Kushiel’s Avatar Part VII

Claudie snoozing with a very good book.

Claudie snoozing with a very good book.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Avatar is Book 2) is one of my all time favorite series. The red along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Chapters 74-82, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Yevuneh and the other women agree to help Phedre continue on her quest, and though it doesn’t go smoothly, she succeeds in finding the Broken Tablets and the Name of God! What did you think of how this part of the story played out?

First, I really liked that the women of Saba decided to assist Phedre & crew despite their fears. They were assisting Phedre to find the island and petition the priests there for the privilege of looking upon the Broken Tablets. It’s not any one person handing the Name of God over to Phedre and I think the men missed this important distinction.

Second, I really like how Phedre gave Imriel the true choice of whether or not to join them on this part of the quest. Then I really liked how they allowed him to take a turn at rowing. They give him responsibilities and treat him as an equal in many regards – and he responds by showing his maturity.

Lastly, the scene where Phedre offers her life in exchange for Imri’s and then the priest’s appearance and then the whole gazing upon the Broken Tablets part – it was amazing. When I first read this book, I wondered how much of this secret wonder Carey would include in the story because in the past she has sometimes given us only so much and then demurred with a ‘the rest I can’t tell you because I swore an oath to keep the secret’ type thing. I was very glad that she gave us every crumb.

2. When the dust settles, Imriel’s position on where he feels he belongs is all the more firm – he wants to be with Phedre and Joscelin, and not with House Courcel. Do you have any thoughts on how things will go for them when they return home?

Well, no matter who he lives with, he will always be a Courcel. Phedre is right in that he will have to make peace with that sooner or later. But I think it is fine that he has figured out where his heart (and true home) lie – with Phedre and Joscelin.  And he will always be a Shahrizai too. That heritage can’t be wiped away either and he will have to learn to make peace with that as well.

3. Among other important changes to their way of life, the possibility of trade between Saba and other nations has opened up in the aftermath of what Phedre has done. This leads her to speculate that the intentions of the gods go far beyond what she was aware. What do you think of that bigger-picture theory? What might it mean for the world in general?

For this story, I love all the connectedness. Phedre’s actions are influenced by 1001 things, some she knows about and many she does not. And it is the same for all the characters. If Phedre had not rescued Imriel, she might not ever have known what it is to love a child in a motherly way, and in turn Imriel would not have been on the Broken Tablet island to scream so loud a priest would come check on the matter. The people of Saba are in for the benefits of this as well with the opening of trade.

In real life though, I’m a believer in coincidence. Yes, things influence us, but no matter what we do there will be affects on others. Not everything, and perhaps nothing, is directed by some higher being. Just my personal belief there.

4. We’re heading toward the finale, and hopefully to a resolution regarding Hyacinthe’s fate… Do you have any thoughts about what might happen when Phedre gets back to him?

Well, when I first read this tale, I had no doubt that Phedre would rescue Hyacinthe. But I had no idea how momentous it would be.

Also, Phedre must sooner or later present Imriel to Queen Ysandre.

Once all that settles out, Phedre will have 101 friends and acquaintances that want the inside scoop. Favrielle will want to know how folks dress in Jebe Barkal. Thelesis will want to hear all of Shoanete’s stories. Nicola will want to let Phedre cry on her shoulder over Darsanga. So, yeah, even after we all leave the story, Phedre and Joscelin and Imriel will still have stuff to do.

Other Tidbts:

Joscelin makes damaged ear men look good! In a lion’s mane!

I think Phedre was very gentle with Hanach after they had all returned from the island. Hanach was feeling a confusion of emotions, I am sure.

I love that Phedre is now so in love with the world, literally.

I am glad that Imriel finally unburdened some of his Darsanga memories to Phedre.

How many of you are interested in doing a read along of the second trilogy? It has Imriel as the main character.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S AVATAR in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

The Feylands by Peter Meredith

MeredithTheFeylandsWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Fred Wolinksy

Publisher: Peter Meredith (2015)

Length: 10 hours 40 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Hidden Lands

Author’s Page

Ella is boring but beautiful. In her 30s, she works, has a circle of friends, talks with her parents regularly, and flosses. Her life is dull. But then one night, a mysterious man tells her she is something more. Soon she is swept up into a magical land where she faces both dangers and beauties she never thought possible.

This story started off intriguing. I liked that the main heroine was an adult, and well into adulthood. She has already lived a chunk of life so she has a frame of reference for right and wrong, bad and good situations. Once she meets Gada (who we learn very late in the book is called Eireden but you’re told this in the description of the book so I don’t feel bad mentioning it here), Ella’s world starts to unfurl. She has questions for her parents and she is saddened by the answers.

Then the two travel to the Feylands where Ella meets many fantastical beings. She befriends a little fairy who she calls Wipwip. Furan the dwarf is on a quest to find a very rare flower and Ella will do her best to help him. Later on she meets some elf warriors such as Aurok and Generi. There’s also evil beings (most of which are nameless) such as ogres, goblins, and seven evil horse riders. Overall, it had a very Tolkienesque feel to it. While this made it easy to slip into the story, it also made it predictable.

There are very few female characters. For the longest time, it is just Ella and of course every man adores her in some way. Some fuss is made about her virginity early on. Wipwip is female, but not treated as such. Generi is also female, and a warrior scout. I very much liked her character… until she ended up in a love triangle. That was a bit cliched. There’s a few more but largely, only Ella is plot important and she spends most of her time being carried by one male character or another from scene to scene. She does eventually step up a bit and has to do a little slaying, but it is putting down those nameless, evil beings that are already laying out on the ground.

The romance is strong in this story but it also felt predictable. At first, I thought it was sweet. Ella finally has some stirrings for a man and he seems like a worthy catch. But then it becomes this long, drawn out affair. Eventually we get that love triangle, and then a quadrangle, which I felt was just too many angles without any satisfaction. I suppose it was to be dramatic and perhaps tragic, but I yawned through much of the romance. In the beginning, the romance added to the plot, then it became a distraction from the plot, and sadly, it finally became the plot.

Gada/Eireden is our tragic hero. Perhaps half way through the book, we learn that ‘Gada’ is not his name but rather a caste designation. Eireden did something in the past that greatly dishonored himself so he was demoted by society to the lowest of lows, the Gada. Much was made about honor and this lowest caste and I just couldn’t get into it. The whole thing seemed overdone, over dramatic to me.

We keep being told that there is this horrible evil lead by a powerful demon. However, there are only a few fight scenes. There isn’t much military planning or coordinating going on. Essentially, we have this massive horde of nameless evil for the good guys to slaughter… and we got to spend time on Ella’s love life or Gada’s irked pride. I wanted to know more about this powerful demon and his motivations. I wanted bad guys with names and personal vendettas. Basically, I wanted more depth to what I had hoped would be the central plot of the story.

I really wanted to get into this book. It’s narrated by a personal favorite narrator, I listened to the audio clip and liked it, and I read other reviews and liked what I saw. I typically quite enjoy epic fantasy. I went into this novel fully expecting to be entertained. Sadly, this book was not the book for me.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the narrator at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: Fred Wolinsky did a great job with this cast of characters. His voice for Ella was quite believable and he had a nice, firm, strong voice for Eireden. I liked that he employed several accents for the various types of beings. His accent for Furan was great and his child-like voice for the little fairy Wipwip was spot on.

What I Liked: Ella is a mature character; a variety of beings involved in the plot; Generi and her scout skills; Furan and his flower quest; lovely cover art; excellent narration. 

What I Disliked: The romance became the plot instead of enhancing the plot; it was predictable; very few female characters; the book was boring to me.

Northern Bites by Nikki Jefford

JeffordNorthernBitesWhere I Got It: Bought an Audible copy

Narrator: Em Eldridge

Publisher: Nikki Jefford (2015)

Length: 7 hours 39 minutes

Series: Book 2 Vampire Hunter

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 in the series and probably wouldn’t work so well as a stand alone.

Aurora Sky returns to keep on kicking vampire butt! Well, she tries. Aurora is still in high school and still in training with the secret government group of vampire hunters. Her mentor Dante isn’t being much help, not with his flirting. Also, she gets to spend lots of time working with fellow vampire hunter Valerie, who she detests. Her ex-boyfriend Fane isn’t making things any easier either. Life is tough.

This book is mostly flirty silliness, dating woes, and fighting over boyfriends. There was a good dollop of this in Book 1 (Aurora Sky), but I feel this book got seconds dished out. I went into this book looking forward to seeing how Aurora fared in her continued training, what would happen between her and Fane, and basically looking forward to her evolving into a badass vampire slayer. Largely, those things didn’t happen because most of the book was caught up in these high school dating dramas. I suspect I was suppose to care about Aurora’s beef with fellow agent Valerie, but I didn’t particularly. Aurora still has feelings for Fane but Fane is moving on and not making it easy for Aurora. Then there is Aurora’s friend (and fellow agent) Noelle who later on muddies the waters and is obviously keeping secrets. Really, I just wanted to sit them all down and knock their heads together so we could move on with the real plot.

There’s a few action scenes here and there. There’s a few mysteries – a high school kid (Michael) goes missing, an agent (Krist) turns up dead, Aurora is having very odd cravings – but so little time is spent on these that I was left wanting more out of the book. There is some family drama that unfolds. I found those scenes interesting too as they added depth to Aurora’s character. She can’t simply check out and not be a part of her family; she’s forced to at least acknowledge the situation. So all these little good parts were stretched out painfully thin into something resembling a plot and then we have all this empty, repeating, predictable teen angst dating stuff as filler. I wanted more meat and less whip cream.

Then there is Dante’s character. In Book 1, he was something of a mentor. Here, he starts off as that but then this terribly flirtatious side of him comes out. It doesn’t really fit what we know about him and the change isn’t explained. Also, there’s a reveal late in the book about who may be behind the death of the agent, and when Aurora tries to chat with Dante about that, he blows her off. This also is not like him. So, of course one of two things is going on: either it’s poor character development or something drastic has happened to Dante behind the scenes that us readers are not privy to in this book. And that brings me to another point – nothing is resolved in this book. While this is a series, I do like some resolution for some of the plot points per book. That didn’t happen here.

Lastly, there were a ton of vampires mentioned in this book and I am sure most, if not all, were in Book 1. But there were no reminders for who most of these characters are. Really, for most of them, it was just a series of names that could be swapped out. Descriptors were few and far between. So, after a while I gave up trying to keep them straight. So, yeah, I kept hoping the book would get meatier, that the plot would strengthen, and it didn’t. There’s plenty here to intrigue, just not much to satisfy. I am not sure yet if I will continue with the series. I want answers, action, mystery, vampire slaying… but not teen angst in large quantities.

Narration: Em Eldridge did another good job as the voice of Aurora Sky. She has a young lady’s voice that can hold great emotion or become an angsty, flippant teen as the scene demands. Her other character voices were distinct and her male voices were believable.

What I Liked: Mysteries to be solved; set in Alaska; government-sanctioned vampire hunting; Aurora’s family drama gives her depth.

What I Disliked: The bulk of the book is teen angst over dating and flirting; many of the side characters were interchangeable; Dante’s character change doesn’t fit with what we know from Book 1; very little time spent on the relevant plot; nothing is resolved in this book.

What Others Think:

Consuming Worlds

Bad Bird Reads


My Library In The Making

Scouting for Icebergs

Gizmo’s Reviews

Thinblade by David A. Wells

WellsThinbladeWhere I Got It: Bought an Audible copy

Narrator: Derek Perkins

Publisher: Podium Publishing (2014)

Length: 18 hours 13 minutes

Series: Book 1 Sovereign of the Seven Isles

Author’s Page

Upon the unexpected death of his brother,  Alexander becomes the heir to an unlooked for birthright. He is heir to a throne, but before he can claim that right, he must first recover one of the ancient Thinblades. Friends and allies assist Alexander upon his quest even as a myriad of evil doers work to thwart him.

The story started off strong with Alexander and his siblings seeing to protecting livestock from local predators. When an assassin’s arrow takes his brother, Alexander then gets told the family secret: they are the line of succession to an ancient throne. It’s a pretty heady thing to dump on a person who is just coming into adulthood. The action starts up early on in the story as Alexander, his sister Abigail, and their tutor and healer Luki flee the family estate.

The action weaves in and out of quieter moments. There’s weapons training, battle planning, a bit of romance, and some magic learning. At first, it was a pretty good mix, holding my attention without giving me battle fatigue. However, once Alexander dives into learning magic, there are chunks of the story that slow way down and get a bit tedious. I wanted to fast forward through most of these sections. Having one or two to show the reader how much effort the main character is putting into it is cool; having several, nearly back to back, was over kill.

At first, there’s only one female character (Abigail) but she’s right there with her brother riding and fighting. She’s good with a bow. She’s well written. Later, we get a few more female characters. Isabel is the daughter of a lord whose lands neighbor Alexander’s family. She’s also good with a bow and has a magical connection with a small hawk, which she uses as a kind of scout. Sometimes she is well written, and sometimes she falls into cliches. Alexander treats her with a kind of respect even as he very quickly falls in love with her. I felt the romance was forced, like the author felt he had to check that box off in order to have a complete epic fantasy. One of the cliches involves a kidnapped female who ends up weeping on her savior’s shoulder once she is rescued. Sigh…. I would have kidnapped Alexander and forced him to carry the firewood and water skins.

The world  building is pretty standard for epic fantasy. I liked it and it worked for the story, but nothing special stood out about it. I enjoyed the quest in general, even if things got bogged down here and there. The Thinblade is a near myth even among the learned and wise. Indeed, it will take someone special to find one of these remarkable blades, and even more special to wield it with results.

Luki was one of my favorite characters. He had more than one role in the story and I liked this multi-dimensionality. Throughout the tale, he plays the cook, the teacher, the healer, or the alchemist. He’s a wealth of knowledge and also the confident to Alexander and Abigail. He also has a sense of humor.

Where this book shines is with the antagonists. Oddly, I found them more interesting than Alexander. Prince Faine of the Rishi has arisen and he means to conquer all of the seven isles. He’s been in this kind of suspended animation for hundreds or thousands of years and he’s not fully sane. This makes him unpredictable not just to the good guys, but also to his own baddie team. Then there is Patel. This dude scares me for several reasons. He’s dedicated, a true believer in where he has chosen to put his loyalty. He’s very, very skilled at what he does. Because he has such a sense of dedication and loyalty, he may turn out to be one of those characters that will sacrifice all to accomplish their commander’s goal even if he knows it is wrong. Yeah. He’s that kind of baddie. The sections with this characters were some of my favorites.

Narration: Derek Perkins did a nice job. Most of the book is told through Alexander’s eyes and Perkins had a nice young man’s voice for him. I liked his rougher voice for Patel and his somewhat mischievous voice for Luki. His crazy Faine voice was a little chilling! His lady voices were OK, perhaps needing a little more femininity. 

What I Liked: It was an easy story to fall into; the ladies are sometimes well written, having useful skills and common sense; the Thinblade is a neat mystery lost in time; the antagonists truly shine; Luki!

What I Disliked: Sometimes the minutiae of the magic learning is too much; sometimes the ladies turn into silly, cliched things; the romance felt like a check-the-box thing and not real.

What Others Think:

Stories Are Everywhere

Rushby’s Rants and Reviews


Kushiel’s Avatar Part VI

Claudie snoozing with a very good book.

Claudie snoozing with a very good book.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Avatar is Book 2) is one of my all time favorite series. The red along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Emily at Emma Wolf is our host. We’re covering Chapters 62-73, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. We see yet another attempt on Imriel’s life. Any new thoughts?

Once again, I think it is the lingering influence of the Valere L’Enver. I expect she thinks she is doing what is best for Terre D’Ange, and she may even being doing it with her Barquiel’s blessing. So far, so few people know that Imriel was taken, then Phedre & Joscelin tracked him down, and that they now have him. I can’t see Amaury Trente sanctioning an attempt on his life.

2. Imriel pulls the old switch-a-roo and ends up with Joscelin, Phedre, and Kaneka on their way to Iskandria. Phedre decides to press on rather than turn back. What do you think of her course of action? What do you think of Imriel’s trick? Some seem to be reminded a bit too much of Melisande’s escape from Troyes-le-Mont. What do you think? What do you think of Imriel’s rationale that he is in Hyacinthe’s debt?

I think Phedre is right to press on. She expressed it elegantly in that she doesn’t know if she will have the heart to leave Terre D’Ange for an extended trip once she returns to it. Also, I expect she is well aware that her decisions in this matter affect Joscelin – so to haul them both home, drop off Imri, only to leave again? I expect Joscelin is just as ready as she is to be home, and be home for years to come. So, yeah, they have to press on right now, otherwise they might not ever get it done.

While I see the point of how folks can (and will) draw the connection, I also shrug my shoulders and say, ‘What kid hasn’t tried a ruse like this?’ Hopefully, the majority of those that hear about it will think the same thing.

I think the characters lose sight of the fact that Hyacinthe made his choice openly, as an informed adult. That’s not to say it doesn’t suck. And yes, the entire realms of Alba and Terre D’Ange owe Hyacinthe a debt. But does Imri owe him more than any other D’Angeline? Hmmm…. Maybe for the Tsingano trust, but I have to wonder if Phedre might have found another way to cultivate that understanding and trust even if Hyacinthe had never been part of her life. She is a gregarious sort.

3. Phedre meets with Pharaoh again…and threatens to tell Ysandre that Pharaoh has been in touch or in league with Melisande should something happen to her or Imriel. What do you think of her move?

Phedre is wise to cover her ass in all her dealings right now. It isn’t just her safety, but also the safety of Imriel. Phedre has fallen in love with the child and will protect him, even if that means pissing off one ruler after another with these bold moves.

Plus, I think the Pharaoh needed this little wake up call. He rules supreme in his vast lands, but if he wants trade with Terre D’Ange, then he needs to at least appear to be courteous in such matters.

4. Kaneka finds some healing with Wali, and Phedre finds her way back from the darkness of Darsanga. Thoughts?

These were both lovely scenes. I like that Kaneka found some very loud, exuberant fun with Wali and how respectful and hopeful he was before they got it on. I also like that Kaneka didn’t feel like she had to stay with the first man who gave her pleasure after Darsanga. She’s free to choose.

The love scene between Joscelin and Phedre after the catching of the big fish is one of the top 10 love scenes in the history of epic fantasy. That scene had it all – tenderness, love, healing, connection, sexiness, smoldering heat, grace. We’ve had a lot of sex scenes in this series for which I am grateful, but if I had to pick one above all, I believe it would be this one.

5. Phedre et al. journey down the Nahar, through the desert and into Jebe Barkal and Saba. What do you think of these new places and the new characters we meet?

I love the wildlife! Everyone is excited at the various animals and how strange they are compared to tame Europe. I did feel a touch sorry for the charging rhino, but I also felt excited for Joscelin. He was able to hold his own when he was very unsure if he could.

When Phedre first describes Kaneka’s village and the rough huts, we seen just a touch of her old D’Angeline conceitedness. She at first judged them crude but then found them perfectly suitable for the climate and terrain. So I really like how this trip is continuing to expand her ideas of what is suitable.

I love that she compared Kaneka’s grandmother to Thelesis Demournay, the Queen’s Poet. Great story tellers are found in all cultures.

6. Phedre meets with the elders of Saba and is disappointed. Then she meets with some of the women. What do you think? Will they help her when the others didn’t?

The people of Saba have been greatly isolated, and it appears that they have made active choices to keep it that way. First, there is some very ancient grudges with neighboring kingdoms that the people of Saba don’t seem willing to let go of. Then they seem quite worried that their one god will be greatly displeased with them, again, and fear drawing attention to themselves – so they are frozen. They can’t help. Really, all these things speak to limiting themselves when others, the entire world actually, is quite willing to let them move on. Oddly, it seems that these self-imposed limitations define the culture and people of Saba. I think they might not know what to do with themselves without these definitions.

And then we have some that feel Elua, etc. are abominations and heresies. I expect we all know people in real life who feel their religion or spiritual believes are the only way and any other way is heresy. So, I am glad Carey didn’t ignore this aspect to the religious discussions, but I am also glad she didn’t  linger over it.

Other Tidbts:


Kaneka swims like a heroine! I loved this scene of saving Imriel on the river. Phedre doesn’t get to do too much great physical feats very often, but here she grabbed that wet horse by the halter and swung up bare back and rode for hell to get to Imri quick. These ladies were magnificent in this scene.

I like that Phedre and Imriel can talk about some of the dark stuff from Darsanga. Like their little conversation about how Imriel would like Phedre and Joscelin to be like Kaneka and Wali.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S AVATAR in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

One Day in New York by J. F. Penn

PennOneDayInNewYorkWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: The Creative Penn Ltd. (2015)

Length: 2 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 7 An ARKANE Thriller

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 7 in the series, it worked just fine as a stand alone story.

ARKANE agents Jake Timber and Naomi Locasto work together to thwart the efforts of a radical group called the Confessors. A burnt corpse on a cross marks the start of their efforts to tract down an ancient relic. Plenty of action and mystery makes up this tale.

Jake was a pretty interesting character. He’s South African by birth. Normally he works in London or Europe, but his last mission left him a bit dinged up. So he was sent to New York to work an easy case. However, this mission didn’t turn out to be as easy as he expected. Luckily, he had a local, Naomi, to show him around.

Naomi was also an interesting character. She’s worldly, clever, and a linguist. She’s also the one with the intel on what little is known about the Confessors. Together they seek answers by checking out the Cloisters Cross. Things do not go as planned. The action really picks up at this point and the ARKANE agents must move swiftly to successfully stop the Confessors.

Behind the scenes is a very determined man who will stop at almost nothing to obtain a cure to a long-term poisoning he is suffering from. While this character was pretty one dimensional, he added extra depth to the plot. Not only does ARKANE have to deal with the Confessors, but they also got this guy pulling strings.

I really enjoyed the mix of action, quiet contemplation of larger things (like angels), and the very light romantic interest between the two main characters. If you haven’t checked out other books in this series, then I feel this is a good one to give a try. It has definitely intrigued me.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: Jeffrey Kafer did a very nice job with this book. He had a nice, light South African accent for Jake. His female voices were believable and distinct. His French accent was also excellent.

What I Liked: Mystery upon mystery; action; contemplation of larger things; more than one baddie to be dealt with.

What I Disliked: Nothing – great way to get introduced to a new-to-me series. 

What Others Think:

My World … in Words and Pages

The Big Thrill

Udon by Catherine Cruzan

CruzanUdonWhere I Got It: Review Copy

Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Publisher: Catherine Cruzan (2015)

Length: 40 minutes

Author’s Page

Udon is the little mischievous water dragon at the center of this fun story. He only interacts with Sakura, a high school kid whose family owns a noodle shop. This story is a day in her life.

This is my second Cruzan story and as with Shadow Box there’s plenty here to entertain and perhaps build upon, if the author chooses to. Sakura isn’t the most popular kid at school and there’s a group of boys that like to make her school day that much more unpleasant. Fortunately, she has her little water dragon, Udon, to help her make it through each day. He provides comedy and comfort, as needed.

Sadly though, Sakura’s home life has some issues as well. Her mother is not well and she receives extra teasing for this. The owner of the florist shop next door is also something of a terror, repeatedly accusing Sakura and the members of her family of thievery. Ah, no respite for Sakura! Once again, I am grateful she has her little dragon (that perhaps only she can see).

Of course, there is a young lad, Jun, that she has a little crush on. He’s a bit mysterious and we don’t learn much about him. Still, this little school crush is one more thing that helps get Sakura through the day. I enjoyed the unexpected depth to this short tale – Sakura has both minor and major things to worry her. Over all, it was a delightful little story. It definitely feels like Episode 1 to something bigger, so I hope the author continues on with another installment.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Andrea Emmes was great as Sakura. She had the perfect young lady’s voice for this teen character. Also, there were several Japanese words and proper names that Emmes pronounced without flaw. Her male voices were believable and distinct. I loved her voice for Udon. 

What I Liked: Fun little story; unexpected depth; Sakura has more than 1 thing to worry about; Udon is the perfect little companion; plenty of room to build upon this story.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a great little tale!