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 Amazon.com 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!”

Thriller: The Boy from Reactor 4 (The Nadia Tesla Series Book 1)The Boy Who Stole from the Dead (The Nadia Tesla Series Book 2), and The Boy Who Glowed in the Dark (The Nadia Tesla Series Book 3) by Orest Stelmach (Author), Tanya Eby (Narrator) for $2+$1.99 each — Author Stelmach is himself of Ukrainian descent, and donates portions of the proceeds of this series to Chernobyl Children International. Here’s book one: “Imagine a secret that will change the world. Imagine that its owner lives in the darkest place on Earth and will trust only one person to come get it from him. Imagine the resources powerful men will deploy to steal the secret and prevent her from succeeding. When Nadia Tesla inquires into her enigmatic father’s past, a stranger propels her on a treasure hunt from New York to her father’s homeland in Eastern Europe. The knowledge she acquires could change the fate of the free world and earn her riches beyond her dreams. To cash in, she forms an alliance with an unlikely accomplice – a mysterious boy from the cooling ponds of Chernobyl. Together, these lost souls must survive the trip home through the world’s most treacherous terrain, pursued by resourceful men who will stop at nothing to steal the treasure. Not even murder.” The latest book in the series, The Altar Girl: A Prequel (The Nadia Tesla Series), is available in audio for $4.99+$1.99.

Next up, my glance through this month’s Monthly Deals for $3.99 or Less listings, which include no fewer than 24 Whispersync-enabled Science Fiction & Fantasy titles, so if you want the full list, be my guest, but here’s what caught my eye:

  

The Human Division (Old Man’s War Book 5) by John Scalzi (Author), William Dufris (Narrator) for $2.99+$3.99 — Scalzi’s about to go on tour for Book 6, The End of All Things, so now’s a perfect chance to catch up if you missed following The AudioBookaneers Listen-A-Long back when Audible serially released the chapters back in 2013. Here’s this book’s pitch: “Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race. The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU’s secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance – an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they’ve invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn’t obvious or easy.”

Vicious by V. E. Schwab (Author), Noah Michael Levine (Narrator) for $2.99+$3.99 — After how much I heard about this book (Publishers Weekly best of the year list, for starters) and how much I enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic, I snapped this one up in early July when I took my first peek at the sale listings. Schwab is brilliant, and I’m looking forward to getting to this one soon: “Victor and Eli started out as college roommates–brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.”

Blackbirds (Miriam Black Book 1) by Chuck Wendig (Author), Emily Beresford (Narrator) for $1.99+$3.49 — I wasn’t aware that this series was being re-released by Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press, and it looks like they’re making sure plenty of people know at a $1.99 entry point. Beresford’s performance gained power as the audiobook progressed, and as far as hooks go, this one’s got a winner: “Miriam Black knows when you will die. Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days he will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. No matter what she does, she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.”

 

The Edge of Reason by Melinda Snodgrass (Author), Roger Wayne (Narrator) for $2.99+$3.99 — Snodgrass’ first new novel in 20 years, published in 2008; a sequel Edge of Ruin was published in 2010 and a third book is coming in August. Here: “Since the dawn of consciousness, a secret war has been fought between the forces of magic and religious fanaticism, and the cause of reason, understanding, and technology. On one side are the Old Ones, malign entities that feed on the suffering of mankind. On the other are the Lumina, an ancient order dedicated the liberation of the human spirit. Officer Richard Oort of the Albuquerque Police Department is caught in the middle of this primal battle when he rescues a mysterious teenage girl from a trio of inhuman hunters. Recruited by the Lumina to serve as their latest paladin, Richard ends up fighting beside a handful of unlikely allies, including an adolescent sorceress, an enigmatic philanthropist, a sexy coroner, and a homeless god with multiple personalities.”

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi (Author), Wil Wheaton (Narrator) for $2.99+$3.49 — Yeah, it’s more Scalzi, and while I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as Old Man’s War or Redshirts or Lock In, Wheaton’s narration paired with some of Scalzi’s acid wit on things Hollywood+sf is highly entertaining: “The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal. Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.”

Next up a glance through the Select Science Fiction & Fantasy Kindle Books for $1.99 or Less listings, on sale through August 20:

 

Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders (The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin Book 1) and Romulus Buckle & the Engines of War (The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin Book 2) by Richard Ellis Preston (Author), Luke Daniels (Narrator) for $1.99+$1.99 each — You may think you’ve seen everything Steampunk there is to see, but Jeff VanderMeer (editor of several Steampunk anthologies, among other things) has been recommending this one, which he knows inside and out having been the story editor for Romulus Buckle at 47North; and in any case, Luke Daniels getting a chance for a high-adventure cast of a motley crew of airshipmen? Yup. “In a postapocalyptic world of endless snow, Captain Romulus Buckle and the stalwart crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must embark on a perilous mission to rescue their kidnapped leader, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the impenetrable City of the Founders. Steaming over a territory once known as Southern California – before it was devastated in the alien war – Buckle navigates his massive airship through skies infested with enemy war zeppelins and ravenous alien beasties in this swashbuckling and high-octane steampunk adventure. Life is desperate in the Snow World, and death is quick. Buckle and his ship’s company must brave poisoned wastelands of Noxious Mustard and do battle with forgewalkers, steampipers, and armored locomotives as they plunge from the skies into the underground prison warrens of the fortress city. Captain Romulus Buckle must lead the Pneumatic Zeppelin and its crew of ne’er-do-wells on a desperate mission where he must risk everything to save Balthazar and attempt to prevent a catastrophic war that could wipe out all that is left of civilization and the entire human race.”

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley (Author), Sarah Coomes (Narrator) for $1.99+$1.99 — “Deep within the Wood, a young woman lies dead. Not a mark on her body. No trace of her murderer. Only her chipped glass slippers hint at her identity. The Woodcutter, keeper of the peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie, must find the maiden’s killer before others share her fate. Guided by the wind and aided by three charmed axes won from the River God, the Woodcutter begins his hunt, searching for clues in the whispering dominions of the enchanted unknown.”

 

Damocles by S. G. Redling (Author), Angela Dawe (Narrator) for $1.99+$1.99 — “When Earth is rocked by evidence that extraterrestrials may have seeded human DNA throughout the universe, a one-way expedition into deep space is mounted to uncover the truth. What linguist Meg Dupris and her crewmates aboard the Earth ship Damocles discover on Didet – a planet bathed in the near-eternal daylight of seven suns – is a humanoid race with a different language, a different look, and a surprisingly similar society. But here, it’s the “Earthers” who are the extraterrestrial invaders, and it’s up to Meg – a woman haunted by tragedy and obsessed with the power of communication – to find the key to establishing trust between the natives and the newcomers. In Loul Pell, a young Dideto male thrust into the forefront of the historic event, Meg finds an unexpected kindred spirit, and undertakes an extraordinary journey of discovery, friendship, and life-altering knowledge.Told from both sides of a monumental encounter, Damoclesis a compelling novel about man’s first contact with an extraterrestrial race.”

A Private Little War by Jason Sheehan (Author), Luke Daniels (Narrator) for $1.99+$1.99 — More Luke Daniels, which is good for everyone, from a writer whose reviews for NPR (Annihilation, Tigerman, The Country of Ice Cream Star, on and on) I have enjoyed over the years now: “The pilots of Flyboy, Inc., landed on the alien planet of Iaxo with a mission: In one year, quash an insurrection; exploit the ancient enmities of an indigenous, tribal society; and kill the hell out of one group of natives to facilitate negotiations with the surviving group – all over 110 million acres of mixed terrain. At first, the double-hush, back-burner project went well. With a ten-century technological lead on the locals, the logistical support of a powerful private military company, and aid from other outfits on the ground, it was supposed to be an easy-in, easy-out mission that would make the pilots of Flyboy, Inc., very, very rich. But the natives of Iaxo had another plan – and what was once a strategic slam-dunk has become a quagmire, leaving the pilots of Flyboy, Inc., on an embattled distant planet, waiting for support and a ride home that may never come…”

OK! I have been picking up a few “odds and ends” over the past month and a half, but as it’s late-late July already, this is where this month’s roundup has to end. Enjoy, and happy listening!

 

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