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.