, another demon, to hunt down and destroy that demon. Centuries later, he's still at it, and keeps arriving just too late to stop the demon from committing his latest assassination.

This is a horror story. There is no one likeable in it, except for possibly one individual that we are seemingly expected to regard as a fool. I may be being unfair, because I don't like horror, and should never, ever let myself be suckered into reading or listening to it.

Sometimes, though, I am.

Not recommended. Take that with a grain of salt because, as noted, I don't like horror anyway.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle (author), Kevin R. Free (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, February 2016

Tom is a young black man, living in New York City with his father, in the pre-Civil Rights era. Life is not easy, or safe, but Tom has gotten very skilled at presenting a non-threatening front and making money in ways that may not meet his father's high ethical standards, but do meet his looser ones. Mostly, this involves running errands white people with money, but maybe not the highest ethical standards themselves.

And one day, his legal sideline of playing the guitar gets him a really unlikely job. A white man sees him, listens for a bit, and hires him on the spot to play at a party he'll be throwing at his home in one of the fancier neighborhoods.

Tom isn't that good. It makes no sense, but the pay offered is excellent.

It's the beginning a trip down a rabbit hole of epic proportions.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful (Montana Fire), by Susan May Warren (author), Jackson Nickolay (narrator)

SDG Publishing, December 2016

CJ St. John and Hannah Butcher meet while spending a summer as smoke jumpers in Montana. For CJ, it ends with some serious injuries, and Hannah saving his life. For Hannah, it ends with the conviction that she'll never overcome her temptation to freeze in moments of crisis--that she shouldn't even complete her training as a nurse because she'll be useless.

They've both got a lot to work through. Each can see the other's strengths, but only their own weaknesses. Despite bonding as teammates in an online adventure game, they both avoid meeting for months, until finally brought together again.

They're both kind, decent, likable people, and despite their own self-defeating impulses, they fortunately have other kind, decent, likable people around to push them in the right directions.

It's a novella, so not very long, and a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cupcakes and Cowboys (Sunset Plains Romance #1), by Lindzee Armstrong (author), Stacey Glembowski (narrator)

Snowflake Press, July 2016

Cassidy is running a cupcake bakery and not really getting over her jilting by her fiancé, an actor who left her behind for Hollywood and his career. Jase is a far bigger, more established actor, staying at Cassidy's parents' ranch to learn about ranch life for an upcoming movie.

Cassidy is not happy to have him around. The last thing she needs is another dishonest, ambitious actor in her life.

Too bad he's so attractive, polite, friendly, and kind. It's a good thing she's too smart to fall for that.

What she doesn't know is that Jase is really, really tired of Hollywood, and a career he was born into more than chose, due to his mother being a big-name movie director.

In this fairly short work, Jase and Cassidy manage an impressive number of misunderstandings and make-ups, and face some impressive but plausible challenges. Both Cassidy and Jase are likable characters. Overall, this is an enjoyable couple of hours of light listening.

I received this book as a gift.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Song for No Man's Land, by Andy Remic (author(, Tim Gerard Reynolds (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, February 2016

Robert Jones has been haunted by visions and creatures since childhood, some friendly, some not. He's been on balance something of a failure in life, but now The Great War has broken out, and he enlists in the hope of finally making his family proud of him.

When he's lying badly wounded on the battlefield, and thinks things can't get worse, his creatures appear again.

The story alternates between Jones as a young boy, Jones as a soldier in the war, and Jones writing his diary and his memoirs.

This is a beautifully told story, unfolding its mysteries layer by layer. Is Jones strong enough for the war? Is he strong enough for what haunts him? What choices can he face harder than killing his fellow man in combat?

It's lyrical and moving, and well worth your time. Recommended.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Drowning Eyes, by Emily Foster (author), Robin Miles (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, January 2016

Tazir has been plying the sealanes in her trade ship for many years, and is facing the same challenges all her competitors are, in these hard days when the Dragonships have started ravaging those some sealanes and the communities near them. She has no interest in anything other than keeping her ship and crew afloat and profitable--even if only barely--and no interest in challenging the Dragonships.

Shina is a young woman fleeing something, probably an unwanted marriage, but she has the money to hire the ship to make an unlikely journey, and that's what Tazir and her crew care about. That's the business they're in. It's no fault of theirs that they don't know what her real purpose is, or that they start to like her quite a bit.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Harp of Imach Thyssel (Lyra #3), by Patricia C. Wrede (author), Nicole Greevy (narrator)

Audible Studios, July 2013 (original publication 1985)

Emereck the minstrel is traveling with Flindaran, a nobleman masquerading as a mistrel, when he discovers, in an abandoned castle, an ancient, and magical, harp. He would much rather have not found it, because all magic has its price. He has an obligation to bring it to the guild, though, and that means he has to deal with other people's desires surrounding it.

Because the Harp of Imach Thyssel can make a badly wounded man whole, or kill an entire city.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Absconded Ambassador (Genrenauts #2), by Michael R. Underwood (author), Mary Robinette Kowal (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, March 2016

Leah Tang is off on her second mission as a rookie Genrenaut, this time to repair a breach in the Science Fiction world. A peace treaty is due to be signed, a boon to life, limb, and trade in a good part of this genre world, but an ambassador who has played a critical role has been kidnapped. If he isn't present for the signing, many of the other intended signatories will back out, because he's the one they all trust. Leah learns a lot about a world that shouldn't exist, a genre she though she knew, and her new colleagues.

She also teaches her colleagues something about the value of lacking preconceptions, otherwise known as significant prior knowledge. Along the way, we get hints that one of those colleagues is something other than what he outwardly seems, too, though everyone agrees Leah isn't ready for that knowledge.

Once again, a lot of fun. Well worth your time.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon, by Bronwen Dickey (author), Randye Kaye

Tantor Audio, ISBN 9781494568641, May 2016

The American pit bull is a dog with a confused and troubled history. It's become the definition of the vicious dog, the dangerous dog, the dog that will go from lying quietly beside you on the couch to tearing your kids to shreds, for no apparent reason and with no warning.

And anyone will tell you it has "always" been that way.

Except that when I was a kid, that dog was the Doberman Pinscher. Well, except when it was the German Shepherd.

Since then, it was the rottweiler for a decade or so.

In the 19th century, for some of the time it was the bloodhound, and some of the time it was the white spitz dog--a dog also known to be a major spreader of rabies. This terrifying breed is now better known as the American Eskimo dog, a fluffy, adorable American house pet, one of the most successful rebranding efforts in history.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Somebody Like You, by Donna Alward

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250092649, February 2017

Laurel Stone has come home to small town Darling, VT, after a failed marriage that still haunts her due to her ex's determination to "remain friends." No one gets a chance to forget that Laurel's husband left her for another man.

Leaving accounting behind her, she has bought the town's defunct garden center and reopened it as the Ladybug Garden Center. She's enjoying it more than she ever did accounting, at least until the morning she comes in and finds it vandalized and the cash register "float" stolen.

And then the cop who comes in response to her call is Aiden Gallegher. She and Aiden have a history, on Laurel would prefer not to revisit. Too bad Aiden is still so attractive!