Month: October 2023

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

I’ve never been in a book club.

I’ve never been in a book club.

By Rachel Cunningham

Adult Book Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures | Enid Monthly

There is a certain allure to discussing the triumphs and shortcomings of a work of writing while sipping drinks and munching snacks. However, my reading pace is best described as “sluggish,” and I’m afraid I’d rarely come to a book club fully prepared. I’m also stubbornly attached to the genres I enjoy and being assigned a book outside of that bubble makes me apprehensive.


In my work as circulation manager for Manhattan Public Library, I often know nothing about a book, other than its frequency of checkout and cover design. Shelby Van Pelt’s “Remarkably Bright Creatures” has passed through my hands many times. The jacket’s bright colors were inviting and it even had a sticker stating it was part of the “Read With Jenna” book club. Though I “only enjoy gritty fiction,” after hearing a synopsis and rave review, my interest was piqued. I checked out the audiobook from Libby, a reading app.


Remarkably Bright Creatures” follows Tova, a 70-year-old night shift custodian; Cameron, a wayward young adult; and Marcellus, a Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO) at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. If you’re dubious about casting a main character in an adult fiction book as an octopus, I can assure you that I was as well.


Marcellus is on day 1,299 of his captivity when the novel begins. Through his narration, we learn about the humans who wander past his tank during the day, and the woman, Tova, who methodically cleans every inch of the aquarium at night. Their lives are entwined when Tova discovers Marcellus in the staff break room, tentacles tangled in electrical cords on one of his secret nighttime jaunts. Tova disentangles his arms in time for Marcellus to hurry back to his tank. In this moment, a kinship forms.


Meanwhile in central California, Cameron is out of work and recently out of a relationship. He decides to dig into his absent mother’s past — or at least the box of things she’s left with his aunt. Among inexpensive jewelry, he discovers a high school photo of his mother with a man he’s never seen before.


The faded photo and class ring catalyze Cameron to begin a journey to Sowell Bay, Washington. Cameron hopes to find financial restitution with the father he’s never met. Things quickly fall apart upon his arrival in Sowell Bay and Cameron lands a temporary cleaning job at the aquarium, where he, too, discovers Marcellus mid-escape.


By this time, Marcellus has spent over 1,361 days at the aquarium, observing and learning about humans. As he interacts with Cameron and Tova, he begins to recall memories from his time before his captivity. Memories that may hold the solution to the questions Tova and Cameron are so desperate to answer.


But the Giant Pacific Octopus has a lifespan of four years – 1,460 days. Will Marcellus find a way to reveal the secrets to them before he’s out of time?


Through her novel, Shelby Van Pelt explores the innate desire to find meaningful connection with others. Although Tova has her knitting group and other friends, she feels adrift without her son and husband.


Cameron has struggled to maintain healthy relationships throughout his life, and Marcellus has spent most of his life in isolation. Yet through Marcellus’s wit and sharp observations of humans, readers can laugh at their own illogical behavior. He notes that “humans are the only species who subvert truth for their own entertainment. They call them jokes. Sometimes puns. Say one thing when you mean another.” Despite his snarky attitude, Marcellus becomes involved in Tova and Cameron’s lives in a way that will forever change their future.


As I mentioned earlier, this book was a “Read with Jenna” pick. Other popular book clubs include Oprah’s Book Club, Belletrist and Reese’s Book Club.


If you’re looking to make your own connections and start a book club, you can request a book discussion kit from select titles through our interlibrary loan department. Kits should be requested at least two weeks in advance. For more information, feel free to visit the Interlibrary Loan page on our website, or contact the library. Also, keep an eye out for information about our new book clubs for adults. You’ll find event information and more at


Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community.


Rachel Cunningham is the circulation manager for Manhattan Public Library.

by Alyssa Yenzer Alyssa Yenzer No Comments

Paranormal Romance Reads

Paranormal Romance Reads

By: Audrey Swartz


Dark Prince (Dark, #1) by Christine Feehan | GoodreadsSpooky season is upon us and my Sunday was filled with Halloween movies, potions bottles and skeletons. This is my favorite season with the weather changes and the lead-up to a plethora of family events. If you read my last column, you know I typically read romance, paranormal romance to be exact. It turns out my favorite authors always have new releases in the fall.


Christine Feehan and J.R. Ward are often lauded as paranormal romance queens. They delve into the world of vampires, witches and werewolves; each creating entire worlds surrounding these legendary monsters and their families. I would also be remiss to not point out that these authors write very spicy romance scenes. If that isn’t your thing, I would skip these in favor of Charlie Holmberg or Brigid Kemmerer, who both write low-to-no-spice paranormal romance.


Christine Feehan is most known for her “Dark” series, which is currently 36 books long. Book 37 will come out this week and follows the Carpathian people in a journey to rebuild their species. Feehan develops a highly intricate world full of legends, lore and shifters. The series revolves around the prince of the people trying to discover why their species is dying off. As you move through the series, she creates an entire language, family trees, prayers and rituals and are introduced to leopard shifters, dark and light mages, and werewolves. Her characters are strong and willing to do whatever it takes to protect each other and humans. In order to avoid being hunted by a human league of vampire hunters, most of the species lives well outside modern civilization. I highly recommend you start with the first in the series, “Dark Prince” and continue from there.


Feehan has several other long-running series. Her “Ghostwalker” series is about genetically- and psychically-enhanced soldiers, the psychic women they find and their fight to stay alive. Her “Leopard” series is about the leopard shifters that are introduced in the “Dark” series and their bid to rebuild their race. Feehan’s “Shadow Rider” series is about a society of people who can ride the shadows and their jobs as enforcers for their people. Her “Drake Sisters” and “Sea Haven” series feature psychic women and have lighter stories. Feehan’s “Drake Sisters,” “Sea Haven,” and “Torpedo Ink” books are tied together and take place concurrently. Her newest series, “Torpedo Ink,” features former children-turned-assassins set to take down the organization that took their childhood.


While Feehan’s work often is set in wide-open spaces, mountains and generally has a lighthearted air around it, J.R. Ward’s books take place in gritty, urban Caldwell, New York.

Ward’s “Black Dagger Brotherhood” is the original series from which all her work spins off. The Brotherhood is constantly fighting on two fronts. The Lessening Society is determined to wipe vampires off the face of the earth. They ruthlessly hunt the vampires of Caldwell, targeting anyone and anything that will draw them out. The Glymera, the upper society of the vampire society, is desperate to hold onto the old ways, which risks the extinction of their people. The Brotherhood is full of extra-large alpha males who will kill anything in the way of their goals. They are determined men who overindulge in everything. The females who fall in love with them are destined to be their man’s support and kept safe. Ward spends the time to develop lore, language and belief systems that are strong and honored. This original series currently has 23 books. I would highly recommend that you start with book one, “Dark Lover,” and read through the series as a whole.


Once you have these reading challenges completed, you can begin on Ward’s spinoffs! Her “Black Dagger Legacy” series follows the next generation of the Brotherhood as they complete their training. The “Prison Camp” books track the stories of characters who have been imprisoned and then rescued from a secret prison. Her “Lair of the Wolven” series introduces werewolves to their world. The “Fallen Angels” series travels with a group of fallen angels who have formed a biker club of sorts, but always for the side of good. Finally, Ward’s “Bourbon Kings” series tells the story a family of bourbon makers giving us a light and fun story consisting only of three books.

What are you reading this spooky season?


Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Learn more at