Monday, January 31, 2022

The Really Big Ka-Boom: A Spade/Paladin Conundrum, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

WMG Publishing, December 2015

Another Spade and Paladin short story, this time not actually at a science fiction convention.

Spade encounters Paladin, purely by chance, in a mall on Black Friday, a place they'd never be on that date ordinarily. They each have their reasons, though we don't learn Paladin's. Spade suggests she come to Chinese Food Con on Christmas, to which she replies, "I'm working." She repeats this a couple more times, and Spade takes this as a no.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

A Killer Plot (Books by the Bay Mysteries #1), by Ellery Adams (author), Karen White (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781494586225, August 2015

Olivia Limoges lived her first few years in the little town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina. Her mother died in a freak accident during a storm when she was seven, though, and her father, a fisherman, died when she was ten. The little village pulled together to care for her until her grandmother arrived to take custody of her, and take her away. Many years later, she has returned, a successful businesswoman, and has been investing her money in redeveloping Oyster Bay in ways that preserve and enhance the existing character of the community.

But Olivia isn't outgoing and social, and she resents any questions, perfectly normal in most circumstances, that might lead to talking about her childhood traumas. She really has only one close friend in Oyster Bay, and is the subject of gossip.

Friday, January 28, 2022

A Plethora of Phantoms (Shades, Shadows, and Spectres #2), by Penny Hampson

Darkstroke Books, December 2021

Freddie Lanyon, eldest son of the Earl of Batheaston, heir to the title and to the beautiful house and estate of Lanyon Park, with a loving family, and enjoying the work of helping his father restore and maintain the old place after the depredations of the generation that preceded his father, has a problem.

Well, actually, two problems.

Lanyon Park is haunted, and Freddie can see the ghosts and sometimes talk to them. Some are friendly; some are not. The problem, though, is that his father is adamant that ghosts don't exist, so he really can't talk about it.

Freddie's other problem is that he's gay, and he's convinced that his loving, kindly, devoted parents will reject him if he comes out. He was badly bullied in school, by boys who sensed he was different. University was better, but not coming out limited his ability to make any really close friends.

Now, though, after several years working in London, he's back at Lanyon Park, enjoying learning about the running of the estate, and has purchased a lovely, antique, men's dressing case at an antique shop in Bath. He soon discovers, of course, that it's haunted.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Legacy Systems (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #19), by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, ISBN 9781935224921, February 2012

Two more Liaden stories, looking into the past, prior to the "current" stories where Val Con and Miri are together Delm Korval.

"Intelligent Design" features Val Con as a boy, with Shan just a few years older. They're heading off on what will be Val Con's first trip as cabin boy on Dutiful Passage, with Er Thom as captain, and Shan as apprentice trader/cargo hand. They're setting off just after Jelaza Kazone has lost its butler due to the butler's clan Delm having no good opinion of Er Thom having married a Terran, Anne Davis. The possibility of more service clans withdrawing from Korval is a background worry as Dutiful Passage sets off.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction, by Terry Pratchett (author), Neil Gaiman (foreword), Michael Fenton Stevens (narrator)

Random House Audio, ISBN 9780803193634, September 2014

Terry Pratchett was a popular, indeed beloved, fantasy writer, with many bestsellers, many of them featuring the Discworld, a flat disc carried on the backs of turtles.

He also wrote quite a few non-fiction essays, speeches, newspaper articles, and pieces for the souvenir books of science fiction conventions. This collection spans his entire writing career, It reflects the range of his interests, and is roughly divided into three themed sections.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

A Stranger’s Revenge, by K. J. McGillick

K.J.McGillick,January 2022

Abigail Clarke is an attorney in Maine, specializing in art law and representing art collectors in avoiding the purchase of fakes and art works of dubious provenance. One day, a man by the name of Gabriel Waterstone arrives in her office, without the usual referrals and her secretary's expert background check. The secretary, Edna, does a crash background check. Waterstone and Abigail sign an agreement for her to represent him at an art auction at a small Boston auction house, for his intended purchase of two pictures that have seemingly resurfaced after being  out of circulation for a long time. The paintings are withdrawn from sale at the last moment, and they go their separate ways. It's the single most unbelievable part of this novel that's really excellent overall.
After she's back in Maine, an FBI agent, Robert McDermot,  who is there on what he thinks is the first step in notification of the family and connections of a woman found murdered in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. The woman had no ID on her, but running her photo through databases the police use for the purpose pulls up Abigail Clarke's driver's license. They think she's the dead woman.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children #7), by Seanan McGuire (author), Whitney Johnson (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 978250841247, January 2022

Cora Miller, the girl who went through the Door to the world of the Trenches, became a mermaid, had the experience of being a true hero but overall very traumatic experience in the Moors, and returned home to our world, has loved Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children. Unfortunately, it hasn't been helping her in the way she thinks she needs. After much thought, she asks to be transferred to the other school for returning travelers, The Whitehorn Institute.

The Whitehorn Institute is a very different place, very strict, very disciplined, very inflexible, aimed at making the students forget their alternate worlds and the doors that took them there. It's not a kind place, or a safe one.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Dastardly Dognapping (Grammy B. Cozy Mystery Series #1), by Jordan Wood

Jordan Wood, December 2019

Helen Boyko is a woman with grown but not yet married grandchildren, living in an apartment in a building run by an elected board of the residents. She has an elderly cockapoo named Duffy. This is not the the dog that gets dognapped. Her neighbors include the president of the board, Gloria Vaunn, who has a large, friendly, completely untrained St. Bernard mix named Gunther; cranky old man Harold Keen, who has no pets and no friends; and Helen's best friend, Rita Hawthorne. There are other residents, but these are the ones we meet. Gloria Vaunn has a housekeeper named Lynn, and a son, Stewart, who is apparently financially successful, but we don't know what exactly he does.

Very near the apartment building is a café, owned and run by Carol Wildman.

Late one evening, while Gloria is out, Gunther is stolen. She comes home from a fundraising event to find her apartment door closed and locked, a glass table near the entrance knocked over and broken, and Gunther missing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Hunted, by Caro Savage

Boldwood Books, ISBN 9781838895389, January 2022

Detective Constable Bailey Morgan went undercover to get the goods on a major drug dealer in London, and now in just a few weeks' time, she'll be a key witness in his trial. This guy doesn't want to spend the next twenty years in prison, though, so he's hired a hitman--a topnotch hitman, who always gets his target.

Bailey's supervising officer for undercover operations wants to put her in a safe house until she testifies at the trial. Bailey, though, decides, and convinces her boss, Stella, that it's a better plan for her to go undercover to hunt the hitman who's hunting her. A chance to catch the guy!

I wasn't convinced it was actually sensible, but that's the kind of not-quite-sensible decision you can easily accept for the sake of the story.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

To the Vanishing Point, by Alan Dean Foster (author), Joel Richards (narrator)

Dreamscape Media LLC, ISBN 9781520051574, December 2016 (original publication January 1988)

This book was written in the late 1980s, and to the extent that it's set on our world, it's set in the late 1980s. An upper middle class American family sets out on an RV road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Husband and father Frank Sonderberg was sure it would be a fun, educational adventure for his kids, sixteen-year-old Wendy and 10-year-old Steven. Wife and mother Alecia was not so sure, and really, Frank should have listened to his wife. The kids are hating it--and it turns out, the area they're traveling through is less interesting than Frank expected.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Hunter's Rules (Edinburgh Crime Mysteries #6), by Val Penney

Darkstroke Books, January 2022

DI Hunter Wilson and Dr. Meera Sharma are out for a romantic evening that comes to an abrupt halt when they leave the restaurant for the hotel's elevator. When the elevator door opens, they find a young woman laying on the floor, bleeding, with her eyes missing--completely missing.

Unlike the two previous women found with their eyes removed, she's not dead. She's still alive, if only barely, and Meera sets to work caring for her, while Hunter calls an ambulance and a police crime scene team.

When she is able to regain consciousness they learn that her name is Eileen Maguire, and her date's name was Frederick. They met on a dating app, and she doesn't know his last name. She can describe, but since she is now blind, she can't look at pictures to help narrow down the possible matches.

Having initially no real lead on the man is one complication. Another is that  Eileen Maguire is the sister of Linda Maguire, the girlfriend of Jamie Thomson, who with his cousin, Frankie, is currently running Thomson's Top Cars, owned by Jamie's father, who is currently doing a rather long prison sentence. Jamie and Frankie are relatively small-time crooks, and oddly friendly and likable, but it's going to be awkward on both sides for them to be effectively the victim's next of kin. And Jamie can be a little hot-headed at times.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Courier Run (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #18), by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, ISBN 9781935224907, December 2011

Two Liaden stories, telling some of the backstory of some major characters.

In "Guaranteed Delivery,"Aeilliana and Daav are just starting to build their reputation in their courier business in Ride the Luck. They take on a contract to carry ao valuable family jewel to another family location. They of course take out insurance to protect against any loss, even though they have no intention of allowing that. It's not entirely a surprise when they are ambushed when they enter the port, headed for their ship. Someone else does get a surprise, however.

In "Kin Ties," set right after the events in I DareRen Zel and Anthora are sent out to visit Korval allies and business partners, to assure them that Korval is still able to fulfill existing contracts, despite having been banished from Liad in disgrace. One of their stops is Casia, to call on Clan Obrelt. Ren Zel dea'Judan, now Anthora's lifemate and a member of Clan Korval, was once Ren Zel dea'Judan Clan Obrelt, who contract married, at his Delm's direction, a member of Clan Jabun. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Skyblaze (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #17), by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, ISBN 9781935224129, April 2011

Vertu dea'San Clan Wylen, Delm Wylen, is running her clan's taxi agency in Solcintra when the climax of the first part of Clan Korval's direct conflict with the Department of the Interior comes. Vertu signs a contract with some mercs, to transport them to their picnic at a field outside the city, and pick them up again.

Unfortunately for Vertu, the mercs aren't there for a picnic, and the day, which ends in what comes to be called Skyblaze, does not end well for Vertu.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Dreams of Distant Shores, by Patricia A. McKillip (author), Tim Campbell (narrator), Amy Landon (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781705205945, June 2020

This is a collection of short fiction by Patricia A. McKillip. I've always loved her novels, but I have to confess I wasn't aware she had any short fiction. In this book are five short stories, two novellas, a non-fiction essay by McKillip, and an afterword by Peter S. Beagle.

It is, of course, wonderful. It's McKillip.

A witch, already old, accepts the invitation to be the Moon Goddess's body for a century. A century later, in our modern day, she wakes up out of a more-than-life-size statue of a mermaid, returning to the world as a strong, powerful, beautiful woman. A group of young men are suspected of stealing the mermaid from the bridge (they really tried), one of them is in trouble with his girlfriend because they had promised to have it for friend's wedding. The witch herself is puzzled by parts of the modern world and delighted by others, and there's the problem of the fishermen who regard cormorants as intolerable competitors and are trying to wipe them out. No, I'm not doing justice to the story.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Under the Whispering Door, by T.J. Klune (author), Kirt Graves (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250790163, September 2021

Wallace Price is a successful lawyer, partner in the prestigious firm he and his partners built, and he's a rather terrible human being. Cold, harsh, never kind, sometimes actively cruel.

And then one day, he dies, quite suddenly, of a heart attack, all alone in the office on a Sunday afternoon. For the next few days, he's frustrated that no one can see or hear him. Finally, at his funeral, someone does--his Reaper, come to collect him. The Reaper, a young woman named Mei, is on her first solo job, but she's good at it, and she brings him to Charon's Tea and Treats Shop. It's a real tea shop, but it's also the home base of Hugo Freeman, the Ferryman. Or at least, a Ferryman.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Halfling Moon (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #16), by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Pinbeam Books, ISBN 9781935224242, April 2011

In the aftermath of Clan Korval's head-on clash with the Department of the Interior, and firing on Solcintra to destroy DoI's death machinery. Korval is removing to the backward world of Surebleak. Pat Rin yos'Phelium has, somewhat by coincidence, created a plausible refuge for them there. They're evacuating in great haste, under the Plan B they have trained diligently on even while hoping not to need it. DoI is chasing them, hoping to do, at the least, irreparable damage to Korval.

In these two stories, we see some of this crisis and chaos from less common viewpoints in the Liaden stories.

In "Hidden Resources," young Quin yos'Phelium is the halfling who is suddenly the senior pilot for the escape ship for the clan's children. In addition to the next-oldest pilot, Padi, he's got his grandmother, Kareen; his grandfather, Luken; and all the children. Not large numbers, but a large responsibility. When the unfamiliar ship that's been nearby for a while vanishes, and another ship arrives, with all the right codes but an unfamiliar pilot--"Inas Bhar, called Natesa," as the pilot, he has to rely on his elders, but can't completely cede responsibility to them.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Greyhound of the Baskervilles: A New Take on A Classic Mystery (Greyhound Classics Book 1), by John Gaspard (adapter), Arthur Conan Doyle (author)

Albert's Bridge Books, January 2019

This is Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles," only slightly altered. This time it's narrated by a previously unmentioned character, Septimus, Holmes' rescue greyhound. It's Septimus who tells us the story this time, and being a dog, he often has useful bits of information that he can't easily share with the humans. Being a greyhound, this is sometimes fine details seen at a distance, such as the little hooks holding on the fake beard of the man in the cab who had been following Sir Henry Baskerville.

Septimus accompanies Watson, when they travel to Baskerville Hall with Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry, and they quite competently do their job of keeping Sir Henry safe while getting acquainted with the neighborhood. The story doesn't change except in details, and in Septimus' heroic role in the climax of the story.