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Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs, narrated by Lorelei King & Alexander Cendese

shifting shadowsWhy I read it:  I’m a fan of the series so I bought it ASAP on release.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger

A collection of all-new and previously published short stories featuring Mercy Thompson and the characters she calls friends

Includes the new stories
Silver
Roses in Winter
Redemption
Hollow

and fan favorites
Fairy Gifts
Gray
Alpha and Omega
Seeing Eye
The Star of David
In Red, with Pearls

The narration: Each story is introduced by a note from Patricia Briggs (narrated by Lorelei King) and which orient the story in the timeline of the Mercy Thompson world. The novellas are arranged roughly chronologically – something I found helpful.  I’m nerd enough to have appreciated the little insights the author gives in introducing each instalment.

The Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner

BordersofinfinityWhy I read it:  This is another from my personal stash.  I was in the mood for a little more Miles Vorkosigan and it was the next one in the series (which I am trying to listen to in order).

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  [A Miles Vorkosigan Story] Miles infiltrates a prison camp at Dagoola IV, where he plots from within to free the prisoners.  [Publisher’s Note: The Borders of Infinity was originally published as a stand-alone novella in the anthology Free Lancers in September 1987. It was then included in the novel Borders of Infinity (October 1989). For the novel, Ms. Bujold added a short “framing story” that tied the three novellas together by setting up each as a flashback that Miles experiences while recovering from bone-replacement surgery. Fictionwise is publishing these novellas separately, but we decided to leave in Ms. Bujold’s short framing story for those who may also wish to read the other two novellas (The Mountains of Mourning and Labyrinth).]

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  In this full length audiobook, the author has created a “framing story” to join the three novellas together.  Miles is recovering from bone replacement surgery and Ilyan, the spymaster, asks him about certain expenses he has incurred in some of his missions.  A rival faction is using a bean counter who is dedicated to counting beans to stir up trouble for Count Aral Vorkosigan and unseat him from the Prime Ministership – Ilyan wants to learn everything about these missions so that he can nip trouble in the bud – even if Miles is resentful of the unsaid accusation of misappropriation.

The Mountains of Mourning

This novella takes place when Miles is only 20 and is on leave shortly after graduating from the Academy.  A woman begs for justice for her murdered baby daughter and Count Aral Vorkosigan sends Miles in his stead to investigate the crime and mete out said justice.  The baby was born with a hare lip and a cleft palate but was managing to feed well enough. Simple plastic surgery could have fixed the defect (should Hara have been able to access the treatment of course) but on Barrayar, birth defects are not tolerated well.  It is particularly so in the remote villages where there is no good communication with the cities and where the people cling to old traditions.  Miles is, of course, a “mutant” himself and his own life was threatened on the basis of his defect before he was even born (see Barrayar).  Things are slowly changing on Barrayar but Aral wants Miles to sent a message that the killing of infants on the basis of a birth defect is NOT OKAY and will no longer be tolerated.  Miles has to use his ingenuity (as always) to sort out the truth and in the process he has to win over people (as always) who judge him on the basis of his physical imperfections.

Summer Rain anthology

Summer RainWhy I read it:  This book of “novelettes” contains offerings by some of my favourite authors and proceeds go to a worthy cause.  Which is a bonus but not why I bought it. (Does that make me a bad person?)

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  What happens when love gets caught in the rain?

In this romance anthology, RITA-Award winning author Molly O’Keefe shows us the power of a city thunderstorm from the top of a skyscraper, while Amy Jo Cousins soaks us in a rain in Spain. New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox’s heroine is devastated by a winter storm, while a summer thunderstorm grants Alexandra Haughton’s hero and heroine a second chance at love. Rain sparks self-awareness in the robot in Charlotte Stein’s story and allows Mary Ann Rivers’s heroine to fall in love with her hero and her own art. Rain causes romance between the college students in Audra North’s and Shari Slade’s stories, while romance causes rain in Cecilia Tan’s myth-inspired tale of a sacrifice to a demi-god. Nine romance novelettes, edited by Sarah Frantz.

All proceeds from the volume will be donated to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (www.rainn.org), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.

Note:  Some of the stories deal with issues of abuse, sexual and otherwise and/or violence.  Some readers might find them triggering to read/read about.

Redemption by Ruthie Knox:  There is a “Dear Reader” letter in the front of each of the novelettes.  Ms. Knox says Redemption is a sad story. And it is.  Both Jessie and Mike are sad. They’ve been beaten down by life and are just about at the end of their respective ropes.  Unfortunately and partly because the story is short, I found the characterisation, especially in relation to Mike to be a little thin and I didn’t see what attracted him to her and from her side of things, what made him someone more than she wanted to have sex with. Because for a year, they didn’t talk and he didn’t smile and they didn’t share anything important apart from some good sex and in the end, I didn’t buy the commitment because I didn’t see enough of those things within the story itself. The writing has a kind of haunting melancholy quality to it and there were parts which we quite lovely.  Short stories often work better for me when they are about people who already know each other. But this story seemed to take pains to tell me they didn’t know each other that well really so I was left a little unconvinced.

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