I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY - I only got this book because it was on sale and the ratings were high. Even though I don't usually like westerns, what the heck, right? What a pleasant surprise! The characters are strong and likeable, and I became totally immersed in their lives and dreams. Not only must they survive from day to day in a tough land during tough times, but they must face the challenges of starting a huge cattle ranch deep in the wilderness of Texas. Needless to say, there's a lot of action. Normally I would be totally bored by Indian ambushes and shootouts with bad guys, but not ths time. It is definitely a book for guys, but it doesn't dwell on fighting, blood, descriptions of guns, etc., that is boring to women. It also has a little romance for us girls, too!
The story line is simple, easy to follow, and simply wonderful. The ending is satisfying enough that you could consider this a standalone story, but there is a fairly large question left hanging which will probably leave you wanting to continue to the next book.
NARRATOR - The narrator has multiple "western" voices which change for lots of different characters. His performance makes a great story even better.
OVERALL - I think everyone will like this book. (No sex or cursing, so it's probably even okay for older kids).
STORY (Western fiction) - It's strange. This series is full of cowboys, Indians, bank robbers, cattle rustlers -- totally NOT what I look for in a movie or a book. But it's such an easy listen and the characters are so endearing that I just love rambling along the wild west with these guys.
The Hondo Kid is Book 2 and introduces Cody Cordell, the younger brother of Buck, who was the main character in Book 1. Neither brother knows the other is still alive after their parents were killed by Indians. Cody, a teenager, must grow up quickly on his own and somehow manages to gain a reputation as a gunfighter called "The Hondo Kid." About the first third of the book is Cody's story, but the rest alternates between Cody and Buck, whose cattle ranch is having legendary success.
There's lots of western action with hangings, shootouts, etc., but the author doesn't dwell on the violence or blood. There's some romance but no sex or foul language, so this would make a good family listen. You should hear these books in order, as each picks up where the previous one ends. I look forward to Book 3.
PERFORMANCE - Good job. The narrator does lots of "cowboy" voices, which adds to the story. He reads pretty slow, so you may want to turn the speed up to 1.25 or even 1.5. I would have rated the performance a 5 but some of the cowboy characters are a bit overdone and his women's voices are pretty masculine. (Plus he mispronounces "Brazos," which drove me crazy).
OVERALL - Download Book 1 if you think you might enjoy a good western. I don't think you will be disappointed.
STORY (western) - I have totally loved this series -- good writing, well-developed characters, lots of action and a great story line -- but this book was my least favorite. The series is about two brothers (Cody and Buck) who are separated by the Civil War and the murder of their parents by Indians. They are reunited in this book, which is kind of a spoiler but they mention it in the synopsis so I'm not giving away anything new. The reuinion is unexpected and totally awesome, but it's in the beginning of this book, and in my opinion everything that happens after that is anticlimactic. Heartwarming and enjoyable, but kind of just filler stuff.
PERFORMANCE - Mr. Engene is a great narrator. He has so many different cowboy character voices that he could read the phone book and make you feel like you're in the wild, wild west!
OVERALL - I'd recommend this series for family listening, as there's something for everyone to enjoy. Men and kids will enjoy the cowboy action, but I'm an adult female and I loved the story of the two brothers. There's no sex or cursing, and the only violence is Indian raids and cowboy shootouts. You should start with Book 1 and listen in order. Once you become acquainted with the brothers and hear their individual stories, you will want to continue until they're reunited.