Monday, March 27, 2023

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, by Carlo Rovelli (author), Simon Carnell (translator), Erica Segre (translator), Roy McMillian (narrator)

Audible Audio, January 2014

Another interesting and well-written book about quantum physics and the nature of the universe.

Rovelli has some good things to say about the importance of science, and reviews the history of physics, starting with Demosthenes first hypothosizing the atom. It's lively and interesting, and including fun details I had previously missed. Then we get to the meat of the matter. What is the universe really made of?

The two main theories of the universe, general relativity and quantum physics. General relativity works very well at the scale of the large, while quantum physics works very well at the scale of the very small. The problem is that they don't work well together. And with black holes and the beginnings of the universe, we really need them to work together.

The most popular theory for making them work together has been string theory. String theory seems to work well, but seems not to have the kind of evidence physicists would like to see. Rovelli is not a supporter of string theory, based on the lack of evidence problem. Here he talks about another theory, loop quantum gravity.

His discussion of it makes it interesting. I freely admit I do not understand the math necessary for physics, but Rovelli makes it conceptually interesting and at least seemingly understandable. He says it has more supporting evidence than string theory, while freely admitting there's plenty of room for that to change.

It's an interesting and enjoyable book.

I have to take the efforts of the translators on faith, of course, but the results are enjoyable to listen to, and the narrator does a good job. 

I bought this audiobook.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Killer Unleashed: (The Westport Mysteries - Chloe #1), by Beth Prentice

Beth Prentice, November 2021

Chloe is very surprised one day, when Betty, the nice old lady who lives across the street, says she's moving to a retirement home, at the insistence of family she's never previously mentioned. Because of this, she needs to surrender her beloved little dog, Theo, although the two have been inseparable until now. But she can't do it herself, she says. She's made arrangements with a woman at the local shelter, called Lucy, she says. Will Chloe bring Theo in?

Chloe is a people pleaser, and can't say no. But when she gets there, parked outside, Theo and his cuteness guilt her into deciding to keep him.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Love, Loss and Life in Between, by Suzanne Rogerson (author), Sandie Keane (narrator)

Suzanne Rogerson, January 2023

This is a collection of short stories about love, loss, grief, and moving on, in a variety of forms.

"Spirit Song" is about an elderly woman playing her lute for dying residents in the...hospice?..old age home?...where she lives herself. (My uncertainty is due to having listened to the audio, not read the print edition, where I could more easily have checked little details.) She knows when a person is dying, and insists on "playing them out" even when the nurses are worried she's overexerting herself. And she wonders, what is really on the other side? It's a really sweet story.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Your Brain is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time, by Dean Buonomano (author), Aaron Abano (narrator)

Audible Audio, May 2017

This is a book about time, both the physics of time, and how our brains understand and manipulate time.

Many animals have the ability to learn from experience, and to project how to hunt, hide from predators, and other things necessary for higher animals to survive in their relatively complex worlds. Humans are the only animals whom we are certain can reflect on the past, plan for the less immediate future, and imagine things that don't have a lot of connection to the real, immediate world. The list of animals whom we have some evidence may share this ability has expanded over my lifetime, but it still doesn't seem to be a common ability.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Short Tails: Chet & Bernie Short Stories, by Spencer Quinn

Forge Books, ISBN 9781250886910, June 2022

Everyone's favorite canine narrator, Chet, is back with more stories of his adventures with private investigator Bernie Little.

This time we have three short stories, and an excerpt from the most recent novel, Bark to the Future, which was still forthcoming at the time this was published.

"Upper Story" features Chet during the time he was living with Rick Torres, while Bernie is hospitalized after being seriously injured. We get a lovely look at how well-known and generally liked both Chet and Bernie are--even among some of the perps. We also learn that Bernie's condition was more serious than Chet was able to understand at the time. It's sweet and heartwarming.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Love on the Run, by Suzie Tullett

Bloodhound Books, March 2023

Divorced mother of teenaged twins Hannah imagines a blissfully relaxed month on her own, while twins Beth and Archie go on a vacation in France with ex-husband Carl and his new girlfriend, Monica. She's even taken the month off from her job to fully enjoy it.

She spends the first week cleaning and grocery shopping, and has a scarily clean house, more food than she'll be able to use before it goes bad, and nothing to do. Her friends, Liv and Mel, coax her into signing up for a charity "fun run," a 5K. She almost immediately regrets it, but it's not easy to back out.

Her mother bulldozes her into taking her Aunt Dorothy for a few weeks, because she's lonely and depressed with the recent death of her husband, Denis, and Janice (Hannah's mother) currently has her house in an uproar with renovations. Hannah has time on her hands... Hannah flatly refuses.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Anatomy of a Meet Cute, by Addie Woolridge

Montlake, ISBN 9781662504570, March 2023

Samantha Holbrook is a young doctor, starting a research fellowship at a hospital in San Franciso. Flying back to SF from her family home in Ohio, she responds to a call for a doctor to respond to an onboard emergency. Her specialty is obstetrics, not emergency medicine, but no one else is responding, so she does.

Turns out there's another doctor on board, who had headphones on and didn't hear the call. He also matches the totally inadequate description the flight attendant gave her, and it takes a few moments to figure out the patient is another guy just a couple of seats away.

The other doctor, Grant Gao, is a little older, and definitely more experienced, and their joint effort to respond becomes very embarrassing for Sam, even though she's ultimately the one who works out exactly which "magic mushroom" the patient is high on.

Later, much to her distress, she discovers that he's the senior research fellow at the hospital she'll be doing her research fellowship. Not her boss, but embarrassingly close to it.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Where the Water Flows, by Romola Farr

Romola Farr, ISBN 9798366879880, January 2023

The story starts with a natural disaster beginning in the small English town of Hawksmead, on the River Hawk. It then jumps back six weeks, as the primary characters are introduced.

Joel Redmond and Cadence Clearwater are two young American actors, arriving to begin their acting careers by studying at the Undermere School of Dramatic Arts--the USDA. They first meet on the train into Hawksmead, but Cadence isn't interested in getting better acquainted, for reasons we won't understand for a while.

Eleaonor Houghton is a retired opera singer, returned to her hometown to operate a tea shop--but an upsurge of a new coronavirus variant has limited activity. But Eleanor has a guest arriving, her godson, Joel Redmond. Ted and Heather run The Falcon alehouse, and have a few rooms above it. Cadence is staying there.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Encore in Death (In Death #56), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Ericksen (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250878267, February 2023

Lt. Eve Dallas is summoned to the site of a high-end, A-list party hosted by stars of Broaday and Hollywood, because one of them has dropped dead, quite suddenly, with the scent of almonds around him.

Eliza Lane is an actor who has  winning awards, primarily on Broadway but also in Hollywood, for twenty-five years. Her husband, Brant Fitzhugh, is a knock 'em dead screen star, but has also performed successfully on stage. Fitzhugh is one of those actors who is personally liked by everyone, because he's so kind, so generous, so humane, so likeable.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Diamond Jubilee: Sherlock Holmes, Mark Twain, and the Peril of the Empire, by Paul Schullery (author), Nick Crosby (narrator)

MX Publishing, October 2018

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are at home at Baker Street, when they receive an unexpected visitor. It's Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, with a puzzle whose seriousness he is not quite certain of, but he fears the worst.

It's June 1897, and Clemens is engaged in a world tour. It's also the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria, with the offical celebration of her Diamond Jubilee coming up on June 22. A few weeks ago in Johannesburg, South Africa, Clemens had a disturbing yet seemingly minor experience.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Dialect Diversity in America: The Politics of Language Change (Page-Barbour Lectures), by William Labov

University of Virginia Press, ISBN 9780813933276. December 2012

William Labov has spent decades studying dialects of English in America, and what his studies reveal are results contrary to common assumptions about dialect in America.

Among those results is that, contrary to popular assumption, broadcast television and radio, and other mass media, are not causing dialect diversity to decrease. Dialects across large regions are not changing to become more alike, but in some ways more different. This includes Northern Inland, Midland, and Southern dialects. Changes in these dialects have progressed somewhat in step with each other--but not in the direction of becoming more similar. Sound changes have arisen and are still arising that produce misunderstandings between primary speakers of one dialect and another. Thinking of language as a means of communication, it seems unexpected that dialects would move further apart when speakers of those dialects are communicating directly with each other as well as consuming the same national media. Labov looks at what seem to be the causes of this seemingly strange development.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Laziness Does Not Exist, by Devon Price (author), Em Grosland (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781797120591, January 2021

Devon Price is a social psychologist with a strong emphasis on the practical--what works for individuals, and the importance of recognizing and respecting self-care and your own values.

In this book, their emphasis is on the importance on not valuing yourself solely on your productivity for others. If you are struggling to make deadlines, always exhausted, and on the edge of burning out, you're probably doing something wrong. And the problem isn't "laziness." It's defining your value by how productive you are for others, while setting your own needs, and often health, aside.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

A Christmas Deliverance, by Anne Perry (author), Jenny Sterlin (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 978105036082, November 2022

Like Perry's previous Christmas novellas, this one focuses on minor characters--in this case, Dr. Crowe and his assistant, Scuff. Scuff, the former mudlark, is also the adopted son of William and Hester Monk, Will. That's how he learned to read, and got his great interest in medicine--and became a medical student and Crowe's assistant.

They're working at Crowe's free clinic, when there's a serious carriage accident not far away. Crowe is called to the scene, and sews up two serious wounds on a young woman's leg. Then the men on the scene help transport her to his clinic.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Shot in the Bark (Dog Groomer Mysteries #8), by Chelsea Thomas

Big + Little Press, February 2023

Amy and her Granny Petunia are running a successful pet grooming business in the Toluca Lake area, in Los Angeles. It's successful enough that former child star, now lifestyle guru Tessa May Wilson, wants Amy to groom her pets.

Her pets, though,  are Silkie chickens, which will be a first for Amy. She's never groomed chickens, or heard of Silkies. But Tessa May says she just wants them fluffed, and this is a great opportunity for Amy. It's agreed that Amy will pick up the chickens in her van the next day.

When Amy, Granny, and Amy's friend and employee Betsy, arrive at Tessa May's home, they find the chickens, but no Tessa May. After a little poking around, they do find her mother, Wilma Wilson, dead. Strangled with a chicken leash.

Wilma and Tessa May were quite publicly estranged, after Tessa May sued her mother over mismanagement of her earnings as a child actor.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Falling in Love With Hominids, by Nalo Hopkinson


Tachyon Publications, ISBN 9781616961992, July 2015

This is a wonderful collection of short stories, and Nalo Hopkinson kept me reading stories that were just straight up horror that I would ordinarily just skip right over. Along with the horror, there's dark fantasy, lighter, happier fantasy, and even a couple of stories that can fairly be called science fiction. There's a reworking of the story of Caliban, and a new Bordertown story. It's an impressive range.

What sets this collection apart, aside from the fact that Hopkinson is just a really excellent writer, is that she writes from her own Afro-Caribbean heritage, giving us stories that are new, and bringing an entirely different perspective to stories grounded in more familiar material. There's folklore and storytelling traditions here that are a new experience, and take me places I haven't been.

The Caliban story flips the narrative and changes how we see not just Caliban, but Ariel, as well as their mother. The Bordertown story widens the world not just of Bordertown itself, but of the "other side," the elf world. Turns out there's ethnic diversity there, too, and it's extremely well done. There are stories that leave me feeling warm, and reconnected to the good parts of my childhood without denying the bad parts, and...okay, what just happened there? Was it real? Does it matter, when it leaves that warm glow behind?

There's a zombie apocalypse story, "Easthound." I hate zombie apocalypse stories. This one kept me reading. Or "Emily Breakfast,' which starts out seemingly without fantastic elements. Chickens, cat, lizards--all have their elements of the fantastic, and you don't notice it sneaking up on you.

Vishnu figures prominently in one story, and an elephant about whom I will say nothing more in another.

Ghosts relive their deaths, daily, in a shopping mall. Indigenous people defend themselves against invaders, at great cost. A self-conscious teenager struggles with her unruly hair, and a tree that won't stop talking to her.

There's so much here, and it's so rich and rewarding.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Scarlet Circus (The Jane Yolen Classic Fantasy Stories #4), by Jane Yolen

Tachyon Press, ISBN 9781616963866, February 2023

This is the fourth volume in a series collecting Jane Yolen's short fiction, in this case, romantic fantasy. It's important to be clear that this isn't Romance in the romance genre sense. These stories contain romance, but are not primarily about romance. It's not the main point of the stories, and endings may be happy, sad, or something in between.

So, expectations set, right?

"Sans Soleil" is the story of a prince born with curse; he's "as handsome as the sun," and the sun will kill him if a sunbeam so much as touches his brow. But there's a lovely young woman, daughter of a duke, who is convinced that this is an old wives' tale, complete nonsense, and who is determined to save him from his confinement to the dark.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Spare, by Prince Harry

Random House, January 2023

This is not really an easy book to review. It's controversial for obvious reasons; there's been much public controversy around Harry and Meghan, and those who aren't for them, are sometimes quite vitriolic. Even those who aren't vitriolic tend to treat all criticisms and condemnations of the pair as being true because after all, it's Harry and Meghan, and obviously it's them, not Will & Kate, the officially charming heir and wife, now officially Prince and Princess of Wales. And anything that's bad for Harry, well, he should be used to it because royalty, Will's the heir, Harry's the spare, so obviously if he's unhappy he's just resenting his place in the family. Or Meghan is pushing him to, despite the fact that he was obviously unhappy with both the public role and extreme limitations on what he could do. Not a desire to go out clubbing more; a desire to do things he was actually good at--like being a soldier.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Eversion, by Alastair Reynolds

Orbit, ISBN 9780316462815, August 2022

Doctor Silas Coade is the ship's physician on sailing ship, Demeter, in the 1800s, on a voyage of exploration to a previously unreachable inlet. They crash on the coast of Norway, and find an earlier ship, Europa, already wrecked there, leaving a dire warning behind.

Doctor Silas Coade is the ship's physician on a steamship, Demeter, in the later 1800s,  seeking the same previously unreachable inlet, with the same Edifice the previous voyage found--in a different part of the world. And Coade is the only one who, dimly, has memories of this happening before, with the same disastrous end.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Three Miles Down, by Harry Turtledove (author), George Guidall (narrator)

Audible Audio, July 2022

It's 1974, and Jerry Stieglitz is a marine biology grad student, working on his dissertation. He's sold a few science fiction stories, and he's a few weeks away from getting married. It's a good life.

Then three guys knock on his door, and push their way in when he answers it. They're from the CIA, and they have a proposition for him. They want him to join a secret expedition. No one is going to explain anything to him yet, but he'll be in the North Pacific, and will be able to continue his whale song research.

They're not really taking no for an answer, either, but they're willing to pay him enough to solve all his immediate problems--including paying for the cost of delaying his wedding.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Guilty Until Proven Innocent (DCI Isaac Cook #14)

Phillip Strang, January 2023

This book makes me very sad and frustrated.

I've loved the DCI Isaac Cook novels, the characters and the stories. Their cases are complex, and the endings aren't always entirely happy. Isaac Cook is aware of the darker strains in British policing and British politics, and he keeps striving, along with his team, to solve crimes and uphold justice. I've never been quite as enthusiastic about his mentor, Chief Superintendent Goddard, but they are both far better men than their rivals, Commissioner Davies, and Superintendent Seth Caddick.

This book takes an unpleasant turn.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London #5), by Ben Aaronovitch

DAW, January 2015 (original publication November 2014)

Two children have gone missing in Herefordshire, and Peter Grant is sent out to check on a retired old wizard in the area, just in case he might be involved, or aware of something the regular police won't ask him about. He finds Hugh Oswald, but he's old, frail, and falls asleep very easily. He's not aware of anything, and is a seriously poor candidate to have done anything. His granddaughter, Mellissa, is a beekeeper in a fairly big way, and there's definitely something odd about her, but she doesn't seem at all a likely suspect, either.

So, back home to London? No, with two children missing, Peter doesn't want to walk away. He calls Nightingale to report, and also to ask permission to go offer his services to the local police.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Fir Tree, by Hans Christian Andersen (author), Carol Phillips (narrator)

Bookstream Audiobooks, January 2022

This is the story of a beautiful little fir tree, living in a lovely spot with good neighbors, and all too eager to grow up, so eager he doesn't appreciate the excellent things that he has. He wants to be tall and strong, and handsome, and he doesn't take the correct lesson from the big, strong trees around him that do get cut down and carried off.

Eventually, one Christmas, he does get cut down, and carried off to be a Christmas tree. Which, initially, seems like a wonderful experience.

It's Hans Christian Anderson, well done, well translated, and well performed.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Travel by Bullet (The Dispatcher #3), by John Scalzi (author), Zachary Quinto (narrator)

Audible Originals, September 2022

Tony Valdez is a "dispatcher" who, in the strange, new world where people intentionally killed nearly always come back, very quickly, in the condition they were in a few hours before they were killed, kills people to save lives. He works in a hospital, and when injuries are too severe or surgery goes wrong, he can kill a person to reset them to the condition they were in a few hours earlier.

But the pandemic has changed things, and now dispatchers are called in, by families, in cases where it really won't help. When the patient has had serious organ damage for long enough that the "reset" of being killed and returning won't change anything. Tony and other dispatchers are feeling drained and frustrated by a new law that means every patient, or the family members making their legal decisions, is legally entitled to a dispatcher's "services" even in cases where the dispatcher knows it won't help. It's in the midst of a frustrating, depressing day at the hospital where Tony now works fulltime that he is summoned to the ER--which has its own dispatcher. Why is he being called in?

Friday, January 20, 2023

An Impossible Impostor (Veronica Speedwell #7), by Deanna Raybourn (author), Angèle Masters (narrator)

Penguin Random House Audio, ISBN 9780593554166, February 2022

Veronica Speedwell, lepidopterist, and her lover, natural historian Stoker (Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, who avoids that name as much as possible), get a personal request from the head of Special Branch, Sir Hugo Montgomerie. The eldest son and heir of the Hathaway family was lost six years ago in the eruption of Krakatoa. With his death, the younger son, Charles, became the heir, and not long after, their father died. This left the only daughter, Sir Hugo's goddaughter, Euphemia, unhappily under the authority of Charles and his wife, Mary. 

But now a stranger has appeared at Hathaway Hall, injured and ill, claiming no memory, but carrying documents identifying him as the missing and presumed dead Jonathan Hathaway. He fits the description, and no one has seen him in six years, during which he has, if he is Jonathan, been through a major disaster and traumatic experiences. Is he Jonathan Hathaway, or is he an imposter?

Thursday, January 19, 2023

The Crown Jewel Mystery (Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery #0.5), by Anna Elliott (author), Charles Veley (author)

Wilton Press, June 2017

Lucy James, an American actress, arrives in London, officially for a position in the D'Oyly Carte Opera which she has been offered. In reality, her main motivation is to try to find the identity of her father. The stipend that supported her and paid for her education came from the Capital and Counties Bank on Oxford Street in London. She has the account number, but no name. She wants that name.

Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Inspector Gregson, have been called to the scene of the seemingly sudden death of a bank clerk at the Capital and Counties Bank. They're on the trail of a master criminal, and the death of this bank clerk, along with additional information from his brother, tells them this is the day a major attack on the bank will occur. In alternating chapters, we get the story from the different perspectives of Lucy and Watson.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (author), Ray Porter (narrator)

Audible Studios, May 2021

Ryland Grace was a microbiologist, and then he wrote a paper that pissed everyone off. He quit and became a schoolteacher. He was very happy as a schoolteacher.

And then another scientist, in a very different field, saw something strange happening to the sun, and a strange, infrared radiation line connecting the sun and Venus. When amoeba-like forms were identified as the likely cause, someone decided it was right up Ryland's alley.

Which is why, one day, he wakes up in what at first seems to be a very strange hospital room. His two fellow patients have died--years ago, from the states of their bodies. He doesn't know why he's here; he doesn't even know his own name. Which is especially awkward, because the automated computer system won't answer some critical questions until he can correctly give his name.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Doing Time (The Time Police #1), by Jodi Taylor

Headline Publishing Group, ISBN 9781472266781, October 2019

The invention of time travel led to the Time Wars, which led to the Time Police, who solve problems by ruthless, thorough, application of force. Stop the illegal time travelers, bring home for prosecution any who are unaccountably still alive, and burn what's left. The Time Police have a rival, or nemesis, St. Mary's who, they will assure you don't do time travel. That would be illegal. They study major historical events in contemporary time. The earliest (in internal chronological order) of the St. Mary's Chronicles is The Very First Damned Thing (Chronicles of St. Mary's 0.5)

It's very easy to see why the rules-oriented Time Police aren't fond of the scholarly and chaotic St. Mary's crew.

In this first of the Time Police stories, there are three new recruits. One is Jane Lockland, a rather meek, quiet, young woman who has finally bailed on being her grandmother's unpaid servant. One is Luke Parrish, son of a billionaire, whose casual, self-indulgent lifestyle has finally angered his father sufficiently to bribe the Time Police to take him as a recruit. Another is Matthew Farrell, son of two of the historians at St. Mary's. In fact, his mother, Dr. Maxwell, is the one whom the Time Police find most infuriating.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tor Books, ISBN 9781250829160, October 2022

This story is, basically, The Thin Man in space--a retired detective and his very rich wife, who become involved in investigating a murder. In this book, the very rich wife is Tesla Crane, a child of great wealth, but also a highly regarded and highly successful roboticist, whose career ended when a disastrous accident killed six people and left her with PTSD and chronic pain from her multiple serious injuries. The little dog is Tesla's service dog, Gimlet, a Westie, a.k.a. West Highland White Terrier. Tesla's retired detective husband is Shalmaneser Steward, called Shal. He was a working detective, and host of a reality TV series called Cold Cases. He retired when being famous made it impossible for him to blend into the background

They are recently married, and are on their honeymoon, a cruise from Earth to Mars on the ISS Lindgren.. It's a luxury cruise liner with passenger rings that offer, inward to outward, Lunar, Martian, and Earth gravity. Tesla and Shal have a luxury suite in the "Yacht Club" section of the Earth ring. On their first night aboard, they have dinner in the R-Bar, where they watch the karaoke and witness an argument involving three passengers.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

TopKnotch: Adventures With Our Clueless Human (Topknotch Tales Book 1), by Cj Thomas

Sourceon Press, ISBN 9798985893816, November 2022

The first couple of chapters introduce us to Robin Dessein as a child, and give us a clear indication of who in her family she should listen to--certainly not her parents. At not quite eleven, they are convinced she is fat, and have bullied her into a calorie-counting "diet," that mostly makes her miserable.

Her dog, Little Dot, a shih tzu, is far more practical, realistic, and actually loves Robin for who she is, not for who she might be someday. Fortunately, Robin, being young enough not to care that it's impossible, is able to communicate with Little Dot telepathically. We also encounter Sean, who is the sort of charming, scheming bully that parents and teachers are charmed by, and Luke, who is visiting his grandmother next door. Luke can also hear the animals.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt (author), Marin Ireland (narrator), Michael Urie (narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780063204188, May 2022

After the death of her husband, Will, Tova Sullivan starting working as the night janitor at Sowell Bay Aquarium. She's not doing it because she needs the money. Financially, she's very comfortable. What Tova needs is the activity, to keep at bay memories of the past. Tova and Will had a son, Erik, who died in somewhat mysterious circumstances when he was 18. With Will gone, too, now, she needs to keep busy. The nighttime quiet of the aquarium, with no one who will bring up painful memories, and plenty of work to do, is a blessing.

Marcellus is a giant Pacific octopus, about four years old and approaching the end of his lifespan. As a young octopus, he lost part of one arm, and was rescued--though he doesn't agree with that term--and brought to the aquarium. He does not appreciate living in a tank, resents being in captivity, and wouldn't do a thing to help his captors.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls (Newford #22), by Charles de Lint


Triskell Press, ISBN 9781989741054, November 2022

Juniper Wiles, former actor who starred as the plucky teen detective Nora Constantine, was dragged back into the Nora Constantine world in a previous book, Juniper Wiles, when it started to bleed into Newford, starting with her meeting with the ghost of a murdered young man. She survived that adventure, but decided that she didn't want to be a detective, teen or otherwise. And she's certainly no Nora Constantine.

But having learned that she can see and talk to ghosts, and that they all have unresolved problems they want to solve, she can't always say no when they ask her for help. Yet while she often helps, she has no interest in making it the focus of her life.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic #1), by Patricia C. Wrede (author), Amanda Ronconi (narrator)

Audible Studios, June 2013

Eff is the thirteenth child in her family, and the elder of twins--her brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son, gifted with both great magical power and, supposedly, great luck. As the thirteenth child, Eff is, according to some folklore, destined to bring only ill luck and evil on her family.

We follow her story from age five to age eighteen. The Rothmer family is obviously a family of magicians, but this is a world in which some level of magic is common throughout society. Everyday household spells make cleaning and cooking and laundry less burdensome. Eff and Lan's father is a respected scholar--and gets an offer from a new college out west that takes them out to the frontier, where their lives will change.