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Here’s the Plan, Man

Hi everyone and welcome to Elizabeth’s Bookstore! Every week, I post 2 reviews on books I read (and often the movie adaption as well). But I also want to throw in other ideas for content. This post is simply my master list of things I am trying out:

Weekly:

Monday: Review posted at 5 pm EST

Thursday: Review posted at 5 pm EST

Saturday: Let’s Talk posted at 10 am EST

Author series can/will cause changes in this schedule. Those changes will be addressed in the announcement prior to those series. You can also see me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog to see more announcements, or you can always email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks guys for helping this blog along the way, and I hope to see you all in the next book!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 1/27/20-1/30/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “A Fantasy Novel” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

When this was a choice for the November 2019 box, I had originally chosen it. While it had been on my TBR list for the past few weeks, I ultimately chose it more for its length than any concept of the story (I need some long audiobooks to listen to while at work). Going into it, I assumed by the cover that it was probably in the fantasy genre and probably was going to be dark, but there wasn’t a lot of dark moments. It actually was funny at times.

Galaxy Stern (nicknamed Alex) was the sole survivor of a murder rampage and drug overdose. She was given the opportunity to go to Yale University with the promise that she would be the Dante in a magic society called Lethe. She was being trained by a man named Darlington, who ended up disappearing, leaving Alex to figure out how to be Dante by herself.

A ritual goes wrong, leading to the death of a young girl. Alex then starts investigating the murder initially to make her report, but soon she keeps looking after being turned away from the leaders of Lethe. Switching between the past and the present, we learn about the history of Lethe and the houses within, the magical tricks they use, and the power of ghost magic (yea, did I mention lots of ghosts in this one?).

I was surprised how into this book I got. While I have not experience any of the same things as Alex, I felt like I really felt her character (which makes sense because normally I am attracted to the bad*ss character in most novels), and her sense of humor. It also was more of a suspense novel with a fantasy element IMO, which falls into my favorite genre. According to the author, there will be a sequel, and you best believe I will be sharing that with all of you as soon as I can get my hands on it!

One of the cooler parts of the audiobook is that they did an interview with the author. In that interview, the author revealed that many of the aspects of the book are real, minus the magical elements of course (although now that I think about it, she never said that the magic wasn’t real, so maybe there is some stuff going on in New Haven, CT), including the houses in mausoleums. In fact, she revealed that she was part of one of the houses, which is super dope.

One of the other bigger projects that I want to get into from her is the Grishaverse. I have been told that I should give it a chance, and now that I know that I like her writing style, I might try it out. My major concern is that this book was not targeted to young adults, and I’m not sure if the style I experienced will match her other works. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I look forward to the sequel!

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

American Royals by Katharine McGee

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/31/20-2/2/20

How I Found It: Amazon

This book marks off the “A Romance” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

Have you ever wondered what America would look like if it was a monarchy instead of a democracy? This book takes us on a trip through the romantic lives of the 3 Washington children as they their love lives are blown up in their faces.

The oldest child is Beatrice. She is the future Queen of America, especially because her father is not doing well. She is forced to find a suitable match, leading her to Theodore “Teddy” Eaton. The only problem? She is in love with her guard.

The oldest of the twins, Samantha (“Sam”), met Teddy before her sister, and had a proper makeout. Now she is trying to deal with watching her older sister maintain a relationship with the man she loves.

The youngest and only male, Jefferson (“Jeff”), had a relationship with socialite Daphne, but ended the relationship after realizing his feelings for Sam’s best friend, Nina. But Nina never asked to be a royal, and the attention she begins to receive creates a wedge between the two lovebirds.

Because this book is the first in a series, it ends very abruptly. I believe that there is a way to finish an early book in a series without leaving on a complete cliffhanger (see Ninth House for a better example or the Caraval series), but I also recognize that this book ended on a really important moment. There are tradeoffs between what I want and what actually happened, but it did leave me wanting more, which was the purpose, right?

One of the greatest things personally as an avid book collector is the stylistic markings of the hardcover. The page break symbol is on the cover of the book, the hardcover is red, white, and blue, and the overall aesthetic of the book is so beautiful and thoughtful.

I did enjoy the writing style, but it did take me a hot minute to get into it. I feel like some of the story is missing, but I can’t figure out if I feel like there are parts lacking of the story because it ended so abruptly or if I wish a specific storyline was fleshed out more. All I can tell you is that I feel like something is missing. I feel like overall I would give this book 3.75 stars, with the possibility of being more if and when the story (aka the series) is completed.

The next book comes out in Fall of 2020, and I will make sure to update you guys on the sequel when I can get my grubby little hands on it.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/1/20-1/5/20

How I Found It: Unplugged Book Box

Flashback to Unplugged Book Box Advent Calendar in 2019 and you know full well that I was super excited about this book! I assumed it would be similar to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close or a book from my childhood about keys that I will look up from my personal library one of these days, where we are trying to solve a puzzle throughout the entire story. Going into this book, I figured that this would be a really quick read and that once you got into it, you would be hooked. What I didn’t figure is how intricate this book would be. Despite other books of the same length only taking about 4-5 hours to read, this book took SIGNIFICANTLY longer, so be prepared because this one will eat time like it’s its job.

Tuesday is the person who finds out as much personal information about you as possible to guarantee a donation to the hospital. She grew up in Salem, MA and was the best friend of missing girl Abigail Hobbes. She has a best friend named Dex, who has a history in musical theatre and horrible relationships, that she continues to support despite his many woe-is-me moments.

While at a charity dinner for the hospital, Tuesday meets Nathaniel Arches, who definitely doesn’t match the person she’s researched. But when bajillionaire Vincent Pryce dies of an aneurysm, Tuesday’s life changed forever.

Upon his death, Vincent Pryce designed a game that encourages people to find and piece together clues that would result in a hidden treasure. Soon, Nathaniel comes to Tuesday’s door asking for her help in solving the puzzles, leading to what often times feels like a wild goose chase. Filled with twists and turns, this novel will take you on a wild ride that will make you stop and think so many times you won’t believe it!

I really enjoyed this one, but I did wish that there were more clues to the story. It felt like we were about to enter a much more intense scavenger hunt than we actually did. But at the same time, the overall story was so complex that I get why aspects of the scavenger hunt took a back seat. I also think that Tuesday’s and Archie’s relationship did not need to turn physical. Especially when it did nothing for the story or their storyline. It felt unnecessary and cheap.

There is obviously a lot of the story that I haven’t talked about, and parts of the story that I hinted at by introducing characters, that I didn’t include because I don’t want this post to be 20 pages long. But at the end of the day, you really need to read this one to see what it is about, and I hope you guys like it as much as I did! I will give this book 4 out of 5 stars, with a possibility of being 4.5.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/11/20-1/14/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Welcome back everyone! This book is full of supernatural and crime scene investigations, so if either freaks you out or are triggering, read at your own discretion (Side note: I have never seen a trigger warning for supernatural stuff, but as someone who has been terrified to the point of tears over supernatural things when I was younger, I feel like I need to warn it for the people like me).

Switching back and forth between 1982 and 2017, this story follows Viv Delaney and her niece Carly Kirk as they work in the Sun Down Motel as the night clerk in Fell, NY. Throughout this story, we learn more about the murders that have occurred in this town and piece together what has happened in the years leading up to 1982. When Viv disappeared out of the blue in 1982, Carly comes to Fell to figure out what happened, and gets more than she was hoping for. Add in the assorted ghosts of the Sun Down, and you are in for a wild story.

I had plans this weekend, so I wasn’t able to finish it until a few days later. When you are all the way into it, this book goes so fast and is super enjoyable. However, when you are away from it, something in it changes that makes it less enjoyable. But I read close to 200 pages in one day just because it was so good and enrapturing. If you have a day that is away from people and you like true crime stories, you probably will love this book. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, which would probably be 5 out of 5 if I had finished it without a break.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 1/14/20-1/15/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “A Book Set on an Airplane” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

I remember thinking when I saw the cover that this book was going to be big. But I did not expect for it to blow up as much as it has, including getting featured on Jenna Bush’s book club (and mentioned on the Today Show). To give you some perspective on how into this book I was, I average about 4.5 hours of listening while at work, and yesterday I listened to about 5.5 hours of my 6.5 hour work day. Lots of numbers, but essentially, I listened to this book A LOT. And I couldn’t get enough. This book is totally worth the hype. Okay, sales pitch over, let’s get into the synopsis:

The Adler family is moving to LA from NYC. 15-year-old Jordan and 12-year-old Eddie are just trying to deal with this huge change. For Jordan, that means challenging his parents, including going vegan, refusing the scanner thing at the airport security, and dating the girl at the deli. For Eddie, that means refusing to face the change. The family boards flight 2977 to start their new lives.

Eddie, now known as Edward, wakes up to learn he is the lone survivor of the Flight 2977 crash. At 12-years-old, he has to deal with survivor guilt, grief, PTSD, insomnia and a bunch of other mental health issues. Following his life over the next 3 or so years, we watch Edward grow up and come to terms with his past.

Switching between the passengers on the flight and Edward’s new life post-crash, we watch the plane crash and Edward grow in a beautiful juxtaposition.

I don’t have a lot more I can say. This book is beautiful in its openness. And while I don’t recommend reading this on a plane (for obvious reasons), I do recommend learning about Edward and what he had to overcome.

As for the cultural significance: this story is based off of 2 plane crashes, one of which where the only survivor was a 9-year-old boy. We have this tendency to wonder “what happened to them?” after a tragedy strikes someone, and this story discusses what it’s like to be that person. But even more so, it shows how broken people are when tragedy strikes, and how we need someone, anyone, to be able to show our pain. All I’ll say is read it, love it, enjoy it, and never let it leave you. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, and I will never not encourage you to read it.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 11/8/19-11/13/19

How I Found It: Goodreads

As humans, we keep secrets. Heck, my demon child of a dog keeps secrets. It is just a part of nature. In this novel, we take a look at secrets, since everyone has them, and how secrets can build and/or destroy a person.

In the 1990s, a fire starts in a prominent family’s house. As the parents and children of the house congregate outside, they learn that the fire began as a bunch of little fires in all of the rooms. But one daughter is missing, and this story is about how we got there.

Mia Warren is a photographer and a single mother of daughter, Pearl. After she works on a project for her photographs, Mia picked up everything she could fit in her car and move to the next city to think of new ideas. After traveling for 17 years, Mia decides that this time was the last time. She rents a home from the Richardson’s in a small town called Shaker Heights outside of Cleveland, OH, and soon both Pearl and Mia find themselves entangled in the Richardson’s lives.

The Richardsons (Elena and Bill) have 4 children: Trip, Lexi, Moody, and Izzy. Trip is the stereotypical popular boy, while Moody is the stereotypical nice guy. As you can probably expect, Moody likes Pearl but Pearl chooses Trip. Lexi is the popular girl who has made Pearl her pet project, including giving clothes. Izzy was a problem pregnancy, which led Elena to often be overbearing. Izzy often felt like the unwanted child in the family, so she seeked solace from Mia.

One day, while working for the Richardsons, Mia overhears that Elena’s friends are trying to adopt a Chinese baby that was found at a fire station. Mia knew that one of her coworkers, Bebe Chow, dropped off her baby because she felt incapable of taking care of her daughter. But almost a year later, she is capable of providing a life for her child and seeks full custody of her. This puts Mia and Elena against each other.

Along the way, Lexi finds herself in trouble, and needing a friend, she goes to Pearl. Trip and Pearl begin a relationship, and try to hide it from all the Richardsons and Mia. And Elena is trying to figure out who Mia is and whether she should be concerned for her family. And slowly, Mia is piecing together everyone’s secrets.

The book itself is extremely interesting, and has incredible character development. It is clear that Ng truly felt her characters as alive. In the process of making her characters 3D, it can be difficult to keep up with where the story is going. However, once we get through most of the backstory, it is easier to see the purpose of these intermissions.

While everyone I know has said that this is one of the best books of our generation, I just didn’t find it as entertaining as other novels. I think that it is important, and there is a strong conversation about racism in America during the 1990s (and realistically, a lot of those thoughts are still true for today’s society) and after what makes a woman a mother, but I probably wouldn’t have gotten through this book if I wasn’t listening to it on Audible (still not sponsored, but still hoping).

So I guess I should tell you why I picked it up. I had purchased this audiobook over a year ago and I just never selected it until now. One of my favorite actors right now is Kerry Washington (okay, yes I have been binge watching Scandal and sure, I may be watching it while I am writing this, so what?), and she announced on The Ellen Show that she would star in a Hulu miniseries based on the book. I wanted to read this before it came out (and realistically wanted to put out a review before it came out), so tada here it is. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, with the hope that the miniseries can do it justice.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 11/20/19-11/24/19

How I Found It: Book of the Month

I’ll be honest, I’m not a psychologist. At all. In fact, I got a C in Intro to Psychology when I took it as a freshman in college. To me, psychology is not that interesting in the abstract, but I find particular case studies interesting. For example, the Stanford Prison Experiment (which was created into a movie in 2015) and Pavlov’s experiments have always interested me. This book discusses a study called Being Sane in Insane Places by David Rosenhan. In this study, Rosenhan gets 8 mentally healthy people to go into an insane asylum and initially convince them they are insane, then trying to prove their sanity to get back out. Within this book, we learn about the people that were involved, especially Rosenhan, and how mental health analysis has changed both in connection to this study and as our view of mental health has changed.

Firstly, let’s start with Cahalan. When she was in her twenties, she was hospitalized with symptoms of schizophrenia. While many people with that diagnosis would be stuck in psychiatric wards, her parents fought for another reason. Eventually, a thoughtful doctor found the illness was autoimmune encephalitis, which is when your body attacks the brain. The disease was caught just in time, and Cahalan was able to fully recover. Another woman had the same disease but it was not caught early enough, and now she is forced to live in a hospital for the rest of her life. Since she could have easily been the woman, Cahalan shared her story in a memoir, called Brain on Fire (which has been adapted into a Netflix movie in 2018).

In Rosenhan’s study, 9 people (including Rosenhan himself) went into a mental hospital intake area saying that they heard voices that said something along the lines of “empty”, “thud”, and “hollow”. According to his results, 8 of the pseudopatients were given a schizophrenia diagnosis, with one pseudopatient receiving a manic depression (now called bipolar disorder) diagnosis. Most stays lasted between 10-30 days, while some pseudopatients stayed in hospitals for as long as 3 months (over multiple stays). According to Rosenhan, all pseudopatients left the hospital against medical advice “in remission”. (One of the pseudopatients was not listed in the original study, but rather in a supplemental report. This supplemental report was important because the patient, according to Rosenhan, could not be counted because he lied about other aspects of his life that could result in a mental health disorder.)

When Rosenhan reported the study in 1973, along with Rosemary Kennedy’s lobotomy, mental health reform came to the US. But this study received A LOT of criticism. One of those problems was the small number of pseudopatients, which causes a lot of extrapolation. Also, Robert Spitzer wrote a response on Rosenhan’s experiment calling it “logic in remission”. He believed that there was misreporting within the study that led to fabricated results.

Cahalan got Rosenhan’s notes from his time on Being Sane in Insane Places after his strokes. Using these notes and his friends from that time period, Cahalan tried to piece together who the pseudopatients were hoping to find out more information about Rosenhan’s study. What she found questions the entire validity of the study, with many of the pseudopatients being impossible to track down, or the ones that can be found giving different testimonies than reported.

I found the book a little repetitive, but I think the amount of research that went into the book is INSANE. I think that there are a lot of things that don’t add up, and sadly, we can’t ask Rosenhan about them. I think that he was a man that wanted to prove his point, and gain notoriety along the way, even if he has to cut corners to get there. But obviously my opinion is slightly biased because I have just listened to 11 hours of one side. So let me know what you guys think and if you think Rosenhan’s study was valid or not.

In terms of rating, I would probably give this one 4.5 out of 5. While completely out of my usual, I did listen to it whenever I had a chance to, which means it is pretty good. There were a few things that bothered me, but otherwise I thought it was easy for someone who didn’t know anything about the study (like me) to be able to read and understand this book.

(P.S. I totally think that a movie called Being Sane in Insane Places needs to happen)

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!