Several books to talk about today, all of them to some degree 'hyped' books that I've seen around the blogging world and Booktube a lot. But did they live up to the hype?
I'll start with, Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt.
Tova Sullivan, an elderly woman of Swedish descent, lives in the town of Sowell Bay, a couple of hours north of Seattle, WA. She's a widow who likes to keep busy so has a job as a cleaner at the local aquarium. It gets her out of house and also takes her mind off the loss of her son, Erik, some 30 years ago. He was 18, his body was never found and no one really knows what happened to him. Tova loves all of the sea creatures in the aquarium but has a special affection for Marcellus, the giant Pacific octopus. She stands and talks to him every day and can actually see him listening to her. One evening she finds him almost dead on the floor, and helps him back to his tank. Thus begins a unique friendship wherein Marcellus is instrumental in finding out what happened to Erik. This is one of those much hyped books that a lot of people seemed to have been reading lately, and no wonder as it really is a delightful read. I like books with older protagonists and lots of ordinary folk in them and this book has a nice interesting cast of characters. My favourite by far was Marcellus the octopus and I loved the chapters penned by him. My least favourite was Cameron, the young man drawn north to look for his unknown father in Sowell Bay: for at least half the book he was entitled and annoying. There was a lovely sense of a faded resort on Puget Sound and thus a good sense of place... it sounded wonderful to me anyway! An excellent read, lived up to its hype.
Next, Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson.
Ernest Cunningham has been summoned to a family reunion in the mountains, somewhere in Australia. He's somewhat surprised as he doesn't have a lot to do with them having turned in his brother, Michael, for murder. The brother is now out of prison and due to meet them all in the mountains. Ernest has no idea what his reception will be. What he doesn't expect is a dead body in the snow, and for nobody to know who it is. The lone policeman immediately arrests his brother when he finally arrives, it seems he was out of prison earlier than they were told. Michael decides that Ernest should be the one to investigate and try to prove him innocent... but does Ernest himself believe that? So this was one of those tongue-in-cheek books, written in a style where the narrator - Ernest - chats away to the reader of the book telling her or him how it is that his family are a bunch of killers, be it by accident or intent. There wasn't a single person in it I liked and I must admit to finding the writing style tiresome. I thought the author was trying too hard to pay homage to Golden Age crime yarns. I did like the mystery itself and that's what kept me going until the end, which I thought was quite clever. One thing that did surprise me was the absence of any sense of 'Australia', it really could have been anywhere. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads so it was 'OK' but it should be said that a lot of people like it a lot more than I did. Did not, for me anyway, live up to the hype.
Lastly, Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree.
So, 'Viv' is an adventurer, an Orc in fact, who has tired of adventuring. She needs a new career so lands up in the city of Thune with a plan to bring coffee to the masses. Coffee is not known here, it's Dwarfish thing Viv discovered while in one of their cities. She fell in love with it and thinks there must be a gap in the market and the possiblility of a new life here in Thune. She finds a shop to convert, a Hob for a carpenter, a Succubus as a barmaid and a genius baker in the shape of a Rattkin. Slowly but surely people are drawn to the new coffee shop. But all is not plain sailing, there's a protection racket going on and Viv has to decide whether she's left her former violent life behind her or not. I was reminded quite strongly of Terry Pratchett while I was reading this although his trademark humour and way with words is not present in this book. It's described as 'cozy fantasy' and that's pretty accurate. I thought it was absolutely charming and the cast of characters delightful. Not a lot happens (that could be said of a lot of books) but somehow the author manages to make the setting up of a new business absolutely rivetting and that's quite clever in my opinion. Loved it and happily gave it 5 stars. Definitely lived up to the hype!
So, I'm currently reading this:
The United States of Adventure charts the author, Anna McNuff's, cycling trip through every state of the USA (and part of Canada at the beginning). This is for The Bookgirls' USA challenge I'm doing and so far it's excellent. (NB this has an alternative title, Fifty Shades of the USA but I don't know if that's the American title or the British. The UK Kindle title is the former version, which I prefer.)
I hope you'e all well and enjoying some good autumn reading!