Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Lammas Night, by Katherine Kurtz

Open Road Media, July 2016 (original publication November 1983)

It's 1940, and Britain's war against Nazi Germany isn't going well. The British Expeditionary Force has been evacuated from Dunkirk back to England, and while the evacuation was a success, it was also a retreat. Hitler is planning an invasion of Britain, and the British military and political leadership really don't know how they're going to mount an effective defense.

Col. Sir John Graham, "Gray" to his friends and family, is a  military intelligence officer--and also a high-ranking member of an occult group, practitioners of the Britain's traditional, ancient rites. This group, the Oakwood group, and other occult groups in Britain, are planning their own response to Hitler's invasion plans. This includes responding, more directly than conventional military forces can, to Hitler's own occult assault on  Britain and Britain's military forces.

In addition to his occult colleagues, Graham has another dear friend--Prince William, Duke of Clarence, the (fictional) twin brother of King George V's youngest son, John, who died at age fourteen. This close friendship is going to lead to some serious complications as the Oakwood group works to organized a unified British occult response to Hitler.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Girl Least Likely, by Katy Loutzenhiser

Harper Audio, ISBN 9780063077744, June 2021

"Voice galley," read by a synthetic voice, not whoever is the eventual narrator. The sound of the voice is pretty good, but intonation, emphasis, pronunciation are not always consistent. The real narrator will undoubtedly be much better.

Gretchen is a high school junior in Portland, Maine, the youngest of three siblings, and a generally quiet, somewhat withdrawn girl. She doesn't call attention to herself. She has only a few close friends, and not a large number of friendly acquaintances. She's a member of the yearbook club mainly because an extracurricular activity is required, and in her freshman and sophomore years, there were enough members that she as able to do only tasks that didn't require much interaction with anyone not a member of the yearbook club.

Becoming a standup comic is something that never crossed her mind.

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Witness for the Dead (The Goblin Emperor #2), by Katherine Addison (author), Liam Gerrard (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250807892, June 2021

Thara Celehar is the Witness for the Dead that the goblin emperor Maia, in The Goblin Emperor, consulted concerning the deaths of his father and three half-brothers. A minor character in that story, he's the protagonist in this one.

Celehar is no longer at court; he's now in the distant city of Amalo, Witness for the Dead for the people of the city. It's a humbler but for him far more satisfying position. In this role, he can often really help ordinary people. He can identify the dead,  and often identify the cause of death. In one case brought to him, he's able to identify a deceased man's true heir, when at least one of the two competing wills is clearly forged.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Phobos Experience (Lady Astronaut Universe #4.1), by Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal, August 2018

Lt. Darlene Ritika, a "Lady Astronaut" stationed on Mars, is given an unexpected assignment. She, a geologist, and a pilot are sent to Phobos to check out the cave system on the tiny moon--which apparently really is mostly hollow. Even though the story of it being mostly hollow had been definitively exposed as a hoax, years ago...

When they arrive, they find a thick layer of dust which makes moving around challenging, and, yes, a cave system. While one would expect there to be less dust inside the caves, away from the entrance, one would not expect to find it apparently swept clean.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Assault and Batting (Taylor Quinn Quilt Shop Mystery #1), by Tess Rothery (author), Shaina Summerville (narrator)

Audible Audio, January 2021

Taylor Quinn has been building a life for herself in Portland, Oregon--a good job she likes, a home, a boyfriend--and then her mother dies.

She's back in the small town of Comfort, suddenly responsible for her sixteen-year-old sister, Belle, their grandfather, and her mother's quilt shop, Flour Sax. Oh, and her boyfriend broke it off and found a new girlfriend almost immediately, when she said she was moving back to Comfort.

The official verdict is that her mother, Laura Quinn, tripped and fell, possibly due to one drink too many, on the dock near the B&B she and some old friends were staying in. Belle has a different theory. She thinks she accidentally triggered one of her mother's friends to push Laura into the water. She has a reason for this that is almost as much a shock to Taylor than just the theory that their mother was murdered.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World, by Stephen Brusatte

William Morrow, April 2018

This is exactly what it says on the tin: a highly readable history of the dinosaurs, from their beginnings as very minor players in the early Triassic, to world-dominating predators and plant eaters in the late Cretaceous. And then the end of the Cretaceous, the meteor that ended dinosaur dominance--but not, as was once thought, the end of dinosaurs altogether.

Brusatte gives us both the story of the dinosaurs, and his own development from a teenager fanboying important paleontologists making major contributions to our knowledge of dinosaurs, to a student making his own first expeditions and contributions, and eventually an accomplished professional in the field.

Dinosaurs started out relatively small, and obscure, and got a boost from a mass extinction early in the Triassic. Brusatte takes us through their evolution, and the breakup of Pangea into separate continents. It's a fascinating story, more complex than I had previously fully realized.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Articulated Restraint (Lady Astronaut Universe #1.5) by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tor Books, ISBN 9781250241306F, February 2019

This novella is a deleted episode from The Calculating Stars, featuring Ruby Donaldson plunged into helping deal with a major emergency while trying not let the fact that she sprained her ankle the night before slow her down.

Being one of the Lady Astronauts always means having to work hard and be better to get the same recognition and respect as the men. It's not made easier by the fact that Ruby is on the diminutive side, the "Astronette."

Ruby arrives at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab for a training session with a small crew and one other astronaut, only to find that the place is bursting with activity, and four, not two, EVA suits are ready for astronauts to don them. Ryby had been at a dance rehearsal the night before--one of the few things left in her life from before the Meteor--and, having sprained her ankle, went straight to bed rather than watching the news or checking for messages. She's just now learning there was an accident in space, no deaths, but a ship now stranded, with only sixteen hours of consumables, including air. Ruby, her expected partner Eugene, and two other astronauts will be testing rescue procedures for this crisis, before they have to be put to the test in space. Find the flaws and fix them on the ground, not in vacuum and real zero-G.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Cuckoo's Cry by Caroline Overington (author), Aimee Horne (narrator)

Audible Studio, July 2020

Don Barlow is retired, widowed, and living alone in the home in Bondi, near Sydney, where he and wife Pam raised their daughter Danielle. With the global pandemic lockdown about to hit, he answers a knock on the door, and finds a young woman standing there. She says her name is Morgan, she's in trouble, has no place to go, and finally, springs the news that she's his granddaughter--the child of the son he had with a girl when they were in high school. That son was given up for adoption, and Don has never seen him, but he responds to this surprise granddaughter, and invites her in.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Racing Murder (Ham Hill Murder Mysteries #2), by Frances Evesham

Boldwood Books, ISBN 9781800480759, June 2021

Belinda Sandford and Alex Deacon are two young women, aspiring racing jockeys, working for different stables, and racing against each other in their first professional race.

Belinda and her horse cross the finish line first, but Alex claims that Belinda's brief drift to the right before correcting to resume her correct lane caused her to pull up her own horse--that Belinda cheated. After a Stewards' hearing, Alex is declared the winner.

A few hours later, Alex is found dead, drowned in a horse trough.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Penny Preston and the Silver Scepter (Misaligned, Book 2), by Armen Pogharian (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

CamCat Publishing, LLC, June 2021 (original publication August 2013)

Penny Preston, her friend Duncan, her multidimensional cat, or "Cait Sith," Simon, and their mentors, Mr. Myrdin and Master Poe, are facing a dangerous new challenge.

Something went wrong with Penny's closure of a new time fold, and something may have slipped through. Meanwhile, a friend of Myrdin's on an archaeology dig has found an ancient artifact, a silver scepter.

Suddenly, people are seeing a strange little man dressed in red, who asks for favors. After he doesn't get them, strange pranks are played--including the local cat lady's cats being hung up in trees, but very carefully, in rope nets that restrain them without harming them.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Amara's Giraffe (Lady Astronaut Universe #4.3), by Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal, May 2018

This is a very short story in the Lady Astronaut series.

Alyshondra is taking her eleven-month-old daughter on a visit to Grandma, at Grandma's new homestead, on the Moon. They're in the zero-G part of their trip when baby Amara's stuffed giraffe starts falling toward the floor. This should not be happening. Where's the force coming from, with no thrust?

Alyshondra has to figure this out, get them back on their correct course, and calm the now crying Amara.

It's a story that's both charming and interesting.


I received this story as part of the 2021 Hugo Voters packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Death on the Lake (DCI Satterthwaite #5), by Jo Allen

Jo Allen, April 2021

When a young woman, Summer Raine, is found drowned in a lake, having earlier been drinking and doing drugs with two young men on their boat, it doesn't look like something that should need the direct attention of DCI Jude Satterthwaite. Yet something is definitely off, when his boss, Detective Superintendent Faye Scanlon, tells him to keep an eye on the case--but not investigate too energetically, so as not to disrupt a fraud investigation going on in the area.

That fraud investigation apparently involves the father of the two young men the woman had been partying with.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that Jude's former lover has family ties in the are a and her aged Great-Uncle George lives in the only house that has a good view of the area where the dead woman seemingly went into the water and drowned. His current lover, and colleague, Ashleigh O'Halloran, was briefly the lover of his boss, DSI Faye Scanlon. Oh, and Ashleigh's ex-husband is now back in the area again, applying for Summer Raine's job as a water sports trainer.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi (author, narrator)

Blackstone Publishing, ISBN 9781094006352, January 2020

This is a novella that really packs a punch. It's very good, very powerful, and I'm not sure that I like it. I'm not sure I should like it; I'm certainly not the intended audience.

On the other hand, I think it's a very good thing for nice white people to listen to what this story, and others like it, are telling us. It's a very real piece of black American experience, and an eloquent expression of the rage that experience can generate.

Ella is just a young child when her brother Kevin is born--in the midst of the Los Angeles riots sparked by the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King. She's already starting to develop psychic powers that she describes as her "Thing." At first she just has dreams, or daydreams, about the futures of people she knows. Given that she obviously knows a lot of black boys and young men, many of those futures are dark and tragic.

The story unfolds in two voices, Ella's, in third person, and Kev's, mostly in first person.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Echo in Time (Echo Trilogy #1), by Lindsey Fairleigh (author), Dana Dae (narrator)

Rubus Press, ISBN 9781094262048, December 2013

Archaeology grad student Alexandra Larson has just experienced her first notable success--a paper published in a peer-reviewed journal.

She's also starting to experience more disturbing events, in which she has dreams that recall forgotten memories just when she needs them, or, more disturbingly, things that haven't happened yet, but which are all too real. Or things which have happened, but aren't her experiences. They're the experiences of other members of her family.

Then her mother reveals a startling and disturbing fact: her father isn't her biological father. She's the product of artificial insemination, with sperm from a sperm bank donor who remained anonymous. Her world has come completely unhinged.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Changes to Email Subscription to Lis Carey's Library

 If you've been getting my new posts in your email, it's been through Feedburner, and Feedburner is not going to be doing that anymore. "Maintenance." "Changes." I frankly don't fully understand the explanation, but I have to do something else. The "something else" I've decided on is Follow.It.

Unfortunately, although I followed the steps for downloading my email subscription list from Feedburner, I apparently did it wrong, and have garbled nonsense instead of a list. Hey, I'm a librarian, not a techie.

This means that those of you who want to continue to receive my new posts via email will have to sign up again. My apologies for this, but it at least appears to be easy to do. You can see the sign up box in the upper righthand corner. Please do sign up!

Also, to make everyone's lives easier, if you can give me really simple, easy help in getting my email subscription list downloaded correctly, please do. I will be grateful.

Thanks for your patience and tolerance, all.

Preacher Boy, by Gwyn GB

Chalky Dog Publishing, June 2021

Harrison Lane is a psychologist working for the London Metropolitan Police as a civilian expert in ritualistic behavioral crimes. His own background is unusual, to say the least. His mother led a bohemian life, was involved in a rather alarming cult, and also, in one of the most positive formative experiences of Harrison's life, lived with one of the Shadow Wolves, a group of Native American trackers who work to prevent smuggling along the Mexico-USA border in Arizona.

After returning to the UK, Harrison's mother was murdered, and that became a major motivation for him to not only study psychology, but to study ritualistic behavior associated with criminal activity. He's determined to solve his mother's murder, but along the way, he also works with the police to solve crimes rooted in the same ritualistic criminal behavior.

One fine morning, he is called to the site where the body of a young boy has been found. The boy disappeared a couple of weeks ago, but he's newly dead, in a park, with a wooden cross set next to him, and paper with Bible verses in his mouth.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Judge Dee and the Limits of the Law: A Original (Judge Dee), by Lavie Tidhar

Tor Books, November 2020

This is a fun little short story about a very old vampire who is, essentially, a circuit judge for vampires, enforcing the only law that really matters to vampires: don't endanger us all by behaving so outrageously that you get us discovered by the humans we prey on.

Judge Dee is accompanied in his travels by a boy named Jonathan, whom he rescued from a local disaster in England. Because vampires don't really eat, and really don't eat what humans eat, Jonathan devours ferociously whatever human-edible food comes his way. Other than that, he just tries to be observant, learn what Judge Dee has to teach him, and be useful.

Jonathan is enjoying one of those meals when Judge Dee is called Castello d'oro, or perhaps Castello dell'orrore. Castle of Gold, or Castle of Horrors. When they arrive, they find the Baron Guido, and his surprisingly large vampire family--the large number of former humans he has transformed into vampires. Together with the large number of prey humans they have confined, one can easily see some likely violations of the one law vampires care about.

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Long Iapetan Night, by Julie Nováková

European Astrobiology Institute, May 2021 (original publication 2020)

This is the story of the start of a new space age, beginning about a century after two major disasters in close succession largely crashed technological civilization on Earth. First, the Phlegraean Fields volcano experienced a VEI-8 eruption, destroying Naples and plunging the world into a volcanic winter. This was bad enough, but almost a year later, an extreme solar eruption knocks the human race out of the satellite age, and even destroys much of the electronic infrastructure on Earth.

People survived, and preserved enough that, slowly, they were able to recover, to the point of launching a new space program, to return to the places--the Moon, Mars, and Saturn's moons Titan and Iapetus--where there had been colonies at the time of the collapse. They don't know whether the colonists at the more distant colonies tried to return to Earth, or decided to stay, but they didn't make it back, and weren't equipped to survive in isolation from Earth.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe #1), by P. Djèlí Clark (author), Suehyla El-Attar (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250807731, May 2021

In 1912 Cairo, Fatma el-Sha'arawi is the youngest woman agent  at the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, and last summer, she saved the universe from destruction. Now, she's been called in on a most unusual murder. The entire membership of a small secret brotherhood dedicated to al-Jahiz, one of the most famous men in history, who among other things opened the wall between our world and the world where djinn had retreated to, has been killed.

What makes this case clearly a Ministry matter is the fact that with one exception, all the dead were burnt to death--but only their flesh, no damage to their clothes. The last victim was not burnt; his head has been turned completely backwards on his body, a feat requiring superhuman strength.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle #2), by Nghi Vo

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250786166, December 2020

Cleric Chih has set out on another mission to gather stories for the Singing Hills abbey, this time without Almost Brilliant, the talking bird who normally accompanies them. They are headed up and over the mountains, it's too cold, and Almost Brilliant is sitting a clutch of eggs. Chih misses the bird, but they have a job to do.

However, along the way, they find a young mammoth scout and her mammoth to take them over the heights to enable them to reach their destination. Riding a mammoth is a learning experience for Chih, which, after all, is what they are out here for.

It's unfortunate that even as the are getting close to the way station where they will spend the night, a group of three tigers finds their trail and hunts them the rest of the way to the station. The keeper of the way station, Bao-so, is nearly killed, but the skilled riding of the mammoth scout, Si-yu, and the steadiness and determination of the mammoth, Piluk make possible Bao-so's rescue and their entry into the barn. Piluk turns around to face the tigers, and they won't charge her, but they also won't leave. A temporary truce is negotiated, in which the tigers won't try to attack them as long as Chih keeps them properly entertained with telling a story about a tiger and her human lover. They might even let the three humans live, if the story is good enough.