Friday, May 6, 2022

#gretchensbooks2022 - April


April was a month of no motivation. Like, none. For anything. I did hardly any work at home (which is a good thing!), but also did very little reading. I didn't really watch TV either?? I have no idea what I did in April. I did finish the Will Trent series on audiobooks though I guess! 


Book #47 of 2022: Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 21 August 2018

Mother. Hero. Liar. Killer. How can you tell when all you have is...


What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ?

Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . . 

I’ve been on a Karin Slaughter kick lately, and when I saw this book had been made into a Netflix series I knew I had to read (listen to) it before I could watch the series.

The story was different than any Slaughter novel I’ve read this far. It took me a second to catch on to the multi-perspectives because you don’t know how the stories connect in the beginning which can sometimes make listening in audio hard. Though it was a little slow-paced, in the end I really enjoyed the story and was excited for the Netflix series.

I was NOT thrilled with the Netflix series. Perhaps if I’d watched it without reading I would have liked it, but it was so different than the book.


Book #48 of 2022: Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes by Karin Slaughter (2.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 4 June 2015

A beautiful young girl was walking down the street―when suddenly…

Julia Carroll knows that too many stories start that way. Beautiful, intelligent, a nineteen-year-old college freshman, she should be carefree. But instead she is frightened. Because girls are disappearing.

A fellow student, Beatrice Oliver, is missing. A homeless woman called Mona-No-Name is missing. Both taken off the street. Both gone without a trace.

Julia is determined to find out the reasons behind their disappearances. And she doesn't want to be next…

YOU CANT JUST END A STORY LIKE THAT. This was just a novella, but I need it to be more. Nothing really happened in the story, it was more of a build up until the very end when she just decided to END IT instead of writing a dull story. UGH. I wish this had been a prequel for a novel. 


Book #49 of 2022: The Kept Woman (Will Trent #8) by Karin Slaughter (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 20 September 2016

Husbands and wives. Mothers and daughters. The past and the future.

Secrets bind them. And secrets can destroy them.

With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.

Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn’t belong to the corpse. Bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished…and who will die soon if she isn’t found.

Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city’s most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete—a man who’s already gotten away with rape, despite Will’s exhaustive efforts to put him away.

But when evidence links Will’s troubled past to the case, the consequences will tear through his life, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends—and even the suspects he pursues.

I don’t have a lot to say about this book. I didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t super engaged in it either. It was a stepping by stone in the relationship between Will and Sara.

This was Angie’s book, and I kind of hate Angie, so that’s probably why I didn’t care much for it. That being said, the writing is good. It has to be for it to evoke so much negative energy from me towards Angie!


Book #50 of 2022: Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Historical Fiction

🗓PUBLISHED: 12 April 2022

July 3. 1932. Shivering and in shock, Evie Grace Devlin watches the Starlite Palace burn into the sea and wonders how she became a person who would cause a man to kill himself. She’d come to Galveston to escape a dark past in vaudeville and become a good person, a nurse. When that dream is cruelly thwarted, Evie is swept into the alien world of dance marathons. All that she has been denied―a family, a purpose, even love―waits for her there in the place she dreads most: the spotlight.

Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweeping novel that brings to spectacular life the enthralling worlds of both dance marathons and the family-run empire of vice that was Galveston in the Thirties. Unforgettable characters tell a story that is still deeply resonant today as America learns what Evie learns, that there truly isn’t anything this country can’t do when we do it together. That indomitable spirit powers a story that is a testament to the deep well of resilience in us all that allows us to not only survive the hardest of hard times, but to find joy, friends, and even family, in them.

If I were browsing the shelf at the bookstore, I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up. However, since I was sent an ARC I had to read it, and I’m glad I did!

I don’t typically venture out of my thriller/memoir comfort zone. I do enjoy some periods of historical fiction, but this era was new to me. It’s set in the time of the Great Depression, mainly in Galveston, but appearances were made in Houston and Chicago. 

It was long, and I wasn’t always thoroughly engaged, but overall I liked the story. I got pretty invested by the end and crossed my fingers for a happy ending!


Book #51 of 2022: The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter (2.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 20 August 2019

A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. The authorities are desperate to save the doctor who’s been vanished into thin air.

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhoods has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves.

This is my least favorite book in this series by far. It’s not written poorly, I just hate the relationships between the characters in this point in time. I hate the tension between Will and Sara. I just did not like this story. The whole thing gave me bad vibes. I think maybe since I’ve listened to this whole series in the last two months, I’m just way too invested in these characters. Maybe I forget that they’re fictional, idk. I just did not like this one. The mystery plot line was fine, the character development plot line was blegh.


Book #52 of 2022: The Silent Wife (Will Trent #10) by Karin Slaughter (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 4 August 2020

Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there—a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder.

Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

As Will Trent digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. But Will can’t crack either mystery without the help of the one person he doesn’t want involved: his girlfriend and Jeffrey Tolliver’s widow, medical examiner Sara Linton.

When the past and present begin to collide, Will realizes that everything he values is at stake .

This book threw me off at first, because I’d be listening to the perspective of one character, then the same events would happen again and I’d think maybe I accidentally skipped backwards?? But it turns out that Slaughter just re-wrote some of the events from a different characters perspective, and that was why things would happen multiple times.

I really liked how this story connect current events to past events, especially because it included Sara’s history and not just Will’s. It made me anxious to go back and listen to the series that Sara started in.


Book #53 of 2022: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 14 October 2014

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder. As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

My dad recommended this author to me because he is a MN author. I really enjoyed that the story was set in Austin, because it’s an area that I’m familiar with.

The performer for the audio was awesome as well. A performer can really make or break it for audiobooks, and he definitely made it! It felt like he was truly telling a story that was happening to him in real time.

I’m looking forward to reading the next books in both series that this book kicks off!


Book #54 of 2022: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Fiction

🗓PUBLISHED: 16 April 2019

How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

A friend recommended this one to me, and I’m glad she did! 

This was very well-written, mystery-esque, and emotionally charged. Minus some flashbacks to the past, most of the novel takes place over a few days. It’s very messy and very real. The characters, though fictional, come off as very human, rather than “made up” as book characters sometimes tend to come off. Fair warning, this is definitely a story that tugs at your heart!


Book #55 of 2022: The Client by John Grisham (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Legal Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: March 1993

Eleven-year-old Mark Sway and his younger brother were sharing a forbidden cigarette when a chance encounter with a suicidal lawyer left Mark knowing  a bloody and explosive secret: the whereabouts of  the most sought-after dead body in America.

Now Mark is caught between a legal system gone mad and a mob killer desperate to cover up his crime. And his only ally is a woman named Reggie Love, who has been a lawyer for all of four years. Prosecutors are  willing to break all the rules to make Mark talk. The  mob will stop at nothing to keep him quiet. And  Reggie will do anything to protect her client—even take a last, desperate gamble that could win  Mark his freedom... or cost them both their  lives.

This is my fourth Grisham re-read of the year, and probably my least favorite (which isn’t to say I didn’t like it!) I love the relationship that grows between Reggie and Mark! Also, Mark just cracks me up - the way he reacts to certain situations and his smart mouth were hysterical at times, despite his terrifying predicament. This story just doesn’t have as much law in it as I like. The story was still good though! And the movie is fabulous!


Book #56 of 2022: milk and honey by rupi kaur (4.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Poetry

🗓PUBLISHED: 4 November 2014


💭"i do not want to have you / to fill the empty parts of me / i want to be full on my own / i want to be so complete / I could light a whole city / and then / I want to have you / cause the two of us combined / could set it on fire"

💭"fall / in love / with your solitude"

The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

I love kaur’s poetry, I just love it. I’m not a big poetry reader, but she is one that I love to pick up. I love laying out in my hammock and reading her words slowly, letting them sink in. What I love about this book (and her other one) is that it is very distinctly set up in four very different sections. There is one that I most relate to in this season of my life, but another I absolutely could have related to before, and possibly could someday again. I love that I can read her words and just feel my feels.


Book #57 of 2022: Diario de Un Pug: El Pug Despega by Kyla May

📚GENRE: Children’s


Baron von Bubbles, aka "Bub," is the self-proclaimed cutest pug on the planet! Things he loves: fashion, peanut butter, and his human, Bella. Things he does NOT love: Nutz the squirrel, baths, and the rain. When Bella enters the Spirit of the Inventor Challenge, Bub helps her craft the best project ever. But what happens when Nutz gets on Bub's nerves and makes him ruin Bella's project? If Bub wants to make it up to his girl, he'll have to stand up to Nutz -- and the rain -- once and for all.

This was my Spanish language book for the month! It was about inventing and rockets (kind of) so it was fun to get some practice and exposure to new vocabulary that I can relate to! 

Linked above in English!


Book #58 of 2022: Damaged Intentions (Abby Mullen #2) by Mike Omer (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller/Police Procedural

🗓PUBLISHED: 22 March 2022

As a child, Abby Mullen escaped the insidious Wilcox cult when it literally went down in flames. Years later, she’s the NYPD’s best hostage negotiator and a mother. She thought the worst part of her life was behind her. Until now. Armed conspiracy theorists called the Watchers have attacked the local high school—and taken her daughter hostage.

With the delusional Watchers holding her child at gunpoint, the unflappable Abby might be at her breaking point. But the clock is ticking on her daughter’s life, and she has no choice but to negotiate with the paranoid group and discover their leader’s secret before it’s too late.

As Abby peels back the layers of mystery surrounding the Watchers, there’s always another puzzle underneath. And it seems to be leading back to the dark past she’s spent her whole life trying to forget.

A friend recommended a book by this author to me a couple years ago, and I’ve been reading everything he puts out ever since.

He writes a great police procedural story. This is the third series he has put out, and though this is only the second book in this particular series, there is a publishing date for the third installment already!

I love the main character Abby. Her history is unique, but she comes off as very real and human which I love. I had no idea which direction this story would take, considering the chaos that has been Abby’s life, and I was hooked the whole way through!

This book ended with Abby connecting to the main character from the first series I read by Omer, so now I’m super excited for the next book in this series!!!


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

Reading Challenge: 58/120 books read in 2022

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

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