A Wizard by R. F. Whittaker

Narrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Richard Whittaker (2016)

Length: 5 hours 38 minutes

Author’s Page 

Ambrose is in a self-imposed exile after he accidentally killed a man with his magic. Now this wizard roams the wilderness looking for a purpose and possibly for redemption. He comes across Bertold who has a bloodsucker imprisoned. He’s waiting for the sun to rise and roast her alive. Ambrose won’t stand for this and his actions change the course of his life, bringing unexpected companions into his life along with deadly danger.

This tale had some high points, some amusing moments, and a lot of info dumps. Sometimes I was totally engaged and sometimes I was bored. the villains are really easy to spot being brutish, so that took some of the suspense out of the book.

Florentina is the bloodsucker (vampire) that Ambrose rescued at the beginning of the tale. She’s got some dimension to her. She’s suffering from an illness that means she needs fresh blood. Ambrose vows to find a cure for her but his wizard skills are still in their fledgling state. He bumbles his way through the book. Florentina offers some wisdom and acts like a central spoke around which all the other characters rotate.

Each time we got a new character in this tale, there would be a big info dump that would mostly be their back story. It was a rather tedious way to get introduced to each character. It often took me away from the plot. From Florentina to Reggie to the Wolfboy to even Bertold. It was like reading a character development sheet instead of being an integrated part of the story.

Florentina and Ambrose fall in love almost instantly. It’s not even lust. It’s this deep soul-cleaving love. Since it was so automatic I had trouble getting behind it.

The Tookingtons were amusing. They were these little animated flowers that acted as an honor guard for Florentina. Definitely dangerous in great numbers.

By the end, Ambrose and his crew still have some things to wrap up. I smell a sequel in the making. I was very satisfied to see that Ambrose had found his tribe. He’s the stronger for it.

The Narration: Jake Urry is so good in every book I have listened to him narrate and his performance here doesn’t disappoint. He gives Florentina an accent. The Wolfboy gets his own unique voice. The ladies sound like actual women. Ambrose’s emotions are nicely displayed in this narration.

What I Liked: The cover art; the initial set up; Ambrose’s quest; all these misfits that are brought together; ending left room for a sequel; great narration.

What I Disliked: Insta-love didn’t work for me; lots of info dumps.

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Narrator: Holter Graham

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2009)

Length: 10 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 1 Alpha and Omega

Author’s Page

Set in Montana, this book starts up right after the events in the prequel, Alpha and Omega. While it’s not necessary to have read the prequel story first, it does help explain several things about Anna Latham and her first impressions of Charles Cornick. This romance driven tale follows Anna and Charles on their quest to find a rogue werewolf in the wilds of Montana.

Charles is the son of Bran, the Marrock for North America. Bran leads all the werewolf packs and Charles is his right hand man for handling disputes among the packs, hunting down rogue werewolves, and sometimes carrying out executions. Anna just came out of the Chicago pack; having been terrorized by them for a few years, she is now learning what it’s like to be part of a caring and mostly stable pack in Montana. She’s an Omega, which means she isn’t compelled by the werewolf magic and hierarchy to follow the rules all the time. She can be a peacemaker and become the glue that holds a pack together.

On the surface, these both seem like interesting characters. For me, they were OK. Charles is Native American, but that part of his character feels a bit forced. Perhaps it will become more natural as the series progresses. Anna is so submissive and while I get she’s just come through the other side of some hellish years, I expected her to blossom a bit more in this tale. I don’t need her to become some badass archer. I just need her to feel like she can go have a pee without asking permission first.

Asil was the most interesting character for me. His past is a bit nebulous, but he looks Middle Eastern and had spent some quality time in Spain at some point. He’s still in mourning for his wife and adopted daughter after all these years and his mind may be slipping. Lots is going on with this character and I really wanted to know more about him. There was this other really interesting character, but they were eliminated, so I can’t name them without giving out a spoiler. I was bummed. I thought they added something to the story and Briggs could have done much more with that character in subsequent stories.

The ladies in this tale, for the most part, have no status unless the man in their lives has status. Such a turn off. A woman’s self-worth is not inherently tied to the men she’s related to nor the man in her bed. I’m OK with characters believing this, but I need the storyline to show why this isn’t the case, show me how women step outside of the system, or show me the shadow hierarchy among the ‘lesser’ members. That way, we have something interesting going on instead of a worn-thin trope.

Now the hunt for the rogue werewolf was fun. Anna had the chance to show off some of her camping skills, which was great. And who doesn’t like watching werewolves frolic in snowy forests? The mystery surrounding the rogue werewolf was two fold and I enjoyed watching Charles and Anna figure out what was truly going on. There were some chilling moments and I wasn’t sure everyone was going to make it out OK. This part of the tale was well done.

The sex scene was brief. It started off hot and we got just so far before all the truly interesting details were skipped over and the lovers are laying side by side, satisfied. Since this is paranormal romance, I could have used more here. It would have made up for the weaker points of the story.

The Narration: Holter Graham continues to be an excellent Charles and an excellent Bran (the Marrock). His female voices were OK, though sometimes I had trouble discerning one woman from another. I love his accent for Asil! He sounds so much like Puss in Boots, so I kept picturing Asil as a large orange cat.

What I Liked: Gorgeous cover art; Montana woods; Bran’s level head; Asil is a complex guy; the rogue wolf mystery; Anna’s camping skills.

What I Disliked: In werewolf society, a female’s worth is tied to the men in her life; a character I felt had much more to give is killed off; Anna feels she needs permission all the time.

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Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs

Narrator: Holter Graham

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2013)

Length: 2 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 0.5 Alpha and Omega

Author’s Page

Set in Chicago, Anna is the lowest in her pack, a werewolf pack she wasn’t given the choice in joining. After years of abuse, she is ready for a change. The Marrock has sent his son Charles to sort things out. Neither Charles nor Anna get what they expected.

I listened to this book as part of a group read and it’s a prequel to Cry Wolf. The Alpha and Omega series is a spin-off of the Mercy Thompson series and is more romance oriented. Honestly, it’s been some years since I read Mercy Thompson but I believe I like that series quite a bit more than this series.

So Charles is a dominant male among the werewolves and he’s a big handsome guy with skills. He meets Anna and discovers she’s an Omega, which is a person who can soothe and bind a pack together. However, her pack isn’t using her skills; instead they are just using her. By that I mean they take a chunk of her paycheck, have her clean and run errands, and pass her around sexually to reward pack members for questionable deeds. Obviously, Charles is not pleased at this at all. There shall be a reckoning!

There was insta-love between Anna and Charles on a primal level in which their inner wolves recognized it but their human sides took longer to figure it out. I liked the dual nature of this aspect of the story. I also like that this tale shows just what the Marrock, Bran, doesn’t want among the North American packs.

While some justice is meted out by the end, I felt that certain wolves didn’t show remorse over their actions, claiming they were ordered to abuse Anna and other lesser members. Obviously, some of these wolves will need further calibration.

The story had some intense moments, but the romance was a meh for me. I felt that Anna’s character was just too submissive all around. There’s the need to survive a bad situation, sure, but we could have used some inner Anna thoughts about how to avoid the worst of it, or change it, or sabotage food. Something.

The Narration: Holter Graham makes a very good Marrock and a very good Charles. His feminine voices were OK. I liked the harsh tones he can adopt when two wolves are squaring off. I also liked his soothing, patient voice for the Marrock.

What I Liked: Werewolves; Chicago; not all that bend are weak; the dual nature of the werewolf; the worst of the batch do meet justice.

What I Disliked: Anna is always bending, giving way; many of the misbehaving wolves showed no remorse over their actions. 

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Slade: Team Greywolf by Eva Gordon

Narrator: Christine Padovan

Publisher: Eva Gordon (2017)

Length: 8 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 1 Team Greywolf

Author’s Page

 

They’re both werewolves, but they come from worlds apart. Cricket is technically a Runt in the werewolf hierarchy, but her competence and ability to blend in as human has granted her honorary Beta status in the American Lycan Intelligence Agency in Team Greywolf. Slade comes from a long line of werewolf royalty where long-held rules of mate choosing are strictly adhered to. Recently, he lost his entire pack and madness threatens to consume him utterly. It’s hoped that Cricket’s Runt status will serve to bring out his Alpha protectiveness and ground him once again. Cricket isn’t too enthused about the assignment even as her libido lusts after the well-muscled Slade.

I’ve been wetting my feet on paranormal shifter romances this past year. I find some parts of this genre to be fascinating (like the shape-shifting) and other parts to be a bit over-pronounced (the damaged Alpha male). I found this book to be a better story than most I have encountered in this genre. It was Cricket. She made the story for me. I found her wit and sense of purpose and self to be refreshing and totally entertaining. She has a career and a place in Team Greywolf that she earned. Her status isn’t dependent upon the man in her life (another theme in shifter romances that has worn thin for me). I often chuckled at her sarcastic jokes. I think I could be best buds with her.

The damaged Slade was not much more than that. He has his royalty thing going, being a rich man in his own right and then his damaged psyche that needs healing. I could have used something more to give him personality. The lusty scenes between him and Cricket were good if a little brief. Perhaps that’s just my lustful hormones wanting more…

I did enjoy the big mystery to the story. Something is taking out werewolves, like Slade’s pack, and the Lycan Intelligence Agency is at a loss to explain it. One tiny lead gives us another and then Cricket and Slade have to go undercover and on the hunt. The action picks up and there’s one rescue after another. It was fun if a little predictable.

As a biologist, I also liked the few realistic touches about wolf hierarchy, such as all the sniffing, the nose nipping, and other such things. These details made the shape shifting, and especially the wolf form, more realistic and the other all story more entertaining.

At the end, not everyone gets everything they wanted, which I also liked. I don’t need everything to turn out totally happy hunky dory in my shifter romances. A few complications were left for the characters to work out.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Christine Padovan was great as Cricket. She has Cricket’s sarcasm down to a T. Padovan does tend to drop the last word in a sentence and draw it out, giving her speech an odd cadence that I can’t place. However, she doesn’t do this often when she’s doing a character’s lines. She does do it often when telling the story narrative and I feel it takes a little getting used to. Don’t be put off by it though as her character voices are worthy.

What I Liked: Wolfy details; Cricket’s humor; Cricket’s status isn’t dependent on the man in her life; the lusty scenes; the big mystery; the ending.

What I Disliked: Damaged Alpha male doesn’t really have a personality.

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Fresh Fiction

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

ColeAHungerLikeNoOtherWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Robert Petkoff

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (2011)

Length: 11 hours 33 minutes

Series: Book 2 Immortals After Dark

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone novel. I heard from other readers who have enjoyed the series that this was the first book published and later a prequel, which became Book 1, was published.

Emmaline Troy, a half-vampire, half-Valkyrie, is out on her own for the first time in Paris seeking answers about her dead parents. Werewolf Lachlain MacRieve, recently broken free from his captivity, hunts his mate. While their initial meeting will be tumultuous, they will have to join forces to face down a mighty foe – the leaders of the vampire horde.

This isn’t my typical read but I have been trying to expand my book horizons a bit. However, this wasn’t the book for me. I never became particularly attached to the characters and I found several aspects boring to distasteful.

Lachlain is an immortal, which means he can heal from nearly anything. The vampires have been torturing him for 150 years by having him chained over a fire, letting him cook to death, regenerate, and cook again. Lachlain senses his mate above him on the streets of Paris and that gives him the strength to finally break free. When he finally tracks down Emmaline, he’s still a bit crazed with disgust for all vampires and remembered pain from the fires. And that’s when things get a bit a rapey. Consent is sexy. Forced hand jobs are not. Obviously, I found it hard to see Lachlain as the hero after that. And it’s not just one instance of non-consensual sexual acts; there’s at least 4. Even if you can understand where Lachlain is coming from (his recent years of torture and deep hatred for vampires), it doesn’t make his actions excusable.

To be clear, there are several consensual acts in the book. In fact there is even one that is rather rough but both parties are enjoying it and clearly wanting to continue it. That made it steamy hot. Plus there was lighting in a moonlit forest, so that was an awesome image. However, these events occur between a kidnapped sexual assault victim (Emmaline) and the man who committed those acts (Lachlain), so I still found it hard to wish a Happily Ever After ending for them.

Emmaline’s character was nearly as disappointing. She never really sets boundaries for Lachlain. Most of her time is spent being beautiful and gentle. That’s her role in this story and I found that rather boring. She does eventually have a few moments of small glory, but because her character has been devoid of such characteristics, they felt out of place and rather forced. Emmaline, like all women with Valkyrie blood, has an acquisitive nature, which boils down to the fact that her interest can be bought with material wealth. Sigh…. Let’s not forget that Emmaline is only 70 years old, which is just out of childhood in the immortal world. Meanwhile, Lachlain is at least 900 years old. Emmaline is a virgin, never even having kissed a man. Meanwhile, Lachlain has plenty of experience under his belt. Sigh….

The plot is OK, though rather predictable. Lachlain, king of the Lykae clan, wants two things: Emmaline as his mate and revenge upon the vampires. Lachlain’s immediate friends and family accept his return really easily, which struck me as odd but the story marched on without giving it more than a squint and a blink. Emmaline plans to find out more about her parents. Her Valkyrie aunts want Emmaline back, as well as their long lost Valkyrie queen. In step the  evil vampires who want domination over all immortals. Through it all, Lachlain and Emmaline will have to find love for one another and a way to hold on to it. It was pretty easy to guess who Emmaline’s father was once we had all the characters introduced. Also, the Beauty and the Beast theme wasn’t subtle about wending it’s way through the plot.

Some of the side characters were fun, but most were exaggerated in some way or other. They were mostly there to provide drama and comedy. Regan made me chuckle a few times with her blunt remarks about other people’s sex lives. Nix was fun because she’s obviously working on a different plane where the future is open to her but the immediate present may escape her notice. Kat, who came into the story late, was interesting because she was so straight forward about everything, lacking emotions. Gareth, Lachlain’s brother, doesn’t make a showing until late in the book and then he ends up standing side by side with a vampire named Wroth.

All in all, it was a rather disappointing story. I was turned off early on and the story never really recovered because Lachlain doesn’t learn quickly or thoroughly. The story piled on themes that bored me because it made the outcome predictable.

Narration: Robert Petkoff did a fine job with this book. I’m not a good judge for accuracy when it comes to Scottish accents, but I can say Petkoff was consistent and had a variety of sexy voices for the Scottish werewolves. His female voices were very good, being pretty darn believable. There were a handful of other accents he performed as well, like Louisiana southern accent for Emmaline and a general European accent for Wroth.

What I Liked: Regan’s blunt wit; some of Nix’s silly remarks; one hot sexy scene in the woods; the narration.

What I Disliked: Lachlain’s forced sex acts; Emmaline’s character; Valkyrie interest can be bought with expensive shiny objects; very predictable story.

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Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

ButcherSummerKnightWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing (2009)

Length: 11 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 4 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 4 in the series, it works mostly OK as a stand alone. There is a significant spoiler for Book 3 (Grave Peril) that is referred to in this book, but if you don’t mind that, then it works fine as a stand alone.

 

Things continue to intensify for the only phone book listed wizard PI in Chicago, Harry Dresden. After the events of Book 3, Harry has been in a slump. His girlfriend had to leave him and he is guilt-ridden over the reasons why. He’s not taking cases and, quite frankly, not showering often enough. He’s also not paying rent and you can forget about food shopping. However, he does still have friends and one of those friends, Billy the college student werewolf, makes sure he makes it to an appointment on time that could lead to a paying PI case.

This episode in Harry’s life explores the world of the Fae. There’s the Summer Court and the Winter Court and each court has three queens, denoting the rise, peak, and fall of each of the two main seasons. Someone has killed the Winter Knight, a champion of the Winter court who is given great powers to carry out his tasks. Now, Harry has been hired, or rather compelled, to find out who and why. We briefly met Harry’s fairy godmother in the last book and Harry fears few others like he fears her. So I was very interested to see how the other Fae compared the first time I read this book. My enjoyment of the book has not diminished with time. Harry is in for a wild ride!

In the previous books, Harry has briefly mentioned his first girlfriend Elaine. Now, Elaine’s character gets filled out and Harry has to deal with yet more emotions. Plus he has to save the world. I think for Harry, saving the world is easier on him than dealing with emotions. The Fae courts have set Harry and Elaine at odds with each other and that makes things rather interesting. There’s plenty of sneaking about and trickery in order to unravel the mystery.

I like this book quite a bit because we have some demented characters and we don’t always get to damage or kill them. This is to the plot as the fifth taste, umami, is to my tongue. It’s a little sour, a touch sweet, and chunk of it is bitter. Harry can’t undo all the damage they have done. The sweetness is the anticipation (or sometimes merely hope) of these unsavory folks getting trounced eventually. Then, sometimes, the bad guys do get away.

Counter to that, is Harry’s humor. It’s nearly always bravado against something bigger and tougher. It sometimes veers into self-depreciating, but who wouldn’t want to rename the attacking saplings as a chlorofiend? It sounds bigger and nastier. The chuckle here and there helped relieve the tension.

Once Harry has a grasp on what happened to who and why, he then has to figure out how to save the world, literally. The final chapters are big and epic and if I had not come into this series late, I would have been concerned that the series might end with this book here and now. A lot of worthy scenes played out in those last few chapters.

The Narration: James Marsters continues on as the voice of Harry Dresden, and doing it quite well. I feel that he’s a bit more refined in his skill for this book. While I enjoyed his pauses or sighs or light coughs of embarrassment for Harry’s character in Books 1-3, I found there to be quite a bit less of that for this book. I don’t particularly miss it and I think this is more in line with audiobook narration instead of leaning towards radio drama. Marsters did great with all the smug female Fae voices. I continue to enjoy his TootToot fairy voice. 

What I Liked: The Fae courts!; Harry is forced out of his slump and into a case; the college werewolves; Harry’s old flame returns unexpectedly; the epic battle scenes at the end; some truly unscrupulous characters; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – a great story!

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Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

ButcherFoolMoonWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing (2009)

Length: 10 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

 

Werewolves! Chicago has enough problems without werewolves and PI wizard Harry Dresden has enough problems without the FBI being involved. Harry put some serious strain on his friendship with Lt. Karin Murphy in Book 1 (Storm Front) and he’s been suffering because of it, and not just because a solid chunk of his monthly income comes from Murphy’s Special Investigations unit at Chicago PD where Harry used to do a fair amount of consultant work. Reluctantly, Karin Murphy asks for his professional opinion on a death and Harry isn’t too pleased at what he finds.

This is my second time reading this book, but I last read it years ago and had forgotten many of the details. Right up front we know the story is dealing with werewolves, but as Bob the skull points out, there are several types of werewolves. Harry has to figure out what type he’s dealing with before he can work out how to stop the killings. Also, there’s this tricky thing called motivation that he also has to figure out. But in this fast-paced urban fantasy, there is no time for Harry to simply sit and contemplate.

The end of the previous book left with things strained between Karin and Harry. They each have trust issues and hence they have trust issues within their friendship and working relationship. Luckily, they do have a few brief moments where they can clear the air. However, there’s still a big, big mistake in trust that costs the police force dearly. At the end of the book, there is this intense scene that does an excellent job of illustrating how far, or not, their mutual trust has come.

Susan Rodriguez, a reporter for The Arcane, is also a part of this tale. She, of course, wants to get some footage of some real werewolves but she’s not really listening to Harry when he tells her how dangerous they are. I’m still luke warm on Susan’s character. She can be fun and even a bit sassy, and she definitely has chemistry with Harry, but she also strikes me as a but of an idiot at times. Put on some body armor and get some weapons training if you’re going to go werewolf hunting, even if it’s just with a camera! With that said, I do become a fan of Susan later in the series.

Then there is Tara West. She’s the fiance of this multi-millionaire/environmental activist who is missing. Tara has some of the best lines for the entire book. She’s not like anyone Harry has dealt with before and it takes him a long time to figure her out. The first time I read this book, I didn’t get Tara either until the very end.

Since we are dealing with werewolves, there’s a fair amount of nudity as they shapeshift. However, it is practical nudity. So, don’t let the naked body count for this book turn you off. Not that it would turn me off anyway.

The FBI crew was a pain in the arse in more ways than one. Of course, they start off as a hindrance and it takes Harry some time to figure out how to either get them out of the way or get them on his side. Crime lord John Marcone also returns to cause Harry some grief. However, the man does have some interesting knife skills that a person has to respect. Yep, I do believe I enjoyed this book just a smidge more than Book 1.

The Narration: James Marsters continues to make an excellent Harry Dresden. He does a really great job of getting Harry’s emotions (an his occasional nausea) across to the listeners. His gravelly, tense voices (both male and female) for the werewolves were great. I love Bob’s proper accent and Gentleman John Marcone’s stiff replies to Harry’s snark. 

What I Liked: Harry tries hard to repair his friendship with Murphy; the mistake that costs the Chicago PD dearly; different types of werewolves, and their various motivations; the FBI crew; Tara West and her practicality; intense ending.

What I Disliked: Susan Rodriguez is a little bit of a ditz.

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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.

 

The Blood of Brothers by Domino Finn

FinnTheBloodOfBrothersWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Jason Jewett

Publisher: Blood & Treasure (2015)

Length: 12 hours 4 minutes

Series: Book 2 Sycamore Moon

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

Maxim Dwyer, the lead detective assigned to Sycamore, has his hands full. The Seventh Sons, the local motorcycle club, is made up mostly of werewolves. He and they have an understanding, but things are about to happen that will challenge that agreement.

This book was excellent. I really enjoyed Book 1 (The Seventh Sons) but I have to say this book is even better. Perhaps that is because it is much longer and the characters and plot have that much more time to engage with me. Maxim and his friend Diege de la Torre are at the center of this plot. It’s part mystery, part shifter tale, part thriller, and all satisfyingly good. I really had a hard time setting this book aside as sleep was over taking me.

Diego, a former CDC assassin, joined up with the Seventh Sons for the camaraderie and the freedom of the road. While the other members obviously know he is not a werewolf, and is immune to the virus that causes lycanthropy, they don’t know he use to hunt and kill errant wolves for the CDC. He has so far resisted engaging in any illegal activity, such as drug or gun running, but that is beginning to rub some of the MC members the wrong way. Diego is sitting on a fence and sooner or later he’s going to be pushed one way or another. And West Wind, an Apache member of the MC, may be the one to push him.

Kaeda Burnett has recently returned home to her Yavapai family from college. She’s never felt truly welcomed there, except by her grandfather, because she is not fully Yavapai. But she felt obligated to visit before she heads out into the world again with her degree. Her two older half-brothers, the Dokas, play pivotal roles in the plot. The Yavapai have historically had a few mercenary werewolves out for hire. This isn’t a secret to Kaeda, but she has never engaged with any of that business. However, with her brothers in a mess, she may have to.

Meanwhile, the FBI have sent in Marshal Boyd to manage the latest case – a person was found skinned on Yavapai land and there are some concerns it was a hate crime. Boyd and Dwyer butt heads from the beginning. Now toss in Los Pistoles, a MC from California, that wants part of the Seventh Sons territory for gun and drug running, and you have several forces in play. When a member of the Seventh Sons ends up dead, there are several people to point the finger at.

My only quibble with this book is that there are only three female characters and really on Kaeda gets to spend time front and center. The other two are Melody (who we met in Book 1) and the female lawyer for the Seventh Sons. These two ladies have perhaps 10 lines between the two of them. Kaeda on the other hand is an excellent character and is central the plot. She’s book smart and patient with herself. She can quickly assess what she is capable of or not, though she usually figures out a work around. Her grandfather gives her good advice, but it is hard for Kaeda to follow through on. It’s obvious the author knows how to write quality characters or either gender, but I do wish we had more ladies in this book.

Despite that, I just loved this book. The plot was intricate with so many motives in play. I absolutely love the Southwest setting because this author does it right showing the great diversity present in this part of the world. While I guessed one or two things concerning the deaths, chunks of the ending were a surprise and this made the wrap up rewarding. I greatly look forward to the next installment.

I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Jason Jewett did another fine job. His Spanish accent for Diego de la Torre is spot on. His female voices are believable. All his characters are distinct. I love his somewhat gravelly voice for Maxim. 

What I Liked: The ethnic diversity in characters; Kaeda’s character; Maxim and his conflict with Boyd; Diego and his hard choice concerning the Seventh Sons; multiple mysteries with multiple motives; werewolves; the Southwest setting; the cover art; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Could have used a few more female characters.

What Others Think:

Phillip Tomasso

Audio Book Reviewer

The Seventh Sons by Domino Finn

FinnTheSeventhSonsWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Jason Jewett

Publisher: Blood & Treasure (2014)

Length: 6 hours 47 minutes

Series: Book 1 Sycamore Moon

Author’s Page

Small town Sycamore has its secrets. Some of those secrets Detective Maxim Dwyer won’t let be. A biker brawl involving an out of towner and a few members of the local motorcycle club (The Seventh Sons) lets Dwyer pry into the MC’s business.  But what he uncovers is not what he was expecting.

I saw this audiobook kicking around the blogosphere and I passed it on by. The description starts off comparing the book to the TV shows Supernatural and Sons of Anarchy. While I did watch the latter, I was a bit burned out of misogynistic MC stories, no matter how intriguing the individual characters. I have only watched a handful of Supernatural episodes, but they were not my cup of tea. But then the author contacted me directly looking for a review and I decided to give it a chance.

Let me tell you I am ever so glad that I did! I so very much enjoyed this book. The characters have meat on their bones, the plot is a full 7 courses, and the setting adds an intense spice to the book. Let me assure you this is no gender-weighted MC tale. This is a detective noir story that happens to have practical werewolves at the center of the mystery. There are female characters in position of power who have real personalities and don’t always need a man to rescue them.

There’s quite a bit of ethnic diversity in this book too, which is another thing I really appreciated. Set in Arizona, the ethnic diversity is an accurate reflection of what you will find in the desert Southwest. Also, the mixing of cultures and backgrounds added to the intensity of the story.

Maxim Dwyer and Diego de la Torre at first start off on opposite sides. Indeed, Diego is in handcuffs and a cell while Maxim gives him the 3rd degree interrogation. Pretty quickly the werewolf aspect of the story comes into play and Maxim is not pleased. One of his men is hurt and his suspects are missing. The trail keeps leading back to the head of the MC, Miss Debbie. Diego also has questions for Miss Debbie about his missing sister. It’s an excellent set up and the plot just gets better from there.

Now I want to mention the practicality of the werewolves. First, there are no sexy wolfy sex scenes. There’s no big moonlight werewolf hunts with terrified and fainting women. Rather, these individuals are ill and carriers of the illness. The Center for Disease Control is well aware of the werewolves throughout the country. There are rules the werewolves must abide by if they don’t want to be hunted down by the CDC.  One of these rules is to keep your head down & to stay out the limelight. The MC is skirting the edge of that rule. This was an unexpected and very awesome aspect to the story. In some ways, this practical treatment of the werewolves removed the supernatural element, but it also made the story so much more accessible as a biologist.

All the characters are interesting to some extent and most of them are tortured by something. Maxim’s wife went missing two years ago and no matter how hard he hunted, he never turned up any leads. Diego has this driving force to find his sister. Miss Debbie and the CDC representative have their demons too, ones that will come close to destroying Maxim and Diego. All these little secrets meant that we had little plot twists throughout the story that definitely added to the suspense.

I listened to this book in less that 2 days. Honestly, I didn’t want to put it away but I had to sleep and eat. The noir detective feel to the story caught my attention up right away. The characters held my attention throughout the entire story. The ending, which was indeed satisfying, left me ready to fire up the next in the series.

I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: I was impressed with Jason Jewett’s narration. There are several Hispanic characters in the book and he did the perfect soft Hispanic accent in distinct character voices. I live in a part of the country where I hear spoken Spanish almost every day so it was very nice to hear the Spanish/Hispanic accent done right for this book. He also had a strong and sometimes harsh voice for the tortured Maxim Dwyer. His female voices were believable. 

What I Liked: The cover art; good gender balance; noir detective feel to it all; tortured characters; practical take on the werewolves; CDC involvement; so many secrets!; the ending was satisfying; very good narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I was thoroughly entertained by this book.

What Others Think:

AudioBook Reviewer

Phillip Tomasso

Sinea’s Book Reviews