With the end of the school year approaching, I needed to listen to something light and fun while battling traffic and disinfecting iPads – Molly Harper is sure bet in this department, no matter whether it’s one of her series, or a standalone.
Since all three of the reads, which would fall under the novella category, were solid 3.5 stars, I’m just going to put them all in one post.
Lia Doe came to Mystic Bayou for one simple reason: to get her job done. Namely, to build a housing complex for all the new residents flocking to town since word of its supernatural population got out. But from the moment Lia arrives, it’s clear that nothing about the job is going to be simple.
First, there’s the mysterious guy she meets in the middle of the night while they’re both cavorting in their alternate forms. Spending time with shape-shifters is nothing new to Lia, but there’s something special about Jon Carmody…and the magical pull she feels whenever he’s near. There’s also a sense of homecoming and belonging in Mystic Bayou that makes her want to stick around - despite the dangers brewing from mysterious forces.
Will Lia complete her project with her heart unscathed, or will her life shift forever?
Probably the one I enjoyed least out of all three, though it still held my attention. I really like Amanda Ronconi’s narration, but Jonathon Davies is not a favourite. I have to say, in fairness, this was one of his better performances. Mostly, I just enjoyed visiting Mystic Bayou again.
Ever since Jane Jameson took over running the Vampire Council for Half-Moon Hollow, things have been a little unorthodox, and that doesn’t sit well with the head office. Who would have thought vampires were so into bureaucracy and tradition?
Enter a vamp from corporate who’s determined to unseat Jane and get the council back on track - which means no more of this Kentucky neighborliness and mixing with humans, werewolves, witches, or anything else.
But Jane’s not interested in going back to the bad old days when the council was mired in corruption and tended to "accidentally" eat people now and again, but she might be in over her head this time. Good thing there’s a pretty new face in town who just might be the perfect distraction and help save Jane’s career.
This is the one I enjoyed the most out of the three, because I’m a long time fan of not only Half-Moon Hollow, but the general format of the books. Each chapter starts with an excerpt from the book that shares its title with the current story. So Peace, Blood, and Understanding is the name of the book within the book, and its excerpts are relevant to the theme of the story. I’m not sure that was coherent, but suffice it to say I enjoy the extra boost of wry wit these bring with them.
Anastasia Villiers has hit rock bottom. And that rock is named Espoir Island.
Abandoned by her disgraced investment banker husband who liquidated all of their assets and fled the country, Anastasia is left with nothing - except for Fishscale House, a broken-down Queen Anne in the Michigan hometown she swore she’d left for good.
If Ana quickly renovates and flips the dilapidated building, she can get back to Manhattan and salvage her life. The problem? The only person on the island with historical renovation cred is Ned Fitzroy - Ana’s first love - who insists she help him with the labor herself. As Ana gets reacquainted with Ned, and her hometown, she realizes home may be just what she’s always wanted.
Previously published in the I Loved You First anthology.
This is a stand alone novella, apparently original to a multi-author anthology. It’s also a little bit of a diversion for Harper. The character is older, with grown kids, and living the B-list reality star life in New York City when her husband is indicted by the Federal Government and takes off with her Pilates instructor to an island lacking a US extradition treaty. There’s no Southern anything here; it’s a solidly mid-western character, and Ronconi did a great job with it. The story goes exactly the way you’d predict it would – absolutely no surprises – but it was a pleasant diversion.
Charlotte McBee knows she’s in for a challenge when she accepts a job as midwife for a dragon and a phoenix shifter. Being a fairy herself, it isn’t the supernatural world that scares her. It’s the thought of delivering a giant metal dragon’s egg, which has her gritting her teeth in pain for poor Jillian, the anxious mother-to-be.
While preparing for the big event, a handsome town resident catches her eye. Leonard is kind, charming, and a little bit mysterious. He’s also suffering from a highly unusual condition brought on by an ancient fairy curse, and he’s too wary of Charlotte to allow her to get close.
Will love overcome fear before the end of her assignment?
So I thought I’d closed my Audible account last year, but it turns out, nope, I didn’t. One of their emails got through the spam filter last week and informed me that I had 12 credits sitting there. Of course, I had to use them all before I shut the account for good, so I went on a bit of a spree and bought a bunch of titles, and I made sure Molly Harper’s books accounted for at least a few.
One Fine Fae is, really, not a 4 star read – it’s closer to a 3.5 star, but I think Amanda Ronconi does such a fabulous job with the narration of these that she gets the .5 star bump. Jonathan Davis narrates the male POV and I rather wish he didn’t. He reads awkwardly, often mangling sentences with his oddly placed pauses, and he’s terrible at female voices.
The story itself is about what you’d expect from a novella: short and shallow, relying on established characters for any real depth while the newbies have their meet cute and establish a relationship. There’s no tension, or plot, other than the birth of Gillian’s daughter, who is half dragon and half phoenix, and that wasn’t at all tense.
All in all, just a light and amusing way to kill a few hours while driving and ironing.
Well, with the lockdowns, it took me not quite 6 months to finish this on audio (I can only listen in the car), but I finally did it. It was, of course, worth every minute, and I’d recommend the audio version to anybody who even wants to like Greek mythology. Especially those who want to like it, but always struggled with the names, and the who begat whoms, and the who married whoms. Fry unapologetically tells the listener to ignore all of that – there won’t be a test at the end – and just enjoy the stories. His narration makes this all the easier, as he’s absolutely brilliant at it, even if the Greeks are speaking with Scottish, English and at one point what I think was a distinctly cockney accent. In fact, the hint of Monty Python in some of the stories made them all the more enjoyable for me, because they made me chuckle.
I’ve never been all that interested in the Trojan War, but I’m sorely tempted to check out his version with the next book in this ‘series’.
Bill Bryson sets off to explore the human body, how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. Full of extraordinary facts and astonishing stories The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a brilliant, often very funny attempt to understand the miracle of our physical and neurological make up.
Another book I own but borrowed in audio from the library. Also another read by the author, though Bryson does almost all of his own books and I’ve always enjoyed his readings.
The Body: A Guide for Occupants is an overview of the human body, taking it system by system. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but looking through my hard copy, I can see it includes photos, making me think this is yet another book destined to be re-visited as a read, rather than a listen. No hardship, as Bryson is an excellent writer, and The Body is no exception. He covers the basics, plus just that little bit more, offering what might perhaps be new information, or a different perspective, or a fresh historical anecdote. He also doesn’t pull any punches about humanity’s propensity to overeat and under exercise, something that in (what is for me) these post-lockdown days had a more pronounced effect than they might otherwise have had pre-covid.
I don’t think fans of Bryson will be disappointed.
A round-the-globe journey through the periodic table explains how the air people breathe reflects the world's history, tracing the origins and ingredients of the atmosphere to explain air's role in reshaping continents, steering human progress, and powering revolutions.
I listened to this back in December-February, and forgot all about posting a review; this happens frequently with my audiobooks since I borrow them from the library and they’re not physical objects, sitting around mutely mocking me for my slack ways.
I like Sam Kean’s books, and I always have. They’re popular science books and I enjoy his way of attaching science to everyday anecdotes; for me it’s a nice reinforce how science is at the very core of life.
Caesar’s Last Breath is about the air we all breathe and which parts of the periodic table we’re breathing at any given moment. I own the book, but it was available from the library as audio and I needed something for the car. It’s narrated by Kean himself, which can often not be a good thing, but I think he made a fair performance of it. But this book also uses visuals, so while I enjoyed it, I think I’d have gotten more out of it had I read my hard copy. Something I’ll probably do soon.
If you’ve read his other books and didn’t care for them, don’t bother with this one, but if you enjoy accessible science tied to historical events or everyday living, you might enjoy this one.
Oh how I didn’t like this book. I should have DNF’d it, but it was called The Haunted Bookshop! I’d have thought it impossible for any book with that title to be so disappointing.
Where to start… the characters – the two main characters – are each in their own way incredibly irritating. Roger Mifflin, the bookshop owner, constantly reminded me of Walter Mitty: living in his own dreamworld with grandiose ideas about the power of literature. Just about every time he opens his mouth, it’s to deliver a long ultimately irritating panegyric on the fantastical powers of books. I love books and I believe the world would be a much better place if everybody read more, but Mifflin takes this idea too far and the result makes him look foolish.
Aubrey Gilbert, on the other hand, is actually foolish. An idiot really. He spends the book either spouting off sales rhetoric that sounds like an Amway pitch or flying off half-cocked chasing dust-devils and flinging about insane accusations. Remember the Dick Van Dyke Show? Gilbert is like Dick Van Dyke only without rational thought or a sense of humour.
The plot… sigh… the plot was good, what there was of it. Sadly it only accounted for about 1/10th of the book itself. The audiobook I listened to was 6 hours long and I swear if you edited out everything not directly related to the plot itself it would run less than 20 minutes. Tops.
The narrator did a good job, although he sounded so much like Leonard Nimoy I kept picturing Spock reading to me, except I’m pretty sure even Spock would have lost patience with the book after a couple of hours.
The best part of this experience? This was a library loan and it didn’t cost me anything but the time I spent listening to it and the energy I spent yelling at my car’s audio telling Mifflin to shut up already.
Very entertaining book. The narrator in this audio version did a great job with the main character – she really brought her to life. Not so great with the male characters – they all tended to sound similar and all suffering from chronic laryngitis. Still, I thought the story was very well written, entertaining and at times funny. A light murder mystery keeps the plot going although I definitely wouldn’t call it the driving force behind the story. The author does a great job creating the world of Grundy and it’s inhabitants. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of supernatural chick-lit.