Friday, April 1, 2022

#gretchensbooks2022 - March


The number of books I’ve physically read this month is so depressing. There just has been so little time to actually sit down and read. I have officially begun counting down the days until summer where I can plop my tush at the pool with a book. I would be happy even if Mother Nature just finally accepted it was spring and I could put out my hammock and read there!


Book #33 of 2022: Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering (3.5/5

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 2 March 2021

Skye Starling is overjoyed when her boyfriend, Burke Michaels, proposes after a whirlwind courtship. Though Skye seems to have the world at her fingertips―she’s smart, beautiful, and from a well-off family―she’s also battled crippling OCD ever since her mother’s death when she was eleven, and her romantic relationships have suffered as a result.

But now Burke―handsome, older, and more emotionally mature than any man she’s met before―says he wants her. Forever. Except, Burke isn’t who he claims to be. And interspersed letters to his therapist reveal the truth: he’s happily married, and using Skye for his own, deceptive ends.

In a third perspective, set thirty years earlier, a scrappy seventeen-year-old named Heather is determined to end things with Burke, a local bad boy, and make a better life for herself in New York City. But can her adolescent love stay firmly in her past―or will he find his way into her future?

On a collision course she doesn’t see coming, Skye throws herself into wedding planning, as Burke’s scheme grows ever more twisted. But of course, even the best laid plans can go astray. And just when you think you know where this story is going, you’ll discover that there’s more than one way to spin the truth.

This was a bookstagram recommendation, and one I’m glad I took! 

I liked that the story was split into (mostly) two perspectives, with a third thrown in occasionally. The male performer voiced the male perspective in a very Joe-from-YOU voice. The multi-POV really contributed to the suspense because it makes you question what is truth and what is fiction.

The genre is marketed as thriller, but I feel like it was more of a drama. There was definitely suspense, but it wasn’t overly intense. There were some slow parts which is why I didn’t give this a higher rating. The plot was well-done, and it’s hard to say more without giving anything away. 


Book #34 of 2022: A Touch of Torment (Nick Bracco #7) by Gary Ponzo (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Crime Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: September 2020

The FBI and Mafia join forces against a Chechen mobster who crossed the wrong people.

When Mafia boss Sal Perrino is murdered by a Chechen mobster, it tears at the heart of two of his closest friends, FBI agent Nick Bracco, and his Mafia-connected cousin Tommy. Nick will use every unsavory tactic available to track down the killer, while Tommy’s cunning techniques force Nick to decide. Which side is he on? The FBI or the Mafia? Will Nick finally go rogue and murder the assassin? You will be tempted to go directly to the ending, but don’t. The ride is worth the wait.

I’ve been reading this series whenever I had a Kindle Unlimited subscription ever since 2013. If a new book was out when I renewed by subscription, it was an automatic download. I’m not really big into action novels, but this series has captivated me.

The action is high from the very start, with murders taking place in the first chapter until the very end. I love the constant stream of events, and the characters are so enjoyable that you can’t help but root for them. I feel like series of this sort can start to get repetitive after while, but this was the seventh book of the series and they just seem to be getting better. 


Book #35 of 2022: Undone (Will Trent #3) by Karin Slaughter (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Crime Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 14 July 2009

In the backwoods of suburban Atlanta, where Sara’s patient was found, local police have set up their investigation. But Georgia Bureau of Investigation detective Will Trent doesn’t wait for the go-ahead from his boss—he plunges through police lines, through the brooding woods, and single-handedly exposes a hidden house of horror buried beneath the earth. Then he finds another victim.… 

Wresting the case away from the local police chief, Will and his partner, Faith Mitchell—a woman keeping explosive secrets of her own—are called into a related investigation. Another woman—a smart, upscale, independent young mother—has been snatched. For the two cops out on the hunt, for the doctor trying to bring her patient back to life, the truth hits like a hammer: the killer’s torture chamber has been found, but the killer is still at work.

I had finished me previous audiobook at the beginning of a road trip, and while I had six more books sitting in my queue, none of them were what I wanted to listen to. I remembered liking this Karin Slaughter series, so I searched to see if there were more and found out there are like ten books in the series! I borrowed them all 😝

Will Trent is a very likeable character, so I was curious to see what his next adventure would be. I was so captivated this whole book - I just wanted to keep driving places so I had an excuse to listen to it! There was one bit that grossed me out because will slept with his wife despite her saying no and it was played off as just a weird dysfunctional relationship, but it was definitely still non-consensual sex. 

I’m very curious about the introduction of a new character and I hope she stays. The way the story ended left me even more intrigued about her and her story!


Book #36 of 2022: Broken (Will Trent #4) by Karin Slaughter (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Crime Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 22 June 2010

When Special Agent Will Trent arrives in Grant County, he finds a police department determined to protect its own and far too many unanswered questions about a prisoner’s death. He doesn’t understand why Officer Lena Adams is hiding secrets from him. He doesn’t understand her role in the death of Grant County’s popular police chief. He doesn’t understand why that man’s widow, Dr. Sara Linton, needs him now more than ever to help her crack this case. 

While the police force investigates the murder of a young woman pulled from a frigid lake, Trent investigates the police force, putting pressure on Adams just when she’s already about to crack. Caught between two complicated and determined women, trying to understand Linton’s passionate distrust of Adams, the facts surrounding Chief Tolliver’s death, and the complexities of this insular town, Trent will unleash a case filled with explosive secrets—and encounter a thin blue line that could be murderous if crossed.

Another great Will Trent novel! I love the characters in this series, and honestly I’m just as invested in their personal stories as I am the mystery the novel is focused around. I have a few other books in my queue but I just want to keep continuing this series! 

I don’t think it holds an overwhelming amount of suspense or anything, but the storyline is just so engaging. This one took place in a different area of Georgia than the previous books, and the characters are a part of a different series of Slaughter’s that I haven’t yet read but definitely will be after listening to this book.


Book #37 of 2022: The Pelican Brief by John Grisham (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Legal Thriller


To Darby Shaw it was no more than a legal shot in the dark, a brilliant guess. To the Washington establishment it was political dynamite. Suddenly Darby is witness to a murder—a murder intended for her. Going underground, she finds there is only one person she can trust—an ambitious reporter after a newsbreak hotter than Watergate—to help her piece together the deadly puzzle. Somewhere between the bayous of Louisiana and the White House's inner sanctums, a violent cover-up is being engineered. For someone has read Darby's brief. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the evidence of an unthinkable crime.

My third Grisham book of the year (and the first that was published AFTER I was born! 😜) Let me tell you, it has been hard to finish one and not immediately pick up the next. His writing is so good I have to force myself to read from my other pile of books, I just want to keep moving down my shelf of Grisham books!

This wasn’t my favorite of his books, but it was still enjoyable. I was so captivated by the end that the suspense was making me all twitchy. It’s like I can’t read fast enough to find out how it all ends and my body can’t sit still. One thing I didn’t like was that the main character wasn’t believable. I know she lived in a totally different (and also fictional) world that me, but I just couldn’t connect to her in any way and she objectified herself a weird amount.

I watched the movie afterwards, and of course it was nowhere near as good as the book!


Book #38 of 2022: Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie (2.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Historical Fiction

🗓PUBLISHED: 1 September 2020

Kyoto, Japan, 1948. “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.”

Such is eight-year-old Noriko “Nori” Kamiza’s first lesson. She will not question why her mother abandoned her with only these final words. She will not fight her confinement to the attic of her grandparents’ imperial estate. And she will not resist the scalding chemical baths she receives daily to lighten her skin.

The child of a married Japanese aristocrat and her African American GI lover, Nori is an outsider from birth. Her grandparents take her in, only to conceal her, fearful of a stain on the royal pedigree that they are desperate to uphold in a changing Japan. Obedient to a fault, Nori accepts her solitary life, despite her natural intellect and curiosity. But when chance brings her older half-brother, Akira, to the estate that is his inheritance and destiny, Nori finds in him an unlikely ally with whom she forms a powerful bond—a bond their formidable grandparents cannot allow and that will irrevocably change the lives they were always meant to lead. Because now that Nori has glimpsed a world in which perhaps there is a place for her after all, she is ready to fight to be a part of it—a battle that just might cost her everything.

I tried with this one, I really did, but I had to power through it. I loved that the book was split into multiple perspectives, and the premise was good. I’m so use to racism in America that it was interesting to hear about it in other cultures, and in a different time period. This book was either absolutely heart-wrenching, or incredibly dull. There was no in between. Some moments were so touching, and also so heat breaking. But reading between those moments was slow and molasses.


Book #39 of 2022: Fallen (Will Trent #5) by Karin Slaughter (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Crime Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 21 June 2011

There’s no police training stronger than a cop’s instinct. Faith Mitchell’s mother isn’t answering her phone. Her front door is open. There’s a bloodstain above the knob. Her infant daughter is hidden in a shed behind the house. All that the Georgia Bureau of Investigations taught Faith Mitchell goes out the window when she charges into her mother’s house, gun drawn. She sees a man dead in the laundry room. She sees a hostage situation in the bedroom. What she doesn’t see is her mother. . . .
“You know what we’re here for. Hand it over, and we’ll let her go.”
When the hostage situation turns deadly, Faith is left with too many questions, not enough answers. To find her mother, she’ll need the help of her partner, Will Trent, and they’ll both need the help of trauma doctor Sara Linton. But Faith isn’t just a cop anymore—she’s a witness. She’s also a suspect.
The thin blue line hides police corruption, bribery, even murder. Faith will have to go up against the people she respects the most in order to find her mother and bring the truth to light—or bury it forever. 

I didn’t like this one as much as the previous books. It wasn’t bad, I just wasn’t as engaged in the plot line as I have been. I hate Angie’s character, which I’m sure is the way the author intended, but she just makes me feel icky. That being said, I love the growth in the relationship of the other characters (I won’t say which because #spoiler!) 


Book #40 of 2022: Snatched (Will Trent #5.5) by Karin Slaughter (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Crime Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 14 May 2012

A gripping, action-packed short story from a master of character, crime, and urgent suspense. - - Will Trent, a dedicated agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for fifteen years, knows that there's definitely such a thing as a cop's intuition - - which is why he should have listened to his own. While in a restroom at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Will overhears a girl's pleading, plaintive voice: ''Please, I wanna go home.'' Something isn't right here, thinks Will. He feels it in his gut. But he waits too long to act, and now the girl and the anxious, angry man she's with have disappeared into the crowds at the busiest passenger airport in the world. - - After a desperate search, and with time running out, Will makes a call to his supervisor, Amanda Wagner. Will's partner, Faith Mitchell, immediately sends out an abducted child alert. The entire airport will soon be grinding to a halt - - almost 100 million passengers a year; five runways; seven concourses; 6 million square feet of space sprawled across two counties, three cities, and five jurisdictions. All this is shut down on a dime because Will has a hunch that he is certain is true: a girl, maybe six or seven years old, has been snatched. And he intends to bring her back - - no matter what it takes.

Oof. This was tummy-ache inducing from the very beginning. I mean no crime is pleasant, but trafficking is a special kind of disgusting, especially with children.

This was a between-the-novels book, really just a short story, but Slaughter packed in the action. The book was very main story focused, and didn’t expand the series’s main character stories at all (which was expected). I can’t say short and sweet, because other than the resolution it was anything but sweet, but it was good!


Book #41 of 2022: Criminal (Will Trent #6) by Karin Slaughter (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Crime Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 3 July 2012

Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Newly in love, he is beginning to put a difficult past behind him. Then a local college student goes missing, and Will is inexplicably kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot fathom Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. Decades before, when his father was imprisoned for murder, this was Will’s home. It appears that the case that launched Amanda’s career forty years ago has suddenly come back to life—and it involves the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. Now these two dauntless investigators will each need to face down demons from the past if they are to prevent an even greater terror from being unleashed.

This story started out much different than any of the others. It began with a girl who isn’t know in the series this far, and her story. I had to look at the description after a little bit because I was confused as to why Will Trent wasn’t mentioned.

Also this book jumped a lot between present tense with the Will Trent characters, and past with the history of a couple of them. I really struggled to get into this one. I liked the series because of Will, Sarah, Faith, etc. and this book had too much else going on for me to follow. Also, the pace was very slow.

It made sense why the story was the way once I got through it, but it just didn’t hold my interest the the previous books in the series have.

One thing I related to was one of my biggest fears was recognized- not being able to scream in an emergency. One of the characters said she had this fear and I was like YES. I have literal nightmares about it and I’ve never heard of anyone relating to that.

The story ended better than it began, and I was more interested in the second half (or maybe the last third), but it was my least favorite thus far.


Book #42 of 2022: Busted (Will Trent #6.5) by Karin Slaughter (2.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Crime Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 28 May 2013

Detective Will Trent is standing in a Georgia convenience store, waiting on an obstinate ICEE frozen-drink machine. To the surveillance cameras and bored staff of the Lil' Dixie Gas-n-Go, however, Will appears to besome one very different - the menacing ex-con Bill Black. Going undercover as Bill, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent is about to infiltrate the most corrupt town in the most corrupt county in the new American South. But first: his ICEE.

Everything changes in one horrific instant, as all hell breaks loose at the Lil' Dixie. A cop is shot. A bag of cash goes flying across the floor. A young woman disappears while a killer takes off in a battered pickup truck. Within seconds, Will is in pursuit.

I don’t really have a lot of thoughts of this one. It was bad by any means, but I was not engaged at all. It was a short story (a little over 2 hours on audio) so while I logically know it was a quick plot line, it felt like it was over before it began.


Book #43 of 2022: Unseen (Will Trent #7) by Karin Slaughter (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Crime Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 2 July 2013

Karin Slaughter’s novels featuring detective Will Trent are utterly riveting and masterfully drawn. Her latest thriller, Unseen, pits detectives, lovers, and enemies against one another in an unforgettable standoff between righteous courage and deepest evil.

I don’t have a lot of thoughts about this one. It kind of dragged on and on, but I’m not sure if that’s because the storyline did, or because I’ve listened to five books in this series this month. Probably a mix of both.


Book #44 of 2022: Run, Rose, Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 7 March 2022


💭 “One of these days she was going to tell him that a bullet wound and a Purple Heart didn’t make him hard as nails. They just made him like everyone else. Sometimes you could see the scars and sometimes you couldn’t. But everybody had them.”

💭 “[she] looked barely older than a teenager, but she sang as though she’d lived for ninety-nine years and seen tragedy in each one of them.”

Every song tells a story. 

She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her. 

She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past. 

Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny.  It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her.  And destroy her. 

I was SO very excited for this book to come out! A Patterson/Parton collab! Yay!

From the get-go I just really hated the names of the main characters in this book. Ruthanna and AnnieLee. I know they’re suppose to be southern names which match the setting of the story, but blegh. I hate when two names are smushed into one. Not too far into the book they were making fun of AnnieLee’s name, when they mentioned that they had CHANGED Ruthanna’s name. It was a stage name! Because her real name was too bad..but quite frankly Ruthanna isn’t any better!! I just have really strong opinions about these names…but I digress…

My voice-in-my-head got REAL twangy when I was reading this. I know my midwestern accent has shifted southern IRL, but it was 

I really loved the characters in this story. Other than the few suspenseful parts that would pop up, I kept forgetting this was marketed as a thriller. It just seemed like contemporary fiction for most of it. 


Book #45 of 2022: El Club de Los Gatitos de Karen (La Hermanaita de Las Niñeras #4) by Ann M. Martin/Katy Farina

📚GENRE: Middle Grade Fiction

🗓PUBLISHED: 1 February 2022

Hannie, la mejor amiga de Karen, tiene un adorable gatito. Su vecina Amanda también tiene un gato, y Karen tiene al viejo y gruñón Bubu. Ahora que todas tienen gatos, a Karen se le ocurre una idea genial: ¡quiere fundar el Club de los Gatitos!¿Qué harán en el club? Karen no puede hacer de niñera como Kristy, su hermana mayor... pero ¡puede cuidar gatitos! ¿Querrá alguien contratar a Karen y a sus amigas?

Karen's best friend Hannie just got an adorable new kitten. Their neighbor Amanda has a cat, too, and Karen has grumpy old Boo-Boo. Now that they all have cats, Karen comes up with a great idea. She wants to start a Kittycat Club!What will the club do? Karen can't baby-sit like her big sister Kristy... but she can cat-sit! Will anyone want to hire Karen and her friends?

My Spanish book of the month from one of my favorite childhood series! (linked above in English)


Book #46 of 2022: Sorority Sister (Nightmare Hall #10) by Diane Hoh (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 1 April 1994

Someone is out to destroy the most popular sorority on campus
Joining Omega Phi Delta is the best thing that’s ever happened to Maxie. Since she pledged with Salem University’s coolest sorority, she’s never had trouble finding a party to go to or a boy to date. Her new life is perfect—until death strikes Omega House. The terror starts when Maxie’s sorority sister Erica’s jewelry box goes missing, with all of her valuables, including her grandmother’s priceless ring, inside. Erica is tearing her room apart when she gets a package: the box, with all the jewelry safe inside. Erica wants to forget the strange incident, but the strange pranks escalate and Maxie sees them as a warning. Some unknown lunatic wants her sisters’ blood, and only Maxie can save them. A year ago, she would have done anything to become an Omega girl. Now she may die for it. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Diane Hoh including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

Another book from my favorite 80s/90s series! Again, not super suspenseful, but fun little mysteries! I enjoyed this one and couldn’t remember who the “bad guy” was which is always a good thing!


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

Reading Challenge: 46/120 books read in 2022

You can find previous book reviews here and add me on Goodreads here!

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