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.