Monday, April 6, 2020

Grave Passion (DCI Isaac Cook #12), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, March 2020

Two teenagers out for an evening of teenage sex walk through a cemetery on the way to their destination, and just miss witnessing a murder--the murderer passes them, and they find a body lying on a grave. Despite their panic, they call the police.

DCI Isaac Cook and his team find themselves with a body with no ID, no really unique feature, and only her shoes are new enough that it might be possible to track down where they were purchased. But DS Wendy Gladstone is very good at that, and--she gets a list of names, of the purchasers who paid with credit cards. There are others who paid with cash, so no way to track those.

Meanwhile, the two teenagers, and their families, prove to be an interesting problem in themselves. The kids saw the murderer, and almost the murder; he might be after them. But the boy, Brad, comes from a very troubled family, and his sister, Janice, working as a prostitute, is murdered in her flat--by someone who wrapped the knife in a towel, and then showered afterwards in her bathroom. Oh, and didn't have sex with her first. This is very strange, and doesn't seem to obviously be an angry client.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Roxy Reinhardt Mysteries 1-3, by Alison Golden (author), Honey Broussard (author)

Alison Golden, April 2020

Roxy Reinhardt is, when we meet her, working in a customer service call center in Chicago. It's an awful job for an awful company, but it pays the bills and lets her build some savings--more or less.

Then she loses the job, goes home, and learns she's lost her boyfriend as well. With him moving in with his new love, and with no job, she obviously can't afford the apartment.

In a mad moment of impulsivity, she takes her cat and her few possessions that matter to her, and heads to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. She booked a room in a tiny inn, the only one she could find quickly that she could afford and which would accept her cat. She's not sure what to make of the inn, never mind of New Orleans, and least of all of the staff--the owner, Evangeline; Nat, the tattooed waitress; Sage, the spiritualist who does the inn's website; Sam, owner of a modest laundry business who does the inn's laundry and also any odd jobs needed--and who owns a custom Rolls Royce.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Greatest Host, by Ray Jay Perreault (author), Christopher M. Allport (narrator)

Ray Jay Perreault, January 2016

The Mists are microscopic creatures that exist in a cloud, and seek suitable hosts to occupy and live with. They're benign; they live in harmony with their hosts. Unfortunately, their last planet got bombarded by meteors that rendered it uninhabitable. The Mists had to leave, and seek a new, safer planet with suitable hosts.

The Mists reach a planet that has life, the right kind of life, and is much safer from massive meteor bombardment from space. Now, can they find a good species to be their hosts?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Loveless Ada (A God Complex Short Story): The Luggage Disaster, by George Saoulidis (author), Steve White (narrator)

Mythography Studios, October 2019

Ada is a fifteen-year-old on a school trip to Italy.  She's also an accomplished young programmer. Unfortunately, when their plane lands, it seems the airline has lost her luggage. The group's teacher/chaperone prefers to leave Ada alone at the airport rather than delay the group in order to help her get her luggage.

With her teacher and fellow students gone, and no real help from the luggage claim's help desk, Ada walks out of the cold, air-conditioned airport into the warm, Italian air.

Where she meets a man with luggage that follows him.

And they start talking.

This is just a lot of fun. Recommended!

I received this audio short story as part of a "there's a pandemic; let's do something nice" giveaway, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Nanodaemons: The Fir Smart-Tree, by George Saoulidis (author), Steve White (narrator)

Mythography Studios, April 2019

This is a cyberpunk retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Fir Tree."

This fir tree is an artificial tree, a tree powered by nanotechnology, able to do an amazing range of things that can make it the perfect Christmas tree.

And the fir smart-tree has a very high opinion of itself. It decides it will be purchased only by a person worthy of itself. The right income, the right address, the right tastes, preferences, habits. And of course, a proper family to properly observe Christmas.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Little Match Girl (Cyberpunk Fairy Tales), by George Saoulidis (author), Steve White (narrator)

Mythography Studios, May 2019

This is, just as it says, a cyberpunk retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's story. In this retelling, the "matches" are single-use VR "experiences," created by her now-deceased father. Her father lost his job, and thus all his tools, but he still had the rights to the VR experiences he created on his own time. Then he died, and the girl's mother died, and the only thing she has left to sell now, and survive on, are these single-use VR experiences.

Some of them are recordings of happy experiences at home, before her father lost his job. But since these are single-use experiences, each can only be used once. She can either sell it, or use it for a brief escape into a warm, happy memory.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Who Rescued Who, by Victoria Schade

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780593098837, March 2020

Elizabeth Barnes's father, a professor of English, died six months ago, leaving a will that required that his ahses be scattered in a particular river in England. This request was a complete surprise to her and she has no real notion of what to do about it. She was also, until quite recently, very busy, as the Chief Marketing Officer of a video gaming company in San Francisco. Now, though, she's unemployed and her reputation is toast, because she was working for a company that run by a completely unethical woman she used to think of as a friend. No one even wants to interview her for a potential job.

And she gets a call from a complete stranger, who claims to be her uncle, her father's brother, and he says that she has an inheritance, some property in the little English town of Fargrove. Reluctantly, she heads off to England, to meet the uncle her father never told her about, and hopefully sell that property to give herself a cushion while trying to rebuild her life.

She's not prepared to like her English relatives, the little town of Fargrovc, a local brewery owner, or the abandoned puppy she finds.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, by Ronan Farrow (author, narrator)

Hachette Audio, October 2019

In 2017, Ronan Farrow began to get hints of a potentially explosive story--one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood was a major sexual predator. As he and his producer worked on the story, finding more and more women willing to talk to them, they got encouragement and support--and obstacles that seemed to make no sense at all. For instance, reporters talk to people bound by non-disclosure agreements all the time; investigative reporting would be impossible without it. Yet Farrow and his producer were being told that this could result in NBC being sued for "tortious interference."

That's just one example of the real opposition underneath the superficial support.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Uncover, by Amanda Linehan (author), Nicole Blessing (narrator)

Amanda Linehan, June 2019

Marissa is a senior in high school, whose best friend, Olivia, was killed in a car crash just a few days before the start of the school year. Marissa doesn't really know how to cope with her grief, and when Olivia's younger sister, Jordan, comes to her with a plan, she listens, and reluctantly cooperates.

Soon, Jordan and a group of Olivia's friends--Marissa, Jaye, Aaron, and Peter--are hiking in the woods, to a site where Olivia often wrote in her journal, and where Jordan thinks she may have hidden it. There's some room for question, whether the car crash was just an accident, or whether Olivia committed suicide, and for Jordan, it's really important to know.

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Librarians and the Lost Lamp (The Librarians #1), by Greg Cox (author), Therese Plummer (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, November 2016

For millennia, The Library, and its Librarians, have been safeguarding the world from dangerous magical relics, collecting, cataloging, and safeguarding them against those who would misuse them.

Flynn Carsen, the most recent Librarian, in 2006 heads to Baghdad to look into the disappearance of the oldest known manuscript of The Arabian Nights, which might be of magical significance. He meets a beautiful museum curator who had been translating it, and they have run-ins with the actual Forty Thieves, a ghoul, a roc, and the actual Aladdin's lamp, complete with genie.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Tucker (McBrides of Texas #2) (Eternity Springs #12, by Emily March

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250314932, February 2020

Gillian Thacker runs a bridal salon with her mother, in Redemption, Texas. She's also starting a wedding planning business--she thinks with her fiancé, Jeremy Jones.

Jeremy doesn't share her dreams. Or goals. Or basic values. And in a series of startling revelations, she finds this out.

Tucker McBride is one of the McBride cousins, who inherited Enchanted Canyon and associated properties, and have been building a special place there. Or rather, Jackson and Boone have been. Tucker was in the army.

But Tucker got promoted and reassigned to a Washington post that had him dealing with politicians and bureaucrats in a world that makes no sense to him. So he resigned, and has come home to Texas--where he meets Gillian Thacker.

Tucker has started a business, too, in his case a survival school, teaching wilderness survival skills to those who want to enjoy the wilderness more safely, whatever their reasons.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Messengers by Lindsay Joelle (author), Kaliswa Brewster (narrator), Ana Reeder (narrator), Zoe Winters (narrator), Alex Weisman (narrator)

Audible Originals, March 2020

This is a short, well-told tale of a galaxy caught in a decades-long war, and two pairs of protagonists, a generation apart. A pilot and a soldier are assigned to deliver a package, and discover they may not be the allies they think they are. A messenger and a refugee ought to be enemies, but try to work together, despite everything that's against them.

It's about how we decide who is human and who isn't, how we communicate, and even what messages we carry in our bones. It's hard to say much about this story without massive spoilers, but the characters are very well-drawn, and the world they live in emerges from their words and their interactions. It'a beautiful and, though dark, hopeful story.

Recommended.

I received this as part of the Audible Originals program, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A Murderous Relation (Veronica Speedwell Mystery #5), by Deanna Raybourn

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451490742, March 2020

Veronica Speedwell and Revelstoke Templeton-Vane are still recovering from their latest adventure, and continuing to hesitate about taking their relationship in the obvious direction, when Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk summons them with an alarming note making reference to the Jack the Ripper killings currently terrifying London. When they arrive, though, Lady Wellie is also receiving a visit from the Princess of Wales (who is, technically, Veronica's stepmother), and Inspector Archibond, of Special Branch.

It seems Prince Albert Victor, family name "Eddy," eldest son of the Prince of Wales, is involved in a bit of scandal, right at the time the royal family is attempting to arrange a marriage for him with Princess Alix of Hesse. Eddy is in love with her, but she is a young lady of strict morals, and learning that Eddy has been carrying on at the most exclusive sex club in London will end the negotiations. The Princess of Wales even fears the scandal could rock the monarchy. It's really unfortunate that Eddy has given the proprietress of the establishment an expensive jewel, with his initials on it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's War on the FBI, by Josh Campbell (author, narrator)

Highbridge, September 2019

Josh Campbell was an FBI special agent for twelve years, and special assistant to FBI Director James Comey for eighteen months. He was directly involved in Crossfire Hurricane, the initial investigation into the Trump campaign's connections to Trump's connections to Russia.

Let me first say, this is a great, well-written, informative look at how the FBI works, and what it was like to be working in the upper levels of the FBI while under sustained attack by Trump and his allies, while trying, genuinely, to conduct an honest investigation of the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia. I'm about to start ranting about my problems with what he has to say, so don't lose track of this. It's a very good book, and you will learn a great deal from it.

Monday, March 9, 2020

18 Wheels of Science Fiction: A Long Haul into the Fantastic, by Eric Miller (editor), Graydon Schlichter (narrator), Jennifer Knighton (narrator)

Big Time Books, January 2020

This is a very enjoyable collection of science fiction and trucking. Some trucks still traveling the roads of Earth, some "trucking" in space, and even some time-traveling trucking.

They all involve artificial intelligence in some form.

One uploaded, former flesh-and-blood, trucker is on a war of revenge against the AI takeover of his former profession. Another progresses from live trucker signing on as a driver for testing, and partnering with, AI-assisted trucking, through an increasingly mechanized body, in ways that may seem very disturbing to many readers. Yet he remains convinced the company has treated him very well, and kept the promises they made him.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Antidote for Everything, by Kimmery Martin

Berkley Publishing Group978, ISBN 9781984802835, February 2020

Georgia Brown is a urologist at a clinic associated with a hospital in Charleston, South Carolina; her friend Jonah Tsukada is a family practice physician. Both the clinic and the hospital are owned by a fundamentalist megachurch, but until now they've been able to treat patients as they see appropriate.

But Jonah is an out gay man, and he welcomes gay and transgender patients. Georgia, as a urologist, treats some of the same patients. And hospital and clinic policy is about to change. While Georgia is away at a medical conference in Amsterdam, Jonah calls to tell her he's been ordered to drop all his transgender patients, or be fired.

Jonah and Georgia's lives are about to become very interesting.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Books, Brownies, and Murder (A Story Tree Cozy Mystery #1), by Lori Woods (author), Jennifer Groberg (narrator)

Demy Watts, February 2020

Clary St. James runs a bookstore cafe, the Story Tree, in Valley Springs. Her chef is Marie, a few years older, originally from France, and an absolutely killer baker.

Which is great for business, until someone dies of rat poison that somehow found its way into one of Marie's brownies.

We meet an array of interesting local characters, some likable, some cantankerous, and one a bit more devious and less balanced than the town residents, including Clary, suspect.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The White-Throated Transmigrant, by E. Lily Yu (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Serial Box, February 2020

Winona Li is a geologist who has been working in the oil fields, but is currently unemployed. Returning back to her apartment after an interview, a bird strikes her car's windshield, and is killed. Struck deeply by guilt, she gathers it up and takes it to a museum taxidermist in the little town she's currently living in.

Winona is a woman in the oil fields when she's working, and is a Chinese-American in a part of the country that's no so big on diversity. She's an outsider, and feels she will always be.

But for a little while, she learns the art of taxidermy from the unwelcoming taxidermist who is nevertheless willing to use her free labor.

And the whole time she is moving towards a strange transformation.

This is a quiet, sad story, beautifully told, and beautifully read by the narrator.

I got this audio short story from Serial Box, while they were running a promotion giving away short stories for free, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Beasts Who Fought for Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still, by Catherynne M. Valente (author), Joniece Abbott-Pratt (narrator)

Serial Box, February 2020

Catherynne Valente says she was advised to stop talking about politics, and go back Fairyland and fairy tales, which of course are not at all political. Right? She decided to take their advice, and this short story is the result. It's set just before the events in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, and does not include any politics at all. Of course.

It does feature several quite interesting characters, including A-Through-L, whose mother was a wyvern, and whose father was a library. He is, consequently, a wyverary. How can you not love a wyverary?

It's short, absorbing, and very satisfying, and as I may not have mentioned before, not a all political.

Very enjoyable.

I got this short story from Serial Box, while they are offering a selection of short stories, in ebook and in audiobook format, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Gate That Locks the Tree (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #30), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author)

Pinbeam Books, February 2020

Surebleak isn't just Clan Korval, and our leading characters here are Vertu Dysan, a cabbie formerly of Liad; Yulie Shaper, a farmer and neighbor of Clan Korval; Mary, his spouse; Anna, a kid with some unusual talents; Rascal, her dog; Chelada, a cat about to have kittens; Toragin del'Pemridj, also formerly of Liad; The Tree; and Jarome, also a cabbie.

Vertu picks up her passengers--Yulie, Mary, Anna, and Rascal--and agrees to drive them home to Yulie's place in the building snowstorm. It' a bad storm, and this might not be entirely wise, but Vertu is sure she feels The Tree urging her on.

Along the way, they encounter another cabbie and his passengers, who were trying to reach The Tree, but have crashed. Jarome, the cabbie, has been injured, and Toragin and Chelada can't help him without getting help themselves. They have no experience with serious snow, just for starters.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Break Shot: My First 21 Years, by James Taylor (author, narrator, performer)

Audible Originals, January 2020

James Taylor tells the story of his youth, including the complexities and pain of his family, and how that affected him. He intertwines his words, memories, and his songs.

His father was a doctor from a wealthy family in the south, and his mother was from Massachusetts, where they met while Isaac Taylor was a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and Gertrude was attending the New England Conservatory of Music. For years, their marriage was a bit of a tug of war between north and south, with Isaac's career and their residence in North Carolina, while Gertrude ensured that the kids, at least, spent the summer on Martha's Vineyard with her.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Last Real Girl (The Disappearance of Charlotte Walters #1), by L.C. Warman (author), Brooke Myers (narrator)

Greenleaf & Plympton, May 2019

Reese and her mother moved to the prosperous, exclusive town of St. Clair when Reese was eleven. They're not typical of the town; her mother is a nurse, working at the hospital, and it's luck and determination that enabled her to find affordable housing within St. Clair. But Reese likes their outsider status, feeling that it lets her appreciate the beauty and distinctiveness of the town better than the locals do.

Reese was also lucky to become the best friend of Charlotte Walters. Charlotte is from one of the most prominent families in town, and very popular. However, she and Reese met during a brief rift in Charlotte's popularity in middle school, and she befriended Reese, who was also eating lunch alone. The single best thing we know about Charlotte is that, when her popular-crowd friends returned, she remained loyal to Reese as her best friend, including her in a crowd that normally would have ignored her.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Puppy Love (Service Animals #1), by Lucy Gilmore (author), Lauren Sweet (narrator)

Dreamscape Media, May 2019

Sophie Vasquez and her sisters run Puppy Promise, a service puppy training organization. (I would be much happier about this if they weren't presented as placing the service dogs as puppies. Organization-trained service dogs are rarely placed before two years old. Being "fully trained" means having the discipline and impulse control to behave properly in public. Don't bet on this before at least 18 months.)

That complaint aside, Gilmore does present Sophie as a capable dog trainer.

In this case, she's assigned to get Harrison Parks, wildfire firefighter, trained and bonded with his new diabetic alert service dog, a Pomeranian.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Alone With the Stars, by David R. Gillham (author), Hillary Huber (narrator), Emily Bauer (narrator)

Audible Originals, January 2020

In 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, set out on their around-the-world flight, and very nearly made it. They had completed 22,000 miles of the flight, with about 7,000 miles remaining, when they departed from New Guinea, headed for Howland Island. That was the last that was seen of Amelia Earhart, pioneering aviator and the most famous woman in the world.

For many years, the accepted version of events said that after the last transmissions received from Earhart while in the air, there were no further transmissions after the point at which she was presumed lost. Yet there were people who claimed to have picked up subsequent transmissions. They were ignored, dismissed as bogus, but eventually--many years later--determined to be credible.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Dark Curse (Spellcaster Academy Episode #2), by Jenetta Penner (author), Aimee McKenzie (narrator)

Jenetta Penner, October 2019

In episode one, Josy Barrows discovered her parents weren't who she thought they were, got an invitation from a previously unknown aunt, and found herself shoved through a portal to The Magic Side--where she learned she had magic powers, was enrolled in the Borealis Academy, found she was a misfit there, too. Then the Academy is attacked, and her powers--temporarily--are fully under her control long enough to play a crucial role in defending the Academy from the attack.

So now, in episode two, everything is great, right?

No, of course not.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Red Dots, by Ray Jay Perreault (author, narrator)

Ray Jay Perreault, November 2018

Deep Space One is sent out from a deteriorating Earth to find the best candidate New Earth in a region that has several promising choices. They're a small crew, just six people, three couples, and they can all trust each other.

Surely they can all trust each other.

They're spending most of their time in deep sleep, waking for seven-day periods at long intervals, to maintain the ship, review new data, make any course adjustments, check for problems and receive mail from home. Shortly before the halfway point, when the ship will need to reverse itself and start decelerating for arrival at what is now determined to be the right planet.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World, by Michael Pollan (author, narrator)

Audible Original, January 2020

Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world, and the only one we routinely give to children recreationally, in soft drinks.

But why? And what effects does it really have on us?

Michael Pollan decided to find out.

In this short book, he looks at the history of caffeine, both the coffee plant and the tea plant, and I'm going to say right here that you don't have to rely on Pollan's own statements to know that he's a coffee drinker rather than a tea drinker. It's clear in how much time he devotes to our two favorite sources of caffeine. He also looks closely at how caffeine affects our lives, work, and how we organize our economic lives.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Golden in Death (In Death #50), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Eriksen (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, February 2020

A respected and loved pediatrician is getting ready for his morning run after his husband has gone off to his job as headmaster of prestigious prep school. An unexpected package arrives, from a shop he's never heard of. He opens it, and in minutes he's dead.

It's a puzzling case, as no one had any apparent problems with Dr. Kent Abner. It's also an alarming one, as it quickly becomes clear he was killed by a fast-acting toxic gas. Lt. Eve Dallas quickly clears people from the scene, and calls in the hazmat team.

Friday, February 7, 2020

King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats, by James Patrick Kelly (author), Stefan Rudnicki (narrator)

Skyboat Media, January 2020

At some undetermined but certainly distant point in the future, Gio Barbero, Junior Senator, lives on the world of Boon. He's the clone descendant of Boon's ancient founders, and he's painfully aware that there are problems on Boon.

Cats and dogs have been Uplifted, and are citizens with "equivalent"--not equal--rights. They're not happy at their limited rights and mostly doing low-level jobs, including as servants in the homes of the "grands," the people like Gio and his elder clone-brother, Fra, clone-descendants of the founders.

What Gio and the other Grands know that the general population, human or otherwise, doesn't know, is that the clone technology they inherited, and don't really understand fully, is failing. The government of the Grands, the Supremacy, is poised to fail.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Crow's Rest (Faerie Crossed #1), by Angelica R. Jackson (author), Brenda Scott Wlazlo (narrator)

Crow & Pitcher Press, August 2018

Avery Flynn arrives at her Uncle Tam's house, for the long summer visit that has been part of her life since she was a young girl. She's now in her late teens, and late last summer, she and her old friend, Daniel, took the first hesitant steps toward romance. She's hoping they can pick up where they left off.

But strange things have happened, and Daniel isn't Daniel anymore. At first she just thinks he's changed. Then she thinks--this really isn't Daniel. It's someone else in his body, and she needs to get him back.

Even once she's reached that conclusion, what's really going on is stranger and more frightening that she thinks. She's about to discover that the world of the Fae is real, and dangerous.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Murder & Delicious Halloween Candy (Daley Buzz Treasure Cove Cozy Mystery Book 29) (Sabrina Carlson Cozy Mystery #6), by Meredith Potts (author), Stephanie Quinn (narrator)

Meredith Potts, September 2019

It's Halloween, and Sabrina Carlson and her police detective husband, David, are at home. Sabrina is giving out candy to neighborhood kids, and David is stressing out about what mischief or disasters will happen this Halloween. Their daughter, Jessica, now a police officer on the Treasure Cove police force herself, is off duty and attending a big Halloween party.

Only Jessica encounters anything interesting that evening. There's a nasty argument between Fiona and her boyfriend, Trevor, and Fiona storms out, telling Trevor not to follow her. Trevor leaves shortly thereafter.

When David gets to the police station the next morning, he learns that Fiona has been found dead, in the town cemetery, killed with a blunt object, at the grave of a former girlfriend of Trevor's. Trevor had dumped that former girlfriend, and taken up with Fiona. The former girlfriend had killed herself shortly thereafter.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Gemini, by Ray Jay Perreault (author), Ed Waldorph (narrator)

Ray Jay Perreault, August 2017

In a solar system with twin planets orbiting in the same orbit on opposite sides of the star, we meet two alien species, the Raog and the Ora.

The Raog are peaceful, cooperative, with a society that shares out jobs and roles based on ability, not gender or other divisions of society, with the goal being families that grow and thrive. Individual or family wealth isn't a thing they work for. The focus is growing their food crop, jabon. Beyond raising jabon, there are Raog who ask questions about the world and the space beyond it. The main function of their space program is maintaining weather satellites to help in the cultivation of jabon, but Dr. Wong, his son Ornage, and others are asking questions about the wider universe. Dr. Wong thinks he's discovered another planet, on the other side of their sun, and wants to send an uncrewed ship to investigate.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

I'll Be Waiting in Heaven, by Becca Fisher (author), Stephanie Richardson (narrator)

Kevin MacGorman, January 2020

Allison is an Amish widow with two daughters, and they're all grieving. To make a fresh start, she moves them from Pennsylvania to Ohio, to get away from daily reminders of their loss. She meets a handsome farmer in their new community, but her girls have a normal, predictable reaction to the idea of a new man in her life. It's handled believably and with grace.

This is an enjoyable, happy ending short story.

I received a free copy of this audiobook and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Hurricanes Can Be Murder, by Meredith Potts (author), Stephanie Quinn (narrator)

Meredith Potts, October 2019

Hope Hadley lives in Hollywood, Florida, which is getting hit by a hurricane. She and her boyfriend, along with their dogs, take refuge in a storm shelter. Hope spends a good bit of the time worrying about what they'll find when they can emerge; hurricanes, after all, can do a lot of damage.

There is indeed a lot of damage, though Hope and her boyfriend are each fortunate enough to find their homes still standing. Everything on Hope's first floor will have to go, and she'll have to have mold removers in before she can replace those things. But those are things, not people. Things are replaceable.

Then her brother Joe, a police detective in Hollywood, calls her with the news. One person has died, and not due to the storm. This woman was murdered. As is their usual habit, Joe wants his sister's help investigating the murder.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children #5), by Seanan McGuire (author, narrator)

Macmillan Audio, January 2020

Jack left Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children carrying the body of her twin sister, Jill, whom she had just killed in righteous rage at Jill's murders among the other residents of the school. She took Jill's body back to the Moors, the world their Door took them to--and where death is not quite so permanent as in ours.

When a Door appears in the basement room that used to be Jack's and is now Christopher's he recognizes it as being from the Moors. He doesn't recognize the young woman who steps through, carrying what is either Jack or Jill, either unconscious or dead.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Base of Reflctions (Tomorrow's Ancestors #2), by A. E. Warren

Locutions Press, ISBN 9781999919931, July 2019

Elise, a Sapien from Thymine base, and her companions have successfully made their way to the secret base, Uracil. Those companions are Luca, also Sapien and the Companion to the Neanderthal woman, Seventeen; Kit, the Neanderthal also known as Twenty-One, whose Companion Elise was; Georgina, a Medius nurse who has become Elise's friend and also Companion to Seventeen's surviving baby girl, whom they have named Bay; and Samuel, direct supervisor of the Neanderthal project at Thymine, whom they believe is also a Medius.

At Uracil, they discover that Samuel was keeping more secrets than the existence of Uracil. His father was one of the founders of Uracil--and his father was a Potior. His mother was a Medius. He looks more like his mother; his sister, Faye, looks more like their Potior father.

Elise volunteers to become a spy for Uracil, gathering information from the four official bases, in exchange for her parents and brother to be able to join Uracil when they can be smuggled out. The first goal is getting the young Neanderthal woman, Twenty-Two, and a Neanderthal boy, Twenty-Seven, out of Cytosine. Samuel, Kit, and Luca will do that, while Elise carries out her first assignment, getting pictures of one particular lab inside Cytosine. What none of them know is that there is a malign force at work in Uracil, and there's a trap waiting at Cytosine.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Surprising Amish Love, by Hannah King (author), Kiya Embry (narrator)

Hannah King, October 2019

Sarah Schuster is a young Amish woman, more than ready to marry and start her family--and to stop working as a waitress in a café. Unfortunately, the supply of single Amish men in her community is shrinking, and the one she has her eye on, Joshua Kaufman, seems reluctant to end his rumspringa. Many are now taking it for granted that he won't ever commit to the Amish church, and will instead live the English lifestyle permanently.

This is a sweet, gentle short story with a happy ending. Pleasant and enjoyable.

I received a free copy of this audiobook short story from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Poison Squad: One Chemist's Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, by Deborah Blum (author), Kristen Potter (narrator)

Penguin Audio, ISBN 9780525639893, September 2018

This is the fascinating, alarming, and encouraging story of the first great round in the fight for food safety in the USA.

In the second half of the 19th century, the food industry embraced the chemical industry, and preservatives, colorants, and substitutions became common. This might not sound all that alarming, as all those terms apply to things legitimately used in food now. However, at that time, milk could contain formaldehyde, jellies and jams might contain none of the claimed fruit at all and get their color from coal tar dyes, and there were no labeling requirements at all. Basic food safety legislation was making progress in Europe, but was completely squelched by industry efforts in America.

Monday, January 20, 2020

A Dog Year: The Story of a Maladjusted Therapist and the Homeless Shih Tzus That Rescued Her, by Allison Hilborn-Tatro (author),Cassandra Campbell (narrator)

Audible Original, January 2020

Allison Hilborn-Tatro was 32, a recovering alcoholic, a working therapist, and owner of a goldendoodle named Buddha when one of her neighbors, Catherine, comes by with the news that another neighbor, Dennis, has died. The three all frequented the same dog park, and Dennis's two shih tzus, Nikki and Coco, are now orphans. His sister-in-law who is local can't take two more dogs. His sister in Texas would, but Nikki is in poor health and would probably not survive the flight. The family doesn't want them to wind up in the pound, which would be scary for them, and where two elderly shih tzus wouldn't be adopted. Can Allison take them?

She says yes.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Pefect Match, by Zoe May

HQ Digital, January 2018

Sophia Jones is a copy editor at a medical research journal, an aspiring novelist, and part of a circle of friends she's known since university days. Most of her friends are paired off now, but she's still searching for her perfect match. She's been doing that mainly by way of online dating sites. The results have been dismal. The latest is a boring young man called Chris, who spouts endless streams of facts about food, and engages in battle board games with little figurines. The figurines part seems especially silly and pointless to Sophia. And really, who needs to know all those facts about noodles?

She is not giving that guy a second chance.

In fact, she almost decides to stop looking for someone at all. She's tried most of the dating sites, and hasn't found anyone worthwhile. Her friend and roommate, Kate, though, persuades her to give it one more go, on one more site. This time, she's going to do a wildly crazy and explicit profile outlining her perfect man. A multimillionaire, who travels, and who among other details has very specific measurements in a certain body part.

The Museum of Second Chances (Tomorrow's Ancestors #1), by A.E. Warren

Locutions Press, ISBN 9781999919917, February 2017

Some unknown hundreds of years in our future, much of the human species has been eliminated by a plague, and the descendants of the survivors have developed a new, caste-divided society. The lowest caste are unmodified Sapiens. Sapiens are blamed for all the extinctions, disasters, the plague, and the collapse of the old society. And not in an abstract way. Sapiens live under the rules of Reparations, in relative poverty, in ecologically correct homes that blend into the landscape. They're only allowed to fairly basic jobs.

Medius, or or "Midders," are middle caste, considered definitely superior to mere Sapiens, and doing most of the interesting jobs that require real education. However, it's worth noting that Sapiens who can afford to do so, or who win the lottery for genetic modifications, can buy three genetic changes to their next baby, and that baby will be Medius, not Sapiens.

The ruling caste are Potior, or "Supes." It would take ten genetic modifications to make your baby a Potior.

Elise is a Sapiens, and she's tired of working the the Production Center. She wants more breadth and depth to her life, and she applies at the Museum of Evolution for the newly open position to the Neanderthal, called Twenty-One.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Living in Threes, by Judith Tarr (author), Emma Galvin (narrator)

Audible Studios, January 2014

Meritre is a Temple Singer in the Temple of Amon, four thousand years ago. The recent plague that has killed so many is finally ending, but it's going to take one last victim before it's over.

Meredith is a teenager in our day, planning a summer of riding with her friends and caring for her recently bred mare, when her mother announces that as her sixteenth birthday present, she's going to Egypt to take part in a dig with her archaeologist aunt.

Meru, four thousand years in the future, has, along with her friend Yoshi, qualified for starpilot training. Unfortunately, Meru's mother, who has been chasing down the source of a mysterious plague hitting many planets, has secretly returned home--and died, leaving a package keyed so that only Meru can open it.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Fatal Odds (Knight & Devlin #5), by John F. Dobbyn (author), Bill Nevitt (narrator)

Oceanview Publishing, December 2017

Michael Knight is a successful, young, Boston lawyer, the younger partner in Devlin & Knight. Michael doesn't always play it safe, and that adds to the stress of senior partner Lex Devlin, secretary Julie, and fiancée Terri.

Michael Knight looks like a nice Boston Irish boy, but his mother is Puerto Rican, and he speaks Spanish, enjoys Puerto Rican cuisine, and, most importantly for this story, has two cousins, brothers Victor and Roberto Mendoza, who are now jockeys at Boston's thoroughbred racing track, Suffolk Downs.

Michael is at the track, watching a race in which Victor and Roberto are both racing, when something goes horribly wrong. Victor's horse moves sideways into Roberto's, a collision in which Roberto's horse goes down, and Roberto is critically injured. By the next morning, Roberto is dead, and the DA wants to charge Victor with being involved in fixing the race, and with felony murder, for the death of his brother.

Friday, January 10, 2020

From Garden to Grave (Leafy Hollow #1), by Rickie Blair (author), Petrea Burchard (narrator)

Barkley Books, December 2019

Verity Hawkes has been hiding out in her apartment in Vancouver for two years, ever since her husband, Matthew, died. Now she's gotten a call from her Aunt Adeline's lawyer, Wilford Munson. Adeline's car was pulled out of a river, and while Adeline wasn't in it, neither has she turned up anywhere else. She's missing and presumed dead. And recluse Verity needs to come to tiny Leafy Hollow, Ontario, to settle her aunt's estate, right now.

Reluctantly, Verity takes her first trip in two years.

Her aunt's Rose Cottage, which she remembers so fondly, is in very sad shape. Her aunt's garden has clearly been neglected longer than Adeline has been missing. Her lawn care business is alive, but in the red, because Adeline hasn't been going after unpaid invoices in a while.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Body in the Ditch (DI Tremayne #8), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, December 2019

In the village of Brockenstoke, there is a farm which has become the home to a sort of self-improvement guru and his flock. It's less poisonous than some; residents have to contribute to the upkeep of the place, but they don't sign over all their property and income. They are regarded as weird but harmless.

Then one of the residents, a young woman named Charlotte Merton with a history of drug addiction, is found dead in a ditch, with a plastic sheet over her. She is found by Bess Carmichael, an old woman living in a caravan in Brockenstoke, an oddity herself, always scrounging and engaging in petty theft, but like the farm and its guru, considered harmless.

There are no signs of violence on Charlotte Merton's body, and but the medical examiner finds an injection site where she couldn't have injected herself. This is murder--and soon DI Keith Tremayne and his sergeant, Clare Yarwood, are digging into the secrets of the farm and the village.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Interview with the Robot, by Lee Bacon (author), Kevin T. Collins (narrator), Ellen Archer (narrator), Josh Hurley (narrator), Eileen Stevens (narrator), Erin Mallon (narrator), Jonathan Davis (narrator), Stephen Bel Davies (narrator)

Audible Original, January 2020

Eve is, apparently, a twelve-year-old girl, who gets arrested stealing an unlikely variety of items at a tourist gift shop in New York City. Since she's obviously a minor, and claims to have no parents, no guardian, and no last name, the only thing to do is call Child Welfare Services.

Petra Amis is the CWS social worker assigned to interview her. When she insists she wants the truth, no matter how bonkers it sounds, she gets a truly wild tale.

Eve does take the sensible precaution of first demonstrating that she really is a robot, by opening up a section of her arm and showing the metal, wires, and circuits inside.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Earth II - Box Set #3 & #4, by Ray Jay Perreault (author, narrator)

Perreault Publishing, December 2019

This is the third and fourth books of the Earth II series. Book 3, You Have No Honor, brings together two threads, that of SIMPOC, one of the first two true artificial intelligences, and of a deeply strange and suspicious virus that wipes out 90% of the human population. As the story opens, the virus has burnt itself out, and the remaining humans are trying to pick themselves up and preserve human civilization. Unfortunately, just at this point, alien spacecraft start landing on Earth in large numbers and, ignoring the remaining population centers, set out on a project the purpose of which isn't yet apparent.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness, by Sy Montgomery (author, narrator)

Highbridge, May 2015

Sy Montgomery is a naturalist who has done quite a bit of field research, but this is about time spent observing and interacting with octopuses, mostly in aquariums.

This isn't a book about the biology of these sea creatures, but about their consciousness and intelligence. Not long ago, no one with scientific training would have said that octopuses, invertebrates with comparatively short life spans. If you're interested in the biology of octopuses, this isn't the book for you. Montgomery makes passing references to her field research from time to time, but that's all they are--passing references.