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Hello, all!

Pub Date: 6-14-22
Adult - Contemporary

How to Fake It in Hollywood- Ava Wilder: Grey Brooks is struggling to find work now that her hit teen drama show ended but has been unsuccessful. When the opportunity arises to audition for a life-changing role, Grey will do anything to help her chances of landing the gig-- even if that means agreeing to let her publicist set her up in a fake relationship. Ethan Atkins was once a Hollywood heartthrob. But after a nasty (and very public) divorce, substance abuse issues, and the tragic loss of his best friend and creative partner, Sam, Ethan has taken a step back from the limelight. Ethan has always wanted to make the last film he and Sam had been working on, but before he can, he needs to clean up his act and show the world he's stable. It doesn't take long for the gossip columns to latch on to Hollywood's newest It couple, but will Grey and Ethan be able to keep up the charade once real feelings start getting involved?

My biggest takeaway from this was that I kind of love the celebrity romance trope. I haven't read much of them, but what I have I've enjoyed. I liked the characters and thought they had great chemistry. I liked getting a little peek behind the scenes of Hollywood, and how the characters handled what was thrown at them. At times, this felt less about the romance and more about someone knowing they've reached rock bottom and deciding to get help. I liked watching Ethan realize it was finally time to face his grief and addictions, and Grey supporting him was sweet. That said, I think there was a smidge too much drama in here that led to way too many conflicts. One would happen, and you'd think that was it, but then you'd get hit with another, and then another. It made the story feel a lot longer than it is. Aside from that, I enjoyed it.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 4-5-22
Adult - Fiction

Portrait of a Thief- Grace D. Li: Will Chen has spent his life curating a specific image for himself: the perfect student, the perfect son. But in the blink of an eye, all that changes. When the museum he works at gets robbed, Will is pulled into an impossible job. He's recruited by a mysterious Chinese benefactor to steal back five sculptures from various museums around the world that were stolen from Beijing centuries ago. Will knows this is an impossible--not to mention illegal--task, but with the promise of fifty million dollars, he can't say no. So Will assembles a crew consisting of four of his closest friends, who each bring a specific skill set to the table. They all have something to gain if they succeed but even more to lose if they fail. Each member has complicated feelings towards their heritage and identity, but the thing they have in common? None are willing to pass up the opportunity to steal back their history.

I always forget how much I love a heist trope until I'm reading one. I liked how we got perspectives from each character. They're each so different, yet tied together by their identities. They all had their reasons for joining the crew leading to conflict at times. I liked getting a glimpse at what made them tick, but I found it hard to connect to any of them. Plot-wise, I appreciated how it wasn't perfect. There were so many things that went wrong during their heists which made it feel more believable to me since they were college kids who had no idea what they were doing. I did wish that the heists were more prominent because, at times, they almost felt secondary to the character's development. While I did enjoy this, I was hoping for just a little bit more.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 7-26-16
Adult - Sci-Fi

Dark Matter- Blake Crouch: The last thing Jason Dessen remembers was walking home from a night out, getting abducted by a man in a mask, and an abandoned building. When Jason wakes up, he finds himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers who seem to know him. Everyone is welcoming him back, but back where? This isn't the world Jason knows. His wife isn't his wife. His son doesn't exist. Instead of a teacher, he's a renowned scientist. Everything Jason knows has turned on its head, but Jason refuses to give in to despair. Jason doesn't know how he got here or how to get back, but he does know one thing: he will risk tearing the multiverse apart to find his way home.

So this is 340 pages long, and it's safe to say I had an anxiety attack for 330 of them. I don't usually read a lot of sci-fi because I'm always worried I won't be smart enough to understand what's going on, but Crouch did a great job making the science/mechanics of everything seem accessible. He crafted a story that was so suspenseful and engaging. I was hooked right from the start. I loved following Jason as he tried to figure out what was going on, and how to make it back to his world. I was on the edge of my seat with every open door seeing if it was the correct one. My heart was racing with every "ampoules remaining." What I loved most about this was that it was unexpected. I can always figure out some plot points, but here, I was in the dark. I had no idea where Crouch was going, and I was excited to watch it unfold. My only slight critique was that I found the amount of Jason's we meet a little overkill, but other than that, I thought this was fantastic.

Rating: 4/5


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