The Summer Seaside Kitchen series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. The small island of Mure is anything but dull, and the people of the island, both generational residents and new, make the community a very interesting one.
The book continues its primary focus on Flora as she navigates her new-found love for her old home, but with new troubles brewing. Her former boss and current boyfriend, Joel, is away on business, and this starts a downward spiral for them. He refuses to open up to her, and she constantly wonders if she's really enough for the hot-shot city lawyer.
But I was also introduced to two new storylines. Coltan, Flora's brother's boyfriend, has a secret - and it's an awful one. He drags Joel into it, and it's such a big secret that Joel can't really handle it all. This mystery hovers over the story like a fog bank. It's there, but most people don't realize how thick it is. It plays out throughout the story, and when it's all revealed, there's a lot to take in. Jenny Colgan handles it all beautifully, showing that her characters have a depth and feeling that really brings them to life.
I was also introduced to Saif, the refugee that has found somewhat of a home as the island's doctor. His story is another sad one, having been separated from his wife and two children in the war. He walks the beach just waiting for that miraculous moment when a boat shows up to reunite them. But after waiting for so long, he's having a hard time hanging on to the hope.
Not all of these intricate storylines are entirely wrapped up at the end of the book. But they do seem to reach a natural position of concluded for now, but with more to tell. As I get to know more of the island's residents, I fall in love all over again.
Now That You Mention It was a bit different than what I expected. When I first meet Nora, she seems a little insubstantial. Like there was really nothing to her personality. She's a successful doctor, dating another successful doctor - until she gets hit by a car - and then dumped while she believes she's actually a ghost. The scene was devestating for her, but Kristan Higgans gave it just a bit of a lighthearted feel somehow.
The bulk of the story takes place when Nora returns to her roots - Scupper Island. Everything and nothing has changed, and Nora still feels like she doesn't belong. Throw into the mix her mother, who still can't seem to show any affection, and her niece, a moody and withdrawn teenager whose mother is in jail, and Nora puts on a brave face and starts to pretend that everything will just be OK.
But, of course, it isn't. There are old high school rivals, bullies, and mean girls to contend with. And a few are still holding a very serious grudge. But Nora tries not to let that get to her. She's determined to make the most of what she has - even if it doesn't seem like much at times. I loved how determined Nora was, while still showing a vulnerable side, and I really loved how much she loved her family and was willing to do just about anything to reconnect with them.
In the long run, Nora grows into someone far more complex and likable that she was at the beginning. There a a few fantastic twists and turns with the people around her, and I was really surprised be a couple of them. I highly recommend this book. It was an enjoyable, relaxing listen with just enough excitement laced throughout.
Charlie is faced with a couple of tough cases this time around - both with some surprising results. Her life with Reyes is humming along mostly smoothly, but she determined to find out more about his past - which leads to yet another surprise!
I sort of wished the cases had wrapped up with an intertwined plot somehow. I feel like this one stretched Charlie too far, and I didn't really fall into each individual case and get swept away by it. I got tossed back and forth between the two instead.
I did enjoy learning more about Reyes. His past keeps getting more and more complicated - I hope we're at the end of the earthly complications because it's getting hard to follow his life story. I do love how the relationship between Charlie and Reyes is growing. I also think Cookie is really becoming a co-star in some cases instead of just a side character - I love Cookie.
Nocturnal is quite a rollercoaster ride of paranormal suspense mixed with a good dose of horror. It starts out like a gritty cop drama, with Bryan and his partner, Pookie, showing up at the scene of a gruesome murder. But even though they are the best in the city, they don't get assigned to the case. In fact, they're told to stay away from it.
So, of course, they don't. They follow along, getting themselves deeper and deeper into a world they never even imagined existed. Monsters, a hooded hunter, a rising King all wait along the way.
This book isn't for the squeamish - there were a few times my stomach turned at the scenes and descriptions - so be warned. But it's well worth it, and I just had to know what was going to happen next.
My only complaint about the audio was that Pookie (one of the detectives) sounded exactly like Mike Wazowski - the little green guy from Monsters Inc - so that is what I pictured every time.
What if we weren't as unique as we thought we were? What if we were just one form of evolution from DNA placed by aliens around the universe? What if we found a way to find others that were like us - but different?
The Damocles sets off on this very mission, following coded coordinates to a planet far away (like so far I can't really comprehend). When they come out of deep sleep as they approach the planet Didet, they are about to come face to face with Earther's ancient cousins (of a sort). As they prepare to drones to scan the planet before they make contact, their ship has a hissy fit (yes, a hissy fit, the crew talks about the propulsion crystal as if it were a person). They are forced to make contact before they are prepared, and they are trusting Meg, their language specialist, to get them through first contact.
I loved first contact. It was stressful and suspenseful, and Loul (the Dideto) and his POV were fantastic. I loved the hurdles of them trying to learn complex concepts such as trust, family, and question mark. I was excited every time they had a breakthrough and the awe and wonder on both sides. Meg does an amazing job of learning to communicate, and her love of discovery shows in each of her pages.
Now, this might sound like a bit of a dull story, but it was far from that. We have the Dideto government trying to make moves, the media trying to find a new scoop, and the workers just trying to figure anything out. Several times things start to fall apart and the struggle to keep things on track (and not give anyone a reason to shoot at anyone else) is clear in so many of the interactions.
And the ending - well, it was pretty intense for a while. But the actual ending - the last few pages (minutes?) were a bit of a letdown. I wanted to see how it all turned out. I wanted to know just a little bit more about how everyone's story ends. Still, a story that I will be listening to again.
The narrator did a fantastic job. Her portrayals of both the Earthers and the Dideto were fantastic. She caught the emotion and did a great job of distinguishing voices and personalities.
The Land was my first foray into LitRPG, and I have discovered something that I absolutely love! I think listening to the story in audio format made the experience even better. As we walk through the adventure with Richter - we experience his "dings" as he levels, as well as a few other sound effects that are NOT part of the general narration - just a few select areas that PC or console games will recognize and smile. However, if you are not a gamer of some sort, then many of the fun aspects of this book may not be as enjoyable to you.
I couldn't pinpoint any one specific game all the elements pulled from, but there were bits and pieces from several I have played over the years - from console, to PC, to tabletop. The story follows Richter - a human Chaos Seed - into a realm where the game has become real. From here we dive into an amazing fantasy story that could stand on its own (although quite a bit shorter) without the gaming references. We meet a fun variety of creatures, both friendly and otherwise, all with some very unique personalities and goals. The world itself is built slowly as Richter discovers it, but there are a few hints that it is incredibly vast and many adventures could be found.
Founding tells the story of the beginning of Richter's journey as he discovers The Land and its people. I feel like this would have been the equivalent of the first book in a campaign box set, and it wraps up rather nicely at the end with many strings closed, but leaves a few hanging out there to be pulled apart in the next book - which I am definitely getting as soon as my Audible credits are here.
The end of the third book in the Charlie Davidson series was emotionally draining and somewhat traumatic. Betrayal all around, and I wondered how Charlie was going to come out of this one.
Well, she doesn't exactly. Which was a stroke of brilliance by author Darynda Jones to make her seem more human and real. She is no longer the Grim Reaper and PI Extrodiarre, she is also Charlie - the woman who was hurt, betrayed, and tortured - trying to come to terms with what she's going to do next and looking for comfort in her credit card and home shopping channels.
It takes a new case to start to bring her back to herself. And this case was pretty interesting. I loved the look at the psychology behind our memories and what trauma can do to them. There were some pretty nice twists in it as well, and while I sort of had things figured out, there was one really big surprise that I didn't see coming at all. I understand that Charlie's cases need to be action-packed and exciting, but I'd like to see her come of out one without a near-death experience.
Reyes is back and not in Charlie's good graces. But he has a few things up his sleeve still to try and make things right with her. I'm incredibly curious to see where their storyline goes as we find out more and more about Charlie's unknown abilities and Reyes' background and motives.
I think the narrator for this audiobook is one of my favorites. She tells the story so well and is very easy to listen to.
I loved the story of The Lighthouse Keeper. It was fun, and just the right amount of light-hearted to suspenseful for a summer read. Dawn's character was an interesting one. An odd mix of old-fashioned and modern-day. Her search for a place to call home was always present, but not so much that I felt like I was getting hit over the head with it.
Her treasure-hunter parents were quite hilarious. I loved their conversations, and you could tell they were two people that were completely comfortable with themselves and around each other. But I wondered throughout the book why they hadn't put more effort into finding the missing silver pieces. Dawn's father feeds her information every now and then throughout her search, and I had to ask myself, why didn't he follow up on that? Why wait until now?
The mystery of the missing silver was a really good one. And it did keep me guessing up until near the end, but the author was also very careful not to give away any clues ahead of time.
However, I highly recommend you read this instead of listen to it. The narrator sounded a little too much like the computerized voice you hear on automated systems for me. There wasn't a whole lot of emotion or inflection (until she had to do a man's voice, and that was just overdone). I might continue on in the series. I have no idea what the next book might be about, but I'll definitely read it instead of listen this time.
I loved Third Grave Dead Ahead. Some amazing characters are introduced in the form of a biker gang - and I'm not sure if I'm really supposed to be rooting for them, but I want to. They are a super rough bunch of guys - but super sweet as well.
When Charley's dad tells her she needs to get out of the business - there's a huge falling out - and this comes into play big time as the book wraps up. It triggers some pretty major revelations about Charley that you won't want to miss.
Meanwhile, Reyes seems to be haunting her dreams - so she decided not to sleep while she searches for another missing woman with an over-controlling husband with a nasty history.
Another beautiful job narrating. I always get such a kick out of these books and I have a hard time pressing the pause button to go back to real life.
Second Grave on the Left was full of amazing information on some of my favorite characters. Charley is on the hunt for a missing woman that is friends with best friend, Cookie. The case has Charley chasing a trail of clues with some pretty surprising twists and turns.
Meanwhile, it turns out Reyes is far more than what we thought at first. When Charley finds out he's the Son of Satan (like, for real), she's forced to accept that she doesn't know all there is to know about the world around her and even her own abilities.
Second Grave on the Right not only includes an awesome mystery, it sets a huge stage for some pretty amazing things to come. Darynda Jones doesn't disappoint with Charley's sarcasm and sense of humor. Her personality plays so well with Cookie's, and their conversations are some of the best I've ever read.