Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Into the Riverlands (The Singing Hills Cycle #3), by Nghi Vo

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250851420, October 2022

Chih and the talking bird with the indelible memory, Almost Brilliant, travel into the riverlands to gather the stories of near-immortal martial artists that characterize the area. Along the way, they meet up with two young women (a martial artist, and her friend who makes sure the bills get paid), and an older couple, who might be a bit more than that seem. Including a bit older than they seem. The six of them band together to continue traveling to Betony Docks, where they are all bound.

After a lively debate about whether the ferry (safer) or the road (faster) is the better choice, including discussion of just how dangerous the road really is, in these calmer, more settled times, they set off on foot.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Even Though I Knew the End, by C.L. Polk

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250849458, November 2022

This story was definitely not for me.

I had bad feelings just reading the title. It telegraphs that there's something not positive about the ending, right? And the publisher's blurb for it cheerily states that the protagonist, Helen, sold her soul to save her brother's life. This is accurate.

As a direct result, she and her brother are no longer on good terms, or even in contact. She also got kicked out of the magical order they belonged to because, of course, damned soul.

Then years later, her time is almost up, and she gets pulled into the investigation of Chicago's White City Vampire, a serial killer who is apparently a demon. She doesn't want to be involved; she has only three days left and wants to spend them with her girlfriend, Edith. Her client offers irresistible bait, though--the chance to win her soul back, and have a lifetime with Edith.

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables #2), by Alix E. Harrow

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250766656, June 2022

Zinnia Gray is five years into her accidental career as a fairy tale fixer. Well, Sleeping Beauty tale fixer.

And she's getting kind of sick of it. The "happy ending" weddings at the end are wearing on her. Why can't some of these princesses solve their own problems?

She's also feeling like a bit of a third wheel, in the apartment she shares with her very first "happy ending," Charm and Primrose. Although, it should be noted, Charm and Prim seem to think this particular third wheel is entirely appropriate.

Planning to cut out early from the latest wedding she's attending, a beautiful, malevolent face looks out at her, a hand reaches for her--and pulls her into a different, and darker, fairy tale. This is the Evil Queen from Snow White.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Two to Tango (Brits in Manhattan #2), by Laura Carter

Boldwood Books, ISBN 9781785135392, September 2023

Brooks Adams owns a very successful gym in New York City, and is an extremely successful personal trainer. Having come up from nothing, he's motivated in part by the need to prove his real worth to those who doubted him--most importantly, to Alice, the high school girlfriend with whom he had a child while they were still in high school. They never married, and their daughter is starting college now, and Brooks still thinks his life will be fixed if he can prove to Alice that he's really good enough.

Izzy is British, a daughter of a mother whose main focus is social success, and a fitness guru with a very different approach than Brooks's. She's just published her first book, and she's in NYC for her first book tour. Sales aren't off to a good start, but egged on by her publicity manager, she slams Brooks and his gym, and every time she does, her book sales jump.

Soon this leads to a challenge that has them working together, each working out, and eating, according to the other's program.

What Moves the Dead (Sworn Soldier #1), by T. Kingfisher

Tor Nightfire, July 2022

This is a retelling of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." Kingfisher discovered on a rereading that Poe's story was much shorter than she remembered, and that there was room for...more.

More background and explanation of why this happened, in particular.

It's 1890, and Alex Easton is a retired soldier, plagued by tinnitus, from a tiny European kingdom called Gallacia. Kan is a "sworn soldier," a status which requires an exchange of gendered for nongendered pronouns. Kan is also the childhood friend of Roderick and Madeline Ussher, and travels to their ancestral home in Ruritania, in response to a letter from Madeline.

Madeline says she's dying.

Easton is nearly there when they encounter Miss Eugenia Potter, a knowledgeable and practical English mycologist, who shows them some of the creepier mushrooms of the area. This proves to be important information.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Ogres (Terrible Worlds: Revolutions, #3), by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Solaris, ISBN 9781786185280, March 2022

Torquell lives in a world that looks beautiful, but under the surface is quite grim. He's a young man, an ordinary human, the son of the headman of his village, and will almost certainly be the next headman himself.

The headman's responsibility is to keep order in the village, keep things running smoothly, and above all, to make sure the village makes a good impression and can pat the required taxes when the Landlord comes to visit. The required taxe are whatever the Landlord says they are.

The Landlord is an Ogre. Bigger, stronger, more powerful, reactive emotions. Those appetites include eating meat, which just makes ordinary humans sick. Ogres rule the world, and humans serve them. Torquell, though, there's a little bit of rebellion in him. He's a bit of a lovable rogue, who pulls pranks and commits minor acts of vandalism--most of which are in the interest of righting some wrong that can't or won't be set right by the ordinary system of law and order. One day, Torquell's spirit of justice and rebellion collides with the latest visit of the Landlord. This time, the Landlord has brought his son and heir.

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Difference Between Love and Time, by Catherynne M. Valente

Someone in Time: Tales of Time-Crossed Romance, edited by Jonathan Strahan, Solaris Books, 2022

Our first person narrator first meets the space-time continuum when she is a little girl playing with her Lego set, and he is presenting as a boy of the same age. He changes her Lego set in to a fancier one, one that possibly Lego does not actually make. It's the start of an off and on relationship, in which sometimes, for her, there may be minutes or years between their meetings. They go to high school together. She goes to college, but because of the weird dimensional effects of college with all those young people in transitional stages, he can't even set foot on campus, and has to meet her elsewhere.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Murder By Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness, by S.L. Huang

Clarkesworld, December 2022

Mariah Lee-Cassidy, currently imprisoned for fraud, is the putative creator of a chatbot called Sylvie, who targets nasty characters the law is never going to do anything about. People who, if they are ever caught at all, will get slap-on-the-wrist punishments for mostly technical violations that don't come close to the real damage they've done. The poster boy example is Ron Harrison, CEO of a medical supply company facing the potential recall of a defective pacemaker. He has successfully buried the evidence of the defect, and gradually upgraded the pacemaker to eliminate the defect, without announcing those changes. Some people die, but it's not blamed on his company, and he gets bonuses instead of a prison sentence.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

A Dream of Electric Mothers, by Wole Talabi

Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction, Sheree Renèe Thomas (editor), Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (editor), Zelda Knight (editor), Tordotcom, ISBN 
9781250833006, November 2022

Brigadier-General Dolapo Abimbola Titilope Balogun is the youngest member of the cabinet of what I think is the country of Yoruba, with what is currently Kenya again separated into Yoruba and Dahomey. (I was intent on the story, and I'm not 100% sure I picked up the political detail correctly, except that Dahomey is definitely "the other country." If someone can correct me, please do.) They are facing rising tensions with Dahomey, over a border dispute, and are seeking a solution that neither surrenders the territory in dispute, nor results in war. So far, they're not having success.

Friday, September 8, 2023

If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You, by John Chu

Uncanny Magazine, July-August 2022

Steve is an actor--he sings, he dances, and between gigs he works out regularly at his local gym to stay in shape. He's Chinese-American, and we soon learn, fluent in Mandarin. Lately, gym time has been enlivened by viral videos that might be part of a marketing campaign for a movie. featuring a flying man who is extremely well-built. Steve refers to him as Tom of Finland Guy. He of course wears a costume that emphasizes his really excellent build.

Tom of Finland Guy, who is also Chinese-American, intervenes to stop attacks on other Asian-Americans. He also, when convenient, does casual favors, like moving a piano.

For some reason, the coverage Tom of Finland Guy gets gradually more hostile, as if he's the troublemaker in those assaults on Asian-Americans.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

We Built This City, by Marie Vibbert

Clarkesworld, June 2022

Julia is one of the workers who cleans the outside surface of the city, protecting it from deterioration and damage by removing the acids and other atmospheric detritus that can dent, crack, or eat away at it. Her mother, Hortensia, is one of those who helped build the city. She wanted Julia to pursue something more in the way of brain work, something that would get her both more pay and more respect, but Julia chose to work at maintaining the city in the most basic way possible. It's hard, physical labor, but she's proud of it.

It's also more dangerous even than you may be thinking, because this city is floating in the atmosphere of Venus.

But there are budgetary problems, and new cuts are announced. Only four dome cleaners will be retained. Julia and three of her team members are the four--because they really are the four best, and this job really does matter.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

The White Cliff, by Lu Ban

Science Fiction World, May 2022

A man named Yanli awakes from a rather dull dream in which nothing happens. Who has a dream in which nothing happens? It makes no sense to him.

He's living in a small cottage on a seashore, with a view of a white cliff. He lives alone, but he does have visitors, or at least a visitor, who appears along the path from elsewhere. We soon understand that she's a former student, a doctor, and they're discussing a research project, and a patient they both know well.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Resurrection, by Ren Qing

Galaxy Awards I: Chinese Science Fiction Anthology, December 2022

The cover shown is of the anthology that Ren Qing's story, a 2023 Hugo Short Story Finalist, is published. It's available on Amazon.

A woman has just received the corpse of her soldier son's body, and the notification of his death. Except, the corpse isn't really a corpse. It's an animated synthetic body, containing the partial, damaged, memory of her son. There was apparently brain damage when he was killed, so the memory transferred to the chip that now resides inside the "corpse" is incomplete and slow to activate.

But the woman recognizes her son, and tends and cares for him over the next days, as the memory strengthens and he becomes, if not the quite the son she remembers, more functional, and supportive of his mother as she is of him.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Zhurong on Mars, by Regina Kanyu Wang


Zhurong is the AI doing the administrative work on a Chinese colony on Mars. They're manufacturing nanomachines, and as Zhurong's capacity increases, it takes over more and more of the manufacturing, while the humans begin to devote themselves fulltime to design--including designing the ability to upload themselves into really advanced nanomachines.

Eventually, the former humans leave, literally waving goodbye, and Zhurong is alone.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

On the Razor's Edge, by Jiang Bo


I've replaced the cover I originally included with  a generic cover, because I've been informed that it was indeed the wrong cover. That anthology apparently contains another story by Jiang Bo, but not this one. My apologies for the error.

Zhong Lixin is a Chinese astronaut, on China's Tiangong Space Station in 2028. He's working on his assigned projects, along with another astronaut, Duan Guozhu, when they hear what they've never heard before on the station--the emergency alarm. Soon they're working on repairs, fixable ones, fortunately, damage caused by micrometeors colliding with the station. They've been fortunate, and can continue their mission.

Then they get new, disturbing information. Some of that same micrometeor cluster hit the International Space Station, and have caused a fire on it.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

D.I.Y., by John Wiswell

Tor Books, ISBN 009781250870209, August 2022

The opening of this story does not bring us to a happy world. Climate change has had a major impact, most strongly felt in the heat and the shortage of potable water.

The tech that's involved here, though, includes magic. The companies expected to address the problem are the great magic academies, among them Ozymandias Academy, where once upon a time, a young man named Noah hoped to become a student. When he's finally accepted, though, it's without any financial aid, and his mother, struggling just to support the two of them, has no money. Noah, being a bright young man, puts the blame where it belongs, and in some ways, that sets up later events.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Rabbit Test, by Samantha Mills

Uncanny Magazine, Issue #49, 2022

In this rather dark short story, we follow the troubles of Grace, whom we meet as an 18-year-old girl who has gotten pregnant, in a late 21st century society where technology has been weaponized to make it almost impossible for pregnancy to evade detection. She's not paranoid and careful enough to be able to terminate it before it's detected, and this basically eliminates most of her life choices.

In between parts of the story of Grace and her daughter, Olivia, we get bits about the history of pregnancy tests, including the iconic "rabbit test," as well as earlier tests, dating back to ancient times, many (but not all) of which were surprisingly effective. As society changed to put women more completely in the power of men, many of them became illegal, and termination, when available, also became illegal.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Snow Angels at Golden Sands Bay, by Georgina Troy

Boldwood Books, ISBN 9781804260951, August 2023

Portia and her boyfriend Charlie are living in London, where Portia has a thriving events management career. Charlie is managing a restaurant, instead of the hotel he managed on Jersey, where they met.

The two are happy together, but Charlie is not happy away from his beloved Jersey.

When Charlie inherits his great-aunt's magnificent, but now in need of significant repair, chateau on Jersey, Portia encourages him to renovate it and open his own hotel. He's got the skills and experience to do a lot of the work himself, and Portia sells her London flat, which they have been living in, to pay for the work. It will put them, she feels, on equal footing in a new home which is theirs, rather than hers.

What can go wrong in renovating a magnificent but decayed old house, with the deadline of being ready to open for guests by spring? A lot! 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

How to Resist Amazon and Why: The Fight for Local Economies, Data Privacy, Fair Labor, Independent Bookstores, and a People-Powered Future! Danny Caine (author, narrator)

Pear Press, ISBN 9781732380394, April 2021

Danny Caine runs an independent, employee-owned bookstore, Raven Book Store, in Lawrence, Kansas. He's also an active small business advocate, and makes an excellent case that Amazon is destructive of small businesses, local economies, and fair business regulation and practices.

Some of the stories in here are funny and delightful; others are horrifying.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Compulsory (Murderbot Diaries #0.5), by Martha Wells

Subterranean Press, July 2023

This is a short story, about an early and critical incident in the life of Murderbot, well before it meets those humans who will, unexpectedly, become its friends. Even The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon is still a relatively recent discovery.

Murderbot is under contract as security in a mine, and its duty is to protect, not the workers, but the equipment. Well, unless death or injury to an employee will negatively affect production. 

Murderbot is on duty, but watching a Sanctuary Moon episode rather than truly paying attention to what's going on nearby, when a fairly foolish argument breaks out between two humans, and results in a stupid accident which sends one of them falling down the mineshaft. When she catches herself on a piece of the equipment, fall halted temporarily, Murderbot has to decide what to do.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Sherlock Holmes & the Silver Cord, by M.K. Wiseman

M.K. Wiseman, August 2023

As with other Sherlock Holmes tales by M. K. Wiseman, Holmes is his own chronicler. Not, this time, due to Watson's absence, but because this tale is about what's going on inside Holmes's head, as he recovers from the mental and emotional impact of the death of Moriarty, his own three-year absence, and his surprise return to London, 221B Baker Street, and Watson's life.

In the Reichenbach Falls adventure, Holmes always intended to kill Moriarty in their final confrontation, but he had expected to die himself. He saw no way of returning alive.

Holmes berated himself with guilt and self-contempt, for leaving Watson to believe him dead for three years, for perhaps being not much better than Moriarty for his willingness to kill, for blithely accepting Watson's willingness to return to 221B Baker Street and their partnership together after that three-year absence, and for devoting himself to the relatively minor undertaking of mopping of the mostly petty criminals that were what was left of Moriarty's crime empire.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Gryphon in Light (Kelvren's Saga #1), by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

DAW, ISBN 9780756414481, July 2023

It's some years after the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, and major events (Winds of Fate trilogy; Mage Storms trilogy) have wrought major changes in Valdemar. These changes include, but are not limited to, the return of magical, intelligent creatures long absent, and long suspected to be entirely mythical.

These include, most notably for this book, gryphons. And specifically, Kelvren, a wingleader of the Silver Gryphons, part of the k'Valdemar Vale, which is allied with but not part of Valdemar. After intervening to help Valdemaran troops in a battle against merchants motivated solely by greed to secede from Valdemar and stop paying taxes (it's more complicated, of course, but that's the basis of it), Kelvren is very badly wounded. Since this is a Valdemaran troop far from k'Valdemar, and somewhat undersupplied because of the many challenges the kingdom is facing, there's only a "herb and knife" Healer, who does his best, but is not trained at all in caring for gryphons. Kelvren, like his Valdemaran tentmate, Hallock Stavern, Second of the Sixteenth, is unlikely to survive.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The Poisoned Princess (Warders #1), by Armen Pogharian (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Audiobooks Unleashed & Blackstone Publishing, ISBN 9798212152945, January 2022

Toran is a half-elven, half-barbarian young man, who has been raised by his elven uncle. It's only when an accident in a war game with friends briefly unleashes his barbarian battle rage that his uncle tells him the full truth of his heritage. It becomes important then because the elf supremacists (no, Pogharian doesn't use this loaded phrase; that's me) succeed in banishing him. Aside from contributing to his banishment, it also means he has a really useful inheritance from his dead father. 

His uncle sends him off to the city of Eridan, where elves and elf mixes are fairly common and accepted, with a letter of introduction to an old friend.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Chasm City (Revelation Space #0.5), by Alastair Reynolds (author), John Lee (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781400179565, October 2009

Chasm City is set in Reynolds' Revelation Space universe, a century or so after the events of The Prefect and Elysium Fire. Or, put another way, some years after the end of the Belle Epoch, the golden age of the height of human civilization in the Yellowstone system, where Chasm City on the planetary surface, and the Glitter Band, made up of thousands of orbital habitats, offered the near-idyllic life of your choice, until the Melding Plague brought it crashing down.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Digger Unearthed: The Complete Tenth Anniversary Collection, by Ursula Vernon (Author), Patrick Rothfuss (Foreword)

Underthing Press, ISBN 9781956000245, November 2022 (original publication 2012)

Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Complicated-Tunnels is a sensible, pragmatic wombat engineer, who is hard at work when she discovers she has broken through into an unfamiliar cave system.

A cave system where magic is at work. Digger, and wombats generally, have no use for magic. It only makes trouble.

She finds an interesting stone (she, like apparently all wombats, is heavily into geology, and not just for practical reasons), puts it in a pocket, and starts looking for a way out. No, the way in isn't available anymore.

Monday, July 3, 2023

The City Born Great (Great Cities #0.5), by N.K. Jemisin (author), Landon Woodson (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250773302, May 2020 (original publication 2016)

The process of a great city being born as a living city starts sooner than we might realize from just the birth itself. Living cities, actual and potential have enemies, and they need protectors.

This is a short story about one of New York's midwives, a young man about a decade earlier than the actual birth, coached--and coaxed--by Paolo, the avatar of San Paolo. He's a street painter, and a singer, and he'd really rather not have the responsibility, but the city calls to him, and enemy needs to be stopped.

The narration is wonderful, and the story is a lovely addition to the two books so far in the Great Cities series.

I bought this audiobook.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Remember, Remember (Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mystery #3), by Anna Elliott & Charles Veley

Wilton Press, February 2019

On a cold London morning in 1897, a young woman awakes on the ground outside the British Museum. She has no memory, and nothing that indicates her identity.

She does have a splitting headache, a lump on the back of her head, and a dim memory of having shot someone. She also quickly finds she has a talent for analyzing people's appearance and behavior for useful information that helps her survive. Unexpectedly, the police constable, John Kelly, who finds her decides that he trusts her. They piece together what they can, and then he's going off duty, and she's off to see what she can track down of her identity.

Friday, June 23, 2023

James Moriarty, Consulting Criminal, by Andy Weir (author), Graeme Malcolm (narrator)

Audible Studios, June 2017

I had no idea Andy Weir had written three short stories about Sherlock Holmes' nemesis, Professor James Moriarty. But here they are, narrated quite competently by Graeme Malcolm.

The stories themselves are also well-written and fun. At least, as long as you're okay with James Moriarty is, in fact, a very bad guy, and a cold-blooded killer.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

A Doggone Waterfront Shame (Megan Henny Cozy Mysteries #2), by Rimmy London

Amazon Digital Services, April 2022

Megan Henny has left her home, her nursing career, and boyfriend, whom she has realized she doesn't want to marry, behind, and moved to a little coastal village to start her own shop.

It's not totally impulsive. She loved the many family summer vacations in Seacrest growing up, and she's had dreams for years of owning one of the little shops on the boardwalk. She's planned--but never acted. Then she nursed her best friend through her final battle with cancer, and extracted from her a promise to follow her dreams. Her boyfriend also proposes, and she realize she has been leaning more toward breaking up than marrying him. He's superficially sweet, but it's a cover for his controlling behavior. She sells her house, buys one in Seacrest, and also buys an empty shop.

Monday, June 19, 2023

The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman (author), Chris Riddell (illustrator)

HarperCollins, September 2015

There are brave, hardy, loyal dwarves. There's a beautiful young queen, never identified as Snow White, but there are at least suggestions that her backstory matches that one.

There's a neighboring kingdom, on the other side of the mountains, where the dwarves, seeking a suitable gift for the queen's wedding, find instead a strange sleep spreading across the whole kingdom. They also here of a princess cursed by an evil witch, sleeping in a castle surrounded by thorns, which no prince, no knight, no hero has ever penetrated, to save her.

Realizing there is an evil magic at work here, they head back through the the mountains (yes, through, not over) to their queen.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

It Takes Two to Tumble (Seducing the Sedgwicks #1) by Cat Sebastian(author), Joel Leslie (narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780062967190, August 2019

Ben Sedgwick, after an unconventional upbringing, is a country vicar in Regency England. He doesn't find this dull; he finds it comfortable and reassuring, allowing him to bring some order into the lives of the villagers he serves. Providing both spiritual comfort, and practical assistance and guidance when needed, gives a stability and a sense of usefulness to his life that life in his father's home didn't provide. He's also betrothed to his very good friend, Alice, who is lively, interesting, kind, helpful, and, since a bout of scarlet fever in the spring, unable to walk. This is a concern.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

A Song of Comfortable Chairs (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency #23), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Lisette Lecat (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781705047989, September 2022

There are signs of trouble in Mma Ramotswe's normally peaceful world. Mr. J.L.B.Matekoni made the disturbing suggestion that, with equality between the sexes now, there's no reason for her detective agency to be called the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Mma Makutsi has ordered new stationery for the agency, with the letterhead redone in a way that could suggest to some that Mma Makutsi has somewhat higher qualifications than Mma Ramotswe. She also appears to be ordering a new, larger desk.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Snow, Glass, Apples, by Neil Gaiman (author), Colleen Doran (illustrator)

Dark Horse Books, August 2019

This is the story of Snow White, from the viewpoint of the Wicked Queen, who may not be so wicked after all. It's also beautifully illustrated by Colleen Doran. (I don't have to tell you what a great storyteller Neil Gaiman is.)

The Queen is a witch, and does use her powers to help win the heart of the handsome knight who is the king. She doesn't meet her new stepdaughter immediately, but when she does, she sees black, black hair, red, red lips, and skin too white to be natural. They do not take to each other.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The Wilhelm Conspiracy (Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mysteries #2), by Charles Veley

Thomas & Mercer, October 2016

Months after the events in The Last Moriarty, a prominent banker is found dead in compromising circumstances, and Inspector Lestrade appears at 221B Baker Street, having just been beaten up and given a message virtually on the doorstep.

The dead banker is the one who was involved in the transfer of German Imperial funds to its agents in the conspiracy against the British government. Lestrade was sent by the Commissioner to ask Holmes to get involved in the investigation of the theft of a new British super weapon. The men who beat him up gave him a message for Holmes--stay out of it.

Nothing could be more certain to secure Holmes' commitment to the case.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Lies Sleeping (Rivers of London #7), by Ben Aaronovitch (author), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (narrator)


Penguin Audio, ISBN 9781984890757, November 2018

Lies Sleeping picks up after The Hanging Tree, and it's a continuation of that story, essentially the second half of the story. As much as you've been told not to read this series out of order, really don't read these two out of order. 

They've identified the Faceless Man; his name is Martin Chorley. Lesley May is his--assistant? Apprentice? She may have some residual loyalty to Peter Grant, but it may be only words, and if it isn't, he still can't trust it because she'll apply it in her own way.

Peter has also made some career progress. He's now Detective Constable Peter Grant, no longer a mere Patrol Constable.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Wagging Tails Dogs' Home by Sarah Hope.

Boldwood Books, May 2023

Ginny ended things with her fiancé, Jason, a few years ago, after catching him cheating on her. He then kicked her out of their house and moved his new girlfriend in. Ginny then moved from London to the little, seaside village of West Par, giving up her career in real estate.

At the Wagging Tails Dogs' Home, she found Flora, the owner, and a new way of life. First as a volunteer, and then as a valued employee, Ginny devotes herself to giving dogs a new start in life, and finding them new homes. She's an organizer, and very good at some of their most important fundraising activities, including organizing their biggest annual fundraiser, the Family Fun Day.

But as they are coming up on their next Family Fun Day, they realize they haven't either heard from the local reporter who normally includes the fundraiser in his weekly column, nor seen the event mentioned. Ginny heads off to the newspaper offices--and discovers that the old reporter had retired a few months ago. He's been replaced by a reporter from London, who thinks the Family Fun Day story is too minor for him.

Monday, May 29, 2023

The Strange Case of the Moderate Extremists (Detective Varg #0.8), by Alexander McCall Smith

Penguin Random House, ISBN 9781984898524, February 2019

Detective Ulf Varg is the head of the Department of Sensitive Crimes for the Malmö police. It's important to understand that this is not the Special Victims Unit. The cases they get are...strange. Odd. Possibly a bit weird, sometimes.

The case that comes to them, one fine morning, involves a champion pedigreed cat, a Burmese, belonging to a breeder of Oriental cats. The breeder, with this particular cat, attended a cat show. The cat was bred to a champion male, and the entire expected litter was pre-sold.

When the kittens were born, they were clearly not purebred Burmese, and the breeder has a huge problem.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Max and Neo Freeze Dried Wild Caught Sockeye Salmon Dog Treats - Single Ingredient, Wild Caught Pacific Northwest Sockeye Salmon, Human Grade

 I, Cider, received this package of Max And Neo SOCKEYE SALMON Treats, from a friend. Lis says the package is a pretty blue color. Me, I don't get much beyond, "it's blue," because dogs don't have all the same stuff in our eyes.

I carefully checked out the packaging.

Next, I asked Lis to open it. That proved to be a challenge for her! Why? Pro tip! Don't cut where it tells you to cut! You'll still have a sealed bag! Turns out, Lis found, you have to cut just barely above the spot where you can feel the thingy that makes it resealable. Finally, she got it, though.

Then she got me a small piece,

And I started right away, eating it. As you can see, it was unexpectedly chewy, but it was really tasty.

I put it down for a few seconds several times, but I didn't stop!

When I was done, what I had was this little piece, that was small and thin--Lis calls it "paper thin."

Lis asked me a couple times if I wanted to eat that last bit, but I thought it had a wrong texture, and Lis wondered if it was like the rind on an orange--not there to be eaten! 

Overall, I found it really tasty, and it gave really good chew quality. There are lots of different size pieces, too, so you can take different size pieces depending on how long you want to keep busy with it. Just tell your humans you want they need to pay extra attention opening it the first time, and that they'll probably need to pick up that rind piece when you're done.

As I said at the beginning, this was a gift from a friend.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Honey, Maple, Gold, & Brown, by Emmitta Jane Lewis

Emmitta Jane Lewis, ISBN 9798391444244, April 2023

This is a lovely picture book about a young African-American girl asking questions, and learning about color differences and other differences within the African-American community. Tai asks about the range of skin colors, and why they're all described as "brown." Along the way, she also learns about cultural differences, and some African-Americans prefer to identify one way, and some another, and the history of where different groups come from. And, of course, different degrees of race mixing in the history of African-Americans in America. 

Monday, May 15, 2023

A House with Good Bones, by T. Kingfisher (author), Mary Robinette Kowal (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250886361, March 2023

Samantha (Sam) Montgomery is an archaeoentomologist, returned for a rare extended visit to her mother's home in North Carolina. She's been looking forward to it, is excited as she approaches the house, and initially not that worried by her brother's warning that "Mom seems off."

Then she walks inside, and the cozy clutter and lively colors of her mother's house are gone. Most of the walls are various shades of white (Sam is especially horrified by the ecru), while her own old room is rose. Her mother seems oddly timid, and has reimposed her own mother's, Gran Mae's, rules, of no swearing, grace before meals, and suggesting more modest clothing. What is she afraid of?

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Downward Sizing Dog: A Reformed Big Dog Snob Defends the Small Dog Life, by Karen Lena Izzo

Small Dog Press, LLC, January 2023

Karen Lena Izzo gives the reader a practical, honest, realistic account of her transition from a lover of big dogs, mostly hunting breed dogs, which really negative views of small dogs (with all the insulting views anyone with small dogs has heard ad nauseum), to someone who not only loves her two Havanese dogs, but happily and knowledgeably explains the advantages of small dogs.

First, of course, it's necessary to establish that small dogs are actually dogs, real dogs, with all the traits of dogs, not a failed attempt at a cat. (Whose own advantages, let me point out, not only many big dog owners, but Ms. Izzo, seem not to appreciate.) Small dogs, like big dogs, are people-oriented, loyal, ready to please if you take the time to show them how. They're resilient and adaptable.