Monday, May 11, 2015

Audiobook Review: Unhidden by Dina Given

by Dina Given
Series:  The Gatekeeper Chronicles #1
Pub Date:  April 30, 2015
Publisher:  Team D Enterprises
Narrator:  Cate Strey
Format:  Audiobook
Length:  7 hours 59 minutes
Source:  Author

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

It’s not always easy to differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys, especially when your heroine is a trained killer and she may be falling in love with her evil hunter…  

Emma Hayes, a former military Special Forces Operative turned mercenary-for-hire, finds her tightly controlled world turned upside down when she is attacked by horrible monsters. 

Emma must use every skill in her arsenal to stay alive as she tries to solve the mystery of why she has been targeted. Her list of enemies keeps growing - from Zane Shayde, an evil Mage, to a secret branch of the US government - and she doesn't know if there is anyone left she can trust. 

To complicate matters further, Emma is inexplicably drawn to Zane in a way she doesn’t quite understand, even knowing her life is forfeit if captured. Who is he and why does he have this affect on her? How can she fight a being that calls to her, body and soul?

Emma is left haunted by questions, doubts and fears as to why she has been targeted, when they will come for her next, and how she will possibly be able to survive against an enemy she doesn't understand.

I did not know this was Dina Given's debut novel until after I listened to this audiobook. This is a fantastic debut - I was surprised to find that out! This was a good start to an urban fantasy series featuring lots of different kinds of creatures, mages and magically gifted humans. At least I think they are humans - I wasn't really clear on Emma's abilities (and neither was she, for good reason). Ms. Givens did a really good job with her world building, particularly regarding the development of all the different creatures. I would say there was more world building than character development, and I think that is because our main character, Emma, was suffering from amnesia and doesn't remember anything other than the last 10 years, the time period after she was in a coma from what she believes was a car accident. So because Emma has a memory issue, we don't get a whole lot of her back story in this book. I think that will be rectified as Emma's memory comes back in future books. I liked Emma as a character; she was a strong female lead and I don't think she got on my nerves at all in this book. That always makes me happy because there seems to be a prevalence of wishy washy female leads in books today and sometimes you just wanna shake the spit outta em. Not Emma - she was a kickass heroine who was loyal and had a big heart.

This book had tons of action, mystery and a touch of romance. I absolutely loved Zane - and you will like him if you like those darkly troubled and conflicted male love interests, the ones you just wanna get your hands on and fix all their problems. I hope Emma finds a way to fix Zane - and I have a feeling she will fight for him. I hope so, I can't wait to read about it. I also liked a number of the secondary characters, particularly Eddie.

The book doesn't end with a cliffhanger per se, but its an open ending so that you can tell the story is not over. We still have more mysteries to figure out, memories to uncover, and problems to solve. I am looking forward to the rest of the series, so I hope Ms. Given writes fast. As I sit here and think about it, the writing style reminded me of Devon Monk's Magic series - the pacing and detail of the story was similar. I have a feeling that this series will build and build to the big bang finale, which is how I felt about the Devon Monk books.

As for the audiobook specifically, I really like this narrator (Cate Strey). She was engaging, animated, and switched up her voice pitch and inflections for different characters/creatures. The story and narrator kept me entertained as I ran around town today and came home to do yard work and clean the house. I love a good audiobook to take my focus off mindless tasks.

I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

I body checked him so he stumbled through the doors, hitting the far wall of the elevator. I followed him in, keeping my gun pointed at his chest, then pressed the only button inside the elevator that would take us to the bottom of the shaft, fifteen stories below ground. The doors slid shut, and with a jerk, the elevator began moving. It was only when my prisoner began to change that I realized it might not have been the most brilliant idea in the world to cage myself into a small box suspended over open air with a complete stranger. I had once again forgotten I was potentially dealing with a supernatural enemy, and I shouldn’t have assumed my tail was only a normal human being. The man standing huddled in the corner straightened to his full height of only ’five-foot-ten, and his eyes began to glow a pale yellow. “I’m more of a lover than a fighter …” he said, his voice becoming deeper and rougher with every word. I heard the snapping of what I realized were his bones, and his skin bulged and rippled as if something living beneath it was trying to get out. His face elongated, and wickedly sharp teeth extended from what was quickly becoming a muzzle. “But I can dish out a pretty good disemboweling,” he completed in a growl before the transformation of his mouth prevented any further human speech. His clothes tore away as his limbs bulged and bent. He fell to all fours as course, gray hair sprouted over his entire body. Cold terror bled through my body, filling my veins with ice as I tried to remember all the rules I had seen in movies about taking down a werewolf. I had no way of knowing whether there was any truth to them, but it was all I had to go on. Unfortunately, the bullets in my gun were made of steel, not silver. He completed the transformation from man to wolf in a matter of seconds, although even before then, I had put three bullets into him. I continued to hold out hope that I could interrogate him; therefore, I didn’t aim for his head. Instead, I blew out his knee, trying to incapacitate him. I was surprised when the creature actually let out a yelp of pain as a spray of blood and cartilage hit the back wall of the elevator, and the wolf’s leg collapsed under it. He still had three good legs, though, and he lunged at me with snapping jaws. I got off another two shots, but they went wide, missing him as he barreled into me. I managed to keep hold of the weapon, but the wolf’s jaws clamped down on the gun. Unfortunately, the muzzle was not pointed into his mouth; thus, pulling the trigger would just put a bullet harmlessly into the wall of the elevator. I needed the gun though. I wasn’t about to let go of it. With my free hand, I punched the wolf square in the muzzle, raining repeated blows on its face, my hand going numb as my knuckles split and bled, but I kept hitting him. His eye was a bruised and swollen mess, and blood poured freely from his nose. When I felt his jaws loosening, I pushed past the pain in my hand and hammered him with one final fist to the nose, throwing my entire body weight behind it. He released me, and I brought up my gun, but he was changing again. Thinking he was shifting back into a man and conceding the fight, I held my fire. Instead, his muzzle sharpened and hardened into a point. His gray fur sprouted feathers, and his arms extended into broad wings that flapped wildly. His injured leg was less of an impediment now that he could fly. He lifted from the floor and dove straight for me. I ducked, instinctively raising my arms to protect my head and face. He hit the wall behind me yet recovered quickly and flew at me again. Staying low, I tried to get a bead on him with my gun, but he was moving too fast. The cramped elevator wasn’t large; however, this form made him quicker, more capable of tight turns, and gave him more room to maneuver since he could take advantage of the air space above my head. He launched at me with talons bared and sliced through my forearm as I shielded my eyes. The pain was sharp and intense, and blood flowed freely from the lacerations.    

About the Author

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Dina Given lives in rural New Jersey – home of farms, horses and the largest hot air balloon festival in North America – with her husband, two crazy kids, and one rescue dog. She is an exercise enthusiast and avid lover of food and wine (hence the need to exercise). Dina also works full time for one of the largest healthcare companies in the world. She attributes her ability to juggle family, work and writing to her obsessive, hyper-focused, Type A personality.   

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