The remote island off the coast of Scotland has kept the island's secrets safe while exacting a hefty toll from the families who live there. Every October the sluagh return and death and destruction follow. These Celtic birds resemble their Hitchcock cousins, black as night ravens who attack livestock, pets and people supposedly guiding them to the land of the dead. Leigh made it off the island once but had to return to take care of the family farm now that her father is dead. It seems that all the charms and ceremony won't keep the sluagh from her door and the ghosts out of her head. In the heat of the moment one of the islanders takes the life of one of the sluagh and they will have their revenge causing havoc on the island. A mesmerizing blend of longing for answers, myth and tradition as they try to heal wounds suffered by loss and war. Emma Seckel paints the rugged coast in your head so well that you feel the icy sea spray, the cold seeping into your bones and the feel of the sluagh's feet tangle in your hair - both a terrifying and deeply poetic debut. 4 stars
She can narrate audiobooks in multiple voices and in perfect pitch as well as write smart modern romances with witty banter and relatable characters that keep the reader fully engaged - super hero Julia Whelan. The author writes of the world she knows best - that of a successful audiobook narrator who is looking to get past a facial disability and return to acting. Sewanee needs the fat check that narrating one last book by the author who helped her rise to audio fame but it comes with a catch. She must co-narrate it with a mysterious and equally popular male narrator who she has never met. Fabulous banter through texts and emails help these two to realize that there is more to the project and their professional relationship than they want to admit. Perfect for a summer getaway- steamy, sweet and smart. It makes sense that this should be a fantastic audiobook. 4 stars
This is one of those books that you think is going in one direction and then suddenly it flips you and you can't tell the good guys from the bad. Cassie is summoned to her NYC upper crust family's side when her younger brother is arrested for the rape of his ex-girlfriend. The Quinn family all have secrets, they are well versed in emotional warfare but above all else they are loyal and stand united in their support of Billy. As the situation gets more intense their relationships and stories take a darker turn. This is not an easy read as it deals with violence against women and the underage grooming of a young girl. Intense, provocative and a story that could have been taken from today's headlines, this is perfect for readers of deep family drama as well as fans of MY DARK VANESSA and DEFENDING JACOB. 4 stars
A young woman from Texas with a gift for BBQ and comfort food finds love with a divorced dad who is heir to a bakery dynasty in San Francisco. The romance portion is pretty much as expected but once Margot (formally Margie) shares her past the story takes a darker and more topical turn. Margot was the victim of a sexual assault and fought back only to have her side of the story twisted and freedom taken away. No spoilers but there were other complications that helped make her decision to leave Texas that much easier. Just like it takes both sugar and salt to provide a tasty balance, this is a sweet summer romance and a spicy past that touches on timely and tough subjects. An added treat are the recipes and cocktails at the end of the book.
3 1/2 stars
As the only child of Puerto Rican/ American parents Elena is used to running interference between her parents before and after the divorce. She keeps them both at bay until her mother calls begging Elena to go to Puerto Rico and find her missing dad. Hurricane Maria has made life on the island difficult but Elena manages to get somewhat settled in the house that her family owns and she will inherit. As she tracks down her dad whereabouts she meets more of the family and begins to understand her dad's past and the problems he faced and is facing now. This will appeal to readers of family drama especially those of blended cultures.
3 1/2 stars
Karin Resaint likes animals much more than most people so she is happy to take a job that puts her in remote areas analyzing near extinct animal species looking for intelligent ones to save. This sounds simple but it is anything but in this futuristic post apocalyptic world where humans have already screwed up almost all of the ecosystems and the majority of animal species are just a DNA sample kept in a lab. She is about to file her report on the highly intelligent venomous lumpsucker when someone responsible for messing up the lumpsucker's current habitat comes begging for her help.
Together they travel to other potential habitats trying to stay ahead of eco-terrorists and humans just trying to stay alive in the cesspool they created. Political upheaval, corrupt businesses, psychopath rain maker drones and more this stark look at where we are headed is delivered with dry wit and much sarcasm. Fans of the natural horror of Jeff VanderMeer will find much to love. 3 1/2 stars
Another example of friends at work denying there is so much more to their relationship. Matt and Cadence are very talented at what they do which is why they make a kickbutt team until great opportunities at work threaten to break up their good thing. Both are aware and supportive of the struggles to perform to the high bar of their Asian-American parents while also following their own dreams. A romcom that is tailor-made for the "you can't have it all" new adults figuring it out.
Sam and Sadie meet as kids under strange circumstances forming a long lasting friendship that is not without a few big bumps along the way. Years go by before they are reunited as adults and decide to form a company designing video games. They have not changed and some of the old bumps in their relationship begin to trip them up again. A sprawling look at friends who love each other but not as lovers and lovers who try to be friends and fail. This is a look at the human need for connection and searching for perfection even if it is found in a made up digitized world. A must for gamers and a prequel for lovers of READY PLAYER ONE who want a deeper connection to the emotional lives of the characters. 4 stars
3 1/2 stars
A powerful story of love, pain and bullying. Todd is a teacher and single parent of a young son who are quietly living on the coast when one day someone from Todd's childhood appears as if from nowhere to upend their lives. Jack and Todd have a love/hate relationship that goes back to when Jack bullied Todd at school yet secretly befriended him. This abuse left a lasting impression on Todd that is still with him especially as he sees as he is losing control to Jack of his life and his son Anthony's affection. It reaches a boiling point and Todd's descent into madness begins. It doesn't help that Anthony's mother who abandoned them both is now back inserting herself into Anthony's life. It is a breakdown of a parent/child relationship, an act of violence that will haunt both of them and a man who is at war with himself. You see the events spiral out of control and are powerless as the reader to do anything to stop the horror.
Emma Webster is a successful MP. She is pushing a volatile bill through Parliament that has marked her as a villain in some social media. Being in the spotlight is tough enough but she has also started getting threats and her teenage daughter has just been accused of social media bullying. When a reporter ends up dead at her house it is too much. Now on trial for his death she is worried about the vicious threats but even more worried about her secrets coming to light. Is she innocent of the death? Was it a horrible accident and she is a victim as well? British tabloid drama in the best sense that speaks to the pitfalls of political notoriety and the power and potential abuse of the press. 4 stars
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