Bayou Moon by Geraldine Allie

AllieBayouMoonNarrator: Ashley Huyge

Publisher: Punch Audio (2014)

Length: 1 hour 18 minutes

Series: Book 2 Werewolves & Shifters

Author’s Page

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

In this dark comedy, Maggie is a lonely vampire. She contemplates suicide but decides to try to make some company for herself first. Kreel and Charlie work at a cemetery, which is the perfect place to meet suicidal, lonely vampires apparently.

Charlie drinks on the job, which makes him an easy target when Maggie attacks. Alas, his head is dented in so he provides much of the humor for the rest of the story. Kreel is dead set against being a demon blood sucker forever so he has a huge argument with Maggie, which isn’t what she was expecting. Toss in some voodoo and family ties and there’s plenty of fodder for humor.

This story was quite a bit different from Book 1, Blood Moon. There’s dark humor every where (which I liked) but no sex of any kind (which was fine). The pacing is still swift as there’s plenty of ground to cover and characters to introduce in this short story. Over all, I liked this book better than Book 1. I felt the characters were a little better formed, I liked all the humor, and I didn’t have to put my suspension of disbelief in overdrive over some sudden hormonal romantic hookup. The ending does have a solid tie into the first book but you don’t have to have read it to enjoy this story.

I received a free copy of this audiobook.

The Narration: Ashley Huyge was great with the accents but didn’t do spooky at all. Instead she sounds chipper the entire way through, like a flight attendant. This worked for the humor but not for the lonesome suicidal part of Maggie’s personality.

What I Liked: Dark humor; Charlie’s dented head; Kreel’s rejection of Maggie’s ‘gift’; voodoo; eventual tie in to Book 1; the cover art.

What I Disliked: Sometimes the chipper narration didn’t fit the character’s inner turmoil.

Giveaway & Review: Beyond the Rising Tide by Sarah Beard


Beyond the Rising Tide Audio
Beyond the Rising Tide by Sarah Beard

Kai met Avery only once–in the moment he died saving her life. Now when he’s not using his new healing powers to help people, he watches helplessly as Avery’s life is unraveled by his death. To help her, he risks everything by breaking the rules, dangerously blurring the barriers between life and death.


Praise for the Book

“Vividly imagined, this novel is the perfect mix of modern love story and literary fiction. One brimming with genuine emotion that had me re-reading passages simply because they were too beautifully written to experience just once.” –Julie N. Ford, author of With No Regrets

“This book is not only an engaging and satisfying supernatural romance, but also a beautiful story about life, death, and the gray places in between.” –E.B. Wheeler, author of The Haunting of Springett Hall
“This is one of those stories that stays with you long after the closing scene. It was beautifully imagined and vividly written and I absolutely loved it!” –Teresa Richards, author of Emerald Bound

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Author Sarah Beard had just released the Audiobook of Beyond the Rising Tide.

You can listen to a sample of the book HERE.

Sarah BeardAuthor Sarah Beard
Sarah Beard is the author of YA novels Porcelain Keys and Beyond the Rising Tide. She earned a degree in communications from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MFA in writing from VCFA. When she’s not writing, she referees wrestling matches between her three boys and listens to audiobooks while folding self-replicating piles of laundry. She is a breast cancer survivor, a baker of sweets, a seeker of good love stories, a composer of melancholy music, and a traveler who wishes her travel budget was much bigger. She lives with her husband and children in the shadow of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains.

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Narrators: Dana Dae, Zachary Webber, Punch Audio

Length: 9 hours 47 minutes

Publisher: Sarah Beard (2016)

Kai died while saving Avery from drowning and now his spirit continues on, healing people where he is assigned to. During his down time, he watches Avery. In the many months since that day she nearly drowned, her life has been fraying at the edges. She’s obsessed with finding out the identity of the boy who saved her life, only to have his lost and his body never recovered. She feels she can’t move on with her own life until she can locate his family and let them know how his ended. Kai, seeing that her life is not so much of a life anymore, risks much to help her heal her frayed emotions and move on.

This was a very enchanting story that surprised me in several ways. First, I’m not usually one to venture into contemporary romance, but lately I have been dabbling my toes in it. So I was quite surprised to find myself really wishing the two main characters would find a way to have a happy ending, one where love conquers all. Second, I know nothing about surfing and that sport features heavily in this book, but it’s done in such an approachable way. Now, I want surfing lessons. Lastly, YA is not something I seek out. If it happens to be a component of the story, then that’s OK, but it’s not a label that I look for. For this book, the coming of age coupled with young love was perfect for these characters.

The author did an amazing balancing act with this tale. Her writing brings up my own recollections of teenage parties, friendships, anxieties, hopes, and first loves. Yet she never goes overboard with any one component. For instance, there’s just the right touch of teen angst here and there but not so much as to make me think it’s there for drama’s sake alone. Young love plays a critical role in the plot, but, again, it’s not over worked. It was a joy to read these parts instead of being something I felt I had to plow through to get to the real story.

Kai, who technically is an angel (though the word is not lightly used in the story), is a very interesting character, and not just because he’s dead. We don’t learn everything about him upfront. Like Avery, we have to pull one secret after another out of him as the story moves forward. Before his heroic act, he had big dreams, family, a rough past. However, we meet him when those things are no longer in his grasp. Through him we learn about the place in between the Briar and Elysium, where others like him take on assignments to assist those in the mortal world in one way or another. I really liked these parts of the story with all their imagery. Also, there is Charles, Kai’s mentor from real life and his mentor in the afterlife. Charles was key in showing young Kai how to be a good person in life and he continues to give Kai that love and support after death. I think we all need a Charles in our lives.

Now Avery is also an interesting character but in different ways. Her life is more open and her secrets don’t have to be gently teased out of her, at least not for us readers. To some extent, she has been part of the adult world for a few years now. Her mom suffers from mental illness and she’s been working a regular job at her dad’s chocolate store for several years. At this point, she keeps her own schedule so long as one parent or the other knows where she’s at. She’s been a competition surfer for years but since that fateful day where she nearly drowned, she hasn’t been back in the water. Also, her boyfriend Tyler, who she was serious about, broke off their relationship after the accident. Additionally, her parents have separated, though she still sees each weekly. She’s been through trauma and change in short order.

There was a delicious build up to the end. Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how things would play out, but I had definite ideas about how I wanted things to end (because I cared about these characters). Kai has some serious things he has to do before he can move on to Elysium and Avery has some serious things she has to do before she can move on with her life. I was really hoping to see them end up together somehow, but I wasn’t sure until the very end whether that would be or not. Without giving anything away, it was a very satisfying ending. Indeed, this tale was a weight to it that I didn’t expect to find in a romantic surfer YA story.

The Narration: Quite frankly, when I saw that Punch Audio had a hand in the making of this audiobook, it heavily influenced me to give it a try. I have listened to several Punch Audio productions and they always put forth a quality story. Dana Dae was a great pick for Avery. She sounds like a young lady on the cusp of full adulthood. She did a great job imbuing the characters with emotion without making them sound overly dramatic. Zachary Webber was also great, a really good match for Kai. I loved his voice, being deep enough to evoke images of a man grown. He also did a very good Hispanic accent for old Isadora.

What I Liked: Avery’s got more than one issue going on in her life; Kai has his secrets and it takes most of the book to uncover them; the way surfing is used to anchor parts of the story; Charles and his patient guidance; beautiful cover art; excellent narration.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – it was quite a charming tale!

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Sleeping Beauty by Jenni James

JamesSleepingBeautyWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Karen Dotrice, Punch Audio

Publisher: StoneHouse Ink (2016)

Length: 4 hours 18 minutes

Series: Book 2 Faerie Tale Collection

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the collection it works just fine as a stand a lone.

Aleyna has been asleep for decades. The evil enchantress Valeria destroyed her kingdom. The good unicorn wizard Ezralon put Aleyna under a sleep spell to protect her. Now her ghost haunts her ruined castle, though she sees it only as it was when she was awake and living there. Ghost servants assist her in her daily needs and do their best to keep her company. In a nearby kingdom, Darien, brother to King Michael, has taken a bet to explore the ruins and confront the ghost. Darien has an unusual fear of the supernatural, so this dare will not be an easy one to see through to the end.

Ezralon was my favorite character. He’s a gruff old wizard, and also a unicorn. The inherent opposites of those two things tickled me to no end! I also love that he’s protective of Aleyna but also willing to help the right person bring her out of her sleep.

Aleyna was pretty so-so for me. She’s not had much real world experience but she’s still got a little too much fluff between the ears for my taste. She needs assistance with nearly everything for much of the book, though she does have one or two moments when she rises above and accomplishes something. She has these PTSD moments when her memories of the past come back to her and I felt these scenes were given the most weight, defining the character, and making her rather dependent on others. I didn’t feel that she was the hero of the story at all. Darien has a little more meat to him than Aleyna. He falls in love easily and is very chivalrous, etc. That was to be expected and came off as vanilla bland.

Darien’s crew (young noblemen who came with him on this dare) agree to protect Aleyna and her crumbling castle from the hoards of bad things Valeria has brought with her. MILD SPOILER Aleyna has a power of her own that she isn’t fully aware of, but Ezralon and Valeria are. So Ezralon advises Aleyna to use that power to surprise Valeria while Darien and crew make ready for a stronger defense of the castle. This super power is looking extremely fantastic, like radiant, in a nice dress. Yep. END SPOILER. I was pretty disappointed on that one. Really? That’s her special ability? Argh!

Over all, the story was a little too happy and Disney-esque for me. It does have a full story arc and there’s no gaping holes. Yet I wanted more out of the main character Aleyna, a lot more really. In the end, I felt that Valeria had a very bad day and was totally off her game and that had she taken the time to have a cup of coffee, she could have easily defeated Alyena and crew. I do really like Ezralon and hope that he gets his own story one day.

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

The Narration: Karen Dotrice’s performance was pretty good. She had several different character voices with accents and she was great on getting emotions across to the listener. However, whenever Darien was shushing Helena in comfort, it was just a bit too much sssshhhhhh, to the point where I had to turn down the volume. Also, the name pronunciation wasn’t always clear to me – Helena? Alena? Ezrilond? Ezrimond?

What I Liked: Haunted crumbling castle; Aleyna’s time in the kitchens; Ezralon and his gruff affection; Valeria and her minions.

What I Disliked: Aleyna isn’t one to take life by the reigns; Darien is pretty bland; Aleyna’s super power is silly; a little too Disney-esque for me.

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The Earp Brothers: Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp by Charles River Editors

CharlesRiverEditorsTheEarpBrothersWhere I Got It: Review copy from Punch Audio (thanks!).

Narrator: Alex Hyde-White

Publisher: Charles River Editors (2015)

Length: 2 hours 45 minutes

Author’s Page

Many folks know the Earp brothers from the gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ. Wyatt Earp in particular is seen as an icon of the Wild West. However, this book gives you so much more than that. Each of the Earp brothers was a flawed human, leading interesting lives. There’s law breaking, brothels, drug use, affairs and multiple wives, gambling, and the rough & tough enforcement of the law.

Charles River Editors has put together yet another fascinating read. I knew very little about the Earp brothers before diving into this book and now feel that I can hold a decent conversation about them. This book starts off with their family back east and shows how the brothers grew up, went separate ways, and then ended up together again in AZ. The story doesn’t stop there and the book continues the tale of each brother, following them until each one passes out of history.

The Earp’s flaws and sometimes outright lawlessness isn’t sugar coated or glossed over in this book. Indeed, we get to know the factual story for each man, including all their documented indiscretions. I especially like that when the facts become a bit muddied the book is honest about questionable or conflicting historical sources.

My only criticism is that sometimes I would lose track of which brother the story was focused on at any one time. Often, the book would start a section or perhaps a paragraph with the full name (i.e. Wyatt Earp) but then just refer to the man as Earp the rest of the section. So if you missed the full name, you could easily think the story was still focused on whichever brother before. I wish the book had stuck with first names when referring to the Earp brothers for much of the book instead of going with Earp, Earp, and Earp for like 80% of the book. As each brother dies off, it becomes easier to follow which brother is doing what. I expect this wouldn’t be such an issue with a print or ebook edition as you can quickly flip back and visually check which brother you are reading about at any given time.

Overall, this was a very educational book for the uninitiated. I really liked that the gunfight at Tombstone did not make up the bulk of the tale, as there was so much more to the Earp brothers. The book ends by giving a list of various movies made based on the Earps, nearly all focused on the fight in Tombstone.

The Narration: Alex Hyde-White was a good choice for this book. I really felt that he enjoyed narrating the book as much as I enjoyed listening to it. His appreciation for the subject matter came through.  

What I Liked: Educational and entertaining!; The Earps were flawed humans and this book doesn’t flinch from telling it like it is; the gunfight in Tombstone is covered but not the focus of the book; when historical references are conflicting or questionable, this book let’s the reader know that.

What I Disliked: Quite often all 3 brothers are referred to by their last name, so several times I lost track of which Earp brother the book was referring to.

Black Sam: Prince of Pirates by James Lewis

LewisBlackSamWhere I Got It: Review copy from one of the narrators via Everything Audiobooks Facebook page (thanks!).

Narrators: Alex Hyde-White, Roy Dotrice, Scott Brick, Stefan Rudnicki, William Dufris, Jayne Entwistle, Simon Vance, R. C. Bray, and then quite a few more.

Publisher: Punch Audio/Smoke N Oakum (2015)

Length: 10 hours 54 minutes

Series: Book 1 Black Sam (I assume we will have a sequel because this book left the ending set up for another adventure)

Author’s Page

Note: GoodReads has this book written by two authors: James Lewis and Mat McLeod. However, McLeod’s name doesn’t appear on any of the cover art and he is not listed as an author of the book So, not too sure what is going on there.

It’s the early 1700s, the War of the Spanish Succession has ended, and Sam Bellamy, like so many others, is out of a job. The American colonies is where work and opportunity lay. He falls in love with Maria, a New England debutante who comes from a family of some wealth and repute. Sam must make a name (and a wealthy bank account) for himself before Maria’s parents will even consider him a candidate for her hand. Sam takes on a ship and crew to go treasure hunting off the coast of the Florida. Along the way he meets several other entrepreneurs (aka pirates), earns a few enemies, suffers loss, and gains a wealth of knowledge.

Sam is a good guy, like the boy next door. He can be depended on to do the honorable thing. So while his character was pretty predictable, he was still fun and easy to connect with. He runs around saving women, rescuing his men, and standing up to bullies and other disreputables. In fact, his inclinations towards the good true often leave him in a fight.

This is the time of privateers. It seems every major European country has their privateers. The rules these privateers live by seems largely up to the captain. Needless to say if you privateer on an opposing countries ships and get caught, you can be hung as a pirate. The line between pirate and privateer is often thin. I bet you can guess how our hero Black Sam Bellamy ends up in so much trouble!

There’s plenty of historical characters, like Black Beard the pirate, walking in and giving cameos in this book. That was quite fun and I am sure there are more than I recognized. Sometimes they were giving Sam a hand, sometimes obstructing him, and definitely showing him the seedier side to pirating.

There are very few women in this story and often they are focused on the men and/or need rescuing. Maria was the main female and even so she had a small role. If she wasn’t thinking about men she was talking to or about them. Hence, the ladies were entirely predictable and rather boring.

I did enjoy the book. The plot was a bit predictable because the main characters were predictable. Even so, it was a fun romp through the American colonies and on the high seas. The good guys win, the sticklers for protocol get snubbed and perhaps learn something, and the bad guys either die or go on to wreak havoc for a sequel. If you are looking for a pirate adventure that doesn’t require close attention, then this is perfect brain candy.

The Narration: As you can see above, there was quite the cast for this book! Alex Hyde-White was our main narrator and he did a really good job as Sam Bellamy’s voice. I had a fun time picking out familiar narrators as they popped in and out. My only criticism is that sometimes the background white noise changed as we switched narrators, making it clear that not everyone was in the same studio during recording, and also some studios had a better quality of recording than others.  

What I Liked: Fun historical fiction; Sam is easy to cheer for; historical figures pop in and out; great cast for the narration.

What I Disliked: Very few ladies and they have no lives outside of what concerns the men; plot was a bit predictable.

Blood Moon by Geraldine Allie

AllieBloodMoonWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Alex Hyde-White

Publisher: Punch Audio (2014)

Length: 1 hour 29 minutes

Series: Book 1 Werewolves & Shifters

Author’s Page

Maxine Lewis and Nate Jackson find themselves thrown together in a dark, dirty place. Nate, as leader of his shifter pack, was on the hunt for some murderous vampires. Maxine was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Things happen super fast in this one. Nate goes on the hunt, rescues Maxine from some vampires, they end up running and hiding and getting to know one another via some sexytimes, and then there is more vampire killing. There’s only one female character, and she needs rescuing. So the whole Damsel In Distress thing was a bit predictable. Also, sometimes the events happened so quickly I felt like I had whiplash.

Now that I have my criticisms out of the way, I did enjoy Nate’s character throughout the story. He is focused and wants what is best for his pack. Falling for Maxine is definitely not what’s best, and that constant flow of contradictory emotions was well played. While I did enjoy the sexytimes, they were over too quickly and since I hadn’t really connected to both characters, it was not as enjoyable as when I care about both parties involved.

There’s plenty of potential with this story. It’s short and perhaps should be read with the intent of jumping right into Book 2 so that the world and character development can continue.

The Narration: Alex Hyde-White was a good pick for Nate. He definitely pulled off the take-charge attitude. He had a decent feminine voice for Maxine.

What I Liked: Lovely cover art!; fun basic premise (vampires versus werewolves); Maxine & Nate definitely have sparks; plenty of room to grow in world & character development.

What I Disliked: The pacing is sometimes very fast (like whiplash fast); Maxine is the damsel in distress.

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