what I’m reading: behind her eyes by sarah pinborough.

One night, single mom Louise meets a man in a bar. They hit it off, share a kiss and then he leaves. Louise is riding on cloud 9, thinking she has finally met a man who likes her, only to be thrown the next day when her new boss David walks in and it’s the man from the bar. Oh, and he’s married. Louise is determined to forget about the kiss, but David can’t stay away. Things only become more complicated when Louise meets and befriends Adele, who turns out to be David’s wife. As Louise is drawn more into David and Adele’s lives, she discovers that everything is not what it seems.

This is a difficult review to write. I don’t want to say too much, however just by saying that you know that something bizarre is going to happen at some point in the book. I will say that this book took a sharp turn from the direction I was expecting it to take and the ending was completely unpredicted.

I was a bit surprised that I enjoyed this book. Characters who cheat are one of my pet peeves. However, Louise is just naïve enough that you feel sorry for her as she stumbles through her relationships with Adam and Adele. Is Adele really the victim here or is she a manipulative housewife? And why does Adam appear drunk all the time? None of these characters are very stable and it’s not always clear who we should be rooting for.

Apparently the marketing for this book came with the hashtag #wtfthatending. And, yes, this book is crazy enough to warrant it.

what I’m reading: blackout by marc elsberg.

When the electrical grids collapse across Europe, everyone thinks the failure is temporary and that the power will be restored soon. However as the hours and days go on and the power remains off, panic starts to ensue in the cities and the governments and bureaucrats realize they don’t know what is going on. Former hacker Piero Manzaro believes he has discovered who is behind the attacks. But when he tries to warn officials, his hacker background soon makes him a prime suspect. Forced to go on the run with an American CNN reporter, Piero races to uncover who has turned off the power before everything gets worse.

This was a thought provoking page-turner and another book that made me think. There were so many things I’ve never thought about that would happen if the electricity was cut widespread for more than a few hours. Not just the food in my refrigerator would spoil, but all the food in storage warehouses that is waiting to be transported would go bad. Livestock would die because they need electricity to keep warm or cows in massive milking facilities would die because the machinery to milk the cows would not work. Generators supplying electricity to hospitals would fail because they ran out of fuel and gas could not be pumped from electric pumps.

I found myself looking around my apartment, taking note of where my candles were and where the flashlights are. Do I need more candles?, I thought. What would I do if the power were to go out for more than a few hours?

While Piero Manzaro is the main character and the hunt to figure out how the electrical grids collapsed is the main focus, I felt the real point of this book was showing how dependent we all are on electricity and how quickly that can be taken away. The book spans a period of a couple of weeks, but the destruction that occurs in that short time frame was alarming.

This book can be a little confusing because there are so many characters introduced in the beginning. Scenes change frequently and the story shifts between Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Brussels, and France roughly every page or 2. Every time I read about a new character I would wonder if I needed to remember who they were or if they were going to show up again and I struggled a bit to get straight all the people and places.

In all, an interesting story about something I’ve never really thought about before.

what I’m reading: dark matter by blake crouch.

One night on his way home, Jason Dessen is attacked by a masked stranger. When he wakes up, he is in a strange building with a bunch of people looking at him. He doesn’t recognize where he is or anyone standing around him, but everyone claims to know him. Jason isn’t sure what’s happening – is he is a different world? Is he dreaming? Has everything up to now been a dream? Nothing is the same as he remembers.

After seeing and reading all the great reviews for this book, I decided I had to read it myself. I put it on hold at the library and a couple of months later, it became available.

I have conflicting emotions about this book. On the one hand, I was completely captivated. I read this in about one sitting and could not put it down.

On the other hand, I didn’t fully understand what was happening and what the exact plot was until the very end. This is another book where there was a bunch of science that I didn’t understand and I just had to go with it. I told myself to keep reading and hoped that it would all make sense at the end.

And it did make sense. I think. There’s a lot going on in this book.

I don’t want to say a lot about the plot here. I know the book has been out for almost a year, but I think it’s best read if you don’t know too much.

Still, this was a suspenseful novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. It was thrilling and exciting and definitely made me think. The ending was nothing like I expected and the only thing I can say is, it’s good.

what I’m reading: my not so perfect life by sophie kinsella.

This book was so fun! I’ve been a fan of Sophie Kinsella’s books since I read the first Shopholic novel. Although I got a little burnt out on the Shopholic books – I get it, she likes to shop – I really enjoy Kinsella’s stand-alone novels. This one did not disappoint.

Katie “Cat” Brenner lives in a fabulous flat in London, has wonderful adventures in the city, and works in a great job. At least, that’s what she wants you to think based on her Instagram feed. Actually, Katie spends a good chunk of her day commuting to work where she has to deal with her crazy boss, shares a tiny flat with some interesting roommates, and is often too broke to engage in any sort of social life. When she is abruptly fired from her job, Katie is forced to move home and help her family with their fledgling glamping business.

Katie is such an entertaining and fresh character. She is smart and resourceful. She made me laugh and empathize with her. Throughout the book Katie struggles to figure out who she is – the city girl who lives in London? Or the girl who lives in the country? There’s a little bit of romance, but it’s not the main focus of the book.

An enjoyable and entertaining book!

what I’m reading: maybe in another life by taylor jenkins reid.

You know that Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors? The one where she is racing to make the train and the movie veers off into two different storylines – one storyline if she makes the train and one storyline if she doesn’t? Well this book is just like that movie.

Hannah Martin has just moved back to Los Angeles and is staying with her best friend Gabby and her husband. On her first night back she goes out for a welcome home party and at the end of the night, her old boyfriend offers to give her a ride home. What happens if she leaves with him? What happens if she leaves with Gabby? This book examines the two possibilities that could happen depending on which choice Hannah makes.

I thought this was a cute book. The two storylines are told alternatively, with each chapter switching off between the two realities. There’s a lot going on in this book but each storyline was easy to follow.

Maybe in Another Life is basically a “What if?” book. It made me think about how our lives are shaped by our choices and how one simple decision can change everything. It also deals with fate and the question of whether a person can have more than one soul mate.

I’m not sure which outcome I liked best. I did like that there were constants through each storyline, such as Gabby and the storyline concerning Hannah’s parents. However I felt that both endings were too perfect. I suppose the endings were appropriate but I guess I was left wanting something more.

The other thing that bothered me about this book was all the repetition of Hannah’s quirks. I get it, Hannah loves cinnamon rolls and talks about them constantly. She also always wears her hair in a high bun. I felt like I was told at least once in every chapter that Hannah likes cinnamon rolls and she’s got to get her hair in a high bun. It was a little bit of overkill. (Although truth – I totally went and got a cinnamon roll from the donut shop when I was done reading this book.)

what I’m reading: brain on fire: my month of madness by susannah cahalan.

This book is scary. Scary because it’s a true story and could happen to anyone. Scary because it took doctors too many weeks and months before they finally figured out what was wrong with Susannah. Scary because one doctor brushed off her concerns with the diagnosis that she just drank too much and partied too hard.

When Susannah wakes up in the hospital she discovers she has no memory of the past month. What happened and how did she wind up in the hospital? As the days and months pass, Susannah recovers and struggles to piece together what happened.

This is a great memoir. The author does a fantastic job of being real and honest. She chronicles how she was diagnosed as bipolar and schizophrenic and tested for a number of diseases before the doctors diagnosed Susannah as having an inflammation in her brain. She sifts through hours of video footage and interviews friends and family to try to reconstruct events that she doesn’t remember.

For me, this book highlighted the fact that there are so many things about our bodies and health that we don’t understand. There are so many areas of the human brain that we don’t know about. I’m glad that the doctors were finally able to figure out what was wrong with Susannah and that while Susannah had a long road to recovery, this book had a happy ending.

what I’m reading: the orphan’s tale by pam jenoff.

I have to confess – I’ve never been a huge fan of the circus. Maybe the animals or the clowns scared me or maybe I didn’t like being enclosed in a huge tent. I don’t know. But despite my dislike of the circus, I really enjoyed this book and reading about a traveling circus during World War II.

Sixteen year old Noa is kicked out after she becomes pregnant by a Nazi soldier and is forced to give up her baby. She ends up living and working at a small railroad station. One night she discovers a boxcar full of Jewish infants on their way to a concentration camp. Noa takes one of the babies and flees into the night. She is rescued by a German circus where she proceeds to hide out. In order to stay with the circus, she pretends to be one of the performers and learns the flying trapeze from the lead aerialist Astrid. The two initially hate each other but soon learn to get along.

This is an engaging book about friendship and survival. Noa and Astrid are both damaged by the war and have secrets. Each one is scared to let their guard down thinking the other could find out and tell everyone their secret. But the two come to trust each other and forge a strong friendship.

I found it fascinating to read about the circus and the way that townspeople tried to go on with their lives during World War II. The circus was a major event, one that all the townspeople would show up for to watch as the train come into town. People would put on their best clothes and make a day of going to the circus. The circus was a way for many people to escape all the horrific things that were happening, as well as a way to remind everyone that the show goes on.

The circus is almost another character in the story, in that it was a place of safety and solace for both Noa and Astrid. In the Author’s Note, Pam Jenoff states the novel is inspired by real circuses that hid some Jewish people to keep them safe during the Holocaust and that the boxcar full of babies is based on a true story.