what I’m reading: jane and the twelve days of christmas by stephanie barron.

This is the 12th book in a series where Jane is an amateur sleuth. This book takes place in the later years of Jane’s life when she is about 39. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park have all been published.

It’s the Christmas of 1814 and Jane, her sister Cassandra, and their mother are traveling to their brother James’ home for Christmas. On their way, their wagon has an accident and they are rescued by a Mr. West. When they arrived at James’ home, which we learn is Jane’s childhood home, they find his wife Mary who is prone to “megrims” and has a sense of melancholy about her (she seems likes a bit of a hypochondriac).

The Austen’s are invited the next day to join a Christmas celebration at The Vyne, home of William and Elizabeth Chute, an old friend of Jane’s. When they arrive, they discover other visitors including their rescuer from the day before, Mr. West, and the Gambiers. A snowstorm hits and the party becomes stranded at The Vyne for the next several days. A courier arrives bearing important political papers for Mr. Chute. However, after he departs, the courier is thrown from his horse and dies in what appears to be an accident. Jane however, is suspicious, and suspects he was murdered. Soon, one of the other party guests is found dead in an apparent accidental overdose. Jane is suspicious again and believes the young woman was murdered as well. Jane comes to the conclusion that someone at The Vyne must be the killer.

Narrated by Jane, this book is full of English customs and celebrations including a Yule log and a twelfth night celebration. I enjoyed all the little details about 19th century food and presents, especially Jane and Cassandra gifting their niece with a new doll outfit on each of the twelve days.

I thought this was a fun little cozy mystery. Because it is narrated by Jane, the book uses time period spelling for some of the words, which honestly I could have done without. It actually sometimes took me away from the story because I had to think about what the word was. I did think the mystery was interesting and I definitely didn’t know who the culprit was. Some of the conclusions and deductions made by Jane went over my head, but I guess that’s why I’m not an amateur sleuth.


what I’m reading: snowblind by ragnar jónasson.

snowblind book coverAri Thór Arason is a rookie policeman who has taken his first job in Siglufjörður, a remote fishing village in Northern Iceland. When an elderly man falls to his death down a flight of stairs and then a young woman is found bleeding and unconscious lying in the snow, the town wonders if there is a killer loose in their midst.

This is a slow moving whodunit, in a town where anyone can be a suspect. The town is so close knit that everyone knows everyone and none of the townspeople want to believe that a person they’ve known since they were young can be a killer.

I picked this book up because it takes place in Iceland and I love reading about Iceland. That said, Iceland and the city of Siglufjörður are one of the main characters in this book. The story takes place during January so there is not a lot of sunlight to be seen. The snow and the darkness and the fishing village history play such a part and by the end you feel as if you are right in Iceland with Ari Thór. As the book goes on and bodies are found, an avalanche cuts off the only road in and out of Siglufjörður. The sense of darkness and claustrophobia builds tension in the town until Ari Thór is not sure he can take the stress.

I have to confess this book was a bit hard to read because I couldn’t pronounce all of the Icelandic names. As a result, I ended up skipping over many person’s names which made it hard for me to remember who was who.

This book is the first in a series of Icelandic novels translated into English and I am curious to find out what happens next to Ari Thór.

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: 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.

what I’m reading: fool me once by harlan coben.

fool me onceI got hooked on Harlan Coben’s books after reading The Stranger. I saw he had a new book coming out so I put myself on the waitlist at the library.

Maya Stern Burkett is a former military special ops pilot, home from the war. Her husband Joe has just been brutally murdered, leaving Maya to care for their two-year old daughter. But when Maya sees Joe on her nanny cam playing with their daughter a few weeks after his death, she starts to wonder if he is really alive.

I thought this book was a decent read. Although it was well done, I just wasn’t as into it as other Harlan Coben books I have read or other thrillers. I found myself putting it down a lot and had to make myself finish it, if only so that I could return it to the library on time.

Perhaps I didn’t really connect with the main character. Maya seemed kind of abrasive and for all the worrying she seemed to have about her daughter, I didn’t really see them have any kind of relationship. Plus I never got the feeling that Maya was really freaking out over her husband potentially being alive. It seemed to be the main plot point of the novel but Maya just seemed to be “eh”.

I did feel sorry for Maya though and I felt she was a very sympathetic character because of her past. She definitely tugged on my emotions in the sense that she had served in the war and was suffering from PTSD and it was just so very sad that her husband had died and now she had to raise their child by herself. In addition, it wasn’t that long ago that Maya’s sister had been murdered in what appeared to be a home break-in, leaving behind her husband and children.

Nevertheless, the book ended very intriguing and interesting. It took a direction I wasn’t expecting it to take, but I respect that’s what the author wanted to do.

While this wasn’t my favorite, I will still be on the lookout for other Harlan Coben books.

what I’m reading: don’t you cry by mary kubica.

don't you cryA young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment. Her roommate, Quinn Collins, has no idea of where Esther could be. The only clues to Esther’s disappearance are a letter addressed to My Dearest and a trashcan full of shredded papers. Meanwhile, in the small Michigan town where Alex Gallo lives, a strange woman appears and Alex is immediately captivated. Who is this woman and is she related to the disappearance of Esther?

I kept seeing this book at the bookstore and was intrigued by the cover (especially the backwards R), so I finally put a hold on it to check out from the library. I seem to be reading a lot of psychological thrillers lately. They are quickly becoming one of my favorite genres and this book is no exception.

The story is told in alternating viewpoints from Quinn and Alex. This book is big on the creepy as there are dashes of twisted backstory and potentially murdering roommates. With no idea of where to look for Esther, Quinn takes to searching through her and Esther’s apartment. And while Quinn describes herself as not the sharpest knife in the drawer, she soon realizes that she may never have known Esther to begin with.

Don’t You Cry is a slow build and there were times where I told myself I totally knew what was going to happen. But just when I thought I knew where the story was going, the author would throw in another plot point that would change everything.

This was the first book I’ve read of Mary Kubica’s. I will definitely check out her other titles.

* Unfortunately we never find out why the R in the title is backwards on the cover. Perhaps it is the style of Mary Kubica’s? If anyone knows, I would love to find out.

what I’m reading: no one knows by j.t. ellison.

no one knows5 years ago, Aubrey’s husband Josh disappeared in the middle of his friend’s bachelor party. After searching the hotel where the party was at, Aubrey arrived home to find a trashed house, lots of blood, and no Josh. The police arrested Aubrey and put her on trial for murdering her husband, however with no body and no proof of Josh’s death, Aubrey is found not guilty.

Today, the State of Tennessee has declared Josh dead. Aubrey should feel glad the ordeal is over, but she only wants to know what happened – was Josh murdered? Or is he still alive somewhere? If he’s still alive, why has he stayed away the past 5 years? Add in Josh’s mother who is getting ready to battle Aubrey over Josh’s life insurance policy, and the appearance of a mystery man who reminds Aubrey of Josh, and Aubrey doesn’t know what to believe.

I found this book to be riveting. Every time I turned the page more questions and more theories about what happened to Josh would jump into my head. Did he fake his death? Where has he been? Did he just want to leave Aubrey? Was he murdered? Did Aubrey murder him? Why does Josh’s mom hate Aubrey so much – does she know something we don’t? And who is this stranger that appeared that reminds Aubrey of Josh?

Like many other popular books now, this book is told from different viewpoints and jumps around in time. However, I think this is a clever plot device and found it to be well-crafted in this book. We don’t know if Aubrey is a reliable narrator or not. We don’t know if any of the narrators are reliable. The jumping in time works because it allows us to form an opinion about a character, but then read about something that happened previous in time that can completely change our opinion about that character. We are constantly learning new backstory about these characters which led me to keep coming up with more questions and more ideas about what really happened.

As a side note, I love soap operas and have watched soap operas since I was in junior high, so it was no trouble for me to come up with crazy theories about what was happening in this book. I did happen to guess a few of the plot points, but not all.

This book kept me guessing until the very last pages.