3.5 star, adult

Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

You won’t want to leave. . . until you can’t.

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 was another one of those books I just randomly picked off the (library) shelf based on the cover and synopsis alone. Ironically, neither of which I find incredible – I almost just returned it without reading it, since I didn’t feel the strong urge to read it. However, just before it was due, I decided to just race through it, and honestly I’m fairly satisfied that I did.

The Sanatorium takes place at a newly constructed building located in the Swiss Alps, once a sanatorium turned into a fancy hotel. Elin, our protagonist, is there to celebrate the engagement of her estranged brother. However, quickly things start taking a dark turn. People start going missing, the weather gets worse and worse, all poetically coming up to a big climax as the tensions continually increase.

Although the story revolves around our protagonist, the first portion of the novel actually takes us through a series of different perspectives. This I found to be a little bit distracting, as the novel quickly introduces us to more and more characters, making it a bit hard to focus on the main story. I think I remember maybe 3-4 storylines? I suppose part of the suspense is sometimes not being able to remember every part clearly, but it also takes away some of the tension and suspense that is built when it is too diverging.

The characters in this story were quite good and well-developed. People were consistent in their character and actions, and suspicions were easily cast around as new information came to light. This really helped captivate me in the story, as each character seemed like a reasonable suspect, and each had their secrets to hide. Being a little bit invested in each character is an important aspect of a novel to me, as it really helps bind the story together (e.g. not skipping parts about characters you don’t like), and I felt that that was pretty well done here.

The suspense in this story was well done, but nothing too dramatic. There was kind of an underlying tension and suspense that was growing throughout the story, but over all, each little arc of tension and resolution weren’t too heightened. Even at some of the most tense moments, I found that the resolution came fairly quickly, and perhaps I was let off the hook almost too easily. This is obviously just personal opinion, as to how much suspense “should” take place, but for me personally, I was expecting more from the resolution of the tension. I was often left thinking: oh that’s it?

Now for my biggest gripe: the ending. Yes, it was fairly unexpected and I didn’t totally see it coming. However, that didn’t mean it was quite satisfying either. Similar to our buddy review for Don’t Look For Me, where the ending was completely unexpected but also seemingly a little bit out of nowhere, I found the ending in this novel to not give me the satisfying “aha” moment. The best moments in these kinds of suspenses and mysteries are when you finally come to the realization of how everything has panned and played out, and how everything has come to lead up to this exact moment. Let’s just say that in this novel, there is an explanation yes, but it just all seemed like explanations for explanations, and covering up loopholes, as if everything was explained in hindsight, rather than being planned from the beginning. Does this make sense at all? All in all, this ending just really didn’t do it for me.

I would say overall I did enjoy the story though. The suspense was good, the characters were good, and there was good tension in general. The story and history woven in were good, and the general intrigue was well-executed – I enjoyed all the little details of how everything was put together. Perhaps I’m just a little bit too much of a stickler for the ending, if anyone else has read this, what did you think?

Overall Recommendations

The Sanatorium takes places in a beautifully constructed new 5-star hotel (once a sanatorium) in the Swiss Alps, where our protagonist, Elin, is visiting with her boyfriend to celebrate her estranged brother’s new engagement. While seemingly luxurious in its minimalistic design, more and more strange events begin to happen at the hotel: starting with the bride-to-be going missing. What exactly is going on here at this new hotel and who is behind it all? With the heavy storm incoming, how much danger exactly has Elin walked into? This novel had good characters and decent suspense throughout the whole novel, and I would recommend it to any mystery/thriller reader who likes to focus on those elements.

3 star, adult

Review: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.


“We all have a book that changed us forever,” I said. “One that let us know that we’re not alone. What’s yours?”

The Paris Library lived up to its name, bringing bursts of sympathy and wonder in equal measures. With a deep look into Odile’s past during the Nazi Occupation in Paris and her current life in the States, the biggest question one can ask is, how do the two points in her life connect?

I came in thinking this was going to be equal, alternating POVs between Lily and Odile, but it definitely focuses on Odile a lot more in the past. Lily’s story fills in the gaps and gives us glimpses into who Odile somehow becomes while pieces of the puzzle are still missing. I will start off by saying that I docked off stars because it does get slow in the middle at times, and the flow doesn’t always propel me to flip through the book as fast as possible. It meanders and lets us laze in the pages like we are going out on a stroll or browsing aimlessly in a library. But this is the only reason why it’s anything less than 5 stars, let me tell you.

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3 star, adult

Review: Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swensen #27

Spring has sprung in Lake Eden, Minnesota, but Hannah Swensen doesn’t have time to stop and smell the roses–not with hot cross buns to make, treats to bake, and a sister to exonerate!

Hannah’s up to her ears with Easter orders rushing in at The Cookie Jar, plus a festive meal to prepare for a dinner party at her mother’s penthouse. But everything comes crashing to a halt when Hannah receives a panicked call from her sister Andrea–Mayor Richard Bascomb has been murdered…and Andrea is the prime suspect.

Even with his reputation for being a bully, Mayor Bascomb–or “Ricky Ticky,” as Hannah’s mother likes to call him–had been unusually testy in the days leading up to his death, leaving Hannah to wonder if he knew he was in danger. Meanwhile, folks with a motive for mayoral murder are popping up in Lake Eden. Was it a beleaguered colleague? A political rival? A jealous wife? Or a scorned mistress?

As orders pile up at The Cookie Jar–and children line up for Easter egg hunts–Hannah must spring into investigation mode and identify the real killer…before another murder happens!



This is a pretty generous 3 Drink Me Potions rating from me. I would say realistically it’s closer to a 2.5 for sure. That being said, these books are kind of a guilty pleasure for me. Not always the most quality, but definitely an easy and lighthearted read, full of recipes for distractions. So no matter the quality of the writing, I find myself picking up one of these novels once in a while just to satisfy (perhaps that younger) part of me.

I do have my qualms about this one. I recently read one of the author’s first books in the series, and I thought it was so much more well written. Now, I haven’t really read them in order nor have I done an in depth analysis to say whether this is a pattern or not, but I definitely enjoyed that other book (Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder) way more as a lighthearted murder mystery with the amateur detective trope.

This particular book had way too much filler (and seemingly way more recipes, though those I don’t mind), but that reduced the plot to have little essence. Comparing to what I was expecting coming off reading the other book, this one left a lot to be desired.

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder follows the amateur detective but expert baker, Hannah Swensen, as she investigates yet another murder in her small town called Lake Eden. When the widely unpopular mayor is suddenly put out of commission, the list of suspects stretches on and on. How will Hannah be able to eliminate all the suspects in order to figure out the killer’s identity?

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