Sunday, October 30, 2022

#gretchensbooks2022 - October


I’m at the “panic point” in the year when I look back over my “101 in 2022” list and figure out what more I’d like to squeeze in this year that I haven’t crossed off the list yet. One of those things is to read all the books that I purchased last year and hadn’t read yet. Which you wouldn’t think would be that difficult, except that as the year passed, I kept adding to the pile books that I MUST READ ASAP. I managed to get in 5 of the books in that pile this month, and could have gotten more but three other books were published this month that I HAD TO READ ASAP plus another that I bought this month and had to read because of its spookiness. ANYWAY, I have 10 books left in this pile, and 3 others not from this pile that I need to read before years end, so I think I can do it!


Book #141 of 2022: The Girl in the White Van by April Henry (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: YA Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 28 July 2020

When Savannah disappears soon after arguing with her mom’s boyfriend, everyone assumes she's run away. The truth is much worse. She’s been kidnapped by a man in a white van who locks her in an old trailer home, far from prying eyes.

And worse yet, Savannah’s not alone: ten months earlier, Jenny met the same fate and nearly died trying to escape. Now as the two girls wonder if he will hold them captive forever or kill them, they must join forces to break out―even if it means they die trying.

I needed to spend a little bit more money on one of my Scholastic orders one month, so I pursued the YA section and picked out a couple books for myself, one of which was this book.

It wasn’t as morbid as it would have been had it been meant for an audience my age, but I still enjoyed it more than I expected! I thought since it was written for a younger audience, I wouldn’t be as engaged, but I was wrong. I read the whole thing while my car was getting it’s brake pads replaced, and when the woman came out to get me she whispered my name and asked if I was ready. I looked at her and she said “sorry, you looked really focused!” (I was at the very end of the story where the suspense was highest!) 

All in all, even though it’s a YA read, I thought it held a good amount of suspense for YA and adult readers both.


Book #142 of 2022: The Last Housewife by Ashley Winstead (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 16 August 2022

While in college in upstate New York, Shay Evans and her best friends met a captivating man who seduced them with a web of lies about the way the world works, bringing them under his thrall. By senior year, Shay and her friend Laurel were the only ones who managed to escape. Now, eight years later, Shay's built a new life in a tony Texas suburb. But when she hears the horrifying news of Laurel's death―delivered, of all ways, by her favorite true-crime podcast crusader―she begins to suspect that the past she thought she buried is still very much alive, and the predators more dangerous than ever.

Recruiting the help of the podcast host, Shay goes back to the place she vowed never to return to in search of answers. As she follows the threads of her friend's life, she's pulled into a dark, seductive world, where wealth and privilege shield brutal philosophies that feel all too familiar. When Shay's obsession with uncovering the truth becomes so consuming she can no longer separate her desire for justice from darker desires newly reawakened, she must confront the depths of her own complicity and conditioning. But in a world built for men to rule it―both inside the cult and outside of it―is justice even possible, and if so, how far will Shay go to get it?

Ooo this was a good one! And the story was unique with a twist I did NOT see coming!

This was a bookstagram recommendation, and though I was on a long wait list for another book by this author, I manage to hop on the wait list for this one just after it’s release so I didn’t wait long.

The drama! The intensity! This was so good. I’m extra excited for the other book by this author in my queue now. The story line was much darker than I expected. It’s morbid, but intriguing, and nail-bitingly engaging.


Book #143 of 2022: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Mystery

🗓PUBLISHED: 7 June 2022

Ned Kelly award winning author Sulari Gentill sets this mystery-within-a-mystery in motion with a deceptively simple, Dear Hannah, What are you writing? pulling us into the ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library.

In every person's story, there is something to hide...

The tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning―it just happens that one is a murderer.

Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

This was a very generous three stars. It wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t figure out it’s intentions. It was a murder mystery…but also a writer writing a novel? I don’t know. I didn’t like the set up of it. The secondary plot made no sense and ruined what little suspense the mystery actually had. It should have been taken out.

Also, the mystery moves very slowly. Too slowly. And there were so few characters that it wasn’t overly interesting and definitely not suspenseful. But then the very end it was like there was suppose to be an extra twist to it? That made pretty much no sense? The mystery had potential, but with the dual-story line it fell pretty flat. Like the author was trying to do too much at once.

It seemed to be well-liked in the book world which is why I decided to borrow it, but overall I was let down.


Book #144 of 2022: Notes From a Public Typewriter by Michael Gustafson

📚GENRE: Non-Fiction 

🗓PUBLISHED: 27 March 2018

When Michael Gustafson and his wife Hilary opened Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they put out a typewriter for anyone to use. They had no idea what to expect. Would people ask metaphysical questions? Write mean things? Pour their souls onto the page? Yes, no, and did they ever. 

Every day, people of all ages sit down at the public typewriter. Children perch atop grandparents' knees, both sets of hands hovering above the metal keys: I LOVE YOU. Others walk in alone on Friday nights and confess their hopes: I will find someone someday. And some leave funny asides for the next person who sits down: I dislike people, misanthropes, irony, and ellipses... and lists too. 

In Notes from a Public Typewriter Michael and designer Oliver Uberti have combined their favorite notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word that will surprise, delight, and inspire. 

I’m not giving this a rating because it feels like it shouldn’t have one. It was just a collection of random notes from a typewriter in a bookstore. Sort of a collection of unintentional poetry, I suppose. It was a quick, fun read!


Book #145 of 2022: In My Dreams I Hold A Knife by Ashley Winstead (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 3 August 2021

Six friends.
One college reunion.
One unsolved murder.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to her southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent. Not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather Shelby's murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she'd been closest to since freshman year.

But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather's murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years' worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.

This one has been on my list since it was published due to bookstagram hype, but it only just recently showed up on Libby. I listened to another book by this author earlier this month and really enjoyed it, so I was extra excited for this one.

The suspense of this story wasn’t intense, but it was engaging. There were plenty of suspects, and it was hard to determine who the murderer would be until you find out towards the end. I will say that I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable.


Book #146 of 2022: Layover by David Bell (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Psychological Suspense

🗓PUBLISHED: 2 July 2019

Joshua Fields takes the same flights every week for work, his life a series of departures and arrivals, hotels and airports. During yet another layover, he meets Morgan, a beautiful stranger with whom he feels an immediate connection. When it’s time for their respective flights, Morgan kisses Joshua passionately, lamenting that they’ll never see each other again.

As soon as Morgan disappears in the crowd, Joshua is shocked to see her face on a nearby TV. The reason: Morgan is a missing person.

What follows is a whirlwind, fast-paced journey filled with lies, deceit, and secrets as Joshua tries to discover why Morgan has vanished from her own life. Every time he thinks one mystery is solved, another rears its head—and his worst enemy might be his own assumptions about those around him.

This book was a random purchase from the local bookstore back home. I thought it would be fun to read it on an airplane (for obvious reasons), so I packed it on my trip to Orlando! It was even more fun because the layover involved a flight to Nashville.

I feel like the build up lasted too long, and then the story just kind of ended all at once. That being said, the build up WAS interesting and I was engaged in the story, wondering what happened.


Book #147 of 2022: Why Would I Lie by Adi Rule (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: YA Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 5 April 2022

Viveca North works harder and smarter -- and it'll all be worth it when she's named valedictorian and granted admission to her dream school, the elite Everett College. All her sacrifices are finally about to pay off. That is, unless the mysterious new guy at school, Jamison Sharpe, steals valedictorian out from under her.

Jamison is popular, charming, and funny, and school comes easily to him. Viveca knows he can't really be all that he seems, but everyone completely dismisses her concerns. Soon, Viveca is obsessed with proving that Jamison is a fraud. But the deeper she gets into uncovering what she believes to be a web of lies and deceit, the closer her dreams come to unraveling once and for all.

Is the school golden boy really lying, or is she as paranoid as everyone thinks?

In this suspenseful psychological thriller Adi Rule weaves the unforgettable story of a girl who refuses to be silenced, and who won't back down from what she knows she deserves.

This was another random purchase from Scholastic to meet a spend goal.

I had to keep putting this book down because I was getting so infuriated with it! The experiences of Viveca got me so worked up, which means the author did a great job. I don’t know that the story-line was that great, but the anger it made me feel was top-notch.


Book #148 of 2022: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (4.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Contemporary Romance

🗓PUBLISHED: 2 August 2016

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. And when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life seems too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

I read this book a few years ago, but decided to re-listen to it in preparation for the second book in the series to come out this month.

Honestly, I think I liked it better the second time around! The audiobook performer was annoying at first, but I got used to her. I was very nervous it wouldn’t end how I wanted it to (it’s been so long since I first read it, I couldn’t remember how it ended). 

I also didn’t remember that this had been written  in honor of Hoover’s mother and her own story with domestic abuse. It made me anxious and ready for the sequel to come out!


Book #149 of 2022: Authenticated History of the Bell Witch by M.V. Ingram (2.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Non-Fiction


In the first decade of the 1800s, John Bell moved his growing family from North Carolina to the Red River community in Robertson County, Tennessee. Bell, who became an elder in the Red River Baptist Church, was well-liked and respected by his neighbors and prospered as a farmer. As Bell worked his farm, a unique phenomenon occurred. Beginning in 1817 and continuing until 1821, John Bell and his family were allegedly “haunted” by a devilish spirit called a “witch” known as “Kate.” The witch’s actions were observed by many in the community, including the clergy. The events subsided only after Bell’s death. Known as the “Red Book,” and including the eyewitness account of Richard Williams Bell, son of John Bell, Ingram’s account is the story of the Bell Witch.

I was SO excited for this book, but was definitely let down.

I’d first heard of the Bell Witch when I moved to Tennessee eight years ago, but only just this month had I finally gone to visit the cabin and cave. I enjoyed listening to the stories on our tour, and wanted to learn more. At the gift shop, there were a handful of books, and this one was recommended to me as it has the stories of the Bell Witch coming from as close to the source as possible.

The first third of the book had a lot of background knowledge, which while somewhat helpful, also held a lot of unnecessary information. Also, since it was written so long ago, the language is far from modern which also made it harder to follow at times.

The middle and last third were much more interesting, and were more of what I was looking for. Again, the language was hard to follow, and the way the author wrote Black folk’s dialogue was atrocious. There was too much description at times, but these parts were where the Bell Witch’s antics were described.

A fun fact that I read was in 1822 Clarksville had only 40 families which is REALLY HARD to fathom. I mean I know it was 200 years ago, but my has it grown significantly since then!

(If you're interested, its only $0.99 on Kindle!)


Book #150 of 2022: The Maid by Nita Prose (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Mystery

🗓PUBLISHED: 4 January 2022

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

This was a random request on Libby because I was running out of available audiobooks and I had seen the title pop up a few times. I had no idea what to expect from the book, but it was a fun read! I would get so upset for the main character, but I thought it was a sweet story in the end. Also, the bonus little twist was so lovely!


Book #151 of 2022: It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Contemporary Romance

🗓PUBLISHED: 18 October 2022

Lily and her ex-husband, Ryle, have just settled into a civil co-parenting rhythm when she suddenly bumps into her first love, Atlas, again. After nearly two years separated, she is elated that for once, time is on their side, and she immediately says yes when Atlas asks her on a date.

But her excitement is quickly hampered by the knowledge that, though they are no longer married, Ryle is still very much a part of her life—and Atlas Corrigan is the one man he will hate being in his ex-wife and daughter’s life.

I re-read the the previous book to prepare for this release, but I did NOT read the summary before opening the book. This was definitely the continuation I didn’t know I needed. It wasn’t as intense as it’s predecessor, but had me just as captivated. I put down another book to start this one, and ended up consuming the whole thing in one night. 

The same things that made me nervous with the last book, made me nervous with this one too. I loved how the stories continued, even though it was hard to read at points.


Book #152 of 2022: Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering (2/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Fiction/Romance (technically??)

🗓PUBLISHED: 12 June 2018

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother—whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Lucy knows there’s something about Stephen that isn’t to be trusted. Stephen knows Lucy can’t tear herself away. And their addicting entanglement will have consequences they never could have imagined.

I saw that this was being made into a Hulu show, and since I’d read (and really enjoyed) a different book by this author earlier this year, I knew I wanted to read this book then watch the show. 

Y’all. This book sucked.

The characters sucked. The storyline sucked. 

I want to know who in their right mind thought this book should be made into a tv series.

The characters were soooo incredibly unlikeable. I know the author probably intended it that way, but it’s hard to enjoy a novel when the characters are this annoying.

The main female character was whiney and had zero self-respect. The main male character was a narcissistic bootyhole. And that is a very tame description of both of them. 

I didn’t DNF it (though I probably should have) because I kept thinking the story would get better. No such luck.


Book #153 of 2022: The Boys From Biloxi by John Grisham (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Legal Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 18 October 2022

For most of the last hundred years, Biloxi was known for its beaches, resorts, and seafood industry. But it had a darker side. It was also notorious for corruption and vice, everything from gambling, prostitution, bootleg liquor, and drugs to contract killings. The vice was controlled by small cabal of mobsters, many of them rumored to be members of the Dixie Mafia.
Keith Rudy and Hugh Malco grew up in Biloxi in the sixties and were childhood friends, as well as Little League all-stars. But as teenagers, their lives took them in different directions. Keith’s father became a legendary prosecutor, determined to “clean up the Coast.” Hugh’s father became the “Boss” of Biloxi’s criminal underground. Keith went to law school and followed in his father’s footsteps. Hugh preferred the nightlife and worked in his father’s clubs. The two families were headed for a showdown, one that would happen in a courtroom.

This one was much slower paced than Grisham’s usual novel. I love the suspense and engagement that his legal stories typically have, but this one did not.

It almost read like a non-fiction story, with a very descriptive history of the corruption and illicit activities in Biloxi, Mississippi in the mid-1900s. It was an interesting story, but lacked the drama that Grisham’s legal thrillers usually entail.


Book #154 of 2022: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 30 August 2022

Daisy Darker was born with a broken heart. Now after years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in her crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. When the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours.

But at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows…

Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide goes out and all is revealed.

I read everything Alice Feeney publishes, so when my friend offered to send me her copy of this book once she finished it, I was very excited.

A lot happened in the story, but I still felt like it moved slowly. Also, I feel like I should have been able to predict the ending, but alas, I did not. 


Book #155 of 2022: The Golden Couple by Greer  Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 8 March 2022

Wealthy Washington suburbanites Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem to have it all―until Marissa is unfaithful. Beneath their veneer of perfection is a relationship riven by work and a lack of intimacy. She wants to repair things for the sake of their eight-year-old son and because she loves her husband. Enter Avery Chambers.

Avery is a therapist who lost her professional license. Still, it doesn’t stop her from counseling those in crisis, though they have to adhere to her unorthodox methods. And the Bishops are desperate.
When they glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.

I enjoyed the main story is the book, but there was a smaller, additional story that I could have done without.

The main story had a lot of twists, and while it was a slow burn, it was very engaging. The side story felt like it was just slid in there. There would be minor events that contributed to it, but not a lot of detail.

I chose the book because I didn’t have any other audiobooks to listen to at the time, and I’m glad I did. Not the best thriller I’ve read this year, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.


Book #156 of 2022: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 6 July 2010

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two-year-old Realtor, had three goals: sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she’s about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent captive in a remote mountain cabin—which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist—is a second narrative recounting the nightmare that follows her escape: her struggle to piece her shattered life back together, the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor, and the disturbing sense that things are far from over.

The truth doesn’t always set you free.

Hmm. I can’t quite sort out my thoughts on this book. The characters weren’t exactly multi-dimensional which dulled the story. The story was incredibly fictional - there is no way this is believable in any way (which obviously it’s fiction, but maybe a little too far fetched to be GOOD fiction). It felt like it was just a description of a story for the first two-thirds, until finally the mystery started to unravel. I was anxious to crawl into bed and read this every night, so I can say it was engaging, but it definitely wasn’t anywhere near my favorite Chevy Stevens novel and didn’t have the suspense that Steven’s writing usually holds. 


Book #157 of 2022: This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Non-Fiction/Memoir

🗓PUBLISHED: 7 September 2017

Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships. Welcome to the life of a first-year doctor.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights, and missed weekends, comedian and former medical resident Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the front lines of medicine.

Hilarious, horrifying, and heartbreaking by turns, this is everything you wanted to know—and more than a few things you didn’t—about life on and off the hospital ward.

And yes, it may leave a scar.

This is how I imagine the book I will wonder wrote will be like, except I’ll write the teaching version. Also, I’m not this funny.

I loved the descriptions and humor Kay added to already comical stories. I suppose it would constitute as “dark humor” at times, but when you work in an exhausting, thankless job, you have to laugh just to keep yourself from falling apart.


Book #158 of 2022: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller 

🗓PUBLISHED: 2 February 2016

Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. For years Jack has avoided returning home, but when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded. 

Upon arriving, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago. But as facts about Julia's accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack's past, but the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.

This book was a random purchase from my bookstore back home. It was a quick-read thriller that has you questioning every character in the story. There wasn’t anything special or unique about this book, and the twists weren’t overly suspenseful. That being said, the writing was good enough to keep me reading.


*This post may contain affiliate links, which means when you purchase something through that link, you're helping support this blog (and my reading addiction!) at no additional cost to you!*

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

Reading Challenge: 158/120 books read in 2022

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

No comments:

Post a Comment