Friday, December 16, 2022

Turning 31 on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Last year, I took a trip for my 30th birthday and I was convinced it was the best idea I’ve ever had. Since my birthday fell on a Saturday this year, and I was itching for a solo adventure, I decided to take a trip up to Louisville for the weekend. I had an eye doctor appointment in the morning (new glasses, yay!) then headed north.

Friday, December 9, 2022

My first stop was the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. I’ve done a handful of distillery tours already, so I’ve heard the general process plenty of times. I’m always curious what makes each place different!


Something special to Jim Beam is that they only use White Oak barrels. (Not that other brands don’t, but JB uses them exclusively).

The brand originally began in the 1700s and was run for 3 generations before James B. Beam took over the company. He ran it though WWI, the Great Depression, and Prohibition. Though it closes during Prohibition, they reopened right after.


Another fun fact is that Jim Beam brought home some of the yeast every night, and encouraged other employees to do the same. The reasoning was that he wanted to make sure that if some sort of natural disaster took place and wiped out the distillery, they would still have their yeast left to rebuild.

Something else unique to JBD is that they use covered stainless steal vats for their mash. Usually when visiting a distillery you can see the mash from the top, but not here. They do this because their brand is so big that they need their process to be quick with a large volume produced each round. The lid keeps the steam in which helps with the speed.


The premises holds 36 warehouses, each holding 60,000 barrels of bourbon. Once the barrels have aged their bourbon, they’re typically shipped off to Europe to be re-used for other spirits and wines. 

Our tour guide also mentioned how they paint their buildings black because there is a very invasive black mold that grows in places with high contents of alcohol. It’s is all over the buildings, and even the trees! They paint the buildings that tours see black so they’re less of an eye sore. They do have a couple white buildings further back, and they power wash them 3-4 times a year to get rid of the mold. They also pressure wash the surrounding houses because the houses get the growth on the outside as well.


For the tasting, we got to try four bourbons - Jim Beam, Basil Hayden, Knob Creek, and for the last one we had a choice between three others. 

I liked all of them! I’ve never intentionally had Jim Beam before (though I can’t say someone has never gave me a drink with it), and it has a nice vanilla/carmel taste. The Basil Hayden tasted similar, but it’s made with 2x the rye as the Jim Beam. The Knob Creek is made with the same mash as Jim Beam, but is aged 9 years I believe he said, whereas Jim Beam is typically 4 years. With the Knob Creek, one guide had us take a sip, then use a pipette to drop a SINGLE drop of water in what was left and taste it again to see the difference. I’m not quite cultured enough in whiskey yet to explain the difference in flavors, but I could definitely tell there was one!

The one I chose to try for my fourth was called Legent. Legent is unique because it is a whiskey bourbon that after aging, is finished in wine and sherry barrels, then blended with straight bourbon. It was more tame than the other bourbons I thought, and would probably be a good starter whiskey for people still developing their liking for whiskey and bourbon products.


The guys who sat next to me told me they were up for the week from Savannah, GA for one of their 32nd birthdays. The lady across from me was celebrating what she said was her 30th birthday (but was actually probably her 80th).

From there, I finished the drive to Louisville and dropped my car with the valet before heading up to my room. Holy cow this room was nice! I got a king-size suite at the Embassy Suites Downtown Louisville (thank you, credit card points!) and it had a balcony over-looking an indoor courtyard! 

I deposited my things and walked a minute down the street to Guy Fierri’s Smokehouse for a late lunch/early dinner. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and mac-n-cheese. The mac wasn’t done yet, so the lady said she would bring it out to me in 5-10 minutes. Well, after 20 minutes I finally went to get it because they never brought it. Even though there were only 2 other groups there. And I was sitting right in front of the counter. But I digress. They also forgot to put the cole slaw on my sandwich that it was suppose to come with. That being said, the meat was delish!




I walked back to the hotel and crawled into bed to watch my favorite show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, while waiting for the hotel happy hour to start. 

At 5:45 I took my book and headed downstairs to the bar for free drinks and apps. The drink options weren’t very diverse - I just had a whiskey coke. The snacks were only veggies and ranch, bags of cheez-its, and chips with this dip that was super tasty. I miss the Houston apps from last birthday - those were amazing!


On the elevator back to my floor I was talking with another lady about how confused everyone seems to be with the elevators. In order to move floors, you have to swipe your room key. There is a sign that says to do so, but no one reads it. She mentioned that she was a teacher and I said that I was too. She, band, and me, math and science. No wonder we didn’t read the sign right away!

Saturday, December 10, 2022

I slept in until 7 this morning (6 o’clock central, but that’s besides the point). I showered and went downstairs for breakfast. I’m not normally one to eat hotel breakfasts, but I can never pass up Embassy Suites breakfasts. Also, I don’t like eggs, but they special make your omelets and I DO like hot sauce, so it’s worth a shot!


After breakfast I went down to the valet to get my car. As I stood there waiting, I smiled so big because it felt like a Christmas movie. Above me Christmas music was blasting. People were hustling and bustling around. The building across the street is gorgeous stone. All that was missing was the snow! (And a Ryan Reynolds look-alike coming around the corner and falling in love with me)

My first stop of the day was Angel’s Envy for a tour and tasting. It was about a mile from the hotel, but since I don’t know the area, I didn’t want to risk walking. Parking was confusing because I went to a lot directly across the street but the pay station wasn’t working. An Angel’s Envy employee happened to be parking too and she told me I probably don’t have to worry about it, but there was still street parking (free!) available if I felt more comfortable with that, so I moved to the street.


The Angel’s Envy tour was only 45 minutes, followed by the tasting. Our tour guide was hilarious. Also, he picked on me the whole time, but it was funny so I didn’t mind. It was also funny because after yesterday's tour, I kept trying to remember what my tour guide's name was. I knew it was either Tony or Terry, but wasn't sure which. I got to this tour only to find out my guide was named Terry!


After the wash is put into the still, the still vaporized the alcohol which makes the moonshine/white dog/whatever the particular distiller calls it. Our tour guide dumped some from the bottle into each of our hands so we could taste it. WHEW! 


Something that I noticed was different today from yesterday’s Jim Beam tour was that they only char their barrels for 35 seconds instead of JB’s 55 seconds. Since the whiskey/bourbon making process is pretty standard, its interesting to see the little variations distillers make to make their product taste different.

Also, they finish is a second barrel. The rules of bourbon says you can only use one barrel, but they found a way to make it work using the term “finishing.” 


I enjoyed the tasting. We tried two (technically three) samples with two chocolates. First was the Angel’s Envy bourbon. We tried it first at room temperature which was good, and then tried a second sample with an ice cube in it. I prefer the flavors that come out once the water is added. Also, we paired it with an orange chocolate and that pairing was DELICIOUS. The last sample we tried was the Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey. This was also pretty good, and had a very mapley flavor to it. This one we paired with a white chocolate, which was also good.


From there, I headed to get lunch at Biscuit Belly. I went here (at a different Louisville location) this past summer on my way to Dayton, Ohio. This time, I ordered fried green tomatoes and bonuts (which were free because I signed up for the rewards program. Which I’ll never use. But free food 🤷🏼‍♀️). It was all delicious!


Next, I went to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. This tour was unique from the other tours I’ve been on in that it had A LOT of history in it. We began in a room that showed a video reenactment of when Evan Williams began his distilling process. In fact, he made the first commercial distillery in (what would be) the state of Kentucky (it was still Virginia at the time). 


We tried four samples of the Evan Williams products during the tasting. First was the Evan Williams Black Label which is the 2nd largest selling in the world (falling behind Jim Beam). This is a 5-year blend and is best for using in cocktail. The second was the Evan Williams Master Blend, and to be completely honest my brain was wandering when he explained this one and so I don’t remember anything about it! The third one was called Square Six by Evan Williams. It was named this because the plot of land where the distillery sits was called square six when it was bought many, many moons ago. This one was interesting because it smelled like cornbread! It had a higher rye content than the other samples in our tasting. Lastly, we tasted the Evan Williams Red Label, which is aged 12 years or longer. Something interesting about this one is that until 8 years ago, it wasn’t sold in the states. It was distilled, and then all of it was shipped to Japan! Everyone toasted me “happy birthday” before drinking this one, which was very sweet. (The tour guide knew it was my birthday!) Lastly, we sampled a chocolate that was made here in Louisville. The tour here was really good, but sadly, I didn’t care for any of the bourbons.


I wasn’t really sure where to go from here. I had thought about doing another tour, but I hadn’t pre-booked it because I didn’t know how long this one would take, nor if I’d be up for it. I’m glad I didn’t, because I was spent and needed a nap. My plan was to get tacos for dinner, but at this point it was only 2:30. I wandered the streets for a bit, then decided I would go pick up the tacos and take them back to the hotel. Well, parking by the taco place was $15 and I was not about to pay that just to run in and grab food, so I decided to head back to the hotel. 

I ended up watching Home Alone 2 in my room until the hotel evening reception, then took my book down for drinks and snacks and called it dinner.


Hotel Thoughts:

Overall, would I stay here again? Yes.


• For 1-2 people, my suite was perfect. It even had a little balcony that overlooked an indoor courtyard. The bed was big, and the bathroom was enormous.

• The valet was always very quick. They didn’t answer the one time I called to have my car ready, but as soon as I went down they were quick to get it, even on Sunday when everyone was checking out.

• The snacks were pretty good at the evening reception. They were minimal (veggies and dip one night, cheeses and crackers the next, different type of chips and dip each night). The dips both nights were SO GOOD. I wish I knew what they were. I also liked how they put out some pre-packaged snacks. The first night they had bags of cheez-its. The second had rice krispy treats and Chex mix, then peanuts.

• Breakfast had a decent assortment of things. The special-made omelets were ginormous! The breakfast potatoes were delicious, as was the bacon.

• It is located right across the street from the Fourth Street Live complex


• Both mornings when I got sausage it was kind of cold. I also wish they would have had waffles.

• The drink choices at the evening reception were disappointing. Also, they have Pepsi products.

• The pillows were too soft for my liking. 

• There is no hotel parking lot, so you either have to use city lots and pay or pay for the valet





Sunday, December 4, 2022

#gretchensbooks2022 - November


I only have FOUR physical books lefts on my nightstand from my 2022 TBR pile! I definitely can manage finishing those in December. I'm already excited to start on my 2023 pile - there are some good ones! I did okay this month. I thought I would get more audio in since I had to drive to Minnesota and back, but I jammed to music the whole drive both ways. Perhaps on my December drive! Though I am running out of audiobooks to listen to...


Book #159 of 2022: That Weekend by Kara Thomas (3/5

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 29 June 2021

Three best friends, a lake house, a secret trip - what could go wrong?

It was supposed to be the perfect prom weekend getaway. But it's clear something terrible happened when Claire wakes up alone and bloodied on a hiking trail with no memory of the past 48 hours.

Now everyone wants answers - most of all, Claire. She remembers Friday night, but, after that...nothing. And now Kat and Jesse - her best friends - are missing. 

What happened on the mountain? And where are Kat and Jesse? Claire knows the answers are buried somewhere in her memory. But as she's learning, everyone has secrets - even her best friends. And she's pretty sure she's not going to like what she remembers.

About two-thirds of the way into the book, the twist was made glaringly obvious, which made the remainder of the book kind of irrelevant. I think they should have revealed what happened differently, because while the first two-thirds were interesting, the last third felt irrelevant because we knew what happen and what was continuing to happen was kind of dull.


Book #160 of 2022: Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Memoir

🗓PUBLISHED: 1 November 2022

“Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.”

So begins the riveting story of acclaimed actor Matthew Perry, taking us along on his journey from childhood ambition to fame to addiction and recovery in the aftermath of a life-threatening health scare. Before the frequent hospital visits and stints in rehab, there was five-year-old Matthew, who traveled from Montreal to Los Angeles, shuffling between his separated parents; fourteen-year-old Matthew, who was a nationally ranked tennis star in Canada; twenty-four-year-old Matthew, who nabbed a coveted role as a lead cast member on the talked-about pilot then called Friends Like Us. . . and so much more.

In an extraordinary story that only he could tell—and in the heartfelt, hilarious, and warmly familiar way only he could tell it—Matthew Perry lays bare the fractured family that raised him (and also left him to his own devices), the desire for recognition that drove him to fame, and the void inside him that could not be filled even by his greatest dreams coming true. But he also details the peace he’s found in sobriety and how he feels about the ubiquity of Friends, sharing stories about his castmates and other stars he met along the way. Frank, self-aware, and with his trademark humor, Perry vividly depicts his lifelong battle with addiction and what fueled it despite seemingly having it all.

To be completely honest, my 4-star rating is PROBABLY a little biased because I love Matthew Perry. 3.5 is PROBABLY a more accurate rating. But that’s beside the point.

The title of this book is, however, VERY accurate. Perry spoke very heavily about friends (both the show and his), former lovers, and mostly addiction. Addiction to smoking, addiction to drugs, and addiction to alcohol. I knew he was an addict, but I didn’t realize the disease manifested so early in his life, and I didn’t realize how severe it was and the additional issues it caused him.

The biggest issue I had with this book was the editing. More than once I would read a sentence and think, “I swear I already read this sentence in the last paragraph.” Obviously the themes are very consistent throughout the book, but it felt like the language was identical more often than it should have.


Book #161 of 2022: The Partner by John Grisham (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Legal Thriller


They watched Danilo Silva for days before they finally grabbed him. He was living alone, a quiet life on a shady street in Brazil; a simple life in a modest home, certainly not one of luxury. Certainly no evidence of the fortune they thought he had stolen. He was much thinner and his face had been altered. He spoke a different language, and spoke it very well. But Danilo had a past with many chapters.

Four years earlier he had been Patrick Lanigan, a young partner in a prominent Biloxi law firm. He had a pretty wife, a new daughter, and a bright future. Then one cold winter night Patrick was trapped in a burning car and died a horrible death. When he was buried his casket held nothing more than his ashes. From a short distance away, Patrick watched his own burial. Then he fled. Six weeks later, a fortune was stolen from his ex-law firm's offshore account. And Patrick fled some more. But they found him.

I’m not sure I had read this one before! I just assumed I had read all of Grisham’s books, but I didn’t remember this one at all! (Which isn’t saying much, I could have read it 15 years ago). I know Patrick was technically in the wrong, but I rooted for him until the very last word of this story. I knew it would end the way it did, but I was still so intrigued as to how Grisham would get there.


Book #162 of 2022: Girl, Forgotten (Andrea Oliver #2) by Karin Slaughter (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Police Procedural/Suspense

🗓PUBLISHED: 23 June 2022

A small town hides a big secret.

Who killed Emily Vaughn?

A girl with a secret. Longbill Beach, 1982. Emily Vaughn gets ready for the prom. For an athlete, who is smart, pretty and well-liked, this night that should be the highlight of her high school career. But Emily has a secret. And by the end of the evening, that secret will be silenced forever.

An unsolved murder.

Forty years later, Emily’s murder remains a mystery. Her tight-knit group of friends closed ranks; her respected, wealthy family retreated inwards; the small town moved on from her grisly attack. But all that’s about to change.

One final chance to uncover a killer.

US Marshal Andrea Oliver arrives in Longbill Beach on her first assignment: to protect a judge receiving death threats. But, in reality, Andrea is there to find justice for Emily. The killer is still out there—and Andrea must discover the truth before she gets silenced, too.

I read the Pieces of Her (the first book in this series) earlier this year and watched the Netflix show. I liked the first book better than this one, but they were both enjoyable. I liked that this story connected to its predecessor in storyline, and not just the main character. I’m curious if they’ll add another season to the show, and if they do if it will correspond to this story or not.


Book #163 of 2022: Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon (3/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 24 May 2022

Lucas Forester didn’t hate his wife. Michelle was brilliant, sophisticated, and beautiful. Sure, she had extravagant spending habits, that petty attitude, a total disregard for anyone below her status. But she also had a lot to offer. Most notably: wealth that only the one percent could comprehend.

For years, Lucas has been honing a flawless plan to inherit Michelle’s fortune. Unfortunately, it involves taking a hit out on her.

Every track is covered, no trace left behind, and now Lucas plays the grieving husband so well he deserves an award. But when a shocking photo and cryptic note show up on his doorstep, Lucas goes from hunter to prey. 

Someone is on to him. And they’re closing in.

The main character of this book was so unlikeable that it made it REALLY hard to get into. Eventually I was engaged enough that I continued/finished it, but I really struggle with reading books when I don’t like the character(s). 

If you read any further, there may be spoilers….I liked how this ended. After finishing, I realized it was the only ending that could have been written that I would have been satisfied with since I disliked the main character so much. Honestly the ending of this book brought it up from two stars to three.


Book #164 of 2022: Mirror’s Edge (Imposter’s #3) by Scott Westerfeld (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: YA Dystopian 

🗓PUBLISHED: 6 April 2021

Rafi’s return to the city of her birth isn’t going to be an easy one. She and her love Col must surge on new faces and bodies in order to infiltrate Shreve by dropping from the sky and landing undetected. Rafi’s sister Frey - no longer a twin in features, but still a twin by birth - is waiting with a rebel army outside. 

Are the sisters on the same side...or are they playing to their own agendas? If their father is deposed from Shreve, who will take control? And what other forces may be waiting in the wings? 

Mirror's Edge is another brilliant blockbuster from one of the greatest speculative writers YA fiction has ever seen, set within the world of Uglies...and about to converge with Uglies in a spectacular way.

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series when I read them last year(?), but I’m only just getting around to reading the second two. Only the first two had been published when I started the series, and knowing there would be four books, I wanted to read them together.

This was the third book in this YA series, and though it’s not A LOT that happens event-wise, it’s action packed. Also, I LOVE how the book ended and if I hadn’t been ready to pick up book 4 right after, I certainly would be now. This series has been so fun to read.


Book #165 of 2022: Youngbloods (Imposters #4) by Scott Westerfeld (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: YA Dystopian

🗓PUBLISHED: 5 April 2022

Frey has spent her life in a family of deceivers, a stand-in for her sister, manipulated at her father's command. Free from them at last, she is finding her own voice - and using it to question everything her family stood for.

Tally was once the most famous rebel in the world. But for over a decade, she's kept to the shadows, allowing her myth to grow even as she receded. Now she sees that the revolution she led has not created a stable world. Freedom, she observes, has a way of destroying things.

As the world is propelled further into conflict and conspiracy, Frey and Tally join forces to put a check on the people in power, while still trying to understand their own power and where it belongs.

With Youngbloods, master storyteller Scott Westerfeld decisively brings back his most iconic character and merges his Impostors and Uglies series into a breathtaking tale of rivalry, rebellion, and repercussion. 

Ah, what a good ending to this second quartet. I’m a little sad the series is over, but really want to re-read the first series now. I wasn’t sure I liked how the story was going for the majority of it, but even though I felt that way, it was still a good read.


Book #166 of 2022: Near You by Mary Burton (3.5/5

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 13 April 2021

Forensic psychologist and single mother Ann Bailey has joined forces with Montana Highway Patrol officer Bryce McCabe. An expert in untangling the motives of depraved minds, Ann is tasked to help solve the mystery of two murdered women doused with gasoline and set aflame.

It’s not hard for Ann to be reminded of the charismatic Elijah Weston, who served a decade in prison for arson—a crime that nearly cost Ann her life. Elijah may have been exonerated, but the connection to these rage killings is impossible for Ann to ignore. One of the victims has been identified as an obsessed Elijah groupie. Elijah has obsessions, too. Ever since Ann returned to town, he can’t take his eyes off her. And as a mother with a secret, she’s the perfect victim for an infatuated psychopath.

The deeper Ann and Bryce’s investigation goes, the nearer they get to each other and to danger. After another murder hits close to home, Ann fears a clue is hidden in her own past. Only one thing terrifies her more than the reveal of her long-held secret. It’s that the secret itself has put Ann into a killer’s line of fire.

This was the second book in a series, which I didn’t know when I started it. In hindsight, I wish I had read the first book before reading this because it would have helped in knowing the back story of the main character, but it’s not absolutely NECESSARY. 

I had a hard time getting into the book to start. I paused to read two other books in a series and was really invested in them, so it was hard to switch back to this one. That being said, once I sat down to actually read it I was anxious to find out what happened next. I half figured out the mystery not too far into the book, but needed until nearly the end to clarify my wonderings.

Also, the book is FREE with Kindle Unlimited.


Book #167 of 2022: They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller 

🗓PUBLISHED: 4 August 2020

In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.

Freshman year Jill's best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.

Now, it's Jill's senior year and she's determined to make it her best yet. After all, she's a senior 
and a Player--a member of Gold Coast Prep's exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill's year. She's sure of it.

But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham's innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn't kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

Okay, this was a good one. Bookstagram recs don’t always live up to the hype for me, and while I’d agreed with that statement for this story, I would still recommend it. I had the murderer pegged from the beginning, but I still really enjoyed the story in learning why they did it, and watching Jill uncovered who it was. The downside of the story was that is was incredibly unbelievable. Of course it’s a fictional story, but I prefer fiction that’s at least sort of realistic. 


Book #168 of 2022: All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 16 August 2022

You can’t ever know for sure what happens behind closed doors.

Everyone from Wakarusa, Indiana, remembers the infamous case of January Jacobs, who was discovered in a ditch hours after her family awoke to find her gone. Margot Davies was six at the time, the same age as January—and they were next-door neighbors. In the twenty years since, Margot has grown up, moved away, and become a big-city journalist. But she’s always been haunted by the feeling that it could’ve been her. And the worst part is, January’s killer has never been brought to justice.

When Margot returns home to help care for her uncle after he is diagnosed with early-onset dementia, she feels like she’s walked into a time capsule. Wakarusa is exactly how she remembers—genial, stifled, secretive. Then news breaks about five-year-old Natalie Clark from the next town over, who’s gone missing under circumstances eerily similar to January’s. With all the old feelings rushing back, Margot vows to find Natalie and to solve January’s murder once and for all.

But the police, Natalie’s family, the townspeople—they all seem to be hiding something. And the deeper Margot digs into Natalie’s disappearance, the more resistance she encounters, and the colder January’s case feels. Could January’s killer still be out there? Is it the same person who took Natalie? And what will it cost to finally discover what truly happened that night twenty years ago?

Every part of this dialogue here is a spoiler, so if you haven’t read the book yet, continue reading at your own risk.

Once they had “revealed” the killer, I was annoyed. I thought it was a stupid choice because it was too random of a person. I was annoyed that it wasn’t who I thought it would be. Except then the story continues and it WAS at her person I thought it would be, which made a much better story.

I ALMOST think it would have been better without the epilogue. I like the vague way the story ended without you knowing what would finally happen. That being said, I do think what happened in the epilogue was important, it just maybe seemed a little too long-winded? If the author hadn’t included it, we’d never know why January’s killer did what they did, and it wouldn’t make sense not to know. So I’m not sure how to feel about the epilogue. On one hand it was needed, on the other it seemed to be too much.


Book #169 of 2022: Breaking Bailey by Anonymous (3.5/5⭐️)


🗓PUBLISHED: 4 June 2019

Bailey welcomes a fresh start at the prestigious boarding school, Prescott Academy, far away from the painful memories of her mother's death and the unendurable happiness of her father and his new wife. She expects rigorous coursework and long hours of studying - what she doesn't expect is to be inducted into the Science Club, a group of wealthy and intelligent students who run a business cooking up drugs in their spare time.

Suddenly, Bailey has everything she's ever wanted, including a sweet and handsome boyfriend named Warren, the brainy lead chemist in the Club. But as she wades deeper into the murky waters of their business, Bailey finds herself struggling to reconcile her new lifestyle with moral dilemmas she just can't ignore.

Can she have it all without breaking?

TW: Drug Abuse

I love these books because they remind me so much of my favorite, Ellen Hopkins. I’ve read this whole series, so even though I KNEW how this would end, I was hopeful it would change. I feel like the ending for this could have been so good, but the author took the easy way out to keep “on theme” with the rest of the series which was disappointing. The story was so engaging (though infuriating at times), but the last two pages let me down because they continued the trend.


Book #170 of 2022: The Perfect Son by Lauren North (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 13 August 2019

When Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital the day after her son Jamie's eighth birthday, she's sure of these things: She's been stabbed, her son is missing, her brother-in-law and her grief counselor are involved. But no one is listening to her.

After her husband, Mark, died suddenly in a terrible accident a few months earlier, the only thing keeping Tess together is Jamie. As they struggle to make sense of their new life without Mark, they find joy in brief moments of normalcy like walking to school and watching television together. Life is hard without Mark, but Tess has Jamie, and that's what matters.

But there in the hospital, confused and surrounded by people who won't listen, Tess’s world falls apart. To save her son, she must piece together what happened between Mark's death and Jamie's birthday, but the truth might just be too much for her to bear.

This was a random thriller I picked up from the book store this summer. I’d never heard of the title, nor the author, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

I knew something not-obvious was happening, because there were too many unanswered questions that weren’t addressed. I guessed the ending before I got there, and I think that could have been prevented if some of those questions had possible answers, rather than just having been skipped over.

That being said, the final twist was a good one, and I loved how the book ended! 


Book #171 of 2022: The It Girl by Ruth Ware (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 12 July 2022

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

Ware is a pretty well-known thriller writer, though I haven’t read much by her. I feel like I had read one or two and they hadn’t lived up to the hype so I stopped trying.

I’ve begun to run low on audiobooks on Libby that are also on my TBR list, so I decided to try another one of hers. I’m glad I did! I really enjoyed this one!

I liked that there were a lot of options as to who the murderer could be. I was SO SURE I knew who it was from the beginning, but BOTH my predictions ended up being wrong. I guess that’s a sign of good writing! (Or maybe just a tired brain?) Either way, I really enjoyed the story. 


Book #172 of 2022: You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 2020 March 3

Shay Miller wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is increasingly lonely.

Until Shay meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane live a life of glamorous perfection, and always get what they desire. When they invite Shay into their circle, everything seems to get better. Shay would die for them to like her. She may have to. 

I had listened to another Hendricks book last month, and was reminded how much I enjoy her thrillers, so I immediately borrowed two more!

This story was a little bizarre and made me so mad at times. I definitely got irrationally infuriated when some events took place and my jaw dropped at a couple of the twists. I was SO nervous that the story wasn’t going to end how I wanted it to, which may have been good for a literary perspective, but I like a nice wrapped up ending. 

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

Reading Challenge: 172/120 books read in 2022

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