{What I Read: February & March 2021}

I’m back!

I really needed that blog break over the last couple months as I had to let go of some of the expectations on myself (particularly the self-imposed ones that, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t going to affect anyone really!) in order to get some work stuff done that really needed doing AND keep my sanity and well-being while doing it. However, things are calming down and I should be back to whatever normal is for this blog moving forward. Or maybe not. It’s a personal blog, so I don’t think I really have to be so strict with it when I don’t feel like it!

In any case, I have been doing some reading here and there. I don’t have nearly as much time for reading right now that I did last year, but I managed to squeeze in a few for February and March despite the time constraints (we can thank audio books for that for a few of these!).

My first finished book for February was The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse. It was recommended to me from Reese Witherspoon’s book club, which I have found is hit or miss for me as far as the book choices. However, this one was a psychological thriller and the plot sounded really interesting, so I figured I would give it a go. I was not disappointed.

This was a really good read, and I was into it from the first page which is something that hasn’t been happening a lot lately with my book choices. The plot revolves around a series of strange disappearances and murders at a hotel built on the grounds of an old sanatorium. The building itself has a terrible past that starts coming to light in the present. Elin Warner, a detective on a break after a case gone wrong, is at the hotel for her brothers wedding to her childhood best friend, when these strange things start happening, and she is able to use to detective skills to work her way through whats happening. The book explores who you can and cannot trust in the story, and though I wouldn’t say that the ending is a great surprise, it wasn’t initially how I thought everything would end up. Overall, really interesting story, although I will admit there were a few details that I felt were out of place. Warning for people who don’t love ambiguous endings, this has one.

I tend to judge books on whether or not they make me drop everything else and just keep reading, and this one definitely kept me up at night later than I should’ve been to keep on going. I read this in nearly one sitting, needing to see exactly where it was going and sufficiently freaked out enough by it to keep me interested in the story!

On the opposite end of spectrum, it took me forever to get through The Survivors, by Jane Harper. I didn’t dislike it exactly but I didn’t love it.

The storyline was intriguing, but I felt like just moved SO slowly. In the book, Kieran Elliot returns to his home town where, many years prior, a tragedy took place that killed his brother and another young man. Though Kieran didn’t kill them, he is thought by some in the town to have been responsible for their deaths. While he is visiting with his girlfriend and young daughter, a murder occurs on the beach and it is quickly connected to another disappearance around the same time as the deaths. The book follows the investigation, and takes the reader into the past to learn about what happened the day Kieran’s brother died and just what happened to Gabby, the young girl who disappeared. They are, as you might suspect, ultimately connected as these things tend to be in these types of books (I mean, why bring up the past stuff if it doesn’t connect in any way to the present?). Demons are faced and decades of pent up resentment is resolved.

This one was just okay. I left it sitting on the coffee table many times and didn’t think about it too much when I wasn’t reading it, which doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad (if it was so bad, I wouldn’t have bothered finishing it), but I wasn’t invested in the characters or the story. However, this seems to be an unpopular opinion, if the reviews on Goodreads are any indication!

For my next foray into nostalgia reading, I gave the Fear Street books a try! I used to devour these as a pre-teen. I remember being on a trip with my dad, stepmother and sister in Utah just reading my way through a bunch of them. I don’t think I ever read them in chronological order, just in whatever order I could get my hands on them and there were definitely some that I read more than once and which I assume will be familiar to me when I get to them, although I can’t remember off the top of my head which ones were my favorites. I want to continue reading these, but I am not planning to plow my through the way I did with the BSC, so these will appear in my monthly reads post when I get around to them.

As with the BSC books, I am going in chronological order, and so I started with The New Girl. The verdict? They’re pretty bad and absolutely incredibly predictable from like page one, but I can completely see why I loved them (and they were definitely the gateway into why I love thriller novels now). They’re also on the borderline of being “so bad they’re good” so I do want to continue reading for the time being, though I am definitely not committing to this with the same level of fervor and dedication that I gave to the BSC books last year (I also just don’t have time for this, now that things are moving in the way of normal again).

I’m also excited because, according to the cover of this book, there’s going to be a Fear Street movie coming to Netflix, so I’m excited to see that, even though I’m sure I’ll be annoyingly updated like everything else I liked as a kid.

In Bad Company, by Viveca Sten is the latest in the Sandhamn murder series, which I also find hit or miss but overall like the series. They can be read as stand alones as each mystery is it’s own separate story, however there is a lot of backstory with the main characters you may miss if you don’t read the entire series. I keep reading more because of the backstories, honestly! Even when I don’t love the mystery (although in this case I enjoyed it), I still like seeing what has happened to the characters throughout the books.

Of course, all the characters are back for this one. Nora Linde is still working as a lawyer, and trying to build a case against Andreis Kovac and prove that he is a major player in a series of financial crimes. He also happens to be violent with his wife, which becomes a key point in the book. Mina, his wife, is taken to the hospital after his latest attack, and Nora helps her find sanctuary at a women’s shelter and persuades her to testify against her husband. However, the case against Andreis is what takes precedent in the story, and there is not a ton of backstory with the main characters for this one. I like how they just exist and go into some small details of their lives that aren’t necessarily related to the case. It makes it seem more realistic: in real life, your personal life wouldn’t mirror what’s happening in your professional life.

This is the first Sten book in a while that I have been really interested in. I liked the plot, and there was enough suspense and tension in the book to make it an interesting page turner. While I didn’t stay up late reading this one, I looked forward to reading it and seeing how the story would turn out.

The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner, is a Book of the Month Club selection sounded interesting when I chose it even though it was slightly out of the realm of books that I normally choose. When I first started it, I was worried that I chose wrong, but about ten pages in it became a crazy page-turner! Nothing extremely exciting, plot-wise, happens in the first ten pages, but I liked Penner’s writing style and the story set up was intriguing and so I kept going until I couldn’t stop. I literally read it in bed one night, tried to go to sleep, and had to turn on the light again and keep going.

The book takes place in the past and the present, which is usually a sign I am going to like it. In the past, we follow the story of Nella, an apothecary who makes potions to kill unfaithful or violet husbands/brothers/fathers, etc. She does not allow her potions to be used on women. She has inherited her shop from her mother, who created it to help women (albeit, her mother was helping them with ailments and whatnot, not murder). In the present, Caroline Parcewell is in London alone after finding out her husband has been unfaithful to her. When she finds a glass vial in the Thames with a strange bear etched into it, it launches her into a full investigation of where the bottle might have come from, and she soon learns about the “apothecary murders” that took place in 18th century.

The book weaves from past to present just enough to keep the story really good. I wanted to know more about each character, and found all three narrators to be really interesting and compelling. Whenever one chapter ended, I was eager and excited to get to their next one, but also still interested in what the current narrator had to say. I highly recommend this one!

The next book in the Fear Street series was The Surprise Party, by R.L. Stine. In this one, an old friend is coming to town and the teens are putting together a surprise party for her. Things get scary when the students (honestly, I can’t remember any of their names and the characters cross over from previous books and it gets a little confusing) start receiving anonymous scary phone calls and threats to cancel the party. Of course, in true horror genre fashion, they are concerned about these things but they don’t deter them from going ahead and having the party anyway, even when things get to the point where the main character is almost run down by a car.

While I said that the outcome of The New Girl was completely predictable, this one came out of left field to me. I have a feeling that’s what’s going to happen in all of these books – either the plot will be laughably obvious or just something ridiculous that gets thrown in towards the end to create an exciting story. Even so, still enjoying this foray into more nostalgia reading and plan to continue!

Six books in two months doesn’t propel me too far forward towards my goal of fifty books for the year, but it’s something! In about two weeks, my busy-ness dies down and then I’ll have more time for books and sewing again.

Next week, I’ll have some posts up about some adventures I had earlier this week, and hopefully in the near future we’ll be back to full on sewing posts again! My lack of having any personal sewing time has resulted in me buying fabrics and planning future projects like a fiend, so I can’t wait to get started!

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