Sunday, June 4, 2023

#gretchensbooks2023 - May


So, about reading this month… I would have thought I’d get a lot of audiobooks in due to travel, but I started May listening to the whole Taylor Swift discography to prepare for the Eras Tour, and then I finished May listening to the whole Taylor Swift discography to relive the Eras Tour!

My allergies were SO BAD this month, that I hardly had the energy for physical books. I’m disappointed in my reading this month, but am prepared for summer reading to start!!


Book #76 of 2023 📖 The Summons by John Grisham 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

📚GENRE: Legal Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 27 September 2005

Ray Atlee is a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He's 43, newly single, and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. He has a younger brother, Forrest, who redefines the notion of a family's black sheep. 

And he has a father, a very sick old man who lives alone in the ancestral home in Clanton, Mississippi. He is known to all as Judge Atlee, a beloved and powerful official who has towered over local law and politics for 40 years. No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse. With the end in sight, Judge Atlee issues a summons for both sons to return home to Clanton, to discuss the details of his estate. It is typed by the Judge himself, on his handsome old stationery, and gives the date and time for Ray and Forrest to appear in his study.

Ray reluctantly heads south, to his hometown, to the place where he grew up, which he prefers now to avoid. But the family meeting does not take place. The Judge dies too soon, and in doing so leaves behind a shocking secret known only to Ray.

And perhaps someone else.


I decided to start May with my monthly John Grisham read so I could start packing up my books. I don’t remember if I’d read this one before, but I could not put it down. It’s not super law-y, but it is partially set in Clanton, Mississippi, which is my FAVORITE setting of his. I need Netflix or someone to do a series about Clanton. The movies are not enough! Anyway, this book was so engaging to me. I kind of predicted the ending, but it was so well written. 


Book #77 of 2023 📖 The Good Lie by A. R. Torre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 20 July 2021

Six teens murdered. A suspect behind bars. A desperate father. In a case this shadowy, the truth is easy to hide.

Psychiatrist Dr. Gwen Moore is an expert on killers. She’s spent a decade treating California’s most depraved predators and unlocking their motives―predators much like the notorious Bloody Heart serial killer, whose latest teenage victim escaped and then identified local high school teacher Randall Thompson as his captor. The case against Thompson as the Bloody Heart Killer is damning―and closed, as far as Gwen and the media are concerned. If not for one new development…

Defense attorney Robert Kavin is a still-traumatized father whose own son fell prey to the BH Killer. Convinced of Thompson’s innocence, he steps in to represent him. Now Robert wants Gwen to interview the accused, create a psych profile of the killer and his victims, and help clear his client’s name.

As Gwen and Robert grow closer and she dives deeper into the investigation, grave questions arise. So does Gwen’s suspicion that Robert is hiding something―and that he might not be the only one with a secret.


This came highly recommended on bookstagram, so I ordered it from Amazon and devoured it! The story was very engaging, and I did not predict the ending at all. I loved all the mystery and suspense throughout - it definitely kept me guessing!


Book #78 of 2023 🎧 Bad Girl Reputation (Avalon Bay #2) by Elle Kennedy ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📚GENRE: Contemporary Romance

🗓PUBLISHED: 4 October 2022

When former bad girl Genevieve West returns home for her mother’s funeral, she’s prepared to keep her distance from her ex-boyfriend, Evan Hartley. Their history is rife with turbulence. And passion. A heck of a lot of passion...which she’s trying desperately to forget. 

But it’s impossible not to run into Evan in the small coastal town where they once ran wild. And the moment she sees her gorgeous ex again, it’s clear to Gen that Evan is still as unruly, sexy, and irresistible as ever. This time around, however, she’s resolved to walk a new path. No more partying. No more foolish mistakes. Her plan is to temporarily remain in town to help her father run his business, but the second he finds somebody else, she’s out of there.

Evan has other ideas. He knows they can be good together, but he just has to convince Genevieve of that, even if it means turning over a new leaf himself. But can a bad reputation ever truly be shed? Do second chances really work? Genevieve and Evan are about to find out.


This was a fun romance story, and the second in the Avalon Bay series. The third comes out this summer, and I will definitely be reading it! I like the characters in the series, and though it’s pretty predictable, it was fun to listen to.

FREE on Kindle Unlimited!


Book #79 of 2023 📖 The Delphi Murders: The Quest to Find The Man on the Bridge by Nic Edwards 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

📚GENRE: Non-Fiction/True Crime

🗓PUBLISHED: 17 April 2023

On February 13, 2017, two Indiana teenagers, Abigail Williams, 13, and Liberty German, 14, went for a walk in the woods near the abandoned Monon High Bridge. 

They never returned home. 

Their bodies were discovered on Valentine's Day morning, sparking a torrent of news coverage and social media speculation that engrossed the attention of people around the world. 

A grainy photo of the suspected killer walking across the bridge and a chilling cellphone recording of his voice saying "down the hill" captured the public's attention. Numerous possible suspects were brought to the attention of the authorities but dismissed, leaving everyone wondering who could have committed such a heinous crime. 

Author Nic Edwards, host of the wildly popular True Crime Garage podcast, was fascinated by the case and for years conducted his own extensive research and commentary. As such he was able to dissect the investigation that included an extensive list of possible suspects, such as a hatchet-wielding lunatic, a kidnapper with unusual tattoos, a murderous pastor, a rapist, and a father and son catfishing team.

Then in late October 2022, local pharmacy technician Richard Allen was charged with the murders. His arrest raised multiple questions about how he was able to evade law enforcement for so long and what motivated him to commit such a horrific crime.

In THE DELPHI MURDERS: The Quest To Find ‘The Man On The Bridge’, Edwards and his bestselling co-author Brian Whitney (YOU HAVE A VERY SOFT VOICE, SUSAN) provide a detailed account of the investigation from the day the girls’ bodies were found to the events leading up to Allen's arrest, and unique insight into the minds of the killer and those who worked tirelessly to bring him to justice.


I figured I’d like this book, because I love the author in TCG, but I didn’t know I’d like it as much as I did! I loved that is referenced so many other cases as well. I thought that would bother me, since they didn’t directly correlate to the Delphi case, but also they kinda did, and they were interesting anyway. Also, how did I miss that Nic and the Captain were brothers?? I just thought they were besties! 

FREE on Kindle Unlimited!


Book #80 of 2023 📖 Smoky Mountain Ghostlore by Juanita Baldwin ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📚GENRE: Ghost Stories

🗓PUBLISHED: 1 April 2005

This is a collection of ghost and paranormal tales. Most of the events in this book cannot be explained with the knowledge that humankind has acquired to this time and place. There are 22 stories, many told by the person who experienced the event.


Buying ghost story books seems to be my new souvenir when I travel, and I’m not mad about it! Kinda wish I would have started this trend sooner, tbh. The stories were brief and interesting. It was fun to read about the places I had just traveled to, but also it made me want to visit the places that I hadn’t!


I just wish there was a little more to the stories. More substance, more detail.

FREE on Kindle Unlimited!


Book #81 of 2023 🎧 Paris: The Memoir by Paris Hilton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Non-Fiction/Memoir

🗓PUBLISHED: 14 March 2023

I was born in New York City on February 17, 1981, three days after Valentine’s Day. 

From the time I was a toddler, my brain skipped and flickered with the chemical imbalance of ADHD. Sometimes it was too much.

I’m not bragging or complaining about it, just telling you: This is my brain. It has a lot to do with how this whole book thing is going to play out, because I love run-on sentences—and dashes. And sentence fragments. I’m probably going to jump around a lot while I tell the story.

I came of age during the most turbulent pop culture period ever.

The character I played—part Lucy, part Marilyn—was my steel-plated armor.

People loved her. Or they loved to hate her, which was just as marketable. I leaned into that character, my ticket to financial freedom and a safe place to hide. I made sure I never had a quiet moment to figure out who I was without her. I was afraid of that moment because I didn’t know what I’d find.

I wrote this book in an effort to understand my place in a watershed moment: the technology renaissance, the age of influencers. I also wrote this book so that the world could know who I am today. I focused on key aspects of my life that led to what I am most proud of--how my power was taken away from me and how I took it back, how I built a thriving business, a marriage and a family.

There are so many young women who need to hear this story. I don’t want them to learn from my mistakes; I want them to stop hating themselves for their own mistakes. I want them to laugh and cry and embrace every aspect of who they are with fearlessness and pride. We all have our own brand of intelligence, and, girl, fuck fitting in.


I honestly didn’t know that much about Paris before listening to this book, and what I did “know,” what solely based off media exploits. This was super interesting to me, because I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know! Her story was interesting, and also sad and scary. I can’t imagine going through some of what she went through. 


Book #82 of 2023 🎧 Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano ⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Literary Fiction

🗓PUBLISHED: 14 March 2023

William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him—so when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him. With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos.

But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most?


It was a sweet story, and well-written. It reminded me very much of Little Women, and not just because they referenced it a lot.


This book wasn’t for me. I nearly DNF’d it, but decided I was already halfway and that I would power through. It was just way too slow paced for me, and felt like there was too much cushion and not enough interesting things happening. it came highly recommended on bookstagram, but it’s just not my genre of choice, I think.


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

Reading Challenge: 82/120 books read in 2023

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

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