Tuesday, May 31, 2022

#gretchensbooks2022 - May


May was a busy month! With all of the end-of-school-year tasks, I'm not surprised that my book load was mainly audio this month. That being said, they were some good audios! And I've almost finished listening to all of Karin Slaughter's books. Maybe next month I'll get through the rest! 


Book #59 of 2022: Blindsighted (Grant County #1) by Karin Slaughter (4/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Police Procedural

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 1 October 2022

A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it’s only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer’s twisted work becomes clear.

Sara’s ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, leads the investigation—a trail of terror that grows increasingly macabre when another local woman is found crucified a few days later. But he’s got more than a sadistic serial killer on his hands, because the county’s only female detective, Lena Adams—the first victim’s sister—wants to serve her own justice.

But it is Sara who holds the key to finding the killer. A secret from her past could unmask the brilliantly malevolent psychopath… or mean her death. 

Sara Linton, the main character of the Grant County series, began to make an appearance in the Will Trent series part way through, so I already had a pretty thorough history of Sara’s life. 

I liked that this gave me the full background of Sara and filled in any pieces that were missing. I think I had a completely different reading experience than someone who started with this series and NOT the Will Trent series would, so keep that in mind if you go on a Karin Slaughter binge like I have the last couple months. 

Based on the Will Trent series, I REALLY did not like Lena or Jeffrey, but this book gave me more of their background which made me dislike them less.


Book #60 of 2022: Kisscut (Grant County #2) by Karin Slaughter (4/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Police Procedural

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 30 September 2003

In this chilling follow-up to Blindsighted, Sara Linton, her ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, and detective Lena Adams are caught in an evil web involving a young girl who commits suicide by forcing a cop to shoot her. Shouldering the political aftermath, Jeffrey struggles to understand the victim’s desperation. So does Sara, the girl’s pediatrician and now her coroner, who soon discovers that the suicide was linked to a brutal crime—one far more terrifying than anyone could have imagined. Yet neither Jeffrey nor Sara know that their colleague, Lena, may unwittingly harbor the truth as she finds herself drawn to a young man who might hold the answers—and Lena’s future—in his hands.

Holy moley, this one had a lot going on! Kisscut covered some seriously dark subject matter, but it was very well done. The topics definitely made my stomach hurt. The drama and chaos in this story was top-notch. 


Book #61 of 2022: A Faint Cold Fear (Grant County #3) by Karin Slaughter (4/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Police Procedural

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 27 July 2004

Sara Linton, medical examiner in the small town of Heartsdale, GA, is called out to an apparent suicide on the local college campus. The mutilated body provides little in the way of clues—and the college authorities are eager to avoid a scandal—but for Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, things don’t add up.

Two more suspicious suicides follow, and a young woman is brutally attacked. For Sara, the violence strikes far too close to home. And as Jeffrey pursues the sadistic killer, he discovers that ex-police detective Lena Adams, now a security guard on campus, may be in possession of crucial information. But, bruised and angered by her expulsion from the force, Lena seems to be barely capable of protecting herself, let alone saving the next victim.

I’m so glad I decided to listen to this series, though the further I get into it, the more I wish I would have read it before the Will Trent series. I really hated Lena and Jeffrey in that series, but this one makes them so much more human to me. I can’t say that I LIKE them, but I understand them more.

There was a lot happening in this story, so much drama that I almost forgot what the actual mystery was (which I don’t mean in a bad way!) The mystery was good, but the drama between the characters made it better.


Book #62 of 2022: Every Summer After by Carley Fortune (5/5🌟)

πŸ“šGENRE: Contemporary Romance

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 10 May 2022

I had no idea how much I was going to love this story!

This book very much read like a Sarah Dessen novel, and had tears leaking from my eyes in the first ten pages. By the end I must have cried at least a dozen times. 

Maybe it’s because I’m in a place right now where I related to a lot of key things in this story? I don’t know. Grief, anxiety, heartbreak, love…this one pulled at my heart and ALL of my feelings.

I really just don’t have words to describe how much I LOVED this book. The perspective stayed with the main female character, but each chapter flipped back and forth between NOW and summers past, each flashback a summer closer to the present. 

I don’t read a ton of romance, so it has to be really good for me to read the whole thing, and this definitely exceeded expectations! 


Book #63 of 2022: Indelible (Grant County #3) by Karin Slaughter (4/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Police Procedural

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 27 September 2005

An officer is shot point blank in the police station lobby and sheriff Jeffrey Tolliver is wounded, setting off a terrifying hostage situation with medical examiner Sara Linton at the center. It’s up to Lena Adams and Frank Going back and forth between present and past,

The narrative takes place in two time frames: present and ten years prior to the shooting. The “present” narration evolves over one hour; the “past” takes place over the course of a week. Lena will primarily get the present narration, working outside the station with Frank trying to figure out who the shooter is and how to resolve the hostage situation. Inside the station, Jeffrey has not been fatally wounded, but Sara knows he could easily die if the bleeding is not stopped. He drifts in and out of consciousness and through Sara and Jeffrey we get the past, and the case that leads up to the present day shooting.

Another Grant County novel with A LOT going on. I still feel like I’m reading a prequel since I read the series that this series merged with before I began this one. I’m starting to wonder if that makes me like it more? I’ve always liked knowing people’s backstories- fictional characters are no different. This story gave me the background I’ve been waiting for in Sara Linton. 


Book #64 of 2022: The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley (3.5/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 22 February 2022

Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone's a neighbor. Everyone's a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.

I was really looking forward to this one coming out, because Foley writes such fun thrillers. I enjoyed this storyline, but the suspense wasn’t there for me as much as in her other books. That being said, there was a twist that I absolutely did not see coming! The story was quite melodramatic, and the characters all seemed to hold lots of secrets. It was entertaining enough, but lacked the mystery and clue-searching that Foley’s other novels encapsulate.


Book #65 of 2022: We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman (4.5/5

πŸ“šGENRE: YA Fiction

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 1 June 2021

Aaron Stein used to think books were miracles. But not anymore. Even though he spends his days working in his family's secondhand bookstore, the only book Aaron can bear to read is one about the demise of the dinosaurs. It's a predicament he understands all too well, now that his brother and mom are gone and his friends have deserted him, leaving Aaron and his shambolic father alone in a moldering bookstore in a crusty mountain town where no one seems to read anymore.

So when Aaron sees the opportunity to sell the store, he jumps at it, thinking this is the only way out. But he doesn't account for Chad, a "best life" bro with a wheelchair and way too much optimism, or the town's out-of-work lumberjacks taking on the failing shop as their pet project. And he certainly doesn't anticipate meeting Hannah, a beautiful, brave musician who might possibly be the kind of inevitable he's been waiting for.

All of them will help Aaron to come to terms with what he's lost, what he's found, who he is, and who he wants to be, and show him that destruction doesn't inevitably lead to extinction; sometimes it leads to the creation of something entirely new.

I LOVE Gayle Forman’s work. I’ve never read anything by her that I didn’t put down and need to take a deep breath to re-adjust with the real world after reading. This one made me cry, but not sadness I don’t think, there were just some really beautiful parts. It read very much like a John Green novel, actually. I honestly kept forgetting it WASN’T one of his with the style being so similar.


Book #66 of 2022: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James (4/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Horror/Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 15 March 2022

In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect—a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.
Oregon, 2017
Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases—a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.
They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

The thing I like about St. James’s novels is that you never know if the going’s-on are supernatural or not. I was very intrigued with this storyline, and loved how spooky this book was. I also enjoyed the paranormal vibes the mansion gave. The story was multi-perspective, and jumped between the present and the past of one of the narrators. This didn’t have as much suspense as her “The Sun Down Motel” which I loved, but it was a fun story!


Book #67 of 2022: Ford County by John Grisham (3/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Short Stories

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 3 November 2009

This riveting collection of short stories features an unforgettable cast of characters: Wheelchair-bound Inez Graney and her two older sons embark on a bizarre road trip through the Mississippi Delta to visit Inez’s youngest son, Raymond—on death row. A hard-drinking, low-grossing divorce lawyer fed up with his wife, his life, and the law plans a drastic escape after an unexpected phone call. A quiet, unassuming data collector sets out to bring down a flashy casino owner with his skill at blackjack—as payback for the theft of his wife. A stalker hunts victims in a retirement home, a lawyer confronts a vengeful adversary from the past, and a young man from a prominent family is driven off by scandal and fear—but finds unexpected redemption on the wrong side of the tracks.

I’m jumped out of order for this one for a couple reasons. I’ve been (re-)reading all of John Grisham’s books this year at a rate of one a month. Based on that pattern, this month’s book should have been “The Chamber” which is my absolute FAVORITE Grisham novel. However it’s very long- probably too long to get through in the last month of school. Also, a friend just re-read this one and mentioned that one of the characters in it connects to the new Grisham short-story collection that is coming out at the end of May. SO I decided to jump ahead and listen to this on audio (since it’s performed by Grisham himself) to prepare for his new release. Based on my pattern, I won’t get to reading it until like December of 2023, so I’ll be ready for another re-read by then.

Ford County is a collection of short stories that take place in Ford County, Mississippi - the located of the stories with my favorite Grisham character, Jake Brigance. The book was good, but doesn’t compare to his full length novels.


Book #68 of 2022: A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham (4.5/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 11 January 2022

When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life, leaving Chloe and the rest of her family to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. While she finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to achieve, she sometimes feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. So when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels from her past that aren't actually there, or for the second time in her life, is Chloe about to unmask a killer?

I saw this recommended everywhere on insta, so I had to add it to my queue on Libby immediately. I understand why it was everywhere! This was a great thriller! I was sure I knew the outcome from the very beginning, then after awhile I knew it had to be too easy. I did question the original outcome early on, but I didn’t think it could be right. The suspense and twists at the end were never-ending. Highly recommend this thriller!


Book #69 of 2022: The Guise of Another (Detective Max Rupert #2) by Allen Eskens (3/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Police Procedural

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 6 October 2015

Who was James Putnam? Answering that question may mean salvation for Alexander Rupert, a Minnesota detective whose life is in a serious downward spiral. A Medal of Valor winner, Alexander is now under subpoena by a grand jury on suspicion of corruption. He’s been reassigned to the Frauds Unit, where he is shunned by his fellow detectives, and he fears his status-seeking wife may be having an affair. When he happens across a complex case of identity theft, Alexander sees an opportunity to rehabilitate his tattered reputation. But the case explodes into far more than he could have expected, putting him in the path of trained assassin Drago Basta, a veteran of the Balkan wars who has been searching for “James Putnam” for years. As his life spins out of control, Alexander’s last hope may be his older brother, Max, a fellow police detective who steps in to try to save his brother from the carnage his investigation has let loose.

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first book in the series. It was fine, but didn’t have me actively listening like I did with the first. Book one was the start of two series though, which do rejoin once this series hits book 5, so maybe I’ll like the series better once they combine again. Or maybe book three will be better. The storyline was okay, but I kept getting distracted from it.


Book #70 of 2022: Last Breath (Good Girl #0.5) by Karin Slaughter (3/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 11 July 2017

At the age of thirteen, Charlie Quinn’s childhood came to an abrupt and devastating end. Two men, with a grudge against her lawyer father, broke into her home—and after that shocking night, Charlie’s world was never the same.

Now a lawyer herself, Charlie has made it her mission to defend those with no one else to turn to. So when Flora Faulkner, a motherless teen, begs for help, Charlie is reminded of her own past, and is powerless to say no.

But honor-student Flora is in far deeper trouble than Charlie could ever have anticipated. Soon she must ask herself: How far should she go to protect her client? And can she truly believe everything she is being told?

This was a prequel to one of Slaughter’s books I read a couple years ago. I don’t remember that book at all, though I don’t think that really mattered. It was a short novel, only 4 hours on audio, but had a full plot line with a twist I didn’t see coming. If you’re looking for a quick read thriller, this one would do the job!


Book #71 of 2022: Hellbent (Orphan X #3) by Gregg Hurwitz (4/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Action

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 30 January 2018

Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as an off-the-books government assassin: Orphan X. After he broke with the Orphan Program, Evan disappeared and reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, a man spoken about only in whispers and dedicated to helping the truly desperate.

But this time, the voice on the other end is Jack Johns, the man who raised and trained him, the only father Evan has ever known. Secret government forces are busy trying to scrub the remaining assets and traces of the Orphan Program and they have finally tracked down Jack. With little time remaining, Jack gives Evan his last assignment: find and protect his last protΓ©gΓ© and recruit for the program.

But Evan isn’t the only one after this last Orphan—the new head of the Orphan Program, Van Sciver, is mustering all the assets at his disposal to take out both Evan (Orphan X) and the target he is trying to protect.

I’m slowly making my way through the Orphan X series. It’s not a genre that I normally read, but I’ve been enjoying them!

I loved the action in this book! I was sitting on the river yelling at the characters and my friends were laughing at me because I was waaay too into it. No regrets! Evan Smoak is a phenomenal character, and it was so fun to see how he grew in this novel. The second book didn’t do much for me, but this one certainly redeemed the series for me, and I’m looking forward to having time to pick up the next one!


Book #72 of 2022: A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson (4/5⭐️)

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 30 June 2020

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, 
A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Honestly the plot line isn’t that deep, but I was engaged for all 500+ pages, and read the whole thing in a few days despite spending time on the river and camping with friends.

The book is set in Sweden, and has actually been translated from Swedish to English. I usually don’t like translated books, because they just feel off, but the translation was fabulous with this one. 

I thought that the format was interesting. It was split into three parts from three different perspectives. Some pieces of each perspective covered the same events, but as it moved from part to part, the story timeline was also proceeding. I liked the format because you’d start to feel like you had a grasp on a character from their perspective, but then you’d learn about them from another characters perspective (or vice versa) and learn more.

The story was a slow burn, but not so slow that it was hard to follow. The suspense wasn’t overly intense, but it was still enjoyable!


Book #73 of 2022: Pedro y el TiburΓ³n by Fran Manushkin

πŸ“šGENRE: Children’s

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 1 January 2018

Pedro is excited for his class trip to the aquarium. But his class disappears when he's not paying attention, leaving him alone with a shark! Sealife comes to life in this easy-to-read chapter book.

This was my Spanish language book for the month. It was a very short chapter/picture book, so I really don’t have anything to say about it!


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

Reading Challenge: 73/120 books read in 2022

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

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