Monday, August 13, 2018

Rogue Protocol (Murderbot Diaries #3), by Martha Wells (author), Kevin R. Free (narrator)

Recorded Books, August 2018

Murderbot is still in pursuit of evidence against GrayCris, because awkward questions are being asked about where Dr. Mensah's SecUnit is. Murderbot really needs those questions to go away, permanently.

So it's off to the site of a failed terraforming project GrayCris was involved in, where very strange things happened and may still be happening. Quietly antisocial Murderbot would prefer just to stay in its storage unit all the way there, watching its downloaded media, get the job done promptly on arrival, and leave.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Once Upon a Haunted Moor (Tyack & Frayne #1), by Harper Fox (author), Tim Gilbert (narrator)

Audible Studios, December 2017 (original publication October 2013)

Gideon Frayne is a hardworking local police constable in the village on the Bodmin moor that he grew up in, the village of Dark. Now, he's working on his very first missing child case--a little girl whose family he's known all his life.

And he's doubting his competence as a police officer.

It isn't a boost to his confidence when his boss sends in a psychic, Lee Tyack. Gideon regards psychics as frauds, doesn't want anyone giving Lola's mother false hope when it looks more and more like Lola must be dead, but Lee is hard to hate.

Friday, August 10, 2018

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula Le Guin (author), Barbara Caruso (narrator)

Recorded Books, January 2018 (original publication December 2017)

This is a collection of essays by Ursula K. Le Guin, who was one of our great American writers, and great science fiction and fantasy writers. Her many awards include being named  a Grand Master in 2003, by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

The essays were written as blog posts for the Book View Cafe blog, and range over a wide variety of subjects, including fan letters from children, the differences among fact, myth, and lies especially when talking to children, eating an egg, her cat Pard, both when she first adopted him, and as he matured and become a real and important personality in her home.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Probable Claws (Mrs. Murphy #26), by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown

Bantam, May 2018

Let's start by saying that Mrs. Murphy (tiger cat), Tucker (corgi), and even new recruit Pirate (Irish wolfhound puppy) are amazingly patient with Pewter (fat gray cat). Just saying!

Harry Haristeen is working with architect Gary Gardner on improvements to her barn and workspace, and all seems as peaceful as it ever is around Harry. Then the illusion of peace is shattered as Harry, Gary, and Deputy Cynthia Cooper are standing outside Gary's office. A motorcyclist, completely obscured in bike leathers and an opaque helmet drives up, shoots Gary fatally, and drives away.

Cooper's sincere plea to Harry that she stay out of the investigation really just means Harry has to be more careful. And, really, the deputies would probably never have paid really close attention to Gary's stolen and recovered paper copies of the building codes for every jurisdiction he's worked in going back to his days at Rankin Construction...right?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Children of Blood & Bone (Legacy of Orȉsha #1), by Tomi Adeyemi (author), Bahni Turpin (narrator)

MacMillan Audio, ISBN 9781250300119, March 2018

I loved this book. Now, if I can just say something more useful...

Tomi Adeyemi is Nigherian-American. This is a book grounded in Nigerian tradition, storytelling, and imagery, and reflecting, in mythic form, many of the tensions affecting contemporary American society. Because I listened ti the audiobook, I'm relying on Wikipedia for spellings.

The kingdom of Orȉsha once had a thriving culture of magic-wielding maji clans, living among the non-magical kosidàn. Then King Saran blamed the maji, all of them, for the death of his first family. He destroyed magic, by means that we don't fully understand at least in this first volume of the trilogy, and killed all the adult maji. Their underage children of likely magical talent, called diviners, are left alive, on the theory that they can now never become maji, but they and their kosidàn family members face punitive taxation and harsh punishment for even small offenses.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3), by Becky Chambers

Harper Voyager, July 2018

Chambers' Wayfarers stories are set in the Galactic Commons, a galactic federation of intelligent species, most of them significantly older than the newcomer humans. Each has looked at a different part of life in the Galactic Commons. This one is set in the Exodus Fleet, the fleet carrying the descendants of the last humans to leave Earth, fleeing its environmental collapse.

They're a distinctly different culture from the humans who settled Mars and the outer planets prior to that final collapse. Originally, they were looking for an Earthlike planet to start over on, and they wanted their descendants to be prepared for planetary life. In addition to their quite functional food- and oxygen-producing farms, they have decorative oxygen gardens, theaters that show nature videos of Earth, murals on the walls that, functionally, don't need to be anything but bare metal.

They also guard against the development of the competition and divisions that helped destroy Earth. Everyone has windows onto space in their living quarters. Everyone is guaranteed "if we have food they will eat, if we have air they will breathe, if we have fuel they will fly." Their economic system is barter.

And membership in the Galactic Commons has brought changes, changes that can disrupt this system.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Faceless Soldiers, Patchwork Ship, by Caroline M. Yoachim

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Ekundayo is a watch officer on a space station in a space polity at war. The enemy are the Faceless, aliens who are, in fact, patchwork creatures--parts from multiple different intelligent species, including humans. They are terrifying, representing not just an enemy power, but the potential loss of personal identity. A virus, the Patchwork virus, makes possible their easy addition and removal of alien parts, and no one on Ekundayo's side of the war understands their shared consciousness, or wants to.

Her sister Neva is a combat officer on the same station, but Ekundayo, with sickle cell trait, is not eligible for combat duty. She's on the station, though, because sickle cell trait gives some resistance to the Patchwork virus, and potentially useful for some...special missions.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings (Part 3), by Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis, July 2018

Again, this is part three, and you really want to read parts one and two first.

Hattie, Gary, and Cat are still working out what Gary's return means, but it's clear, also, that Gary's time as a visiting ghost is coming to an end. Hattie and Gary have managed to complete the errand the child ghost, Marty, asked of Gary, but there's still another, unfinished task, and even Gary's so-called spirit guide, Clarence, can't tell him what it is.

Cat is, of course, making a mess of her life, getting involved with her ex-husband, Stewart, again. Hattie has dated a couple of men, both of them complete losers, and she's worried that Gary's old friend, Barry, is getting the wrong idea from her friendliness.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Lady Astronaut of Mars (Lady Astronaut #2.5), by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tor Books, May 2014 (original publication December 2012)

Emma York led the expedition that paved the way for human life on Mars--thirty years ago. Now, much as she'd like to fly again, she's living on Mars, caring for her dying husband, and old enough that though she stays on the rolls, she know she has no realistic chance of once again crewing a spaceship.

Then a habitable planet is discovered in another solar system, and the first trip is going to be long and difficult in ways subsequent trips won't be. NASA has very good reasons for wanting to send an older astronaut, and someone who is very good PR.

Emma York is older, experienced, level-headed--and a popular, beloved public figure. NASA wants her to go.

And she wants to go. She wants very much to go. Except for one thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab, by Columbkill Noonan

Crooked Cat Books, 2017

In Victorian England, Barnabas Tew read the stories of Sherlock Holmes, and decided he would be a great detective, too. He attends university, completes his education, and then takes his small inheritance and sets up an office and home in London. He even acquires an assistant, Wilfred--who is perhaps more observant of detail and a more promising detective than Barnabas.

They don't have many successes, but they do find an Egyptian man's stolen ankh necklace. That man is happy and grateful, and might seem to be a great source of word of mouth advertising. However, he dies not long after.

His word of mouth advertising goes to Anubis, who, as it happens, does need a good detective. The scarab beetle in charge of rolling the sun around the sky has been stolen. Or kidnapped. And the Egyptian afterlife doesn't have any detectives.

So Barnabas and Wilfred are getting a crash course in the Egyptian afterlife and divine pantheon, something they both actually studied a bit--but clearly not enough--in the course of their educations.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Cowboy Pride (Wild Wyoming Hearts #3), by Lacy Williams

Lacy Williams, July 2017

This is a retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, set in the American West during the pioneer days.

Williams doesn't make the mistake of trying to make it too exact a match. The American West isn't Regency England. There are wealthy ranchers and social-climbing mamas, but there isn't nobility, and a female marshal is certainly an outlier, but not an impossibility.

And Mr. Bennett as a leather goods shop owner is respectably middle class, not beneath notice as merely being "in trade."

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Rejected Writers' Book Club (Southlea Bay #1), by Suzanne Kelman (author), Tanya Eby (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2016 (original publication October 2014)

This sounded like such a promising book.

Unfortunately, Our Protagonist, Janet Johnson, a librarian in Southlea Bay, Oregon, where she and her husband have lived for the last five years, is just a bit hard for me to like. It has not yet occurred to her that, really, she's a bit of a snob. Even at the end, when she has discovered the true grit and assorted other positive qualities of the ladies of the Rejected Writers' Book Club, she seems more mildly annoyed than anything else that these have become her local circle for friends.

Let's note in passing that after five years, these are the first friends she's made on the island.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Girl in the Gallery (The London Murder Mysteries #2), by Alice Castle

Crooked Cat Books, December 2017

Beth Haldane has had some weeks now, to settle into her new, significantly upgraded, position at the Wyatt school, and is taking a few moments on her lunch break to visit the nearby Picture Gallery and view some of her favorite "old friends" amongst the portraits there.

Unfortunately, this involves walking past the tomb of the founders of the Picture Gallery. Beth finds this pretty creepy, and tries to pass it while seeing as little as possible.

This doesn't prevent her from seeing a shocking flash of blood red out of the corner of her eye. Being a responsible adult, she has to check it out.

It's not blood. It's just red backpack.

But there is a body lying on top of the sarcophagus of one of the dead founders. She calls 999, and then she calls her police detective acquaintance, Harry York.

These are two likable, responsible adults, who are not altogether pleased with the attraction between them. I'm pleased to say that, for all Harry's complaints, Beth has learned something from her past experience with finding a dead body, and doesn't willfully place herself alone in the presence of a killer. She has also learned to share information with Harry, even if he's very annoying about a lack of reciprocal sharing, and frets too much for her tastes about budget restrictions on his ability to investigate everything.

Beth and Harry aren't the only characters, or the only relationship, to live and grow and change. The people we've met in Dulwich continue to become fuller, more developed characters, changed by the things that disrupt their lives.

It's a satisfying mystery, with characters I enjoyed spending time with.


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

Sunday, July 22, 2018

All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds (author), Brendan Kiely (author), Guy Lockard (narrator), Keith Nobbs (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442398672, September 2015

Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins are students at the same high school, just typical high school kids. Quinn is a star on the school basketball team. Rashad's not an athlete, but several of his friends are on the team with Quinn.

Rashad is black and Quinn is white.

One day, Rashad stops at the local bodega to pick up a bag of chips. A white woman accidentally trips over him, knocking them both to the floor. A cop sees them, and Rashad's backpack on the floor where it fell open, and leaps to the conclusion that Rashad was shoplifting. He seizes and starts beating on Rashad.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Revenant Gun (The Machineries of Empire #3), by Yoon Ha Lee (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Recorded Books, June 2018

Kel Cheris, with Jedao's memories sharing her brain, is seeking to destroy the greatest threat to the new calendar, which makes exotic effects contingent on the consent of the people targeted. That's the Nerai Hexarch, Kujen, whose immortality depends on maintaining the old calendar. (Yes, third book of a trilogy. Don't start here. Start with Ninefox Gambit; then Raven Strategem. You won't regret it.)

Kujen has created his own Jedao, who doesn't remember anything past age 17, but despite not having his memories, does seem to have the abilities he's told he has. Unfortunately, the fleet and the soldiers he's placed in command have to obey him, but they are free to hate him, because of a shocking massacre he committed but, of course, has no memory of.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings (Part 2), by Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis, March 2018

Hattie Hastings is being haunted--but not unpleasantly--by her late husband, Gary.  At the end of Part 1, her best friend, Cat, had just learned that Hattie is not delusional in her belief that Gay's ghost is a part of her life. Cat has also, meanwhile, met a much nicer guy than the jerk she used to be married to. The new guy is Jamie, a teacher and budding comedian.

With Gary three months dead, and his continued presence not evident to anyone but Hattie and Cat, guys are starting to notice her again. Gary has opinions, though not the opinion that she shouldn't be getting attention from guys. Son Johnny has gotten a job he likes, and brother Jack and his partner Ben have their own first encounter with ghostly Gary...

More seriously, Hattie and Jack's mother, Rachel, is clearly having health issues that, equally clearly, she's not willing to discuss.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Last Sister's Love (Brides & Twins #5)

Natalie Dean, July 2018

There's just one unmarried sister left in the Yankovich family, Anushka. She's eighteen now, and ready to marry and have her own home--but while her mother wants her to marry Pavel, the baker's son, she wants to join her sisters in Mesquite, Texas.

Meanwhile, in Mesquite, the oldest Turner son, William, is also eighteen, and thinking that next spring, when he turns nineteen, it a good time to get married. He's looking around, and seeing how happy the men are who've married Yandovich sisters.

This story doesn't just bring together two people ready for marriage and willing to take a chance. It also brings together to strong-willed, opinionated older women who had to raise their families alone after the tragic loss of their husbands--Eldora Kennesaw and Wanda Yankovich. It's an interesting conflict for everyone to deal with, especially as all the very independent Yankovich women find themselves fighting the impulse to revert to being daughters again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cottage by the Sea, by Debbie Macomber

Random House Publishing/Ballantine, ISBN 9780399181252, July 2018

Annie Marlow, living in Los Angeles and working a s a physician's assistant, has plans with her cousin and some friends for Thanksgiving day. When her mother calls just a few days before wanting her to come home for Thanksgiving instead, Annie stands her ground, and refuses to change her plans at the last minute. For a variety of reasons, I am cheering her on at this point, but I also know that this is a precursor to major guilt.

Early on Thanksgiving morning, she is awakened by a phone call from her aunt. A mudslide has swept her parents' home, and entire neighborhood, into the river. Her parents, brother and sister-in-law, and toddler niece, are all dead.

She has to return to Washington to deal with awful aftermath, painfully drawn out because of the class action lawsuit that follows. Annie can't deal with that from Los Angeles, so she stays in Washington, struggling with guilt and depression as well as the legal complexities.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Surprise Love:Mail Order Bride (Brides & Twins #4), by Natalie Dean

Natalie Dean, March 2018

Elzbieta Yankovich, the oldest unmarried Yankovich sister, was cheated of her chance at a marriage away from the Pennsylvania mines, when her sister Kasia got pregnant and their mother sent her to Texas, instead, to spare the family scandal and shame. Very much wanting a family of her own, Elzbieta is discouraged and unhappy, and considering becoming a nun, instead.

Then her sister Bonnie writes to her from Mesquite. Lincoln Duffy, something of a thorn in her side when she first arrived, has turned himself around. He's now the foreman on the Turner ranch, and has fixed up the foreman's cottage to be a comfortable home, even making a good garden for it. He's ready for a wife, and he's impressed by the two Yankovich sisters who have married into the Kennesaw household. He remembers that they have another unmarried sister, the one who was supposed to marry Will Henry, before Kasia was sent in her place.

Elzbieta decides that this is her chance.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Death in Dulwich (The London Murder Mysteries #1), by Alice Castle

Crooked Cat Books, September 2017

Beth Haldane, single mom getting by on freelance work, has landed the job of assistant archivist at swank local school Wyatt's. With her training mostly in journalism, she's not sure she's really up to it, but she was honest in the application process, and they've hired her. In addition to stabilizing their financial situation, she hopes it will eventually mean her son, Ben, will have a better chance at getting into this excellent school when the time comes.

She's hoping for a really good first day of work.

Instead, her new boss proves to be as creepy as she had hoped he wasn't really, and, in a mixed blessing, escorts her to the archivist shed and leaves her to go, he says, to a meeting. He doesn't return. At lunchtime, she heads out to meet the school's admin, Janice, for lunch, and stumbles over her boss's dead body. There's a knife, and a lot of blood, and a handkerchief over his face.

It's a really awful first day of work.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Wrong Bride:A Christmas Mail Order Bride Romance (Brides & Twins #3), by Natalie Dean & Eveline Hart

Natalie Dean, Eveline Hart, December 2017 decide

Encouraged by his brother Zachary's experience in marrying mail-order bride Bonnie Yankovich, Will Henry Kennesaw asks if her sister, Elzbieta, would be willing to come west and marry him. She agrees, and when the great day arrives, he, his brother Zachary, and sister-in-law Bonnie, are in town to meet the stagecoach bringing in...
Bonnieand  Elzbieta's younger sister, Kasia.

Who is pregnant.

Kasia was working as a maid in a wealthy family's home, and was seduced by the son of the house. He promised he'd marry her, but of course his parents fired her and sent their son off the Europe.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings (Part 1), by Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis, November 2017

Gary Hastings is, in a small way, demonstrating what a sweet guy he is, and why after more than twenty years Hattie still loves him, when he's hit by a car and killed.

It's a devastating loss emotionally, and there are endless practical details to be dealt with too, and on top of that, their son, Johnny, is still not getting his act together and getting a job after dropping out of university.

It's all right on the edge of being too much to handle.

Then, one evening, Gary pops back in.

He's not quite corporeal, but he can still enjoy his favorite whisky. And he is, after the initial shock, a pleasure and a comfort for Hattie to see and talk to again. Unfortunately, Gary can't control his comings and goings.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Taming the Rancher:Mail Order Bride (Brides & Twins #2), by Natalie Dean

Natalie Dean, September 2017

Bonnie Yankovich, determined not to marry a many who made his living in the dangerous and filthy coal mines, takes the risk of agreeing to be a mail-order bride. She travels from Pittsburgh to Mesquite, Texas to marry Zachary Taylor Kennesaw, a rancher.

When she gets off the stagecoach, she discovers her husband to be, in front of the general store, waiting for her. He has no hat and no shirt, and for the moment no horse, having lost them all in a poker game. But he's handsome and charming, happy to meet her, and not concerned about the losses.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dear Sarah, by Nancy Kress

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Aliens arrived, and they came bearing environmentally safe energy, and robots that do what was left of factory work. No mine work, no factory work, and the wonderful partnership with the Lickinites is profitable for those higher up the economic food chain, but devastating for those at the bottom.

There is, consequently, resistance, armed resistance, terrorist resistance.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Soldier's Love (Brides & Twins #1), by Natalie Dean

Natalie Dean, July 2017

Mary O'Hara has grown up on a plantation in what will soon be West Virginia, when the Civil War breaks out. The Turner plantation employs hired workers, not slaves--and the relative lack of slavery in the western part of the state was a big part of why West Virginia split off from Virginia, rather than fight to preserve slavery. John Turner has two sons, and like many families, the Turners divided. Will joined the Confederate Army; James joined the Union Army.

And James tells Mary's father, Liam, about the $500 bonus some rich northerners are paying men to take their places in the Union Army. Liam wants his daughter to be more than just a hired worker, and $500 is a fortune for them, so he goes.

Will and Liam both die in combat. James is captured at Cold Harbor, and sent to the infamous Adersonville POW camp. When the war ends, nothing is heard from him,and he does not return. John Turner redoes his will; all his staff assume he has left the plantation to one or both of his second cousins, the only remaining Turners.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Moon is Not a Battlefield, by Indrapramit Das

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Gita is an asura, a soldier of India taken from their parents at a young age, and raised on the Moon to be a soldier defending India's lunar territory. Their friend, Adita, a friend back to those early childhood days in an Indian slum, is also.

Or rather, they were those things. Now, Gita is back on Earth, talking to a journalist, telling their story. They met the journalist on the Moon, before things changed.

This is a fairly grim, but not hopeless story for Gita, but contains the possibility of a brighter future for humanity as a whole. And Gita, Adita, and their comrades in arms are interesting people who've lived interesting lives.

I liked Gita, and I like what we get to know of the journalist. Recommended.

I bought the anthology that includes this story.

Monday, July 9, 2018

In Everlasting Wisdom, by Aliette de Bodard

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Ai Thi is a harmoniser, a servant of the Everlasting Emperor, whose job is to help keep the population on the station where she lives happy, calm, and productive. To this end, she has had an alien parasite, or symbiont, implanted in her. It's called the appeaser, and together they are able to send calming thoughts and emotions, and the wisdom of the Everlasting Emperor, to the people around them, on their daily rounds.

This is vital, and challenging, because the Empire is at war. We don't know who they're at war with, but it may not be going well. rations are growing steadily tighter. Ai Thi enlisted as an appeaser because she needed an income sufficient to support her daughter--and Second Aunt, with whom her daughter now lives, because Ai Thi is living in the harmonisers' barracks.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Overburden, by Genevieve Valentine

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Davis is a colonel in a a colonial war, and he dreams of being a general. His wife, Catherine, is enjoying the music and society in the occupied city, and active in charitable organizations. Davis worries that this might make her look too sympathetic to the colonials, and damage his reputation. He authorizes his intelligence officer, Carter, to try to lure some of the opposition forces to the army's side, but he doubts Carter's judgment. He questions the intentions of a soldier who is skimming dead carp off the water nearby, and who occasionally is the soldier who brings him meals.

The problem is not necessarily the people around Davis.

It's an interesting story, and perhaps, depending on how you look at it, a bit less grim than some of the other stories in this anthology.

It is, like all of them, well-written.

I bought the anthology that includes this story.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate (author),Emily Rankin (narrator), Catherine Taber (narrator)

Random House Audio, June 2017

In 1939, the five Foss children, four girls and a boy, are living a happy, even magical life on the river in Tennessee, with their loving parents, in a houseboat.

In the present day, Avery Stafford has moved home from Maryland and a position as a federal prosecutor, to Aiken, South Carolina, to support her parents during her father's cancer treatment, and to be groomed to, possibly, run for her father's Senate seat if he has to step down.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Heavies, by Rich Larson

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Dexter is a combat soldier assigned to a colony world that, fifty years earlier, rebelled against the Combine. It's a peaceful world, now, and the inhabitants are physically adapted to their world--lighter-gravity and wetter than the world Dexter and his fellow soldiers and the Combine's miners are adapted to. Dexter is on planet alone, with his support in orbit and at the other end of a link. He's there to be the eyes and ears of the Combine, to watch out for any lingering resentment, resistance, or hostility.

He's not finding any.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Racing Hearts (Klein's K-9s #1), by Marcia James

Marcia James, December 2015

Tom Tyler is, or rather was, a champion race car driver. Then he had a crash, and a traumatic brain injury. He has seizures, and may never drive again. He certainly won't be driving race cars again.

He's hiding out in a little cottage on his parents' property, avoiding the media, and everyone else except his parents. He's depressed, and convinced he has no future. His dream is gone.

Then Meg Klein knocks on his door. She's the younger sister of his high school girlfriend, but she's also, now, co-owner, with her aunt, of Klein's K-9s, a successful non-profit which trains service and therapy dogs for people with a wide variety of handicaps and disabilities. She has brought with her an experienced seizure alert dog who former handler, an elderly woman, has died.

He's a hairless Chinese Crested Dog, with hair on only his head, feet, and tail.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Closed Circles (Sandhamn #2), by Viveca Sten (author), Laura A. Wideburg (translator), Angela Dawe (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2016 (original publication April 2009)

It's a year later, the summer after the events in Still Waters, and an important yacht race is happening at Sandhamn. Thomas is a spectator, a guest on the marine police boat he once captained, when the starting gun fires--and the prominent lawyer, commanding a yacht favored to win, collapses to the deck of his yacht.

It wasn't the starting gun that killed him, of course, but someone used the starting gun as cover for the sound of t was the rifle they used to shoot Oscar Juliander.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Provenance, by Ann Leckie (author), Adjoa Andoh (narrator)

Hachette Audio, September 2017

This is a return to the universe of the Radchaai, but not their empire or its fleet.

Ingray Aughskold, of Hwae, daughter of a prominent politician, is on a mission. Not for her mother, but for herself. She wants to be her mother's heir, and her mother has set her and her brother up to constantly compete to impress her.  That brother, Danach, is often a jerk, but he is more of a risk-taker than Ingray, and has simply created more opportunities for their mother to be impressed.

Ingray has a plan to fix that, taking a major risk with, potentially, huge reward. She's paid for a convicted thief of vestiges, the vital mementos that are critical to social and political status on Hwae, to be retrieved from a prison planet from which no one ever returns, to recover the vestiges he stole.

He arrives in stasis, and when removed from his stasis pod, he claims he's not the man she expected, Pahlad Budrakim. There are also problems with the somewhat dubious freighter captain she hired to bring them back to Hwae. The Ambassador of the alien Geck, en route to the conclave to discuss the rebel Radch AIs' request to be recognized as a significant species under the treaty, also makes problems, claiming that the freighter captain is a Geck citizen, and that he stole three ships, including the one he is now using in his freight business.

This is all only a tiny glimmer of the problems they'll have when they get to Hwae.

Ingray is a smart, capable young woman, who does not have the killer instinct of her mother or brother. This causes them and others to form certain assumptions about her, while others in her small circle of family and friends perhaps have a different view of her. This isn't the intense drama and galaxy-shaking drama of the Ancillary books. It's a smaller, more intimate story, closer to a comedy of manners. This doesn't mean the stakes aren't very real, for everyone involved, and Ingray does a lot of growing and maturing over the course of the story.

This reads like a standalone, but I'd be happy to see more of Ingray and her friends, should they turn up in future books. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Boston Homicide (The City Murders #1), by John C. Dalglish (author), Rich McVicar (narrator)

John C. Dalglish, December 2015

Boston Police Officer Danny Sullivan has just gotten his promotion to Detective, something his father and grandfather never achieved in their careers. He, his wife, and his whole family are thrilled.

But his first case with his new, much more experienced partner, is a missing woman, a nurse at Boston Medical Center, who very shortly turns up dead. She had previously reported a prowler, but there is little evidence to go on. All the usual suspects, her boyfriend, her ex-husband, her coworkers, have alibis, and just don't seem good fits for what happened.

Then a second woman vanishes, and is soon found dead, in the same place the first woman's body was found. There's a superficial similarity, in height, dark eyes, dirty blonde hair. Both bodies, and the site they were left at, are remarkably "clean," the only possible clue being a single footprint, indicating that their killer may have been wearing boat shoes. Oh, and she'd reported a prowler recently, too.

When Danny takes it on himself to look at the last year's worth of prowler reports, he finds a recent large uptick--from women who have dark eyes and dirty blonde hair, who are about the same height as the two murder victims. When he begins to suspect that the killer could be a cop, he knows he's treading on very dangerous ground.

Danny's dilemma, as well as the strain on his wife, nine months pregnant and due any day now, from his long hours, is very well handled. What's also well handled is the setting. Often when a book is set in Boston, I wind up wincing every few minutes because what we get is Boston As Seen On TV, not the real city. I don't know whether Dalglish has a Boston background, or just does really good research, but nothing leaped out at me as wrong. The few times I even had a question, a few seconds on Google showed me that he'd gotten it right. (For instance, a parish in Southie that has changed its name in recent years, and a T station that's on a part of the system I've never used regularly.)

It's a good, solid, police procedural, with real tension and good characterization. On top of that, it gets a city I know and love right for a change!

I bought this audiobook.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Twist of Faith, by Ellen J. Green (author), Angela Dawe (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, February 2018

Ava Hope Saunders, six months after the death of her adopted mother Claire, is still searching for the identity of her birth mother. The story she's been told, of being found wrapped in a blanket in a Philadelphia church when she was less than two months old, doesn't match memories of some very frightening events, when she was a toddler, or of a mother who wasn't Claire.

She takes a picture she's found in her mother's things, of a house, and visits it. It's unoccupied at present, but a neighbor tells her there was a terrible murder there five years ago, of the couple who lived there, by an apparent intruder. The murder was never solved.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Conversations with an Armory, by Garth Nix

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Three military officers are at the entrance to an armory, or rather Armory, run by a sentient AI, needing to get in. We don't at first know exactly where we are, and circumstances come out gradually, as officers under stress try to explain themselves to an AI controlling a sensitive military facility that was partially shut down more than a decade ago.

They're on a ship, and after some frustration on both sides, they manage to identify an officer on the ship that the AI recognizes as being in its chain of command...who unfortunately is in very bad condition. Not really functional at all.

They rig a cable to reconnect the Armory AI to the ship brain, and the situation starts to clarify.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder--A Journey into the Wild World of Nuclear Science, by James Mahaffey (author), Keith Sellon-Wright (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, June 2017

James Mahaffey is former senior research scientist in nuclear physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who, as he says near the end of this book, now writes books. If you enjoy geeks geeking on about what they love (and I very much do), his books are a lot of fun.

This one is about some of the wilder and woollier adventures in atomic energy, bombs, scientific frauds, and all the things that make a life in science a lot more exciting than someone thinking of it only as, you know, science, might reasonably assume.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Evening of Their Span of Days, by Carrie Vaughn

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6, edited by Jonathan Strahan)

Opal is a dock manager on Tennant Station, out on the edge of human-occupied space. It's not clear what the political setup is; it's more implied than stated that there is more than one human polity, necessitating a Military Division. They don't seem to have encountered any alien civilizations.

But there are rumors, and strange sightings. Opal hears about them as she goes about her duties, making sure her subordinates have as much of what they need for work on ships in dock as she can wrangle. She's also trying to keep them focused on priorities, and running interference with ship captains in a hurry, who weren't necessarily open about how much work their ships needed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Command and Control, by David D. Levine

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:The Infinity Project #6, edited by Jonathan Strahan)

Amirthi Kandiah is a sergeant in the Indian army, fighting in a war to liberate Tibet from Chinese domination, at some unstated but reasonably distant point in the future. She and her squad are on a well-planned attack, when it turns out the Chinese are both more numerous and more aggressive than expected. They get themselves out, with losses, but also the unexpected gain of a Chinese soldier's tablet.

The one thing they manage to learn from that tablet before it self-destructs is that General Fu Jiaoyang is in Tibet, in direct control of the Chinese troops. If they can take her out, the war is probably over.

If they can take her out.

If only she weren't sitting inside a World Heritage site. If they destroy the site in the process of killing her, they'll have destroyed much of their rationale for fighting the war.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Perfect Gun, by Elizabeth Bear

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:The Infinity Project #6, edited by Jonathan Strahan)

John Steel is a mercenary.

He buys a lovely rig, a decommissioned war machine, restores her, and deletes all the inconvenient safety, morality, and Geneva software that would keep him from earning his living in what he's come to consider the only reliable way.

He's a mercenary, and he doesn't insist on working for the bad guys, but mostly that's who hires him.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Great Passage, by Shion Miura (author), Juliet Winters Carpenter (translator), Brian Nishii (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, June 2017 (original publication January 2011)

Kohei Araki falls in love with words and dictionaries as a boy. When a university education makes it clear to him that he's a good but not academic-level lexicographer, he goes to work for Gembu Books, and makes dictionaries.

More than thirty years later, he's nearing retirement. His greatest work, The Great Passage, a top-level dictionary of the Japanese language, is well under way, but not yet complete, and he needs to recruit a successor.

He finds Mitsuya Majimi, a disheveled, seemingly unpromising, young man, who nevertheless proves to share his love of words and their power.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

One Sunny Night (The Adventures of Sonny Knight #1), by Charon Dunn

Leaping Lagomorph, January 2016

Leroy Knight is fifteen, is nice enough looking, and has no particular talents. This is a real problem in his nation of Braganza in 3147, because talent is what his culture is all about. His family loves him, and worries for him.

Then a silly accident gives him a little notoriety, an accidental resemblance to an international clashball sports hero, Rufus Marshall. In an especially silly publicity stunt, Rufe's team, the Vanram Rams, invites Leroy and his family to the championship game.

What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Still Waters (Sandhamn #1), by Viveca Sten (author), Marlaine Delargy (translator), Angela Dawe (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, October 2015 (original publication 2008)

A body washes up on the beach of the island of Sandhamn, in Sweden, and at first it looks like an accident. It takes a while to identify him, but Krister Berggren seemingly just had an accidental fall off a boat, and wasn't noticed in time. Police Detective Thomas Andreasson identifies him, and talks to Krister's only close relative, his cousin Kicki Berggren, in Stockholm, and is about to close the case when Kicki turns up dead, apparently badly beaten, in a bed-and-breakfast on Sandhamn.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Addictive Brain (The Great Courses: Better Living), by Thad A. Polk (author, narrator)

The Great Courses, March 2015

Addiction is a word that is often tossed around casually, but real addiction is a serious and complex problem. This is a look at what we know about the biological aspects of addiction, the role that human physiology and genetics play in making addiction, and in treating addiction.

Polk starts off by defining what he means by addiction in this book, the stricter definition of actual physical addiction, with continued use of the addictive substance despite serious negative consequences, and often despite a real desire and effort on the part of the addict to quit. Then he explains what's going on in the body, in creating and maintaining addiction. This includes the research in twin studies and in animal models--mostly mice, who are surprisingly genetically similar to us.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Their Lost Daughters (DI Jackman & DS Evans #2), by Joy Ellis (author), Richard Arimitage (narrator)

Audible Studios, June 2018

DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans are working a missing persons case seeking the daughter of one of their own coworkers. Finding a body is heartbreaking, but at least an answer.

Unfortunately, there are still questions. The girl's body has signs of drugs she wouldn't have taken willingly. They have another case dropped on them from a neighboring jurisdiction, which claims it's got a work overload.

And an old case, of a disappeared little girl who was never found, is also handed to them, as a high priority, because the mother, who has never given up, is making another media push to get her found.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Last Year, by Robert Charles Wilson (author), Scott Brick (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, December 2016

Jesse Cullum is one of the local employees of the city of Futurity, a man of the 1870s hired first to help build and then to be a security guard for the city.

Futurity is a city built by people from the 21st century, who have technology that allows them to travel into, not their own past, but into an alternate past, a past that appears to be theirs, but in which changes won't affect their own time. The technology is said to be a product of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and licensed to a wealthy industrialist named Kemp when it proved to have no military value. He's using it to run tours of the 1870s for the well-heeled of the 21st century, while offering the natives of the 1870s a carefully selective view of the 21st century. The gateway, the "mirror," will only remain open for five years, allegedly to avoid having too much impact on this alternate world, and it's now the start of Futurity's last year.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Murder of a Silent Man (DCI Isaac Cook #8), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, June 2018

Gilbert Lawrence was a real estate magnate of great wealth, and also an eccentric and a complete recluse. He has not left his home in thirty years, barring weekly visits to the local liquor store, and one visit, twenty years ago, to a dentist.

Now he's dead, murdered in his own front yard, discovered by the postman.

He has also left a will leaving his lawyer in control of his wealth, with relatively small amounts doled out to his daughter, his son, his grandchildren, and his sister, under very tight conditions.

DCI Cook and his team have to untangle the family relationships, the intentions of the lawyers, the other entanglements of family members. Lawrence's son and daughter had every reason to believe they would inherit many millions of pounds on their father's death. No one else seems to have any obvious motive. And yet....

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Secret, Book, & Scone Society (Miracle Springs, North Carolina #1), by Ellery Adams (author), Cris Dukehart (narrator)

Dreamscape Media, November 2017

Nora Pennington moved to Miracle Springs after a terrible personal tragedy, and opened a bookstore, Miracle Books. She sells books, and coffee, and for those customers who need it, over a "comfort scone" from the neighboring Gingerbread House bakery, she'll listen to their troubles, and recommend well-chosen books to start them on the path to healing.

It's a peaceful, quiet life, until one day, the customer in need of healing is Neil Parrish. He makes an appointment to see her the next day, but is killed by a train before he can keep that appointment. It's not long before the clumsy official investigation into the death connects Nora with three other women who moved to Miracle Springs for their own healing. They form the Secret, Book, & Scone Society. They share their secrets, and launch their own investigation of Neil Parrish's death.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Digging In, by Loretta Nyhan (author), Mary Robinette Kowal (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, April 2018

Paige Moresco met her true love in eighth grade.

They married right out of college, and had a son, Trey.

When  Trey was in his early teens, though, Jesse died in a car crash.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Brody: The Betting Billionaire (Billionaire Cowboys of Clearwater County #3), by Bonnie R. Paulson

Captiva Publishing, June 2018

Kate Mattese is n a tough situation, financially. She had to leave vet tech school when her father lost is job in the economic crash, her mother had to stop working as a nurse due to an injury, and as a result of the confluence of rough blows, they lost their house. Kate and her mom are living in a trailer, and her father is working in the oil fields of North Dakota. He sends money, but less and less, at longer and longer intervals.

Kate is working any jobs she can get to just pay the rent at the trailer park and keep food on the table. With nothing else in sight, she's grateful to see an opening for a dealer at the casino, and goes there to apply.

It has already been filled, and there won't be new openings until the end of the month. She doesn't have enough to wait that long.