A Caryn Review: Trysts and Burning Embers (Lijun #2) By Freddy MacKay & Angel Martinez

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I have to say, this series is growing on me, and though I still have issues with some of the writing, the pacing, and am still getting bogged down in the unfamiliar Japanese elements of the book, I am now in that happy/unhappy limbo of being so completely immersed in a story that when I reached the end of the book I just wanted to get to the next one NOW!!  The ending of this one was incredibly sweet and satisfying – even though the forces trying to bring down the Bastille clan are just as strong and mysterious as ever…

At the end of Fireworks and Stolen Kisses, Haru and Tally were married, and had become parents of 3 orphaned opossum lijun children.  They were just starting to understand and trust each other, Haru was gaining the respect of the Bastille clan, and was coming to understand the American culture as Tally was learning how Haru’s traditionalist upbringing informed his actions and thoughts.  Tally was cautiously hopeful that he was breaking through Haru’s walls, and all he needed was time and patience and his em’halafi would grow to love him as Tally loved Haru.

Time, unfortunately, was something they were not to have.

Although most of the elements that set up the conflict in this book were introduced in the first of the series, there were some new ones that were a little jarring.  There were extremely dark elements of Haru’s past introduced (although not exactly explicitly, so there is still a little revelation that may come later) that I truly did not pick up on in the last book, so I wonder if the authors created them after the first book was written.  The plot also took a decidedly violent turn that I did not expect, and though it was shocking, from that point on I could hardly set the book down – prior to that point, it was moving really slowly, to the point that I might have DNF’ed it had I not committed to the review.

I think what engaged me so much in this book was the focus on how Tally and Haru continued to function in the limbo of excruciating waiting after the initial tragedy and violence.  It was truly heart-wrenching.  In so many action novels, the characters are moving so quickly from one event to the next that they never have the chance to react and absorb what just happened.  Tally had spent his entire life learning to temper the extremely threatening power of his Uktena (snake) nature with restraint in order to fulfill his role as leader of the clan in a way that fostered trust and cooperation.  Violence had become anathema to him, so his reaction was as much bewilderment as it was grief.  Watching Tally find the balance between violence and restraint in response to the threats to his family was also fascinating to read.  At the end of the book, I might have been a little frustrated with Haru, but Tally was my hero.

The cast of characters is still quite large, but seemed a little more comprehensible in this book than they did the first.  I felt like I finally had them all straight, which was a definite improvement over the first book!  And though the players and the setting are much more defined than they were at the end of the first book, there is still a wide scope of possibility for the next one.  Which I am anxiously looking forward to reading now!  Overall, a slow start, but well worth the time to read this second installment of an epic series.

Cover art by Emmy@studioenp uses the same models from the first book of the series, but the poses have a deeper meaning this time.  The models are still excellent representations of Tally and Haru.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1, 444 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by Pride Publishing
Original Title Trysts and Burning Embers (Lijun, #2)
ISBN 139781786516978
Edition Language English
Series Lijun #2

An Alisa Release Day Review: Gabriel and the Devil by Robert P. Rowe

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Flirting with the devil can lead to a helluva good time.

Gabriel is a regular angel. The former altar boy plans to graduate from college, become an accountant, get a good job, find a wife, and live a faithful Catholic life.

But one Halloween night, the devil pops in out of nowhere, challenges everything he believes, and heats up Gabriel’s lonely life.

Marcello is full of the devil. He’s lusted after Gabriel forever, but what he really wants is Gabriel’s eternal soul. Still, his mischievous sense of humor, along with his tricks and jokes, leads to a misunderstanding that could condemn him to hell on Earth. Only the truth will let these souls find true love and happiness.

Okay, the blurb for this book was interesting and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had trouble with the beginning of the book and the whole devil/angel thing as it was actually more of a joke but Gabriel wasn’t able to see it.  Once I pushed myself through the first quarter of the book I started to see the bits of the real Marcello though Gabriel still seemed blind to it.

I felt bad for Gabriel as he continued to beat himself up over how he was feeling about Marcello and what not.  I wish that we would have been able to see Marcello and Gabriel in the real relationship they ended up in once Marcello told Gabriel the whole truth and the time it took Gabriel to come to terms with it.  I assumed some things about Marcello but never learned the truth til almost the very end of the book which made it hard to connect with him. While the story was okay for me and the writing wasn’t bad I just don’t feel that this type of book was really for me.

The cover art by Tiferet Design is nice though the picture of Marcello is of a much older man than he is.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 104 pages

Published: January 4, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-445-6

Edition Language: English

Julia Talbot on Bad Boys, Weird Shifters and her new release ‘Fox and Wolf (Apex Investigations #1)’  (author guest post)

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Fox and Wolf (Apex Investigations #1) by Julia Talbot

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Kanaxa

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Julia Talbot here in the new year.  Welcome, Julia.

 

 

 

Hey y’all!

I’m Julia Talbot, and I’m here to talk about my new novella Fox and Wolf, which is book one in the Apex Investigations series.

Raise your hand if you love weird shifters.

Now, while the weirdest shifter in the PI unit at APEX Investigations is a Brazilian jaguar, the bad guys in this one are weird.

WEIRD.

A tiger is the leader, but his henchmen. Dire croc shifters. Dire meaning they’re caught kinda halfway between man and croc. They stink. They’re not real bright. They like water. They can destroy a building in short order.

Very bad guys.

I do love matching the shifter to their animal counterparts. I think of crocs as basically dinosaurs with little care for human law. It was really interesting writing them and seeing how they would deal with a bunch of other predators.

It was even more interesting taking a bunch of APEX predators and lowering them on the food chain.

I hope y’all will check it out!

XXOO

Julia

Blurb:

Apex Investigations: Book One

Werewolf PI Dylan Weems is a hired to solve the murder of a client’s customer. As an ex-cop, Dylan is the perfect man for the job, but he doesn’t expect the complication of alluring fox shifter Rey.

Ever since finding the dead body of one of his clients, Rey Mercier’s life is a mess, and he needs help desperately. He has no idea why he’s the target of some ruthless people or what he did to anger them. Hopefully Dylan and his motley crew of shifters at Apex Investigations can help him find out, but first Dylan and Rey have to deal with literal corporate tigers and dire crocodiles shifters… all while deciding what to do about the mate bond that’s becoming undeniable. And is that even possible between fox and wolf?


Buy link (preorder) at Dreamspinner Press.

About the Author

Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner, All Romance Ebooks, and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com

Links

Website: http://www.juliatalbot.com

FB : https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotwriterpage/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/juliatalbot

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juliatalbotwrites

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review : Ravensong (Green Creek #2) by T.J. Klune and Kirt Graves (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

TJ Klune has the most incredible imagination of any author I know.  I’m at a loss for words to describe just how phenomenal this story was.  No wait… Let’s call this a saga, not a story, because that’s truly what it is and we are only midway through this unique experience. The author recently announced that he has plans for two more books in the series and the epilogue gives us a clue as to what the next one will be.  OMG!  I can’t wait! 

Gordo Livingstone is a witch.  In fact, he’s the witch for the Bennett Clan and he’s the soulmate of Mark Bennett, uncle of Joe, the current alpha.  We met these two star-crossed lovers in book one, Wolfsong. This is their story.

Through intermittent flashbacks, the author cleverly lets us see how Gordo’s life was shaped—his evil father who killed his mother when she killed his father’s tether, a woman with whom he was having an affair.  His mother always taught him that wolves can’t be trusted. They need you and use you but don’t really love you.  Though he might scoff at that lesson intellectually, she managed to ingrain the lesson emotionally. 

Gordo thought he was done with the pack when they all moved away and left him behind. Their departure cemented his mother’s lessons deep in his heart.  Now they are back and Gordo tries to ignore Mark Bennett with every breath he takes. It’s not easy.  In fact, the song between his raven and Mark’s wolf is crying to be heard.  When outside forces intervene in the quiet town of Green Creek and hope is at its lowest, the Bennett pack, assisted by their witch and the humans who support them, gather their reserve strength to fight a battle that must be won. 

I am not going to include any spoilers for this book in my review.  I will say that the plot is complex, with multiple layers of deceit, intrigue, and evil that goes back many years.  There are characters here I love to hate and those I hate to love.  Mark and Gordo seem to be ill-fated and much of the book left me feeling as if my stomach were in knots. But I kept moving forward. Avidly. There’s no way I could turn off this audiobook, even to eat, never mind sleep.  And the ending was worth the wait.

Kirt Graves is as outstanding in his performance of this audio as he was in Wolfsong. The cast of hundreds each has a distinctive voice.  I totally forgot that a man narrated the book when a woman spoke, and I loved the pitch, tone, and accent he assigned to Gordo.  As much as I highly recommend the story itself, I recommend listening to this audio.   It’s beyond description.  A must buy, for sure. 

The cover by Reese Dante is similar to Wolfsong’s cover and features red lettering against a dark gray background with a paw print on the lower corner—a paw print that seems to be clawing the ground as it leaves a trail of gouges in the dirt. 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

Audible Audio, 21 pages
Published December 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 31st 2018)
Original Title Ravensong
ASINB07L4T61RZ
Edition Language English
Series Green Creek #2

An Alisa Review : Midnight Angel by Kevin Klehr

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Dinner is overcooked. The guests haven’t arrived.

Luke is sitting alone at his dining table on New Year’s Eve. He was hoping to romance Nathan, one of the people he invited for this intimate evening meal.

As midnight draws closer, it seems an angel, who has magically appeared in Luke’s apartment, is the only person to drink champagne and watch the fireworks with.

But this angel has other ideas. He’s about to grant Luke the New Year’s Eve party he thought he wanted.

 

This was a different story and it’s so short I’m afraid to give everything away.  I understood the point of what the angel did but didn’t like the execution and mostly just felt for Luke as he was being blindsided.

 

In the end we get to see Luke find the love he wants just not in the way he had originally hoped.  Unfortunately I didn’t feel a big connection to any of the characters but felt as if I was watching from the sidelines.

I like the cover art by Natasha Snow is cute and one of the standard for holiday shorts this year.

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 10,500 words

Published: December 10, 2018 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-949909-61-6

Edition Language: English

Best of 2018 Lists Abound and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Best of 2018 Lists Abound at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Here we are, it’s almost 2019 and it’s Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words penultimate weekend of Best of 2018.  We are winding out with another reviewer heard from, our very own Chaos Moondrawn, who has some of my Best of  on her list.  So many terrific books and series this year in every category.  A surplus of riches for readers no matter what genre you love to read in.  Are you checking your lists against ours?  How are they looking?

From Chaos Moondrawn:

Best Books of 2018

Over And Over Again by Cole McCade

Rule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne
The Bones Beneath My Skin by T.J. Klune
Building Forever by Kelly Jensen
Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen
Beyond Meridian by C.C. Bridges
Rogue In The Making and Blood For The Spilling by T.J. Nichols (Studies In Demonology series)
A Wolf At The Door by Charlie Adhara

Best Series

Criminal Intentions by Cole McCade

Best Covers

Stone The Crows cover by Bree Archer
Once Upon A Wolf cover by Reece Notley
Blyd And Pierce cover by Tiferet Design
Two Man Station cover by Natasha Snow
The Wolf At The Door cover by Carina Press
Where Death Meets The Devil cover by L.C. Chase

So final lists next weekend.  A final goodbye to 2018 and a fresh start in 2019.

Speaking of which some of my bests of 2018 will actually have their reviews rolling over into 2019 but I read them in 2018 and that’s where they will go on my lists.  That includes the series finale by Tere Michael to Faith, Love and Devotion, a time time favorite of mine.  Lucky and Bo from my favorite Diversion series pop up again in Eden Winters’ Suspicion. Waiting to hear from the author if this is a series finale or not.    Sean Kennedy’s Tigers and Devils latest release just slipped into the new year by a nose.  That will have to wait until next year’s list.

So almost done.

I’m getting ready for the New Year Eve celebration and hoping that everyone has a safe, wonderful, and happy glide into the New Year!  Happy Reading, Happy Listening, and of course, Happy New Year from Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to all of you!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, December 30:

  • A Barb Advent Calendar Review:Miracle on Three Kings’ Day by Beth Laycock
  • A Lila Review  Yule Planet by Angel Martinez
  • Best of 2018 Lists Abound at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, December 31 (New Year’s Eve)  🎉:

  • On Tour with Valhalla by L.A. Ashton
  • Release Blitz for KA Merikan – You Forever Always
  • PROMO Louisa Masters
  • An Alisa Review : Midnight Angel by Kevin Klehr
  • A MelanieM Review: Finders Keepers by Rob Rosen
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Advent Calendar Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop by Kim Fielding

Tuesday, January 1 ~ New Year’s Day!

  • Charley Descoteaux on her new release Always Forward! Never Straight
  • AUDIOBOOK TOUR – A Dance For Two by Colette Davison and Neil Macfarlane (Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tigers on the Way (Tigers and Devils #4) by Sean Kennedy
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Whole Latte Sass (Geek Life #2) by Marguerite Labbe

Wednesday, January 2:

  • Shadowing the Light by Miranda Turner Blog Tour 
  • An Alisa Review: Shadowing the Light by Miranda Turner
  • A MelanieM Review: Always Forward! Never Straight by Charley Descoteaux
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady audio review – Ravensong (Green Creek #2) by T.J. Klune and Kirt Graves (Narrator)

Thursday, January 3:

  • RELEASE BLITZ – Whiteout Conditions (Black Ops Heroes #10) by Dara J. Nelson  and Kendel Duncan
  • Cover Reveal for The Summoner’s Path (D’Vaire #10) by Jessamyn Kingley
  • An Alisa Review: Best Christmas Ever by Terry O’Reilly
  • A MelanieM Review: Forever & Ever: A Collection of Stories (Faith, Love & Devotion #7) by Tere Michaels
  • An Alisa Review : Kink Aware  (Kiss of Leather #9)  by Morticia Knight

Friday, January 4:

  • PROMO Julia Talbot
  • An Alisa Releases Day Review: Gabriel and the Devil Robert P. Rowe
  • A MelanieM Review: Suspicion (Diversion Book 7) by Eden Winters
  • A Caryn Review: Trysts and Burning Embers By Freddy MacKay & Angel Martinez
  • A MelanieM Review: Drama Castle (Nicky and Noah Mystery #7) by Joe Cosentino

Saturday, January 5:

  • Release Blitz – Erin E Keller’s Elias
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review:  Jack of Thorns (Inheritance #1) by Amelia Faulkner and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

A Stella Advent Calendar Review: Colina de Lavanda by August Li

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

A Story from the Warmest Wishes: Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar

Lord protector of whores, thieves, sorcerers, and deviants.

Owning a parcel of land the railroad needs to cross means Edward gets to run the border town around the station as he sees fit. What starts as a place to indulge his varied appetites becomes a haven to society’s castoffs, and if Edward encourages legends about its founder to flourish, well, he’s not so much a liar as a man who wants to protect all the cultures living in peace. Being mayor means folks might ignore his vices, but they also expect him to fix what goes wrong.

When a crushing heat wave and drought threaten not only the town’s diverse holiday celebrations but its very existence, Edward must turn to the one man he’d rather french kiss a timber rattler than face—the icily elegant Cantonese mage Edward walked out on but never stopped loving.

I was over the moon when I saw this new release by one of my favorite authors in this year DSP Advent Calendar. I am a huge fan of August Li, I found all the titles I read so far always so well done, each time I fall in love with the characters and the plots. I am sure I already said it, but the reason why I love the author so much is because August always creates amazing settings and new places to discover, with a magical writing that catches my attention from the first words.  Colina de Lavanda has all these qualities and so much more.

It was so easy to follow Edward throughout his town’s roads, solving problems and trying to finally put roots with Shu, the man who owns his heart. The line binding their souls is so frail and strong at the same time, Edward just needs to be brave and open his home to the beautiful mage.

This short is a second chance at love story, set in a magical town, where everything can happen and sometimes the unthinkable can be real. I was intrigued and curious about the plot, I wasn’t expecting what happened and I was so intensely surprised, Colina de Lavanda was of course a huge winner to me. I read it for a second time two days after the first read, cause I was missing the emotions and astonishment the story gave me.

I feel to recommend it if you’re looking for something different, you won’t be disappointed.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is simple and fitting, I like it.

SALE LINKS  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 57 pages

Published November 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ASIN B07L1HLXKW

Edition Language English

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Fox and Wolf (Apex Investigations #1) by Julia Talbot

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Rey, a fox shifter, is an information broker. When one of his clients gets murdered, he’s thown into intrigue he doesn’t even understand. He’s threatened, his apartment is broken into, and dire crocodile shifters are after him. I have to admit every time they were called dire crocs, my mind asked is there any other kind? Dylan is the wolf shifter at Apex Investigations assigned to his case. While Dylan and Rey fall into an easy relationship, Dylan’s boss Mike is suspicious if Rey is really an innocent victim.

This book introduced the group of misfit cats, wolves, and bears that form the “pack” of Apex Investigations with Mike as the Alpha. Brock has a past history with fox shifters and doesn’t trust them, which affects how he treats Rey. He’s also hiding some pretty big secrets from the people who supposed to be his “pack” more than colleagues. Kit, James, Carrie, and Griz are not fully fleshed out.

This is really about scent and instinct paving the way for attraction, trust, and mating. Shifters form a chemical bond that needs to be strengthened with time and intimacy for feelings to develop. This is pretty quick as Dylan and Rey seem partially bonded after a day. I don’t mind the insta-lust. I did mind that even though they are in a safe house because of the threat to Rey, they go shopping and then go back to the headquarters making themselves targets. In fact, I like forced proximity so it’s a shame they didn’t stay in the safe house and get to know each other better. One of the first problems they have is Dylan not trusting Rey’s judgment–Rey is way more forgiving than me. As soon as the crisis has past, they are back to mating to strengthen their bond. The book is fun, going from one crisis to another to move the story along, but I don’t really feel that emotionally invested–even with multiple POVs.

I feel like if you liked the Protect and Serve series (m/m) by Silvia Violet (now republished as Law and Supernatural Order) or Badge Bunny by Cynthia Sax and Fox and Feral by Angela Knight (Protect and Serve series (m/f) from Changling Press), then you might want to try this one.

The cover is by Kanaxa and shows Rey with a shadow of Dylan in front of the office. I think it’s very striking and the rain made me laugh (it’s raining cats and dogs, or when it rains it pours are both true here.)

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 138 pages
Expected publication: December 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781640809710
Edition Language English
Series Apex Investigations #1

A Chaos Moondrawn Advent Calendar Review: Hero for the Holidays (Spandex and Superpowers #4) by Charles Payseur

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Cody is house sitting for Dr. Devious during the holidays after a disastrous break-up. Devious is the boyfriend of one of Cody’s dearest friends. When superhero Wayward Sun, aka Sonny Skyes crash lands on the island drunk, turns out he just got dumped too. This is just a lot of fun from start to finish. I loved the bartender. Everyone is hooked on this soap opera, so we get a bonus plot too. It’s actually not possible for a short story to pack more of a wallop than this. There is profanity and a brief sex scene. The blurb told me everything I needed to know so if it appeals to you too, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. There are other short stories in this world, but after reading this I’m going to try the novella, Comic Book Romance.

The cover art is by Garrett Leigh and I think it’s perfect for this story with a touch of humor.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 49 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
Series Spandex and Superpowers #4

An Alisa Audio Review : Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2) by Bru Baker by Bru Baker and Dorian Bane (Narrator)

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Once in a blue moon, opposites find they’re a perfect match.

Nick Perry is tired of helping people with their marriages, so when a spot opens up to work with teens at Camp H.O.W.L., he jumps at it. He doesn’t expect to fall in lust with the dreamy new camp doctor, Drew Welch. But Drew is human, and Nick has seen secrets ruin too many relationships to think that a human/werewolf romance can go anywhere.

Happy-go-lucky Drew may not sprout claws, but he’s been part of the Were community all his life. He has no trouble fitting in at the camp—except for Nick’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing attraction between them and his ridiculous stance on dating humans. Fate intervenes when one of his private practice patients threatens Drew’s life. Will the close call help Nick to see a connection like theirs isn’t something to let go of?

 

This was a nice continuation in the series, though there are a lot of assumptions going on which make it hard for these two to be together.  Nick and Drew are both starting new jobs and when they spend a night together have no idea that they will be working together.

 

Nick has seen so many horror stories about dating and marriages come to life that he fears getting seriously involved with a human, even one as in depth as Drew.  Drew wants someone to love him but isn’t willing to back down from what he wants to get it.

 

Both of these guys have issues from their past causing hurt but also have to learn to trust someone else.  I could see both of their pain and how much it hurt Nick when he thought his chances with Drew were gone and how Drew’s assumption that Nick didn’t want him hurt him too.  It just seemed to me as they finally are talking things out it all goes back to assumptions again which was like taking two steps back.

Dorian Bane did a great job narrating this story.  I was easily able to connect with the characters and feel their emotions in his reading.  His voice changes so much you really get to see the differences and personality of the characters.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is great and works well for this story.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 6 hrs 40 min

Published: October 26, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

Series: Camp H.O.W.L. #2, Dreamspun Beyond