Thursday, January 12, 2023

Reading Recap

Today I'm sharing the books that I read last month - oddly enough my favorites had animals in starring roles but I'm not mad about it ;)

Remarkably Bright Creatures 

"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."

If I'm being totally honest I didn't want to love Remarkably Bright Creatures  because I'd heard so much hype and sometimes I don't love loving what everyone else loves BUT this lived up to the hype and wrecked me in the best possible way.  I adored the characters so much that I was able to overlook some of the super convenient "coincidences" that in any other scenario I would have labeled cheesy or overdone.  Tova reminded me so much of my Oma and her friendship with Marcellus was probably the best thing I read all year.  If bawling over the friendship between a woman and an octopus is wrong (just wait until the end!), then I don't want to be right.  If you've been on the fence about reading this JUST READ IT! Put it on hold at the library, ask for a copy for Valentine's Day, read it with your girlfriends but JUST READ IT!

"Minnesota, 1977. For the teens of one close-knit community, summer means late-night swimming parties at the quarry, the county fair, and venturing into the tunnels beneath the city. But for two best friends, it’s not all fun and games.

Heather and Brenda have a secret. Something they saw in the dark. Something they can’t forget. They’ve decided to never tell a soul. But their vow is tested when their friend disappears—the second girl to vanish in a week. And yet the authorities are reluctant to investigate.

Heather is terrified that the missing girls are connected to what she and Brenda stumbled upon that night. Desperately searching for answers on her own, she learns that no one in her community is who they seem to be. Not the police, not the boys she met at the quarry, not even her parents. But she can’t stop digging because she knows those girls are in danger.

She also knows she’s next."

The Quarry Girls thoroughly creeped me out.  The town is literally set on top of a set of tunnels that connect everyone's homes and for some reason this premise totally disturbed me.  Which, honestly, made the read that much better - hahahah  I felt like the tunnels were almost a character themselves... highlighting the darkness that lies beneath the surface of some of the other characters in the book.  CLEARLY this book got to me. hahaha  There are some underage sexual references so if that's not something you'd want to read then maybe skip this one but if you're looking for a suspenseful, twisty, REALLY interesting read I'd 5/5 recommend.

"Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave.

It’s 1938. The Great Depression lingers. Hitler is threatening Europe, and world-weary Americans long for wonder. They find it in two giraffes who miraculously survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. What follows is a twelve-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver Southern California’s first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is the young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow. Inspired by true events, the tale weaves real-life figures with fictional ones, including the world’s first female zoo director, a crusty old man with a past, a young female photographer with a secret, and assorted reprobates as spotty as the giraffes.

Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it’s too late."

I got an email from Audible over Christmas break that West With Giraffes was on sale and I was not prepared for how much I was going to love it.  Maybe I've been living under a rock but I've never heard of this book and now I feel like it's my duty to shout from the rooftops how great it is.  It's one of the most compelling historical fiction books I've ever read which is kind of random since its about a cross country giraffe road trip but it was!  You can tell that it's well-researched and I found myself learning little bits and pieces along the way.  I listened to it and the narrator was SO GOOD which I felt just added to the storytelling.  HIGHLY recommend if you're looking for something unique, historical and heartwaring.

"In 2019 Hannah Rokeby blags her way onto the Innocence Project clinic run by Professor Rob Parekh at the University of Virginia. Why? The answer lies in her mother’s diary from 1994 when she works as a cleaner in Maine. There she meets uber-rich Tom Spencer and his friend Michael Dandridge, the latter is the case Hannah is interested in. Michael is in prison following the rape and murder of Sarah Fitzhugh for which he protests his innocence. The story is told mostly by Hannah interspersed with extracts from her mother Laura’s diary."

I LOVE a thriller and was intrigued by the wrongfully convicted storyline in The Murder Rule
  BUT I didn't really love any of the characters and so I found myself kind of disconnected.  I wasn't really "rooting" for anyone but did enjoy the twists and turns and where the characters were kind of lacking I felt like the story made up for it.  There were some parts of the plot that I felt like were too "convenient" but overall it was an easy and fun read if you're into suspense and/or law-based books.

"The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose―and her mind has been shattered…

When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him―and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past―and the threat that follows in her wake―will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined."

Come Sundown was LONG and while I felt like it drug along in places I really did enjoy it.  Reading it while also watching Yellowstone proved to be a bit challenging as the settings/characters are kind of similar but apparently I'm having a "Montana" moment and I wasn't mad about it ;)  Alice's story is GUT WRENCHING and really hard to read at times and I felt like the transition of bouncing between her story and then the oher (much sweeter) storyline was kind of jarring but, if anything, it made Alice's story that much more raw.  If you're into mysteries/family drama and are also having a Montana moment I highly recommend.

I'm currently reading Book Lovers by Emily Henry and LOVING IT!  I'd love to know what you're reading or what you read in 2022 that you loved!

PS - This post contained affiliate links... thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog!


  1. It's just too good not to absolutely love :) .

  2. Girl, you need to head west this summer while you're having that "Montana Moment". Trust me-you won't regret it!

  3. My last book of 2022 was Honor, which is on the Hello Sunshine AND Barack Obama's best books lists. It was gut wrenching, but so well written. Highly recommend!

  4. I was just talking to a friend earlier this week and asked her what book she was reading for her book club and she said "West with Giraffes". She said the lady who chose it said they would LOVE it. I had never heard of it, but it is free with Kindle Unlimited so I downloaded it so read. Thank you for the recommendations!

  5. Your book reviews are always my favorite! Thank you for sharing - I cannot add these to my wish list!


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