Sunday, May 12, 2024

#gretchensbooks2024 - April


All of my audiobooks this month were great! Usually I don't get into audiobooks as much - I prefer physical books, or digital if needed, but audiobooks fit into my schedule much better. I don't usually get as into them in this format, but this month that was not the case! My goal is also one ebook a month, because I have SO many on my kindle, but since I prefer physical I don't make them a priority. I really want to finish the Jack Randall series though, so I am making it a priority now and devoured two of them!

Book 38 of 2024 🎧 Bye, Baby by Carola Lovering (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 5 March 2024

Every friendship has its shadow...

On a brisk fall night in a New York apartment, 35-year-old Billie West hears terrified screams. It's her lifelong best friend Cassie Barnwell, one floor above, and she's just realized her infant daughter has gone missing. Billie is shaken as she looks down into her own arms to see the baby, remembering―with a jolt of fear―that she is responsible for the kidnapping that has instantly shattered Cassie’s world.

Once fiercely bonded by their secrets, Cassie and Billie have drifted apart in adulthood, no longer the inseparable pair they used to be in their small Hudson Valley hometown. Cassie is married to a wealthy man, has recently become a mother, and is building a following as a lifestyle influencer. She is desperate to leave her past behind―including Billie, who is single and childless, and no longer fits into her world. But Billie knows the worst thing Cassie has ever done, and she will do whatever it takes to restore their friendship…

Told in alternating perspectives in Lovering’s signature suspenseful style, 
Bye, Baby confronts the myriad ways friendships change and evolve over time, the lingering echoes of childhood trauma, and the impact of women’s choices on their lifelong relationships.

I really love Lovering’s stories. All of the ones I’ve read by her (I just checked, apparently I’ve read all her books) have been really good. 

Dont read any further in this blurb if you haven’t read this yet, as I’ll probably spoil it. First off, I just really didn’t like Cass. I wasn’t even mad when Billie took her baby. I was totally on Billie’s side the whole time, even though I knew it was ethically wrong. I just felt for Billie! And did not like Cass.

FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Book 39 of 2024 🎧 Broken Grace by E.C. Diskins (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 25 August 2015

On an icy winter’s day in southwest Michigan, Grace Abbott wakes up as the survivor of a car crash. But she’s left with a traumatic brain injury and a terrifying reality: she can’t remember anything.

Left in the care of her sister, Grace returns to the family’s secluded old farmhouse to recover―but within an hour of her return, the police arrive. Grace’s boyfriend has been murdered. Without any memory, Grace has no alibi.

With suspicion weighing heavily on her and flashes of memory returning, Grace searches for clues to her past. But with every glimpse, her anxiety grows. There is something about the house, her family, her childhood…perhaps the accident isn’t the only reason she can’t remember. Are the dark recesses of her mind hiding something even more sinister and terrifying than she could ever imagine?

Is someone willing to kill again to hide the truth?

This book has been on my Goodreads list since it was published, but it wasn’t one that was easy to find. I ended up getting an Audible promo so I decided to find books in my list I hadn’t been able to find anywhere else!

I have no idea what led me to add this book to my list, but it was a good one! I didn’t know which direction the book would go in, and I loved that it kept me guessing. I liked the main character, but still wasn’t convinced of either her innocence or guilt until the end!

FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Book 40 of 2024 📱 Revolution (Jack Randall #8) by Randall Wood (3.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Fiction - Police Procedural (sort of)

🗓PUBLISHED: 16 October 2017

With the escape of the captured Shepherd, Special Agent Jack Randall of the FBI finds himself and his case back to square one. Called back to DC to face the music, he instead chooses to visit Florida and the scene of the latest Shepherd's target. Getting there was easy, but getting out is something totally different. When desperate people fleeing the path of a major hurricane chose to do so through the tiny border town of Homeland, Florida, it brings trouble the town is not prepared for. Jack, and his partner Sydney Lewis, only want to get home to DC and pursue their case against the vigilante group known as The Twelve Shepherds. The shortcut looked like a good idea. A few cars ahead of them are four men who have the same thought, but with very different goals. Armed to the teeth and carrying 50 keys of cocaine destined for the east coast, the four men find themselves caught between the FBI and a pair of small town deputies. Cut off from the outside world by the storm and a washed-out bridge, Jack must team up with the young policemen to save the town from the four violent killers. One of which is someone he did not expect.

OK now this is just getting stupid. The story hardly had anything to do with the Twelve Shepherds, it was pretty much a completely different story on its own. That being said it had enough if the 12 shepherd that you couldn’t tell me on the completely. As like the previous 12 shepherd books, it also left off on a cliffhanger. the downside is that it left on a cliffhanger with the side story not the tall shepherd story. I don’t know why they organize the stories the way they did. It was enjoyable, but the organization really drives me crazy.

Book 41 of 2024 🎧 Don’t Blow Yourself Up by Homer Hickam (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Memoir

🗓PUBLISHED: 26 October 2021

Homer Hickam’s memoir Rocket Boys and the movie adaptation October Sky have become one of the most popular stories in the world, inspiring millions to pursue a better life. But what happened to Homer after he was a West Virginia rocket boy? In his latest memoir, Homer recounts his life in college where he built the world's biggest, baddest game cannon, fought through some of the worst battles in Vietnam, became a scuba instructor, discovered sunken U-boats, wrote the definitive account of a World War II naval battle, befriended Tom Clancy, made a desperate attempt to save the passengers of a sunken river boat, trained the first Japanese astronauts, taught David Letterman to scuba dive, helped to fix the Hubble Space Telescope, wrote his number one bestselling Rocket Boys, and was on set during the making of October Sky. Although told with humor and wit, Hickam does not shy away from the pain and hardship endured and the mistakes he made during the tumultuous decades since his life in the town he made famous—Coalwood, West Virginia.

I hope to live a life even just half as exciting as Homer Hickam. I met Homer at space camp a few years ago when I received a signed copy of his first memoir, Rocket Boy (which I loved!) After reading it, I knew I needed to read this one as well. The only downside of the audiobook is that I wish he was the one performing it! 

Book 42 of 2024 📖 Ford County by John Grisham (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Short Stories 

🗓PUBLISHED: 3 November 2009

Ford County. The heart of the American deep South. A place of harsh beauty, of broken dreams and final wishes.

From legendary legal thriller author John Grisham comes a unique collection of stories connected by the life and crimes of Ford County.

From a hard-drinking, downtrodden divorce lawyer looking for pay-dirt, to a manipulative death row inmate with one last plea, 
Ford County
 features a vivid cast of attorneys, crooks, hustlers, and convicts. From their stories emerges a rich picture of lives lived and lost in Mississippi.

I don’t usually enjoy short stories, because I always wanted MORE. This book was different. It didn’t captivate me when I listened to the audio version a few years ago, but I really enjoyed reading my physical copy! Some of the stories are humorous, some heart-breaking, all worth reading! Also, Ford County is his best book setting!

Book 43 of 2024 📖 Rebel Rising: A Memoir by Rebel Wilson (4.5/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Memoir

🗓PUBLISHED: 2 April 2024

This “beautiful, brave book,” (Jenna Bush Hager, the Today show) is the story of Rebel Wilson’s remarkable personal transformation, from a painfully shy child in Australia who literally had to be dragged to drama classes and achieved break-out success in the US through iconic roles in Pitch PerfectBridesmaids, and Isn’t It Romantic.

Through “stunningly personal revelations” (
The New York Times), Rebel shares the extraordinary experiences that shaped her life. A malaria-induced hallucination? An all-style martial arts fighting tournament? Junior handling at dog shows? And this was all BEFORE she moved to Hollywood!

From her painful relationship with her father, weight gain and loss, a late-in-life sexual awakening and fertility issues, Rebel shares her incredible journey to self-love in writing that is “frank and fun.” (CBS 
Sunday Morning
) Rebel leads you through her hard-fought path to “making it,” constantly questioning, “Am I good enough? Will I ever find love? Will I ever change and become healthy?”

This extraordinarily entertaining memoir shows us how to love ourselves while making us laugh uncontrollably

Prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much (anything) about Rebel Wilson except that she is hilarious. Now, I know so much more! This memoir was very thorough, and I found it to be very interesting. I was reading some other reviews that said they found the first half slow and boring, but I thought that was most interesting. Peoples stories fascinate me - especially the ‘where-did-you-come-from’ bits - so I found the whole story informative. I didn’t realize that her comedy wasn’t just scripted, but that it’s actually her ‘thing’ and that she improvs. I’d definitely recommend this one!

Book 44 of 2024 📱 Renaissance (Jack Randall #9) by Randall Wood (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: FBI Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 3 November 2017

After an unexpected battle with drug traffickers and mother nature, Jack returns to Washington DC, where he finds himself appointed by the president to be the public face of the Twelve Shepherds investigation. The country and the government now look to him to stop their campaign. But the Shepherds have gone into hiding. With no new leads to pursue, and a growing unrest among the population both for and against the Shepherds actions, Jack finds himself in a no-win situation. He’s forced to wait for the Shepherds to make the next move. His wait won’t be long. The General has been keeping a close eye on the public’s reaction, and with the nation-wide protests dominating the people’s attention, he launches Rubicon, the final operation of the Shepherds’ plan. It’s a plan that places Jack between two warring tribes. To survive, he may have to pick one.

AYE OKAY I’m just ready to ready the last book in this series so I finally know how it ends!! This whole story was back on track with the Twelve Shepherds situation, but still not resolution to (hardly) anything! (That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the story, I did, the resolution is just taking so long to get to!) 

Book 45 of 2024 🎧 The Guest by B.A. Paris (4/5⭐️)

📚GENRE: Domestic Thriller

🗓PUBLISHED: 20 February 2024

Some secrets never leave.

Iris and Gabriel have just arrived home from a make-or-break holiday. But a shock awaits them. One of their closest friends, Laure, is in their house. The atmosphere quickly becomes tense as she oversteps again and again: sleeping in their bed, wearing Iris' clothes, even rearranging the furniture.

Laure has walked out on her husband―and their good friend―Pierre, over his confession of an affair and a secret child. Iris and Gabriel want to be supportive of their friends, but as Laure's mood becomes increasingly unpredictable, her presence takes its toll.

Iris and Gabriel's only respite comes in the form of a couple new to town. But with them comes their gardener, who has a checkered past. 

Soon, secrets from all their pasts will unravel, some more dangerous than they could have known.

Ooo this one was fun! Thought mildly predictable, and I also had many inaccurate predictions! And the story getting to the point of learning if those predictions were correct or not was absolutely delightful! I struggled in the very beginning to keep up with who was who, but once I had that sorted, it was an easy storyline to follow. 

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means when you purchase something through that link, you're helping support this blog (and my reading addiction!) at no additional cost to you!*

(Summaries are from Amazon, but all thoughts about them are my own!)

Reading Challenge: 45/120 books read in 2024

You can find previous book reviews here and add me on Goodreads here! Also, if you use StoryGraph, you can add me here!