Sunday, May 9, 2021

#gretchensbooks2021 - April



Uffda. April is over (and we're already a week into May 😅) and I feel like I didn't have time to read anything! Which I suppose is true considering these were almost all audiobook. Between work-school and grad school and squeezing in everything else, reading has definitely been on the back burner. Its tough because I love reading, and I have a giant list of books to get through, but there is so much other fun stuff I want to spend my free time doing! (Such problems I have, I know). Anyway, here are the handful of books I read listened to in April!


37. The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (3/5⭐️)

Berlin, 1939. Before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now the streets of Berlin are draped in ominous flags; her family’s fine possessions are hauled away; and they are no longer welcome in the places they once considered home. A glimmer of hope appears in the shape of the St. Louis, a transatlantic ocean liner promising Jews safe passage to Cuba. At first, the liner feels like a luxury, but as they travel, the circumstances of war change, and the ship that was to be their salvation seems likely to become their doom. 

New York, 2014. On her twelfth birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious package from an unknown relative in Cuba, her great-aunt Hannah. Its contents inspire Anna and her mother to travel to Havana to learn the truth about their family’s mysterious and tragic past. 

Weaving dual time frames, and based on a true story, The German Girl is a beautifully written and deeply poignant story about generations of exiles seeking a place to call home.

I’ve had this book on my list since it came out in 2016, and finally got around to borrowing the audiobook version of it. 

Overall, I liked the premise of it, and I always love a dual-perspective, especially one that goes between past and present. This story was unique in that in was both dual perspective with two characters, but also one of the characters had the past and present storyline. 

There were a lot of sad parts stemming from of course WWII, but also from 9/11. However, the story was overall a happy one. It wasn’t quite as deep as I had hoped for the story to be, so I was let down in that aspect. 


38. You Love Me (YOU #3) by Caroline Kepnes (3/5⭐️)

Joe Goldberg is done with the cities. He’s done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe. 

He gets a job at the local library—he does know a thing or two about books—and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old-fashioned way . . . by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town. 

The trouble is . . . Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s . . . busy. 

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.

Since listening to the first two books in the YOU series last year, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of book three! I got an email telling me I had two free Audible credits, and while I don’t usually use Audible, I knew I would be waiting forever for this from the library, so I claimed them and used one to “buy” this book!

I’m still in absolute awe at how perfectly the performer does Joe. I thought that after seeing Penn Badgley play him, no one else could live up to the expectations. I was wrong. 

This story was good, but the first two were better. Maybe the creep factor just wears off after awhile, and history repeats itself (though I did appreciate that there was a bit of a change here). If she releases more, I’ll definitely read them, but I won’t be mad if this is where it ends. I do hope they make a third season on Netflix though, I’d be curious to see whether they would keep the storyline or change it. 


39. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (4/5⭐️)

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can't just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

I LOVED “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas, so when I saw she was publishing a prequel, I knew I had to read it ASAP. 

It was a good book, but not AS incredible as her other two.  I think it was just because the plot line was much less intense than her previous books, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just wasn’t what I expected from her. I did like seeing how Maverick grew up, and how that all contributed to THUG. Now I just want to re-read THUG so I can look at the characters again now that I know their history. 

I hope to see more come out from Thomas in the future!


40. Hideaway by Nora Roberts (3/5⭐️)

Caitlyn Sullivan had come from a long line of Hollywood royalty, stretching back to her Irish immigrant great-grandfather. At nine, she was already a star—yet still an innocent child who loved to play hide and seek with her cousins at the family home in Big Sur. It was during one of those games that she disappeared.

Some may have considered her a pampered princess, but Cate was in fact a smart, scrappy fighter, and she managed to escape her abductors. Dillon Cooper was shocked to find the bloodied, exhausted girl huddled in his house—but when the teenager and his family heard her story they provided refuge, reuniting her with her loved ones.

Cate’s ordeal, though, was far from over. First came the discovery of a shocking betrayal that would send someone she’d trusted to prison. Then there were years spent away in western Ireland, peaceful and protected but with restlessness growing in her soul. 

Finally, she would return to Los Angeles, gathering the courage to act again and get past the trauma that had derailed her life. What she didn’t yet know was that two seeds had been planted that long-ago night—one of a great love, and one of a terrible vengeance…

Most of what I’ve read by Nora Roberts has been mildly fantasy-esque. In fact, this may be the first realistic fiction I have read of hers. It wasn’t bad, but also wasn’t what I expected when I see a book marked ‘thriller’ or ‘suspense.’ It was a nice story line, but very predictable. I think that Roberts is a great writer, but I will probably stick to her not-so-realistic fiction. 


41. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin (4/5⭐️)

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton.  

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was. 

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school. 

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving. 

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame. 

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning. 

Many of the Nashville women I connect with on Instagram read this book back when it came out, and while I put it on my reading list, I never actually got around to reading it. Well, a friend recently read it and told me it was set in Nashville, so of course I moved it to the top of my list!

I actually really enjoyed this one. I was nervous for a minute about halfway through that it was going to go in a direction that would make me want to DNF it, but thankfully it did not. I liked the multi-perspective, and thought it was a pretty realistic story.


42. Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier (3/5⭐️)

Angela was one of the most popular girls in her high school before she disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever knew what became of her―not Georgina, her best friend, nor Kaiser, who was close with both girls. Then, fourteen years later, Angela’s remains were discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home and Kaiser―who became a detective with the Seattle police department―finally learned the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. 

To the authorities, Calvin was a notorious serial killer. But back in the day, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met, right up until the night Angela was killed. Geo carried the secret of Calvin’s dark deeds until the evidence landed her in prison. But now, just as Geo is about to be released, new bodies start turning up―killed in the exact same manner as Angela. . . and soon Geo, Kaiser, and local law enforcement officials realize that what happened that fateful night is more complex and chilling than anyone could have imagined.

I’ve been waiting FOREVER for this book to be available on Libby. I really liked her novel “Little Secrets” when I read it last year, and this one came highly recommended.

At first I thought it was pretty tame, but the ending was a bit bizarre and quite dark. I enjoyed listening to it, and never wanted to stop because it kept me in such suspense. The story flowed nicely until the end, which was too rushed for my tastes.


43. The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (2.5/5⭐️)


As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. 

But Ani has a secret. 

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything. 

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears. 

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

This one was just okay for me. I don’t know. It didn’t turn out how I thought it would, which wasn’t a bad thing, but also wasn’t great. I didn’t find the main character very likeable, which may have been intentional by the author. I feel like it’s hard to enjoy a thriller if you don’t care for the main character. There was also no real depth to her, she was just kinda of a cruddy person with no real emotion. Honestly, the more I reflect back on his one, the less I like it.

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

Reading Challenge: 43/120 books read in 2021

You can find previous book reviews here!

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