Thursday, May 4, 2023

Remarkably Bright Creatures

Book: Remarkably Bright Creatures
Author: Shelly Van Pelt

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.-Goodreads

Review: Based on the synopsis for this book, I was expecting a friendship and mystery of sorts between Tova and Marcellus, the octopus. I'd classify this more as fiction, with the main characters being Tova, a stoic woman who cleans the aquarium and mourns her missing son, and Cameron, a 30-year old whiny man-child who was abandoned by his mother as a child. Marcellus, the best written character in this story, was a side character-an absolutely amazing side character who deserves all the stars, I just wish there was more of him. 

Kudos to Ven Pelt on her first novel, it's well written and as mentioned above, Marcellus is the chef's kiss. I just could not stand Cameron and wanted to throat punch him every time I had to read a chapter from his perspective. I think his character could have worked if he was in his late teens and/or had had a traumatic childhood. 

Overall, enjoyed this and will read the next book by this author. 

Grade: 3/5 

Love On the Brain

Book: Love on the Brain
Author: Ali Hazelwood

Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project - a literal dream come true - Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school - archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas... devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there's only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?-Goodreads

Review: The positive? I like the STEM focus of this book, it's unusual to see a love story between a neuroscientist and engineer. Bee was very quirky and a unique heroine. I liked the relationship she had with her sister. The not so positive? Levi had no personality and I did not find their relationship believable. Also, and I realize this is nitpicking, but I live in Houston exactly where this book takes place and it's clear the author did zero research into the area. My husband used to work onsite and most of my friends and neighbors do as well. No one (NO ONE) refers to NASA as "the center." No one can get onsite without a badge or going through security. There is no graveyard close to JSC. You cannot see the Houston skyline from here. Bee's wardrobe was not dress code appropriate (these are all things that happen or are referenced in the book). Please, research an area if you are writing about it. 

Grade: 2/5 


Book: Creep
Series: Creep #1
Author: Jennifer Hillier

If he can’t have her . . .

Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren’t, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she’s finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she’s taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won’t let her walk away.

. . . no one else can.

Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancé discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn’t resist—who is now the monster who won’t let her go.-Goodreads

Review: This was a creepy novel with almost all unlikeable characters and I couldn't stop turning the pages. Professor Sheila Tao is a recovering sex addict who had an affair with her grad student. He does not take it well when she breaks things off. To top it off, Sheila is engaged to Morris, a recovering alcoholic (the only character I liked although he's written almost in caricature form) who knows nothing about her addiction. This definitely went in a direction I was not expecting. Really enjoyed it!

Grade: 4/5 

The Fix

Book: The Fix
Series: Amos Decker #3
Author: David Baldacci

Amos Decker witnesses a murder just outside FBI headquarters. A man shoots a woman execution-style on a crowded sidewalk, then turns the gun on himself.

Even with Decker's extraordinary powers of observation and deduction, the killing is baffling. Decker and his team can find absolutely no connection between the shooter--a family man with a successful consulting business--and his victim, a schoolteacher. Nor is there a hint of any possible motive for the attack.

Enter Harper Brown. An agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency, she orders Decker to back off the case. The murder is part of an open DIA investigation, one so classified that Decker and his team aren't cleared for it.

But they learn that the DIA believes solving the murder is now a matter of urgent national security. Critical information may have been leaked to a hostile government--or worse, an international terrorist group--and an attack may be imminent.-Goodreads

Review: I keep reading this series because I love the idea of the main character. This was a weird read in that I actually felt like Amos was written by a different author and very different from the other books but I really enjoyed the mystery here. 

Grade: 3/5 

Do Not Disturb

Book: Do Not Disturb
Author: Freida McFadden

Quinn Alexander has committed an unthinkable crime.

To avoid spending her life in prison, Quinn makes a run for it. She leaves behind her home, her job, and her family. She grabs her passport and heads for the northern border before the police can discover what she’s done.

But when an unexpected snowstorm forces her off the road, Quinn must take refuge at the broken-down, isolated Baxter Motel. The handsome and kindly owner, Nick Baxter, is only too happy to offer her a cheap room for the night.

Unfortunately, the Baxter Motel isn’t the quiet, safe haven it seemed to be. The motel has a dark and disturbing past. And in the dilapidated house across the way, the silhouette of Nick's ailing wife is always at the window. Always watching.

In the morning, Quinn must leave the motel. She'll pack up her belongings and get back on the road to freedom.

But first, she must survive the night.-Goodreads

Review: Quinn has killed her husband in self-defense and makes a run for it. She gets stuck in a bad snowstorm and ends up at the Baxter Hotel, where things aren't what they seem. This book was a fun ride. It definitely took a turn I wasn't expecting. It reminded me of 'Woman in the Window' in some respects but overall, enjoyed it!

Grade: 4/5 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Memory Man

Book: Memory Man
Series: Amos Decker #1
Author: David Baldacci

Amos Decker's life changed forever--twice.

The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect--he can never forget anything.

The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare--his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.

His family destroyed, their killer's identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.

But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.-Goodreads

Review: I read the second book in this series awhile back and finally got around to reading this one. Amos Decker is a fascinating main character but this book was incredibly repetitive (He can't forget anything..we must have been told this at least a hundred times). The actual mystery just demonstrated all of the cops and detectives Decker works with are incompetent and the motive for the killing of his family was completely unbelievable. 

Grade: 2/5 

These Hallow Vows

Book: These Hallow Vows
Series: These Hallow Vows #1
Author: Lexi Ryan

Brie hates the Fae and refuses to have anything to do with them, even if that means starving on the street. But when her sister is sold to the sadistic king of the Unseelie court to pay a debt, she'll do whatever it takes to get her back—including making a deal with the king himself to steal three magical relics from the Seelie court.

Gaining unfettered access to the Seelie court is easier said than done. Brie's only choice is to pose as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, and she soon finds herself falling for him. Unwilling to let her heart distract her, she accepts help from a band of Unseelie misfits with their own secret agenda. As Brie spends time with their mysterious leader, Finn, she struggles to resist his seductive charm.

Caught between two dangerous courts, Brie must decide who to trust with her loyalty. And with her heart.-Goodreads

Review: This book was such a fun read. It's been awhile since I read a YA urban fantasy book and this really hit the spot. Light, engaging and fun. Brie was a great heroine (snarky, interesting, complicated) and can't wait to read the next in the series. 

Grade: 5/5