This is a transcription of Adopt-a-Listener Month & New Books — 14 April 2023’
Melissa: Coming up, a gothic romance set in a mysterious library.
David: A swashbuckling tale from the Indian Ocean.
Melissa: Plus, our distraction of the week. I’m Mel.
David: I’m Dave. This is the library of lost time.
Melissa: The book I want to read this week has very tantalizing details, right down to the author’s name. The novel is called The Last Heir to Blackwood Library, and the author is Hester Fox.
Melissa: The story is set in post-WWI England. A young woman named Ivy inherits a sprawling estate on the Yorkshire moors. In an instant, she becomes Lady Hayworth. Oddly, she has no knowledge of the family from which she’s descended, and she’s never heard of her new home Blackwood Abbey.
Melissa: As you might expect from the words abbey, moors, and mysterious inheritance, the estate is foreboding. And the servants are not super-welcoming. There’s a whiff of Mrs. Danvers from the novel Rebecca. On a tour through the house with her surly head maid as a guide, she learns that a locked room was used as a wartime infirmary and the previous owner, Lord Hayworth, perished from dementia. There’s also a rumored ghost and a mysterious manuscript. But on the bright side, there is a fantastic library.
Melissa: As Ivy juggles two potential romantic suitors - a nobleman and a handsome chauffeur — she also starts having strange experiences. Can she solve the mystery of the library before it’s too late?
Melissa: Tor.com has an excerpt, and I want to read you a bit that sold me on it: ‘Ivy gave the empty hall one more sweeping gaze, then quickly closed the door and threw her body weight against it as if that would keep out whoever had knocked… Then came an icy gust sweeping across her skin. Every hair along her neck lifted, and in the stillness that followed she was hyperaware of the texture of the carpet, the condensation gathering on the windowpanes. For a moment everything stood still, the air charged with quavering energy… Then… a hairbrush flew off the vanity, whizzing past her ear and slamming into the wall. It clattered to the ground, the silver handle glinting as it rocked back and forth gently until it came to a complete stop.’
Melissa: Publishers Weekly called this book a treat for bibliophiles. It’s The Last Heir to Blackwood Library by Hester Fox.
David: Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is a new book from Jesse Q. Sutanto.
David: In our Egypt episode, I talked about a book called City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. That is a fun, action-packed novel with some emotional depth to it. It’s about a girl who runs into some djinns in 18th-century Cairo.
David: The author’s new book is out! It’s the first of a promised trilogy. It’s called The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi. It’s set in the 12th century. It’s about a woman who is a retired pirate. Amina has been the scourge of the Indian Ocean for decades. But she has left that life to settle into a quiet family life.
David: Until one day, a mother of a former crewman shows up and offers her a king’s ransom to rescue her daughter. Amina is drawn in by the chance to save her friend, have one last adventure with her crew, and win the fortune that will secure her family forever.
David: But the deeper she gets into it, the more it becomes clear that things are not what they seem.
David: Publishers Weekly said, ‘If readers are not won over by the playful plot twists and thrilling action sequences, they will fall for the charmingly crooked cast and dry humor. This swashbuckling adventure is sure to delight.’
David: It’s ‘The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi’ by S.A. Chakraborty. And it’s out now.
David: And now, our Distraction of the Week. [magical sound effect]
David: This week, I took a dive into the world of podcasts. I realized that my listening habits are pretty fixed. I enjoy a handful of podcasts, and I tend to stick with those.
David: The podcasts I love are either what I think of as ‘old classics’ like This American Life, WTF with Marc Maron, or RadioLab. Or they’re shows that speak to some niche of something I’m interested in. So, I can follow my interest in sound design with 20,000 Hertz. Or my love of board games with Shut Up and Sit Down.
David: What do you listen to?
Melissa: I’m going to shout-out two book-related podcasts that I never miss, just in case everyone needs more fodder for their TBR. Obviously, the OG: What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel. I always enjoy the lively discussion about books and learn about books I want to read. I also recommend The Perks of Being a Book Lover. The hosts interview authors, but they also talk to other readers and bookish people, like a costumer how makes dresses based on book covers, a librarian at a haunted library, an educator at a zoo who runs a book club. That kind of thing.
Melissa: I wouldn’t describe myself as a movie lover. I like movies. There are a few movies I love — like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Gosford Park, Ready or Not, and Jaws. But I wouldn’t say I’m a movie lover. And I don’t usually enjoy podcasts that are interview shows. But I’m here to tell you that Films to be Buried With — an interview show about movies — is one of my favorite podcasts. It’s hosted by Brett Goldstein. He plays Roy on the show Ted Lasso. He is very smart and funny and warm and he LOVES movies. So he talks to actors and comedians about their favorite films, but really, it’s a sneaky way to get them to open up about their lives. Their fears. They’re favorite moments. Their relationships. All through the lens of the movies they love. So you get introduced to movies you might not know about and you get to peek inside the brains of the guest and Brett Goldstein. The conversations are almost always funny, but when it’s working well, they can be very vulnerable, too. Every once in a while, it really kicks me in the feelings. It makes me feel alive and connected with humans, and you can’t ask for more than that. It’s Films to be Buried With.
David: I recommend 20,000 Hertz if you’re even kind of interested in sound. They are “the stories behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds.” It’s well-produced and fun to listen to, and I’m always learning something. In recent episodes, they’ve talked about the sound effects you hear in movie trailers and the transformative power of silence.
David: I bring all that up because our friends at Tink Media gave us an idea for spreading the podcast love. They’re calling April ‘Adopt-a-Listener’ month. The idea is to convert someone you know who’s never listened to a podcast. A surprising number of people have never listened to a podcast – or they heard one episode of Serial ten years ago, didn’t like it, and decided that podcasts weren’t their thing. So find that person. And give them a thoughtful recommendation. Something that will get them hooked. Something that will fill a niche they’re interested in.
David: If you’re looking for new podcasts for yourself or to recommend to a friend, podchaser.com is a good tool. You can search on topics and try out new podcasts really easily.
Melissa: And if you want to explore the ever-growing world of fiction podcasts — they’re like audiobooks on steroids — our podcast network Realm has so many good ones. We’ll put links to everything you need to expand your podcast world and recommend new shows to a friend in show notes. Visit strongsenseofplace.com/library for all that and more on the books we mentioned today.
David: Thanks for joining us in the Libary of Lost Time. Remember to visit your local library and your independent book store to lose some time yourself.
Melissa: Stay curious! We’ll talk to you soon.
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