Tuesday, October 3, 2023

#gretchensbooks2023 - September

I feel like I've barely been healthy enough to read this month! And the days I was healthy, I had something going on. School starting usually slows down the reading, so hopefully I can pick it back up a bit in October. By June I was on track to read 200 books this year. Then summer happened and I'm barely making it to my goal of 120!

Book #112 of 2023 🎧 Roomies by Christina Lauren ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📚GENRE: Contemporary Romance

🗓PUBLISHED: 5 December 2017

Marriages of convenience are so...inconvenient. 

For months Holland Bakker has invented excuses to descend into the subway station near her apartment, drawn to the captivating music performed by her street musician crush. Lacking the nerve to actually 
talk to the gorgeous stranger, fate steps in one night in the form of a drunken attacker. Calvin Mcloughlin rescues her, but quickly disappears when the police start asking questions.

Using the only resource she has to pay the brilliant musician back, Holland gets Calvin an audition with her uncle, Broadway’s hottest musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until his reason for disappearing earlier becomes clear: he’s in the country illegally, his student visa having expired years ago.

Seeing that her uncle needs Calvin as much as Calvin needs him, a wild idea takes hold of her. Impulsively, she marries the Irishman, her infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves and Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway—in the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting—will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

Man, this book. I can’t decide how I feel. I liked Holland and Calvin. I loved the music theme! And the way Holland’s mind worked was definitely relatable. That being said, this story was just so unbelievable! I know most romance stories like this are cheesy and unrealistic, but to marry someone you LITERALLY just met?? YIKES! I’m trying not to be too realistic with this because it’s obviously just a story, but it was hard for me to completely look past.


Book #113 of 2023 🎧 The Only One Left by Riley Sager ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 20 June 2023

At seventeen, Lenora Hope
Hung her sister with a rope

Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where the massacre occurred.

Stabbed her father with a knife
Took her mother’s happy life

It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer—
I want to tell you everything

“It wasn’t me,” Lenora said
But she’s the only one not dead
As Kit helps Lenora write about the events leading to the Hope family massacre, it becomes clear there’s more to the tale than people know. But when new details about her predecessor’s departure come to light, Kit starts to suspect Lenora might not be telling the complete truth—and that the seemingly harmless woman in her care could be far more dangerous than she first thought.

I was nervous about this one because one of my favorite book bloggers didn’t care much for it, but I really enjoyed it! Probably one of my favorite Sager stories this far. I loved the characters and all the twists! There was plenty of suspense, and I LOVED the ending!


Book #114 of 2023 📖 The Broker by John Grisham ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📚GENRE: Legal Thriller


It seems Backman, in his power broker heyday, may have obtained secrets that compromise the world’s most sophisticated satellite surveillance system. Backman is quietly smuggled out of the country in a military cargo plane, given a new name, a new identity, and a new home in Italy. Eventually, after he has settled into his new life, the CIA will leak his whereabouts to the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese, and the Saudis. 

Then the CIA will do what it does best: sit back and watch. The question is not whether Backman will survive—there is no chance of that. The question the CIA needs answered is, who will kill him?

I didn’t remember reading this before, so I assume I must not have, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!! It was a bit slow for me to get into (but probably because of life, not because the book was slow), but then I couldn’t put it down! I was really rooting for the main character the whole story, even though he was technically a criminal. I wish this one had a movie!


Book #115 of 2023 🎧 The Atonement by Kiersten Modglin ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📚GENRE: Suspense

🗓PUBLISHED: 1 July 2022

First, there was THE ARRANGEMENT—a scandalous story about Peter and Ainsley Greenburg’s attempt to fix their marriage, no matter the cost.
Then, came THE AMENDMENT—with their darkest secrets revealed, the couple set out in a treacherous attempt to repair what had been broken.
Now, Peter and Ainsley’s marriage will be put to one final test with THE ATONEMENT.

Ainsley Greenburg has always been a fixer.
But her latest attempt to repair her marriage left it more damaged than ever before.

trapped in a vicious game of cat and mouse with the man she thought she knew, Ainsley must do what it takes to put out the fire their arrangement ignited.
But it won’t be that simple.

As Peter closes in on her, Ainsley finds herself 
driven down a path of paranoia and fear.
Her only hope relies on her ability to trust her instincts, but they’ve let her down before.
This time, there’s so much more at stake and
 the secrets waiting to be revealed will change everything.

Whom can she trust when her world is up in flames?
One wrong decision could cost her everything she has left—her family, her home, and her life.

And, with a final showdown looming, Ainsley must decide what she's willing to let burn in order to survive.
As the blaze continues to heat up, 
it's only a matter of time before someone must atone for their sins.

I enjoyed this conclusion to the Arrangement trilogy! I would say that I liked the first two books better, but this one kept me guessing. I was rooting for Ainsley, but I had no idea whether she would come out on top in the end or not - I felt like at any point the author could have given her an unhappy ending or chosen to give her a happy one. 


Book #116 of 2023 📖 Haunted Lighthouses: Phantom Keepers, Ghostly Shipwrecks, and Sinister Calls From the Deep by Ray Jones ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚GENRE: Supernatural History

🗓PUBLISHED: 15 July 2022

Lighthouses and ghosts are two popular passions. Melded together by master storyteller and lighthouse expert Ray Jones, these tales of spirited lights are guaranteed to grab the attention of all readers. As an added bonus, practical information is given for those who wish to visit the featured lighthouses for themselves . . . if they dare.

This one has so many descriptive stories! Usually when I buy ghost story books as souvenirs, they’re very brief stories with not a lot of detail. This book gave history of the lighthouse and why the “ghosts” that haunt them seem to linger. I liked that it was split into area (west, Great Lakes, east, south). My personal favorite ghost story was the one about Theodosia Burr!


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

Reading Challenge: 116/120 books read in 2023

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