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: 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: 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: the widow by fiona barton.

the widowThe Widow is the story of Jean Taylor, whose husband Glen has been accused of a horrific crime. Throughout the investigation and criminal proceedings, Jean has stood by Glen. But now Glen has died and Jean can finally tell the truth. Everyone wants to know about the crime Glen was suspected of committing and now Jean can reveal what really what happened.

I really enjoyed this novel. Right off, you know that Jean’s husband is not a good guy and that he probably has done something bad but you don’t know what it is. For me, this book wasn’t necessarily suspenseful in that you were wondering whether Glen had committed a crime – I was fully in the guilty camp for him. But it’s more about how the crime was committed and what happened after.

The author did a good job at depicting marriage and how people act in marriages. Jean strived to be the perfect wife and stand by her husband, even when she had her doubts. Glen wasn’t a good guy and he knew how to manipulate Jean, but there were times when I felt he genuinely cared about her. Both of them have their secrets which are revealed as the book goes on.

The ending wasn’t anything spectacular and there was no big reveal (at least for me). But what I liked most about this book was the way the author took me on an emotional journey. I got angry, I got sad, then I was understanding, then I got frustrated. But mostly I wanted to know what the truth was.

The Widow is another book told from alternating viewpoints with unreliable narrators, leading us to always question who we can trust. This is the author’s debut novel and I look forward to seeing what she publishes next.

what I’m reading: girls on fire by robin wasserman.

girls on fireIt’s 1991 and a popular high school basketball player is found dead in the woods with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hands. Meanwhile, good girl Hannah Dexter becomes friends with Lacey Champlain, a Doc Marten-wearing, Kurt Cobain-worshipping bad girl from the wrong side of town. The two form a friendship that is obsessive and destructive and full of secrets.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I’ve heard so many good things about it and it’s on many lists of books to read this summer, but I thought it was just okay. I didn’t hate it, but it’s not a book I would see myself recommending to people.

I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters. I really didn’t like Lacey. She was manipulative and calculating and I didn’t understand the appeal she had over Hannah. Nikki was a little bit better, but really, I didn’t think either of them was especially likeable. I found myself slogging through the chapters told from Lacey’s point of view, mainly because it was difficult for me to relate to Lacey. I didn’t care for the character and couldn’t muster up the energy to care about her problems.

I got bored at times and I didn’t like the ending. I also thought it was interesting that this was promoted as Robin Wasserman’s first adult novel, yet the main characters were in high school. I felt like this book read as a young adult novel with a NC-17 rating.

One of the few redeeming qualities this book has is all the 90s references. The clothing, Doc Martens, the music, The Real World – they all took me back to the early 90s. Robin Wasserman is a talented writer, but this book just did not move me.

what I’m reading: all is not forgotten by wendy walker.

all is not forgottenAfter young Jenny Kramer is violently attacked at a party, she is given a controversial drug to erase her memories of the event. While her physical wounds heal in the weeks and months that follow, Jenny struggles with her emotions, unable to deal with not knowing what happened. Her father becomes obsessed with finding her attacker, her mother wants everything to go back to the way it was before, and the psychiatrist treating Jenny finds himself stuck in a moral quandary.

I thought this was a gripping book. Though we don’t know who the narrative is at the beginning, we find out it is Jenny’s psychiatrist (which I don’t think is a spoiler!). Jenny’s parents hire him to help Jenny regain her memories, but is that his only motivation? Or does he have other interests in Jenny’s case?

There were some parts in the book that were kind of slow and got bogged down with medical terminology and sometimes the narrator seemed to go off on random tangents. While the book is not action-packed, it is definitely thought-provoking and it certainly made me ponder the pros and cons of having a drug regime like the one in the book.

All is Not Forgotten is a compelling and suspenseful novel that questions the importance of memories.

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.