Friday, May 29, 2020

Women Talking, by Miriam Toews (author), Matthew Edison (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781501998782, April 2019

This story is based on real events in a remote Mennonite community, in which more than a hundred women and girls were drugged and assaulted during the night by what the men of the colony told them were ghosts or demons. Eventually, one of the women succeeds in outsmarting her attacker, and the truth is exposed.

This book is about an imagined response to this, in which eight women, over forty-eight hours, talk about what they can do and will choose to do about what's happened, while the men of the colony are in a nearby town trying to post bail for the men involved in the assaults. It's a challenging listen, but also fascinating.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Prisoner's Wife, by Maggie Brookes

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780593197752, May 2020

This is based on a true story from World War II, as improbable as it seems.

It's 1944, and Izabella is a twenty-year-old farm girl. Her father and older brother have joined the partisans; Izzy, her mother, and her younger brother, Marek,are left alone on the farm.

Izzy's mother, fortunately, was always the farmer in the family; it's her family's farm, and Izzy's father was a musician. But with only Izzy and her mother to do the heavy work, it is a struggle. When Nazi officer Captain Meier shows up and says he can bring a work crew--prisoners from the Allied forces--her mother accepts.

It's a team of five captured British soldiers. They don't come every day, but for every major job the farm has. Among the prisoners is William King, and he and Izzy are quickly drawn to each other.

They have to be very, very careful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Professional Integrity (A Riyria Short Story), by Michael J. Sullivan (author), Tim Gerard Reynolds (narrator)

Audible Studios, June 2015

Hadrian and Royce have been operating a very successful thieves-for-hire business for several years, but this latest proposition is truly unusual. A young heiress wants them to kidnap her, to attract the interest of a most desirable potential suitor. She won't even get to meet him if they don't, because her father locks her in a steel box whenever he visits.

Something is not what it seems here. Her story does not really make sense, and yet she seems completely sincere. What's really going on? Is someone setting Royce and Hadrian up, or attempting to use them as tools in some larger scheme?

Monday, May 25, 2020

Marvel's Thor: Metal Gods, by Aaron Stewart-Ahn (author), Jay Edidin (author), Brian Keene (author), Yoon Ha Lee (author), Daniel Gillies (narrator)

Serial Box, December 2019

Thor and Loki have each had their adventures and made their mistakes. In this adventure, their past mistakes collide and they have a major problem they will have to solve--even if, this time, they have to, however reluctantly, solve it together, and learn from each other.

Many years ago, Thor responded to a request from the government of the planet of Miskandr, to help them put a stop to terrorist attacks from rebels. Thor does so, and upon successful completion of his mission, they give him a crown made of a metal unique to their planet. Thor has lots of such trinkets, and he puts it in his treasure room and forgets it.

Years after that, in the 1980s, Loki steals it, and uses it to boost a musician in the band he's amusing himself with into an apparently major talent. The musician, Sylvain, gets more self-involved and stops believing Loki has anything to do with his success. They break up, and Loki doesn't manage to get the crown back.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Caving into You (Love in the West #1), by Bess McBride (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Bess McBride, March 2020

Hilly Creighton is a romance writer, on her way to visit her brother in Phoenix after attending a writer's convention. She stops near Tombstone to enjoy the stark landscape, and finds a cave. She calls into it, just being silly for a minute, and then goes on her way.

Clint Woodrow is a miner in 1881 Tombstone, until he hears a woman's voice calling to him from the entrance to his mine, and emerges to find no woman in sight, but but a very different world than the Tombstone he knew.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Pile of Bones (Legends of the First Empire #0.5), by Michael J. Sullivan (author), Tim Gerard Reynolds (narrator)

Audible Studios, January 2020 (original publication August 2019)

Suri is a young apprentice mystic, and one day she and her wolf companion find a cave, and explore it--though the wolf thinks it's a bad idea, and makes that clear. In a hidden chamber in the far back of the cave, Suri finds a pile of bones, and experiences a very strange presence.

And then she makes a potentially fatal mistake. Having accidentally kicked over the pile of bones while fleeing the hidden chamber, once safely out, she finds one bone has been kicked out of the chamber. It's long and straight, and perfect for making a bone flute. She takes it home.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Beach Read, by Emily Henry

Berkley, ISBN 9781984806734, May 2020

January Andrews and Gus Everett met in college, and clashed rather than connected. They were both aspiring writers, but with very different styles and goals.

Some years later, January is a successful "happily ever after" romance writer, with three books to her credit, and Gus is a serious literary writer with two successful and well-received books.

Also, January's father has died, and his lover shows up for the funeral, and gives January a letter from her father, and a key. It turns out that January's mother knew about the lover, Sonya, and Does Not Want To Talk About Any Of It.  January is devastated, and for now, can't see past the wreckage of her illusions of her parents' happy marriage to write her next book, which is under contract and has a due date.

The key Sonya gave her is to a beach house on Lake Michigan, that her father has left to her. She heads there, planning to work on her book while also working on selling first the contents of the house, and then selling the house. When she arrives, she soon finds that her next door neighbor is now Gus Everett.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Network Effect (Murderbot Diaries #5), by Martha Wells (author),Kevin R. Free (narrator)

Recorded Books, May 2020

SecUnit, a.k.a. Murderbot, makes a deal with Dr. Mensah that he'll accompany an expedition with members of the survey team, and a couple of family members, if she goes for trauma recovery treatment.

They get attacked on the planet they're surveying, and successfully fight them off, but of course that's not the end of the matter. They wind up being kidnapped in space, by the ship that is, or was, piloted by Murderbot's old friend, the bot pilot who is really a pretty sophisticated AI, ART. (Asshole Research Transport.)

ART doesn't seem to be there. There are, though, some very strange-looking and quite hostile people--Murderbot immediately dubs them "Targets."

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Last Emperox (Interdependency #3), by John Scalzi (author), Wil Wheaton (narrator)

Audible Studios,April 2020

The Flow is continuing to break down, and the Interdependency is coming apart. Emperox Grayland II, a.k.a. Cardenia Patrick-Wu, has managed to take full control of her empire--for the moment. Unfortunately, she still has enemies--lots of them, and powerful ones. Some are resisting the reality of what is happening. Others, the more dangerous ones, recognize what's happening, but don't share the Emperox's goal of saving the entire population of the Interdependency. They think--not completely irrationally--that that is impossible. And that being the case, they think the important thing is to save the culture, achievements, and values of the Interdependency. Which is to say, the aristocracy. I.e., themselves.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

On Cats, by Charles Bukowski (author), Roger Wayne (narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780062421210, December 2015

This is a short collection of poetry about cats, that does not quite work for me.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Questions of Perpective, by Daniel Maunz

Black Rose Writing, May 2020

Dave Randall is a fairly successful, ethical, but unenthusiastic lawyer when his one real friend in the New York firm, fellow lawyer John Manta, disappears.

Completely disappears. No notes, credit card usage, or messages to Dave or to his landlord. He left his phone, wallet, and keys behind. Also, a cat named Peaches. Dave takes custody of Peaches, tells the police what little he knows when everyone is finally convinced John didn't just take off for an unscheduled long weekend.

But John is gone, nothing is found, and Dave settles down to his work.

A year later, he's up for partnership, and finds himself unexpectedly resistant to it. He heads out for a walk, to think, and walks smack into John.

John has had, to put it mildly, a life-changing experience. He's become God.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Always Been You (AJ Williams #3), by Lasairiona McMaster

Drama Llama Publishing, May 2020

AJ Williams has arrived back in Alabama to the shocking realization that his fiancée, Irish hockey fan Lisa Millar, has broken up with him via text. He has no idea why. He's still struggling with his bipolar depression, and struggling with whether or not he should try to win Lisa back, or move on and try to find love with another woman.

Meanwhile, life isn't standing still for AJ's family and friends. Ana has a love life developing. Britt's relationship with Roberto might not be what she has claimed. AJ's family might be about to expand in unexpected ways.

There's also, of course, the fact that AJ has to recognize that it's past time he corrected the mistake he made. Nothing he wants in life can happen unless he divorces Britt.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Medieval Myths & Mysteries (The Great Courses), by Dorsey Armstrong (author, narrator)

Audible Originals, September 2019

This is a great set of lectures about medieval Europe and what many of us think we know that just wasn't so. We get lively accounts of King Arthur (almost certainly real, though not called either "King" or "Arthur"), and Robin Hood. We learn about the Knights Templar and the origins of a very popular modern conspiracy theory, and what the medieval Europeans did and didn't know about the physical world.

Medieval bestiaries and real or fanciful travelogues, and a really interesting suggestion for the possible origin of the Questing Beast add a lot of fun to the listening. And Armstrong finishes up with a look how George R.R. Martin drew on medieval history to make A Song of Ice and Fire/The Game of Thrones a rich and fascinating story.

It's entertaining, informative, and fun.


I got this from Audible's expanded May selection of free Audible Originals, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Inside Jobs: Tales From a Time of Quarantine, by Ben H. Winters (author), Scott Aiello (narrator), Kevin T. Collins (narrator), Ellen Archer (narrator)

Audible Originals, April 2020

This is a collection of three short stories, set in the current pandemic shutdown.

A small but very professional criminal gang plans their next job via Zoom meetings. It seems it doesn't matter what your profession is; working from home has its own problems, of kids and spouse competing for space, of getting everyone on screen and audio at the same time, and those embarrassing moments when your coworkers see things you'd forgotten would be visible.
Two brothers who haven't spoken in years return to their childhood home, which their father never left and where he has now died. The two brothers each have their own plans for the house, and the plans are not compatible. Unfortunately, there's a hid with a GoPro.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

A Shop Girl at Sea (Pennington's #4), by Rachel Brimble

Atria, May 2020

Pennington's, the finest department store in Bath, and getting a reputation that's spreading through Britain, is still going strong. Changes are coming to the lives of some of the staff, though. Esther Culford is on maternity leave, about to give birth to her first child. Amelia Wakefield is stepping up to act as the window designer rather than the window designer's assistant, and Ruby Taylor is acting as her assistant.

But the RMS Titanic is about to set sail for New York, and Elizabeth Pennington has a plan. She's sending Mr. Weir, the head of the men's department, and Amelia Wakefield, to New York City, to check out the department stores of America's greatest city for ideas and inspiration. It's an exciting adventure for Amelia, a sign Miss Pennington and Mr. Carter have growing confidence in her, and a chance to continue to better herself.

Ruby is also getting a chance to prove herself, taking a responsibility for Pennington's windows she hadn't imagined yet.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Worth Fighting For (AJ Williams #2), by Lasairiona McMaster

Drama Llama Publishing, April 2020

AJ Williams and Lisa Millar continue their complicated courtship.

The complication Lisa knows about is AJ's in-name-only marriage to his friend Brittany, who has a real relationship, but "needed" AJ to marry her so she could stay in the US rather than returning to Canada.

The complication she doesn't know about is that AJ suffers from bipolar depression. His shame about his condition (which is, yes, one of the symptoms of the disease) makes it really difficult for AJ to do the sensible thing: tell Lisa, and let her decide whether she can cope with it. No, instead he tries to conceal it, and even stops taking his medication because he's trying to be the person he wants to be for her. It's been a long time since his last serious episode, so surely it's reasonable to think it's gone... No. But yes, depression, bipolar depression, and other conditions and the medication that controls them can make this seem reasonable.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Upright Women Wanted, by Sarah Gailey (author), Romy Nordlinger (narrator)

Tantor Audio, ISBN 9781541410176, February 2020

Esther is fleeing the death of her friend, Beatrice, whom she was in love with, and the marriage her father intends to force her into.  To get away, she hides herself in the Librarians' book wagon. The Librarians, she knows, are upright women spreading approved materials and information. She knows that when they find her, she'll have to be very careful not to let slip the true nature of her relationship with Beatrice, because they are upright women and will be appalled.

Boy, does she have a lot to learn about Librarians, and the world they, and she, live in!