January #WhispersyncDeal roundup: Aldous Huxley, Meg Elison, Jacqueline Carey, Alex Bledsoe, Clive Barker, and more

The first #WhispersyncDeal roundup of 2017 is here! As usual I’ll run down my picks among this month’s Whispersync-for-voice-enabled Monthly Deals in Kindle Books, also known now as eBooks with Audible Narration, of which there are 536 to scan through this month. Well, I’m going to keep calling them “Whispersync deals”, and here’s what most caught my eye and ear this month; don’t wait too long as these deals expire on January 31:

Island by [Huxley, Aldous] The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere 1) by [Elison, Meg]

Island by Aldous Huxley, read by Simon Vance for Tantor Audio for $1.99+$3.99 — Orwell’s 1984 is a best-seller again, though I might suggest Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for a more apt parable for our “road to dystopian” times, not to mention it’s read superbly by Claire Daines, but I’m quickly losing track of what I wanted to say here. Huxley’s Brave New World is his most well-known work, also depicting a dystopian future, though one of control through entertainment and drugs rather than fear and misinformation. Here, though, is a utopian novel, and one we could all stand to revisit, and hope upon, under the superb narration of Simon Vance. “In his final novel, which he considered his most important, Aldous Huxley transports us to the remote Pacific island of Pala, where an ideal society has flourished for 120 years. Inevitably, this island of bliss attracts the envy and enmity of the surrounding world. A conspiracy is underway to take over Pala, and events are set in motion when an agent of the conspirators, a newspaperman named Faranby, is shipwrecked there. What Faranby doesn’t expect is how his time with the people of Pala will revolutionize all his values and—to his amazement—give him hope.”

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison, read by Angela Dawe for Brilliance Audio for $1.99+$1.99 — A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016, a Tiptree recommendation, and Philip K. Dick Award Winner, rather than a strictly dystopian tale, a post-apocalyptic feminist speculative novel. “When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead. In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it. A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence. After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.” A sequel, The Book of Etta, is forthcoming in February.

Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel's Legacy Book 1) by [Carey, Jacqueline] Wisp of a Thing: A Novel of the Tufa (Tufa Novels Book 2) by [Bledsoe, Alex]

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December 25th #WhispersyncDeal roundup: Neil Gaiman, Harper Lee, Pax, The Nest, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, and more

In addition to the month-long December deals, Amazon.com has a pretty darned good lineup of Kindle Daily Deals today, including 26 Whispersync for Voice enabled titles. Here’s a quick roundup of the best deals on the best titles:

American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: A Novel by [Gaiman, Neil] Go Set a Watchman: A Novel by [Lee, Harper] Pax by [Pennypacker, Sara]

American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman, read by either George Guidall (the original audiobook) or the matching 10th anniversary edition full cast production, for $2.95+$3.99 — “First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic—an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this tenth anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.”

Fiction: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, read by Reese Witherspoon for Harper Audio for $.99+$3.95 — “A historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014. Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.”

Kids: Pax by Sara Pennypacker, read by Michael Curran-Dorsano for $2.99+$3.95 — “National Book Award Longlist * New York Times Bestseller * An Amazon Best Book of the Year. From bestselling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes a beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the powerful relationship between a boy and his fox. Pax is destined to become a classic, beloved for generations to come.”

The Nest by [Sweeney, Cynthia D'Aprix] Bad Feminist: Essays by [Gay, Roxane]

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December #WhispersyncDeal roundup: Patrick deWitt, Marko Kloos, Chuck Wendig, Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut, and more

A well-timed Amazon.com gift card burning a hole in your digital pocket? Looking for some year-end reading and listening? I’ve got you covered with another monthly #WhispersyncDeal roundup, with great current year titles from Patrick deWitt, Marko Kloos, Chuck Wendig, and more, and classic sf from Arthur C. Clarke and Kurt Vonnegut. Here we go, with my usual picks from the monthly $3.99 or less listings. 358 are Whispersync-for-voice enabled, of which my very top picks are:

Undermajordomo Minor: A Novel by [deWitt, Patrick] Invasive: A Novel by [Wendig, Chuck] Bird Box: A Novel by [Malerman, Josh]

Undermajordomo Minor: A Novel by Patrick deWitt, performed by Simon Prebble for $1.99+$5.99 — “A love story, an adventure story, a fable without a moral, and an ink-black comedy of manners, Undermajordomo Minor is Patrick deWitt’s long-awaited follow-up to the internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed novel The Sisters Brothers. Lucien (Lucy) Minor is the resident odd duck in the bucolic hamlet of Bury. Friendless and loveless, young and aimless, Lucy is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for producing brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the Majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as Undermajordomo, Lucy soon discovers the place harbors many dark secrets, not least of which being the whereabouts of the castle’s master, Baron Von Aux. He also encounters the colorful people of the local village—thieves, madmen, aristocrats, and Klara, a delicate beauty for whose love he must compete with the exceptionally handsome soldier Adolphus. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery, and cold-blooded murder in which every aspect of humanity is laid bare for our hero to observe.”

Invasive: A Novel by Chuck Wendig, read by Xe Sands for $2.99+$6.99 — “Hannah Stander is a consultant for the FBI – a futurist who helps the agency with cases that feature demonstrations of bleeding-edge technology. It’s her job to help them identify unforeseen threats: hackers, AIs, genetic modification, anything that in the wrong hands could harm the homeland. Hannah is in an airport, waiting to board a flight home to see her family, when she receives a call from Agent Hollis Copper. “I’ve got a cabin full of over a thousand dead bodies,” he tells her. Whether those bodies are all human, he doesn’t say. What Hannah finds is a horrifying murder that points to the impossible – someone weaponizing the natural world in a most unnatural way. Discovering who – and why – will take her on a terrifying chase from the Arizona deserts to the secret island laboratory of a billionaire inventor/philanthropist. Hannah knows there are a million ways the world can end, but she just might be facing one she could never have predicted – a new threat both ancient and cutting-edge that could wipe humanity off the earth.”

Bird Box: A Novel by Josh Malerman, read by Cassandra Campbell for HarperAudio for $1.99+$3.99 — “Something is out there…. Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from. Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, Malorie has long dreamed of fleeing to a place where her family might be safe. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: 20 miles downriver in a rowboat blindfolded with nothing to rely on but Malorie’s wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?”

Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines Book 1) by [Kloos, Marko] The Palace Job (Rogues of the Republic Book 1) by [Weekes, Patrick] The Immortalists by [Mills, Kyle] The Queen's Poisoner (The Kingfountain Series Book 1) by [Wheeler, Jeff] Continue reading

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Cyber Monday #WhispersyncDeal roundup: Seveneves, The Hunger Games, 1984, The Forever War, Flowers for Algernon, The Muralist, Octavia Butler, and more

Today’s “Cyber Monday” Kindle Daily Deals listings number in the hundreds — over 400, actually. It’s a lot to look through, especially with the wonky “paging” (with no apparent “see all” or category search links!) for the sale. But, have no fear! As I did just recently with the monthly November #WhispersyncDeal roundup, which is still ongoing through Wednesday so don’t miss that, either, I took a glance through and found the best deals on the best books. Here we go:

Seveneves: A Novel by [Stephenson, Neal] The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 1) by [Collins, Suzanne] The Uninvited by [Jensen, Liz]

Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson, read by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron for $2.99+$5.49 — “From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic—a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years. What would happen if the world were ending? A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space. But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . . Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.”

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, read by Carolyn McCormick for $2.99+$3.95 — “In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. ”

The Uninvited by Liz Jensen, read by Colin Mace for Whole Story Audio for $1.99+$3.99 — An apocalyptic thriller: “A seven-year-old girl puts a nail gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious?”


More in the mood for classic science fiction? Here we go:

The Forever War by [Haldeman, Joe]  Flowers for Algernon by [Keyes, Daniel]

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Black Friday #WhispersyncDeal roundup: Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, McCammon’s Swan Song, Cashore’s Graceling, and Sanderson’s Alcatraz

While the November #WhispersyncDeal roundup continues through the weekend, today’s Whispersync-enabled Kindle Daily Deals include some spectacular speculative fiction for all ages:

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Book 1) by [Jemisin, N. K.] Swan Song by [McCammon, Robert R.] Graceling (Graceling Realm Book 1) by [Cashore, Kristin] Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians) by [Sanderson, Brandon]

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, read by Robin Miles for $2.99+$4.95 — An absolutely amazing book and audiobook, the start of a new fantasy trilogy by Hugo, Nebula & World Fantasy Award nominated author N.K. Jemisin.

Swan Song by Robert McCammon, read by Tom Stechschulte for $1.99+$3.95 — “Robert McCammon’s prescient and shocking vision of a post-apocalyptic nation, a grand epic of terror and, ultimately, renewal.”

Teens: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, read by David Baker, Chelsea Mixon, Zachary Exton, and a full cast for $1.99+$2.99 — “With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.”

Kids: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson, read by Ramon De Ocampo for $2.99+$3.99 — “Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians is the first adventure in a fantasy series for young readers by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson.”

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November #WhispersyncDeal roundup: Margaret Atwood, Neal Stephenson, Becky Chambers, Joe Hill, Paul Tremblay, Amy Bartol, and more

Before November runs out, take the take to take a break from Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping and pick up a little something for yourself for those long, dark winter nights. There are 510 Whispersync-enabled audiobooks in this month’s Monthly Deals in Kindle Books listings, which is a very, very big number. Here’s what most catches my eye and ear this month:

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, read by Claire Danes for Audible for $2.99+$3.99 “[A] novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population.”

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, read by William Dufris for $1.99+$3.99 — “With this extraordinary first volume in what promises to be an epoch-making masterpiece, Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century. Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought and creative daring; the product of a truly iconoclastic imagination working with white-hot intensity.”

 

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“You Want Me to Blow Up the Afterlife?” Dave Reviews City of Blades


City of Blades (The Divine Cities, Book 2)
by Robert Jackson Bennett, Narrated by Alma Cuervo
Length: 20 hours, 27 minutes

The gods have been destroyed. This isn’t myth or ancient history — it happened less than a lifetime ago. They were oppressive and made slaves of much of humanity until the eventual uprising came. But if the gods are all dead, then what happened to the afterlives they created, and those left in them?

But really, I’m only scratching the surface. Straight up: City of Blades is the best thing I’ve listened to thus far this year. What’s so impressive about it is not just the fantastic world building, but all the balls Robert Jackson Bennett is juggling and how timely it all feels in these politically divisive days. There is political unrest, divine terrorism, magical death swords, and best of all: our hero General Turyin Mulagesh. Continue reading

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October #WhispersyncDeal roundup: Lian Hearn’s Emperor of the Eight Islands, Jose Saramago’s Blindness, Rysa Walker’s CHRONOS Files, Seanan McGuire’s Indexing, and more

It’s a pretty lean month for the #WhispersyncDeal monthly roundup, making yet another “almost too late to be useful” post pretty ridiculous. When I finally started looking at the deals in the monthly $3.99 or Less and 50 Kindle Books for $2 Each listings between innings of the Cubs World Series games (yes I just typed that!) I almost decided to just go ahead and skip the month. While great, we’ve seen Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle and Slaughter-House Five and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend before quite a few times. But! The few gems I found made it worth getting this quick little mini-roundup out there, because the few that there are, are really, really good. And! I already had the text bit of my picks from the Downpour.com $3.95 Horror Sale, also expiring on October 31, which I’ve added to the end of the post. Enjoy!

Emperor of the Eight Islands: Book 1 in The Tale of Shikanoko by Lian Hearn, read by Neil Shah for $2.99+$3.99 — Hearn is the author of Across the Nightingale Floor, and Shah is brilliant in her new series: “In the opening pages of the action-packed Book One of Lian Hearn’s epic Tale of Shikanoko series–all of which will be published in 2016–a future lord is dispossessed of his birthright by a scheming uncle, a mountain sorcerer imbues a mask with the spirit of a great stag for a lost young man, a stubborn father forces his son to give up his wife to his older brother, and a powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne, the child who is the rightful heir to the emperor barely escaping the capital in the arms of his sister. And that is just the beginning.”

Blindnes by Jose Saramago, read by the fantastic Jonathan Davis for $2.99+$3.99 — “A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers-among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears-through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twentieth century, Blindness has swept the reading public with its powerful portrayal of man’s worst appetites and weaknesses-and man’s ultimately exhilarating spirit. The stunningly powerful novel of man’s will to survive against all odds, by the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature.”

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Review: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi, read by Zachary Quinto for Audible

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
Read by Zachary Quinto for Audible

Free until November 2, The Dispatcher is an audio-exclusive short novella from John Scalzi, read by Zachary Quinto — best known for his role as the Nimoy-approved Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot and the menacing, power-stealing serial killer, Sylar, in Heroes — who “brings his well-earned sci-fi credentials and simmering intensity to this audio-exclusive novella from master storyteller John Scalzi.”

The book starts just a bit heavy in the “exposition through dialogue” front, but builds into something pretty good. The speculative element here is completely unexplained — basically, one day, people who are murdered start just going “pop!” out of existence and waking up safe in their own beds. (999 times out of 1000, at least.) So, “dispatchers” stand by during complicated medical operations, or suitably dangerous activity (imagine helmet- and safety-net-free skateboard jumps of near-suicidal intent, and you’ll have a non-spoilery idea), to, er, “dispatch” those dying from mistakes or accidents. There’s some interesting moral questions there, which Scalzi goes a little bit into, but he only teases about the possible cosmological or other questions involved, both in terms of what’s behind what’s going on and/or how it works, and the moral and ethical implications thereof.

Our “dispatcher” here is, pretty much, strong-armed into consulting for a Chicago police detective, looking into a disappearance. Things end a bit too predictably and “pat” or “neat” if you will, but it was engaging enough, and in a short novella there’s only so many twists and turns you can squeeze in. A few comic (usually dark comedy, but still comic!) incidents give one the recommended Scalzian humor quotient, but in the end it’s “merely” a good (free!) yarn. But! The 4+ star thing here is the performance of Zachary Quinto. He was legitimately very, very good here, and! actually his performance shows he was thoughtfully well cast, not just a “hey, what celebrity sci-fi narrator can we find for this Scalzi story?” kind of thing. The disposition one needs to handle being a “dispatcher” — a detached, logical approach — really works when coming from Quinto here, and I look forward to hearing him in future audiobooks if he does keep doing voice work, which I truly hope he does.

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September #WhispersyncDeal roundup: Octavia Butler, Jay Posey, Richard Matheson, R. A. MacAvoy, Jose Saramago, Carl Hiassen, Karen Lord, and more

In the latest crop of the monthly 3.99 or less Kindle titles, there’s 174 Whispersync-enabled deals to check out, with no shortage of fantastic books and audiobooks from classic and current sf to epic fantasy to thrillers and more. When you add the monthly $2 or less listings with its own 52 Whispersync deals, there’s certainly a lot to tempt you as September comes to a close. And! While you’re at it, don’t forget that Audible’s $4.95 members-only “Win-Win” sale was extended through the end of the month as well, and my picks from that crop include The Hobbit and Ray Bradbury. OK, enough preamble, on to the best of this month’s Whispersync deals! (And yes, this is coming out on the last day of the month, again, sorry about that, but do get your shopping done before midnight!)

Bloodchild and Other Stories Audiobook Outriders Audiobook

Bloodchild: And Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler, read by Janina Edwards for $1.99+$3.49 — This book, people. It’s full of amazing science fiction, from the titular “Bloodchild” on and on, with some great author’s notes and a brilliant essay to close. Edwards is a wonderful narrator for Butler’s work here, and this really is one of the 100%, guaranteed, can’t-miss audiobooks I can highly recommend.

Outriders by Jay Posey, read by James Lindgren for $2.99+$3.49 — Out not even 5 months ago, this is a fantastic start to a new series of space science fiction from Posey, the author of the post-apocalyptic Legend of the Duskwalker series. Here it’s a military sf series, with a focus on the “Outriders” a special forces group full of squad roles and tactics, read by new-to-me narrator Lindgren whose narration on this one reminded me quite a bit, in a very good way, of some of Tom Cruise’s science fictional and thriller turns on the big screen. Jack Reacher in space? With clones? “Captain Lincoln Suh died on a Wednesday. And things only got harder from there.”

 

More adult science fiction and fantasy titles I consider most worth checking out:

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