Year in Review: Audiobooks

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My last post gave you some of the low points of my reading year. This time, I’ll hit some of the high points. But I’m going to focus this time on books I listened to.

I have a friend in my book club who still hasn’t fallen in love with the audiobook. For those of you out there waiting to be convinced, here are a few that I think will do the trick.

Michael J. Sullivan’s Ryria

We all love a good buddy movie, and a good buddy book, or even better, a whole series, is a definite crowd pleaser. This fantasy series features a former soldier turned swordsman and a rogue/thief. But both of them have some secrets and they are more than they appear at first glance. In the first book, Theft of Swords, they’re hired to steal a sword, but they almost immediately wind up in the dungeon accused of regicide. There are three novels in this series plus a couple of short stories, and I went slightly crazy over them. The audio version is totally amazing – Hadrian and Royce both seem like real people. You’ve got to check this one out.

Terry Pratchett

I don’t think I’ll ever have a year when I don’t read something by this guy. He was a genius, and the world is much poorer without him. At least he left an amazing and varied body of work. This year my favorite book I listened to was Eric, but I also loved Wintersmith. If you’re feeling down or stressed out, Discworld is the perfect antidote. No matter how bad you’ve got it, someone over there has it worse.

Non-Fiction

One of my few 5 star reads this year was The Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America. For some of you old enough to remember the Civil Rights Era and Jim Crow South, this case may already be familiar. But I missed all that, and I’d never heard of this case. It was all too timely, with the Black Lives Matter movement this year and the rise of a new and nasty racial hatred. This book won the Pulitzer Prize and should be required reading for all politicians and journalists. And it’s all true, which makes it even more shocking.

Grimdark

I am not a fan of the new gritty fantasy, which makes it surprising that I was completely won over by Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. There’s not a hero among the characters here, and yet I can’t help rooting for them to come out on top. It’s not a pretty story, not a bit of sweetness or light, but it feels real and it’s definitely compelling. The narration was fantastic. I got the second book as soon as it came out but I’m saving it for the new year.

Right, I hope I’ve inspired you to listen to one of these great books. The links take you to Audible, but you can also check with your library. Mine has ebook and digital audiobooks you can check out online for free. Happy reading!

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Must Read: Riyria Revelations

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Warning: Fangirl gushing ahead! Proceed at your own risk!

Right, I am not happy with the internet. Why, why did no one tell me about this series until now? It’s been around for what, 3 years since the first publication of Theft of Swords? Where were you all? I had to wait until 2016 before I discovered this. Is that a nice thing to do?

Maybe you held off until the whole series was published. That way I could race through all 3 (or 6, depending on how you look at it) books with very little waiting in between. If that’s why you kept quiet, then I take it all back. It was absolutely the right thing to do. Or maybe, and this is the saddest possibility, maybe it’s because you didn’t know about them. You’ve never even heard of Royce Melbourn or Hadrian Blackwater. Who or what is Riyria, you say. Well, in that case, it’s my turn to help. Clear your calendar, finish whatever you’re reading now, stock up on frozen pizza and beverages, and get ready for the best fantasy series you’ll read in a long, long time. I just finished the final book in the Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan, I loved them so much I have to sing.

Hadrian and Royce are thieves. Not your average thieves, either. They are good. Hadrian was a mercenary. He’s a sword master. Royce can blend in anywhere. He’s pretty much a ninja in a world where he would be the only ninja. And together they are known as Riyria. They’ll take any job that pays the bills, but this next job is going to change the world! No, really. Dramatic as that sounds, one job sets them on a path that will lead to the following (in no particular order and I’m sure I’m leaving something out):

Piracy

A goblin horde

Evil church leaders

Orphans

Giant magical beasts who want to eat you

Epic sea battles

Blackmail and murder

Ancient underground cities

Duels

Romance

Elves on horseback

A friendly monk

Regicide

A man with a goat

And much, more more.

Here’s another picture:

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OK, really, if that doesn’t convince you, then you must just not like fantasy. Because this is the best buddy fantasy I’ve ever read. Let me say that again: The team of Royce and Hadrian is the best fantasy pair I’ve ever read. Yes, LOTR is awesome (except when it’s boring, b/c let’s be real) but it’s more of an ensemble read. Riyria has a great cast of supporting characters, but it’s all about the friendship of Royce and Hadrian. I love them so much that I was walking around half dazed, half in tears at the end of the book. OK, I also had the stomach flu, but it was mostly the book. 5 stars. 6 stars. All the stars, and a few comets too.