Posted in Reviews

Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Recommended: ehhh
For people who don’t care if the octopus is a small part of this and not the heart of it, for folks who enjoy understated stories with quiet character development, for a gentle mystery. Not for likeable characters, engaging plot, or vivid emotions.

Summary

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.

Thoughts

Who else came to this book lured in by the promise of narration via octopus? I imagine lots of people, myself among them.

Who else was disappointed by the lack of octopus narration?
🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️

There are a few good chapters of it for sure, but they’re short at two or three pages each and make up overall a small (but impactful) portion of the story. My expectations for this were WAY off, as I thought it’d be closer to 50%, so when I got into this and realized it was mostly narrated from two humans (with the occasional omniscient view of side characters where fitting) I was quickly put off of it. This was not what I signed up for.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Recommended: yessss
For a story within a story (within a story?), for a lot of twistiness around writing and text and authors, for a good old fashioned murder mystery, for a lovely exploration of Boston!

Summary

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

Thoughts

THIS. WAS. SO. GOOD. By chapter two or three I was so giddy with excitement over all that this book was already promising. There’s a text within the text, and it allowed me to come up with 4 or 5 wildly different theories as to what the resolution of the story would be. I got real creative, LET ME TELL YA. And that last line? BOY DO I HAVE THOUGHTS.

Okay. Obviously it’s a murder mystery, so I’ll keep the spoiler talk out (and/or hidden under a spoiler tag at the end). It was freaking fantastic though! It seemed like everyone at one point or another was a suspect. There was one point about 80% of the way through that made me go “OH okay, it’s obviously X.” And then the characters slowly came to that conclusion. But still — I had an extremely fun time all the way up to that point waiting to see what would happen.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Two Nights in Lisbon 5/24/22

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone!
Expected Release: May 24, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • 1The setting, of course. I love books set in places that aren’t where I am, and Lisbon, Portugal is one of those places. This seems like a book that will track all through the city so I’ll see it a bit.
  • The mystery! I love a good amnesiac episode of trying to find out who you are. Siri, Who Am I? was a surprisingly good title, and The End of Getting Lost feels like it will have similar vibes to this one as well. Both were fab!
  • Who is the one person she doesn’t want to ask for help!? The blurb ends with that juicy little tidbit, so on top of the “who am i where am I” mystery, there’s definitely going to be some tension elsewhere as well. It must be someone she meets during the process or else she wouldn’t remember them, right? So what new person is catching her attention?
  • OH AND ALSO ITS BY THE GUY WHO WROTE THE EXPATS!!! That book was one I picked up I don’t even know how, and it was SO GOOD. I still think about that book. I recommended it to my mom and she loved it too. I didn’t realize Chris Pavone wrote it as well until literally just now when I saw the byline on the cover and yoooo I’m even more excited and maybe actually preordering this one now. 😍

Summary

Ariel Price wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone—no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.

She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new—much younger—husband?

The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Remarkably Bright Creatures, 5/10/22

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt!
Expected Release: May 10, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • IT’S TOLD FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF AN OCTOPUS. At least, partially. There are multiple characters, but Marcellus is probably the best one. I think that could be a really fun perspective to imagine hearing from, and that’s frankly what sold me on giving this book a try once I realized it wasn’t nonfiction like I’d hoped, but fiction instead.
  • After reading Soul of an Octopus I’ve learned even more ways to love octopuses (yes that’s correct. You can still hold on to octopi, and octopode, if you’d like. Just be careful of the tentacles. Harhar! Okay, I’m done with this parenthetical). They’re absolutely incredible, and probably also aliens. I have major respect for them.
  • There seems to be some light mystery in this book too, as the octopus investigates the disappearance of the son of the one human he finds… tolerable. It definitely sounds kind of cozy-mystery to me, like something that will have a bittersweet but touching ending and make me cry tears of “it’s just so BEAUTIFUL!” feelings. Also hella curious about how exactly an octopus in captivity investigates? We shall see.

Summary

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

Recommended: sure
For a very strange atmosphere, for people okay with embracing a bit of confusion, for people okay with doing a little bit of work to figure out what’s going on, for people who adore a fascinating and gothic world. FYI that there’s not a lot of focus on the bone orchard itself, weirdly. More the results of it, the symbol of it.

Summary

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow. Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain. Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself. Now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart. Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.

Thoughts

Well, it was weird and absolutely not what I expected. Not bad, but definitely strange. I felt like an outsider the whole time. Sometimes I missed the subtleties of exchanges that were carefully worded between characters to carry secrets. I only understood when someone laid it out plainly later on, or when an action happened that I was confused by and thought about until I connected it to their previous plotting that I had missed. That feeling lasted, and while it should have been more alienating, it was intriguing in a way as well.

I rather liked that this book was not straightforward to me. I rather liked that I felt a bit offkilter, because it put me on more even footing with Charm and the boneghosts. The scheming and intrigue was at times a secret even from me: that’s how clever our characters are.

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Posted in Chatty

In Progress with THE BONE ORCHARD

Progress: page 175/420 (42%)

Started off a little hard to get into because it was so different from my expectation that it was a bit jarring and I had to readjust, but now I’m interested!

Why did I start reading it?

This was a recent Fast Forward Friday pick, and it released just a week or two ago. It promised necromancy, witches, and royalty. It technically delivered all of those things, but in NO WAY like I expected. That’s not bad, it has just not been what I thought it would be!

In a word: weird

This on the surface sounds like a story that has been done many times. I feel like it is not a story I have ever read before. It has some of the same elements, but arranged in a Frankenstein’s-monster kind of way that set me off-kilter, and still sometimes catches me off-guard. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the vibe of it is just different.

Lines that linger

The hurting reminds me to hate him every moment, instead of only when I think of him.

p127

Most animals want to live. They struggle toward life regardless of their surroundings. … Human beings are more difficult. At some point of trauma, most people just give up and die.

p153
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: I Am Margaret Moore, 3/15/22!

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin!
Expected Release: March 15, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • Honestly, all I need at this point if the name Hannah Capin on the cover and I’m going to read it. Foul is Fair / Golden Boys Beware is my — wow am I really saying this? — favorite book. The #1. The constant re-read that gives me shivers and goosebumps with every reading.
  • I get vibes like “We Were Liars” by e. Lockhart with this, but probably a lot darker. Murder and mystery and not being sure who to trust, set in a dark and punishing (yet kind of fancy and luxurious?) place.
  • The duality of the main character intrigues me. Proclaiming to be a monster entices me to figure out how that’s meant. Is she REALLY to blame? Does she just have a burden of unearned guilt? Is she actually a siren of the depths? I want to know.

Summary

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: The End of Getting Lost by Robin Kirman!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that The End of Getting Lost by Robin Kirman published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: sure
For a frantic sprint through Europe, for unexpected knowledge discovered, for a domestic thriller on the run, for a desperately mad and all-consuming kind of love

Summary

The year is 1996—a time before cell phones, status updates, and location tags—when you could still travel to a remote corner of the world and disappear, if you chose to do so. This is where we meet Gina Reinhold and Duncan Lowy, a young artistic couple madly in love, traveling around Europe on a romantic adventure. It’s a time both thrilling and dizzying for Gina, whose memories are hazy following a head injury—and the growing sense that the man at her side, her one companion on this strange continent, is keeping secrets from her.

Just what is Duncan hiding and how far will he go to keep their pasts at bay? As the pair hop borders across Europe, their former lives threatening to catch up with them while the truth grows more elusive, we witness how love can lead us astray, and what it means to lose oneself in love… The End of Getting Lost is “atmospheric, lyrical, and filled with layered insights into the complexities of marriage” (Susie Yang, New York Times bestselling author of White Ivy). “Kirman is wonderfully deft with suspense and plot” (Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks) in this “electric page-turner” (Courtney Maum, author of Costalegre and Touch), a novel that is both a tightrope act of deception as much as it is an elegant exploration of love and marriage, and our cherished illusions of both. With notes of Patricia Highsmith, Caroline Kepnes, and Lauren Groff, Robin Kirman has spun a delicious tale of deceit, redemption, and the fight to keep love alive—no matter the costs.

Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler released today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: sure
For a drama that has a bit of everything, and yet doesn’t feel like it’s crammed too full of things; for a strong focus on family and forgiveness (of others, yourself, the world…)

Summary

Two days before Tam and Tony Kwan receive their letter of acceptance for the son they are adopting from China, Tony and his estranged cousin Mia are killed unexpectedly in an accident. A shell-shocked Tam learns she is named the guardian to Mia’s five-year-old daughter, Angela. With no other family around, Tam has no choice but to agree to take in the girl she hasn’t seen since the child was an infant.

Overwhelmed by her life suddenly being upended, Tam must also decide if she will complete the adoption on her own and bring home the son waiting for her in a Chinese orphanage. But when a long-concealed secret comes to light just as she and Angela start to bond, their fragile family is threatened. As Tam begins to unravel the events of Tony and Mia’s past in China, she discovers the true meaning of love and the threads that bind her to the family she is fated to have.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Replacement Wife, 12/28/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Replacement Wife by Darby Kane!
Expected Release: December 28, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • 1 I guess I’ve become interested in domestic thrillers a little bit, considering that I’ve actually read a few of them in the past year. They do seem to be kind of shades of the same (usually some secret about the wife… or wives….) but I’m reading them nonetheless.
  • The idea that this one is about a woman trying to figure out if her brother in law has been murdering his multiple girlfriends / wives makes me think of those episodes of Forensic Files where this happens. By which I mean, the plot sounds real which is freaky and compelling.
  • AND YET: the blurb also hints at the idea that maybe there’s something wrong with Elisa herself! She has panic attacks and anxiety, and it seems to suggest that there might be something other than that affecting her. Then again, that could be a red herring of emotional manipulation. Either way, I want to know!

Summary

Elisa Wright is a mom and wife, living a nice, quiet life in a nice, quiet town. She’s also convinced her brother-in-law is a murderer. Josh has one dead wife and one missing fiancée, and though he grieved for them he starts dating someone new. Elisa fears for that woman’s safety, and she desperately wants to know what happened to her friend, Josh’s missing fiancée.

Searching for clues means investigating her own family. And she doesn’t like what she finds. A laptop filled with incriminating information. Other women.

But when Elisa becomes friends with Josh’s new girlfriend and starts to question things she thinks are true, Elisa wonders if the memories of a horrible incident a year ago have finally pushed her over the edge and Josh is really innocent. With so much at stake, Elisa fights off panic attacks and a strange illness. Is it a breakdown or something more? The race is on to get to the truth before another disappearance because there’s a killer in the family…or is there?