what I’m reading: into the drowning deep by mira grant.

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” about mermaids. All contact was lost and when the ship was finally located, it was deserted. The only sign of the crew was bits of found footage that showed the crew being slaughtered by some sort of mermaid-like creatures. Most people wrote the footage off as a hoax, but there are those that believe the footage is real. Now, a new crew and boat has been assembled. Their mission – to go back to the Mariana Trench and discover what happened to the Atargatis. For Victoria Stewart, this might be the only chance she has to figure out what really happened to her sister all those years ago.

This book combines horror, science, and humor, and I really liked it. There is a huge cast of characters, and I thought they all brought something interesting to the story. There are big game hunters brought on board to hunt the mermaids, media personalities to report on everything that is happening, security, doctors, and of course scientists. There are many different types of scientists, as well as plenty that I had never even heard of before. The story is told from a variety of view points and I liked reading about the story from the different characters.

The science plays a large role. This book is science fiction and is filled with a plethora of scientific “facts”. I’ll be honest – I don’t know how much of the facts in this book were real. But I kept reading like it was all real. The facts just made the story all the more compelling.

There’s a lot of tension in the book. Mainly because the characters are trapped in the middle of the ocean on a boat and have nowhere to escape to. You know something is going to happen, but you don’t know what it is. This isn’t a book that wonders if mermaids exist. We, as the readers, know that they do. We are just waiting until the characters in the book figure it out as well.

I don’t know much about the author but I have to wonder what her background is. It wasn’t until I was finished reading the book that I realized there is a prequel that explains exactly what happened to the Atargatis.


what I’m reading: lilac girls by martha hall kelly.

Lilac Girls tells the story of three very different women during World War II. Caroline is a New York socialite who volunteers at the French consulate and works tirelessly to send care packages to orphans in France. In Poland, a teenager named Kasia is caught working for the Resistance and is arrested and sent to Ravensbrück, a concentration camp exclusively for women where prisoners were subjected to horrific medical experiments. There we are introduced to Herta, a German doctor assigned to work at the concentration camp and who performed many of those experiments.

The lives of these three women are intertwined in this remarkable story that is based on true people and events. While I was aware that medical experiments had been performed on prisoners during the Holocaust, I had never heard of Ravensbrück before reading this book.

This isn’t necessarily a happy book. I definitely did not have a feel-good feeling when I was done reading. There’s a lot of sadness, but I think that just makes the happy events stand out more. I loved the friendships that formed between the prisoners and the little things they did every day to make their time at the camp bearable. Caroline’s role wasn’t fully recognizable at first, but I ended up loving her storyline and the part she eventually plays.

Lilac Girls is a captivating piece of historical fiction. The author includes a note at the end of the book detailing her research process and how she came to write the book. She writes about how she spent time at Caroline’s home in Connecticut and traveled to Poland to interview some of the Ravensbrück survivors. It’s obvious that much research went into this book and I am interested to read what the author comes up with next.

what I’m reading: memory man by david baldacci.

Memory Man was my book club’s latest pick. Everyone loved the book; it was a great read.

After being violently injured in a football game, Amos Decker was left with an unbelievable side effect – a photographic memory that ensures he will never forget anything. It’s that memory that made him a great police detective, and it’s that memory that hasn’t let him forget the tragic murder of his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law. Since that horrific night, Amos left his job and his home and ekes out a simple living as a private investigator, living out of a motel. More than a year later, Amos is pulled back into the police world when a horrific event occurs that becomes linked to the murder of his family. In order to find out the truth of what happened, Amos must revisit that night and brave the memories he cannot forget.

I really enjoyed this book. The character of Amos Decker is an interesting and complex character. I loved that he is flawed and not a typical protagonist – he is overweight and out of shape, he has no tact, and doesn’t care what most people think. His memory makes him incredibly brilliant, as he is able to rewind and replay any event he has experienced since his football collision. He’s extremely curt and blunt and it takes a while to warm up to Amos, but I enjoyed the character.

I found this book to be a quick read, as I could not stop turning the pages. I found myself reading at random times because I would get sucked in. I would read on the bus to work and then would get angry when I was at my stop because I had to stop reading and I wanted to know what happened. I was constantly on the edge of my seat.

Memory Man is the first in a series and sets the basis for an interesting series. Without a doubt, I will be continuing reading.

6 reasons why I love my book club.

My book club met yesterday afternoon. We’ve been meeting and reading books since about 2012 and our book club has grown over the years. Since its inception, we’ve added about 5 or 6 people to our monthly gatherings. I joined initially when one of my co-workers from the first temp job I held after moving to Seattle said she was putting together a book club and asked if I wanted to join.

Of course I said yes right away. And now I can’t believe we’ve been meeting for over 5 years!

Here’s why I love my book club:

1. Everyone has a chance to pick a book: I’ve heard that some book clubs vote on books or take recommendations. In our book club, we take turns picking the books. We have a list of everyone in the club and we go in order; each time we meet, the next person on the list picks the next book to be read.

2. Everyone has opinions: There have been some books that we’ve read that no one likes. Some books everyone likes. A couple of times everyone but 1 or 2 people have liked a book or everyone but a couple of people have hated a book. The good thing is that everyone is comfortable sharing their thoughts. It’s really interesting to hear different book opinions than my own. Besides, it would be boring if everyone felt the same way about each book.

3. We always meet on a Saturday (and occasionally Sunday): When we first started meeting, we met on Friday nights. But this turned out to be too difficult to get to the meetings after work. Now we usually meet on Saturday afternoons. It’s nice because we know in advance what day we are meeting and there’s no hurry to rush out of work to get somewhere. It’s gives me something to look forward to over the weekend.

4. Wine! Of course there is wine – what is a book club without wine?

5. We take turns hosting: We usually rotate between 4 or 5 people’s homes. We’ve even met at a couple of restaurants. This is nice because the pressure is not all on the same person each time. Having different people host makes it fun. Each person has their own spread they put out and we’ve become very friendly with all the different pets at the different homes. Unfortunately I’ve never hosted but that’s because I live in a studio apartment and can barely fit 2 people in my apartment, let alone 7 or 8. People would be sitting on the floor and on the bed. Not good.

6. Friends: Let’s be honest. We usually only spend about 15-20 minutes discussing the book (and that’s only if enough people have read it to have a conversation). The rest of the time is just spent hanging out and chatting and catching up with everyone. Even if I don’t read the book, I still go to the meetings just to see everyone. I’ve met so many wonderful people through our book club and I’m so happy I can call them all my friends.

what I’m reading: white bodies by jane robins.

From a young age, Callie has been obsessed with her twin sister Tilda. Callie spends her time watching and observing as Tilda grows up to be an actress while Callie spends her days working in a bookstore. When Tilda invites Callie over to meet her new boyfriend Felix, Callie is struck by how neat, tidy, and domineering Felix is. Callie watches as Tilda seems to stop eating, stop acting, and does everything that Felix tells her.

Callie becomes even more worried when Tilda shows up with bruises on her arms. Convinced that Felix is hurting Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for controlling men where she becomes friends with some of the anonymous women posting on the forum. But when one of the women is killed by an abusive man and then Felix turns up dead, Callie begins to doubt herself and soon starts to wonder if Felix was murdered.

I’m sitting here, thinking of what I want to say about this book. On the one hand, I didn’t like any of the characters and I didn’t connect to anyone in this book. The characters were unreliable, creepy, and I didn’t understand anyone’s motivation. The central premise of the book revolves around Tilda and Callie’s strange twin/sister relationship. Callie is odd and a bit too obsessed with her sister. I found myself cringing at most of the things she did and conclusions she would jump to. We don’t learn much about Tilda, as we only see her through Callie’s eyes and how she interacts and speaks with Callie. Tilda’s motivations were always unclear and I didn’t really understand either her or Callie.

On the other hand, I thought the overall plot was creative and it kept me reading, despite the lack of character development. There’s a nod to “Strangers on a Train” and I felt that the mystery surrounding Felix’s death was really intriguing.

I would have liked a longer ending. I think that if there were more explanation, the characters would have seemed more real. Additionally, although the mystery was solved at the end, there were a couple of minor plot points that weren’t resolved which bothered me. This book may have been just a little too peculiar for me.

what I’m reading: nightblind by ragnar jónasson.

Nightblind is the next book in the Dark Iceland series and takes place 5 years after the events of Snowblind. Ari Thór Arason is a policeman in the town of Siglufjörður, a remote fishing village in Northern Iceland. His old partner has since moved south to Reykjavik and a new policeman has taken his place. When the new policeman is murdered during a routine patrol, Ari Thór worries that he could be next.

The Dark Iceland series consists of six books, all of them published in Icelandic. While Nightblind is not technically the 2nd book in the series, it is the 2nd book to be translated into English. Since the events in the first book, Snowblind, a lot has happened to Ari Thór. His girlfriend has moved to the city and they have a son together. He is no longer the new guy in town and is more confident of himself and as a police officer.

This book had a bit of a different tone than the last. The Arctic winter is closing in but there wasn’t that since of darkness and isolation that I felt in Snowblind. Unfortunately, I also wasn’t as invested in the murder. There were a couple of subplots about some of the other characters that I felt were way more interesting.

Additionally, the story is interspersed with journal entries from a psychiatric ward patient. It’s not clear until the end who the patient is or what connection they have to the story, but I was definitely more interested in that sub plot than in figuring out who killed the other policeman.

This book was fairly short, a little more than 200 pages, which surprised me. I am enjoying reading about this northern Icelandic village.

rating all the books I read in 2017.

I read 61 books in 2017. It’s funny – when I look back at the list of books I read, there are some books I remember clearly, and other books I can’t even remember what the book was about.

I had a few 5 star reviews and no 1 star reviews. My 3 and 4 star reviews were split evenly.

Here are the ratings to all the books I read in 2017. Links are to my reviews.

5 stars:
The Lake House by Kate Morton
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Act Like It by Lucy Parker
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

4 stars:
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
Life Rewritten by Andrea Johnston
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt
Midnight Target by Elle Kennedy
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay, #4) by Jill Shalvis
Fatal by John Lescroart
Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford
On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Blackout by Marc Elsberg
Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Snowblind (Dark Iceland #1) by Ragnar Jónasson
Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas (Jane Austen Mysteries, #12) by Stephanie Barron
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

3 stars:
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Hope in a Jar by Beth Harbison
Day Shift (Midnight, Texas, #2) by Charlaine Harris
Night Shift (Midnight, Texas, #3) by Charlaine Harris
Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber
Montana Secret Santa (Love at the Chocolate Shop, #3) by Debra Salonen
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell
Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell
Sweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay, #1) by Jill Shalvis
Accidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay, #3) by Jill Shalvis
Fair Game by Josh Lanyon
Suddenly One Summer by Julie James
A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen
Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin
Thank You, Jeeves (Jeeves, #5) by P.G. Wodehouse
Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase
The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean
Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan
Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard

2 stars:
One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison
Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1) by Charlaine Harris
Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber
Her Private Avenger by Elle Kennedy
Jay Walking by Tracy Krimmer