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


Giveaway & Review: 1969 and Then Some by Robert Wintner

Wintner1969AndThenSomeWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Robin Bloodworth

Publisher: Audible Studios (2014)

Length: 10 hours 30 minutes

Author’s Page

This memoir follows the author on his European motorcycle adventure when he is in his early 20s, through his college days, and then his earliest attempts to make a living as a magazine writer and then a real estate handler. It’s nitty gritty, the author not holding back ever on recounting his decisions and life path.

I recently read another book by this author (Brainstorm) and it wasn’t a good fit for me. However, this book was absolutely fascinating and I was a little sad when it came to an end. There’s lots of drug culture and counter culture stuff going on in this book. I don’t get all of it, and I don’t agree with all of it. However, it was so very different from my own life that I was swiftly caught up in the tale. The author became this main character that I sometimes rooted for and sometimes I wanted to kick. I became attached to the story line and was very curious to see how things would turn out.

The first big chunk of the book covers the author’s European motorcycle trip. There’s plenty of drugs, interesting male characters, and women who the author is interested in. He’s exploring life in general, seeing the sites on a dime and meeting interesting people. In listening to this section, I really felt that the author remembers this time with great fondness.

After some few months, the author returns home. The Vietnam war is in full swing and being drafted into it is a very real thing. So, he goes to college to get that draft deferment. Again, there are plenty of drugs, alcohol, and women. In general, college was a joke. Students aimed for a middle grade C in order to stay in college, and perhaps earn a degree eventually. The author and most of his friends didn’t take college seriously. There’s almost a fatalistic feel to this section of the book, like no matter what they do, sooner or later they will be swept up into one of three things: death by drugs & alcohol, the war machine, or the much slower death of conformity.

Eventually, the author has to get proactive about dodging the Vietnam draft. These endeavors take him on road trips across the country, and also mental trips of physical degradation. Both wore him down. After this section, the time line of the tale speeds up. Years or decades go by as the author talks about what jobs he was willing to do once the fear of being drafted had passed. He also keeps tabs on a few friends, goes on a few more motorcycle rides, has a few stints in the hospital, and in general, ages.

Here’s one of my few criticisms of the book. Nearly all the ladies mentioned are merely sex objects. The author’s mom, who has a small role at the beginning of the book, and again near the end is one exception. Also, an old flame nicknamed Betty Boop has a recurring role in the tale, though most of those encounters center around her sex appeal. Late in the book, the author’s wife Rachel (who played a pivotal role in Brainstorm) is mentioned a few times. The book started off with the 20 something year old author and so I could understand raging hormones and all at that during that time of life. However, the ladies never seem to matter much more even as the author ages.

There’s tons of drug culture stuff in this book, which I found fascinating. The author speaks often of how the drug use was a way to expand the mind and become a little closer with the universe, etc. I didn’t really get this. Of course, I had to wonder how small the user’s mind was to begin with, and then I wondered what these ‘enlightened’ folks did with the expanded minds. While both questions went unanswered, I found it very interesting how they repeatedly told themselves this, like it was a justification. Perhaps for some it was. Perhaps for others, it was exactly what they said it was – an expansion of their reality.

This goes hand in hand with the need to not conform, ever. That seemed to be a driving force in the author’s life and definitely added some interesting aspects to the story. First off, there was a whole generation of people who decided they would not conform…. so that kind of created a new branch conformity. Having a standard 8-5 job with benefits was something of a death knell to these folks. It was very fascinating to watch them work so hard to avoid this conformity, and to keep enjoying drugs, alcohol, and free sex. Indeed, I didn’t get chunks of this book, and I don’t agree with all the philosophies woven through the narrative. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating look into someone else’s life. In the end, I simply enjoyed the ride.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost as part of the iReads Book Tour in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration:  Robin Bloodworth did a great job with the narration. He had  a variety of regional and European accents for the tale. Also, his character voices were all distinct. His female voices were believable. He imbued the story with emotion as needed and I really liked how he brought the author’s memoir to life. 

What I Liked: Simply fascinating and entertaining; I sometimes rooted for the author and sometimes wanted to kick him; the author’s sense of nostalgia comes through clearly.

What I Disliked: The ladies never really become something more than sex objects, no matter how old the author gets.

Book Description for Brainstorm:

Brainstorm is a first-person narrative of incidents leading up to, through and after a cerebral aneurysm and hemorrhage in the immediate family. The action includes the dramatic process ongoing in trauma centers designed to process sudden occurrence of aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage and morbidity. The American Medical Association estimates that 3% of all populations have aneurysm that may or may not leak—about 3½ million people in the U.S.

While the procedures and protocol for sudden onslaught are rote and fundamentally unchanged over the ages, hygienic and technological advances have reduced hazards. Death and debilitation statistics are still daunting, and Brainstorm factors a new component into the procedural mix, whereby a conscientious and healthy husband and wife seek participation in the process, to no avail.

Buy the book:    Amazon ~ Audible

Book Description for 1969 and Then Some:

1969 and Then Some is a memoir of the 60s and the influence of those years over the decades that followed. Romance, psychedelic insight and motorcycling evolve with the narrator maturity, such as it is, and non-compromise on morality and the undying spirit of adventure in nature.

While the 60s is often discounted or as ephemeral—as a social aberration—1969 & Then Some offers keen insight to lingering values that cannot be separated from significant segments of the most significant population group alive today, the baby boomers, many of whom still hold sway in key areas of social and cultural evolution.

Buy the book here:   Amazon ~ Audible

Author’s Bio:

Robert Wintner lives and works on Maui with his wife Anita, seven cats and Cookie the dog, who came in emaciated at 14 pounds, unable to stand. Cookie at 60 pounds raises a ruckus on the beach or in the living room in her continuing drive to make the world a happier place. The entire family eats well, stays fit and enjoys good health under blue skies.

Connect with the author:    Website    Facebook


Win one copy of 1969 and Then Some (Open to USA & Canada)

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Virtual Reality Mistress by Jim Lyon

LyonVirtualRealityMistressWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Xavier Roman

Publisher: Wordwooze (2015)

Length: 1 hour 32 minutes

Author’s Page

Jody is sleep deprived, having difficulty with his insomnia. So, he surfs the net. One night he discovers an interesting product for sale – the virtual reality mistress. This looks like the perfect thing to while away the midnight hours and also to safely explore his sexual desires. Please note, this is most definitely erotica. The virtual reality mistress is a machine with lots of probes that the user attaches or inserts here and there. The user is then pulled into a virtual reality where the fantasy can be lived out in all the senses.

This erotica is not for the faint of heart or the hesitant. If you are easily offended by sex, then this might not be for you. The book consists of one erotica scene after another. The virtual reality mistress is a plot device that allows Jody to easily maneuver from one fantasy to another. There’s no messy emotions or concerns with pregnancy or STDs. This is just straight up sex scenes.

In all the scenes, Jody is the recipient of actions that are for the woman’s pleasure. Most of these are some form of BDSM. The first few scenes start off rather tame. As the book continues, the scenes get more and more creative. In fact, there are some sexual acts that I had not heard of. I definitely wonder if some of them would be pleasurable to either party involved, but Jody enjoyed them and that’s what counts. I want my main character to be having a good time in an erotica.

The writing focuses on the pleasure, the anticipation, the exploration of the unknown. I liked this aspect of the story. Jody certainly has some emotional reactions to some of these fantasies as his comfort boundaries are pushed. Of course, the virtual reality mistress becomes something of a drug to him and he keeps diving back into the fantasies, pushing those boundaries ever further. Personally, I found several of the scenes titillating. Not all the fantasies were for me, but I was able to sit back and enjoy the story, seeing how Jody reacted to the fantasy. I think this book is a fun way to explore your own boundaries.

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

Narration: Xavier Roman started off just a ouch hesitant but quickly got the swing of it. His voice is rich and his pacing excellent. He definitely added another dimension to this book with his narration providing that emotional anticipation and pleasure to many of the scenes.

What I Liked: No messy emotions; it’s a machine so no worries about STDs or pregnancies; Jody becomes addicted, continuing to push the boundaries; most of the scenes focus on the anticipation and pleasure; worthy narration.

What I Disliked: Not all the fantasies were for me.

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 (

Singer of Lies by Michael R. Collings

CollingsSingerOfLiesWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Darren Marlar

Publisher: John Betancourt (2013)

Length: 9 hours 49 minutes

Author’s Page

Marquette and Baanfeld become shipwrecked on a colonial planet. At first, things don’t look too bad. They can call for help and hold out until it arrives. That is, until they are attacked by a large, aggressive native animal. Erik Baanfeld soon finds himself living among the descendants of the original colonists, fighting to find his path in their society.

On the surface, this book looked very exciting. I was quite looking forward to jumping into it. Indeed, it starts off strong. The vast galactic empire seeded viable planets with colonists through the ages. Now, ships have been sent out to investigate these colonies, and bring them back into the tech fold as necessary. Marquette is the man in charge on this mission and Erik is his little-noticed engineer. Once they crash land on the planet, Erik tends to Marquette’s wounds. They have supplies and the ship provides shelter, so there is no immediate threat…. except for the native fauna.

With the animal attack on the ship comes first contact with Wierden, who is a kind of scout for his people. Wierden himself starts off a bit enigmatic, but we learn more about him in little pieces. I quite liked his character. It quickly becomes apparent that Erik and Marquette must go with Wierden. Unfortunately, Marquette is lost to the wilds of the planet pretty quickly. Erik is grudgingly taken in by Wierden’s people, who have based their society on the old Beowulf sagas.

And that is where the strong points of the story end. From this point forward, the tale is a re-imagining of Beowulf, complete with a Grendel beast and warriors. This made the tale predictable. In fact, it reminded me a bit of Michael Crichton’s The Thirteenth Warrior in which we have someone from an outside culture looking in at the Nordic culture.

Erik Baanfeld’s character started off interesting. At first, I honestly wasn’t sure if he was fully organic of some kind of cyborg created to be the ship’s engineer and all around laborman. But later it becomes clear that he is, indeed, totally organic. He is smaller than all the other males in the story, and this seems to weigh on him over much. In fact, this point came up again and again and became a bit tedious. I wondered off and on through the story if he was bred that way as he belongs to this particular work class. So, I had this impression that he was created or grew up in a kind of sterile environment devoid of friendships and family and with a solid focus on training and servitude. But later we learn that the Empire put him through university and he was on a track team. Lots of mixed signals on this character – do I feel sorry for him or not? In the end, I didn’t.

There are only two female characters for the entire story. Sigh….. And, I bet you can guess their roles: sex object and love interest. Yep. That was a huge disappointment. I think between the two of them, they had perhaps 20 lines, maybe less. They make no decisions and don’t add to the plot. For modern published SF, this is a huge drawback for me.

There’s a lot of emphasis on caste in this story. In fact, the lowest of the low is the shepherd who tends the goat-like animals. While this made for some drama in the plot, it also didn’t make sense. This little society needs all the food they can scrape together. So treating the shepherds so poorly means the animals will suffer in some regard and therefore the society as a whole will suffer. Additionally, since this society is basing it’s norms on the old Nordic sagas, then they would have some respect for the shepherds, as in the old Nordic culture. Once again, as with Baanfeld’s background, we have this contradiction that doesn’t add up.

Erik spends quite a bit of energy trying to find a place in this society and he eventually notices the role of the story teller. As said in the description of the book, Erik must make a try at becoming the Singer of Lies – this story teller. When he makes his big move, there is some build up and the scene holds promise. However, then it falls short and I was left unimpressed with Erik’s story telling skills. He comes from a galactic empire and he has so little to share with this isolated society?

There you have it. The story started off strong with lots of potential. It had me excited to be here giving it a listen. Then it became predictable, a bit misogynistic, and it lacked in originality. The ending does have an exciting action scene followed by little more on the Empire’s scout ships checking on the colonies. The door was left open for a sequel, though the story arc for this book felt complete.

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

Narration: Darren Marlar did a good job with this story. It is told in Erik Baanfeld’s voice and Marlar had a nice even tone for him. He imbued the characters with emotions, as needed. I liked his gruff, accented voice for Wierden. His female voices were distinct and believable.

What I Liked: Story started off strong; lots of potential; crash landing on a hostile planet – always exciting!; Wierden is an interesting character. 

What I Disliked: Story soon became predictable; a re-imagining of Beowulf; only 2 female characters and they add nothing to the plot; Baanfeld’s character is not clear; ill treatment of the shepherds just doesn’t make sense. 


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!