Monday, September 21, 2020

Audio Book Review: Second Helpings by Brandon Witt

From The Blurb:
Listening Time: 2 hrs., 25 min. 
After escaping to New York City and building a successful career, food blogger Isaac Reynolds returns to his small Ozark hometown for his twenty-year high school reunion. But old ghosts and a charged family history surrounding his mixed-race identity emerge to threaten the emotional safety that time and distance once provided. 
Grant Atkins never expected his long-lost love to make an appearance at the reunion—or to step foot in their hometown, for that matter—not after two decades in the big city. But the flames Isaac inspired in Grant have yet to cool, and while part of Grant wants to shove the past aside and live for the moment, the other part screams out a warning that the risk might shatter his heart and the peace he has finally found. 
As Isaac explores the memories and flavors of childhood, he realizes what his soul has been craving all this time… And a second chance might be just within Grant’s reach. 
(This novella contains 23,000 words and three recipes.)


Karen's rating:




Have you ever heard the expression that 'the third times the charm'? 

 Well, that was the case for me this time around. 'Second Helping' is the story of two men...best friends and more, who meet again at their high school reunion after 20 years.

While growing up Grant Atkins and Isaac Reynolds were best friends...until they weren't. The day after their high school graduation Isaac left their little podunk town and headed for the bright lights of New York without so much as a good-bye for Grant, his constant companion. Grant was heart broken but life goes on and now after all the years and the mistakes that came with them, he's in a good place with his life.

When Isaac shows up at their 20 year high school reunion it all changes because both men realize that 20 years apart has done little to douse the passion they once shared. Grant knows he's going to be in for more heartache but the chance to have even one more night with Isaac is more than he can resist.



As Isaac and Grant revisit the past both men learn things that leaving them re-evaluating the choices they made and looking at each other with a new perspective as well as renewed feelings.

'Second Helpings' is a short but incredibly sweet second chance story. It takes place in the same town as 'The Shattered Door' and 'Then the Stars Fell', however, while the characters in each of these stories are mentioned in the other stories they are not directly connected to each other and the books can technically be read as standalones.

Drew Bacca was the narrator for this story unlike the previous stories which were narrated by Andrew McFerrin and while I'm normally a fan of consistency when it comes to narrators in this case it was a non-issue since this is not actually a part of a series...the stories have a connection because of location...not because of recurring characters. This was only my second time listening to an audio book by this narrator and I found that he added both depth and personality to the characters through their voices. Certainly a narrator that I would not hesitate to listen to again.

At 2 hours and 25 minutes, I was honestly impressed by how much story was contained in such a short amount of time. As the current events of Grant and Isaac's reunion unfold their memories of the past are seamlessly brought into conversations allowing the listener to simply absorb events and recounting of memories effortlessly.

While this was the shortest of the stories set in the small Ozark town of El Dorado by this author, that I've listened to, for me it was also the most enjoyable.
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An audio book of 'Second Helpings' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.



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Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.  (Mason Cooley)





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