Friday, October 18, 2019

Sabrina Carlson Cozy Mystery Anthology, by Meredith Potts (author), Lil Dubuque (narrator)

Meredith Potts, April 2019

This is a collection of short mysteries featuring Sabrina Carlson, who owns a coffee shop in Treasure Cove, California. She has a good manager for the shop, which is good, because these days she spends a lot of her time helping her husband, police detective David Carlson, investigate murders in the town of Treasure Cove. And it really runs in the family; their daughter, Jessica, has gone off to the police academy in San Francisco, determined to be a police detective herself.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Omar Nelson Bradley: America's GI General, 1893-1981, by Steven L. Ossad (author), Bill Nevitt (narrator)

University Press Audiobooks, August 2019 (original publication November 2017)

Omar Bradley was one of the American generals of World War II in Europe. He was, quite literally, born in a cabin his father built with his own hands. His family was rather poor for most of his childhood--there were a few years of relative prosperity when his father was a newspaper editor, ended when he died.

But when he decided to try, with little expectation of success, to seek an appointment to West Point, he became his congressman's backup appointment. And then the other, primary choice didn't pass the relatively new West Point exams,and Bradley did. He entered West Point with the class of 1915. It was an iconic origin for a man who became an important World War II general, though being a quiet, relatively shy man, with a dislike for newspaper attention, he didn't get as much press as his classmates and colleagues--who of course included Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton, among other well-known World War II names.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Twice Blessed (Blessings of Love #5), by J.J. DiBenedetto

Writing Dreams, October 2019

Allison is a young widow, raising her 9-year-old daughter, Lucy, and running the bookstore her parents, now retired to Florida, founded.

Mike is the new science teacher at Lucy's school, her favorite teacher--and still feeling a little bit singed by his short marriage and rocky divorce from another widow with a child to raise.

Lucy has recently seen The Parent Trap.

Friday, October 11, 2019

A Typical Family Christmas, by Liz Davies

Independently Published, September 2019

Kate wants a happy, stressfree, family Christmas.

Unfortunately, she has two teenage daughters, a son on the edge of being a teenager too, a husband who is stressed at work and thinks her part-time job plus three kids who need to be supervised, fed, and ferried everywhere is easy and stress-free, a mother-in-law who after twenty years still thinks Kate isn't good enough for her son and makes snide comments whenever she visits, and a mother who "hates Christmas." And who says so constantly at Christmas time.

Most years, only her mother-in-law comes for Christmas. This year, her mother his coming, too. And along with everything else, the two mothers hate each other.

Her mother-in-law, Helen, normally arrives on Christmas Eve, but her mother, Beverly, has decided that she will arrive five days early. When Helen finds out, of course, so does she.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Mardi Gras Madness (Roxy Reinhardt #1), by Alison Golden

Alison Golden, September 2019

Roxy is living a safe, no-risks life in Cleveland, working a dull but reliable call center job, and living with her boyfriend. Or so she thinks.

But she feels bullied by her co-workers, and one day, after a really difficult customer complains to her boss, she gets indefinitely suspended from it. Then she arrives home to find that her boyfriend has moved out, leaving her for another woman. While reeling from the cumulative events, she sees an ad on tv touting the pleasures of going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

Never-impulsive Roxy has reached her breaking point. In short order, she and her cat Nefertiti, are on their way to New Orleans, to stay in a guesthouse called Evangeline's. 

It's not long before Evangeline and the regulars at her guesthouse--Nat, the young woman who helps with the cooking, cleaning, and general care of the guests; Elijah, who runs the bakery across the street; Sage, who does the guesthouse's website; Sam, who runs the laundry that handle the guesthouse's laundry as well as providing handyman services. There's also another guest, Louise, who seems nice enough, but also hung up on Sam to a degree that Sam clearly finds unwelcome and embarrassing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

50 Dinosaur Tales: And 108 More Discoveries From the Golden Age of Dinos, by Sabrina Ricci

I Know Dino, October 2019

This book is organized in sections, one for each continent, with stories and facts about a selection of the dinosaurs found on that continent. Each section contains several brief stories about a probable typical day in the life of a member of that species of dinosaur, based on what we know about it and its environment, followed by basic facts about that type of dinosaur. After several such stories plus facts, each section has several "just the facts" summaries about additional dinosaurs from that continent.

I think I am not the intended audience for this book. With the title, I was expecting mostly narrative story-telling, and whether it was narrative accounts of what we think we know about the dinosaurs, or narrative accounts of the scientists and expeditions that discovered the dinosaurs, didn't really concern me. Either can be extremely interesting. Instead, while there are narrative, unavoidably somewhat speculative but well-grounded in known facts, stories about the dinosaurs, they're fundamentally just brief intros to the recitation of facts about those dinosaurs. There are no real accounts of the discovery and identification of these dinosaurs, and mentions of the people who did the discovering is largely limited to explaining the genus and species names.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

My Lost Family, by Danny Ben-Moshe (author, narrator), Dasha Lisitsina (author)

Audible Original, October 2019

This is the true story of a family turned upside down by the reappearance of two children who disappeared forty years previously.

Lillian was a young girl growing up in a Yiddish-speaking East London neighborhood when she met handsome, charming Raymond. He was twenty and she was fifteen, when she got pregnant with their first child, and they immediately married. When they wound up living in the tight quarters of Lillian's parents'  apartment with their two young children, it breaks what was never a well-advised marriage to begin with. For a while, Raymond showed up most Sundays to pick up the two children and take to them to the park or someplace else. Then, one Sunday, he picked up the children and never returned with them. Forty years later, in the mid-90s, Lillian received a letter from her daughter with Raymond, Michelle.

Monday, October 7, 2019

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety, by Sarah Wilson (author, narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780062847270, April 2018

This is a really excellent book about living with anxiety.

The author is not a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or any other kind of medical professional. She's an author and journalist, and a woman who lives with chronic anxiety. Over a lifetime of dealing with it, she became interested in understanding what it is, where it comes from, and history of treatment for it, including the fads and fashions that affect medical treatment.

Some of what she has to say may strike some as borderline woo-woo, but she's very clear about talking to medical professionals knowledgeable on the subject to ensure that known of her advice is safe, and the importance of medical support when you're going off medication.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Jagannath, by Karin Tidbeck (author), Kirsten Potter (narrator)

HighBridge, ISBN 9781684410712, February 2018

Karin Tidbeck is a Swedish fiction writer who writes in both Swedish and English, and does her own translations in both directions. In her afterword, she talks about both the challenges and the benefits--the concepts that can't really be translated, the ones that can't quite be translated, but don't add anything but an extra stumble for the reader who doesn't speak that language, the insights you can get by coming at a language from the outside.

She also talks about the experience of reading all of H. P. Lovecraft's work, more or less nonstop.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Cursed, by Thomas Wheeler (author), Frank Miller (artist)

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ISBN 9781534425330, October 2019

I tried to like this book. I really did.

It's an Arthurian story in which Things Are Different, and the Sword that empowers the True King has gone to Nimue--designating, instead, a True Queen.

I ought to love this.

There are a whole range of Fey peoples, of different types and features and magic. Nimue is one of them.

I ought to love this.

Nimue and Morgan and others are interesting characters.

I ought to love this.

Unfortunately, the bad guy characters are stereotypically, cartoonishly evil. It renders them unbelievable and, in my opinion, not worth the reader's time.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado Perez (author, narrator)

Blackstone Publishing, ISBN 9781982699383, June 2019

We live in a world driven by data, an ocean of data that in theory should enable us to make much better decisions. Yet, to a truly frightening degree, that data leaves out half the human race--the female half.

One way is, of course, in medical studies. For a long time, women weren't included at all. Only men were included in medical studies, and it was just assumed that of course the same data, at least when adjusted for weight and height, will apply to women. Yet the reason women aren't included in studies is because women's bodies are different, and in some ways more complicated. It's bizarre that no consideration is normally given to whether this might mean that drugs and treatments might affect women differently.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Six Years Too Late (DCI Isaac Cook #11), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, September 2019

When the body of a murdered man is found on the top floor of an empty house, DCI Isaac Cook and his team have many questions.

The dead man is Marcus Matthews, who disappeared six years ago. died then, after sharing a bottle of wine with the person who then shot him. It looks like that last evening went exactly as planned.

And Marcus Matthews was the son-in-law of Hamish McIntyre, prominent local organized crime boss. The one thing McIntyre loves in this world is his daughter, Samantha Matthews. McIntyre couldn't have killed Matthews, in part because he had a broken leg at the time and couldn't have reached the top floor. Did he order it? Was someone else behind it?

As they start digging, they start finding links to other cases, one going back twenty years, and yet nothing provides the evidence they need. When new deaths start happening, they know they have a major problem.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar (author), Max Gladstone (author), Cynthia Farrell (narrator), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Simon Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781508207056, July 2019

This is a wonderful, complex, beautifully constructed novella, a love story between two operatives from opposite sides of a time war.

Red, we gradually learn, is an operative of the side that's building a technologically advanced future culture. Blue is an operative of the side that relies on biological science, the side that is called Garden. They encounter each other, at a distance at first, as they work on their respective assignments, increasingly assigned--as the best operatives each side has--to undo each other's work.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Surgeon's Choice, by Richard L. Mabry, MD (author), Bill Nevitt (narrator)

Richard L. Mabry, MD, March 2018

Dr. Ben Merrick and his fiancé, Rachel Gardner, a nurse at the same hospital where Ben is a surgeon, are planning their wedding, and a bit frustrated by the fact that her mother won't attend if her father is there.

Yet Ben is having other problems. A more senior surgeon is trying to make trouble for him at the hospital, get him put under pretty restrictive supervision. That's been unsuccessful, but there have also been numerous, small, annoying, potentially dangerous incidents which are starting to seem to be not mere coincidence.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Marriage & Murder (Rosewood Place #3), by Ruby Blaylock

Ruby Blaylock, September 2019

Annie Richards is continuing the renovation and updating of her beautiful Rosewood Place inn. The latest addition to the amenities is the renovation of the barn into an events location--and the first such event will be her own mother, Bessie's reception following her wedding to Emmett Barnes, the newly-retired local Chief of Police.

But Bessie's friends include the Wimpole sisters, Delilah and Della, and Emmett's include Earl Munsey, Delilah's ex-husband, now married to Darlene. Earl and Emmett are fishing buddies from way back, but Earl is a drinker and a gambler and a bit crude, so Annie is not the only one who has difficulty seeing how the two men,so different, have remained friends.

That Delilah hates her ex-husband and her sister Della seems to hate him even more than she does, doesn't make the rehearsal dinner, a few days before the wedding, any easier. Then Earl suddenly has what appears to be a heart attack, and dies, during the dinner. Except it's not a heart attack; he was poisoned, with arsenic.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons from 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules, by Karen Karbo (author), Bernadette Dunne (narrator)

Blackstone Publishing, November 2018

This is a celebration of notably difficult women, women who do what they choose rather than what's expected. In most cases, of course, they don't do anything that wouldn't be perfectly acceptable in men, but as we all know, the rules are different for women. We're supposed to be nice, and cooperative, self-effacing--not independent, ambitious, strong, or inconvenient.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Christmas Child, by Carol Rivers

Carol Rivers, September 2019

In London, on Christmas Day 1880, Colleen O'Reilly gets herself to the door of the convent and orphanage of the Sisters of Clemency with her newborn baby girl, and dies. The nuns who comforted her in her last hours raise her daughter, Henrietta. But fourteen years later, the convent in completely broke, and there's a new bishop in charge who isn't anything like the caring, old bishop who recently died. It's not long before the convent is closed and the remaining orphans dispersed to whatever homes could be found for them. Henrietta, or Ettie as she is called, is relatively fortunate. She is sent to serve as a maid to tobacconist Lucas Benjamin and his wife, Clara.

Ettie is smart and hardworking, and too ready to blame herself for whatever goes wrong. Since this is a Victorian moral tale in the fine old tradition, there's a lot that goes wrong, but Ettie keeps soldiering on through all of it, always trying to do the right thing.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Earth II: You Have No Honor (Virus/Earth II #3), by Ray Jay Perreault (author), Raymond Perreault (narrator)

Raymond J. Perreault, September 2019

This is just a lot of fun.

Be aware it's the third book of a trilogy, but I didn't find that to be a problem. There's enough information salted in on the backstory that I picked it up pretty quickly and understood enough of what the characters were responding to.

A massive pandemic has wiped out a large part of the human population of the planet, and now alien ships are in orbit and sending smaller ships down with robot crews. They seem to be ignoring the humans, and indifferent to life forms that aren't attacking them. Machinery is something else, though--so aircraft and naval ships, for instance, are treated as threats. The surviving human population, in the government and military around the world, are trying to mount a defense against the aliens.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Henry's Tale, by David Pipe

Widminster Books, January 2018

CW: No dogs actually die in the course of this story, but we learn of past deaths of dogs, and street dog culture is portrayed with a plausible amount of violence.

Henry Ford is the cutest little border terrier puppy ever, eager to grow up. "Nearly a year old!" he reminds his Papa several times. His Papa, Alan Ford, loves him. His mama, not so much. But he is loved by his papa, and is safe, comfortable, and happy, visiting his friends and going to terrier school.

Then his mama puts her foot down and insists Papa take her to Majorca for a week on vacation. Henry has to stay with strangers down the street--nice people, but strangers, and he's never been separated from his papa since Alan brought him home.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Wonder Engine (Clocktaur War #2), by T. Kingfisher (author), Khristine Hvam (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, July 2019

Slate (forger, thief, and leader of a team on a suicide mission), Brenner (assassin), Caliban (ex-paladin with a dead demon rotting in his soul), and Learned Edmund (19-year-old scholar and divine of the Temple of the Many-Armed God), have now achieved the first half of their mission: They're now in Anuket City, source of the Clockwork Boys,enormous engines of war terrorizing the entire surrounding region and a major threat to the Dowager's city, from which they have come. Along the way, Slate saved the life of a gnole, a badger-like creature who goes by the name of Grimehug, who is now also a part of their group.

Now, of course, the hard part starts. They have to figure out who is responsible for the Clockwork Boys, which they quickly learn are called Clocktaurs, and figure out how to deal with them. That might be by killing someone, or by discovering how they're made so the Dowager's city can have their own to fight them, or...they don't know.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World (The Mysteries of Nature Series #1), by Peter Wohlleben (author), Jane Billinghurst (translator), Mike Grady (narrator)

Harper Collins, September 2016

We have a natural tendency to think of trees as, although clearly living, largely inanimate. After all, they neither move nor make sounds, except due to the wind blowing through their branches. Trees are lovely,and useful, but they're just there.

Yet in the last couple of decades, science has been piecing together a different story. Trees whose leaves are attacked by insects produce a chemical to make their leaves taste bad and ward off the attack; that doesn't seem surprising. But the trees also release a chemical into the air, in response to which the neighboring trees also produce the chemical to make their leaves unpleasant for the insects; they prepare for the attack before the insects reach them. The first tree attacked has warned its neighbors of the coming assault. That seems very surprising.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Crucible of Time (Out of Time #2) (Chaos Chronicles #6), by Jeffrey A. Carver

Starstream Publications, September 2019

This is the second half of the Out of Time story begun in Reefs of Time, and the tension continues to ratchet up. John Bandicut and Li-Jared, together with the robot Copernicus, Tintangle Ruall, gokat Bria, and the cloud Dark, are making progress, slow and frustrating, but progress, in persuading the Karellians and Uduon to stop fighting and focus on the real enemy, the Mindaru.

What helps persuade the deeply suspicious and mutually hostile Karellians and Uduon, unfortunately, is the arrival of Mindaru ships. It's a hard sell for the Karellians to accept that their time distortion field that defends against asteroids from Uduon is what's drawing the Mindaru. And also for the Uduon to accept that their asteroid defense against Karellian missiles needs to be shut down for the Karellians to shut down their time distortion defense.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Death We Share (Patricia Delaney #3), by Sharon Short (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Sharon Short, January 2015 (original publication 1995)

Patricia Delaney is a detective, one who does most of her investigating on the internet. What I find especially fun about this book is that it and its companions were written in the 1990s, when the internet was new, and either exciting, or a reason to laugh at Al Gore--and Sharon Short knew what the internet really could and couldn't do. You could find a lot on the internet. Some of what you could find on the internet was where to go look at the print or microfiche records that weren't on the internet. In 1995, Yahoo! was in its infancy, just a year old, and Google wasn't register as a domain name until 1997. Internet research required skills. Patricia Delaney has those skills.

When retired opera singer Carlotta Moses becomes the target of a sleazy tabloid tv show, Patricia Delaney is the person to find out who in the singer's past wants to trash her reputation.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, by David Epstein (author), Will Damron (narrator)

Penguin Audio, May 2019

We hear a great deal, over the course of our educations and careers, about the importance of specialization, concentration, focus, and drill, drill, drill.

And specialization is not a bad thing. In many areas it's not just valuable, but essential. If you need surgery, you want not just a doctor, but a surgeon, and really, not just a surgeon but one who has done that particular procedure many times before. It's your best guarantee of a safe and successful outcome.

But not every field is surgery. Not even any medical field; a doctor with a more varied background and a CV that shows some flitting among different medical areas is a lot more likely to be a good diagnostician. Why? Because that doctor with the varied background has a much broader background to draw on when considering the patient's symptoms and comments. David Epstein looks at why this is so, in areas as different as athletes, musicians, inventors, and scientists.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe, by Jane Goodall (author), Pearl Hewitt (narrator)

Tantor Audio, July 2018 (original publication 1990)

Jane Goodall has done decades of groundbreaking research on the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania. This is her account of her work there over thirty years, starting when it was still scientific heresy to describe animals as having thoughts and emotions--even animals so obviously close to us in evolutionary terms as chimpanzees. Goodall didn't have a degree at all, much less in ethology, when Louis Leakey recruited her to study chimpanzees, so she described what she saw in the chimpanzees' behavior. When Leakey arranged funding and sent her to Cambridge University in 1962 to get a PhD in ethology, Goodall discovered the narrow view of the scientific establishment. In order to get her scientific work published, she pushed back where she could and compromised where she had to, and gradually had an impact on the silly practice of talking about higher mammals as inanimate objects.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Orphans of Raspay (Penric and Desdemona #7),by Lois McMaster Bujold

Spectrum Literary Agency, July 2019

Penric, now married to Nikys and attached to the Duke of Orbas when he's not needed for other duties, would much prefer to stay home in the Duke's capital with his wife. Instead, he continues to be sent off on missions that turn out to be more complicated and dangerous than they should have been. On their way home from the latest, the ship he and his demon, Desdemona, are on is captured by pirates, tossed into a hold on the pirates' own ship where they find two orphan sisters, and carried back to the pirates' island base.

The girls, Lencia and Seuka Corva, were attempting to travel to reach their father after the death of their mother when their ship was captured by these pirates. The obvious fate of all three, when they reach the island that has become a pirate company town, is to be sold as slaves. Penric presents himself as a scribe in service to the the Bastard's order, and the girls as his nieces, and says the Order will ransom them. The last thing he wants the pirates to know is that he's a Temple Sorcerer, because that will make him clearly too much trouble. Of course, this clever plan and the next couple of plans don't work out as smoothly as he hoped.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers

Harper Voyager, ISBN 9780062936011, September 2019

This is a standalone novella unconnected to Becky Chambers' Wayfarers series.

Climate change accelerated to a severe crisis that drained the ability and willingness of governments to support space exploration. Yet the drive to explore is not dead, and a private institute forms, to crowd-fund continued research and exploration. With contributions coming from anyone, anywhere in the world, who wants to support it, and all contributions, tiny or enormous, acknowledged, it works.

This story follows Lawki 6, a mission to a red dwarf system with four planets that may be habitable. Five missions to other star systems were launched before them, but results from the first weren't yet received when Lawki 6, ship name Merian, departs.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English, by John McWhorter (author, narrator)

Audible Studios, November 2009 (original publication October 2008)

John McWhorter gives us another lively, fascinating, informative look at language, especially the English language.

English is an offshoot of North Germanic, and in some ways those connections are obvious. In other ways, English is a bit weird even by North Germanic standards--and one section is devoted to making clear how very much the Germanic languages departed, early on, from the norms of essentially all the other Indo-European languages. He also gives us his theory as to how this happened.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, by Michael Lewis (author), Dylan Baker (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442341265, October 2011

Published in 2011, when the financial crisis was still fairly fresh in everyone's mind and we had not yet reached as much recovery as we eventually achieved, this is in some respects a look into the past. Yet none of Lewis's observations from his travels through a developed world still reeling from that crisis seem to have been proven truly false. Each country got into trouble in the world of essentially free money in the madness of 2003-2008 by following its own weaknesses and temptations.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tehanu (Earthsea #4), by Ursula K. Le Guin (author), Jenny Sterlin (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781501923920, June 2016 (original publication June 1990)

Twenty-five years ago, Tenar was a young priestess serving in the quite sinister Tombs of Atuan, and Ged was a powerful wizard. They escaped from the Tombs together--and then they parted company. Tenar chose the unmagical life of a farmer's wife, and Ged went on to become Archmage of Roke.

Now Tenar is a widow,who has taken in a child, Therru, badly maimed by fire. Ged is no longer a wizard at all; he poured out all his power in defeating a major threat to the world of Earthsea. Tenar takes Therru with her when the wizard of Gont, Ogion, who taught both Ged, and, for a time Tenar, sends word that he is dying, and asks her to come. This is the start of another great change in the direction of Tenar's life.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Passengers, by John Marrs

Berkley, ISBN 9781984806970, August 2019

It's near-future Britain, and self-driving cars with no human override have become the norm. They will soon be the only legal vehicles. There are a lot of benefits. Most importantly, because the cars communicate with each other, there is far less traffic congestion and far fewer accidents.

But what happens when something goes wrong? When there is a crash, and a Passenger or a pedestrian is killed? Who is at fault?

There's a jury system, and juries are composed mostly of experts and representatives of interest groups, with only one member of the general public.

This week, that member of the general public is Libby Dixon, a mental health nurse who deeply distrusts self-driving cars, indeed AI of all sorts, and does her best to minimize her use of it and exposure to it. Her first couple of days on the jury have not increased her trust, as they seem to rush through cases without sufficient evidence and always, always, the jury decides that a dead or injured pedestrian or someone whose property was destroyed by a car avoiding another car is the person ultimately to blame. And then all the techie goodness in their jury room is taken over by "the hacking collective."

Monday, August 26, 2019

Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures, by Nick Pyenson (author, narrator)

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, ISBN 9780525630852, June 2018

Nick Pyenson studies whales--all cetaceans, in fact. Whales include the largest animals that have ever lived on Earth. We've interacted with them for much of our history.

But because they spend most of their lives underwater, and mostly don't have any regular need to be close to shore, we know surprisingly little about them. Which whales have the most oil or blubber is important for whale hunters, but not exactly a deep scientific insight, taken by itself. It doesn't tell us anything about how whales evolved, where they are and what they're doing in the great majority of their time that isn't spent anywhere near humans, or what their likely future in a changing world may be. Nick Pyenson has spent his professional life trying to answer those questions.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Epitaph (Doc Holliday #2), by Mary Doria Russell (author), Hilary Huber (narrator)

Harper Audio, ISBN 9780062373960, March 2015

Mary Doria Russell returns to the American West in the late 19th century. The Earp brothers have left Dodge and are now in Tombstone, in the Arizona Territory. Doc Holliday was running a saloon with Kate, and then in a sanatorium for his tuberculosis, and has been trying to raise the money to go back for the full year he's told he needs there. But Wyatt Earp has a tooth he needs pulled, and he doesn't really trust anyone but Doc to do it.

So Doc Holliday is in Tombstone, too, with the Earps again. And in Tombstone, the tensions and conflicts are at work that will lead to the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and the aftermath.

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.