Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Lost World (Professor Challenger #1), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author), Glen McReady (narrator)

Naxos AudioBooks, February 2008 (original publication 1912)

In London, in 1907, Irishman Edward Malone is a journalist, and also has a certain reputation as an athlete. What he doesn't have, in the eyes of his beloved Gladys, is fame and a reputation for daring, romantic adventure. On these grounds, she utterly rejects him.

Malone is not yet ready to give up, though, and appeals to his editor for an assignment that will give him the scope for adventure and fame that Gladys wants the man she marries to have.

His editor sends him off to interview Professor Challenger, a naturalist who returned from South America with a wild tale no one believes, about impossible prehistoric beasts still alive there. Oh, and Challenger has assaulted those who disbelieve him too directly.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Dead and Breakfast (A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery #1), by Kate Kingsbury (author), Tavia Gilbert (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, January 2017

Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza Harris, are renovating a big, old home in Sully's Landing, Oregon, to open a bed & breakfast inn, when they find a skeleton in a hidden room. It's quickly identified as Angela Morelli, wife of Vincent Morelli, the last couple to live there. Angela had vanished, believed to have deserted wheelchair-bound Vincent, and Vincent had gone to live with his son, Tony. Now that Vincent is dead, Tony had finally sold the empty house...

Melanie and Liza's renovation plans, and therefore their opening plans, are now on hold until the police release the second floor as no longer a crime scene. This wouldn't be a huge problem if this cold case didn't quickly get shoved to the side by more active cases. With potential financial ruin staring them in the face, it's no wonder Melanie and Liza decide to investigate on their own.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Creatures of Light (Creatures of Light #3), by Emily B. Martin

Harper Voyager, ISBN 9780062688835, January 2018

Queen Gemma of Alcoro is sitting in prison a the start of this book--a prison for the high-born, discreetly known as The Retreat, but a prison nonetheless. This trilogy has been a story of a clash of cultures and kingdoms, and Gemma's choices in the midst of larger conflicts in the previous  books have branded her a traitor. She's awaiting trial and sentencing. There's no chance of changing the verdict, she's concluded, but she hopes she can at least make her case to her husband, King Celeno, and a few councilors, that peace, not war with their neighbors, will be better for Alcoro. She's convinced that the Prophecy Alcoro uses to guide its policies is being used badly.

And then a stranger works her way into The Retreat, and smuggles Gemma out.

Except the woman isn't a stranger, not really, and she has stunning information that might be a means to change Alcoro's course, and prevent war. If she can make first Celeno, and then their neighbors, to accept what they've found and move in a new direction.

It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America, by David Cay Johnston (author), Danny Campbell (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781508254898, January 2018

David Cay Johnston is a working journalist who has covered Donald Trump for decades, and has written two previous books about him. In this book, he looks not at Trump's personal life and all the possible, ah, colorful details, which at this writing are much in the news, but strictly at his actions as President, and his business dealings that explain and illuminate those actions.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Bachelor Establishment, by Jodi Taylor (writing as Isabella Barclay) (author), Anna Bentinck (narrator)

Audible Studios, May 2015

Elinor Bascombe, widowed and living on the impoverished estate that now belongs to her long-absent brother-in-law, George, has worked hard to restore it and make it at least somewhat profitable. She's out riding her horse, Rufus, when she accidentally nearly rides down Lord Ryde--returned to his neighboring estate after twenty years following a scandal.

Lord Ryde is there to strip his estate of all possible resources, and then leave for a new life in America. In addition to their unfortunate first meeting, it's another point of conflict between Mrs. Bascombe and Lord Ryde that he believes George Bascombe, who had saved Elinor's life, also caused the elder Lord Ryde's death while robbing the safe in which much of the Ryde wealth was stored.

Their determination to coolly ignore each other is thwarted when Elinor Bascombe is shot, and due to distance needs to be brought to Lord Ryde's Rushford estate rather than the Bascombe estate.

It all becomes much more alarming when it becomes clear that Mrs. Bascombe wasn't an accidental victim. What happened the night Elinor was nearly killed and George Bascombe left, and stopped at Rushford when the elder Lord Ryde died, becomes a mystery that has to be solved.

Elinor Bascombe, John Ryde, and their friends, neighbors, and servants are great characters, likable and interesting. It's a pleasure to listen to their story. If you like Regencies and like mature characters, go for it.


I bought this audiobook.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Treacherous Curse, by Deanna Raybourn

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451476173, January 2018

Veronica Speedwell and Revelstoke Templeton-Vane--Stoker--are working away at their respective restoration and cataloging duties in the Belvedere, the future museum on the grounds of the home of the Earl of Rosemorran. It's the Earl's family collection of animals, insects, devices, and other oddities that they are cataloging.

Then an expedition to Egypt returns, with treasures, a story of a curse killing members of the expedition, and the expedition photographer, John de Morgan, missing, along with a valuable diadem found in the tomb the Tivington expedition excavated on this trip.

De Morgan was once Stoker's best friend. He's now married to Stoker's former wife, Caroline, who left Stoker apparently dying in the Amazon. Caroline returned to Britain and divorced him, claiming cruelty, and in the process destroying his reputation.

De Morgan may be a thief, who has stolen the diadem to finance an escape from his tempestuous marriage. Or he may be dead, killed by the real thief. If de Morgan is dead, Stoker is the most likely suspect in his murder.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Wizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker, by Ed Piskor

Top Shelf Productions, ISBN 9781603090971, July 2012

Kevin Phenicle is a budding young hacker in the early days of phone phreaking. He's smart, he's shy, he's not really social, not close to anyone except his grandma and his friend Winston. And he's just fascinated by computers and what you can do with them.

And all the information you can access with them, and a little ingenuity and social engineering.

Kevin in not a bad kid. He's a good kid. Even his first prison term doesn't change that.

He's in or near all the big developments in hacking over the next few decades. Except for a tendency to think stealing services from major corporations, like what is still Ma Bell for the early part of his career, he's honest, kind, respectful of others.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Under Investigation: U.S. Grant Short Mysteries, by Jeffrey Marks (author), Nick Mortise (narrator)

Jeffrey Marks, June 2014

This is a collection of short stories with U.S. Grant investigating murders. They're in no particular order, the first taking place after the Civil War, and the rest at various points during the war. In one, it's not Grant, but his horse, investigating the murder.

Honestly, I liked that one the best.

The characterization is mostly good. There's good attention to the mores and social assumptions of the time. The plots, sadly, are just a little too pat, and seem like a waste of a great character like Grant, and of course his horse.

Not bad, but, really, nothing special.

I bought this audiobook.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons From Neuroscience (The Great Courses), by Indre Viskontas (author, narrator)

The Great Courses, ISBN 9781501960154, February 2017

This is another take on advances in modern brain science. Viskontas' approach is to start each chapter with a popular myth about the brain, for instance the idea that we use only 10% of our brains, and then give us an overview of what current neuroscience tells us about this particular myth. This is Great Courses offering, so it's in the form of two dozen lectures, each under an hour. Viskontas is a lively lecturer, who tells stories, and weaves in personal background where it's enlightening, and altogether kept me completely engaged.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Super Spy, by Matt Kindt

Top Shelf Productions, ISBN 9781891830969, September 2007

This is a collection of short stories about spies in World War II, interconnected but in no particular order. In theory, they could be read sequentially by using the dossier numbers, but with the ebook version, I found this impractical.

It is, nevertheless, perfectly possible, after a few stories, to start to see the connections among them. Taking place in Spain, France, Germany, Britain, and Russia, we see the terror, price, loves, and mistakes of the spies. I won't say there's not room to be confused. However, keep reading, and it all hangs together, and we get to know and care about the spies.

The art is intentionally comic-strip art. Large parts are in sepia tones. Others are in full cartoon-color. It's simple and strong, not sophisticated, and reaching directly for the emotions.

In the end, I didn't care for the disjointed arrangement of the stories, but I certainly don't regret reading it.

I bought this books.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Gumballs, by Erin Nations

IDW, December 2016

Erin Nations is one of triplet girls--or at least, that's how it appears when the babies are born. As Erin grows, though, Erin starts to realize that girlness just doesn't relate to who Erin is.

Erin is a trans boy. We follow his story as he realizes his true gender identity, and gradually starts to express and assert it. We also meet some of Erin's friends, especially Tobias, who is discovering and asserting his sexual orientation.

The art is colorful, but intentionally simple and direct. It's not a tale filled with angst, but neither is it excessively simplified and dumbed down. It's engaging, and seems to me realistic rather than either overly grim or overly rosy.

A good read.

I bought this book.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

110 Per¢, by Tony Consiglio

Top Shelf Productions, October 2012 (original publication July 2006)

Three adult women are fans of a boy band, 110 Per. They belong to a club more "mature adult fans" of the band, attend meetings, collect memorabilia, search the internet for pictures.

There's a new album coming out, and a concert in their city.

Laws will be broken. Friendships will shatter. Marriages will crack. Careers may be threatened.

Some, but not all, having been caught up in the mad obsession with celebrity, will regain their footing, with or without giving up the band they love.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Neogenesis (Liaden #21), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Eileen Stevens (narrator)

Audible Studios, January 2018

A number of larger plot arcs come together in Neogenesis.

Theo Waitley and her ship Bechimo are about to come head to head with the people who want Bechimo, as an independent complex logic, destroyed. Val Con and Miri finally have a survey team from the trade authority coming to evaluate Surebleak port for an upgrade to recognition as a reliable regional port.

Daav and Aelliana are progressing through their rehabilitation in their new bodies, just as Uncle receives very disturbing news about his sister.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Crown Prince's Bride (Royal Duology #2), by Donna Alward

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250142597, January 2018

The tiny kingdom of Marazur has been through a challenging year, with the death of Crown Prince Raoul's wife, Cecilia, and a near-scandal involving his younger brother Diego and Rose, nanny to Raoul and Cecilia's children, Max and Emilia. Rose and Diego are now engaged, but Raoul is still broken-hearted, unable to imagine ever finding true love again, and equally unable to imagine spending the rest of his life alone.

Meanwhile, with his father's advancing years and declining health, Raoul is able to bury himself in the work of running the tiny kingdom. Helping him keep things running smoothly is his assistant, Stephani. She's been there all the time, mostly in the background, for nearly ten years. She's smart, capable, efficient--and beautiful and kind. And Cecilia's cousin.

At Diego and Rose's engagement party, after too much scotch, they exchange a kiss. Then they both try very, very hard to forget it.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Big Meow (Feline Wizrds #3), by Diane Duane

Ebooks Direct, February 2011

In the third story of the feline wizards, Rhiow and her fellow gate technicians face an innocent-seeming problem that proves to be the first manifestation of a major crisis.

The L.A. worldgate keeps moving around and has never spawned another gate, but now it's acting even stranger than usual. Rhiow and her team, the most skilled gate technicians around, head to L.A. to help the feline wizard responsible for that gate. Things get stranger yet, when Hwaith, the wizard responsible for the gate in the 1940s, timeslides forward to ask for their help in his own time. Their current problems are rooted there, and can't be solved without solving Hwaith's problems.

I freely admit that I love Duane's feline wizards. They're pretty convincing intelligent, talking cats, and I love Rhiow in particular. This is an adventure that blends the wizards, the Powers, Native American beliefs and history, and Hollywood of the 1940s. Damon Runyon is a significant character.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Christmas Train, by David Baldacci (author), Tim Matheson (narrator)

Hachette Audio, December 2004

Journalist Tom Langdon is tired and disillusioned, and has abandoned his career as a war correspondent to write fluff pieces. He's living in Washington, but has a girlfriend in L.A. Temporarily banned from air travel, he boards a train to reach L.A. by Christmas.

He's thinking he can probably get a story out of this, about the mix of people from all walks of live traveling across America. He has no idea what he's about to experience. Transcontinental train travel necessarily crosses some rugged territory, but the big surprise Tom gets, early on, is that old lover and reporting partner Eleanor is one of the "Hollywood people" he's heaTherd are on the train.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Elsewhere, Vol. 1, by Jay Faerber (story), Sumeyye Kesgin (art), Ron Riley (colorist), Thomas Mauer (lettering)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534304697, January 2018

What happened to Amelia Earhart, when she disappeared over the Pacific on her around the world flight?

Her plane had engine trouble, and she and Fred Noonan had to bail out. Then they fell through a hole in spacetime...

Amelia finds herself in the middle of a rebellion by not-quite-human people against the evil lord who has driven them from their homes and is brutally oppressing them. She needs to find Fred, and that means helping her new friends, Cort  and Tavel, rescue their friends. Along the way, they encounter swarming, flesh-eating insects, and find shelter from them in a Nazi submarine stranded in the trees.

She also meets up with another person who famously disappeared after jumping out of a plane.

Flying steeds, flesh-eating insects, freedom fighters, dark lords, and Nazi subs in trees are a lot to adjust to in short order, but Amelia is tough, resourceful,and determined. The story is fast-paced, and the art grabbed my eyes and helped keep me engaged.


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

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Wedding at Two Love Lane, by Kieran Kramer

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250111067, January 2018

Greer Jones is one of the three partners at Two Love Lane, a matchmaking agency. For years she dated her high school boyfriend, and everyone expected them to marry--but when he proposed, she realized she didn't love him, and said no.

It's just as well her business is in Charleston, South Carolina, rather than her little home town of Waterloo, Wisconsin, because everyone, including her parents, thinks she did the wrong thing.

But now, on the same day she finds out her old boyfriend, Wesley, is engaged, she attends a charity auction and loses out on a beautiful wedding dress with a magical story to it, to one of the few clients she was never able to find a soulmate for. He makes it clear he's going to use it in some revenge plan.

At the same auction, she meets an artist, who is handsome, charming, and only in Charleston temporarily. He says his name is Ford Smith. He wants to paint her portrait.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Autobiography of Santa Claus, as told to Jeff Guinn (author), John H. Mayer (narrator)

Listen & Live Audio, December 2004 (original publication 1994)

Nicholas of Myra, the Bishop of Myra, eventually St. Nicholas, was the real, historical bishop who became the basis of St. Nicholas/Father Christmas/Santa Claus, beloved gift-giver to children at the darkest time of the year.

This is Nicholas of Myra's own story, in his own words, of how he became Santa Claus. It's light, upbeat story for the holiday season, as Nicholas and slowly growing band of helpers both create Christmas traditions, and respond to traditions that develop without their help.