Tuesday, January 31, 2023

#gretchensbooks2023 - January


I definitely started the year off well with 20 books read this month! It was heavy in audiobooks, but I'm hoping to make up for that in February, as I have a 5 book series stacked on my nightstand I'm hoping to get through (plus countless others, of course). Also, does anyone have good audiobook recommendations for Libby? I keep finding authors I've read and borrowing everything by them that I haven't because nothing left on my TBR is on Libby! Or, do you have other recommendations for where to borrow audiobooks from?


Book #1 of 2023 πŸ“– Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Memoir

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 18 October 2022

From the magical moments on set as Draco Malfoy to the challenges of growing up in the spotlight, get a backstage pass into Tom Felton’s life on and off the big screen. 

Tom Felton’s adolescence was anything but ordinary. His early rise to fame in beloved films like The Borrowers catapulted him into the limelight, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come after he landed the iconic role of the Draco Malfoy, the bleached blonde villain of the Harry Potter movies. For the next ten years, he was at the center of a huge pop culture phenomenon and yet, in between filming, he would go back to being a normal teenager trying to fit into a normal school. 
Speaking with great candor and his signature humor, Tom shares his experience growing up as part of the wizarding world while also trying to navigate the muggle world. He tells stories from his early days in the business like his first acting gig where he was mistaken for fellow blonde child actor Macaulay Culkin and his 
Harry Potter audition where, in a very Draco-like move, he fudged how well he knew the books the series was based on (not at all). He reflects on his experiences working with cinematic greats such as Alan Rickman, Sir Michael Gambon, Dame Maggie Smith, and Ralph Fiennes (including that awkward Voldemort hug). And, perhaps most poignantly, he discusses the lasting relationships he made over that decade of filming, including with Emma Watson, who started out as a pesky nine-year-old whom he mocked for not knowing what a boom mic was but who soon grew into one of his dearest friends. Then, of course, there are the highs and lows of fame and navigating life after such a momentous and life-changing experience.
Tom Felton’s 
Beyond the Wand is an entertaining, funny, and poignant must-read for any Harry Potter fan. Prepare to meet a real-life wizard.


I think Tom did a great job at describing the events he included in his memoir. I could imagine what it was like to be there (easier during the HP moments of course, since I have an actual visual to what the set looked like). It’s fun to read about who the kid behind Draco Malfoy really was. So often if seems like actors play characters really well because they can relate this them, but Tom is obviously not the jerk of a human that Malfoy was raised to be.

I also really liked the variety of pictures included, and I liked that they were in multiple parts of the book, not all just in the middle. I hate when all the pictures are in the middle because some are so far from that part of the story, and others include people you haven’t even read about yet.

I learned a lot about the filming of the HP movies that I didn’t already know, and especially enjoy finding the answers to questions I’d been wondering. For example, as Matthew Lewis turned into a regulation-hottie, they had to ugly-fy him for the movies so he’d still look like dorky Neville. Also, they used a 6 ft 10 in rugby player in a giant suit as Hagrid much of the time so he would look like a giant. 


The word “cheeky” was way over-used.


Book #2 of 2023 πŸŽ§ This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Contemporary Fiction

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 17 May 2022

On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it’s her dad:  the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?


“I look like a fucking cherub angel baby.”


I really enjoyed the main character/narrator. She was relatable and humorous. I thought the performer did a great job narrating her as well.

I think this was a really good choice for my first audiobook of the year, because it definitely made me contemplate life, the time I have with the people I love, and the choices I make now and the effect they’ll have on my future. 

It’s a common troupe, but I do feel like Straub had a unique take on it. She wrote a meaningful story without making it too heavy.

(FREE on Kindle Unlimited!)


Book #3 of 2023 πŸŽ§ Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Contemporary Fiction

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 30 November 2021

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the GalΓ‘pagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. 
You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

In the GalΓ‘pagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

I read my first Jodi Picoult book in high school, and I was not a fan. This was disappointing because so many people raved about her. I didn’t dislike the book, I just thought it was drawn out. I read a few more over the years, and still didn’t love them. That being said, I’ve really enjoyed the books she has published over the last five or so years, which is why I ended up listening to this one.


I really liked the performer that narrated the story. It just happened to be the same performer from the last book I listened to.

Part one was awesome! Loved it! I had high hopes for where the story was going.


I did NOT love the end of part one. Or the beginning of part two. I was so mad at first. It grew to be okay, but while reading part one I had in my head how I wanted the story to go and that was NOT what happened. I mean I guess it sort of did, but not the way I thought it should.

That all to say, it was a good book, even if it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. The story was well-written and I didn’t feel like she drug it out the way I usually feel Picoult does.


Book #4 of 2023 πŸŽ§ Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller 

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 2 August 2022

Can you stop a murder after it’s already happened?

Late October. After midnight. You’re waiting up for your eighteen-year-old son. He’s past curfew. As you watch from the window, he emerges, and you realize he isn’t alone: he’s walking toward a man, and he’s armed.

You can’t believe it when you see him do it: your funny, happy teenage son, he kills a stranger, right there on the street outside your house. You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your son is now in custody, his future shattered.

That night you fall asleep in despair. All is lost.

Until you wake . . .

. . . and it is yesterday.

And then you wake again . . .

. . . and it is the day before yesterday.

Every morning you wake up a day earlier, another day before the murder. With another chance to stop it. Somewhere in the past lies an answer. The trigger for this crime—and you don’t have a choice but to find it . . .

I stumbled across a different book by this author last year when I was looking for new audiobooks to listen to and really enjoyed it, so when this one came out I figured I should add it to my list as well.


I did like how the story ended, but it took me a lot of the book to get to liking it. The second half was fairly engaging and piqued my interest more in the story.


The story was very slow-paced. I had a hard time getting into it, and probably would have DNF’d it if I hadn’t really liked the previous book by this author. 


Book #5 of 2023 πŸ“– The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5


πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 10 October 2017

TW: sexual assault, rape

Who are the Nowhere Girls?

They’re every girl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and 
Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.


I loved the message behind it, especially in a YA novel. The fact that different viewpoints about topics like sex were both voiced and accepted was great. I liked the variety in the characters. The made me very emotional, sometimes very bad emotions, but that is a sign of good writing. I teared up at the end, and I thought the closure was perfect. The second half of the book moved along very quickly and I could not turn the pages fast enough. I would absolutely recommend this for any YA reader.


This book started out a little slow for me. Sometimes you don’t know who is narrating, which is intentional, but kind of lost me. The way the “movement” started was too unbelievable for me as well. The girl who was initially raped and the girl who decided to do something about it had never even met, so it was odd that she felt called to step up. I think maybe some of the conversations were a bit too advanced for what actual teens would have, so it was unrealistic in that sense (but I do think it was an important part of the story, so I can’t say I actually DISLIKED that part, just that it wasn’t realistic).


Book #6 of 2023 πŸŽ§ Going Rogue: Rise and Shine Twenty-Nine by Janet Evanovich ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Humor/Fiction

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 1 November 2022

Monday mornings aren’t supposed to be fun, but they should be predictable. However, on this particular Monday, Stephanie Plum knows that something is amiss when she turns up for work at Vinnie’s Bail Bonds to find that longtime office manager Connie Rosolli, who is as reliable as the tides in Atlantic City, hasn’t shown up.

Stephanie’s worst fears are confirmed when she gets a call from Connie’s abductor. He says he will only release her in exchange for a mysterious coin that a recently murdered man left as collateral for his bail. Unfortunately, this coin, which should be in the office—just like Connie—is nowhere to be found.

The quest to discover the coin, learn its value, and save Connie will require the help of Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur, her best pal Lula, her boyfriend Morelli, and hunky security expert Ranger. As they get closer to unraveling the reasons behind Connie’s kidnapping, Connie’s captor grows more threatening and soon Stephanie has no choice but to throw caution to the wind, follow her instincts, and go rogue.

This is the one series that I PREFER the audiobook to a physical copy. I enjoyed reading them - I think they make GREAT poolside reads, but the performer of this series is perfection.


As per usual, I loved the performer of the audiobook. She narrates the characters so well, you can feel their personalities ooze out of the voices. The humor was still there in this book with the clever one-liners.


The storyline just didn’t click for me in this one. It’s rare that the storylines of this series is super engaging (I read them more because they’re light and humorous), but this storyline was just very meh.


Book #7 of 2023 πŸŽ§ Forward: A Memoir by Abby Wambach ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Memoir

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 13 September 2016

Abby Wambach has always pushed the limits of what is possible. At age seven she was put on the boys’ soccer team. At age thirty-five she would become the highest goal scorer—male or female—in the history of soccer, capturing the nation’s heart with her team’s 2015 World Cup Championship. Called an inspiration and “badass” by President Obama, Abby has become a fierce advocate for women’s rights and equal opportunity, pushing to translate the success of her team to the real world.

As she reveals in this searching memoir, Abby’s professional success often masked her inner struggle to reconcile the various parts of herself: ferocious competitor, daughter, leader, wife. With stunning candor, Abby shares her inspiring and often brutal journey from girl in Rochester, New York, to world-class athlete. Far more than a sports memoir, Forward is gripping tale of resilience and redemption—and a reminder that heroism is, above all, about embracing life’s challenges with fearlessness and heart.

I got this book from Audible sometime last year, but was waiting to listen to it until I ran out of books to read on Libby. It just so happened this month I ran out of Libby loans, so while I waited for a hold to end, I finally popped back over to Audible to listen to this!


I liked that Abby narrated the audio for this book. Usually author’s of memoirs do, and that definitely adds to the story.

The overall writing was good, though nothing outstanding. I enjoy hearing about Abby’s experiences growing up and what led her to play professional women’s soccer. I found it interesting that she didn’t even like soccer growing up! 

(FREE on Kindle Unlimited!)


Book #8 of 2023 πŸŽ§ The Locked Door by Freida McFadden ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 1 June 2021

Some doors are locked for a reason…

While eleven-year-old Nora Davis was up in her bedroom doing homework, she had no idea her father was killing women in the basement.

Until the day the police arrived at their front door.

Decades later, Nora’s father is spending his life behind bars, and Nora is a successful surgeon with a quiet, solitary existence. Nobody knows her father was a notorious serial killer. And she intends to keep it that way.

Then Nora discovers one of her young female patients has been murdered. In the same unique and horrific manner that her father used to kill his victims.

Somebody knows who Nora is. Somebody wants her to take the fall for this unthinkable crime. But she’s not a killer like her father. The police can’t pin anything on her.

As long as they don’t look in her basement.

My next audiobook in my queue had an estimated borrow date of six weeks from now, so I had to search out some new books. I’d seen this author come up a few times as a good thriller writer, so I promptly placed a hold/borrowed all of hers that were listed on Libby.


I was pretty proud of myself for pegging the culprit only 16% into the book! I didn’t know why it would be them, I just knew it would be. The storyline was interesting and mildly unique.


The performer of this book was awful. Her voice was so nasally it was irritating. Also, I felt like it the story was very obviously pushing towards one of the characters being the “bad guy,” which made it obvious that they weren’t. Also I didn’t particularly find the main character to be very likeable, and I prefer to read about characters that I like.

(FREE on Kindle if you have AMAZON PRIME!)


Book #9 of 2023 πŸŽ§ Do Not Disturb by Freida McFadden ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 7 September 2021

Quinn Alexander has committed an unthinkable crime.

To avoid spending her life in prison, Quinn makes a run for it.  She leaves behind her home, her job, and her family. She grabs her passport and heads for the northern border 
before the police can discover what she’s done.


I thought the story was unique and held twists that I definitely did not see coming!


The ending was maybe a little TOO far-fetched. I like when I don’t see it coming, but also I feel like it’s not fair to totally flip the script.

(FREE on kindle if you have AMAZON PRIME).


Book #10 of 2023 πŸ“± A Burning Obsession (Abby Mullen #3) by Mike Omer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller/Police Procedural 

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 8 November 2022

In this conclusion of the Abby Mullen Thrillers by the New York Times bestselling author of A Killer’s Mind, a hostage negotiator has one last chance to stop a deadly threat from her past.

When a series of suspicious fires leaves multiple victims dead in their homes, NYPD hostage negotiator Abby Mullen knows in her bones that the terrors of her childhood have returned. As a young girl, she narrowly escaped a fire set by Moses Wilcox, a fanatical cult leader who’s been presumed dead for thirty years. These murders have his fingerprints all over them.

Meanwhile, razor-sharp criminal profiler Zoe Bentley is investigating the arsons―but she’s never seen an offender like this. Zoe needs insight from someone who understands the mind of a cult leader. Someone like Abby Mullen.

As the unlikely duo teams up on the case, it’s time for Abby to face the memories she’s always wanted to forget: the cult that defined her childhood, the fire that killed her family, and the man who engineered it all. The race is on to catch a killer―even if it means braving the fiery wreckage of Abby’s past.

This was the final book released in the Abby Mullen trilogy. I’ve really loved all of Mike Omer’s trilogies and highly recommend them!


I really enjoyed that a main character from a different series of Omer’s was brought into this book, because that character was who enticed me to read his books in the first place. I enjoy the strange interactions between Zoe and everyone else in the story, and I thought this was a great way to end the trilogy.

(FREE on Kindle Unlimited)


Book #11 of 2023 πŸ“± Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie S. Allen πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ/5

πŸ“šGENRE: YA Contemporary Fiction/Sports

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 1 October 2019

When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it's time to even the score. Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls' hockey team off the ice this year. If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there's still one team left in town...The boys' team isn't exactly welcoming, but Michigan's prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her. But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up --- even if it means putting her future on the line.


“I consider screaming that my name is Mike Eruzione and I play for the United States of America to see if that will make it stop.”

I was suppose to get a physical copy of this book back before it was published from Goodreads, but it never showed up. This was also before I knew how to report that it never showed up. I’m was very sad about it then because the book sounded good, but I’m even more sad about it now, because the book was good!


Well I obviously loved that it was based around hockey. The story was really tough and emotional at times, and the writing was so good.  I was so, so angry. And I cried a couple times, from anger and sadness and happiness. I LOVE the main character. She may not have always made the best decisions, but I think she always did things with good intentions. I also super loved the female friendships in this book. I was worried they would be pitted against each other, but they were so supportive.


Book #12 of 2023 πŸ“– The Testament by John Grisham ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Legal Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 2 February 1999

Because Troy Phelan’s new will names a sole surprise heir to his eleven-billion-dollar fortune: a mysterious woman named Rachel Lane, a missionary living deep in the jungles of Brazil.

Enter the lawyers. Nate O’Riley is fresh out of rehab, a disgraced corporate attorney handpicked for his last job: to find Rachel Lane at any cost. As Phelan’s family circles like vultures in D.C., Nate goes crashing through the Brazilian jungle, entering a world where money means nothing, where death is just one misstep away, and where a woman—pursued by enemies and friends alike—holds a stunning surprise of her own.

I’m almost positive I hadn’t read this Grisham book before - probably one of very few! I read the description with no familiarity, and even less idea of where this story would possibly go.


Usually I prefer Grisham’s books to be very low based, and while legal dealings were a big part of the story, there was another large part that dealt more with the personal growth of the characters that was very enjoyable. I also really liked the travel aspect of this story and now I would like to hop on a plane to Brazil!


Book #13 of 2023 πŸŽ§ The Wife Upstairs by Freida McFadden ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 23 March 2020

Victoria Barnett has it all.

A great career as a nurse practitioner. A handsome and loving husband. A beautiful home in the suburbs and a plan to fill it with children. Life is perfect—or so it seems.

Then she’s in a terrible accident… and everything falls apart.

Now Victoria is unable to walk. She can’t feed or dress herself. She can’t even speak. She is confined to the top floor of her house with twenty-four-hour care.

Sylvia Robinson is hired by Victoria’s husband to help care for her. But it turns out Victoria isn’t as impaired as Sylvia was led to believe. There’s a story Victoria desperately wants to tell… if only she could get out the words.

Then Sylvia discovers Victoria’s diary hidden away in a drawer.

And what’s inside is shocking.


I loved all of the suspense in this book! I was furious almost the whole story for one reason or another. The characters made me so angry! But that means the writing was good.


It felt like the author didn’t know how to end this. Like she couldn’t decide which twist to go with in the end. 

Side note: This book very much had Verity by Colleen Hoover vibes.

(FREE on Kindle with AMAZON PRIME)


Book #14 of 2023 πŸŽ§ Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda ⭐️⭐️✨/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 13 July 2021

Welcome to Hollow’s Edge, where you can find secrets, scandal, and a suspected killer—all on one street.

Hollow’s Edge use to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truetts’ murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.


I liked the main character enough, and I thought the story had a lot of potential. The writing was good.


I didn’t feel like it was dramatic or suspenseful enough. At one point I looked at my book progress and realized I was over 80% through it. I was shocked, because I didn’t feel like anything really happened! It was a pretty tame thriller.  I also thought the ending could have been a lot better. 


Book #15 of 2023 πŸŽ§ The Arrangement by Kiersten Modglin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 28 January 2021

Ainsley Greenburg is a fixer. It’s what she prides herself on. 

So when Ainsley realizes her marriage is at its breaking point, she makes a decision to repair it, no matter the cost. Approaching her husband to propose the arrangement is supposed to be the hard part, but Peter agrees to the salacious plan almost immediately. 

The rules are simple:

  • They will each date someone new once a week. 
  • They will never discuss what happens on the dates. 

Soon, though, the rules are broken, turning terrible mistakes into unspeakable consequences. 

When the only person they can count on to keep their darkest secret is each other, new questions and deceits surface. Can they truly trust the person they share a life with, or will the vicious lies that have mounted over the years destroy everything they’ve built? 

Once, Peter and Ainsley vowed to stand together forever, but as they push boundaries of deception, suspicion, and temptation, each begins to wonder if ’til death do us part may come sooner than they’d intended.


Oh, this was delightfully delicious! It was a quick read thriller, but don’t let its 200 pages fool you. This book was jam-packed with suspense, and just when you think you have things figure out, there’s more! It was a very fast-paced story.


I didn’t really love the characters, but they weren’t awful. Also a couple things that happened were pretty implausible, even for a fictional story. 

(FREE with Kindle Unlimited)


Book #16 of 2023 πŸ“– Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 28 May 2019

How far would you go to protect the ones you love…when they may not be yours to protect?

When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.

Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.

As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…


The drama throughout this whole story was intense! I thought the story was very engaging and had enough twists in it to keep it entertaining, but without being over the top.


The final resolution was a little too out there for me. I like most of how it wrapped up, but the big mystery closure felt off.


Book #17 of 2023 πŸ“– Have I Told You This Already?: Stories I Don’t Want to Forget to Remember by Lauren Graham ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Memoir

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 15 November 2022

Lauren Graham has graced countless television screens with her quick-witted characters and hilarious talk show appearances, earning a reputation as a pop culture icon who always has something to say. In her latest book, Have I Told You This Already?, Graham combines her signature sense of humor with down-to-earth storytelling. Graham shares personal stories about her life and career—from her early days spent pounding the pavement while waitressing in New York City, to living on her aunt’s couch during her first Los Angeles pilot season, to thoughts on aging gracefully in Hollywood.


“I don’t think we remind the children of that enough, and I worry about them all thinking more about their accomplishments…rather than having a simple, happy life full of friends and books and staring at the sky for no reason.”


I love Lauren Graham’s voice. I’m sure the book was very intentionally edited, but I like that it reads as a stream of consciousness. 


The essays weren’t as interesting as her first memoir. 


Book #18 of 2023 πŸŽ§ The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Thriller

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 23 June 2020

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and help vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking up outside her home. Until late one night, she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

I’ll be binging Megan Miranda audiobooks over the next month, because I ran out of other books to listen to, and Libby had a handful of hers that I hadn’t read yet!


I found the main character to be very likeable. The twists, though I knew they’d happen, we’re still unpredictable. I thought the ending was perfect for the story. 


I felt like the pace was a little slow, and the suspense lacking. 


Book #19 of 2023 πŸŽ§ The Devil Wears Scrubs by Freida McFadden ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Romantic Comedy

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 15 November 2013

Newly minted doctor Jane McGill is in hell.

Not literally, of course. But between her drug addict patients, sleepless nights on call, and battling wits with the sadistic yet charming Sexy Surgeon, Jane can’t imagine an afterlife much worse than her first month of medical internship at County Hospital.

And then there’s the devil herself: Jane’s senior resident Dr. Alyssa Morgan. When Alyssa becomes absolutely hell-bent on making her new interns pay tenfold for the deadly sin of incompetence, Jane starts to worry that she may not make it through the year with her soul or her sanity still intact.

I was unsure about this one, since all of McFadden’s books that I’d read so far were thrillers and this one definitely wasn’t, but I ended up enjoying it!


This book definitely got some laughs out of me! The storyline wasn’t funny, but some of the dialogue made me chuckle. 


The storyline wasn’t super exciting. Actually, I don’t really feel like there was a real storyline. It was more just events. 

(FREE with Kindle Unlimited)


Book #20 of 2023 πŸ“± Reverse (The Bittersweet Symphony Duet #2) by Kate Stewart πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ/5

πŸ“šGENRE: Romance

πŸ—“PUBLISHED: 16 July 2022

Thirty years ago, my father became the other half of a broken love story.

A relationship he’s kept hidden for decades.

Upon unearthing his secret through a series of emails in our paper’s archives, I began my search for the truth. Haunted by my father’s love story, and in my quest for answers, I never imagined I would discover a love of my own. Or that my love for Easton Crowne would be key in discovering the reason behind what split our parents up.

Doomed from the start and knowing the havoc our relationship would inevitably wreak on our families, I could never have prepared for the toll it would take or the cost of the truth.

But in order to find our ending, we had to go back to their beginning.

My name is Natalie Butler, and this is my star-crossed love story.


“Intelligent men don’t let life-changing women pass them by without trying to grasp onto them with both hands.”

First off, go read Drive, the prequel to this book. It’s amazing.


I loved the chemistry between the characters. I love the whole story. I love that I didn’t know if they’d end up together or not (even though I obviously wanted them to). I love that this story made me cry (much like it’s predecessor). I loved the final shock at the end!

Also, when you read this, you MUST listen to the accompanying playlist. You can find it on YouTube or Spotify, or just search the song at the beginning of each chapter. It adds SO MUCH to the reading experience.


I did feel like the story drug put a bit in places. Also, I wasn’t sold on Natalie’s excuse for seeking out Easton. I think the author could have done a better job building up to that. It was super brief, and knowing the emotion she can build, I felt like it definitely could have been done better.

(FREE with Kindle Unlimited!)


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

Reading Challenge: 20/120 books read in 2023

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