What I Read: March 2021

Sarah Pearse: The Sanatorium

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors , the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel. An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept. Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in. . .

This book had such great potential! Creepy atmosphere, a remote hotel, former sanatorium, snow blizzard… If this book was rated on atmosphere and setting it would get 5 stars from me! It started so good but then about half way through it just went wrong. Erin has some questionable detective skills, talking openly to everyone about everything and then being surprised at how events turned. There was also a fair bit of repetition. I wouldn’t have minded the slow build-up so much if we didn’t always have to go through this cycle of Elin doubting herself, slowly gaining more confidence, then having something bad happen which would send her straight back to square one. I found the whole premise extremely unbelievable. From the way people died, how everything was investigated to the final reveal. Oh the final reveal…Given that the body count rises throughout the book, I expected an evil villain with a strong motive. Instead I got weak motive and very farfetched story. This book had everything that I’m looking for in a thriller but somehow it didn’t work together.

⭐⭐⭐

Rachel Abbott: Close your eyes(#10 DCI Tom Douglas)

I thought I was safe here, but I’m not. I’ve stayed too long. Now Genevieve is dead, and the police are on their way. It’s time for me to go. I must stick to the plan – the one I made the day I arrived in this city. My bag is packed. It always is. I will destroy every shred of evidence of my existence. The police must never find me. If they do, so will he. I made a mistake, and someone had to die. But I’m the one who has truly lost her life.I need to make a choice. If I keep running, I’ll never stop. If I go back, he will make me suffer. 

Close Your Eyes is the tenth book in a series of crime thrillers featuring DCI Tom Douglas and his team, it can be read as a stand-alone but I think it’s better read as part of a series. Rachel Abbott has been one of my favourite authors ever since I picked up her first book. This book, as expected, was clever, intriguing and completely absorbs you from the first page. I was lost in another world whilst reading it, so twisty that I finished it in one day! The story is told from 3 perspectives, DCI Tom, Martha and a girl called India. The chapters are short, sharp and easy to read. From the blurb you can’t really figure out what the story is about and I think that’s the best so I’m not going to go into details but I can say that this is one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year. Highly recommend!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ericka Waller: Dog days

George is a grumpy, belligerentold man who has just lost his wife. She has left him notes around the home and a miniature dachshund puppy called Poppy. But George doesn’t want a dog, he wants to fight everyone who is trying to help him. Dan has OCD but has channeled his energy into his career as a therapist. Afraid to acknowledge his true feelings, his most meaningful relationship so far is with his dog Fitz. That is, until Atticus walks into his life. Lizzie is living in a women’s refuge with her son Lenny. Her body is covered in scars and she has shut herself off from the world. She distrusts dogs, but when she starts having to walk the refuge’s dog, Maud, things begin to change. As three strangers’ lives unravel and intersect, they ultimately must accept what fate has in store for them with their dogs by their sides.

So I picked up this book expecting a light read. I love dogs and I was thinking this will be very heartwarming book. Well, it wasn’t. It was actually very serious and at times depressing. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that I expected a story where all the characters meet in a park with their dogs and become friends but I was very wrong. Yes there were dogs involved in the story but it was so much more than that. This is a very emotional and powerful book combining humour and sadness. Each of the characters is struggling to cope with something whether it be grief or their sexuality but the loyalty of the animals shines through and helps them through their dark days. This book touches on suicide, depression, domestic violence, grief and homophobia. It highlights how not everything in life has a happy ever after, people and their emotions/actions are complex and not straightforward. A great book if you like reading about messy lives without fairytale endings like I do.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

lucy clarke: The castaways

Lori books a holiday for herself and her sister, Erin to Fiji for a break, but the night before they are due to fly, they end up falling out and Lori ends up on the plane alone, wondering what’s happened to Erin. The plane disappears without trace leaving poor Erin wondering what’s happened to her sister and the plane. Now as a reporter she tries to find out the truth. 

The book alternates between Lori and Erin, the past and the present, from each sister’s point of view and wow, it took on a life of its own. I had no idea where the story was going, and could never have guessed it, but I loved every minute of this castaway adventure. It’s a slow paced story but you could feel all the tension and anxiety. Atmospheric from start to finish. I’m not going to give anything else away as it really would ruin the book and all I can say is read it for yourself. It’s pure escapism and I loved every moment. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

peter swanson: Every vow you break

Abigail Baskin never thought she’d fall in love with a millionaire. Then she met Bruce Lamb. He’s a good guy, stable, level-headed, kind—a refreshing twist from her previous relationships.But right before the wedding, Abigail has a drunken one-night stand on her bachelorette weekend. She puts the incident—and the sexy guy who wouldn’t give her his real name—out of her mind, and now believes she wants to be with Bruce for the rest of her life.Then the mysterious stranger suddenly appears—and Abigail’s future life and happiness are turned upside down. He insists that their passionate night was the beginning of something much, much more. Something special. Something real—and he’s tracked her down to prove it.

Peter Swanson is one of my auto-buy authors so I got this book on the day it was published and started reading it straight away. I gave all of his previous books 4 or 5 stars so I’m very sad that I have to write this review. I just can’t believe that this book is written by the same author who wrote my favourite thriller ever, The Kind Worth Killing. Yes, the premise sounded amazing but from the start I knew where this was going. The first half was very repetitive and boring and even though the second half was more interesting it was definitely more ridiculous as well. There were moments that were entertaining and I was hoping it was building up towards some big twist but it didn’t. The ending was the worst for me. Maybe someone would be thrilled by the conclusion but for me the whole thing was very farfetched and over the top.

⭐⭐💫

lauren ho: last tang standing

Andrea Tang is in her early 30s living the dream; she is working her way towards partner in the law firm she works for, has an amazing condo (that she owns) and knows where all the best restaurants and clubs are located in Singapore thanks to great friends. What she doesn’t have is the man that will make her “perfect” life more perfect. When she begins the process of trying to find said man she doesn’t expect the craziness or all the dick pics that ensue with dating apps. Andrea also doesn’t expect to find herself laughing and hanging out with her office mate, Suresh, who is her top rival for the position of partner and enjoying it more than every date the apps have matched her with. 

Andrea Tang is in her early 30s living the dream; she is working her way towards partner in the law firm she works for, has an amazing condo (that she owns) and knows where all the best restaurants and clubs are located in Singapore thanks to great friends. What she doesn’t have is the man that will make her “perfect” life more perfect. When she begins the process of trying to find said man she doesn’t expect the craziness or all the dick pics that ensue with dating apps. Andrea also doesn’t expect to find herself laughing and hanging out with her office mate, Suresh, who is her top rival for the position of partner and enjoying it more than every date the apps have matched her with. 

This book was fast paced, funny and taught me a lot about Chinese-Malaysian culture and how pressured women feel that they have to get married young or by their thirties or their families will disown them and cut them out. But, this romance was very slow paced. There is actually no romance at all in first part, a little bit in a second and then finally we can see some signs of it in the last part. I feel this was more about Andrea’s personal growth than romance which is not a bad thing but just keep that in mind if you are expecting more romance and passion. Overall, it was a little boring for me. most of it is just Andrea’s daily life, and the things she ended up doing with her cousin. However, I enjoyed reading about the Chinese culture and the Singapore backdrop in the book.

⭐⭐⭐💫

cara hunter: all the rage

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back . . 

As I big Cara Hunter fan it should be no surprise that I loved this book. I was really intrigued about how the story would tie together, as there were a lot of twists and turns, and I didn’t guess the ending. All I can say about this story is that it is one twisted read. I kept thinking we were being taken down one road when it comes to the case that Fawley and his team are working on, only for it to go off down a totally different route. Multiple times as well! I can’t wait for the fifth book that is being released at the end of April.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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