STAFF PICK: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Gilded Wolves
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Narrator: 
P. J. OchlanLaurie Catherine Winkel

Paris, 1889. Underneath the façade of this dusty, churning city lies a world lush and ripe with mystery. A powerful secret society by the name of the Order of Babel runs rampant underground, throwing elaborate parties and harboring dangerous secrets.

It is the eve of the Exposition Universelle, and the excitement of the city is at a breaking point. The wonder and ugliness of a distant world over a century old are on display—Claude Debussy gathers inspiration from his first encounter with Javanese gamelan music, and some 400 people make up the main attraction in the “Negro village.” In the midst of this, Roshani Chokshi weaves a tale of pure enchantment, gifting select people with the ability to Forge, a power believed to come from the broken pieces of the Tower of Babel.

Wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is trying to reclaim his inheritance and position as the patriarch of House Vance, one of the former reigning houses of the Order of Babel. When the Order seeks his help in finding an ancient artifact in exchange for his inheritance, listeners are thrown head first into a fast-paced heist that leads Séverin and his friends to discover some startling secrets.

The audiobook weaves together the stories of six characters: Séverin, a thief and heir to the dead House Vance; Laila, a dancer with a tragic past; Tristan, Séverin’s brother in all but blood; Zofia, a girl with a wicked sense for numbers and science; Enrique, a snarky, lovable history buff; and last but not least, Hypnos, the patriarch of House Nyx. The diversity of the cast in race, orientation, experiences, and perspectives is what truly makes this audiobook shine. Narrators P. J. Ochlan and Laurie Catherine Winkel embody each of the characters so thoroughly that I can’t help but become engrossed in their losses and triumphs. Their laugh-out-loud banter endears me to them, and their quirks and personalities make them feel so complex and real that you can’t help but fall in love with the entire cast.

Around them, 1889 Paris unfolds spectacularly. Chokshi’s lush descriptions lure you into an irresistible and mysterious world that is cocooned in a city on the cusp of transformation. The Gilded Wolves may be a tale of pure fantasy, but it is grounded in reality. Amidst the fast-paced plot and large cast of characters, Chokshi still finds the time to breathe depth into the story by bringing in honest discussions about colonialism, exploitation, and cultural erasure. She doesn’t hesitate to criticize and challenge—in fact, Chokshi aptly uses the post-industrial Parisian setting as an opportunity to deconstruct colonialism. That’s the true mark of a brave and astute writer. If you haven’t listened to Chokshi’s work before, there is no better place to start.

Whether you’re here for the characters, the gorgeous writing, or that one particularly lustful romance that will leave you swooning, The Gilded Wolves is a listen you won’t want to miss. Full of twists and delightful puzzles, this is an enchanting experience that will keep you on your toes until the very end.

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Page to Screen in May 2017

The month of May will see its fair share of shows and movies adapted from popular books. Check out what’s upcoming and take a listen before they hit the screen!
The Dinner
, by Herman Koch
Expected Release: May 5th

Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, conversation between two couples remains a gentle hum of polite discourse-the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love… Read more and listen to a sample


King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
 – a classic legend rewritten many times over. We linked to a great version but search the site for others!
Expected Release: May 12th

Uther Pendragon, High King of Celtic Britain, is nearing death, and his kingdom is being torn apart. Only one man can bring the Celts together as a nation and restore peace—King Arthur. Artorex (Arthur) doesn’t yet seem like the great man he will grow into. We meet him as a shy, subservient twelve-year-old living in the foster home of Lord Ector, who took in Artorex as a babe to protect him from murderous kin. Life has been unremarkable until the arrival of three influential men who arrange for Arthur to be taught the martial skills of the warrior. Little does Artorex know that these three men—one of whom is Merlin—secretly hope that one day he will take Uther’s crown and restore peace to Britain… Read more and listen to a sample


Everything, Everything
, by Nicola Yoon
Expected Release: May 19th

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster… Read more and listen to a sample


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
, by Jeff Kinney
Expected Release: May 19th

A family road trip is supposed to be a lot of fun… unless, of course, you’re the Heffleys. The journey starts off full of promise, then quickly takes several wrong turns. Gas station bathrooms, crazed seagulls, a fender bender, and a runaway pig—not exactly Greg Heffley’s idea of a good time. But even the worst road trip can turn into an adventure—and this is one the Heffleys won’t soon forget… Read more and listen to a sample

Which of May’s renditions are you most excited for? Let me know!

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STAFF PICK: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

What a journey. OH man. For past 5 months I’ve committed myself to the magical adventure that is Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and it’s safe to say I’ve been on a 5-month high. The story is captivating, I love her writing style, and I have yet to enjoy a better narration than that of Davina Porter. Now, I’m not about to summarize 8 books worth of plot. I’m just here to gush a bit and hopefully convert you into an Outlander fanatic like me.

Notoriously hard to categorize, the Outlander series is a cross between romance, historical fiction and war, with a sprinkling of action, fantasy and time travel. Possibly a strange mix but it works fantastically. It begins with the heroine, Claire, a WWII nurse that finds herself transported back to 1743, where she has to put her trust in Scottish Highlanders to stay alive. She falls in love with a man named Jamie and gets wrapped up in war and politics, all the while trying to adapt to 18th century living. Gabaldon does a good job of maintaining historical accuracy. She paints a vivid picture of Claire applying modern medical knowledge in a time that lacks basic sanitation as she to recollect her history lessons in the midst of war.

The pace of the story shifts from a gentle meander to heart-pounding action and back, keeping you hooked with plot twists and sassy wit, all of which is conveyed masterfully by Davina Porter’s narration. Her changing voice pitch and accents portray the characters perfectly. When called for, her voice has the right edge or drips with sarcasm. She IS Claire. She IS Jamie. She brings the story to a whole new level. I like to listen to her best at 1.25x the speed and her voice is still steady and clear.

I’ve seen complaints that there are too many side plots and the descriptors are too detailed. I entirely disagree. I enjoyed every side story that unrolled before me, feeling appreciative just to be welcomed along for the ride.

I do not know when the next book is out (other than Gabaldon’s “it will not be in 2017”), but I am MOST excited to get my ears on it. Have you read the series? If not, are you convinced to try? Let me know!

Philippa Gregory Makes History Come Alive – A Review of The Red Queen

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audio book, downloads, digital download gift subscriptionPhilippa Gregory Makes History Come Alive – A Review of The Red Queen

I’m a big fan of Philippa Gregory’s work but I had never listened to one of her audio books before. I decided to start with The Red Queen narrated by Bianca Amato. Like many of Gregory’s books, this historical fiction audio book is told from the perspective of an important woman and this time it’s Margaret Beaufort, heiress to Lancaster House.

Margaret has always felt that she was special and that she had a calling. She felt that God spoke to her, that her will was God’s will and that she was destined to be an abbess. Unfortunately for her, women in England in the 1400s really did not get a choice of what they wanted to do with their life. Especially since she is cousin to the King, she doesn’t have the option of becoming a nun; she must marry and produce an heir.

The story follows Margaret through her multiple marriages and her journey to see her son become King of England, which she is determined to see happen. Margaret is a very proud and selfish woman and of course does not see these qualities in herself. She is not the most likeable protagonist which could make this audio book frustrating for some listeners. I found the story to be quite good even though I didn’t particularly like Margaret. At points I was laughing because she is so completely determined and self-absorbed she doesn’t really comprehend what is going on around her.

Philippa Gregory does not disappoint with this sequel to The White Queen. I found it very interesting to see the second perspective on the Cousin’s War. This is a great book for Philippa Gregory fans and for Tudor fans who want to know more about Henry VIII’s father and grandmother.

Have you listened to The Red Queen? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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