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 fiction) - This is Book 3 in the Longhorn series, and I must admit I have absolutely loved all three. If it's not my favorite series, it's definitely in the top two or three. Two brothers, each one thinks the other is dead. One is a successful cattle rancher in Texas, the other is an ex-gunslinger in Colorado. You will fall in love with both brothers and root for them as they navigate through the hardships of post Civil War America. It's all there -- cattle rustlers, Indians, banditos and on and on. There's never a dull moment, but there are touching moments as well. The ending of this book was so moving it made me cry, and there's still one more to go!
PERFORMANCE - Mr. Engene is the perfect narrator for this series. He has many different "western" voices he can portray, and they all will contribute to your enjoyment of the story. Some of them are a bit over the top, but it's great listening.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this series for absolutely anyone except young children. No sex or profanity. If you'd let your child watch a western on TV with Indian raids and shootouts, you can let them hear this story. Men and women alike will love this series equally. It's an easy listen and pure enjoyment! Definitely listen to them in order.