Spring Reads

Spring Reads

This is what I’ve been reading this spring. Most are audio books, which have the additional level of vocal performance to add to the experience of the story woven by the writer.

cover image from Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightening (The Sixth World, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse. This the kind of story that starts out fast and quickly accelerates. You hang on as best you can through the twists and turns and by the time you reach the last page, you’re panting for breath and eager for the next installment. The story features a bad-ass Navajo monster-fighter named Maggie and a cast of memorable outlaws who help her fight the unliving and supernatural. Roanhorse is a Nebula, Hugo & Campbell-winning writer of speculative fictions, hailing from northern New Mexico. The next book in the series, Storm of Locusts, will be available April 23, and it is definitely on my list of books to get later this year. Follow her on Twitter for updates on her work and ongoing failure to really be on a hiatus, @roanhorsebex.

Cover art from Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan

Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1) by Richard K. Morgan, vocal performance by Todd McLaren. I enjoyed the Netflix series very much and when I saw this title available from Libby, I checked it out immediately. The story presented in the series does not match the book, which is not uncommon in adaptations. What I was not expecting were fundamental changes to the way characters are connected. I will say that I think some of these differences made those connections and the resulting challenge for Takeshi Kovacs even more compelling in the series. McLaren’s performance was pretty good on the whole, his voice is a good one for the scifi noir tone of the piece. Sometimes I got lost on who the secondary characters were and sometimes he changed the way he voiced them. All in all a good experience and a good accompaniment to my many walks around town on work breaks.

cover art from Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1), by Nnedi Okorafor, vocal performance by Yetide Badaki. Okorafor’s brief bio reads: The Naijamerican PhD-holding, World Fantasy, Hugo & Nebula Award-winning rudimentary cyborg author of scifi, Africanfuturism, Africanjujuism & Black Panther. I’ve read Okorafor’s Nigerian American brand of SpecFic and enjoyed it for the new twist on common themes, supernatural beings unfamiliar to my standard white American experience and her rich, wonderful world building. So I had expectations for Akata Witch, and it did not disappoint. Her four young protagonists remind me of the four principal characters in the Harry Potter series, with original and welcome twists. This YA novel is complex and interesting enough for any adult who wants to dive into a vivid world with complex, well-rendered characters. If you enjoy audio-books, I recommend this version highly. Badaki’s performance is really, really good and brings out layers and layers of meaning. The way she voices each character is unique and holds through the entire 9 hours of the story. One of my favorite audio book performances so far. (Note: Googled Badaki and discovered to my delight that she’s also the actor playing Bilquis on American Gods. Even more reasons to love her) Follow Nnedi Okorafor on Twitter for announcements on her books and appearances, @nnedi. Follow Badaki @yetidebadaki.

Cover art from Makers by Cory Doctorow

Makers, by Cory Doctorow. I didn’t finish this one. I want to be up front about this from the start. I made it through 30 of 81 ‘parts’ of this story that loses it’s coherence well before that mark. I’ve seen a lot of similar reviews; other readers who did not finish it and those who did but found it irritating or aggravating or just too long without any reason why. Well, that’s my assessment. There was a compelling story to begin with and instead of finding a way to end it, it seems the author just decided to keep going. More details, more characters, more settings, more inventions, more crises, more more more… until finally I gave up. There are interesting ideas throughout, and moments where I got invested in the characters and then it fizzled out again. I do not recommend it unless you are epically bored or a masochist. And have A LOT of time. Doctorow’s twitter handle is @doctorow.

cover art from A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1), by Ursula K. Le Guin, vocal performance by Harlan Ellison. I’ve never read this series, which is remarkable considering all the other fantasy and sci fi I read as a kid and throughout my life. Somehow this series avoided being brought home in the large stack of library books my brother and brought home every couple of weeks. I enjoyed the hell out of the story, that Ursula was a genius of the written word is not in question. Le Guin was a master story teller, creating unforgettable characters and detailed worlds and tying all together with stale that do more than entertain. I will definitely remedy the lack of my childhood by adding this series to my collection. This one, another checked out through Libby, was performed by another writer of some renown, Harlan Ellison. His reading was absorbing, even as he seemed to be absorbed by the story and characters. Every character had a distinct voice, even his reading of the narrative had a voice of its own; his pacing is masterful; he uses every opportunity to not just read a word, but to perform it. Even if you’ve read the book, I recommend you treat yourself to this version. It will be a helluva ride.

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