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ToxiCity by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Toxicity - Libby Fischer Hellmann

Note: While this is labeled as Book #3 of the series, it really is set before Book #1 and can be read as a stand alone novel.

This is a clever serial killer mystery. The Feldman development site seems to be central to the story, but us readers know a little more than the detectives. The story has flashbacks to when houses were just going up on the Feldman site, showing us how families put their dreams into being home owners. At first the bodies don’t seem to be connected, but as Georgia and Detective Matt Singer dig into each one, similarities become apparent.

Singer and his partner Detective Sargent John Stone make a good team. But Matt has some personal issues. First, he’s in a relationship with Georgia, which is against department regulations. That double standard rears it’s ugly head and Georgia pays the price. Then he’s helping out a potential victim of the serial killer, Vicky Feldman (daughter of the Feldman who created the housing complex).

While I really enjoyed the plot, the characters fell a little flat for me. Matt is a wishwashy guy who can’t decide what he wants in a relationship. Georgia is drowning in self-pity and alcohol. Stone is interesting but we get so little of him. Ricky starts off as a capable business woman but later huffs off in anger, putting several people in danger.

The ending is full of suspense and action. The story revealed the motivations of the killer in such a way that I did sympathize with them in many ways. It was an excellent wrap up of the murder mystery. I did want a bit more from Georgia, showing us clearly how she went from being that drunken sorry sot to the competent PI we know and love. 4/5 stars

The Narration: Beth Richmond and Derek Shetterly tag team this book. I’ve gotten used to Richmond narrating the first 2 books solo, so I feel she could have pulled this entire book off. Again, I like her voice for Georgia. She also tackles several Jewish words with ease. Shetterly was OK. I often had trouble differentiating his voice for Stone and his voice for Singer, so I sometimes lost track of what each guy was doing. Over all, the pacing was good and there were no tech issues with the recording. 4/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Libby Fischer Hellmann. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Double Duplicity by Paty Jager

Double Duplicity (Shandra Higheagle Mystery, #1) - Paty Jager

Shandra Higheagle is an easy character to like. At first, I was drawn in by her practical nature, how she stood her ground, and how she stood up for her friends. I was drawn into the mystery right away.

Later on, things get a little silly. Shandra decides the best way to investigate matters is to show some cleavage… but then she gets a little offended when people take note of said cleavage. I just had to roll my eyes little at that.

Detective Ryan Greer is truly dedicated to his job. I liked him right away too. He relies on facts, not opinions. At least, at first he does. Later in the story he starts to rely on Shandra’s dreams. That part of the story didn’t work for me. I think it’s because both of them relied too heavily on her dream warnings too quickly. I would need lots and lots of proof before doing so.

The romance was cute, but romance isn’t my cup of tea. For me, it started off fine, adding to the character development. Later on, it was a distraction especially as it became more of an insta-luv thing than a slow burn.

The mystery was fun. There’s a limited number of characters so guessing which character perpetrated which crime wasn’t too hard, but I had fun watching our heroes untangle it all. All told, 3.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Ann M. Thompson did OK. Initially, she had a great voice for Shandra, a deep feminine voice, as described in the book. However, this slowly slips into a lighter female voice. If there were 2 or more characters in a scene, then the voices were distinct. However, if it was just a single character, that voice could sound like another single character. So, there wasn’t a steady, continuous distinction among the character voices. Thompson’s male characters need masculinity. Often, I mistook a male character for a female one because of the voice. The pacing was good and there were no technical issues with this recording. 3.5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Paty Jager. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Mutation by Kevin Hardman

Mutation: A Kid Sensation Novel - Kevin Hardman

Note: While this is Book 2, you could jump directly into it and enjoy the story without having listened to Book 1.

Kid Sensation goes off to Super Hero college in this book. He’s finally learned how to drive (mostly) and his girlfriend Electra is going off to college with him. So life is grand. The college is awesome, he’s making new friends…. and then bad stuff happens. Nothing like a little death and mayhem to ruin a great time!

Adam Atom was a prankster, but when Supers start getting sick, bad stuff happens. Adam is one of the first to show signs of illness, and a prank of his went horribly wrong, so he’s also wracked with guilt. Our Jim (Kid Sensation) also falls ill and the college medical staff are ill-equipped to deal with violently ill Supers. For many of the Supers, it’s their first time being ill, so they aren’t prepared mentally for it. They are confused and worried, and some loose control of their powers. All around, it is a mess!

Anyway, eventually Kid Sensation gets his stuff together and he rallies some allies to find the source of this illness. Gossamer (an elf, sorta), Caine (a human with magic on his side), Gavin (a tech guru), and this other dude whose name currently escapes me but I liked his character because he was so practical and an android.

The big baddie for this story is Estrella. She’s got many of the powers that Sensation has, so she’s a real match for him. For part of the story, she has a kid clairvoyant (Rudy) working with her, so that made her extra hard to defeat. In fact, in that round, Sensation didn’t win, but Estrella withdrew from the field of battle to help her brother. Anyway, she’s basically a star in human form and that alone makes her hard to kill or knockout or injure or scare. Estrella was the best thing about this book.

Over all, it feels more like a YA book because it’s nearly all action, and what isn’t action is young people being awkward around each other trying to make that solid emotional connection. It was cute, fun, on that level. I would like a bit more depth and I think the series has solid potential for that.

The action kept me thoroughly interested in the story. There’s always something around the next corner, some further challenge for Sensation to face. I also enjoyed that not all Supers are created the same way – some are mutations, some are alien half breeds, some are not made of flesh and bone, etc. The story has a lot going for it big-picture wise. This tale closes with a solid ending, but leaving us ready to see what Sensation gets into in the next book. 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Mikael Naramore is always a treat to listen to and he doesn’t disappoint in this book. His voice for Jim (Sensation) is spot on. His female voices are feminine. I especially like his angry battle voice for Estrella. His slightly crazed voice for Dr. Schaffer is also great. The pacing was perfect and there were no technical issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are truly my own.

The Light by Lars Hedbor

The Light: Tales from a Revolution - New Jersey - Lars D. H. Hedbor

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

The American Revolution was always such a boring topic in high school. Taught by dates and numbers and famous documents, it was a very dry subject. No more! Hedbor is bringing this bit of history to life. I quite enjoyed The Light, and that was unexpected. I did worry that this story might be a little preachy since the main character, Robert, is a devoted Quaker. Yet Hedbor did a really great job of getting Robert’s inner feelings and motivations across without ramming Robert’s personal beliefs down the reader’s throat.

The tale covers a lot of ground without feeling rushed. Robert has a serious falling out with his father, Peter, over their shared faith. Indeed, Robert goes on to become one of the New Quakers. Religion was an important facet to the lives of many people and for some the right to worship as they wish became their core belief.

Then we see Robert’s professional life. He’s a blacksmith and he has dealings with some Irish brothers (Angus and Rufus). He also has to make some hard choices about supplying the local English soldiers, or not. Or rather, will he supply only non-weapons, or will he make canon balls and the like? Robert’s firm belief in non-violence is his guiding principle, yet he has his wife and daughter to think of too. It’s a great conundrum to place our main character in.

The one weakness to this story is that the ladies are few and far between. They are only the home makers and comforters. In short, they don’t affect the plot. The author could have left them out and the story wouldn’t be different. So, sigh…. We all know women did more than clean, cook, and bear children during the American Revolution. Rebecca is Robert’s daughter. Then there’s Mary and Margaret. One is Robert’s wife and the other is his mom and I can’t recall who is who.

OK, back to the good stuff. There’s more drama as the first volleys of the American Revolution occur. I liked that we got to see them or hear about them from the characters, since they weren’t directly involved in the fighting. Yet they are definitely affected by all of it – the politics, the fighting, the change in commerce, etc.

I also like that the author held to some language norms of the time, using thee and thy and thou as appropriate. His little note on language and more at the end was great too. I always appreciate hearing why a historian chose this or that for a good story. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Shamaan Casey certainly has an engaging voice. His deep voice reminds me strongly of Stefan Rudnicki, a favorite narrator of mine. He was great with the characters’ voices, keeping everyone distinct and imbuing them with emotion. I liked his regional accents. His female character voices were also feminine. The one weakness is in the technical recording. The volume does change here and there, and a few spots sound just a little like they were recorded in a cavern. So the technical side could use a little polishing. 4/5 stars.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are truly my own.

Unclean Spirits by MLN Hanover

Unclean Spirits - M.L.N. Hanover

This is a very fun urban fantasy! I don’t know why it hasn’t been on my radar sooner. Jayné is an engaging character and I love how she (and us readers) are tossed into the middle of things when her uncle Eric passes away. She’s surprised to learn that she was his sole heir and that gives her a chance to restart her life. Yet there’s a glitch – Randolph Coin! Let the badass magic and hand-to-hand combat start!

It was great that this story didn’t follow the standard urban fantasy Book 1 formula. Jayné and crew plan, practice, and go forth to battle evil… and things go wrong. We still have half the book to go! What will happen next? I loved it – I couldn’t guess how things were going to fall out. The team is breaking up, no longer acting like a team, and totally disheartened by their failure. Jayné will either rise, bringing them together, or take her inheritance and restart her life in some other city.

The side characters are all very interesting too. There aren’t many female characters, so I would like to see a better balance. The immediate team that worked with Eric are all guys (Ex, Aubrey, Midian, Chogyi Jake). Later on, a wife/husband team joins the group since Jayné did them a solid favor early in the story. For me, Midian and Ex were the most interesting side characters because they obviously have pasts and are conflicted over them.

In this tale, our heroes combat Riders, which are malevolent spirits that hijack human bodies. They come in different flavors and a few are explained in this book. I expect more will be explained later in the series. I like that this sometimes makes their job harder as they will try to save the human by expelling the Rider. This isn’t always possible, which causes some moral indigestion for some of our heroes. I love these complications.

There’s a side romance that was just so-so for me. It added some drama to the story, but I don’t feel the plot needed more drama. After all, we were saving the world! That’s drama enough. All together, 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Suzy Jackson was perfect for this story. She nailed Jayné’s voice. Jackson had distinct voices for all the characters. There were a few times I felt her male character voices needed a little more masculinity, like for Chogyi Jake’s soft voice or for Aubrey in quieter moments. Most of the time, her male voices were just fine. There were no technical issues with the recording. 4.5/5 stars.

Winter Frost by Lauren Carr

Winter Frost - Lauren Carr

Being a fan of Lauren Carr’s works for some years now, listening to a new mystery is like spending time with an old friend. I haven’t spent much time with Chris Matheson, the hero of this tale. As with many of Carr’s works, there’s crossover with her other murder mysteries, so there were some familiar characters like Jessica and Murphy. It was good to see these old friends again. I especially enjoyed Tristan’s role (and seeing his comfort tarantula that enjoys the coffee shop).

This tale features spies! Yes, spies! It’s not the usual fare for most Carr’s mysteries but I dived right into it. I did have some trouble buying into Chris’s super secret lethal spies skills. They’re pretty nebulous and he doesn’t seem to have the personality for it. I would peg his mom as the super secret spy before I would pick him. While I had to suspend my disbelief a bit for Chris, I still liked him and the plot.

The tale does have an underlying Christian theme. For much of the book, this is low key and just an aspect of this or that character. However, the story ends with a strong Christian moral summation. Frankly, that was a turn off for me. I was sad to see that as it makes me leery of further books in this series. Christian lit is not my cup of tea. I hope the series doesn’t fully embrace that aspect and become preachy.

I love all the pets. I know sometimes the things they do aren’t realistic but they add so much color to the story. I love the humor and their antics. Also, the Geezer Squad is a fun addition. Makes me want to join a crime solving ‘book club’.

In all, it was a fun tale. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Mike Alger has been narrating Carr’s novels for years. I first got to know his voice with the Mac Faraday novels. I like his voice, and as with Carr’s novels, it’s like hanging out with an old friend. While his range of voices is modest, he does a great job with the humor and emotions. He does have an older male voice, no matter what he does, and that didn’t always work for our younger male characters. Also, he has limited female voices, but I did love his old lady voice for Chris’s mom. The pacing was perfect and there were no technical issues with the recording. 4/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this audiobook via iRead Book Tours. All opinions are completely my own.

The Walker on the Cape by Mike Martin

The Walker on the Cape - Mike  Martin

This was a quaint little murder mystery. I liked the setting (small town east coast Canada) and I liked the main character (Sargent Windflower). While the plot was a bit predictable in places, the story held that comfort food quality. It was like discovering an old friend again after many years separation. Windflower is a straight shooter and a wholesome character all around, so it’s very easy to root for him. The setting itself is full of small comforts from the well-loved local café to Windflower’s blossoming romance.

Initially, it looks like there’s several possible suspects in a suspicious death. The deceased certainly rubbed people the wrong way. However, Windflower’s superior isn’t convinced there is a murder so Windflower has to take the risky move of going around his chain of command. Luckily, he has his side kick Izzard to watch his back. Izzard certainly comes off as the eager but inexperienced young pup and Windflower does his best to keep him out of trouble. I like their dynamic and there’s room for Izzard to grow in this role.

The ending wraps up the questions about the murder but then leaves things in the hands of the prosecutors and lawyers. The story hints at what will most likely happen but doesn’t close that out. I did get invested in the story and I would have preferred a solid ending instead of this open-end. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Francis G. Kearney made a good Windflower most of the time. His accents fluctuated and some of them were pretty rough (like the Quebec French accent for a certain suspect). His female voices were almost non-existent. On the other hand, he didn’t have any recording errors so the tech is good. 3/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Mike Martin. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

It's Murder My Son by Lauren Carr (new audiobook version)

It's Murder, My Son - Lauren Carr

I had the pleasure of listening to and reviewing this book some years ago. And now it’s back with a new audiobook addition, this time narrated by Mike Alger (instead of Janean Jorgenson). It was so good to pick this book up again. The Mac Faraday mysteries are my favorites by Lauren Carr and I love this opening tale that introduces us to Mac, Gnarly, and Archie.

Mac Faraday receives the best news of his life on the toughest day he’s had yet. Just finalizing his messy divorce, he learns that his deceased birth mother who put him up for adoption has left him a fortune. Now Faraday has moved to Spencer Manor in an effort to connect with the mother he never knew. But murder lurks just around the corner and Mac puts his DC detective skills to use.

I’ve been listening to several Lauren Carr books recently and I love that they can be explored as stand alones. It was great to go back to Book 1 and see how things got started for Mac, how he met Archie, learned about his mom, and adopted Gnarly dog. While this isn’t my favorite book of the series, it’s a solid start to an entertaining murder mystery series.

Set in Spencer, Maryland, the Spencer Manor sits next to the lake in a gated community that harbors many secrets. Mac is new to wealth and he finds it takes some skills to navigate this new economic reality he’s landed in. It’s good that Archie is there to help him fit in. She was Robin Spencer’s assistant and lives in the guest cottage.

A few months before Mac moved in, a neighbor in the area was strangled to death. Katrina was a very charming woman who had a stalker. Of course, the husband Chad has to be cleared first but after 3 months, there are few clues to David (the local police officer) to continue on with the investigation.

I really enjoyed learning about David in this book. He’s Mac’s younger half-brother. The two have never met and it’s a bit awkward. Toss in David’s current problems with his boss, Chief of Police Roy Phillips, and David’s got a few reasons to be angry. Things get even more aggravating for the two experienced investigators when Phillips brings in his ‘expert’, a crime fiction author. Awkward, indeed!

Gnarly was the star of the show once again. He has his own insecurities and is something of a klepto. Mac has to learn about this the hard way and Archie does her best to keep Gnarly out of trouble. Of course, that all goes out the window when Gnarly turns up with a human skull. Good boy! Er… maybe not. Where did you get that? No! You can’t eat it! Here! Have my breakfast instead.

There are lots of characters in this novel and I sometimes had trouble keeping up with all of them. I think it could have been slimmed down a bit and the plot would have been less tangled. I also would have liked a bit more Archie. I feel she’s underutilized even though I know she comes into her own later in the series. Still, it’s an entertaining read and I’m glad I skipped back to this book to see how things got started for Mac. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Mike Alger is at his best as Mac Faraday. I don’t think I could picture  any other voice for Mac. Over all, this is one of his better performances. I like his voice for David as he does a great job of making him sound related to Mac but also younger. His voice for Archie is also well done. The pacing is perfect & there’s no issues with the technical recording. If anything, Alger could have a little more variation in voices. 4.5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Easy Innocence by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Easy Innocence - Libby Fischer Hellmann

It wasn’t what I expected – it was better! I thought I knew who did it, but I was wrong – and I love that about this murder mystery. The story surprised me and held my attention all the way through. I thought the story was going this direction, and it was actually headed this other direction.

Our main character Georgia is so easy to like. She’s a real person with a past, mistakes and victories, foibles, and her own sense of justice. I like that she’s willing to bend or break the rules when she feels it’s right. Her way of handling the prostitutes was great – she treated them like real people instead of passing judgement on them.

Toss in some undercover work, a few attempted murders, and some underage teens crying, then Georgia has her hands full. I do wish we had one more scene with the wrongly accused and his sister just to wrap things up in a neat bow. But that’s my only little quibble with the story. Very entertaining book. 4.75/5 stars.

The Narration: Beth Richmond has a great voice for Georgia, very believable. She captured all of Georgia’s emotions throughout the story. Richmond could use a little more voice variation as I sometimes had trouble keeping the various teen females separate. Richmond’s pacing was a bit slow but with Audible’s app I was able to speed the book up a touch just so the speech sounded normal to me. There were no technical issues with the recording. 4/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Libby Fischer Hellmann. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Flux by Jeremy Robinson

Flux - Jeremy Robinson

This is my new favorite in the Time Travel Genre. Owen McCoy is a fun, intense character stuck in extraordinary circumstances. As Owen and his companions are hurdled further and further back in time, they realize just how busy this little bit of Appalachia was throughout history. Some companions are lost, others gained, many dead. Cassie, Owen, and young Owen were my favorite characters. Cassie and Owen work in security for a local science lab, but much more has been going on there than they knew. The Flux happens in unpredictable waves, making it difficult for Owen to figure out what is going on, let alone stay alive.

I really enjoyed the pre-written history times. There’s mammoths and then dinos and a few unexpected things – deadly things! Owen & his crew passed through the days when the Cherokee populated the area, picking up a few companions like Inola. She’s an accomplished horse rider with a level head (something that is much needed for keeping people alive). She also has a good idea of what is hunting them now, and knows that it is near-impossible to kill. All very exciting reading!

My one quibble is that there are so few female characters and for the most part they are romantic interests. Cassie is very competent but there’s an unspoken deeper connection with Owen. Then Inola is an object of a blossoming affection. There’s a young kid Cassie and then a scientist’s wife… and perhaps 1 or 2 other ladies. So, yeah, we could use a few more ladies. After all, that’s why we even have history to muck with.

The pacing was excellent. I was never bored. There’s plenty of action but also quieter moments to balance things out. Owen has a darker side that he keeps in check with his need to protect people. He’s good at damaging humans, if need be, but he doesn’t enjoy it. This tale gives him plenty of opportunities to kill as well as to exert his self-control. He’s an interesting character & it was easy for me to connect with him, rooting for him throughout the entire book. 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer gives a great performance narrating this book. He has distinct voices for all the characters, providing a variety of regional accents. I really appreciate how he managed to make multiple generations of characters sound related but not exactly alike. His female voices were good too. There were no technical issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own.

Doubleback b Libby Fischer Hellmann

Doubleback - Libby Fischer Hellmann

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

Doubleback is even better than Book 1 (Easy Innocence). The plot is tighter, the characters have more depth (for the most part), and the stakes are higher. Georgia Davis reluctantly teams up with her friend Ellie (an independent film maker) who is also reluctant to get involved in a kidnapping case. Still, these two ladies offer up their best advice to Chris, head of the IT department at a large bank, whose daughter has been kidnapped.

From the beginning, this kidnapping case isn’t typical – there’s no ransom demand for one thing. Still, the kid is eventually released safely back to her mom. But then some unexpected deaths have Georgia taking another look at it. What a deliciously tangled web of intrigue! The plot takes us to the desert southwest and even across the border into Mexico. Ellie continues to work her own case but as the two friends compare notes, they start to realize there’s connections between the kidnapping and the clean energy company Ellie is looking into.

This mystery was nearly perfect. I did have one laugh at the plot and that is the out of character sexytimes for Georgia. She’s been hunting a man who has answers and once found, not even a day passes before they tumble into bed together. Georgia has been so guarded, not looking for a relationship at all. Plus she wasn’t sure if this guy would ultimately kill her or perhaps turn her over to the bad guys, yet hey, there’s a storm and we’re stuck in this cabin with no TV. So, yeah, that was silly. The sex scene itself was OK, a little sexy, straight, to the point, brief. Personally, if you’re going to toss in a completely out of character sex scene, might as well make it epic.

Anyhoo, I can see Ellie and Georgia teaming up again. In fact, there’s some hints as to their past friendship and perhaps they did once upon a time tackle mysteries together. Georgia certainly has developed in this book, including renewing some old ties with the police department. I look forward to seeing what happens in the next book. 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Eva Kaminsky has a great voice for Georgia. She sounds experienced and tough when she needs to be. I did have a little trouble discerning the difference between her voices for Ellie and Georgia when they were in the same conversation. I did confuse a few things because I wasn’t sure who was talking when. For the most part, she had a decent Spanish accent, though she mispronounced Gila monster. While Georgia might well get it wrong, her Hispanic companion would not. The pacing was better than Book 1 but still a little slow for my tastes. There were no technical issues with the recording. 4/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Libby Fischer Hellmann. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Crimes Past by Lauren Carr

Crimes Past - Lauren Carr

Note: While this is #13 in the Mac Faraday series, it works fine as a stand alone novel.

Mac Faraday is back in excellent style! This story captures all the thing I like about this series. Faraday has an old case that has haunted him, but also has new dead bodies to investigate. There’s a lot of great characters, and some humor too. Plus there’s Gnarly, my favorite doggie sleuth.

The plot itself was fun. An old case of two dead cops continues to bother Faraday to present day. A wedding (Gina is the daughter of one of the cold case dead cops) is just days away and all the people who were present for the old case will be on scene to wish the bride and groom a happy marriage. Amidst all the last minute preparations, Faraday starts hunting around for new and lost clues on the old case. Alas, he soon has to switch his attentions to the new case involving a dead friend. The plot made me think of those Agatha Christie books where the crime solver gets all the suspects into 1 room at the end of the story to do the big reveal. Lots of tension, lots of motives, more than one crime going on.

Gnarly himself has his own mystery to solve, with the help of his humans of course. There’s a pesky neighbor who has it in for, well, anyone. She’s a hateful person. But perhaps there’s more than a little dog hate going on in that house and Gnarly is determined to bring the truth to light. Quite frankly, she reminds me of a neighbor we once had here in real life and it was a little vicarious of me to take so much delight in this character’s downfall.

Speaking of characters, the extended Faraday clan has a new and unexpected member. I wonder what Carr will do with this person (Gabriel) in the future. I know it’s turned one parent’s life on their ear, giving them some new perspective. Then there’s David’s new dog, Storm, who doesn’t act very dog like in general (which gave me a laugh).

The pool of suspects had all sorts of characters. Some of them were quite angry and rather dislikeable but others were sweet as pie. Yet all had something to hide or feel at least a little guilty over. The ending had a few little twists I wasn’t expecting. The story kept me engaged the entire time. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Mike Alger gives a great performance as Mac Faraday. It’s like visiting an old friend when I listen to his narration of this series. I like his voices for David, and this teen age boy, and one of Mac’s old friends (Louis Gannon). His female voices are feminine but he has a limited number of female voices, so they are quickly recycled in a book such as this that has many ladies. His pacing is perfect & there are no technical issues with the recording. 4.5/5 stars.

Zombie Oasis (Still Alive #4) by Javan Bonds

Zombie Oasis: Still Alive Book Four - Javan Bonds, Monique Happy

Note: This is Book 4 in the series and it really does work best if you’ve read the first 3.

It was fun and had me snort laughing at inappropriate moments. It wasn’t my favorite of the series so far though. I think that is because the first half of the book spends time kind of recapping what other people are doing and also brings in some new characters that I think will be important later in the series. The second half returns us to Mo’s fumbling hands where I felt comfortable just being myself and laughing at his commentary on life.

These stories are full of juvenile humor, true, but also humor that pokes fun at life’s ‘isms’ (racism, sexism, ageism, teratophobia, homophobia, etc.). That makes me laugh because we all know people with hangups and these books show just how silly those hangups are in the face of cannibalistic nudists. Sometimes the grundge talk (how gooey those zombies really are) goes a little far for me so I don’t recommend eating while listening to this book.

Mo’s little Zombie Island (really Guntersville Island) is coming along well and the residents are in such a good place that they want to bring in more survivors. Mo must assemble a crew to take the pirate ship Viva Ancora out on a hunt. The story does leave us on a cliff hanger with the crew selected and the ship ready to sail. The crew includes Mo’s older brother, Easy, who makes me laugh because he’s such a studly dunce. Smokes and the best prepared guy in the wheelchair (with his monkey Mary) will be going as well. Hammer and Crow will also be joining them. Turns out Crow can cook far more than boring fish, proving Mo’s theory that she makes such a disappointing dish just to irritate him.

The ladies get a little more page time, but pretty much they are mothers, wives, and romantic interests. And the story pokes fun at that over used trope too. Still, I think the ladies have more to contribute. Aka (the engineer) and Easy do get married (and Crow made a scrumptious cake for the wedding). Mo gets some time with his love, even if she’s upset that he plans to go out into danger on this new mission. Mo’s mom puts in several appearances, all being motherly (especially about grammar and swearing).

All around, it was a fun addition to the series even if it wasn’t the best. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: S. W. Salzman was a lot of fun as the narrator for this book. I feel like he enjoys giving this series a voice. His voice for Mo is still my favorite, being a heavy Alabama accent. He also does well with all the female voices. I liked his version of the serial killer from Silence of the Lambs, who kinda gets a cameo in this story. The pacing was perfect and there were no tech issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own.

Murder in Keswick by William Todd

Murder in Keswick - William Todd

This was a good, classic Holmes & Watson tale. I think it would fit well into the original Doyle canon. I can just imagine H&W on vacation, with Holmes bored stiff until a headless body turns up. The glint of glee in his eyes must have shown to anyone interacting with him as he worked at the mystery.

Mrs. Darcy is no shrinking violet, which I liked. The ladies are still few in number and have limited roles, just as in the original stories (alas). I also liked Morwenna, who was no nonsense as well but in a different way from the American Mrs. Darcy. I think it was Morwenna that had my favorite line about finding dirty laundry under the bed, where her husband kicked it. She said something to the effect of her husband training her for child rearing by being lazy with his dirty clothes. Ha! I laughed out loud because it made me think of my man and how he leaves socks, plates, and empty drink containers here and there.

Initially, there are many suspects who had motive to take out Mr. Darcy. However, since we all know this is a Holmes mystery, it was very hard to ignore any little detail that might lead Holmes (and me as the reader) to the real killer. Still, the take did have a great twist near the end and I was little surprised by the final answer to the mystery. Kudos to the author for making it a little more intricate than expected.

Over all, the story has the feel and quality of the original H&W stories. I was entertained the entire time even if I was left wanting a bit more from the ladies. The story kept true to the Victorian setting. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Ben Werling is great with Sherlock’s arrogant voice as well as being great with the indulgent, easy-going voice of Watson. His female voices need some work. While there were few ladies in this story, they sounded like men. I had to pay close attention to their scenes to keep track of who said what when. Werling does do a great job of capturing the subtle emotional changes of Sherlock as well the more explosive emotions of Watson. His pacing is perfect and there are no technical recording issues. 4/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by William Todd. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Destination Dachshund by Lisa Fleetwood

Destination Dachshund: A Travel Memoir: Three Months, Three Generations and Sixty Dachshunds - Lisa Fleetwood

This was a cute little travelogue. I found the Australian perspective on the magic of winter and Christmas entertaining. And what a trip of the lifetime! To take 3 months to travel throughout Europe, part of the US, and end up in New York in time for the winter holidays! I love that the extended family was able to be part of much of the trip, complete with a massive (27 people!) family get together at one point.

I did like the descriptions of Russia and the Balkans the most, as there was a hint of danger or uncertainty. Estonia seemed both bleak (especially near the border) and full of mystery. Of course, all the food descriptions were entertaining – sometimes delicious and sometimes full of mystery as well (ha!).

Parts of the tale did lag a little for me because they seemed a little empty, a little vapid. I wanted a bit more substance here and there. The dachshund spotting contest was cute at first but then got a little silly. Still, it was fun for the family and that’s what matters most for this book.

In the end, the family makes it home safely to Australia where the hunt for another dachshund begins (one of there dear beasties having died shortly before their adventure began). I was a little sad to see how fixated they were on getting a dachshund puppy, calling all the breeders three times over until they got the object they desired. After all, there’s plenty of pups and older dogs looking for good homes and getting hung up on a specific breed feeds into puppy mills, etc. So, for me, the tale ended on a sad note. It wasn’t about the dog, but about the object. 3.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Stephanie Macfie was a lot of fun for this book. I feel she nailed the author’s voice perfectly. I also liked her voices for the family members and the occasional side character. Her male voices (which admittedly weren’t required often) were believable. Her pacing was perfect and she was upbeat and engaged for the entire book. 5/5 stars.

I received a copy of this audiobook via The Audiobookworm in exchange for an honest review. The gifting of this book did not affect my thoughts on the book.

Outer Diverse by Nina Munteanu

Outer Diverse - Nina Munteanu

I had the pleasure to listen to this book 5 or 6 years ago, and I really enjoyed it then. I’m very pleased to say that this book has stood up well over the years. Rhea Hawke is still the bad ass I want to be when I grow up. I love her dress sense (boots, weapons, sentient great coat), her sorta pet tappin (kinda a cat with 3 tails), and her best friend Beni, who is the AI on her little work-issued spaceship. Alas, she messed up big time at work (the Galactic Guardians, which is way more bureaucratic than it sounds), and she lost all but her boot and her sorta cat.

While wallowing in her self-pity, wondering what to do with her life now, she joins a gym where she meets Serge. He’s way more sexy than his name hints at. Pretty soon, she’s spending nearly all her time at his place. She’s held back from snooping into his past, as she would have done in a heart beat when she worked for the Guardians. That’s going to come back to bite her in the butt.

I especially enjoyed the tangled relationship she has with her mom. She loves her (maybe) but hates her too (and definitely hates that she sleeps around so much!). But her mom has kept some really big secrets from her and that had to sting, so I see her point most of the time.

So many aliens! I love this aspect to the story because humans aren’t the focus. In fact, they are basically an endangered species. Barely tolerated in most civilized places, Rhea has had to work twice as hard to prove herself worthy. She’d rather do that than take the path her mom did (free love).

Then there’s the evil Vos. Cue evil laughter. So many rumors about what they can do, what atrocities they have done. I know it’s quite silly, but I love this because that’s my last name, minus and S, pronounced the same way. Hahaha! If I lived in Rhea’s universe, I’d have to change my last name or risk being shot on sight.

My one little quibble with this tale is the little bit of mystic stuff tossed in, like about all the over diverses and how they can be connected with a dream portal and how soul mates will find each other across the divereses no matter what, etc. Yawn. Honestly, this story rocks without all that and a little technical-sounding stuff tossed in to explain bridging multiple universes would have worked better.

I’m very glad I revisited this exciting space opera. So looking forward to completing the trilogy. 4.75/5 stars.

The Narration: Dawn Harvey does a great job with all the different alien voices. She really went the extra mile, making them sound as described in the text of the story. I don’t know how she made some of those voices, but they really worked! I did notice a few mispronounced words this time around – like ‘Bedouin’ and ‘Hopi’ but that’s easily forgiven considering how much effort she put into the alien voices. The pacing is perfect. Her voice for Rhea is spot on – a hero that is sometimes vulnerable. There were no issues with this technical recording. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Nina Munteanu. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.