Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata (author), Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator), Nancy Wu (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, ISBN 9781538584552, June 2018 (original publication July 2016)

Keiko Furukara is thirty-six years old, and was a misfit everywhere, in her family and at school, until at the age of eighteen she began working in a new branch of national convenience store chain Smile Mart. The store employee manual gives her a set of rules. The uniform relieves issues of how to dress during the work day. Her coworkers provide her with examples of how to talk--and what to appear excited, happy, or angry about. She learns the rhythms and needs of the store, and even working only part-time, she becomes the store's best worker, and outlasts fellow part-timers and a total of seven managers. She's on her eighth manager when she realizes her family and her small number of friends are really worried about her, and want her to adopt a more normal, and to their minds happier, lifestyle.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Foreverywhere,by Steve Burns (author, narrator), Steven Drozd (author), Gabe Soria (author), Carly Ciarocchi (narrator), Stephanie Mayers (narrator)

Audible Originals, August 2019

Mote the Unicorn, possibly the last unicorn anywhere, lives in the city of Anyville, and wants to start a band. This being Anyville, this isn't as unreasonable an ambition as you might imagine, although guitars and other string instruments are not something he can manage. Keyboard instruments, though, he's a wiz at.

In the midst of a very strange storm, he recruits a drummer, Rick the Giant. They find a manager, Betsy the Spider, who really digs their sound and is good at all the organizational and promotional stuff they aren't good at.

But they still need a guitarist.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Nailed (Alex Harris Mystery #8), by Elaine Macko (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Audible Audio, August 2016

Alex Harris runs a small but successful temp agency in her home town of Indian Cove, Connecticut. Her sister, Samantha, works for her, and the small number of Alex's office employees are a tight-knit little family. Alex also has a close extended family, including not just her and Sam's husbands, and Sam's two children, but the sisters' parents and grandparents.

And then Alex's husband, Indian Cove police detective John Van der Burg, messes things up by showing up at Alex's office to arrest Sam for the murder of the building inspector who failed to pass the new sunroom addition to Sam's house.

Well, really, just take her in for questioning, because they have a witness saying that Sam had a loud confrontation with him the previous morning in which she may have threatened to kill him.

Monday, August 12, 2019

How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist & His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain, by Gregory Berns (author), L.J. Ganser (narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2013

Gregory Berns loves dogs. So does the rest of his family, but he's the neuroscientist, He decided he wanted to know if his dogs really loved him, and if he could determine how and why.

This led inevitably to training the newest addition to their family of six (two adults, two daughters, two dogs) a terrier mix they named Callie, to enter an MRI, assume a scannable position, and remain motionless for long enough intervals for useful brain scans.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Landlady (Tales of the Five #3.2), by Diane Duane

Ebooks Direct, May 2019

Segnbora tai-Enraesi has spent the last few years fighting a war against the Shadow, helping her husbands King Freelorn and Hereiss Hearn's son, consolidate power in Arlen, and learning to a sorceress and, at least partly, dragon.

Now her wife and liege-lady, Eftgan, Queen of Darthen, has set her a new responsibility, or at least, told her it's time to get on with the responsibility she's been dodging for a decade: taking up the duties of the Head  of House tai-Enraesi, one of the Forty Noble Houses of Darthen. It's one of the smallest and least significant, because of mismanagement by her father and grandfather. It needs to be brought back, and that means Segnbora has to start actively doing the work of the Head of House.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Wally Roux, Quantum Mechanic, by Nick Carr (author), William Jackson Harper (narrator)

Audible Originals, August 2019

Wally Roux is a teenage genius whose mother adopted him when he was an infant, and has just moved them from Maine to Savannah, Georgia. It is, in his opinion, lonely and boring at best. In addition to that, though, there's a strange space-time hiccup causing weird problems in his neighborhood. For instance, when he walks to and from school each day, he really is walking uphill, both ways.

After a chance encounter leads to him using his excellent mechanical skills to fix a bus engine, he starts thinking that maybe, with some study of quantum mechanics, he might be able to fix the the space-time malfunction, too.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Clockwork Boys (Clocktaur War #1), by T. Kingfisher (author), Khristine Hvam (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, July 2019 (original publication November 2017)

Slate is a forger and thief, Brenner an assassin, Sir Caliban a former knight-champion of the Dreaming God. In that capacity, he killed or exorcised, depending on circumstances, demons who had possessed people or animals. Then he got careless and a demon possessed him,and it was exorcised, but not until after he'd killed eight temple nuns.

They're all condemned criminals, but they've been offered pardons and rewards if they can successfully complete a mission to Anuket City, to find a wayto defeat the Clockwork Boys, giant centaur-like creatures apparently made out of machine parts, who are ravaging the countryside and threatening the kingdom that, however questionable their characters, our three criminals are subjects of.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Life and Other Inconveniences, by Kristan Higgins

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451489425, August 2019

When she was eight years old, Emma London's mother committed suicide. With her mother dead, her father "unable to cope," and her maternal grandparents unable to take on a child because her grandmother, Joan, was beginning to suffer the symptoms of ALS, Emma was sent to live with her other grandmother, Genevieve London.

Genevieve had suffered her own losses, the disappearance of her other son, Sheppard, two years older than Emma's father, Clark, when Sheppard was seven, and the death of her own husband, Emma's other grandfather, Garrison, a few years later. One might think this common experience of loss would help the two bond, but Genevieve had responded to her losses by becoming very closed off and self-protective. She thought her duty to Emma was teaching her to be strong, pragmatic, and focused on success. When at 18, just about to go off to Smith College in the fall, Emma gets pregnant, Genevieve is disgusted, and kicks her out when she refuses to either have an abortion, or give the baby up for adoption.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953-2000,by Jo Walton

Tor Books, ISBN 9780765379085, August 2018

This is exactly what it says on the cover, an informal history of the Hugo awards, from their initial creation in 1951 through the 2000 awards. It's a look at nearly  fifty years of what science fiction and fantasy readers who joined the World Science Fiction Convention, i.e., Worldcon, thought was the best in the field.

Jo Walton doesn't claim to have read all the Hugo winners, much less all the nominees. That wasn't the point. She takes the position that whether she read or didn't read something, and why, is itself a data point about the reception of these books and stories, whether the Hugos were capturing the breadth of the genre, and whether the books have lasted. Another set of data points is whether the individual books are in print, are they in her local library, and, given that her local library is the Montreal library, are they there in English, in French, or both languages. Also, whether they are still talked about in sf circles or elsewhere.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Will Travel for Trouble Boxed Set (#10-12), by Minnie Crockwell (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Minnie Crockwell, July 2019

Minnie and her ghost companion, Ben, who died while a member of the Lewis & Clark expedition, continue their travels, and continue to encounter untimely deaths that Minnie can't help investigating, and that Ben naturally helps her with, even as he tries to dissuade her from doing anything too dangerous.

In their first adventure included in this set, they're still in Alabama, but have moved on to a little beach house called Pelican Penthouse in Fort Morgan, due to the lack of any open spots in any RV parks. This time they don't find a dead person, which is a nice change of pace, right? Except they discover an unplugged freezer full of shark fins, and this of course leads to all sorts of trouble, including, of course, a dead body.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Good Neighbor:The Life & Work of Fred Rogers, by Maxwell King (author), LeVar Burton (narrator)

Oasis Audio, ISBN 9781987146455, October 2018

This is a biography of Fred Rogers, an icon of children's television for decades. Rogers' Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was pioneering children's educational programming, premiering in 1968 and continuing, with a four-year hiatus, until 2001.

Rogers was more than just a tv performer, which I always knew, but also a great deal more than I was aware of. That he was a Presbyterian minister was well-known. Also the fact that he controlled the production of the show pretty completely.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Olivia Twist, by Lori Langdon (author), Pearl Hewitt (narrator)

Black Hills Audiobooks, August 2018

In this reworking of the Oliver Twist story, Oliver is a girl, disguised as a boy when the nurse who took her in on her mother's death, realized that she would never survive in life at the bottom of society if raised as a girl. When a caper with the Artful Dodger goes badly wrong, leading to her discovery by her mother's uncle. From this point on, she is raised as a young lady of gentile birth--but as she reaches eighteen, her uncle's circumstances mean that she will have to marry someone who can not only provide for her, but keep her ailing uncle safe and comfortable in what may be only his last few months.

In the midst of this worry, she meets a young man, Jack McCarron, who seems strangely familiar. Jack is in fact her old fellow gang member, the Artful Dodger.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Prisoner of Limnos (Penric & Desdemona #6), by Lois McMaster Bujold

Spectrum Literary Agency, October 2017

Penric and Nikys escaped Patos and made their way successfully to the court of the Duke of Orbas. Penric is reluctant to return to his duties elsewhere, hoping to be reassigned to Orbas so he can continue courting Nikys.

Or trying to. It's not the Nikys isn't interested. She is. But now that she knows that Penric is not just a Temple Divine but a sorcerer, she's very uncomfortable about sharing him with Desdemona, his demon, and Desdemona, of course, can't leave while Penric is alive.

When she gets word that her mother, Idrene, has been arrested by Imperial order and imprisoned in the Daughter's retreat and temple on the island of Limnos, though, there's no one she trusts as much as Penric. The purpose of Idrene's arrest is to put pressure on Nikys' brother Adelis, now the Duke's general. The Duke isn't going to send troops to attack a temple of the Daughter, but he's reasonably happy to generously fund a more surreptitious retrieval effort by Nikys and Penric.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Reefs of Time (Out of Time #1) (Chaos Chronicles #5), by Jeffrey A. Carver

Starstream Publications/Book View Cafe, July 2019

This is the first of the Out of Time duology, which together are part of the larger Chaos Chronicles series. The second book of the duology, Crucible of Time, is due out in September. And since I have the ARC, I feel confident in saying, yes, it exists, and yes, you can pre-order it, and can have it in September.

There's a brief intro to get you caught up on where the characters are and why, and then se plunge into the story.

John Bandicut, Antares, Li-Jared, Ik, the robot Napoleon, and the AI Jeaves, are hanging out in a perfectly nice meadow on Shipworld, waiting for something, anything, to happen. It's not that they don't need the rest, after a series of intense, dangerous missions, but they also feel a bit disconnected and even bored.

Not to mention the fact that Ik's translator stones died in their last mission, to the Starmaker Nebula, and he can't really communicate with the others. So it's a bit of a relief when Jeaves shows up to ask them to come to a meeting. Just, you understand, to give advice, not to take on a new mission just yet. They deserve their R&R!

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1), by Holly Black

Little, Brown for Young Readers, January 2018

When Jude and her twin sister, Taryn, were seven years old, a man showed up at the door to their home, and proceeded to kill their mother and father with a sword, and then order them and their nine-year-old sister Vivienne to pack their things and go with him.

The man's name is Madoc, and he was their mother's first husband. He's Vivi's real father. Oh, and he's a creature out of Faerie, specifically, a redcap. Madoc is the High King's general. And as a man of honor, he considers himself responsible for his wife's children--including the two who aren't his. They grow up in Faerie, and ten years later, the three sisters have each made their own adjustments.

Jude in particular wants to be a part of the Court, someone with her own place and her own power there. This isn't easy for a mere human, but she is determined, and because of this she becomes part of Court intrigues. It turns out she has a natural talent for espionage, theft, and plotting.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Starlings, by Jo Walton (author), C.S.E. Cooney (narrator), Rudy Sanda (narrator)

Tantor Audio, January 2018

This is a collection of fantasy, science fiction, and poetry. There's a play. It's Jo Walton's first short fiction collection, and it's a delight.

There's a generation starship story, with a generation in the middle of the voyage forming new ideas about what the plan should be when their descendants reach their destination. Will they really all want to be farmers and builders and the scientists needed for colonization on the world? What about the unique arts that have developed in space? Can they avoid forcing their own decisions on those descendants?

An angel welcomes newcomers to Heaven, and explains why the angels meeting the newcomers are all of alien species--and the complexities of being an angel assigned to oversee an area on a planet that wasn't originally, your own.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Even Tree Nymphs Get The Blues (Mystic Bayou #2.5). Molly Harper (author), Amanda Ronconi (narrator), Jonathan Davis (narrator)

Audible Studios, June 2019

Ingrid Asher has, after many years of isolation from her home, her sisters, and her entire life prior to the near-destruction of her tree, is leaving New York City for Mystic Bayou, Louisiana, where the tree nymph is going to raise milk cows and open a creamery. While in NYC, she discovered ice cream, and found her true calling.

Yes, she's a tree nymph, from Norway, and seventy years ago she trusted the wrong man and he cut down her tree. She was able to save a root and a sprout, and she and her tree have been slowly recovering, but they still have a long way to go. Mystic Bayou offers the land she needs, the warmth she wants, and a small town in need of an ice cream shop.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Making Amends, by Melinda Clayton (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Thomas-Jacob Publishing LLC, March 2016

This is a fairly dark story of a broken family, and damaged people doing their best.

Thirty years ago, Tabby Clark, a young woman who grew up in the foster care system, and became addicted to drugs and alcohol, gave birth to identical twin boys. The relationship with the father didn't last, no surprise, and Tabby had, while pregnant, formed a friendship with a fellow addict in recovery, Von, and Von's husband, Ben.

Tabby kept backsliding on her recovery, even while working in Von and Ben's nursery business, until Vernon, the boys' father, stole one of the boys, Bobby. Twenty-five years later, Bobby suddenly reappears. On tv. Having been arrested for the murder of his father, Vernon.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Dog-Walking Club, by Liz Hinds

Liz Hinds, October 2018

They started as a random group of people who just happened to walk their dogs at about the same time every day in the local park.

But Angela, whose husband brings home a more than adequate income and whose kids are grown and married, is a born organizer with nothing to organize. She decides to organize the dog walkers, and suddenly they are The Dog-walking Club.

They have nothing in common except their dogs. Angela has Mitzi, the poodle. Jemma, a photographer, has Pixie, the boxer she inherited from her uncle. Widowed Sybil, living in a retirement community, has fifteen-year-old Jock the Scottish terrier. Maggi, a supermarket shelf stocker, has a shelter mix named Bassett. Jon, a stay-at-home dad with two daughters, has Benji the spaniel.

Initially near-total strangers, meeting daily to walk together intentionally rather than by chance, they get to know each other, and care about each other.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Triangle, by Dan Koboldt (creator, author), Mindy McGinnis (author), Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (author)

Serial Box, April 2019

First of all, what's Serial Box? It's a venue that offers an eclectic variety of fiction in serial form--both ebooks and audiobooks, packaged as serials. The audio versions have high production values. As with buying both the Kindle ebook and the Audible audiobook of the same book, you can switch back and forth between ebook and audio while keeping your latest point in the story fairly seamlessly.

What's different than the Kindle/Audible combo purchase: It's all one purchase, and it's designed as a serial, with separate, contained episodes in a continuing story. You move forward in the larger story, but each episode has its own beginning, middle, and end.

The Triangle is about an expedition organized to investigate recent disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle, a US Navy ship, and a small plane carrying the pilot, the man who hired the plane, and his young daughter, Olivia. The team includes a retired vice admiral, David Saguara, NTSB agent Tess Dumont, IT data recovery specialist Mike Hammond, and two Navy junior officers. Or at least, that's the Vice Admiral's plan. Bestselling conspiracy theorist Alexander McBride somehow catches wind of it and manages to attach himself to it on pain of exposing the expedition if he's excluded.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon, by Todd Zwillich (author), Angelo Di Loreto (narrator)

Audible Studios, July 2019

John C. Houboldt was a airplane engineer who worked for NASA, and became interested, in some ways obsessed with, the Moon program that he logically ought to have no role in.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were already, before President Kennedy ever made his speech committing the US to get to the Moon and back before the end of the 1960s, space program scientists were already working on how to do it. There were three basic approaches--the direct approach, using a single large rocket to lift from Earth, land on its tail on the Moon, and return home; Earth rendezvous, lifting smaller units into Earth orbit and the vehicle to reach the Moon there; and lunar orbital rendezvous. Lunar orbital rendezvous is the methods used in the end: the command module waiting in lunar orbit while the lunar lander brought two members of the crew to the surface of the Moon and back.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Grown-Up Guide to Dinosaurs, by Ben Garrod (author, narrator)

Audible Original, July 2019

As kids, most of us loved dinosaurs, and had a favorite dinosaur. As adults, other things, more urgent at least, if not necessarily more important, have displaced dinosaurs at the center of our lives. Not every dinosaur lover grows up to be a dinosaur scientist!

But Ben Garrod agrees that that's a terrible shame, and presents a really engaging, informative, entertaining summary of the current state of our knowledge of dinosaurs.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations into Human Personality, by Mark Leary (author, narrator)

The Great Courses, February 2018

Many of us want to understand personality, our own and other people's better, and in this Great Courses set of lectures, Mark Leary presents the current state of knowledge in psychology, neuroscience, and genetics, as it applies to human personality, how it develops, how it affects our choices and our relationships with others, and how much we can affect our own personalities so that we can improve those things if we're not satisfied currently.

This isn't a self-help book. It's not a handbook to fixing yourself. It's intended to expand your knowledge and understanding, and I found that it does that.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451491879, July 2019

Nina Hill works in a bookstore and lives in her tiny apartment, both in the Larchmont neighborhood of Los Angeles. She has a cat named Phil, a mother who is a renowned, world-traveling photojournalist, and no other family.

As far as she knows.

Obviously there must have been a father involved at some point, but her mother has told her nothing except that he wouldn't have been a good father.

Then one day a lawyer walks into the bookstore, tells her that her father has died, and she's mentioned in the will.

She has several sisters, a brother, nieces and nephews, and even two grandnieces and a grandnephew. Her oldest sister, you see, is thirty years older, and her youngest is just ten years old. Her brother is just a few months older, because his mother was pregnant when Nina was conceived. It's a large and complicated family, with landmines she will need to discover.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, by Ursula K. Le Guin & David Naimon

Tin House Books, ISBN 9781941040997, April 2018

In the last months of her life, Ursula K. Le Guin did a series of interview with David Naimon for Oregon radio station KBOO, and they decided to turn those interviews into a book. This is that book, which Le Guin did not live quite long enough to see in print. It's now a finalist for the Hugo Awards in the Best Related Work category.

There are three sections--a conversation about fiction, a conversation about poetry, and a conversation about non-fiction. Le Guin, of course, wrote all three, and did all three well.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Hobbit Documentary, by Lindsay Ellis & Angelina M.

Lindsay Ellis, 2018

In 2001, 2002, and 2003, Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies were released, and instantly became one of the most loved movie trilogies of our time. Lindsay Ellis was captivated, inspired, motivated. She went on to become a popular YouTube essayist and media critic.

In 2012, 2013, and 2014, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit movies came out. It took Lindsay a while to work through her disappointment and frustration, and get to work producing this in-depth, thoughtful, and frankly entertaining, analysis of what went wrong, and why.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Every Hill and Mountain (History Mystery #3), by Deborah Heal (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Write Brain Books, September 2014 (original publication March 2013)

Abby Thomas has been having a productive and enjoyable summer in southern Illinois, with her tutoring student/college service project Merri, her new boyfriend, handsome and sweet John Roberts, and all the new friends she's been making. Unfortunately, she has also told her friend and college roommate, Kate, about the very unusual computer program, Beautiful Houses, which has enabled them to "time-surf" and solve local mysteries.

The most recent one was the Old Dears' (Eulah and Beulah) genealogy mystery of why their father's side of the family seemed so oddly truncated. This has reignited Kate's interest in her own genealogy project, and she's told her wonderful boyfriend, Ryan, about it.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

None Such As She (Moorish Empire #3), by Melissa Addey

Letterpress Publishing, June 2019

In A String of Silver Beads, we met Zaynab as the dangerous and powerful rival of Kella, Yusuf bin Tashfin's first wife. In None Such As She, we see Zaynab from her own point of view, starting as a child, just ten years old, when her own father takes a second wife. Child Zaynab is easy to like. She loves her parents. She's a rebellious child, happy to run and play with the street children when she can. She's bright and lively. She's fond of her servant Miryam, and wary of her mother's servant, Hela, who is a mistress of herbal medicine, and seemingly a scholar as only a man should be.

When Zaynab grows to an age where she's eligible for marriage, she's not comfortable with the way she is frankly assessed for her assets as a potential wife and bearer of children, as well as her father's wealth and connections are a successful rug merchant. Yet there is not avoiding it. In time, one of the men who comes to her father's dinner table is Yusuf bin Ali, a lord but not an amir, who speaks to her, she says, like a person. It's the start of her career.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Grace, Jack, & Magical Cats Boxed Set #1, by Mary Matthews (author), Sheila Book (narrator)

Mary Frances Matthews, December 2013 (original publication April 2012)

These are the first four adventures of Grace Wentworth, Jack Brewster, and their "magical cats," Titania and Zeus.

These stories are just pure fun,and work best if you don't worry about how that cats do what they do. Beyond saying that they are magical, there is no explanation attempted. If you've lived with cats, though, that can be explanation enough. Most of us who have are pretty sure they can teleport, at the least.

The time is the 1920s, the place is Coronado Island, California. It's the Roaring Twenties, and Prohibition, and most people think the economic boom will go on forever.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Medical Myths, Lies, & Half-Truths: What We Think We Know May Be Hurting Us, by Steven Novella (author, narrator)

The Great Courses, July 2013 (original publication 2010)

We live in a sea of freely available information, easily accessed on the internet, and this can be a very good thing, especially with medical information.

Or it can be a bad things, sometimes, especially with medical information.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Road to Cromer Pier, by Martin Gore

Martin Gore Publishing, June 2019

This is the story of a struggling theater on the Norfolk coast of England.

The Wells family has owned the theater for generations, and Janet Wells is the current owner. They run a variety show, the Cromer Pier Summertime Special, every year, and it's always a success for them.

Now, though, they're in the second year of the Great Recession, and everyone is struggling. They can't afford the same level of performers they would normally be recruiting. Everyone on the permanent staff is taking a 5% salary cut, and the new hires for the show include a Polish magician whose performance and command of English are both spotty, and a talent show winner who has a great singing voice but has reached the end of her run of what she can do with that alone in he current market. But she's never danced, and for Cromer Pier she needs to learn.

Oh, and a local real estate vulture is determined to get ownership of the theater, have already acquired the rest of the pier. Also, we keep getting Just One More Character introduced.

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Invasion (Grey Land #2), by Peadar Ó Guilín

David Fickling Books, ISBN 9781338045628, March 2018

Ireland is still reeling, twenty-five years after the return of the Sidhe, or perhaps more correctly, the Grey Land, where the Sidhe were banished centuries ago. Our world, which they call the Many-Colored Land, and the Grey Land, move nearer to each other and further away, and now they are very close to each other, closer than in a very long time, and the Sidhe are able to Call the young of Ireland into the Grey Land. They stay only a day, but they don't always survive, or if they do, return unchanged.

Ireland is cut off from the rest of our world. Technology is dying. Society has changed drastically, with what were previously the secondary education years transformed into Survival Colleges, aimed completely at giving the young people who will be Called by the Sidhe their best shot at survival.

But the Sidhe have a plan, a plan to return to Ireland. To do that, they have to find a King for some part of Ireland to revoke the treaty that banished them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Unclaimed Legacy (History Mystery #2), by Deobrah Heal (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Write Brain Books, August 2014 (original publication August 2012)

Abby Thomas and her tutoring student, 11-year-old Merri, are frustrated that the delightful if improbable computer program, Beautiful Homes, is currently working only in its obvious, plausible way. Only an ordinary real estate program showcasing beautiful homes in the present, alas. No tours of past lives currently available. But Merri has warmed up to Abby quite a bit, and is making real progress on her school work. In addition, Abby's friendship with John Roberts is also heating up.At least until she tells him about the advanced features of Beautiful Homes, which does make him wonder if she's crazy. But friends they remain, and he introduces her to speech therapist Lucy, who is looking for a sitter for her house and her dog, Dr. Bob, while she attends a professional conference. And Lucy, in turn, introduces her to her neighbors, elderly twins Eulah and Beulah, living in the identical house next door.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Once Upon a Bad Boy (Sometimes in Love #3), by Melonie Johnson

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250193070, June 2019

Now that Cassie and Bonnie have their guys, it's Sadie Gold's turn. Her years of working on a so-so but popular soap opera have paid off, and she's landed the lead in an action hero movie based on a bestselling novel. This should be her big break.

Too bad the stunt coordinator turns out to be her old boyfriend, her childhood sweetheart, the guy who dumped her on prom night and said he didn't want to see her again.

Too bad he's hotter than ever. Too bad she's still hung up on him.

And he's still hung up on her.

Oh, and this job is also make or break for him, because he's in danger of losing the deal that would give him full control of Windy City Stunts. Neither one of them can afford to do anything the media might spin as "unprofessional" on this job.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Jukebox Joyride: A Time Traveling Adventure, by Jacob Stein (author, narrator), Jason Rabinowitz (author, narrator), The Pop Ups (auhor), Cara Samantha (narrator), Susan Bennett (narrator), Noel MacNeal (narrator), Carly Ciarrocchi (narrator)

Audible Studios, June 2019

George and his twin sister Jules are "practically twelve," really into music. They're active in Stage Band at school, and have their own after-school garage band.

And they really miss their Uncle Bob.

Uncle Bob is an ethnomusicologist, or was, beofre he abruptly disappeared during the filming of a reality show, Pawn Wars, where he'd just won a strange old music box. And in this case, "disappeared" means just that, with cameras rolling, in a great flash of light, with no damage to anything that had been around him.

Then one day the owner of their favorite music shop tells them he has a package for them, from their Uncle Bob. It turns out to be the music box.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

9 Lives to Live (Magical Cool Cats #10), by Mary Matthews (author), Stephanie Quinn (narrator)

Mary Frances Matthews, September 2015

Another adventure of Grace, Jack, Tatiana, and Zeus--this time intertwined with the story of Tatiana's previous people, in her previous life.

Grace and Jack are asked to find the wife of Henry, a rich businessman whose goods in trade include one of Grace's favorite things, fashionable shoes.

Arthur and Isabella, three years earlier, are New York City street rats. They hooked up and survived for several years together with a white cat whom they called simply The Cat, who was very good at alerting them to threats and helping them to stay safe. Yet Child Services and the orphan trains can't be evaded forever.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Cupcake Kitty (Grace, Jack & Magical Cats Cozy Mystery #6, by Mary Matthews (author), Amy Gramour (narrator)

Mary Frances Matthews, April 2013

Grace, Jack, and their two cats, Tatiana and Zeus, discover a disturbing surprise at Grace and Jack's engagement party. Eddie, the band's lead singer, has been murdered--stabbed with a letter opener.

This is Prohibition, and so everyone that has a comfortable income drinks like a fish, by modern standards. And of course, it' all a big joke. For someone who grew up with two alcoholic uncles and a recovering alcoholic father, it's not quite so funny. It's even less funny when you've actually looked at the per capita consumption of alcohol in the years preceding Prohibition, and the annual per capita consumption since. Bad, or at least unwelcome, news: No, per capita consumption of alcohol has never recovered to anything close to pre-Prohibition levels. The pre-Prohibition alcohol consumption rates were truly scary, and Prohibition worked spectacularly well. By the time it was repealed, the culture had changed, and we didn't need it anymore. But be that as it may, Grace, Jack, and the cats have a murder to solve.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1), by Justina Ireland (author), Bahni Turpin (narrator)

Harper Audio, April 2018

Honestly, I hate zombie novels. And this is a zombie novel.

So, it makes perfect sense that I love it, right?

This is set after an alternate Civil War, that started the way ours did, and changes and ends when the battle dead start rising and attacking their fellow soldiers. Sherman's march from Atlanta to the sea happens, but the main point is to burn the zombies, or, as they are called here, shamblers. The slaves are freed, "combat schools" are opened for the freed slaves and the Indians, teaching them to fight shamblers and, for the black girls at least, teaching them to be refined attendants as well as guards for rich white ladies.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tess of the Road (Tess of the Road #1) (Southlands #3), by Rachel Hartman

Random House Books for Young Readers, ISBN 9781101931288, February 2018

This is a frustrating book.

We first meet the titular Tess as a little girl full of energy and imagination, and a challenge to her joy-killing mother. Then we quickly jump ahead playing maid and "younger sister" to Jeanne, who is her younger twin and now a maid of honor at the royal court. In the intervening years, we gradually learn, Tess managed to ruin herself, give birth to a bastard whose existence was concealed by sending Tess to stay with her grandmother, and demonstrate a complete inability to be sufficiently meek and rule-following to have much chance anyway at the kind of husband the family needs to repair its fortunes. Those fortunes were destroyed when the truth came out about their father's first marriage--his first wife was a dragon, and his oldest daughter, Seraphina, is a dragon. He lost his licence to practice law. They can't afford for Tess's disgrace to come out, too.

Tess at this point in her life is unhappy and resentful, though Jeanne may be the only member of her family she loves. Not soon enough, we jump ahead to Tess running away, which, unexpectedly, is the start of her doing things that aren't willfully stupid and self-destructive.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Birdie & Jude, by Phyllis H. Moore

Phyllis H. Moore, March 2018

Birdie Barnes is a middle-aged woman living in her family's longtime home near the beach in Galveston. Her only surviving family is her nephew, her brother's son. Her parents, her brother and his wife, and even their other son, have all died over the years. Her nephew lives in Houston now, but he comes back every month to see her and take her to church, and make sure she's all right.

Now, though, there's a hurricane bearing down on Galveston, and she's taking her dog, Ollie, out for a walk for what's likely to be the last opportunity till after the storm is over. And on this walk, they find a young woman, Jude, lying in the sand, with blood in her hair and on her clothes from obviously recent but not fresh injuries, and it's a challenge to get her to agree to get up and move even though the tide is coming in and the storm is approaching. Once home, she persuades Jude to shower, let Birdie put her clothes in the wash, nap, and eat a meal.

And talk.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Will Travel for Trouble #7-9, by Minnie Crockwell (author, narrator)

Bess McBride, June 2019

Minnie Crockwell and her ghostly companion, Ben, are on the road again, this time headed for warmer climes as the winter months arrive. Their first stop is Tombstone Tommy's RV Park, the nicest RV park near Tombstone, Arizona.

When they head into Tombstone with Kathy Swanson, another woman staying at the RV park, they watch a "Shootout at the OK Corral" reenactment that goes horribly wrong. And everyone in the reenactment group seems to have had a possible motive for killing the reenactor who was shot with a real bullet instead of a blank.

Minnie's ex, John, continues to email her, with increasing hints that he might want to renew their relationship. Minnie is both interested, and feeling guilty, because, of course, her major problem with Ben is not that she doesn't want him in her life, but that, being a ghost, he doesn't have any physical presence.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1), by Rebecca Roanhorse

Saga Press, ISBN 9781534413498, June 2018

Earthquakes, global warming, and rising waters--the Big Water--have done a job on most of the world, but Dinétah, formerly the Navaho reservation, has been reborn. It's not paradise, but behind walls both built by humans and remade by Diné gods, Diné culture lives.

This includes Diné gods and monsters once again walking the land.

Maggie Hoskie is a Diné monsterhunter, taught by Neizghάni, one of the Diné immortals, now abandoned by him, and struggling along on her own. When a village sends for her to kill a monster and recover a little girl the monster stole, because Neizghάni seems to have abandoned everyone, she goes. She can't save the girl, but she does kill the monster, and take its head.

Deeply disturbed by this particular monster, she takes the head to Tah, an old medicine man who, unlike most people, likes her. This is the real start of her troubles. Or her real troubles started years ago, when Neizghάni rescued her from the monsters that killed her grandmother.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ayiti, by Roxane Gay (author, narrator)

Audible Studios, July 2018 (original publication October 2011)

This is a collection of short stories about Haitian women, in Haiti and in the US. It's read by the author, who has a wonderful voice--in both senses.

The background and experience behind these stories is unfamiliar to me and therefore sometimes confusing. Yet the more I listened, the more grounded I felt and more open to enjoying the next story. These are stories of life in a country and setting very different from my own, and stories of an immigrant experience both like and unlike my grandparents' immigrant experience in the first part of the 20th century. They're stories very well-told, and they drew me in.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Coffee & Cigarettes: Pulp-Noir-Short Stories, by Eric Leckey (author), Bill Nevitt (narrator)

Eric Leckey, May 2019

This is, as the subtitle suggests, a collection of short stories recalling the tone, style, and subject matter of film noir and the pulp hardboiled detective and crime fiction that it grew out of it.

These stories are competent and serviceable in their way, set in the same era and capturing the tone and attitude perhaps a little too well. The times, social setting, and social mores of the noir era are what one would expect of the stories and characters, but there's no apparent awareness that the readers, a century later, might not. That might be a deliberate choice. I think it's a weakness; there could have been greater depth to the stories if the distance between readers and characters were in some way acknowledged.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Belles (The Belles #1), by Dhonielle Clayton (author), Rosie Jones (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, February 2018

In the land of Orleans, everyone is born gray, and plain, and only the Belles and their arcana can make people beautiful.

And being beautiful is the most important thing for everyone in Orleans.

Camilla Beauregard and her sisters, the new generation of Belles look forward to going to the palace. Each dreams of being the Favorite, the Belle who will live in the Palace and serve the Queen and her Court. Yet when they arrive, they discover that life at the Palace is no bed of roses. There is intrigue and danger at every turn, and you can't tell who is an enemy, and who, if anyone, is a friend.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Shout of Honor (Adventure in the Liaden Universe #29), by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, May 2019

It's shortly after Clan Korval was evicted from Liad, and relocated to Surebleak. Reverberations are still running through inhabited space, and the Yxtrang Ambassador, Commander Vepal, stumbles across one of them on Inago Station, where a military job fair is in progress.

The hiring agent is Perdition Enterprises, who won't reveal any information at all without a signed NDA. That's not normal, and it's disturbing, but they are, without specifics, promising competitive pay and excellent profits, so quite a few have signed that NDA, and signed on to the contract.

Yet some who have done so are clearly worried.

The recruiting agents are Liaden, which might mean anything or nothing. Except Liadens can write very tricky contracts.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Spellbound & Starcrossed (Suburban Witch Mysteries #5), by Ruby Blaylock

Ruby Blaylock, June 2019

Seneca Wolfram's beloved dog, Alistair, has suddenly turned into a handsome young man.

And it was her missing father, Viktor Voltaire, who had given Seneca her dog, who had originally turned Alistair from young man to canine.

Viktor has not lived an entirely blameless life, and in fact is supposed to be serving a long prison sentence for crimes both magical and financial. These crimes included involvement with the maestrioso, the magical mafia. and Alistair is the son of Alexander Orlikov, a leading maestrioso whom Viktor insists was really a good guy, and who was murdered.

Viktor turned the then teenage Alistair into an English bulldog, and gave him as a pet to daughter Seneca, also a teenager at the time. He also put a binding spell on them so that they can't ever be too far apart. Shortly after that, he was convicted of his crimes, and went into hiding rather than going to prison. Now the transformation spell has worn off, Alistair is human again, and the maestrioso know that he's alive.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson, March 2018

In a future, post-ecological disaster and economic collapse Earth, Minh is part of the first generation to move back to the surface from the underground refuges humanity built to survive, and has spent her career doing river ecosystems. Unfortunately, funding for that work has now dried up, following the invention of time travel. The main uses of time travel are tourism and historical research, but now, at last, there's a proposal to use it for past-state research on the Tigris and Euphrates river system. Minh jumps at the chance, putting together a small but very capable team.

It wouldn't be right, exactly, to say everything goes horribly wrong.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Binti: The Night Masquerade (Binti #3), by Nnedi Okorafor, ISBN 9780765393135, January 2018

I previously read and reviewed the first two Binti novellas,
Binti and Binti: Home.

With the Khoush heading for Osemba intending to kill Okwu and restart the war with the Meduse, Binit is also rushing home from her stay with her father's people, the Enyi Zinariya, because her newly activated abilities, both Meduse and zinariya, tell her that her family is in immediate danger. Binti is struggling to learn about herself, even as she needs to learn about secrets not just from her father's people but the secrets of her own Himba people.

And she needs to do it even when she arrives to find her family's home burned with them inside, the Khoush having restarted the war with the Meduse, and the Himba council reluctant to play any part in trying to end it even though they'll be caught in the middle and be crushed, too.