Exodus by Kimberly A. Bettes

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Clifford Bettes (2017)

Length: 7 hours 29 minutes

Author’s Page

Set during the Great Depression, this horror historical fiction follows the Carlson family as they try to survive the biggest mistake of their lives. They stopped at a small mining town in Arizona (Exodus) on their way to California where they hoped to be hired on as fruit pickers. Now they have to do their best to survive Frank and his murdering cannibalistic family.

This is a horror fest. It’s not for the squeamish. If you can’t handle the first chapter, then this is not the book for you. Such was not the case for me. I listened to the whole thing and was entertained, grossed out, hopeful for the main character, and wanted the despicable family that perpetrated these acts dead.

Cannibalism, murder, rape, human lactation fascination, and incest make up this story. Frank’s family owns and runs the little diner in Exodus as well as the thrift store where they sell those items they take off of their victims. Frank’s mom is a loud, heavy handed matriarch that rules over her kids. Frank’s brother and his sister carry of an affair that they have to hide from Frank, since he gets rather jealous if his sister/lover even looks at another man. Yep, it’s one severely messed up family.

Sometimes the creepiness was a bit excessive like it was pushed to such a height simply to get a reaction out of the reader instead of moving the story forward. Occasionally it was gratuitous horror but over all I enjoyed the tale. I was really rooting for Anne, hoping she would get out of this hell hole with her baby James.

Speaking of them, this story was extra creepy for me because so many of the names match names of my family members. My paternal grandparents (also named John and Anne) were migrant farmers from Tennessee that went out to California to work in the fruit orchards. I have lots of cousins in small mining towns in Arizona because of this migration. My dad is also named James, though he was born in the 1940s instead of the 1930s. The characters John and Anne lost their first born daughter Sarah due to illness. My sister is named Sarah. So, yeah, talk about creepy! Now I want to ask my dad if there are any stories from that migration that the family doesn’t like to talk about.

Initially, I hoped that one of the Exodus siblings might turn good and help Anne, John, and James escape. Frank’s sister was the most likely candidate however she has a lot of serious character flaws to overcome. I did find that I was a bit squeamish about people suckling on Anne (she’s lactating for baby James). It didn’t bother me when it happened in Grapes of Wrath but here it feels like a violation instead of sharing nutrition.

Perhaps 2/3 of the way through, we get an info dump on Frank and his motivations. He’s this big monstrous object doing horrible things for most of the book and then we get a peak inside his head. I would have liked a bit more of that behind-the-scenes stuff in the first 2/3 of the book instead of one big info dump. Still, we got to know Frank a bit more before the big, messy finale. The ending was a good solid one that wraps up any questions. If you’re in the mood for a good jolt of horror to the system, then this in your book. I will be avoiding meat at small diners for a while.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a great job with this book. His female voices are feminine and distinct. He has individual voices for each of the characters and he’s so good at being scared and determined, or disgusting and sly, or angry and violent with his voice. He also went the extra mile and did a little special affect that included Frank’s favorite song that he likes to work to – ‘Ain’t We Got Fun’. He plays it in just the right moments and in little snippets so it doesn’t eclipse the narration.

What I Liked: Small Arizona mining town; Depression Era; John & Anne & baby James; Frank and his family are so easy to hate; initially, there might be hope for one of Frank’s siblings; the ending was solid; great narration.

What I Disliked: Some of the horror was for shock factor only; big info dump on Frank late in the book.

What Others Think:

Lomeraniel Audiobook Reviews


Owl Dance by David Lee Summers

Narrator: Edward Mittelstedt

Publisher: Sky Warrior Publishing LLC (2017)

Length: 9 hours 10 minutes

Series: Book 1 Clockwork Legion

Author’s Page

Set in the 1870s, this Wild West steampunk adventure is full of surprises. Ramon Morales and Fatemeh Karimi make a great pair of heroes as they travel from New Mexico to California. Gun fights, dirigibles, steam-powered mechanical wolves, a Russian plot to take a chunk of the US, plus an unexpected alien influence called Legion provide a dangerous playground for our main characters – and plenty of entertainment for us.

I read this book back in 2011 and it was great to see it come to audio! I enjoyed it more in this medium as the narrator did it justice. If you love your Wild West and you like it weird, then this is a great series to get into. The story includes several different ethnicities and I love that about this book. The frontier West was a very diverse place and having that reflected in this work is worthy.

Our Persian healer, Fatemeh, has traveled far from home and she’s a bit vague about why. I love that we have this little mystery about her. Also, she talks to owls… or does she? She claims that she only understands their nature but to others it looks like she is actually communicating with them. While I felt the romance between her and Ramon sparked a little too easily, I also feel they make a great couple. Fatemeh is of the Baha’i faith while Ramon is Catholic and this sets up a dynamic to explore not just culture clash but also these different religions.

Meanwhile Ramon has recently had a big shift in his life. He was a sheriff in Socorro, NM and then things went south.. and so did he while he fled with Fatemeh (who was about to be executed for witch craft). Their search for work takes them all the way out to California. Along the way they meet the eccentric inventor, Professor Maravilla. He’s got a thing for steam-powered mechanical beasties. I loved his owls!

Then there’s the bounty hunter Larissa who I look forward to hearing more about later in the series. She’s got plenty of gumption and loves her independent life but she’s drawn into this bigger plot as Russia starts making moves to invade the West coast.

Now lets talk about that alien influence Legion. We come across it early on but it’s not clear right away if it’s something supernatural, man-made, or from outer space. Whatever it is (and yes, we do get that cleared up in this book), it has a hive mind and can communicate directly with humans as well as influence them. So we got the Wild West (yay!), steampunk (awesome!), and now this unknown big picture influencer. The author does a great job of pulling this all together.

My one real quibble with the story is that sometimes it’s a little too easy for Ramon and Fatemeh to convince a ‘villain’ to assist them. It seems like everyone is really a good guy at heart and was just simply misunderstood or was acting under some false or incomplete data. I think the story would have benefited from a real villain or two.

The Narration: Edward Mittelstedt did a really good job. His Spanish accent was consistent throughout the story. Now, his Spanish pronunciations were sometimes different from what I expected. Living in New Mexico, I expected a certain accent (like for Chavez or Maravilla). Mittelstedt’s pronunciation isn’t wrong but it’s not the local dialect either. I believe it’s the difference between high proper Spanish and the Southwest Hispanic accent. Besides that, he was great with keeping all the characters distinct and also with the various emotions throughout the story. He also gave Fatemeh a consistent Persian accent. His female voices were believable.

What I Liked: Gorgeous cover art; Wild Weird West!; Steampunk!; the mix of ethnicities; the owls; the hive-mind influence; Fatemeh and Ramon make a great duo; the ending leaves us ready for further adventures.

What I Disliked: There was no true villain; the romance between Ramon and Fatemeh sparked up rather easily.

What Others Think: 

RJ Blain

Steampunk Journal

Steampunk Junkies

The Terranauts by T. C. Boyle

Narrators: Lynde Houck, Joy Osmanski, Charlie Thurston

Publisher: Harper Audio (2016)

Length: 20 hours 53 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in the 1990s just outside of Tucson, Arizona, E2 awaits! It’s a big glass dome that houses a complete ecology and acts as a model for possible future biodomes on other planets. That’s if we can just get it consistently right here first. Linda Ryu and Dawn Chapman are best friends, at least until one of them is picked over the other to actually go live in E2. Ramsay Roothorp has a libido that may be his undoing.

I went into this book with pretty high hopes. I read reviews and I also had my own fascination since teen years with biodomes. Unfortunately, this book fell short. It wasn’t bad but it was more about the messed up relationships these folks have than about any science that goes into the biodomes or the survival skills of the terranauts. I really wanted it to be more balanced but instead it was just one character or the other grumbling, scheming, or being bitchy. There was little else going on yet the author had this perfect set up to tell a great story.

OK, so while I didn’t love it, I obviously liked it well enough to finish it. The story started off strong with the 16 candidates all training together in the various skills – from swimming to farming to animal slaughter. They not only have to be good at any job that needs to be done inside a biodome, they have to be able to get along with their team mates in the most difficult of circumstances. Think of all those team building work retreats times 10. While everyone know this is a competition to be one of the history making 8 that actually gets to go into the biodome, they still have to act like they get along with everyone and really want all their team mates to be successful.

Great set up. But once we get the 8 packing up to go into E2, nearly all the science goes out the door and enter the bitchy, scheming side to all the characters. At first, I was OK with this because I thought it was going to be a phase for some of the characters and that things would come back around to more interesting stuff. Alas, no. The story just stays in that phase for the rest of the book. Because of that, I felt that most of the characters were pretty superficial. We saw how their characters could develop but then the author didn’t get them past this jealousy phase.

Anyway, there is one big twist towards the end of the book and that gives us a few little twists off of it. Plus I like all the references to tacos. Food was often on the main characters’s minds since those in E2 had a limited menu and limited calorie intake. Definitely makes me think I can do a better job of creatively cooking up the contents of my kitchen cupboards.

The Narration: The narration was really good. Each of the ladies, Joy Osmanski and Lynde Houck, did a great job. I don’t which lady took which main character (Dawn Chapman and Linda Ryu) but they were each distinct and each did a great job getting the catty behavior across. Charlie Thurston was a really good sex-obsessed Ramsay Roothorp. I could clearly feel the character’s frustrations with how things turned out for him.

What I Liked: Biodome!; Great set up in both the science and characters; the twist near the end of the book; great narration. 

What I Disliked: The characters were like emotionally stunted children as the development only went so far; very little science after the first set up.

What Others Think:

That’s What She Read

The Sleepless Editor

John Sloan’s Reviews

Robert McGrath’s Blog

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Speakeasy Dead by Vicky Loebel

LoebelSpeakeasyDeadScroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrators: Emily Beresford & Nick Podehl

Publisher: Pentachronistic Press (2013)

Length: 12 hours 49 minutes

Series: Book 0.5 Demonic Intervention

Author’s Page

Note: This book and it’s loosely tied-in sequel, Keys to the Coven, can each work just fine as stand alones.

Set in Falstaff, Arizona in the 1920s during Prohibition, the Woodsens run a speakeasy bar and also sell some of their surplus alcohol to others. Now a Chicago-based mob is trying to move in and run the alcohol trade. They will be surprised at how little pushing it takes to upset a witch. Meanwhile, the youngest of the Woodsen cousins, teen Clara, is desperate to save her beloved movie star Beau Beauregard. She’s willing to break some rules in the name of true love (or her first crush). Her older cousin, Bernard (Bernie) Benjamin, is just the guy to help her out, even if he has to be lured to the basement and tied to the center of a pentagram. Demons and zombies have never had so much fun as they will during the dance competition!

Once again, Vicky Loebel has given me something original and very funny. There’s a bit of sexy (though it’s pretty PG-13 for this book) as well. Clara is a driven character who’s young enough to not know to look at the bigger picture when it comes to love, yet old enough to have just enough responsibility and autonomy to get into big trouble. She’s dead set on saving her ‘beloved’ Beau even if he has no idea she exists (and that’s because they’ve never met). She’s even willing to become a warlock by summoning a demon and striking a bargain with it. Hans is the handsome demon that appears and somehow he talks things around so that his demon familiar, Ruth, will enter a dance contest. The pit just gets deeper from there on out.

With the Chicago mob, Bernie and his personal schemes, Gladys the Golem, Beau’s resentment over the whole mess, zombies, stolen booze, and an older Woodsen sibling arriving soonish, Clara really does have her hands full. It was so funny! There’s plenty of clever lines and each person really has their own agenda in mind. Clara wants love from Beau, and to not get caught. Bernie doesn’t want to die a horrible death (which is surely what will happen when Clara’s older witch sisters find out about this whole mess). The mob want their booze, the money, and control (and they seem constantly surprised when that doesn’t happen easily). Beau is quite angry with his situation and Clara is totally surprised by what he truly wants. Gladys just wants to get back to housekeeping.

I really enjoyed the various magical elements. There’s the demon Hans and his familiar Ruth which have their intricate little dos and don’ts. Then Gladys who is a Golem and rather protective of young Bernie. One of Clara’s best friends is a ghost whisperer and she has a ghost familiar (Gaspar, complete with Spanish accent). Loebel manages to pull each one into the storyline seamlessly. Moreover, she gives each one rules to work with and she keeps them within those rules. With a comedy, it would be easy to have these various magical folk breaking rules, so I appreciated that once the author laid down a law of this is how this type of magic works, she kept her characters in line.

I did quite enjoy all the flirty, sexy behavior that popped up here and there. Demons love to trade on sex because it builds up their karma, which is basically spiritual coinage. Clara knows all this from her older witch sisters and her book on demons. Yet when the offers are made to her, she’s tempted. Bernie isn’t as naive but he’s not as well-schooled as he likes to pretend either. Ruth, being a large hunting cat most of the time, has a sexy confidence all the time, even when she’s totally mangling her dance partner’s foot during practice. There’s plenty of wit and humor with the sexy bits, making them just as fun as the rest of the book.

Having listened to both audiobook set in this urban fantasy world, I really hope Loebel gives us more. The humor is a bit unique and I love the mix of serious situations, magic, and laughter. Not everyone makes it out of this story unscathed. In many ways, Clara comes of age in this tale. Loved it and looking forward to more of it!

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Emily Beresford and Nick Podehl once again did a great job on this book. Even though they voiced totally different characters for Keys to the Coven, I read them far enough apart that I didn’t have character echos in my head, as can sometimes happen when you listen to books set in the same universe that have different characters yet the same narrators. These two are great with all the emotions and also delivering straight lines so the humor is left hanging there for the reader/listener to catch even as the story moves onward.

What I Liked: Arizona!; the Prohibition era; silly mobsters being all tough and hard to take a hint; Clara’s first real crush; Beau’s reaction to that crush; Bernie’s role in all this mess; Gladys is probably the most dangerous one in the mix but knows when to hold back; Ruth is a sexy beast; Gaspar and his Zorro sword; how it all ends with a Charleston.

What I Disliked: Nothing – so darn funny!


Vicky is generously offering up 3 audiobook copies of her book Speakeasy Dead! The audiobook is available through both Audible.com and Audible.UK. To enter the giveaway, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1)  Do you have either an Audible.com or an Audible.UK account?  2) What attracts you most to this book? Zombies? Prohibition? Demons? Dance Contests? 3) Leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaway ends April 4th, midnight, 2017.

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The Green Children by Domino Finn

FinnTheGreenChildrenWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Jason Jewett

Publisher: Blood & Treasure (2016)

Length: 8 hours 22 minutes

Series: Book 3 Sycamore Moon

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 3 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

The Sycamore forest is known for strangeness. Anyone who has spent quality time in the area knows this. Diego de la Torre, former CDC hunter of werewolves, gets pulled into a new mystery when he stops on the highway to help a panicked mother (Julia) find her lost daughter Hazel. While it’s not technically Detective Maxim Dwyer’s area, his friend Diego calls him in anyway. Unexpectedly, another girl (Annabelle) is found, one who had been lost for three days. Now, authorities and Diego are all concerned there is something more going on in the Sycamore woods.

I’ve enjoyed the first two books in this series (The Seventh Sons & The Blood of Brothers) and this installment to the series is pretty darn good. While the first two books dealt with the local werewolves, there’s barely a mention of them in this book. But don’t worry! This book has the unknown, the noir detective feel, and very interesting characters.  Maxim and Diego continue to be my two favorite characters in the series and both feature heavily in this book.

So let me get my one criticism out of the way so I can get back to telling you how much I enjoyed this book. The lady characters are sparse and lacking in depth. Julia is a beautiful woman, a possible love interest, and a mother who can do little more than cry over her lost daughter. We also meet Annabelle’s mom, who has more personality, but again is mostly just a sex object and a ball of anger. While Annabelle has a little more going on than Hazel, they are both one-dimensional characters. Kaeda Burnett, a Yavapai woman from Book 2, makes a brief appearance and gives some sage advice. I know the author can write great female characters because he’s done it in other books. Too bad this book didn’t have any. All the plot decisions are made by male characters and the guys get to have all the fun and outdoor activities.

OK, so setting that aside, we’ve got this great mystery. Annabelle can’t recall much of her time spent in the woods. It’s all  fuzzy and dream like. Or so she says. She’s pretty despondent, not answering questions, and being withdrawn. Maxim suspects she knows more but isn’t sure how to reach her. Then there is her mother that just wants her to snap out of it and get back to school and her normal life. As they dig into Annabelle’s whereabouts prior to her going missing, a drifter who has frequented Sycamore Moon for many years pops up on their radar.

And then things get strange. In previous books, we knew up front that we were dealing with werewolves. Here, the supernatural quality is slow to come and then it took me some time to figure out what we were dealing with. That was part of the mystery and it was a slow delicious burn.

Diego is still trying to figure out where he fits in the world. He loves the area but he’s not an outlaw biker like the Seventh Sons motorcycle club he once belonged to. Nor is he law enforcement, as he once was working for the CDC. Yet he’s not good at driving trucks on a schedule working for a boss either. I really enjoyed watching him figure all this out and I have a guess as to where his path will lead him.

Maxim is another mystery, to some extent. He lost his wife and has difficulty trusting people in general. Living and working in the Sycamore Moon area hasn’t helped that as nearly everyone he encounters has a secret. Still, it takes a person with a flexible mind to accept the things he has come across, and he needs all that quick thinking to unravel this mystery!

Despite the lack of female characters with depth, I was thoroughly caught up in this tale. I had trouble putting it down so I could get a bit of sleep, and I finished it in 2 days. I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series!


I received this book free of charge (via Audiobook Blast) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Jason Jewett did yet another fine job. His Spanish accent for Diego de la Torre is spot on. Now I’m not trying to make Jewett blush, but his voice for Diego with that Spanish accent is quite something! Very sexy. His female voices and little kid voices are believable. All his characters are distinct. I love his somewhat gravelly voice for Maxim. 

What I Liked: Southwest setting; the mystery is a delicious slow burn to unravel; Diego and Maxim remain my favorite characters, with all their inner turmoil; the supernatural element was a mystery to our main characters; the ethnic diversity is greatly appreciated.

What I Disliked: There were no female characters with depth.


Contamination (Boxed Set 0-3) by T. W. Piperbrook

PiperbrookContamination0-3Where I Got It: Review copy via the author (thanks!).

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Narrator: Troy Duran

Length: 13 hours 29 minutes

Series: Books 0-3 Contamination

Author’s Page

Note that this review is for the first 4 books (0-3) in the series as I listened to them as one big long story. I will try to avoid spoilers.

The contamination started in the American Southwest, and Book 0 (St. Matthews) opens in a small town (St. Matthews) in Arizona. Dan Lowery is a police officer in this small town and as the contamination spreads, the violence escalates. Pretty soon he feels he must get to his wife and daughter, see them safe, before he can do anything further to help the townspeople. However, there is an organized force working against any would-be rescuers.

Book 1 (The Onset) takes place in New Mexico, some of it in a nearly abandoned village (White Mist) and the rest in places such as Albuquerque. Sam Cooke continues on as the last remaining resident of White Mist when the contamination strikes. Meanwhile, two college kids just finished moving a couple to Albuquerque when they come upon a messy car wreck and the surviving woman, Delta.

In Book 2 (Crossroads), the two bands from the first two books come together at an old junk yard. These folks start to piece together what they know and guess about what they don’t. They also have to make choices about what to do next.

Book 3 (Wasteland) finds that our band has suffered yet more losses. One young man feels the need to see if his family, who live in the Pacific Northwest, are still alive. Meanwhile, Sam and Delta feel they need to track down the rumored source of the contamination in Salt Lake City, UT.

Sam & Delta were my favorite characters in the series (so far). Sam lost his family to a fire and Delta lost her father to prison. Their relationship starts off complex and moves into something close to platonic camaraderie. Also, Delta is the only adult female we get to spend quality time with in the series (there are 2 or 3 other ladies referred to but they die too soon to get to know, and then there is one female kid). Despite her being the token female for the story, she holds her own well, having plenty to offer the reader in character depth. I am hoping that the author chooses to add more ladies to the story as it moves forward as he can clearly write them. I do have to mention that occasionally, our characters were slow to learn, like trusting strangers a little to easily even weeks after the initial outbreak. While these were the weak points in the plot, I was able to forgive them as the stupidity of the characters moved the plot forward.

The plotline had hints of other same-genre books, such as Stephen King’s The Stand. Couple this with the Southwest setting, and I felt right at home from the beginning. It is an easy story to jump into and enjoy. While certain elements were a little predictable, there were other twists (such as the initial relationship between Delta and Sam) that I didn’t see coming at all. It was a good mix. The AZ/NM setting was enough for folks to get an idea of the expanse of the country; however, I felt it lacked the ethnic diversity we have.

Now let me talk about the bad guys. Oh! The baddies! I loved hating on these guys and they were pretty fascinating too. Each was into this organized, purposeful contamination for their own reasons, and several felt they were indeed heroes. I loved the amount of detail that went in to some of them – their reasons, their backstories. It definitely made the plot a bit more grey, gave the reader pause when deciding which team to get behind.

Narration: Troy Duran did a good job with this book. Each of his male characters had a distinct voice and he had a variety of contaminated undead (nearly dead?) voices also (and I would count this a talent). While the ladies were slimly represented, he did a good job with them also. I felt his strongest voices went to the maniacal bad guys when they waxed eloquent about world domination.

What I Liked:  Southwest setting; pretty fast-paced with moments of reflection; Sam & Delta are my favorite characters; the bad guys are complex and not just cardboard. 

What I Disliked: Few ladies; lack of realistic ethnic diversity; some characters were slow to learn.

What Others Think:

Errant Dreams

Gladstone by John A. Miller

MillerGladstoneWhy I Read It: Desert southwest mystery with a twist – had to read it.

Where I Got It: Won a copy.

Who I Recommend This To: If you enjoy your mysteries with a Twilight Zone-esquness to them, then this is worth your time to check out.

Narrator: Deren Hansen

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 4 hours 46 minutes

Series: Book 1 Gladstone

Author’s Page

Jack needs to relax, and find a new life. Leaving a messy divorce behind, he heads out west, only to take a wrong turn and have his car break down. Luckily, Susan comes by on her Indian motorcycle to give him assistance. Pretty soon, Jack finds himself in an old-time Western town. It looks like the place is done up to attract tourists during the right season. Everyone is polite, helping with his car, finding him a room to rent for a few days as parts are ordered in. Heck, someone even offers him a cigar and a game of darts. The town sheriff could be right out of a Spaghetti Western. But there is something odd, and Jack first notices with Susan, the only Native American in town. Animals seem to understand her. Then he starts to notice that things don’t cost as much as they do out in the real world. Yep, there is definitely something strange, perhaps even magical, about Gladstone.

This story caught my attention early on. Jack breaking down on a dusty road in Arizona really isn’t that odd. Lots of dusty roads in the Southwest. Lots of people break down. But once he gets to Gladstone, we start to see interesting little bits that let us, the readers, know that all is not as it seems. So while I wasn’t sure what exactly was going on with the townsfolk, I had fun watching Jack start to notice the oddities. The town is small, tucked away in a canyon. There’s one bar where folks go to drink and socialize and lose at darts. One man goes out every few weeks to bring in supplies. So no deliveries from the outside world. Yet folks have cell phones and computers. So these folks are not ignorant of the rest of the world. Indeed the set up is excellent, giving the reader plenty to ponder and keep them reading on.

The middle of the story sagged a bit for me as everyone was way, way polite. While we do start to learn of Susan’s strange affinity with animals, that was pretty much the highlight of the middle. But the last third picked up again with Haskell, who use to live in Gladstone. He becomes the main antagonist. Of course, Jack isn’t aware of Haskell or his reasons for wanting to cause destruction to Gladstone, so the townsfolk have to make a choice of whether or not to trust the man. Will Jack help the town? Will they kick him out? Will they tie him up and lock him in his car until all the excitement is over and then toss him out? I wasn’t sure until the last quarter of the book how things would turn out for Jack – and that is one of the things I liked about this book.

The plot starts off strong, but by the end I had some questions, mostly about the other main character, Susan. She is Native American, but we never learn her family name. And since she has this strong affinity for the animals, wild and tame, I wondered how she felt about the townsfolk eating meat. I can’t recall her specifically eating meat, but she did go to a dance where a pig was being roasted. Luckily, the author didn’t mind chatting on line and assured me that all meat was brought in from the outside (so, no the townsfolk were not eating Susan’s friends). And Susan has her Caucasian name because her Native American name is too hard for many people to pronounce.

Also, my one real criticism is that Susan is the only non-Caucasian in this book. If you have read the book and know the ending, this doesn’t make much sense. SPOILER ALERT The canyon has some magical quality that has preserved Susan since the 1800s. Her family left her there to go finish business warring and never came back. So after a few years, she was lonely, and started taking in strays – like these sick, dying folks who couldn’t keep up with a caravan heading to California. But for some reason she never found any Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, or Native Americans that were sick or wounded or being chased by bad people to take in and help. Given the racial mix of the Southwest over the 200 year time period, you’d think there would be at least one or two other non-Caucasian’s taken in and who also decided to stay. END SPOILER. Still, perhaps this will come up in future installments in the series and we’ll see a more realistic cast of characters.

The ending wrapped up the major plot points for this story, but also left the door open for the next book in the series. By the end, we have more info about the antagonist and his reasons for attacking Gladstone and we also know something of the magical qualities of the canyon. Jack still needs to find his spot in life, and the townsfolk may have found an ally in Jack. Oh, and part of this book takes place in the town I was born in, albeit I only ever visited the hospital – my parents living in an even smaller town that had no medical  personnel whatsoever.

Narration:  The narration was very good, Hansen capturing Jack’s often questioning attitude as he tried to figure out what the hell was going on. Hansen also had very nice feminine voices, a British accent, and a Tennessee accent too (when it was required).

What I Liked:  The setting; Susan’s affinity for animals; the cover; the ending wrapped up this plot but left plenty of room for a sequel.

What I Disliked:  There was only 1 non-Caucasian in this story; the middle was a bit slow.

OnceUponATime8Tis the season for fantasy in all forms. Join the reading challenge Once Upon A Time, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. You can catch my intro post to this year’s challenge over HERE. Anyone can join this event, which runs from March 21 – June 20, 2014.

Tricked by Kevin Hearne

Why I Read It: The first 3 in the series were a lot of fun.

Where I Got It: Audible.com

Who I Recommend This To: Urban fantasy fans!

Narrator: Luke Daniels

Publisher: Random House Audio (2012)

Length: 10 hours, 41 minutes

Series: Book 4 in the Iron Druid Chronicles

Tricked starts off with a death of a main character and then an orgy. Now if you have read Kevin Hearne‘s works, you are saying, “Of course. That’s how these books roll.” At the end of the previous book, Hammered, Atticus, Oberon, and Granuile all had to make plans to exit their current lives. They actually went far less physical distance than I expected. Tricked takes place in and near Tuba City, AZ. I love that Hearne kept the series based in the desert Southwest. If you think Hammered took on some heavy hitters in the world of the supernatural, wait til you read this addition to the series. Nasty, near-indestructible, pure evil, coming right at you.

Skin walkers.

My advice to our main characters was to flea. But did they listen? No! Not the smartest decision, but it made for a highly entertaining story. On top of these evil entities, Atticus owes Coyote a big favor and pat of that favor is sabotaging a local coal mine. Yet more bare-ass antics ensue. Then there is still tension with the lawyer werewolves and of course the whole void in vampire power for the region is making everyone who knows about it antsy. Atticus has to spread his trust around in this book: his apprentice, Oberon, Coyote, the local Elemental Colorado, his werewolf buddies, the coven, local Medicine Man, etc. But he puts his trust in one wrong person and takes a beating. Ouch. Just thinking about it, even though I read it days ago, still makes me cringe.

While I wouldn’t say this is my favorite in the series, I still enjoyed it from beginning to end and look forward to the next in the series. Oberon and Granuile had more to do in this book, and Coyote kept all the main characters guessing.

Luke Daniels did a superb job once again. He has to shift between accents and characters pretty quickly during dialogue and he carried it off quite well. One small thing: the pronunciation of the last name ‘Yazzie’ was off. I only know because I work with a Yazzie.

What I Liked: desert Southwest; crazy, crazy food; skinwalkers; Oberon’s vocabulary is growing; sabotaging the coal mine.

What I Disliked: pun humor. Enough said.