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 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, Lines of Departure, and Angles of Attack by Marko Kloos, read by Luke Daniels for $1.99+$1.99 each, the Frontlines series: “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.”
The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes, read by Justine Eyre for $1.99+$1.99 — “Loch is seeking revenge. It would help if she wasn’t in jail. The plan: To steal a priceless elven manuscript that once belonged to her family, but is now in the hands of the most powerful man in the Republic. To do so, Loch – former soldier, former prisoner, and current fugitive – must assemble a crack team of magical misfits that includes a cynical illusionist, a shape shifting unicorn, a repentant death priestess, a talking magical war hammer, and a lad with seemingly no skills. This crack team of misfits will help her break into the floating fortress of Heaven’s Spire and the vault that holds her family’s treasure – all while eluding the unrelenting pursuit of Justicar Pyvic, whose only mission is to see the law upheld. What could possibly go wrong?”
The Immortalists by Kyle Mills, read by Benjamin L. Darcie for $1.99+$1.99 — “Dr. Richard Draman is trying desperately to discover a cure for a disease that causes children to age at a wildly accelerated rate—a rare genetic condition that is killing his own daughter. When the husband of a colleague quietly gives him a copy of the classified work she was doing before her mysterious suicide, Draman finally sees a glimmer of hope. The conclusions are stunning, with the potential to not only turn the field of biology on its head, but reshape the world. ”
The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler, read by Kate Rudd for $2+$1.99 — “King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.”
It’s certainly Richard Phillips month as well, with three of his “Rho Agenda” series all included, from The Second Ship (and the Rho Agenda series) to Once Dead (and the Rho Agenda Inception series) and The Kasari Nexus (and the Rho Agenda Assimilation series). “In 1948, an alien starship fell from the New Mexico sky—and immediately vanished behind the walls of the Los Alamos Laboratory. Since that day the US military has endeavored to reverse engineer the ship’s alien technology through top-secret research known only as the Rho Project. Now, decades after the crash, the government is prepared tell all. Or so it claims… For there is a second ship, hidden for all these years, just out of the military’s reach. And when a trio of students discovers it buried deep inside a remote canyon, they are changed forever. With a single touch, the technology the government has spent billions trying to unlock is uploaded into the minds of three teenagers—teenagers who now know the frightening truth about the Rho Project.”
Next, how about some classic science fiction from Arthur C. Clarke?
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, read by Peter Ganim with an introduction by Robert J. Sawyer, for $1.99+$1.99 — “An enormous cylindrical object appears in Earth’s solar system, hurtling toward the sun. A ship is sent to explore the mysterious craft-which the denizens of the solar system name Rama-and what they find is intriguing evidence of a civilization far more advanced than ours. They find an interior stretching over 50 kilometers; a forbidding cylindrical sea; mysterious and inaccessible buildings; and strange machine-animal hybrids, or “biots,” that inhabit the ship. But what they don’t find is an alien presence. So who-and where-are the Ramans?”
Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, read by Eric Michael Summerer with an introduction by Robert J. Sawyer, for $1.99+$1.99 — “This novel tells the tale of the last generation of mankind on Earth. All man’s development in space and travel are stopped by alien “overlords” who take over Earth, establishing a benevolent dictatorship which eliminates poverty, ignorance and disease. This golden age ends abruptly as the overlords bend to the will of a superior intelligence which demands Earth’s destruction.”
Next, classic speculative fiction by Kurt Vonnegut:
Galápagos read by Jonathan Davis for $1.99+$1.99 — “Galápagos takes the listener back one million years. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, totally different human race. Kurt Vonnegut, America’s master satirist, looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry―and all that is worth saving.”
Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of short stories, and Slapstick is “perhaps the most autobiographical (and deliberately least disciplined) of Vonnegut’s novels, in the form of a broken family odyssey.”
For teens, there are some great picks this month too:
Insignia by S. J. Kincaid for $1.99+$6.99 is a bit on the higher end for a Whispersync deal, but Sing Down the Stars by L. J. Hatton is $1.99+$1.99 and Crescent (A Helium-3 Novel) by Homer Hickam, the second book after Crater from the author of “Rocket Boys”, is $1.99+$3.49.
Kids have some great picks this month as well:
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale for $1.99+$3.49, Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George for $1.99+$3.49, and The Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker for $1.99+$2.99.
Penultimately, as usual I have a “found this randomly this month” deal to pass along, one I assume is timed to go along with the publicity push for the new Assassin’s Creed film:
Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance is the first in the novel tie-in series to the best-selling, award-winning game franchise, by Oliver Bowden and read by Gildart Jackson for Tantor Audio for $1.99+$3.99. “Betrayed by the ruling families of Italy, a young man embarks upon an epic quest for vengeance during the Renaissance in this novel based on the Assassin’s Creed™ video game series. “I will seek vengeance upon those who betrayed my family. I am Ezio Auditore Da Firenze. I am an Assassin…” To eradicate corruption and restore his family’s honor, Ezio will learn the art of the Assassins. Along the way, he will call upon the wisdom of such great minds as Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavello—knowing that survival is bound to the skills by which he must live. To his allies, he will become a force for change—fighting for freedom and justice. To his enemies, he will become a threat dedicated to the destruction of the tyrants abusing the people of Italy. So begins an epic story of power, revenge and conspiracy…”
Lastly, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is free from Audible all month as well. Don’t miss out on this performance by Joe Morton:
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