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: 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.

what I’m reading: the lake house by kate morton.

I’ve told multiple people about this book and recommended it to friends and every time I tell them the title, people think this book is based off of that Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves movie. Full disclosure – it is not.

The Lake House takes place in two time periods – in the 1930s when Alice Edevane’s little brother Theo disappears after the family’s midsummer’s party, and in 2003 when a detective named Sadie Sparrow stumbles across the Edevane’s abandoned home and hears the tragic story of Theo’s disappearance and becomes determined to crack the unsolved case.

This is the first novel by Kate Morton that I’ve read. It did take me a while to get into it and to figure out who all the characters are but once I was in it, I was hooked and couldn’t stop turning the pages.

I loved the descriptions of the big country estate in Cornwall. I thought all the characters were well-developed which each one having their own quirks and secrets. The author was able to weave together the past and the present and made you feel like you were experiencing everything along with the characters.

The ending completed surprised me. Every time I thought I had figured out what happened, the author would throw something else in to make me change my mind. I must have had about 10 different guesses about what really happened to Theo. Although some of the reviews I read online thought the ending was too perfect, I really liked it and I thought the ending wrapped the book up quite nicely.

what I’m reading: behind closed doors by b.a. paris.

Grace seems to have it all – a great husband, perfect house. She eats all she wants and never gains weight and can cook the most perfect meals. But why does she never go out alone without her husband? Why does she never talk on the phone or answer the door? The truth may be more shocking than you realize.

The only word I can use to describe this novel is chilling. This is an excellent psychological thriller, complete with a psychopath at the center of the story. At times I felt like I was reading the way I watch horror movies – with one hand covering my eyes. I didn’t want to read on, but I had to know what happened.

This book isn’t necessarily a suspenseful book like The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl because you figure out what’s going on fairly soon. It’s more of a book where every time you think it can’t get any worse, you turn the page and it does. This book is centered very much on the action and what’s going to happen next.

This is a great first novel and I look forward to see what else this author comes up with.

what I’m reading: sleepless in manhattan by sarah morgan.

I started reading Sarah Morgan’s books last year and she is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors. Sleepless in Manhattan is a yummy little cupcake of a novel. It was fun and sweet and just hit the spot.

Paige, Eva, and Frankie are childhood friends who live in Manhattan and work together at the same events planning company. Paige is driven and hard-working and after all three friends are let go from their jobs on the same day, Paige comes up with the idea to start their own events planning and concierge business. Paige’s brother Matt and his best friend Jake decide to help the girls out. The issue? Paige has been in love with Jake since she was a teenager, and as the two work together to plan the perfect party for Jake’s company, they start a relationship but are forced to hide it from Matt.

This was a cute friends to lovers romance. I loved the great sibling relationship that Paige and Matt have. I also loved the friendships between the three ladies. I did have to roll my eyes at the enormous success their business had after just one event; I thought it was a little unbelievable. If only every start-up business had instant success, right?

This book is the first in the From Manhattan with Love series, so there is plenty of sequel bait. Paige has two best friends so we know each one will have their own story. Hopefully they will be just as entertaining as this one.

what I’m reading: the twelve dogs of christmas: an andy carpenter mystery by david rosenfelt.

the-twelve-dogs-of-christmasThe Twelve Dogs of Christmas is the 15th novel in the Andy Carpenter series. I haven’t read any books in this series. In fact I’ve never heard of this series. I mainly checked this book out from the library because it had “Christmas” in the title and dogs on the cover. However, I was surprised to find this cozy mystery/legal thriller quite entertaining.

Martha “Pups” Boyer raises the puppies that the overcrowded local animal rescues can’t handle. When her neighbor reports Pups for violating zoning laws for having too many dogs in her home, she hires Andy Carpenter to defend her. Andy is quick to get Pups off, but when that same neighbor is killed and Pups is seen running from the crime scene, Andy finds himself in the middle of a murder trial. Did I mention Christmas is just around the corner?

This was a really fast read; I read it in a few hours. The story is told from the point of view of Andy Carpenter and I really enjoyed his outlook on life. He was witty and had a funny sense of humor. The mystery kept me entertained and although I thought I knew who the murderer was, I was left guessing until the very end.

It was clear that this book was part of a series. Characters are introduced and it’s understood that we are supposed to know who they are and their backstory. Despite not having read any of the other books in the serious, I found the book fairly easy to follow.

A great book for those who love mysteries, interesting characters, dogs, and Christmas.