Monday, September 4, 2023

#gretchensbook2023 - July



I am incredibly late in posting this (so late, in fact, that I am also working on August's post). But I am bound and determined to make this the one thing on my "to do" list that I check off today! 


Book #95 of 2023 📱 The Inmate by Freida McFadden ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 13 June 2022

There are three rules Brooke Sullivan must follow as a new nurse practitioner at a men’s maximum-security prison:

1) Treat all prisoners with respect.

2) Never reveal any personal information.

 Never EVER become too friendly with the inmates.

But none of the staff at the prison knows 
Brooke has already broken the rules. Nobody knows about her intimate connection to Shane Nelson, one of the penitentiary’s most notorious and dangerous inmates.

And they certainly don’t know that 
Shane was Brooke’s high school sweetheart—the star quarterback who is now spending the rest of his life in prison for a series of grisly murders. Or that Brooke's testimony was what put him there.

But Shane knows.

And he will never forget.

I thought this book was ending and I was disappointed, but it took a turn that perked me back up again! I liked the twists throughout, even if they happened a little too abruptly at times.


Book #96 of 2923 📖 Security (Jack Randall #4) by Randall Wood ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📚GENRE: Crime Fiction

🗓PUBLISHED: 20 December 2014

Deep under the city of Niagara Falls lies the largest tunnel ever constructed. Soon to be completed it will supply a steady supply of water to the Robert Moses Power Plant, a facility that supplies most of the energy for the upper east coast of the United States. Jack and his team arrive to inspect the security of the project before it goes into operation, but Al Qaeda has other plans. Taking over the facility the terrorist now hold the staff and the entire eastern seaboard hostage. Jack finds himself cut off and trapped. He has two problems. One, he's 400 feet underground, and two, one of the hostages is his wife. The terrorist think they have the upper hand, but they don't know Jack.

This one took me a little longer to get into than previous stories in this series. I had a hard time keeping track of the characters and which side they were on and where in the world they were. It was an interesting topic that I hadn’t read much about in the fiction world (pirates and terrorists), so that aspect was unique to me. While I had a slow start, the story picked up and I was more interested and easily finished it. I like that Jack had more of an appearance in this story that he had in book 3 of the series.


Book #97 of 2023 🎧 Never Lie by Freida McFadden ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 19 September 2022

Newlyweds Tricia and Ethan are searching for the house of their dreams.

But when they visit the remote manor that once belonged to Dr. Adrienne Hale, a renowned psychiatrist who vanished without a trace four years earlier, 
a violent winter storm traps them at the estate… with no chance of escape until the blizzard comes to an end.

In search of a book to keep her entertained until the snow abates, 
Tricia happens upon a secret room. One that contains audio transcripts from every single patient Dr. Hale has ever interviewed. As Tricia listens to the cassette tapes, she learns about the terrifying chain of events leading up to Dr. Hale’s mysterious disappearance

Tricia plays the tapes one by one, late into the night. With each one, another shocking piece of the puzzle falls into place, and
 Dr. Adrienne Hale’s web of lies slowly unravels.

And then Tricia reaches the final cassette. 

The one that reveals the entire horrifying truth.

This was an interesting story with twists I didn’t see coming. I loved the suspense and the way McFadden wrapped the story up was genius. 

(FREE with Amazon Prime!)


Book #98 of 2023 🎧 One by One by Freida McFadden ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 13 July 2020

One by one, they will get what they deserve...

"I stayed up all night reading this book and loved it!" --Amazon

A night spent sleeping on dirt and leaves is not how Claire Matchett expected to spend her vacation.

She thought this would be a break from the stresses of work and raising her young children. A chance to repair her damaged marriage. A week of hiking and hot tubs with two other couple friends. It sounded like heaven.

Then Claire’s minivan breaks down on a lonely dirt road. With no cell reception, the group has no choice but to hike the rest of the way to their hotel. But it turns out the woods aren’t as easy to navigate as they thought.

Hours later, they are lost. Hopelessly lost. 

And as they navigate deeper into the woods, the members of their party are struck down mysteriously one by one. Has a wild animal been hunting them? Or is the hunter one of them?

But as more time passes, one thing becomes clear:

Only one of them will return home alive.

I absolutely did not see the ending coming. And the explanation in the epilogue was very interesting! That being said, the main thing I didn’t like was how it went from the end of the story to the epilogue. The epilogue explained what happened, but it’s just not the same as hearing the story AS it happens. It was a fun story. Well, as fun as murder stories can be. 

(FREE with Kindle Unlimited!)


Book #99 of 2023 🎧 Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger ⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 8 November 2022

What could be more restful than a weekend getaway with family and friends? An isolated luxury cabin in the woods, spectacular views, a hot tub and a personal chef. Hannah’s generous brother found the listing online. The reviews are stellar. It'll be three couples on this trip with good food, good company and lots of R & R.

But the dreamy weekend is about to turn into a nightmare. 

A deadly storm is brewing. The rental host seems just a little too present. The personal chef reveals that their beautiful house has a spine-tingling history. And the friends have their own complicated past, with secrets that run blood deep.

How well does Hannah know her brother, her own husband? Can she trust her best friend? Meanwhile, someone is determined to ruin the weekend, looking to exact a payback for deeds long buried. Who is the stranger among them?

I’m still not sure what my feelings are on this story. The idea is certainly unique. It is told from multiple perspectives, and it definitely kept me guessing on how exactly the stories were all connected. That being said, I’m not sure I’m sold on how it all played out. Maybe I needed more detail on the behind the scenes stuff? I’m not sure.


Book #100 of 2023 📖 The Bleachers by John Grisham ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Sports Fiction

🗓PUBLISHED: 15 July 2004

Now, as Coach Rake’s “boys” sit in the bleachers waiting for the dimming field lights to signal his passing, they replay the old games, relive the old glories, and try to decide once and for all whether they love Eddie Rake – or hate him. For Neely Crenshaw, a man who must finally forgive his coach – and himself – before he can get on with his life, the stakes are especially high.

I was surprised to find I enjoyed this story. It is short compared to Grisham’s other novels, and is not law-based whatsoever. I didn’t love that it glorified an abusive coach, but the high school nostalgia was heartwarming in a strange way.


Book #101 of 2023 🎧 One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📚GENRE: Thriller 

🗓PUBLISHED: 26 April 2022

Opulence. Sex. Betrayal … Sometimes friendship can be deadly.

Meet the women of Buckhead—a place of expensive cars, huge houses, and competitive friendships.

Shannon was once the queen bee of Buckhead. But she’s been unceremoniously dumped by Bryce, her politician husband. When Bryce replaces her with a much younger woman, Shannon sets out to take revenge …

Crystal has stepped into Shannon’s old shoes. A young, innocent Texan girl, she simply has no idea what she’s up against …

Olivia has waited years to take Shannon’s crown as the unofficial queen of Buckhead. Finally, her moment has come. But to take her rightful place, she will need to use every backstabbing, manipulative, underhand trick in the book …

Jenny owns Glow, the most exclusive salon in town. Jenny knows all her clients’ secrets and darkest desires. But will she ever tell?

Who amongst these women will be clever enough to survive Buckhead—and who will wind up dead? They say that friendships can be complex, but no one said it could ever be this deadly.

I decided to borrow this book because I had enjoyed other thrillers by this author. I thought the story was unique in that you didn’t know which character died until the end of the book. I enjoyed the multi-perspective throughout the story, though I liked some characters and couldn’t stand others. 

FREE with Audible!


Book #102 of 2023 📖 Mary, Will I Die by Shawn Sarles ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📚GENRE: YA Horror

🗓PUBLISHED: 7 September 2021

It starts innocently enough. Four kids - three girls, one boy - are at one of their houses, playing games. One of them has read about "Bloody Mary" and the idea that if you look into a mirror and say her name thirteen times, she will show you the future. Some legends say she'll show you your one true love or a skull to mark your death within five years. Others say that conjuring Bloody Mary will bring her into your world.

Both sets of legends are true. The kids go through with the act, saying her name thirteen times. One girl looks in the mirror and sees her longtime crush. One girl looks in the mirror and sees the boy in the group. But she pretends to see something else. One girl looks in the mirror and sees a girl she's never seen before but can't get out of her mind. And the boy . . . he sees a skull. But he pretends to see something else. They try to laugh it off. And mostly they forget about it. Or at least they don't talk about it. Yet over the next few years, whenever they look into a mirror, it's like there's always another figure standing in the background, getting closer.

Just short of five years later, the four of them are no longer friends, having gone on separate paths. The girl whose house it was has always tried to avoid the mirror they used - because she always sensed someone in the background. One morning as she's passing by, she sees much more than her own reflection - it's a scary figure taunting her. She startles and breaks the mirror. When the pieces are put back together (barely), the figure is gone.

That day in school, a new girl arrives. Her name is Mary . . . .

This was a random purchase from Scholastic when I needed to meet a spend. I always enjoy middle grade and YA horror, and this one was no different! The cover was creepy, and I had to keep it covered or upside down when I wasn’t reading it. The story definitely had a creepy feel to it!


Book #103 of 2023 🎧 Want to Know A Secret? By Freida McFadden ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 5 January 2021

Everyone has secrets.

YouTube baking sensation April Masterson knows the secret to the perfect gooey brownies. Or how to make key lime squares that will melt in your mouth. But if you keep watching her offline, you may find out some other secrets about April. 
Secrets she’d rather you didn’t know.

Like where did her son go when he snuck out of the house? What was she doing with the local soccer coach behind fogged windows?

And what’s buried in her backyard?

Everyone has secrets. Some are worse than others.

April’s secrets are enough to destroy her. 

I’ll make sure of that.

McFadden does it again! I thought this story would be pretty obvious, but I should have known better. I was so interested to see how it all played out, and loved how McFadden engineered the ending. What a fun little mystery this was!

FREE on Kindle Unlimited!


Book #104 of 2023 🎧 Ward D by Freida McFadden ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 8 May 2023

Medical student Amy Brenner is spending the night on a locked psychiatric ward.

Amy has been dreading her evening working on Ward D, the hospital’s inpatient mental health unit. There are very specific reasons why she never wanted to do this required overnight rotation.
 Reasons nobody can ever find out.

And as the hours tick by, Amy grows increasingly convinced 
something terrible is happening within these tightly secured walls. When patients and staff start to vanish without a trace, it becomes clear that everyone on the unit is in grave danger.

Amy’s worst nightmare was spending the night on Ward D.

And now she might never escape.

This took a turn I did not expect! I love the anticipation that McFadden had in this novel.

FREE on Kindle Unlimited!


Book #105 of 2023 🎧 Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 9 June 2020

When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

This book had been on my TBR list for awhile, because I’d enjoyed other thrillers from this author. I really enjoyed this mystery too! I’m not sure I loved the ending, but I do think that it was a good ending for the story, even if I wanted things to be different. 


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

Reading Challenge: 105 /120 books read in 2023

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

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