September WhispersyncDeal roundup: Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, Neal Stephenson’s Mongoliad, Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men, Sarah Prineas, Arthur C. Clarke, David Wong, Jasper Fforde, and more

Another roundup pushing up against the end-of-the-month wire, so let’s jump right in with the deals expiring at the end of the month.

First up, a roundup of what most caught my eye of the 189 Whispersync-for-Voice-enabled titles in this month’s $3.99 or Less listings, mostly in science fiction and fantasy but a few fiction, teen, children’s, and mystery titles as well:


Bloodchild: And Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler (Author), Janina Edwards (Narrator) for $2.99+$3.49 — This one’s been in the monthly roundups before, but it bears repeating, and it bears being right up top, because this truly is one of the great works of literature, and Edwards narrates both Butler’s short fiction and her essays superbly. “Six remarkable stories from a master of modern science fiction. Octavia E. Butler’s classic “Bloodchild,” winner of both the Nebula and Hugo awards, anchors this collection of incomparable stories and essays. “Bloodchild” is set on a distant planet where human children spend their lives preparing to become hosts for the offspring of the alien Tlic. Sometimes the procedure is harmless, but often it is not. Also included is the Hugo Award – winning “Speech Sounds,” about a near future in which humans must adapt after an apocalyptic event robs them of their ability to speak. In this audiobook, Butler shows us life on Earth and amongst the stars, telling her tales with characteristic imagination and clarity.” Continue reading

Posted in Whispersync Deals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bookburners Listen-a-Long #2: Anywhere But Here by Brian Francis Slattery

Bookburners: Season One: Episode 2: Anywhere But Here
by Brian Francis Slattery
read by Xe Sands for Serial Box

[Missed Episode 1? The pilot episode is still free, and at under 90 minutes each it’s a breeze to catch up!]

Well, I’m again late late with the listen-a-long recap, as Episode 3 (“Fair Weather”, by Margaret Dunlap) has been out since Tuesday. With Episode #2 we see Bookburners HQ at the Vatican (“Looks a little Satanic for around here, doesn’t it?”), meet a new team member, and ride along for Sal’s first official mission with the Societas Librorum Occultorum.

Continue reading

Posted in The Bookburners Listen-a-Long | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Audible’s Win-Win Sale through September 20: N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni, David Mitchell, Joe Abercrombie, and more

Through 11:59 PM US Pacific Time, Audible’s Member-Only “Win-Win” sale lists a fairly huge pile of audiobooks — 234 titles! — for $4.95 each. Here’s what most caught my eye:


  • By N. K. Jemisin
  • Narrated by Robin Miles — “A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great, red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal,and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the Earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.”
  • By Helene Wecker
  • Narrated by George Guidall — “Helene Wecker’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.”


Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quick fiction #WhispersyncDeal roundup for Friday, September 18: Water for Elephants, The Transcriptionist, A Reliable Wife, and Jill McCorkle’s Life After Life

Rather than share/Tweet these four fantastic fiction deals one at a time, I figured I’d just quickly round them up here. Enjoy! But act fast, as these are only good through the wee hours after midnight tonight:


Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen (Author), David LeDoux (Narrator), John Randolph Jones (Narrator), for $1.99+$3.95 — “Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. It’s the Depression Era and Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There he meets the freaks, grifters, and misfits that populate this world. Jacob introduces us to Marlena, beautiful star of the equestrian act; to August, her charismatic but twisted husband (and the circus’ animal trainer); and to Rosie, a seemingly untrainable elephant.”

The Transcriptionist: A Novel by Amy Rowland (Author), Xe Sands (Narrator) for $%1.99+$4.49 — “Lena, the transcriptionist, sits alone in a room far away from the hum of the newsroom that is the heart of the Record, the big city newspaper for which she works. For years, she has been the ever-present link for reporters calling in stories from around the world. Hooked up to a machine that turns spoken words to print, Lena is the vein that connects the organs of the paper. She is loyal, she is unquestioning, yet technology is dictating that her days there are numbered. When she reads a shocking piece in the paper about a Jane Doe mauled to death by a lion, she recognizes the woman in the picture. They had met on a bus just a few days before. Obsessed with understanding what caused the woman to deliberately climb into the lion¿s den, Lena begins a campaign for truth that will destroy the Record‘s complacency and shake the venerable institution to its very foundation. In doing so she also recovers a life – her own.”


Life After Life: A Novel by Jill McCorkle (Author), Holly Fielding (Narrator) for $1.99+$3.99 — “Jill McCorkle’s first novel in 17 years is alive with the daily triumphs and challenges of the residents and staff of Pine Haven Estates, a retirement facility now home to a good many of Fulton, North Carolina’s older citizens. Among them, third-grade teacher Sadie Randolph, who has taught every child in town and believes we are all eight years old in our hearts; Stanley Stone, once Fulton’s most prominent lawyer, now feigning dementia to escape life with his son; Marge Walker, the town’s self-appointed conveyor of social status who keeps a scrapbook of every local murder and heinous crime; and Rachel Silverman, recently widowed, whose decision to leave her Massachusetts home and settle in Fulton is a mystery to everyone but her. C.J., the pierced and tattooed young mother who runs the beauty shop, and Joanna, the hospice volunteer who discovers that her path to a good life lies with helping folks achieve good deaths, are two of the staff on whom the residents depend.”

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (Author), Mark Feuerstein (Narrator) for $1.99+$3.99 — “When a wealthy man first meets his mail-order bride in 1907, he realizes this statuesque beauty is anything but a ‘simple missionary’s daughter.’ But he doesn’t know of her devious plan to leave Wisconsin as a rich widow. Nor does she know of the furious demons he longs to unleash during the lonely months of snowbound isolation.”

Posted in Whispersync Deals | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bookburners Listen-a-Long #1: Badge, Book, and Candle by Max Gladstone

Badge, Book, and Candle (Bookburners, #1)
Bookburners: Season One: Episode 1: Badge, Book, and Candle
by Max Gladstone
read by Xe Sands for Serial Box

Bookburners is a just-launched episodic fiction project by new publisher Serial Box, the first of their season- and episode-based “shows” (for lack of a better term!) brought to us by all-star teams of writers in collaborative fashion. In Bookburners, “Magic is real, and hungry—trapped in ancient texts and artifacts, only a few who discover it survive to fight back. Detective Sal Brooks is a survivor. Freshly awake to just what dangers are lurking, she joins a Vatican-backed black-ops anti-magic squad: Team Three of the Societas Librorum Occultorum. Together they stand between humanity and magical apocalypse. Some call them the Bookburners. They don’t like the label.” The series is written by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery, with a set of fantastic cover art by Mark Weaver and Jeffrey Veregge, and performed in audio by Xe Sands. As the audio is being released concurrently with the weekly episodes, it’s a perfect project to take on in classic AudioBookaneers “Listen-a-Long” fashion, as we’ve done for John Scalzi’s The Human Division and Mur Lafferty’s The Shambling Guide to New York City. With the second episode already out (Slattery’s “Anywhere But Here”) I’m starting juuuust a bit late, but don’t worry. At between an hour and an hour and a half per episode, I — and you! — can catch up. (And, hey, this first one’s free.) All right, enough preamble. Let’s go! Continue reading

Posted in The Bookburners Listen-a-Long | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Divided We Triumph — Dave Reviews NEMESIS GAMES

Nemesis Games (The Expanse, Book 5)
by James S.A. Corey, Read by Jefferson Mays
Length: 16 hours, 44 minutes

If you’re like me, all you need to know about Nemesis Games is that Chrisjen Avasarala and Bobbi Draper are back in a big way. Oh, also Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante.

But it gets better. I’ve talked before how I pretty much just want to stowaway with the crew of the Rocinante and drink coffee with them. Well, with this book, I got about as close to that opportunity as I could. In Nemesis Games, the viewpoint characters this time out are not only Captain Holden, but the rest of the crew of the Rocinante, all taking a bit of shore leave. As anyone who reads books will tell you, that never goes well.

While Holden is stuck hanging out at Tycho Station with Fred Johnson, the rest of his crew feel compelled to revisit their past, and try and make amends: Amos heads back to earth to settle some business and possibly a few old scores, Alex goes to Mars to try and say goodbye to his ex-wife, and Naomi disappears to Ceres Station on a personal mission she refuses to divulge to Holden.

I don’t know if the result is the best book yet in the Expanse series (Caliban’s War is pretty fucking bad ass, fleet commander), but it is a triumph full of surprises, emotion, and adventure, delving back into these characters back stories in a way that we didn’t know we needed to.

Things get virtually post-apocalyptic this time out, but Corey never stops having a blast (listening to Amos and Avasarala banter must be what heaven sounds like). If you’ve enjoyed this series at all, this book will make you very, very happy.

Not only are some of my favorite characters back in a big way, so is narrator Jefferson Mays. I feel a little bit bad for Erik Davies, who was given the thankless job of coming into a series in the middle with Cibola Burn, replacing a well-loved narrator. He did an admirable job, but big props to Hachette Audio for bringing back Jefferson Mays. With Mays back aboard the Rocinante, Holden sounds like the lovable cross between Kirk and, erm, Holden (Affleck or Caufield) we want him to, and the rest of the crew sounds aces too. Also, did I mention Avasarala and Bobbi?

Nemesis Games promises that five books in, these authors still have plenty of tricks up their sleeves for the Expanse, and as good as some of the books in this series has been, there’s sure to be more excellence ahead.

(Special thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with a review copy of this audiobook.)

Posted in reviews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

August WhispersyncDeal roundup: Ken Liu, Chuck Wendig, Joyce Carol Oates, Max Brooks, and more; read by Michael Kramer, Luke Daniels, Kate Rudd, Grover Gardner, Mary Robinette Kowal, and more!

I keep getting later and later in the month with these… so this time, once more, with feeling, don’t wait too long. The first two sections of deals all expire on August 31. Tick-tock.

First, a rough pass through the 156 Whispersync-enabled Monthly Deals for $3.99 or Less which, let me tell you, is a lot of titles. Here’s what most caught my eye, and there are some really good ones:


The Grace of Kings (The Dandelion Dynasty) by Ken Liu, read by Michael Kramer for Simon & Schuster Audio for $1.99+$3.99 — Liu’s debut novel in a “silkpunk” subgenre of Chinese-influenced epic fantasy. Battles. Big characters. Friends. Betrayals. War. Empire. Easily the strongest debut fantasy I’ve read this year. “Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.” Continue reading

Posted in Whispersync Deals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment audiobook rental program review and offer

I’d been meaning to check out’s digital audiobook rental program for a while; there’s a recent flurry of titles out that I really want to get to soon — most recently Molly Tanzer’s Vermillion and Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings — and there’s only so much money in the audiobook slush fund for them. I’ve noticed the $5.95/$6.95 rental program for a while, but was never really quite that tempted. I like the idea of being able to go back and listen to a title again in a year or two years, even though it’s something I very rarely do. (Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series, I’m looking at you. 4? 5? times now, in 6 years. You complete me.)

Anyway. So just as I was resolving to maybe, finally dip my toes into this rental business, along comes an email offer from advertising a free rental, of Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander, book one of his Aubrey-Maturin series, read by Simon Vance.

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian

Well, I’ve heard quite a lot about this book and series over the years — most notably for me, David Drake openly and proudly points to it as direct inspiration behind his own Lt. Leary space adventure series — and if you wouldn’t listen to Simon Vance read pretty much anything (random Wikipedia pages? without a doubt!) then I wonder if you’ve ever heard him at all.

So, free without any strings attached being an attractive offer, I went ahead and added the rental to my cart like I would any other title and checked out, the primary differences being (1) the $0 price, natch and (2) an additional page warning the use that rentals are only currently supported on the Android and iOS applications, not from the website or for download to one’s PC.

Once checked out, I returned to my phone and refreshed my library, where the only thing to distinguish the rental title from others is a small triangular badge showing the days remaining, and a slight change of text when beginning the download:

IMG_1266  IMG_1267 Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Locke Lamora meets Dostoevsky after the Apocalypse — Review: Dancing with Bears

Dancing with Bears: A Darger and Surplus Novel | [Michael Swanwick]
Dancing with Bears: A Darger and Surplus Novel
By Michael Swanwick
Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki

It’s a shame there are so few reviews of this 2012 audiobook of this 2011 novel, as this really was pretty fantastic. It’s like: Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora meets Dostoevsky in the post-apocalypse. And as always Rudnicki is great; in this one he gets to show off a range of Russian accents, cyber wolves, giants, genetically engineered bear-men and Neanderthals, and a fascinating, hilarious pair of con artists in Darger (British, what ho) and Surplus (a genetically uplifted dog, from Vermont, yeah I said it, Vermont). Continue reading

Posted in reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

July #WhispersyncDeal roundup: Scott Meyer’s Off to Be the Wizard, John Scalzi’s The Human Division, V.E. Schwab’s Vicious, Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds, Richard Ellis Preston, Jason Sheehan, and more

When advertised “Kindle” deals in its Prime Day previews, I was admittedly excited. Maybe hundreds — no, thousands, surely! — of titles on discount? But, no, it was a few Kindle devices, not ebook titles. Alas. Still, that surely leaves not just me with a few extra bucks to spend on this month’s #WhispersyncDeal listings, so here we go, starting with some choice picks from this month’s 50 Kindle Books for $2 Each listings; and don’t wait too long to take advantage as most of these deals only run through July 31:


Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0 Book 1)Spell or High Water (Magic 2.0 Book 2), and An Unwelcome Quest (Magic 2.0 Book 3) by Scott Meyer (Author), Luke Daniels (Narrator) for $2+$1.99 each — I really enjoyed this comedic fantasy/sf audiobook, a fun romp through (and at times subverting) tropes; recommended for those who enjoyed Ready Player One and thought, “What this book needs is more time in ZORK.” Here’s book one: “It’s a simple story. Boy finds proof that reality is a computer program. Boy uses program to manipulate time and space. Boy gets in trouble. Boy flees back in time to Medieval England to live as a wizard while he tries to think of a way to fix things. Boy gets in more trouble. Oh, and boy meets girl at some point. Off to Be the Wizard is a light, comedic novel about computers, time travel, and human stupidity, written by Scott Meyer, the creator of the internationally known comic strip Basic Instructions. Magic will be made! Legends will be created! Stew will be eaten!” Continue reading

Posted in Whispersync Deals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment