If you’ve recovered from last month’s #WhispersyncDeal haul (including Audible’s and Downpour’s week-long sales around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and Tantor’s annual Cyber Monday sale) and Audible’s “Big Thanks” sale earlier this month, then let me tell you, the year’s going out with a huge bang. Of the more than 1000 titles in this month’s Kindle deals listings, a whopping 390 are enabled with Whispersync for Voice.
That’s a lot of titles to comb through, so let me do some of the legwork for you, this time starting in the CHILDREN’S and YOUNG ADULT sections, because this month’s selections are absolutely fantastic:
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, read by the author for $1.99+$3.99 — My kids and I have listened to this hour and 46 minutes of quirky Norse mythology dozens and dozens of times: “In this inventive, short, yet perfectly formed novel inspired by traditional Norse mythology, Neil Gaiman takes readers on a wild and magical trip to the land of giants and gods and back. In a village in ancient Norway lives a boy named Odd, and he’s had some very bad luck: His father perished in a Viking expedition; a tree fell on and shattered his leg; the endless freezing winter is making villagers dangerously grumpy. Out in the forest Odd encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle – three creatures with a strange story to tell. Now Odd is forced on a stranger journey than he had imagined – a journey to save Asgard, city of the gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it. It’s going to take a very special kind of twelve-year-old boy to outwit the Frost Giants, restore peace to the city of gods, and end the long winter. Someone cheerful and infuriating and clever . . . Someone just like Odd.”
Greenglass House by Kate Milford, read by Chris Henry Coffey for $2.99+$3.99 — Out just last year from Clarion Books and Recorded Books, an Andre Norton Award and National Book Award nominee: “It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and 12-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House – and themselves.”
The Sea of Trolls (Sea of Trolls Trilogy Book 1) by Nancy Farmer, read by Gerard Doyle for $1.99+$3.99 — “Jack was eleven when the berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him. “It seems that things are stirring across the water,” the Bard had warned. “Ships are being built, swords are being forged.” “Is that bad?” Jack had asked, for his Saxon village had never before seen berserkers. “Of course. People don’t make ships and swords unless they intend to use them.” The year is A.D. 793. In the next months, Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his fierce young shipmate, Thorgil. With a crow named Bold Heart for mysterious company, they are swept up into an adventure-quest that follows in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings.”
Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles Book 1) by Colin Meloy, read by Amanda Plummer for $1.99+$3.99 — “Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a dense, tangled forest on the edge of Portland. No one’s ever gone in – or at least returned to tell of it. So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend, Curtis, deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval – a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater, as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood. Wildwood is a spellbinding tale full of wonder, danger, and magic that juxtaposes the thrill of a secret world and modern city life. Original and fresh yet steeped in classic fantasy, this is a novel could have only come from the imagination of Colin Meloy, celebrated for his inventive and fantastic storytelling as the lead singer of the Decemberists. Wildwood is truly a new classic for the 21st century.”
Masterminds by Gordon Korman, read by for $1.99+$3.99 — “Eli Frieden lives in the most perfect town in the world: Serenity, New Mexico. In this idyllic place, every lawn is perfectly manicured, and everyone has a pool and a tree house. Honesty and integrity are valued above all else. The 30 kids who live there never lie–they know it’s a short leap from that to the awful problems of other, less fortunate places. Eli has never left Serenity. Why would he ever want to? Then one day he bikes to the edge of the city limits, and something so crazy and unexpected happens, it changes everything. Eli convinces his friends to help him investigate further, and soon it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in Serenity. The clues mount to reveal a shocking discovery, connecting their ideal, crime-free community to some of the greatest criminal masterminds ever known. The kids realize they can trust no one–least of all their own parents….”
Teen: Partials (Partials Sequence Book 1) by Dan Wells, read by Julia Whelan for $1.99+$3.99 — “The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials – engineered organic beings identical to humans – has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out. Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what’s left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them – connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.”
And there’s just a few more that caught my eye here: Sarah McCarry’s All Our Pretty Songs (The Metamorphoses Trilogy), Kelley Armstrong’s Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends Trilogy Book 1), and S.J. Kincaid’s Insignia.
All right, I’ve made you wait long enough. Here are my picks from this month’s deals in SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY. Prepare your digital wallet, because it’s going to get a workout:
Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century Book 1) by Cherie Priest, read by Wil Wheaton and Kate Reading for $2.99+$3.99 — A fantastic, pulse-pounding Steampunk/alternate history/zombie? novel and audiobook: “In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead. Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.”
The Red: First Light (The Red Trilogy Book 1) and The Trials (The Red Trilogy Book 2) by Linda Nagata, read by Kevin T. Collins for $1.99+$3.99 and $1.99+$2.99 — The first (as far as I know) self-published novel to be nominated for a Nebula Award, The Red: First Light was named a Publishers Weekly best book of 2015. It got a big re-release this year by new Simon & Schuster imprint Saga, along with a pair of sequels. Here’s where it begins: “Lieutenant James Shelley, who has an uncanny knack for premeditating danger, leads a squad of advanced US Army military tasked with enforcing the peace around a conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. The squad members are linked wirelessly 24/7 to themselves and a central intelligence that guides them via drone relay – and unbeknownst to Shelley and his team, they are being recorded for a reality TV show. When an airstrike almost destroys their outpost, a plot begins to unravel that’s worthy of Crichton and Clancy’s best. The conflict soon involves rogue defense contractors, corrupt US politicians, and homegrown terrorists who possess nuclear bombs. Soon Shelley must accept that the helpful warnings in his head could be AI. But what is the cost of serving its agenda?”
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton, read by John Lee for 2.99+$3.99 — “A tale of contention over love and money – among dragons. Jo Walton burst onto the fantasy scene with The King’s Peace, acclaimed by writers as diverse as Poul Anderson, Robin Hobb, and Ken MacLeod. In 2002, she was voted the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Now Walton returns with a very different kind of fantasy story: the tale of a family dealing with the death of their father, of a son who goes to law for his inheritance, a son who agonizes over his father’s deathbed confession, a daughter who falls in love, a daughter who becomes involved in the abolition movement, and a daughter sacrificing herself for her husband. Except that everyone in the story is a dragon, red in tooth and claw. Here is a world of politics and train stations, of churchmen and family retainers, of courtship and country houses… in which, on the death of an elder, family members gather to eat the body of the deceased. In which society’s high-and-mighty members avail themselves of the privilege of killing and eating the weaker children, which they do with ceremony and relish, growing stronger thereby. You have never read a novel like Tooth and Claw.”
The Adjacent by Christopher Priest, read by John Banks for $1.99+$3.99 — “A photographer returns to a near-future Britain after the death of his wife in a terrorist incident in Afghanistan. And finds that the IRGB has, itself, been suffering terrorist attacks. But no-one knows quite what is happening or how. Just that there are similarities between what killed the photographer’s wife and what happened in West London. Soon he is drawn into a hall of mirrors at the heart of government. In the First World War a magician is asked to travel to the frontline to help a naval aerial reconnaissance unit hide its planes from the German guns. On the way to France he meets a certain H.G. Wells. In the Second World War on the airfields of Bomber Commands there is also an obsession with camouflage, with misdirection. With deceit. And in a garden, an old man raises a conch shell to his ear and initiates the first Adjacency.”
The Teleportation Accident: A Novel by Ned Beuman, read by John Lee for $1.99+$3.99 — “When you haven’t had sex in a long time, it feels like the worst thing that could ever happen. If you’re living in Germany in the 1930s, it probably isn’t. But that’s no consolation to Egon Loeser, whose carnal misfortunes will push him from the experimental theaters of Berlin to the absinthe bars of Paris to the physics laboratories of Los Angeles, trying all the while to solve two mysteries: Was it really a deal with Satan that claimed the life of his hero, Renaissance set designer Adriano Lavicini, creator of the so-called Teleportation Device? And why is it that a handsome, clever, modest guy like him can’t – just once in a while – get himself laid?”
(R)evolution (Phoenix Horizon Book 1) by PJ Manney, read by David de Vries for $2+$1.99 — “Bioengineer Peter Bernhardt has dedicated his life to nanotechnology, the science of manipulating matter on the atomic scale. As the founder of Biogineers, he is on the cusp of revolutionizing brain therapies with microscopic nanorobots that will make certain degenerative diseases a thing of the past. But after his research is stolen by an unknown enemy, seventy thousand people die in Las Vegas in one abominable moment. No one is more horrified than Peter, as this catastrophe sets in motion events that will forever change not only his life but also the course of human evolution. Peter’s company is torn from his grasp as the public clamors for his blood. Desperate, he turns to an old friend, who introduces him to the Phoenix Club, a cabal of the most powerful men in the world. To make himself more valuable to his new colleagues, Peter infuses his brain with experimental technology, exponentially upgrading his mental prowess and transforming him irrevocably. As he’s exposed to unimaginable wealth and influence, Peter’s sense of reality begins to unravel. Do the club members want to help him, or do they just want to claim his technology? What will they do to him once they have their prize? And while he’s already evolved beyond mere humanity, is he advanced enough to take on such formidable enemies and win?”
Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines Book 1), Lines of Departure (Frontlines Book 2), and Angles of Attack (Frontlines Book 3) by Marko Kloos, read by Luke Daniels for $1.99+$1.99 each — “The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you’re restricted to two thousand calories of badly flavored soy every day: You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service. With the colony lottery a pipe dream, Andrew chooses to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth. But as he starts a career of supposed privilege, he soon learns that the good food and decent health care come at a steep price…and that the settled galaxy holds far greater dangers than military bureaucrats or the gangs that rule the slums.”
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) b Richard Ellis Preston Jr., read by Luke Daniels for $2+$1.99 each — I’d paste the description here, but instead I’ll just include the blurb that convinced me to buy it, from Jeff VanderMeer: “Preston’s Steampunk series is not just entertaining and fun but full of great characters who deepen and change over the course of the books. Expect amazing Steampunk scenes, yes, but also people you care about and a lovely mix of the comic and serious. Just pure storytelling at its best.” The third book, Romulus Buckle and the Luminiferous Aether (The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin Book 3), is out just this week. Let’s all cross our fingers that Luke Daniels can be brought back to complete the series in audio as well.
Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea, read by Hillary Huber for $1.99+$3.49 — “Five hundred years from now, ex-corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar is swaggering through an early retirement as a brothel owner on The Sixty Islands, a manufactured tropical resort archipelago known for its sex and simulated violence. Surrounded by slang-drooling boywhores and synthetic komodo dragons, the most challenging part of Koko’s day is deciding on her next drink. That is, until her old comrade Portia Delacompte sends a squad of security personnel to murder her.”
Stormdancer: The Lotus War Book One by Jay Kristoff, read by Jennifer Ikeda for $2.99+$3.99 — “The first in an epic new fantasy series, introducing an unforgettable new heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan.”
Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha by Kim Newman, read by William Gaminara for $1.99+$3.49 — “Rome 1959. Along the Via Veneto, the living and the dead enjoy la dolce vita, as the vampires, intellectuals, conspirators, jet-setters and swindlers of Europe gather in an endless round of indulgence and gaiety, dancing giddily to the music of the Dracula Cha Cha Cha. The Vampire King, in Italian exile, is to be married to a Moldavian princess, and rumours circulate that his wedding will be the first move in a campaign to return him to his position as Lord of the Undead and a power in the world.”
Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom, read by Kirby Heyborne for $1.99+$3.99 — ” The author and artist of The Child Thief returns with a modern fabulist tale of Krampus, the Lord of Yule and mortal enemy of Santa Claus.”
The Uninvited by Liz Jensen, read by Colin Mace for $1.99+$3.99 — “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. Anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own problems; but as more acts of child violence sweep the globe, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career and, most devastatingly of all, his role as a father.”
The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller (The Origin Mystery, Book 1) by A.G. Riddle, read by Stephen Bel Davies for $1.99+$1.99 — “The greatest mystery of all time…the history of human origins…will be revealed. Seventy thousand years ago, the human race almost went extinct. We survived, but no one knows how. Until now. The countdown to the next stage of human evolution is about to begin, and humanity might not survive this time. The Immari are good at keeping secrets. For 2,000 years, they’ve hidden the truth about human evolution. They’ve also searched for an ancient enemy – a threat that could wipe out the human race. Now the search is over. Off the coast of Antarctica, a research vessel discovers a mysterious structure buried deep in an iceberg. It has been there for thousands of years, and something is guarding it. As the Immari rush to execute their plan, a brilliant geneticist makes a discovery that could change everything.”
The Well of Tears (The Dream Stewards Book 1) and The Keys to the Realms (The Dream Stewards) by Roberta Trahan, read by Simon Vance for $1.99+$1.99 each — “More than five centuries after Camelot, a new king heralded by prophecy has appeared. As one of the last sorceresses of a dying order sworn to protect the new ruler at all costs, Alwen must answer a summons she thought she might never receive. Bound by oath, Alwen returns to Fane Gramarye, the ancient bastion of magic standing against the rise of evil. For alongside the prophecy of the benevolent king, a darker foretelling envisions the land overrun by a demonic army and cast into ruin. Alwen has barely set foot in her homeland when she realizes traitors lurk within the Stewardry, threatening to destroy it. To thwart the corruption and preserve her order, Alwen must draw upon power she never knew she possessed and prepare to sacrifice everything she holds dear-even herself. If she fails, the prophecy of peace will be banished, and darkness will rule.”
The Scourge (The Scourge series Book 1) by Roberto Calas, read by Nico Evers-Swindell for $1.99+$1.99 — “I have never seen plague bring a man back from the dead. Nor do I know of any sickness, in England or upon the continent, that gives its victims a taste for living flesh. So declares Sir Edward Dallingridge, a noble knight whose years defending England on the battlefield haven’t prepared him to face an enemy as chilling – and relentless – as the living dead. But even as his countrymen flee in horror, Sir Edward rides straight into the unholy infestation. For his lady love lies trapped behind a hundred miles of fiendish terror, and nothing will keep him from her. With little more than the armor on his back, the blade in his hand, and the loyalty of the two fellow warriors at his side, he is willing to spill an ocean of tainted blood to reclaim the country he serves and the bride he worships.”
The Unincorporated Man by Dani and Eytan Kollin; The Immortal Collection (A Saga of the Ancient Family Book 1) by Micro: A Novel by Michael Crichton; Android Karenina (Quirk Classics) by Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters; Way Station by Clifford D. Simak; The Deep Range by Arthur C. Clarke; Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison; and a few we’ve seen quite a few times now: Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s Extinction Horizon (The Extinction Cycle Book 1), Sean Platt and David W. Wright’s Z 2134 (Z 2134 Series Book 1), Bob Mayer’s Nightstalkers (Area 51: The Nightstalkers Book 1), Stephen Leather’s Once Bitten, Michael Wallace’s The Righteous (Righteous Series), Nova’s American Apocalypse: The Collapse Begins, B.V. Larson’s Technomancer (Unspeakable Things Book 1), and S.G. Redling’s Ourselves (The Nahan Series).
Here’s a couple handfuls more from other fiction sections (literary, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, etc.) to check out:
Raylan: A Novel (Raylan Givens Book 3) by Elmore Leonard; Church of Marvels: A Novel by Leslie Parry; Tears of the Jaguar by A.J. Hartley; The Heiress of Linn Hagh (The Detective Lavender Mysteries Book 1) by Karen Charlton; White Horses: A Novel by Alice Hoffman; Rose of Sarajevo by Ayse Kulin, translated by Kenneth Dakan; St. Nick by Alan Russell; The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon; Motherless by Erin Healy; and Expo 58: A Novel by Jonathan Coe
And a pair from the non-fiction sections:
If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young by Kurt Vonnegut, read by Kevin T. Collins and Scott Brick; and Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher, read by the author
All right, that’s the haul from this month’s official Kindle Monthly Deal listings. Here’s a few more, just in case, both from the bargain side of things, and a couple from the higher range:
Flesh and Fire: Book One of The Vineart War by Laura Anne Gilman, read by Anne Flosnik for $1.99+$3.99 — “Once, all power in the Vin Lands was held by the prince-mages, who alone could craft spellwines and who selfishly used them to increase their own wealth and influence. But their abuse of power caused a demigod to break the Vine, shattering the power of the mages. Now, 14 centuries later, it is the humble Vinearts who hold the secret of crafting spells from wines, the source of magic, and they are prohibited from holding power. But now rumors come of a new darkness rising in the vineyards. Strange, terrifying creatures, sudden plagues, and mysterious disappearances threaten the land. Only one Vineart senses the danger, and he has only one weapon to use against it: a young slave. His name is Jerzy, and his origins are unknown, even to him. Yet his uncanny sense of the Vinearts’ craft offers a hint of greater magics within – magics that his master, the Vineart Malech, must cultivate and grow.”
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, read by Kyle McCarley for $4.99+$4.49 — One of the best books and audiobooks of 2014: “The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir. Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment. Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend – and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne-or his life.”
The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Book 1) by Brian Staveley, read by Simon Vance for $4.99+$4.49 — “The emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods. Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery, learning the enigmatic discipline of monks devoted to the Blank God. Their rituals hold the key to an ancient power he must master before it’s too late. An ocean away, Valyn endures the brutal training of the Kettral, elite soldiers who fly into battle on gigantic black hawks. But before he can set out to save Kaden, Valyn must survive one horrific final test. At the heart of the empire, Minister Adare, elevated to her station by one of the emperor’s final acts, is determined to prove herself to her people. But Adare also believes she knows who murdered her father, and she will stop at nothing – and risk everything – to see that justice is meted out.”
All right! That’s what I have for this month. If you’ve got a new device under the tree, or an Amazon.com gift card burning a hole in your pocket, enjoy!This should help you get a start on your 2016 reading and listening goals!