Saturday, May 30, 2020

#gretchensbooks2020 - May

I really struggled with reading in the beginning of this month. After surgery, I just really didn’t have the focus for it. I was crabby because I couldn’t do things for myself and just wanted to sleep to pass the time until I could function like a normal human being again. Luckily I was able to kick it into gear the second half of the month! It helps that there is literally nothing else to do except lay around in the hammock/at the pool and read!

56. A Touch of Terror,” by Gary Ponzo (4/5★)

A rogue Russian agent known as The Machine has infiltrated the U.S. border with a case of uranium powerful enough to destroy the entire west coast. FBI agent Nick Bracco recruits his mafia-connected cousin Tommy to help track down the case and try to save the nation from the devastating attack. But this time Nick and his partner, Matt McColm, have met their match.

This was the most recent book in an FBI thriller series that I just loved. I began the series because it came free with Kindle Unlimited when I was in Costa Rica 5.5 years ago, and have continued it since. I don’t think these are books I would have picked up normally, but since my selection was limited to Kindle Unlimited while I was there, I ended up reading them, and I’m glad I did!

This was the sixth book in the series, and just as good as the rest! It’s about an FBI agent and his partner hunting down terrorists- some books connect to the others via the “bad guys,” but this one was a stand alone. Definitely a series I recommend!

57. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (2/5★)

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?
It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Moriarity’s books always come highly recommended, but I frequently seem to struggle getting into them. I think maybe it’s because I always listen to them on audiobook instead of reading them? I like to up the reading speed to keep my attention, which is harder to do when they’re read in an accent, which hers always are. I have read/listened to a couple that I really liked, so I am continuing to hold out hope!

This one was no different. In fact I think it was worse. I managed to listen to the whole thing, but it didn’t ever really feel like there was a plot. I mean there was technically, but just barely. It felt like just a constant description of activities, and I never had any real suspense, wondering how things were going to turn out. It is marketed as a thriller, but there is literally no thrill. This was a book I probably should have DNF’d, but I really wanted to give her writing another shot. Sigh. Maybe the next one. 

58. The Silence by Susan Allott (3.5/5★)

It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney, Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father phoning from Sydney.  30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was thought she had fled a broken marriage and gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.
 Isla unwillingly plans to go back to Australia for the first time in a decade to support her father. The return to Sydney will plunge Isla deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England—a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve—a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job—is desperate to become a father.  
 The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? What will happen to their family if Isla’s worst fears are realized? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?
I received an ARC of this book, and since it’s publishing date is May 19 I figured I better put down my other books and read this one before it officially came out!

I think this was the first novel I’ve read set in Australia, and I really enjoyed it. It was a little slow moving, but also was different than any thriller I’d read prior. (Though I would classify it as more mystery, less thriller).

I appreciated that it shed light on the Aboriginal people, and I think that is a part of history I am going to do a little more digging into. I like when fiction books can inspire me to learn more about their basis in reality.

I also like how it was multi-perspective, and that it bounced back and forth between 1967 and 1997, slowly closing the gap of what took place in between.

59. Follow Me by Kathleen Barber (4/5★)

Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past. 

But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private. 

This thriller was published in February, and I had immediately seen so many great things about it via the bookstagrams that I immediately requested it from the library. Due to closures, I was finally able to pick it up last week!

This thriller is very YOU-esque. So much so that I had to close the book at 11PM because I was getting too creeped out being alone! It was definitely a story that held my interest the whole way through, and was full of suspense up until the very end!

The only thing I didn’t like was that it wasn’t a very accurate depiction of an influencer of this magnitude. Someone with a million followers has to put in a lot more work than what the book portrayed. Otherwise, I definitely recommend!

60. Verity by Colleen Hoover (5/5★)

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. 

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of the night their family was forever altered. 
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her. 
Due to graphic scenes and mature content, this book is recommended for readers 18+.

Okay. THIS is officially my new favorite Colleen Hoover book! 

I absolutely devoured this book!! It is less romance focused than most of her work, and much more suspenseful! Outside of Hoover, I’m not usually into the lovey stuff, but am a big fan of thrillers, so this was a great change of pace that had my heart racing. Very cleverly written, it was not what I expected, but I mean that in the best way possible. I have a love/hate feeling about the many questions!!! 

61. Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini (4/5★)

After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits. In the thriving intellectual culture of 1930s Berlin, the newlyweds create a rich new life filled with love, friendships, and rewarding work—but the rise of a malevolent new political faction inexorably changes their fate. 
As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred, Arvid, and their friends resolve to resist. Mildred gathers intelligence for her American contacts, including Martha Dodd, the vivacious and very modern daughter of the US ambassador. Her German friends, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff and literature student Sara Weitz, risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime. 
For years, Mildred’s network stealthily fights to bring down the Third Reich from within. But when Nazi radio operatives detect an errant Russian signal, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed, with fatal consequences. 
Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed.
I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf since before it’s release last year, but only just got around to reading it. Honestly I think the length of it is what made it so daunting- 650 pages, large book, small print! I did do this partially on audio so that helped.

I really liked that this started years before WWII actually began, because most books of this era that I have read don’t do that. It was a different perspective, one of those in the resistance, than most books I’ve read of this era as well. 

I also liked how the author had a pretty lengthy note at the end explaining what happened to the real characters (since this is inspired by true events) after the “story” ended.

62. Bad Memory by Lisa Gray (3.5/5★)

Private investigator Jessica Shaw is leading a quiet life in a Californian desert community, where she spends her days working low-level cases. But when a former resident asks Jessica to help her sister, Rue Hunter—a convicted murderer whose execution is days away—Jessica can’t resist the offer.
Rue doesn't remember what happened the night two high school students were killed thirty years ago, but everybody in town is certain she’s guilty. As Jessica looks for answers, she finds that local rumors point one way and evidence points another. And nobody wants to face the truth. Meanwhile, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that someone is stalking her—now more than ever, she knows she can’t trust anyone.
As Jessica digs deeper, she encounters local secrets in unlikely places—including the police department itself. But the clock is ticking, and Jessica must find the truth fast—or Rue’s bad memory may be the death of them both.
I read the first book in this “series” last summer, and found to to be good enough that I decided to read the second one as well. You do not need to read the first to understand this one, however!

Bad Memory was published in October, and is a thriller about a private detective investigating a 30-year-old murder case, just before the woman convicted for the crime is about to be executed for the crime.

The story is faced paced, and though not full of on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense, it kept my attention and held my desire to need to know what happened. Also, I unintentionally read this whole thing today, so that speaks to its engagement.

The way it ended I am expecting a third book, which I look forward to reading!

63. A Cold Trail by Robert Dugoni (3.5/5★)

The last time homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite was in Cedar Grove, it was to see her sister’s killer put behind bars. Now she’s returned for a respite and the chance to put her life back in order for herself, her attorney husband, Dan, and their new daughter. But tragic memories soon prove impossible to escape.
Dan is drawn into representing a local merchant whose business is jeopardized by the town’s revitalization. And Tracy is urged by the local PD to put her own skills to work on a new case: the brutal murder of a police officer’s wife and local reporter who was investigating a cold-case slaying of a young woman. As Tracy’s and Dan’s cases crisscross, Tracy’s trail becomes dangerous. It’s stirring up her own haunted past and a decades-old conspiracy in Cedar Grove that has erupted in murder. Getting to the truth is all that matters. But what’s Tracy willing to risk as a killer gets closer to her and threatens everyone she loves?
This is the seventh book of a series I read a couple years ago, published this past February. It’s another series that I think I picked up because it was free on kindle unlimited, and that I got hooked on after book one. Book seven was just as intriguing, and I really had no idea whodunnit until it got closer to the very end. 

The series follows a detective through different cases, different from your average thriller these days, but just as good!

64. In the Darkness by Mike Omer (3.5/5 ★)

An online video of a girl clawing at the ceiling of her own grave could be the worst thing FBI forensic psychologist Zoe Bentley has ever seen. Perhaps even more disturbing is the implication of the video’s title: “Experiment Number One.”
Zoe and her partner, Special Agent Tatum Gray, work as fast as they can to find the monster behind the shocking video, but soon another one shows up online, and another girl turns up dead. Meanwhile, a different murderer is on Zoe’s mind. Rod Glover has been tormenting her since childhood, and his latest attack is a threatening photo of himself with Zoe’s sister. As Glover’s threats creep toward action, Zoe’s torn between family and duty.
Zoe must think fast to prevent another murder. With her own family’s safety on the line, Zoe feels she’s never been in more danger. And while she’s always known her job could send her to an early grave, she always assumed she’d be dead first.
I read the first book (“A Killer’s Mind”) in this short series earlier this quarantine after it was recommended to me and really enjoyed it, so when a friend bought the second book I was eager to read it.

I really enjoyed this one as well, and am excited to see that a third book in the series is coming out next month.

This was about a different case than the first book, but they brought in bits from the first book into this one, though I expected that to play a bigger part than it did. Perhaps in the third book. 

Also, I started another series by the same author and am halfway through the first book, I definitely recommend this series, and Omer as an author!
65. The Prisoner’s Wife by Maggie Brookes (4/5 ★)

Inspired by the true story of a daring deception that plunges a courageous young woman deep into the horrors of a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves. 

In the dead of night, a Czech farm girl and a British soldier travel through the countryside. Izabela and prisoner of war Bill have secretly married and are on the run, with Izzy dressed as a man. The young husband and wife evade capture for as long as possible—until they are cornered by Nazi soldiers with tracking dogs. 

Izzy's disguise works. The couple are assumed to be escaped British soldiers and transported to a POW camp. However, their ordeal has just begun, as they face appalling living conditions and the constant fear of Izzy's exposure. But in the midst of danger and deprivation comes hope, for the young couple are befriended by a small group of fellow prisoners. These men become their new family, willing to jeopardize their lives to save Izzy from being discovered and shot. 

The Prisoner's Wife tells of an incredible risk, and of how our deepest bonds are tested in desperate times. Bill and Izzy's story is one of love and survival against the darkest odds.

Happy (almost) publishing day to this book! Official release is tomorrow! I started this book while I was in the middle of another WWII era novel, which complicated things so I had to put it down, but once I picked it back up again I got more into it than I expected. 

Set mainly in Czechoslovakia, this is another one that is different from the typical books I’ve read of this era. It was based on a true story of a Czechoslovakian farm girl marrying a British POW and running off with him while dressed as a boy, only to end up in a POW camp and have to survive as a boy until liberation. It is based on a true story following that premise, though the details the author took her own liberties with, using research and others’ stories to keep the main storyline accurate. 

One thing I didn’t like was how the author wrote the female lead’s verbal English. The girl was constantly practicing “I am, I was, you are” etc., but when she actually spoke sentences, she always missed the “be” verb. Now I’ve never spoken German or Czech, her first languages, so maybe that was a common mistake in translation, it just seemed odd to me. Otherwise, though I wasn’t sure about it at the beginning, I found I really liked this novel!

66. Spider’s Web by Mike Omer (4/5 ★)

Twenty-year-old Kendele Byers is savagely killed and buried in a shallow grave. She had a violent past, a bizarre, kinky line of work, and the suspect list grows longer every day. 
But when another woman is murdered, Detective Mitchell Lonnie realizes that there's something much more sinister afoot: a connection between the two murders. Both victims had received a clue hinting at their oncoming demise several minutes before they were attacked. There's a serial killer in Glenmore Park. Even worse, he seems to be accelerating his murder pace. 
Now Mitchell and his partner need to locate the killer before more innocent women die. But when his sister gets involved, Mitchell's focus begins to unravel. Soon his pursuit becomes personal, and the stakes rise very high.
I found this series on kindle unlimited after beginning another by Omer and knew I had to read it. I really liked that it pulled in the main character from his other series! Also it freaked me out enough that I couldn’t read it too late at night, which is key to a great murder mystery! This was the first of three (so far) books in the series, and now I am off to start the second! 

67. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell (2/5 ★)

Be careful who you let in. 

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am. 
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them. 
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone. 

I felt like this book went on and on without any real thrill. It wasn’t so dull that I didn’t want to listen to it, but I felt like I kept waiting for something interesting to happen.

It was very odd. There were definitely some twists at the end, but the suspense just wasn’t there to make them that intriguing. 

I loved the first book I read by Lisa Jewell, but I’ve been really let down by everything of hers I have read since. Does anyone have anything by her that they really recommend??

68. Deadly Web by Mike Omer (3.5/5 ★)

Detective Hannah Shor is desperate to prove her worth to her superiors, and herself. When a middle aged man is found stabbed to death in his apartment, she might just get her chance. But then she finds that the deceased was a vile Internet Troll, sexually harassing women on Twitter. Hannah starts wondering if she really wants to catch his killer.

And the night is far from over. Only several hours later, a young woman is strangled to death. Detective Jacob Cooper discovers that the victim was lost in her own virtual world–a recluse who spent all day sucked into a violent online role-playing game. To find the murderer, Jacob might have to step into the game.

Now Hannah will have to push aside her qualms, and Jacob will have to find a way to overcome his technophobia, if they want to crack the cases. Their search will take them into the seedier parts of the Internet and uncover shocking secrets as they attempt to expose a killer.

The setting for this was the same town as the first book, and included the same department (for the most part). First, I really liked that this book was told partially from the perspectives of different detectives than the first book in the series. Also, though the first series focused on multiple murders from the same killer, this one had two completely different cases going on at once, which I also liked. Book three, here I come!

Loretta Lynn and the late Patsy Cline are legends--country icons and sisters of the heart. For the first time ever Loretta tells their story: a celebration of their music and their relationship up until Patsy's tragic and untimely death. 

Full of laughter and tears, this eye-opening, heartwarming memoir paints a picture of two stubborn, spirited country gals who'd be damned if they'd let men or convention tell them how to be. Set in the heady streets of the 1960s South, this nostalgia ride shows how Nashville blossomed into the city of music it is today. Tender and fierce,Me & Patsy Kickin' Up Dust is an up-close-and-personal portrait of a friendship that defined a generation and changed country music indelibly--and a meditation on love, loss and legacy.

This story began with a brief intro on how Loretta Lynn got into the music industry, and how her relationship with Patsy Cline began. It was part autibiographical about Loretta’s career, and part about her relationship with Patsy and the impact she had on Loretta’s life- music and personal. Fun fact: Patsy Cline taught Loretta Lynn how to shave her legs! A very interesting story..

The audiobook was also performed by Loretta Lynn’s daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, who assisted in writing it.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means when you purchase something through that link, you're helping support this blog at no additional cost to you!*

(Summaries are from Amazon, but all reviews are my own!)

Reading Challenge: 69/100 books read in 2020

You can find previous book reviews here!

Friday, May 8, 2020

My First Surgery: Appendicitis During Quarantine

The whole situation began Thursday night, when I had some pains that I assumed were just gas from the spicy Italian sausage I used to make spaghetti with. I climbed into bed extra early (by 8 PM) and watched a little Grey's before falling asleep.  Ever since they took Friends off of Netflix, Grey's has become my new bedtime show. That night I dreamed I was in the hospital with the Grey's characters. Premonition???

Maybe I should go to the ER?

I woke up with a stomach-ache right in the middle of my belly, near my belly-button. It wasn't terrible, but uncomfortable enough that I had to literally hold my stomach as I walked to sit down in my chair in the living room. Despite having a tray of cupcakes sitting on the counter, my appetite was zero. My stomach began to feel better, but still felt off. The uncomfortableness was very mild, and had shifted to the right side of my stomach. "Oh crap, my appendix." was my thought. So, I did what any responsible sick person would do - hit up WebMD.

Symptoms of Appendicitis
Pain starting in belly-button area ✔
Pain in right side of stomach ✔
Mild fever ✔
Loss of appetite ✔

I figured if I thought it was appendicitis, it wouldn't actually end up being appendicitis. But just in case, I did the dishes, took out my jewelry, made sure my water pitcher was full and bed was ready to be crawled into, and packed a small hospital bag just in case. We had a faculty Zoom at 12:30, so I figured if I still felt bad after that, I would make an appointment with the On-Site Clinic.

After our Zoom I still had a 99.7 fever, so I made a teledoc appointment. I knew if it was appendicitis there was nothing they could do for me, but I'd rather have some sort of free confirmation that I should go to the ER rather than just show up there and pay a bunch of money to be told I was fine.

Sure enough, after explaining my symptoms to the doctor he told me there was nothing he could do and that I needed to go to the ER for a CT. Cue the first round of tears. I knew it was a possibility, but this started to make it real. He asked if he needed to schedule ambulance transportation for me, and with dollar signs flashing in front of my bulging eyes, I told him I could get myself there. I hung up, closed my windows and blinds, grabbed my hospital bag, and headed out the door. (Luckily I had googled where the ER was two weeks prior because I realized it should be something that I was familiar with just in case of an emergency. Another premonition??)

Then, the real adventure began.

In order to enter the ER, there was someone at the front door taking temperatures. They screened you for COVID symptoms, and did not allow children in as visitors.

I signed in and was wheeled off to an ER room where two lovely nurses named Hannah and Olivia came in to draw blood for some tests. What should have been a five minute blood test took an hour. I got in there at 3:45 and they finished drawing blood somewhere around 5 PM. Not because they needed a lot, just because my veins were not cooperating. I was very dehydrated (I hadn't eaten or drank anything minus a sip of Gatorade and piece of toast that morning) and every time they got a needle in, my vein would collapse. Also, my heart rate sky-rocked to 140+ every time they tried to stick me, sending the heart monitor into a beeping frenzy. I DO NOT DO NEEDLES, Y'ALL. Though the nurses did promise me that they would find me at the next Jazz and buy me a drink and I am holding them to that!

I had seven pieces of gauze taped up and down my arms when the nurses decided to go get Todd, the master blood retriever and IV putter-inner.  Sure enough, he got it in one go! (Next time I am asking for Todd straight away). After the blood was drawn, they immediately hooked me up to three bags of fluids via IV and told me they would need to get a urine sample once I had some fluids in me. 

At around 6, I text my friend to let her know I was in the ER waiting on a blood test. I figured someone should know where I was, but I didn't want to tell my parents yet in case it was nothing. At this point they wheeled me in my ER bed down the hallway to get a CT. I remember thinking, "Wow, this feels really over-dramatic...don't they know I can walk??"

This was my first CT scan also. It felt really weird to have the glowy fluid (not the technical term!) float down through my body so they could see my organs. It was quick and painless and I was wheeled back to my ER room in no time.

Eventually I had to get them a urine sample, but due to COVID procedures, I couldn't go to the bathroom. They had portable potties in each room! You had to pee in a bowl in a little contraption thingy! I was amused.

At 7, a lady came into the room to let me know that my appendix was inflamed and she would go call the surgeon. Cue tears, round two. You know why I don't do needles? Because I don't do pain. I mean I know that nobody likes pain, but knowing pain is coming TERRIFIES me. (I just googled the term, Algophobia - fear of pain. It took me two hours to get my ears pieced when I was nine because I was so scared).

At this point I called home. Dad answered the phone with, "Now what?" (Because they are use to getting phone calls for bizarre reasons from me). I spoke with my parents and they asked if I wanted them to come down, and through another round of tears I said I would be fine, I had plenty of people to take care of me if I needed it. I knew my fear was irrational and that I would be fine. Grey's, which like WebMD is what I base my medical knowledge off of, has taught me that appies are quick, easy procedures!

Then I called Angel to fill her in again, and she asked (read: told) me I could stay with them until I was healed up. I said I would think about it and let her know. Mom called me and told me I had to. (This is one of those times when I admit that mom was right).

To the hospital!

A little after 9 I was wheeled out of the ER room in my bed up to a hospital room where I transferred beds. I was really surprised to find that I was sharing a room with another girl. I thought they would keep people more segregated during COVID, and the hospital seemed to be pretty dead. I still had no idea when surgery was going to take place and was very anxious about it all. (Knowing the procedure was so easy an intern could do it was not reassuring enough for me. I knew the anxiety would not go away until the whole thing was over). Another nurse, Heather, eventually came in to get my information and said that my surgery would probably take place in the morning and that since there were no elective surgeries scheduled they should be able to squeeze me in early.

To no ones surprise, I slept like crap. Partially because 4 AM was a normal quarantine bed time for me. Partially because I was anxious. Partially because the girl in the room with me blasted Facetime at 1 AM and I forgot to pack my headphones. Also with all the IV fluids they were still putting in me, I was dragging the IV rack thingy to the bathroom every hour, on the hour. I would tell you how many times I got up to pee, but in the words of one Cady Heron:

Upvote "The Limit Does Not Exist" from Mean Girls for that THICCCC ...

I was kept company through the night by a mix of Mayday Parade and Lady A's newest album. I think I could have had visitor's and many friends offered (Thank you!!) but honestly it never crossed my mind. I appreciated the offers but I think I would have felt like I had to entertain and how the heck do you do that in a hospital?? 

The next day...

By 5 AM when the nurse came in I was about ready to lose my mind. I had been in bed for nearly 13 hours and I didn't even have a book. She said the surgeon was an early bird and was always in the hospital by 6:30 AM on weekdays, usually not much later on weekends. When they switched nurses a couple hours later, she said the same. My Saturday nurse was amazing. Her name was Sheldon and if I could pick her as my nurse for the rest of my life, I would.

Finally, a little after ten, Sheldon told me that the nurses from surgery were going to come get me, I told her I would believe it when I see it. After 18 hours in bed, I didn't think I would ever get to leave it. Sure enough, not fifteen minutes later they showed up and told me they were taking me to the recovery room to get me ready, at which point I started to cry again. They re-assured me that everything was going to be fine. I re-assured them that I knew everything was going to be fine but my body was going to cry anyway and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The whole way down the hallway the nurses told me good luck, it will be over before you know it, etc. (Note: I am VERY chatty when I get anxious like this. Everyone who knew of my existence in this hospital knew I was terrified and was going to cry about it. They also knew that I couldn't wait to eat tacos again.).

Once downstairs, the nurses explained to me what was going to happen. I asked a lot of questions and made sure they would not put a catheter in me and that going to the bathroom wouldn't hurt afterwards. I said I needed to use the bathroom right before surgery because I had to go every hour and they told me I would have to use a bedpan afterwards because I wouldn't be allowed to get up and walk to the bathroom due to anesthesia (which I didn't love the idea of, but I'm all for new experiences - I didn't end up having to though). They took my vitals again and hooked me up to the heart monitor, which once again I kept setting off. Because I was so anxious, my heart rate was constantly up. I truly don't think it dropped below 100 BPM the whole time I was in the ER/hospital until after surgery, which was only causing me more anxiety.

I made friends with the nurses in the recovery area too. They gave me some new places to explore around Tennessee and showed me pictures of some cool hiking places. We talked about everything from tacos to my stance on marriage. They promised me that when I woke up they would be there and do a little dance for me as I woke up. I promised them that I would never be returning to the hospital for surgery again and especially would not be having children because nothing about this process was something I wanted to repeat.

Eventually the surgeon came and introduced himself as Dr. Pischl. The nurses told me he was the head surgeon so I was in very good hands, which might have been a lie, but it made me feel better. I introduced myself as, "Hi, I'm a big whiny baby, please don't be offended when I cry because I will." He laughed but was very calm and soft-spoken so my fears were immediately eased. I asked him a lot of questions too, and he explained how the whole surgery would work.

Surgery time!

Apparently the surgery before mine didn't go well (not the surgeon's fault, just the injury, so that was why it had taken so long to get to mine). They told me I would be in and out in a half hour. I remember them adding something to my IV that made me a little sleepy before they transported me to the OR. Once we got in there, they shifted me to the operating table then explained what was going to happen next as I asked more questions. I made the anesthesiologist promise me that I wouldn't wake up in the middle of it. Then they told me they were going to give me some oxygen and put a mask on me, and I was out.

Next thing I remember is waking up to the nurses talking to me, and asked if they used "wingardium leviosa" to get me back into my hospital bed from the operating table. (Seriously, how did they do that?) Then I told them I needed to go back to sleep for a bit.

Wingardium Leviosa - Harry Potter REMIX by Anthony Ranuzzi on ...

Eventually I woke up for good and they wheeled me back up to my hospital room where I waited for my nurse. There was food waiting for me but I was still sleepy and definitely not hungry. 


When my nurse came in I told her I really needed to use the bathroom because it had been a couple hours and I could not wait! My roommate was in our bathroom and she took forever so the nurse set up the portable potty for me. She asked if I wanted her to go so I could have privacy, but I told her she was a nurse I couldn't care less. She asked if I had kids and was surprised when I told her no, because apparently only people with kids are comfortable enough to do that. I just assumed anyone who went out with their girlfriends in college would be comfortable enough to do that.

I tried to sleep, but mostly texted everyone to update. I felt like there was a giant balloon inside of me. They told me the gas pains would be the worst, but I was not prepared for what came. It was not gas like you think of gas pains. It was like someone literally blew my whole torso up with air and I had to wait for it to leak out. My stomach was so bloated I probably looked twelve months pregnant. Every time I got up to use the bathroom my chest and shoulders hurt just from the air being in them. Five days later and I probably only look 3 months pregnant now. Get this air out!!!

Eventually another nurse checked in and brought me a new sandwich, jello, and another Sprite since the lunch that had been brought was cold. By the time I finished the sandwich, they brought dinner too. A chicken leg and thigh, mac and cheese, fried ocra, and a bun with sweet tea. I had slowly eaten the sandwich, but was ready to inhale the hot food. I took a few bites of each because I didn't want to overdo it, but by this point the only thing I had eaten in nearly 36 hours was a piece of toast and that sandwich. I pulled up a video of a laparoscopic appendectomy so I could see the procedure - it was pretty cool and seriously fascinating how they can do all that through three little incisions. 

Sheldon told me I could be discharged whenever, that she worked until 7 and there was no rush, so I decided to stay until seven. Quite frankly, I didn't feel like changing from the hospital gown to real clothes and I was exhausted. She did come give me my discharge information though, because I had a lot of questions about when I would be able to function normally again. 

At 7, Angel and her family picked me up and took me back to their house for recovery. Sheldon wheeled me downstairs to pick up and I told her that although it was not ideal circumstances and I hoped to never return, I had a great experience with the hospital and if there was a rating system for my nurses I would give them all full stars.

Though beforehand I would have been perfectly happy to be delivered home on my own, I'm glad I had people around during my first few days of recovery. I have a long history of overdoing it after injuries, etc. and I'm sure this would have been no different. As I sit here in my bed working on this post 5 days later, I am happy to be home, but not having conversation around me sucks when I'm still so limited in what I can do. Watching Netflix and reading is a lot less fun when it is literally my only option! Though going to the hospital during a pandemic was not ideal, it is really helpful to recovery that I literally cannot go anywhere!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

#gretchensbooks2020 - April

This month started low on audiobooks since I NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE. Usually I listened to them in my car, or in the morning when I'm at school and getting set up for the day. I tried to play an audiobook when I went for a run or roller blading, but I couldn't focus on it and found I prefer music. Its easier to listen to when I walk though, or when I lay in the hammock.

42. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson (3/5 ★)

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.

I read “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” for a literature class in college once upon a time, and I liked it well enough to want to read more of the Millennium books and this one was cheap at McKays. I don’t know. I wanted to like this more than I did. I had a hard time staying focused on it for the first half, but I did get more into it in the second half.

43. The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood  (4.5/5★)

Emily Warren Roebling refuses to live conventionally―she knows who she is and what she wants, and she's determined to make change. But then her husband Wash asks the unthinkable: give up her dreams to make his possible. 
Emily's fight for women's suffrage is put on hold, and her life transformed when Wash, the Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, is injured on the job. Untrained for the task, but under his guidance, she assumes his role, despite stern resistance and overwhelming obstacles. Lines blur as Wash's vision becomes her own, and when he is unable to return to the job, Emily is consumed by it. But as the project takes shape under Emily's direction, she wonders whose legacy she is building―hers, or her husband's. As the monument rises, Emily's marriage, principles, and identity threaten to collapse. When the bridge finally stands finished, will she recognize the woman who built it? 
Based on the true story of the Brooklyn Bridge, The Engineer's Wife delivers an emotional portrait of a woman transformed by a project of unfathomable scale, which takes her into the bowels of the East River, suffragette riots, the halls of Manhattan's elite, and the heady, freewheeling temptations of P.T. Barnum. It's the story of a husband and wife determined to build something that lasts―even at the risk of losing each other.
I received an ARC of this book about a week before it’s official publishing date of April 7. I was a little unsure if I would like this one, but once I got into it I couldn’t put it down! 

I really had no idea about the history of the Brooklyn Bridge, though I’ve always had questions about bridge building in general. I loved how this book included not only Emily’s role in the construction of the bridge, but also pulled in the other battles women were fighting during this time. 

The book ended with a note from the author detailing which parts were fictional and sharing how the timeline had been adjusted. 

44. Cloud Warriors by Rob Jung ( 3.5/5 ★)

The discovery of the century... Anthropology professor Terry Castro, leading a summer-school program in the Peruvian rain forest, stumbles upon the remnant of a nation of tall, white-skinned warriors from the time of the Incan empire. But, when a simple accident leaves Castro poisoned, a series of events are set in motion that threaten his life, and the extinction of the tribe. With the help of a young medium, Carrie Waters, Castro tries to find a remedy and discovers the poison also has the capability of tripling life expectancy. Waters confides in her uncle, Vikter Glass, a pharmaceutical company executive, in the hope that the company can manufacture an antidote. Her innocent attempt to save the man she loves triggers a race to locate the lost tribe and its fountain-of-youth elixir. Scientific advancement collides with corporate greed as competing forces converge on the tribe. The ensuing battle leaves the survivors asking: might extending human life expectancy destroy society as we know it?

When I was visiting home last winter, mom and I paid our local bookstore a visit when the author of this book was there to speak. Just in reading the description, this is NOT a book I would normally pick up had I not met the author, which is probably why I put off reading it for so long. However, the bibliophile that I am, I couldn’t pass up getting an autographed copy, especially when it meant supporting my local book store. 

This book held my interest significantly more than I expected it to. It’s part suspense, part romance, part sci-fi-ish. 

There was one scene however that made me terribly uncomfortable. I literally shot up in bed reading it, thinking I must have misread. Nope. It really was that incredibly inappropriate. If you read it, I’m sure you’ll know which seen I’m talking about. It was bothersome enough that it took this rating down half a star.

I liked the way that it ended, but it was more abrupt that I hoped for; I wish they had given a little more.

45. Jay’s Journal by Anonymous (2.5/5★) 

Jay was a sweet, bright high school student who cared about his grades and his friends. He had ambitions. He was happy. And he thought he could handle anything.   
He was wrong.   
When Jay falls in with a crowd that's dabbling in drugs and the occult, he finds himself in over his head and doing things he never thought possible. Fascinated by the dark arts and in love with a dangerous girl, Jay falls deeper and deeper into a life he no longer recognizes...and sees no way out.
This is the second book edited by Beatrice Sparks, following “Go Ask Alice.” I read “Go Ask Alice,” in the car somewhere between Albuquerque and Amarillo on our SGD spring break road trip five years ago and loved it. Like “Go Ask Alice,” “Jay’s Journal,” was prepared in the 70s from a boy’s journal, letters, etc. and is supposedly more or less a true story. (There is a big debacle about that, but in my opinion, whether it’s true or not does not take away from the story).

I originally wanted to read GAA because it was a similar story to what Ellen Hopkins would write, and she is one of my all-time favorite authors. I’d put the rest of the Beatrice Sparks books on my to read list, but wanted to wait until I could score them for cheap at McKays - which I finally did.

I didn’t like “Jay’s Journal” as much as I expected to. It really wasn’t as engaging as I anticipated it to be, and I didn’t feel the emotions I usually do when reading books like this.

46. Not With the Band by Kelli Warner (4/5★)

Drama. Jerks. Another new school.

Kassidy Perry vows to avoid those three things during her senior year of high school. Unfortunately, it looks like the Universe didn’t get the memo. When her mom marries the football coach from a rival high school, Kassidy’s forced to move (again), enroll in a new school (again) and adapt to life with three stepbrothers, including the school’s star quarterback who’s barely said two words to her. And what’s up with her incredibly hot-yet-cocky neighbor who’s developed a weird habit of climbing the trellis to her bedroom’s balcony? Nothing about her senior year is turning out the way Kassidy planned—and that’s before a revealed family secret drops the biggest bombshell yet.

Jordan Lawson couldn't care less about football, even though he’s starting his senior year on the radar of college recruiters. He just wants to play music with his band, win a national contest with a record label and pursue his dream of being a musician. When those plans are threatened, his saving grace lies in the hands of his new stepsister. But how can he ask Kassidy for a monumental favor, when he’s partly to blame for derailing her life? And what if getting what he wants puts her dreams in jeopardy? 

In her debut YA novel, Kelli Warner weaves a humorous and relatable story about finding your way in a world you can’t control—and what happens when the people you least expect turn out to be the ones you need the most.

I saw someone describe this as “the perfect palette cleanser book,” and I completely agree. It was fun and light, not too serious, but I ate up every page of it. 

I received an autographed copy when it was published, but hadn’t picked it up to read until now. Chick lit is definitely my guilty pleasure kinda read, and this book was no different. I started it briefly yesterday afternoon, but then flew through the rest tonight. It hit on everything- romance, sports, family drama, music, you name it, but it was well-done and not overwhelming. I really liked the duo-perspectives that the story was told in.

Fun and upbeat, this is definitely a book that I would recommend if you’re into this genre!

47. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz (3.5/5★)
A genius hacker who has always been an outsider. A journalist with a penchant for danger. She is Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. He is Mikael Blomkvist, crusading editor ofMillennium. One night, Blomkvist receives a call from a source who claims to have been given information vital to the United States by a young female hacker. Blomkvist, always on the lookout for a story, reaches out to Salander for help. She, as usual, has plans of her own. Together they are drawn into a ruthless underworld of spies, cybercriminals, and government operatives—some willing to kill to protect their secrets.

This is the fourth book in the Millenium (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) series. I skipped the third one because I don’t have it, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I liked this one better than the last! The story was easier to follow, and I was definitely more engaged in it they book 2. Though not as suspenseful as I like, I did enjoy this book, and it has renewed my desire to continue the series (and probably go back to read book 3).

48.  A Killer’s Mind,” by Mike Omer (4/5★)

Three Chicago women have been found strangled, embalmed, and posed as if still alive. Doubting the findings of the local PD’s profiler, The FBI calls on forensic psychologist Zoe Bentley to investigate.
Zoe quickly gets off on the wrong foot with her new partner, Special Agent Tatum Gray. Zoe’s a hunter, intense and focused; Tatum’s a smug maverick with little respect for the rules. Together, they must descend into a serial killer’s psyche and untangle his twisted fantasies, or more women will die. But when the contents of three inconspicuous envelopes reveal a chilling connection to gruesome murders from Zoe’s childhood, suddenly the hunter becomes the hunted.
A friend recommended this thriller to me last summer, but they didn’t have it free on the Libby app and I refuse to pay for Kindle books. However, for some reason Goodreads have me two free months of Kindle Unlimited, and this was one of the books available. Bonus was that it came with the free Audible version as well!

I was so engaged the whole way through, and had a hard time turning it off. Then, the ending made my eyes get all big and I couldn’t believe they would end a book that way, but I see this was the first in the series, so now I have to see if I can get the next book!

49. Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts of Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle (4.5/5★)

Glennon Doyle’s hilarious and poignant reflections on our universal (yet often secret) experiences have inspired a social movement by reminding women that they’re not alone. In Carry On, Warrior, she shares her personal story in moving, refreshing, and laugh-out-loud new essays and some of the best-loved material from Momastery. Her writing invites us to believe in ourselves, to be brave and kind, to let go of the idea of perfection, and to stop making motherhood, marriage, and friendship harder by pretending they’re not hard. In this one woman’s attempt to love herself and others, readers will find a wise and witty friend who shows that we can build better lives in our hearts, homes, and communities.

This is the first of Glennon’s three memoirs, and the only one I had yet to read. The other two were five-star reads for me, so I figured I ought to go back and read this one.

No surprise, I loved it as much as the others. Somehow, reading Glennon’s words ALWAYS teaches me something about myself. I was listening to this one as I was washing dishes and literally stopped in my tracks and said aloud, “Oh! That’s why I felt that way! It makes so much sense now!” She didn’t tell me I felt a certain way for a certain reason, but hearing of her experiences made something just click with mine. 

I found a lot of beauty in reading the first memoir last because it showed me how you can think you’re living the life you’re suppose to live, you can believe it with all your heart, but that doesn’t make it true. I know how Glennon’s life turns out in the years to follow, and though the Glennon in this book would have never predicted what would happened, it turned out better than she could have ever hoped and I relate to that so hard!!

If you haven’t read any of Glennon’s work, I highly recommend everything!!!

50.  Unqualified by Anna Faris (3/5★)

Anna Faris has advice for you. And it's great advice, because she's been through it all, and she wants to tell you what she's learned. 

After surviving an awkward childhood (when she bribed the fastest boy in the third grade with ice cream), navigating dating and marriage in Hollywood, and building a podcast around romantic advice, Anna has plenty of lessons to share: Advocate for yourself. Know that there are wonderful people out there and that a great relationship is possible. And, finally, don't date magicians.

Her comic memoir, Unqualified, shares Anna's candid, sympathetic, and entertaining stories of love lost and won. Part memoir—including stories about being “the short girl” in elementary school, finding and keeping female friends, and dealing with the pressures of the entertainment industry and parenthood—part humorous, unflinching advice from her hit podcast, Anna Faris Is Unqualified, the book will reveal Anna's unique take on how to master the bizarre, chaotic, and ultimately rewarding world of love.

Hilarious, honest, and useful, Unqualified is the book Anna's fans have been waiting for.

Whoa, we’re halfway there! Halfway to my goal of 100 books by the end of the year. According to Goodreads, I’m 20 books ahead of schedule. Sounds like me 🤷🏼‍♀️

I really like Anna Faris. I don’t know why, I just do. And even more so now, I think. Maybe it’s because she’s the lead in one of my favorite movies. Or maybe because now after listening to this, I feel I relate to her.

She started by sharing her love for learning about other people’s lives, something I love as well. And not in a nosey way, but in an I-love-to-learn-about-others way. She she shared the importance of having girlfriends and that your S.O. should NOT be your best friend, an unpopular opinion that I have whole-heartedly believed for as long as I can remember.

It wasn’t the most entertaining of memoirs that I’ve read/listened to, but I did enjoy her as the audiobook performer.

51. Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World’s Last Custody Trial by Michelle McDonald (1/5★)

On April 19, 2013, two of the Rucki children ran away from home in the middle of a custody battle which would soon make international headlines. For two years the media all but ignored the story even as the two missing girls’ faces quietly made their way on the backs of milk cartons. Then, exactly two years later everything changed and the Rucki divorce became a tabloid story covered breathlessly by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a segment on ABC’s 20/20. While the media focused on the salacious aspects of the case, they all but ignored the corruption and abuse. Now comes the inside story and the real story; it’s a story of domestic abuse, court cover up, and a compliant media covering up for everyone. A lawyer is forced to represent her client while “under arrest”, a flight attendant and mother of five with no criminal record is forced to share a cell with a convicted murderer just off death row, and a violent and dangerous man is never held accountable and now has total control over his five children

After reading “The Girl’s Are Gone,” and finding the erratic defense lawyer had written a book about the trials, etc., I had to read it. Luckily, it was free with Kindle Unlimited. 

Full disclaimer, I went into reading this with the bias that the author is nutso. I say this because I see this book as a work of fiction, or as manipulative writing, and not simply “the other side of the story.” So it got one star because I was engaged enough to know what she would come up with next, but not more that one because it was crap.

This was definitely written in an attempt to claim innocence for Sandra and discredit everything anyone who was against her said. 

The author spewed on about all these things that “happened,” despite the fact that these claims had already been proven incorrect in court, or by conveniently leaving out the things she/her client did that let to the results she didn’t like. My favorite part was when she essentially said, “I know you have it all on video but it didn’t happen and even if it did, it doesn’t matter.” 

Besides all that, it was very poorly written, and had a lot of editing errors. The book followed a chronological order, but it still seemed very all over the place - every paragraph feeling like it was trying, but failing, to justify something. 

The author came across as very unprofessional and disorganized. As a lawyer, I would have thought her arguments would have been a little more convincing, and sound less like a child trying to stay out of trouble by placing the blame on everyone else.

I would be very curious to hear how someone felt about this book having read it with no prior knowledge of the case.

52. In the Beginning by Gary Ponzo (3/5★)

THIS IS A SHORT STORY: FBI Agent Nick Bracco spent his teenage years being raised by his aunt and uncle. This is where Nick and his cousin Tommy developed their close relationship. Readers have often asked- How did Nick's parents die? How did he get into law enforcement while his Tommy was getting established with the mob? All these questions are answered in this tense drama which relives the most traumatic event in Nick's life. Fans of the Nick Bracco series and newcomers alike will enjoy this return to Nick's teenage years where one fateful night changed his life forever. The drama begins on page one and doesn't stop until The End. This short story will get you excited about discovering the Nick Bracco series all over again.

This was a short story that precedes an ebook series that I love. When I say short, I mean short, like so short I don’t know if I can even count it as a book.

It was interesting to see where the characters came from, but I feel like it could have been put into one of the full length novels, maybe thrown the chapters in sporadically as flashbacks.

The series is the Nick Bracco series by Gary Ponzo. I’m pretty sure they’re all free with kindle unlimited. I read the first four when I was in Costa Rica five years ago. The fifth book didn’t come out until 2017 and I only read it last summer, and I have the sixth book downloaded to read next. 

I highly recommend you read the series, and if I were to do it over I would have read this short story after reading the first book in the series!

53. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover (4/5🟊)

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.
Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.
With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.
While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.
This one was a little different than Hoover’s typically stories. It included the romance, but I felt like the heartbreak was more severe, and of a different kind. This might be one of my favorites of hers. It hit a lot on the importance of being honest (which I’m great at) and open (which I’m not so great at) with your loved ones. The only thing I didn’t like was the performer’s take on the male voices...they were awful!!

54. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (3/5★)

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored. 

We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with. 
We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive. 
Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.
I had seen good reviews on this one, but I had a hard time getting into it at first. I listened to the majority of the first third on a walk, so perhaps I was distracted. The second third I was a little more intrigued, wondering how it would end, but by the last third I was absolutely intrigued. I predicted most of the ending, and it wasn’t my favorite of thrillers, but it was still pretty good!

55. Camino Winds by John Grisham (4.5/5★)

Just as Bruce Cable’s Bay Books is preparing for the return of bestselling author Mercer Mann, Hurricane Leo veers from its predicted course and heads straight for the island. Florida’s governor orders a mandatory evacuation, and most residents board up their houses and flee to the mainland, but Bruce decides to stay and ride out the storm. 
The hurricane is devastating: homes and condos are leveled, hotels and storefronts ruined, streets flooded, and a dozen people lose their lives. One of the apparent victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce’s and an author of thrillers. But the nature of Nelson’s injuries suggests that the storm wasn’t the cause of his death: He has suffered several suspicious blows to the head. 
Who would want Nelson dead? The local police are overwhelmed in the aftermath of the storm and ill equipped to handle the case. Bruce begins to wonder if the shady characters in Nelson’s novels might be more real than fictional. And somewhere on Nelson’s computer is the manuscript of his new novel. Could the key to the case be right there—in black and white? As Bruce starts to investigate, what he discovers between the lines is more shocking than any of Nelson’s plot twists—and far more dangerous.  

This is Grisham’s newest release, published yesterday, and is more or less the sequel to “Camino Island.” Really, it just has the same characters. You don’t have to read CI in order to read this one, however this book contains a lot of spoilers if you haven’t.

While still a legal thriller, this one didn’t deal as much with the law as many of his stories do. Like it’s predecessor, the literary world plays a part in the storyline, mixed in with murder and financial scamming.

It was a little slow for me in parts, but overall I enjoyed it!

*This post contains affiliate links, which means when you purchase something through that link, you're helping support this blog at no additional cost to you!*

(Summaries are from Amazon, but all reviews are my own!)

Reading Challenge: 55/100 books read in 2020

You can find previous book reviews here!