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.

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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.

what I’m reading: the dark days club by alison goodman.

It is 1812 and Lady Helen is concentrating on nailing her presentation to the Queen while living down rumors of her mother’s traitorous past. What she didn’t expect was to be told that she is next in line to become one of the few people that can stop the demons.

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a new take on the paranormal. The Dark Days Club is a group of people known as Reclaimers, who get rid of Deceivers, demons who disguise themselves as humans.

The author really did her homework. This book takes place in London in 1812 and there is plenty of description about the clothing of that time period and food and dances and balls and many things that I’ve never heard of. It is so well researched and full of historical facts that it is easy to imagine yourself living in that world.

This book is not heavy on romance. In fact the romance mainly comes from the fact that Helen is expected to make a good match and marry well and she just wants to find someone to marry that she likes. There is a hint at a future love triangle but it definitely was not prominent, which I liked.

This is the first book in the series so we are just learning about the characters. Helen is not bad ass or kicking butt here. In fact, she is dealing with her life changing from what it was supposed to be to what it could be. When the book begins Helen thought she was on the path to get married and become a society wife, but she is soon dealing with choices and deciding if she will choose another path to become a Reclaimer.

Again, this book is part of a series. It doesn’t end on a cliff hanger but there were a lot of questions left unanswered. I am definitely curious and will be picking up the next book in the series.

do you do these weird things while reading?

I came across this article on Bustle titled 15 Weird Things You Do While Reading That Are Actually Totally Normal and it made me laugh so much. I am guilty of so many things on this list!

Crying in public. Yes, I’ve definitely cried in public while reading a book. You try to surreptitiously wipe your eyes so people can’t see while trying to control your facial expressions so it doesn’t look like you’re blubbering all over your Chipotle burrito…

Flipping through the pages before you start reading. The first thing I do when I start reading a book is I always look at the last page to see how many pages are in the book. This is mainly so I know what to expect and how many pages I get to read. Of course, sometimes I’ll flip through a book just to hear the pages as they flutter by.

Using anything as a bookmark. I’ve used many different things for bookmarks – old receipts, luggage tags, plane tickets, a sock, the tv remote, napkins, another book, my phone. Basically anything that is lying around when I need to mark my place can and will be used.

Forgetting to eat because the book is so, so good. I’ve skipped just about every meal at least once because I’ve been so caught up in my books.

Sleeping with the book beside you. This is mainly because I have a big bed and sometimes I am too lazy to roll over and reach to put my book on the nightstand. Also, when I wake up I know my book will be right there next to me in case I want to pick up where I left off.

Drinking in the bathtub with a book. Who doesn’t do this?

Sitting and reflecting silently on a book after you’ve finished reading. I have to digest all my feelings about the book before I can move on to something else.

Posing over and over and over again for the perfect Bookstagram photos. I have so many deleted photos of books where the light wasn’t right or you could see my arm in the picture or something weird is going on .

Anticipating “mail-day” even though you’re already reading three books at once. I don’t have “mail-day” so for me this is “library-holds day”, i.e. the day when a book becomes available at the library after I’ve put it on hold (which usually ends up being all the books at once).

Getting one hour of sleep because you were up all night reading. The ultimate indulgence at the time until you’re trying to stay awake at work the next day.

The one thing I would add to this list is Reading Everywhere. I’ve read in the cafeteria, many fast food places, and restaurants. I’ve read at sporting events and at meetings (but don’t tell my boss or nonprofit affiliates). I’ve read while walking down the street and waiting for the light to change. I read at the gym, on the bus, on the train, and when I’m riding in the backseat of a car. Completely normal, right?

How many weird things on the list have you done?