Hello Readers! We’re closing in on the end of the first month of 2021 and, I have to say, it doesn’t feel all that different from 2020 at the moment. I’m still hopeful that this year will ultimately be better to us than last year was, but staying in this state for an extended period of time can get a little draining. Thank goodness for books.
This week’s goal: Post review for In the Garden of Spite and finish reading If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier.
Mon 1/18: Today I started If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier. It’s my next e-ARC in line to publish. It has some of my favorite elements: a disappearing girl, a true crime podcast…really just those two things is enough to get me interested. The writing style is a little odd right now, but I am enjoying the story so far. I haven’t made a lot of progress on my other books today. It was a great day off for rest and relaxation.
Tue 1/19: I read about 4 more pages in Ring Shout. It takes a little more concentration than I originally budgeted, so this isn’t easy for me to just dip in and out of.
I went from the 6% mark to the 22% mark in If I Disappear. The set-up is still really weird. I think it’s the second person writing style that is throwing me off a little bit. Hopefully it will pay off in the end, but right now, it just makes for a strange reading experience. The story is definitely creepy and it is flying by.
I also made a little progress in listening to Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke. I’m not as into the story on this one, but I think that’s because the victim was clear pretty much the moment that the character was introduced. It felt a little too easy, but I look forward to seeing what the motive was for his murder. I made it from the 1 hour 41 minute mark to the 2 hour and 7 minute mark.
Wed 1/20: I listened to a little more of Carrot Cake Murder today. I ended up listening to about an hour total, but for some reason the recipes were really frustrating my listening experience today. I’m listening to this title using Hoopla, which doesn’t divide the recording into chapters, so it is really hard for me to skip over the recipes that are sprinkled throughout the book. If I have the app open and running on my phone screen, I can skip ahead 30 seconds, but I can’t really do that while I’m driving. Listening to a recipe while driving is not an enjoyable experience for me, so I ended up switching to the radio for the first time in a long time.
It was a rough day and I didn’t really read anything else today. I’ve had a productive month, so I’m not going to beat myself up for that.
Thu 1/21: I listened to about 3 hours worth of Carrot Cake Murder today on my commutes. I’m enjoying how the characters are changing in this book. I’ve never really read a series as an adult that has gone as long as this one has and I was wondering how Fluke was going to keep the entries from getting stale. This time, we have Hannah Swensen receiving some cooperation from the police, and there’s less reluctance on her part to begin investigating. This feels like a more believable progression than a series that pretends the sleuth isn’t building a reputation in a town where they’ve already solved about a dozen murders. It would be interesting to see Fluke flip the script and actually let Mike completely solve one of these though…
I made a little progress with If I Disappear today. I think the thing that is bugging me at this point with this story is that the main character is in her 30s, but she’s reading to me like a teenager. Her actions and decision-making just don’t jive with how an adult in their 30s would act. It’s definitely getting creepy though and I don’t have a good handle on where the story is going. I made it to the 68% mark tonight and can hopefully get it finished over the weekend.
Fri 1/22: All I did today was listen to Carrot Cake Murder. I made it to the 8 hour mark and have less than 2 hours to go. I have no idea who the murderer is so far, since Hannah seems to have eliminated all of the suspects. I like it when a mystery has me stumped and I want to see how this one ends. I’m predicting that it will end up being a 3 star read, like most of the rest of the series has been for me.
Sat 1/23: Did I read If I Disappear today? Nope. Did I read more of Ring Shout? Nope again. Did I pick up a completely different book and read the entire thing today? Yes. I did that.
Today I picked up a copy of Killer Chardonnay by Kate Lansing from the library. It’s January’s pick for the Cozy Mystery Book Club on YouTube and I started reading it while I was getting my hair done today. By the time I left, I had read over 100 pages and was anxious to find out how it ended. Believe it or not, the body drops in this one super early, but the story kept me enthralled all the way through. This is a debut novel from this author, but I already have the next one (which comes out next week) on hold at the library.
Sun 1/24: I finished If I Disappear today. It was a little disappointing, all things considered. It is a unique book that is a little hard to classify. Goodreads has it as mystery, thriller, and suspense. It does have a mystery element, but I would argue it is better classified as a suspense novel than a thriller. It doesn’t quite have the right pacing to be considered a thriller. Suspense has a lot more introspection and a lot more inner monologue from the main character, which fits this novel pretty well. Overall, I gave it 2 stars. I don’t know if I would read anything else from this author. I just don’t prefer suspense and I found the main character pretty unlikeable. It has a great cover and a good concept, but ultimately just wasn’t my cup of tea.
I also finished Carrot Cake Murder. It was another solid 3-star entry into the Hannah Swensen mystery series. I think I’m going to take a little break from these though. The stories are becoming a little tedious and the character development has really stalled, despite how I thought this story was going to go at the beginning. I think reading Killer Chardonnay yesterday really reminded me that a cozy mystery can follow a formula without feeling stale.
On the plus side, I managed to succeed in both of my goals this week and made a little progress on some of my yearly goals. To see my yearly goals progress, check out my 2021 Reading Goals page.
Lastly, I started The Survivors by Jane Harper today and made it to the 11% mark pretty quickly. I have loved everything that Jane Harper has published thus far and am sure that this book will be an excellent piece of crime fiction, just like her others. I was so sure of this, in fact, that I have no idea what the plot for this book is. I didn’t read the synopsis. It’s rare for me to have that level of trust in an author who only has 3 books out, but those first 3 were literally that good in my opinion.
So far, the prologue was mysterious and the first few chapters are alluding to a big secret, but we haven’t been given a lot of information so far. It definitely has the same small-town feel as Harper’s first novels. The fact that everyone in town seems to know each other will make for a limited suspect pool. Harper writes about long-held grudges and emotional trauma better than most and I can already see that being a factor in this story. I can’t wait to see where this one goes.