Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett

GillettZariaFierceAndTheSecretOfGloomwoodForestWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Michelle Carpenter

Publisher: Keira Gillett (2015)

Length: 4 hours 2 minutes

Series: Book 1 Zaria Fierce

Author’s Page

Zaria and her family recently moved to Norway and Zaria has made a few friends already and is enjoying learning the myths and legends of Norway. One day on the way to school, she comes across Olaf the river troll who threatens to eat her. She counteroffers with a feast to be delivered in three days time. He lets her pass. However, she doesn’t hold up her end of the bargain and she finds there are consequences. Pretty soon, she and her friends are embarking on a quest to save a friend, Christoffer, who was taken captive by Olaf.

This was quite a fun children’s book that I think will appeal to many adults as well. First, I really like the set up. We’re in Norway so we have the great frozen forests and water ways. Then there’s Zaria, a female non-Caucasian lead in a fantasy story. Lastly, Zaria made a mistake in choosing to break her deal with the river troll Olaf, which sets this whole adventure in motion.

Zaria gathers up her allies (friends of Christoffer’s) and one of them has a mysterious magical device (a star gazer) that can pause time, allowing them to head off on their quest without alerting their parents. With Aleks, Filip, and Geirr, Zaria heads off into the Norwegian wilderness. And I’ll just tuck my one little quibble in here – Zaria is the only female character for much of the book, tho eventually we do get an elf lord’s wife and some nameless female warriors and the mention of a Queen Helena. I would have liked a few more female characters.

Pretty soon, they come across a winter wyvern (Ooooooo!) named Norwick and his human-like friend Hector, who is one of the elfvolken. Zaria and the boys aren’t too sure how much to trust Hector but Zaria has formed a bond with Norwick and they elect to travel with them for now. Without getting spoilery, the author pulls in trolls and an the Wild Hunt! Yes! I love stories of the Wild Hunt and the thought of trolls riding the Wild Hunt is enough to send shivers up my spine!

There’s plenty of dashing about and trying to save one another and trickery and defiance and a bit of regret and swearing to make it all right again. Yeah. It was good. It’s a great adventure with the boys and Zaria helping each other along the way. I really like that Zaria owns up to her mistakes throughout the book and that her mistakes also make her human and real. There’s also real camaraderie between her and the boys and she also does her best to treat her allies with respect. The ending had Zaria in a tough position and she had to make a choice. Such a tough one! But now things are set up perfectly for Book 2.

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

The Narration: Michelle Carpenter was great. She has this perfect voice for young Zaria and light Norwegian accents for all the boys. I loved her gravelly voices for the trolls. She also had rich voices for the elves as described in the book. She also did a great job of getting the characters’s emotions across to the listener. Great performance!

What I Liked: Zaria’s character – real, flawed, heroic; great book cover!; plenty of magical folks out in the woods; Norwick the winter wyvern; the quest to save Christoffer ends in a tough choice; great narration.

What I Disliked: Zaria is the only female character for much of the book.

What Others Think:

The Booklandia

Emily Reads Everything

Book Lover’s Life

The Atomic Sea Vol. 2 by Jack Conner

ConnerTheAtomicSeaVol1Where I Got It: Review copy.

Narrator: Ray Greenley

Publisher: Jack Conner (2015)

Length: 6 hours 30 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Atomic Sea

Author’s Page

Note: This is Volume 2 in the series and I feel this is a series best read in sequence. Volume 1 is freaking awesome but it also gives you a good basis for the characters’s motives in Volume 2

I so very much enjoyed Book 1 and then got distracted by life and other books. But I am very glad to be back in the world of the Atomic Sea. Vol. 1 set the stage with the war and the messed up oceans and the tainted people. An unlikely group forms – they aren’t quite all friends but they do all have some shared enemies. Now in this volume we will learn more about the motives behind the war, about what exactly created the Atomic Sea, and about how little chance they actually have of saving their beleaguered world.

Dr. Avery is still alive and kicking and he, the mysterious Layanna (who was pulled whole from the sea in Vol. 1), and their new odd friends (Muirblog, Janx, Simon, Hildra, and Byron) are just hanging out on a mountainside trying to plan their next move when they see a flying ray (possibly hunting them) in the distance. Yet before they can move out, the Mikvandi attack. They’ve got fish faces and weapons, so you know Avery will probably be having nightmares. Layanna in her weird Cthulu-amoeba-like form saves them only to have the Mikvandi declare her one of their gods (one of the Minuthra) and insist on escorting her to the other gods. Layanna is amenable to going with them because she believes the Minuthra will have an active altar, which is a kind of other dimensional portal. She wishes to contact her friends for very secret reasons which she reveals later in the book and which would be spoilery to chat about in detail here.

Things don’t go as planned and the whole lot of them make an escape attempt. Only some of them get out on a dirigible but they have a direction to go and a quest that they adopt because if they don’t then what hope do they have? Layanna needs another active altar and the crew need answers. Layanna can only give them some but they are kind of mind blowing. It’s all kinds of wonderful messed up.

So if I tell you more of the plot, I will be in spoiler land, so I won’t. In broad strokes, I just thoroughly enjoyed this book every bit as much as Vol. 1. If you eat tainted meat from the Atomic Sea, you start getting these weird fishy mutations – and no one has pinned down a predictable trend (will it be gills and bulging eyes or shark skin and a spiny mohawk?) nor a real way to cure it. So we have these humans who have managed to stay all human, such as Dr. Avery, and then you have humans who had no choice but to eat tainted fish to survive and have these fishy attributes (like our big warrior Janx), and then you got Layanna who can have a human form or her other dimensional Cthulu-like form. I just love all the clashes and chances for odd friendships this causes in the book.

One of my favorite, possibly amoral, characters from Vol. 1, Cpt. Sheridan, returns in this book but not till perhaps half way through. I’m glad she’s back on scene because she adds some real angst to the sometimes emo Dr. Avery. These two bounce off each other in ways that highlight both Avery’s humanity and Sheridan’s coldness.

Then there’s the human sacrifices and the Minuthra gods and dirigibles and giant caverns that house whole cities. It’s like HP Lovecraft and Jules Verne got together and had a baby and named that baby Jack Conner who gave us The Atomic Sea series. We got adventure, a touch of guttural terror, the fear of the unknown, things way larger than you messing with your life, and good people stuck in bad situations. Yeah. It’s that good.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge from the narrator in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks!

The Narration: Ray Greenley did a great job with Vol. 1 and he continues to do so with Vol. 2. He does amazingly well with all the distorted fish voices. He makes Sheridan sound ice-cold but then he can switch to the emo Dr. Avery in the same conversation, back and forth multiple times, without missing a beat. Excellent performance.  

What I Liked: Sea mutations on land!; Dr. Avery continues to be a complicated guy; we learn some significant things about Layanna; dirigibles!; human sacrifices and daring escapes; whole towns hiding in giant caverns; excellent narration; even tho the cover art hasn’t changed, it’s still a great cover. 

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this book. 

Driver 5 by Ray W. Clark

ClarkDriver5Where I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Larry Lang

Publisher: Driver5books (2016)

Length: 2 hours 18 minutes

Author’s Page

The man who will be known as Driver 5 for the entire book is offered a sweet fast car by an odd old man. He jumps at the chance and takes it for joy ride but soon finds himself in the midst of a zombie-filled land. Luckily, he runs into Leah pretty quickly and she gives him the basics and directs him to a safe place. This underground complex houses most of the remaining humans in the area and they have been fighting an ongoing mission to take out a half-demon half-human Hitler who has set up base in Detroit. Yeah, I know. This isn’t a deep work but it a lot of fun. Just sit back and enjoy the ride!

Right off the bat, I’m going to tell you my pet peeve with this story and then we can get to all the good fun stuff. First, there is only one female character, Leah, and she is a woman, not a girl. Additionally, 5ft 9in is NOT short. Just setting the record straight there Driver 5!

So Driver 5 has been sucked in to this alternate timeline where Hitler did a sneaky and deadly attack at the end of WWII which sunk much of the western USA and Japan and part of China, and created these zombies. He then dabbled in some occult stuff, became part demon, and moved his center of operations to Detroit. Ha! I was just snort laughing throughout this book in entertainment – some of the stuff is just so far over the top I had to laugh along with plot.

At the underground complex, Driver 5 (no one wants to know who he really is or what he’s like because these drivers don’t have a long life expectancy) gets gussied up for the quest. He gets some cool nanotech that heightens his reflexes and lets his car recognize him as the sole driver and it connects him to his weapons as well. The car gets well stocked for the crazy drive from Indianapolis to Detroit. Leah gets to be his copilot. Now why folks of this history line don’t drive yet have the tech to send people to hunt down drivers in alternate histories is a little odd, but hey, we’re hear for the crazy Thunderdome ride experience, right?

And, indeed, it is a crazy, crazy road trip. Leah does a good job keeping Driver 5 alive and he eventually gets up to speed and starts doing his fair share of zombie killing. Eventually, Leah becomes Driver 5’s romantic interest and she’s a full grown woman who can make up her own mind about him. When they get to Detroit, their intel says demon Hitler is set up in a sports stadium and is well defended. Yes, the ending was a full on action flick.

In short, I could totally pick apart the plot. There’s a lot things that won’t hold up under even light scrutiny. But honestly, that’s not why I listened to it. I read that book blurb. I knew going into it that this was not a book to take seriously. Yet I still enjoyed the hell out of it. So, yes, go pick up a copy, enjoy it, revel in zombie killing while driving a fast car with a weapons-competent leather-clad woman at your side.

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

The Narration: The narration started off rough. Larry Lang sounded muffled at first and some of his sound effects drowned out the narration. But things did get better. By the end, he has a good balance of sound effects and his narration doesn’t sound so muffled. Leah always sounded like a woman and the male characters all sounded distinct.

What I Liked: Just fun to listen to; zombies – anyone can shoot a zombie and not feel bad about it; demon Hitler set up in Detroit – ha!; the cool tech; Leah and her competence.

What I Disliked: 5ft 9in is not short; there’s only 1 woman so I guess this alternate history won’t be repopulating quickly; the narration was a little rough.

What Others Think:

AudioFile

Sunshine Blogger Award

I was awarded the Sunshine Blogger Award by My Library Card Wore Out, and yes, I did get a little bit of a giggle out it. But I guess even the sun has a little dab of darkness here and there whenever it farts a bit of pent up energy into the universe.

As it goes with these fun little awards, there are rules – which I don’t always adhere to, but I expect most people do these things for fun.

  • Name drop and link to the blog of the person who nominated you.

  • Answer the eleven questions from the blogger who nominated you.

  • Nominate up to eleven wonderful bloggers and write (or borrow/steal) eleven questions for them to answer.

  • Bend said rules

And here are the questions from My Library Card Wore Out, along with my answers.

What are you currently reading and why did you choose that book?

I’m always in the middle of a few books. I’m currently listening to my very first Star Wars book, Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne. I’ve really enjoyed Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles and then a blogger friend gifted me his Star Wars book. I’m only 1 disc into it so far, but it’s a lot of fun and makes me want to rewatch the Star Wars movies. Then I’m also listening to Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett. It’s a great kid’s book that takes place in Norway and had all this mythology stuff thrown in. Trolls and the Wild Hunt! Then on the Kindle I’m also listening to Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese. The humor reminds me a little of Douglas Adams but not so over the top all the time. I’m quite enjoying that as well. Then I’m trying to eyeball read Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror and The Golden Valley: The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet. I’ve been dealing with a lengthy illness and it leaves me greatly fatigued so my text reading is very slow.

When you were a teenager, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A biologist of one flavor or another. For awhile, it was a marine biologist. Then I was into bugs. Reptiles are cool too. Pandas – so adorable and so horribly inefficient at surviving!

There’s a massive asteroid heading your way and it is about to destroy planet Earth and you have 24 hours to live. What would you do for your last 24 hours?

Well, first I call those that I want along for the ride and tell them to get their butts over here. Then I start packing my rocketship. I’ll need food, bedding, entertainment, toilet paper, pet food, and seeds to get the grow vats started. Then the last 6 hours will probably be spent convincing people and pets to get their asses on the ship, doing the final checks and warm up, and then actually getting off the planet.

Tea or coffee?

Tea. Black orange tea is one of my favorites. Last year I tried to become a coffee person, but it tears up my stomach when I drink it straight, and so I really only like it if it’s totally froofrooed up, and then it’s not really coffee anymore, is it?

Book or movie?

Usually a book, though I do like action movies with lots of special effects on the big screen. The age of the Super Hero movie is a great thing to alive for!

You can only watch one movie for the rest of your life. What will it be and why?

That’s a tough one. I’m tempted to cheat and say The Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Firefly series including the movie Serenity. Lady in the Water is a top pick as well. Or perhaps Brick. Or Pitch Black.

You find a genie and he says that he can transport you into your favorite book. Forever. What book would it be and why?

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey. It’s a great mix of historical fiction and fantasy, with no small amount of quality sex thrown in.

What’s your favorite website (any subject)?

The giant panda cam at the national zoo. It feels a little voyeuristic but, hey, it’s pandas!

If you could meet any celebrity, who would you meet and why?

I think it would be great to meet Alan Dean Foster. I grew reading his scifi books and I especially love his Pip & Flinx series. From his website, it looks like he travels a lot as well, so I bet he would have lots of great stories to tell over drinks.

You can also meet any person from history, who would you choose to meet and for what reason?

Queen Elizabeth I of England. She was a ruler, and a fairly successful one, at a time when women weren’t rulers. She was also a bit more tolerant than other nations in regards to religious practices. Tho she did have a temper, so things would never be boring in her court.

You can only study one thing for the rest of your life. What would you choose to study?

Women in history. Since it has been overlooked for so long, there’s always more coming to light, so I think it will be decades, perhaps centuries before that chunk of history runs out of surprises for us.

As usual, I like to leave these things as an open mic. If you enjoy answering random questions, please join in – either in the comments or via a blog post. With that said, I will mention some blogs I enjoy following. I spend time over at The Audio Book Reviewer, where they have not only reviews but also giveaways and narrator and author interviews. Musings on Fantasia is a great place for not just chatting about books but for also writing tips/shares and such. It’s run by the author Liesel Hill, whose short story The Hatching is one of my favorites. I’m fairly new to following X+1, who has been hosting a read along of The Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch, but there’s other good stuff there too. I’ve read several of Edward Lorn’s books and I like to follow his blog as well – book reviews, darkly humorous fun stuff, sometimes commentary on current events. Fangs, Wands, & Fairy Dust is rather eclectic in book reviews, some commentary, and cool giveaways. I enjoy catching the weekly Buzz Worthy news over at Cuddlebuggery. Under My Apple Tree is also an eclectic reader/reviewer and posts pics of birds and flowers as well. For more audiobook fun check out the AudioGals and The Guilded Earlobe.

Here are my 11 questions for folks who want to play to answer: 

  1. Do you have any phobias
  2. If you were to create your own special ice cream, what would it be?
  3. Who are your favorite hero duos?
  4. What was the last thing to keep you in suspense?
  5. Do spoilers ruin the experience for you?
  6. Who is your favorite comedian?
  7. You’re about to be tossed into a post-apocalyptic world –  pick the world.
  8. If you could be a super villain, what would be your super villain name?
  9. You’re arranging a family dinner out – fancy place where you have to dress up or comfy clothes and comfort food?
  10. What are your current top 5 favorite reads?
  11. What is your favorite format (paperbook, ebook, audiobook) of reading material?

In the Mist of Killarney by Robert McCallum

McCallumInTheMistOfKillarneyWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: David Ocean

Publisher: Books by R. L. McCallum (2016)

Length: 5 hours 12 minutes

Author’s Page

Starting off in 1911 Ireland, Professor Emmet Brehon is on the hunt for fairies. He believes they are more than simple bits of folklore. He finds a secluded place that is rumored to be visited by fairies and surprisingly, he sees two young fairy like girls and a mysterious light. He snaps a photo, intending to use it as proof of the existence of fairies. Alas, one misfortune after another falls upon Emmet and those close to him. He starts to suspect the photo may be more than a simple picture.

The story took a little while for me to get into. Things start off quaint and cozy. Once horrible things start happening, the pace picks up and things are much more interesting. First, there’s this mysterious photo and Emmet is the only one who seems to be able to see the fairies and the ghostly light in it. Then he notices that when he sees nothing but the background vegetation in the photo, bad things happen. First, there’s a car accident and the mother of his fiance is killed. At the funeral, there is an awful storm and the open grave fills with water and the coffin floats off, perusing Emmet and Katherine (his fiance). It goes on from there – the spooky and misfortunate and disfiguring and sometimes deadly events pile up.

Emmet eventually learns that he can’t destroy or bury or pass off the photo to be free of the troublesome spirits that inhabit it. Unfortunately, he also can no longer get stinking drunk and forget about the photo. Poor dude. Emmet tries to the flee Ireland, hoping to leave the magic that powers the spirits behind. However, this proves very difficult. I really enjoyed that it was not easy or simple for Emmet to be free of these spirits. It becomes the thing that drives him but also the thing that gets him in trouble with friends and authorities alike.

The story spans 4 years and the author threw in some references to famous people or events of the time, like Houdini and the Titanic. I like that he did this,  giving me reference points to other things happening in the world at the same time that Emmet is struggling with his spirits….. or a mental illness? Indeed, as the story moved forward, I had to start wondering if Emmet was all there, as some characters in the story wonder. The author doesn’t push the reader one way or the other and it’s up to you to decide.

Over all, it was a fun tale of classic horror. There’s not much gore, as the story relies mostly on the psychological terror of the events Emmet is party to, or at least a witness to. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story and I’m glad I stuck with it.

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

The Narration: This was a tough book to get through because of the narration. The volume keeps changing. The narration in general sounds either muffled or like at the end of a long metal tube. David Ocean tries to spruce it up a bit with a few sound effects but these are roughly pasted into the performance, like the sound of two girls giggling. Also, sometimes when he does a different character voice, like Katherine’s, that also sounds pasted in – not always, just sometimes. With that said, he does do an Irish accent for Emmet and Katherine all the way through the book. His female voices are believable. 

What I Liked: Psychological horror; the quest to prove fairies are real; the cover art; references to other events and famous people of the times; mental illness or true fairie trouble?; satisfying ending.

What I Disliked: The narration; started off a bit slow and dull.

Changes by Jim Butcher

ButcherChangesWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2010)

Length: 15 hours 28 minutes

Series: Book 12 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

Note: I feel that Death Masks, Book 5, is where reading this series out of order starts to do you an injustice. This book does work as a stand alone to some extent, but you will get major spoilers for the previous books in the series and it also pulls in characters we have met before. So I recommend reading the previous books before you jump into this one.

Out of Harry’s past, Susan Rodriguez gives him a call, though it isn’t to swap the latest news of their lives. Their daughter, Maggie, has been taken by the Red Court vampires and Harry is ready to go on the war path. Harry will give up plenty in this book in order to save a child he has never met.

Way back on my review for Book 3, I said that’s when the series gets real and the ante was upped. Now, this is the book that showed me the author isn’t afraid to push that envelope to the breaking point. I had plenty of emotions on this one, even on the reread. Harry can take only so much abuse!

Susan, who is tainted with Red Court vampire bite but has held off the change all these years, flies into town with her sidekick, Martin (who shares the same affliction). They work with Harry, Thomas, and Murphy to dig up info on one of the leaders of the Red Court, Arianna Ortega. Harry soon learns that he’s got a pair of vampire assassins after him and they have some monstrous near-jaguar thing (which he calls the Ick) with them. The Ick quickly scraps his car and the assassins take out his office. It only gets more heated from there.

Harry calls in every favor owed him and then some in his hunt for info on his daughter’s location. He even burns a few bridges with the White Council of wizards in doing so. A handful of folks guess why this one human child is worth so much to him and all who know advise him to keep that very, very quiet. Meanwhile, Harry is advised to seek out some assistance from crime lord John Marcone, who points him to Monoc Securities. This is one of my favorite little parts of the book. I love that the author starts to pull in some deities as Harry gains in power.

The assassins aren’t done with Harry and he continues to lose things that matter to him. Eventually, he’s trapped between a rock and a hard place and he has to do something he never wanted to do. That was tough. It makes a great read and a great story but I also felt for Harry in that moment when he makes the decision.

The last quarter of the book is this long running battle full of individual triumphs and failures as Harry and his friends face off with the Red Court. It’s incredible! So many people laying it all on the line against such odds and Harry really letting his inner dark side out to play! It was intense but not fatiguing.

There are plenty of repercussions to that lengthy fight. Some we know by the end of the book and some we don’t until later in the series. That’s one thing I really enjoy about this series: your actions have repercussions, no matter your reasons. For instance, Murphy took yet more time off from work to assist Harry and she will pay for that. We also learn some things about Harry’s past and about his mother. All in all, I think this is one of the best books in the series.

Narration: James Marsters continues to do awesome work with this series. He is angry Harry, tender Harry, sad Harry, relieved Harry, etc. He really owns this character. In this book, he also does a great job with some Mayan words (such as the full name of the Ick). His voice for the Red King of the Red Court Vampires is chilling. I also love his voice for the delighted, and perhaps slightly demented, Liana (Harry’s fairy godmother).

What I Liked: Several significant changes happen to Harry in this book; actions have consequences; Harry pulls out all the stops to rescue his daughter; there’s at least one kiss, betrayal, sword fights, might and magic, and overwhelming odds!; great narration; significant ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing – one of the best books in the series!

What Others Think:

Knite Writes

Love Vampires

The Ranting Dragon

Guild Master Gaming

iO9

Fantasy Book Critic

11-22-63: A Novel by Stephen King

King112263Where I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Craig Wasson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2011)

Length: 30 hours 44 minutes

Author’s Page

Al Templeton has a secret and that secret is that he has a little time portal to 1958 in the basement of his diner. Each time he goes through, it resets everything, which has been allowing him to buy ground beef for his diner at an incredibly low price for years. Then Al decided he should do something worthy with this time portal. Alas, he is going to die of cancer before he can complete his self-assigned mission. So he entrusts this mission to his friend Jake Epping. Of course, Jake needs to test the portal out before he believes Al, but once he’s satisfied that it’s real, he’s willing to sit with Al and hear his plan out. The mission is to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting President John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Al believes that by saving this one man, the Vietnam war (and then some) will be avoided.

This is my first Stephen King novel and it’s quite a dense work to start with. The first 6 or 7 hours of the book were pretty slow for me. There’s a little bit of action as Al explains the ‘test’ he did to verify that the timeline could indeed be changed, but mostly it’s a lot of convincing Jake and setting up the reasons why he needs to do this. I also believe that’s it rare that saving or killing one person can alter a major event, so it was a hard sell to me as to the merit of saving JFK – I don’t think saving him would necessarily avert the Vietnam war. So I found myself only listening to this novel in short spurts of an hour or two. But then Jake decides to the plunge and test the timeline himself. That’s when things really got interesting.

Jake Epping becomes George Emberson in 1958. He travels to Maine and settles in while waiting for the chance to set right a grievous injustice done to a mother and her children. The people in the small town are suspicious of newcomers and George’s real estate excuse doesn’t wash with everyone. George basically spies on the family he intends to save and the man who historically tore it apart. Jake of 2011 has no experience doing these sorts of things, so George of 1958 has to get comfortable deceiving people. I liked that George bumbled around a bit as he picked up the lingo and absorbed the atmosphere of 1958.

Once he’s done what he came to do, he returns to 2011 to check on the timeline and see what changes his efforts made. Once satisfied that he can indeed change history, he has the big choice to make. If he goes through to 1958, he has to live several years in the past before he can stop Lee Harvey Oswald on that fateful day, but then he may well also be trapped in the past.

I found myself more interested in George’s side projects at first – saving that mother and her kids in Maine, and then another person from a hunting accident. There was drama and apparently Time herself puts plenty of obstacles in the way, wanting to keep things as they are. Then things slowed down a bit as George settled into a teaching position in Texas (which is what he did in real life in 2011). Eventually, he starts making friends and becomes wrapped up in their lives. The drama rises again as he finds a romantic entanglement with Sadie, the school librarian.

The most interesting part of the book was probably the last 7 or 8 hours. These are the events in George’s life leading up to the JFK parade in Dallas, his attempts to stop Oswald, and the aftermath of those actions. Not everything is rosy and fine, which I thought was great and realistic and really made the story for me. George is faced with yet more tough choices and I felt my heart break just a little for him.

At first, I was a bit concerned that the author wouldn’t be addressing racial prejudices in this book, even though they were definitely alive and kicking in the 1960s. While George is in Maine, we don’t see much, though there are some characters that have racial issues with a Jewish character. Once George heads south, the author does a decent job of inserting a few well-wrought scenes that show the racial divide between folks at the time.

Over all, I’m glad I put the time into this book. It’s definitely well researched – from the foods available, to the TV shows, to women’s rights, to nearly everyone smoking nearly every where, to the cars, to the politics. I had zero interest in the Kennedy assassination before I read this book and now I have at least a little interest in the times and politics of his presidency. The author gives a brief talk at the end of the book about why he wrote this book and how his life was affected by the assassination and I thought that was a nice bonus to us listeners.

The Narration: Craig Wasson did a pretty good job with this book. Several accents – Russian, German, French, along with regional US accents – were required and he did them all well. There is also this huge cast of characters ranging in ages and jobs and situations. Wasson pulled them all off giving us a very good performance. George’s breaking heart and Sadie’s near-suicidal attitude really came through. 

What I Liked: George’s side projects of helping a few people out where he could in the past; the book was well researched and that came through in so many details; great narration; the building tension towards the end of the book; not all is rosy and fine at the end.

What I Disliked: The book started off pretty darn slow; I initially had no interest in the Kennedy assassination.

What Others Think: 

The Guilded Earlobe

Fantasy Book Review

Kirkus Book Reviews