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.


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.