Book Review: “Remarkably Bright Creatures” By: Shelby Van Pelt

Summary from goodreads

Remarkably Bright Creatures, an exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope, tracing a widow’s unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus.

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.

Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.

My Review:

This story pulled on my heart strings. Told from multiple points of view this story uses an unusual main character in a 60 lb. giant pacific octopus. And how one catastrophic event tied all of them together.

I enjoyed the octopus perspective the most as it was heartbreaking spending a life in a glass box. But the antics he would get into were hilarious and heartbreaking. It was moving how we take emotions as something only humans experience.

The plot was slow in the beginning and once the characters were revealed it was predictable what the ending would be. But I don’t think this a bad quality as the ending was desirable and exactly what I wanted.

The concept that was most intriguing is living an unfulfilled life. Tova does not have any living children and is feeling her options are limited as she is approaching her golden years. The octopus has a plaque outside his tank saying that his life expectancy is 4 yrs. And having the years waste away until the fourth year is reached. Cameron can’t hold down a job and has no goals or aspirations. He merely exists from one day to the next.

This is a moving story that had this reader crying at the ending.

What is your all time favorite animal character from a book?


Book Review: “A Sharpened Axe” By: Jill M. Beene

This story took the best parts of “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas, and “The Selection” by:Kiera Cass, to make a binge worthy love story.
A noble girl named Samiris becomes primary caretaker due to her families illness. She is chosen for a deadly marriage contest to marry the prince. A curse has plagued the kingdom for fifteen years and the winner of the competition has been burned alive at the end of the competition every year. The final part of the competition is a series of question asking about love. The curse can tell whether the answers are true or a lie. Answer incorrectly and the final girl will burst into flame. This complicates things farther as the prince is hideous and no matter how hard Samiris tries, she can not fall in love with the bumbling oaf.

I love that Samiris is fiercely independent and the sole provider for her family. She consistently challenges the status quo that makes her an outsider. Samiris is a great female main character that fights her own battles and stands up for the underprivileged. She is all around a good person that makes her easy to connect to.

The story moved at an enjoyable pace and I do not feel it could have been shortened, or important plot points would be compromised. The ending left me dumbfounded and I want to reread the story to see the easter eggs that were missed.

This story was very clean with no smut. I think if there was smut then it would have complicated the plot instead of adding more to the story. The author made a wise choice in keeping it clean.

It is important to support Indie authors and I encourage others to read this story. If you enjoyed ACOTAR and “The Selection” then this is the story for you.

While you are reading how do you imagine the characters in your head?
For this story I pictured Samiris as Jennifer Lawerence (Hunger Games style) and Artem as Henry Cavill

ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07L4ZCPJ7

Book Review: “Lessons In Chemistry” By: Bonnie Garmus

Summary from goodreads:

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist

My Review:

Trigger warning: suicide, misogyny, sexism, abuse, rape

The 50s and 60s were a harsh time to be a woman in America. This story shines the light on the sexism and misogyny that is rampant during this time period.

Elizabeth faces hardship at every level in pursuing and achieving her dream to be a chemist. I enjoy that Elizabeth does not follow social cues and makes people feel uncomfortable in their misogyny.

This story shows grief and the complicated way it can be addressed. This story also shows a positive aspect of women that decide they don’t want children or marriage.

I love the science and religious aspects included as well. The author did a fantastic job in using chemistry in an educational aspect but also as a tool for women to see their true value.

This story was told from multiple perspectives including a dog. The dog was enjoyable and enhanced the story well.

I recommend this story if you are looking for some female empowerment!

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Doubleday; 1st Edition (April 5, 2022)

Book Review: “Take My Hand” By: Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Trigger warnings: racism, sexism, abortion, forced sterilization.

Summary from goodreads:

Inspired by true events that rocked the nation, a profoundly moving novel about a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who blows the whistle on a terrible wrong done to her patients, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wench.

Montgomery, Alabama 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.

But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a worn down one-room cabin, she’s shocked to learn that her new patients are children—just 11 and 13 years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black and for those handling the family’s welfare benefits that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica and their family into her heart. Until one day, she arrives at the door to learn the unthinkable has happened and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.

Decades later, with her daughter grown and a long career in her wake, Dr. Civil Townsend is ready to retire, to find her peace and to leave the past behind. But there are people and stories that refuse to be forgotten. That must not be forgotten. 

My  Review:

This story is written with the main character alternating between past and present day.  This added an element that shows how these events truly were life altering and impact the characters for the rest of the lives.

The author did a phenomenal job making Civil so complex and show such remorse for what happened. She is struggling with her own mental health and pressure from her family life. Compounded with her relationship with the girls and their family.

What stuck out to me was the intertwining of the need for control. The government unjustly decided what was best for India and Erica by doing a forced sterilization. 

Civil is trying to control what is best for the Williams family by getting them set up in housing, enrolling in school, finding jobs. She doesn’t see that the Williams need to make their own decisions and Civil needs to relinquish control.

That marriage of these two different ideas really stuck with me. Even though Civil’s intentions were good, in the end she also took away the Williams right to decide for themselves.

I highly encourage EVERYONE to read this book. 

Not related to the review but just feelings that occurred because of this story.

First off, lets discuss how I had no idea about this major event in United States history. And it happened in the SEVENTIES! There are still women alive that were victims to this horror. 

I am downright infuriated that in the public education system this is not a focal point. The revolutionary/civil war are taught extensively for YEARS on end . But the subjects in this story is only taught at college level specialized classes. If we don’t teach the incidents of racism/sexism that occurred in this lifetime, how will we grow? How can we learn not to make these same mistakes? 

So shameful.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (April 12, 2022)

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593337691

Book Review: “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” By: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary from goodreads

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

My review:

Wow! What a page turner! 

This story takes the reader back to old Hollywood with the life of Evelyn Hugo through her entire movie star career.

Evelyn is such a complicated character that at times she is the villain and hero in her own story. She is well written and owns her flaws. She knows what she wants and goes for it. She consistently remakes herself after the Hollywood star has fallen. 

But the ending was a mixed bag. Part of me was sad, but other parts felt like it was a closure that Evelyn has fought for and maintained for her entire life. She fought for power her entire life and she would not relinquish it.

I hear so many people picture Marilyn Monroe when they picture our main character. I always envisioned our main character as Elizabeth Taylor. Who did you imagine as our leading lady?

Lots of hard hitting topics in this story

Triggers: abortion, domestic violence, suicide, rape

Book Review: “Pestilence” By: Laura Thalassa

Summary from goodreads:

They came to earth–Pestilence, War, Famine, Death–four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.

When Pestilence comes for Sara Burn’s town, one thing is certain: everyone she knows, and loves is marked for death. Unless, of course, the angelic-looking horseman is stopped, which is exactly what Sara has in mind when she shoots the unholy beast off his steed.

Too bad no one told her Pestilence can’t be killed.

Now the horseman, very much alive and very pissed off, has taken her prisoner, and he’s eager to make her suffer. Only, the longer she’s with him, the more uncertain she is about his true feelings towards her … and hers towards him.

And now, well, Sara might still be able to save the world, but in order to do so, she’ll have to sacrifice her heart in the process.

My review:

I devoured this book in a day!

The superb storytelling drew this reader in and had me spell bound til the last page. I was also so morally convicted that Pestilence is mass murdering North America with the plague. But the slow burn love story had me cheering for them. I felt so awful for rooting for them, as he murders children and old people. 

I think this is a portion of the reason many reviewers do not like this story as the plague and its victims are written in graphic detail. So, readers beware.

But I love a good villain smut story. The story is a slow burn, and the relationship feels so genuine.

I can’t wait to get my hand on the second book in this series in a couple of months!

Book Review: “Murder Uncorked” By: Maddie Day

Thank you NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I have stumbled upon a new genre, and I am in love! COZY MYSTERIES!

The main character is in her forties and runs a wine bar. She is an important member of the town and has so many connections to all the townspeople.

She already has solved one murder mystery that her sister was a suspect in.

This time around the detective is at her door and she is a leading suspect for the newest murder in town. 

She must clear her name. But this is difficult when the victim was disliked by the majority of the town’s occupants. Finding someone who actually liked the victim is harder than finding someone without a motive.

I like the coziness of this story. The small-town feel, and the day-to-day life of our main character felt relaxing to read.

The murder mystery was enjoyable and was well executed. So many suspects and motives!

It was a great palate cleanser and gave a warm fuzzy feeling.

Book Review: “Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow” By: Gabrielle Zevin

Summary from goodreads:

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

My review:

The characters in this story are involved in every aspect of gaming. Playing, designing, making, and promoting. The main characters are Sam and Sadie, and their story is an emotional roller coaster. It starts with childhood trauma that sparks the love of gaming in the hospital gaming room.

The author excels at creating emotionally deep characters that have the reader invested. The main reason I am giving this five stars is because I was so emotionally invested in both of the main characters.

The author also takes some risks in the story telling aspect. This story is told from multiple POV. Also randomly drops into the dialogue of a game. This may not be enjoyable to other readers. But this writing style was executed well and enhanced the experience for me.

But I really enjoyed the cultural aspects displayed in the story. I felt like it was reliving events from my childhood in the late 90s early 2000s. It did my millennial heart good.

The story is a little longer than my normal read. It was over 800 pages on my ereader. But the story was well written and I don’t feel it could have been condensed without compromising the story.

I recommend this story if you want to deep dive into an emotional rollercoaster. 

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Knopf (July 5, 2022)

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593321201

Book Review: “Palazzo” By:Danielle Steel

Summary from good reads:

After her parents perish in a tragic accident, Cosima Saverio assumes leadership of her family’s haute couture Italian leather brand. While navigating the challenges of running a company at twenty-three, Cosima must also maintain the four-hundred-year-old family palazzo in Venice and care for her younger siblings: Allegra, who survived the tragedy that killed their parents with scars and a spinal injury, and Luca, who has a penchant for wild parties, pretty women, and poker tables.

Cosima navigates her personal and professional challenges with a wisdom beyond her years, but her success has come at a cost: Her needs are always secondary. She’s married to the business, and her free time is given to those who rely on her . . . until she meets Olivier Bayard, the founder of France’s most successful ready-to-wear handbag company. A brief conversation on her palazzo’s terrace turns into a tour of the Saverio workshop, and, fifteen years after her parents’ deaths, Cosima has found a confidant.

Now the business is financially stable and generating enough income for the Saverios to live comfortably. Then Luca loses a hefty sum at the casino, and his debt must be repaid with money or his life. Cosima, forced to bail him out, is given an impossible choice: List the palazzo, sell a third of the family business, or let Luca fend for himself. But is there another way to save everything she has fought for before it goes up in flames?

My review:

Thank you NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second book I have reviewed by this same author.

This has me in a hard spot because the earlier book was good. But I wouldn’t be recommending it to everyone in my community.  And the same holds true for this story. The enjoyable parts were the setting in Italy. The main character family drama was the reason I continued this story. I did not connect with the love story. The main character in her twenties falling in love with a married man in his seventies felt icky to me. But I think it is gross purely because he is her dad’s best friend and watched her grow up and had eyes on her as a child. The final love story was predictable and felt underwhelming.

But the predictability of this story and repeating concepts from earlier stories was disappointing.

But this concept might be a huge selling point for her fans. If you are looking for the predictability factor of a romance story by this author, then 100% this checks the boxes.

**spoiler alert**

 The concept of a successful rich blond haired blue eyes woman, in her late 30s early 40s who has given up on marriage, by the end of the story has fallen for a rich rescuer in his 50s. I would like a little change up between stories. Maybe at the very least a change in the main characters’ appearance or ages.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Delacorte Press (June 27, 2023)

Book Review: “Pretend You’re Mine” By: Lucy Score

Thank you NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My first Lucy Score story! 

Summary from goodreads:

I only wanted to protect you…

Luke Garrison is a hometown hero, a member of the National Guard ready to deploy again. He’s strong, sexy, broody. The last thing he’s looking for is a woman to ruin his solitude. When the wildly beautiful Harper stumbles into his life, though, he realizes that she’s the perfect decoy. A fake girlfriend to keep his family off his back until he’s deployed.

So what if kissing her sends his mind to wicked places? He can control himself. Can’t he?

Harper was on her way to starting a new life… again. But something about Luke makes her want to settle down in this small town and make his house a home. When she’s in his arms, she finally knows what it’s like to feel safe. Protected.

One night of sharing a bed turns into something much, much more… and soon Luke can’t keep his mind off Harper’s wide gray eyes or his hands off her luscious curves. He never thought he’d feel this way about a woman again. But he knows that he can’t tell her the truth about his dark past. And she can’t reveal what she’s running from.

At least this isn’t a real relationship. It’s only for a month. It’s only pretend. Until it isn’t…

My review:

The story is enjoyable but was frustrating at certain times. Luke takes 1 step forward in a relationship and 5 steps backwards the next chapter. 

With the steps back I think Harper should have made him earn her back. Instead of being a discarded toy waiting for him to be interested again. It would have been better if the story was a smidge longer to show Harper is a catch and worthy of being pursued and groveled to get her back.

The smut was hot and heavy. It added to the story line and overall is enjoyable.

The small town is so cute with everyone in each other’s business. But they can also see the catch Harper is and supply a wonderful sense of community. 

The characters in this story are well written. The main characters have many traumas and add layers to the story. The side characters are amazing and add so much comedic relief. 

This is the first story in the series, and I am excited to get more of this quirky, nosy town.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bloom Books (September 30, 2022)

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728282565

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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