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Reading Goal for 2021!

Hello my friends! It is my goal to read a book from all 50 states of the United States this year! With a little but of research, I am. already figuring that there are going to be some states that are basically impossible (*cough, cough* Hawaii), but I am going to do my best and hopefully remember to track that experience with you guys! If you would like to follow this process with me, go check out my Instagram (@elizabookblog) to see how I am doing it!

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 3/2/21-3/5/21

How I Found It: I’m not sure, probably Amazon, but I started listening to it because I knew I already had a print copy

Jamie is an extremely anxious person. He has a huge fear of public speaking, but he is trying to help with the Jordan Rossum campaign. Maya’s best friend is about to go to college and is incredibly busy. Since she doesn’t have a car, she feels completely isolated and alone. So when her mom offers to give her a car if she helps with the Rossum campaign, she starts canvassing with Jamie. But soon, the campaign becomes personal, and they begin to realize that even if they can’t vote, they can make a difference.

Before I get into reviewing this book, I want to start with some transparency. I had read a few reviews before writing my own, mainly because I wanted to find a way to say the things that I was thinking.

I think that the purpose of this book is really good. It opens up the political universe for a young audience, many of whom are unconcerned about their civic duty. It shows them that they can do something to make a difference, even if it feels like you can’t because you can’t vote. The problem is the romance. We spend the entire book having this conversation of dating between different religions and how these are things to consider. But instead of having a conversation of “maybe we should take things slow”, we go with the “deny until suddenly we are humping each other” method. It is not my decision as to which one is best, but it was a real turn off for the book for me.

We had the opportunity to talk about both Judaism and Islam throughout this book, but I felt like they were brushed over. Especially Judaism. While the story revolves around a bar mitzvah, there is not a whole lot of conversation into Judaism or what it means to Jamie. In fact, the only times we really talk about his religion is through his opinions on the anti-semitic memes. There were so many opportunities to expand the conversations surrounding this novel, and it just missed for me. I think overall, I would give this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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!

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/27/21-1/31/21

How I Found It.’ Once Upon A Book Club

In a letter to the reader, I know that this is a love story between two Jewish teens who are on the precipice of deciding on their future endeavors. Otherwise. I know very little about what is in store for us, so without further Ado, I will see you all with the first gift!

Page 7

“I’m poking a simple gold stud through one earlobe when the envelope catches my eye.”

Today Tonight Tomorrow, page 7

Honestly, I have the exact same earrings in silver on at the time of writing this, so I will definitely be incorporating these into my fashion!

Page 44

I’m not going to put a quote because that is a lot to write, but you can see it all on the gift. Fun fact: my 7th grade teacher made us write notes to our future selves and in that letter I 1) said I should go to Princeton because, as A Cinderella Story taught me, that’s where princesses go (barf), but 2) was convinced that my brother shouldn’t marry my sister-in-law (which thankfully was ignored, and now I am a proud aunt). All-in-all, an interesting memory lane to walk down.

Page 94

“He glances back at me, and with a sweet smile, I dive forward to yank off his armband.”

Today Tonight Tomorrow, page 94

Okay, let’s catch up for a minute. Rowan had a life plan for when shegraduates high school. But when nothing goes to plan, especially when her archenemy, Neil McNair wins valedictorian. with the final senior scavenger hunt looming. Rowan is determined to win her last hurrah.

Why am I obsessed with bandanas? The world may never know. But, I am a happy Elizabeth!

Page 284

“I grab his arm to look at his watch.”

Today Tonight Tomorrow, page 284

I got a WATCH?!?! It is a very beautiful, but simple watch. However, it is hard to adjust, so while I can put it on, it does pinch a little bit.

As for the story. Rowan learns that a group of the seniors are trying to knock her and Neil out of the scavenger hunt, she teams up with him to win. But as Rowan said, opposites are more similar than they think, and quickly they get all caught up in their feelings.

Page 351

“With that, he reveals the gift: a tub of Philadelphia with a red ribbon around it….”

Today Tonight Tomorrow, page 351

I saw this gift very briefly when I was scrolling through Instagram and was sure it was a candle. Let me just say, very happy to be wrong on this one. Also what does it say about me when I immediately thought about putting my wine in it? Pandemic hits hard.

Book Review

I loved this. To have an opportunity to write about something that all of us have felt (feeling like you didn’t do everything you wanted to) and add in a personal twist (stereotypes and general feeling of being the other) and add in a romance is essentially *chef’s kiss*. All in all, I absolutely enjoyed myself. I am going to rate this a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 1/18/21

How I Found It: Gillian Flynn Collection

Before I get into this book, I need to give you A LOT of trigger warnings. This book includes many instances of self-harm and mutilation, including the idealization of it. This book also mentions rape and sexual assault, especially towards minors. There are instances of self-medicating through alcohol and other substance abuse. There are descriptions of mutilating dead bodies. And, Spoiler Alert, there is an example of Mucheson-by-proxy.

Camille Preaker is working as a reporter for a small newspaper in Chicago when there is the possibility of a serial killer in her hometown in Missouri. She returns home to cover the story, but soon realizes that there is not much of an investigation or leads. As she tries to get to the bottom of the crime herself, she has her own memories to contend with, causing us to see how the past and present intermingle.

Out of the 3 books that are in this collection, I think that this was the quickest and sickest read. And while I didn’t necessarily enjoy this book, I also was unable to put it down. There were enough moments that made my skin crawl that it felt a lot like a car accident that you couldn’t look away from. And while I am sure that was the given intention, it did make it hard for me to appreciate anything in the book when I was that uncomfortable. Since I feel like I need to give a rating, I am going to go with 3 out of 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!

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 1/14/21-1/17/21

How I Found It: Gillian Flynn Collection

Hey friends, I want to start this with some trigger warnings. This book does discuss pedophillic situations, including thoughts of sexual perversion (also things I never thought I would say). This book does include descriptions of gore, both against humans and animals. There are characters that are “Devil worshippers” and part of their worship is sacrificing animals. If any of these things are triggers for you, please read at your own discretion.

Libby is the sole survivor of her brother’s annihilation of her family. Her testimony was the main point that put her brother away for life. Now 25 years later, she is struggling for money. When Lyle, the treasurer of the Kill Club- a group of ameteur sleuths who hunt serial killers- offers to pay for her attending a meeting, she agrees. But that meeting soon changes everything she thought she knew about the case. Now she begins her own investigation, funded by members of the Kill Club, into her family’s murders, which quickly takes her down paths she didn’t ever know existed.

Unlike Gone Girl, this one did not capture my attention right away. I was probably 3 or so hours into this book (which roughly equals 100 pages) before I got into this story. Even then, there were moments that left me disgusted enough that I needed to take a step away from the book for an hour or two. Also unlike Gone Girl, this book did not “thrill” me, meaning that my heart never started pumping nor did I feel like something crazy was going to happen if I turned the page. I would probably give this book middle of the road 3 out of 5 stars.

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!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 1/11/21-1/14/21

How I Found It: Movie Adaption/ States Challenge Research

I feel like I need to give a trigger warning, but I also don’t want to give away too much of the book. So I will go ahead and just say that there is a lot of manipulation and not good things that happen in this book. If that is triggering for you, then maybe this isn’t the book for you.

Nick Dunne leaves his house one morning and his entire world flips on its head. His wife, Amy Dunne, is deemed missing, and as details begin to be discovered, he becomes the main suspect in his wife’s disappearance if not murder. As we go farther into this story, we learn more about what happened that morning, and how their failing marriage played a part in this case.

I am purposefully being vague since so much of the story is about the introduction of each detail and how those details twist the story. I love stories like this because we start with one idea and we watch as we are tossed around like on choppy seas. With all of that being said, it does mean that we constantly feel uncomfortable the entire time.

So let’s break this down a little bit. Firstly, this book constantly made me feel on the edge of my seat. I figured when I started listening to this book that this would be an entire week’s worth of listening at work, and then it became only 3 days (one of the days was the 2nd impeachment of President Trump, so I was glued to the news that day). This book will completely suck you in and spit you out. Depending on when I put this post out (so you know but I don’t at the time of writing this), I am curious at how the movie matches the thrill of this novel. I am going to give this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, and I am currently working my way through more of Gillian Flynn’s novels and I encourage you to do the same.

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!

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 2/6/21-2/20/21

How I Found It: Instagram/ Once Upon a Book Club

Hello Friends! Today’s book is a rom-com for the book lovers. Other than that, as is the usual for OUABC books, I am going in blind. So I will see you all at the first gift!

Page 46

‘ ‘He laughs and reaches into the backseat to produce a muffin tin….”

Happily Ever Afters, page 46

For the 2021 year (at least I havent noticed on boxes before), OUABC is making their boxes themed. So this particular box is called Butter, Sugar, & Love Stories, so I’m curious if all of the gifts are goiinig to be baking themed. I had a pretty good idea that this was going to be a muffin tin when I picked up the present, but even more so with because with the box was a recipe for brown-butter raspberry muffins.

Page 287

“… something especially fragrant called ras el hanout in glass jars.”

Happily Ever Afters, page 287

These jars are really nice. The problem? I have literally nothing to put in them. However, we persevere, and I will either be putting candy or something else small in large quantities in them.

Page 346

“Giant color versions of all the sketches I’d seen him laboring over this year.”

Happily Ever Afters, page 346

I have always said how weird I was about receiving pictures of people in these boxes. And while I know the difference between a picture and a portrait, I truly do not feel this way about this portrait at all. Also, what an absolutely gorgeous print!

Overall Novel

So story, Tessa moves to Southern California and earns a spot in the writer’s program at Chrysalis, an arts high school. Her new neighbor, Sam, is also a student at that school, so they quickly become friends. But when Tessa realizes that she can’t get words to flow out of her the way they used to, she thinks that maybe the problem is that she needs her own romance to get the juices flowing. When there is a guy named Nico at her school who looks exactly like her character from her novel, she believes that he is the person who could give her her happily ever after, ultimately leading to her characters’ happily ever afters. Of course, as easy as this all sounds, life tends to be a little more complicated, and we follow Tessa as she tries to figure out what exactly she wants and how she can get out of the situation that she is in.

I’ll be honest, this was not my favorite book I’ve read. I personally did not like Tessa. I got probably 100 pages or so in, and I was having a great time. But at a certain point, I was not reading the book because I wanted to actually read the book, and more because I wanted to open the gifts/for glory. I don’t recommend doing this by the way, but I am a very strange breed of human. But by page 300, I truly thought about just putting it down and not finishing. To explain this feeling a little bit, there was an obvious direction for this book. We spent SO LONG building up to this moment, and ultimately that moment was extremely anti-climatic for the build up we had. If you think about your plot structure chart from English class, it was like we went up this very low grade slope to then get to a cliff, where we essentially fell off and died. What I did like about this book is that there was a resolution without adding the extra ten pages of what happens after that resolution that I also find awkward. Tessa played a really large part in this long build up based off her characteristics as a protagonist. And all in all, I felt like she could have been written to be less annoying of a character.

And while I am trashing on this character, I also want to say that I see a lot of myself in her. I too wanted to feel like I belonged when there were a lot of moments where I thought I never would be. I too struggled to find the things that I loved for periods of my life. And I too have dealt with anxiety attacks that leave me debilitated. Maybe the reason why I don’t like her as a character is more because I could see myself as her, while also realizing that there was a clear path to the end. Whatever the case may be, I probably won’t be picking this one up again, and that is disappointing to me.

(Side note: I also feel like I need to reiterate: read whatever you want to read. These are my thoughts that I felt after finishing the book. I am sure that if you look at another review, that person will say something different. It is my prerogative to say my thoughts and share that with the world, and it is okay if you think I am full of bull. I probably am.)

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 Girl with the Louding Voice by Ami Daré

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 2/1/21-2/5/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warning: This book has depictions of rape and violence. Please read at your own discretion.

Set in Nigeria, this book follows Adunni after her father betrothes her to Morufu at the age of 14. Adunni only wants to go to school so she could hopefully teach others. But when Adunni is with Morufu’s second wife when she dies, Adunni must run away in order not to be killed. At that time, she is sold to Big Madam, who beats her and is overall just mean to her. On top of that, Big Daddy is determined to rape Adunni purely because he can. When Adunni learns that there is a scholarship for young domestic workers, she begins to learn English and work toward her acceptance.

I grew up in middle class in the US. While I never wore Gucci or had new shoes every week, I have taken for granted some pretty heavy advantages in life like electricity and running water. One of the reasons why I love reading so much is because I get the chance to see what others experience in their daily lives. And while I wouldn’t say that I would love to be in Adunni’s shoes, I am amazed at how similar we are. Truly, if Adunni was me, she would happily run this blog, and probably would do so better.

If you are uncultured swine like me, I would recommend that you read this as an audiobook. This took me a little bit to get into, but once I was in, I was hooked. I would give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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!

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Print

Dates Read: 2/5/21-2/6/21

How I Found It: The Hate U Give

When The Hate U Give movie came out, I was immediately on the case to go and see it in theaters (which feels really weird to say when we are a year into a pandemic, but that used to be a thing kids). Since then, I have been pre-ordering all of Angie Thomas’ novels. (I am just realizing that I have not posted a review for On the Come Up, but if you guys would like me to review it, please let me know by leaving a like!)

This book is a prequel to The Hate U Give, focusing on Starr’s father, Maverick, after he learns that he is the father of Iesha’s son. When Iesha leaves their son with him, Mav has to figure out how he can support his family while realizing just how much work it takes to raise a son. Add on top of that Mav’s commitment to the streets and his failing grades, and he has a recipe for trouble. But when his cousin, Dre, gets shot outside his house, Mav feels it is his duty to get revenge. 17-years-old with a son and another child on the way, Mav has to decide what he wants out of life before life takes too much from him.

When I originally read The Hate U Give, I did not process that Mav has only 16/17 when Seven was born. While there are a lot of people from where I grew up that had teenage pregnancies, I am 25 and have never been, so it is crazy to me that people have to balance being a parent while still being a kid themselves. I also thought when I learned that there was a prequel that focused on Mav that we were going to learn about his time in prison. And while I think that this book is a lot better than that, I am not confused as to how we get from the end of this book to when Mav takes King’s charges. Now I kinda want a middle ground book of how we get from point A to point B, but that might just be me. I also think that there is a really good story of when Mav is in prison with his father, especially when we have Mav still seeking his father’s approval at 17.

Also, for fans of Nic Stone, there is a sly mention of Dear Justyce in this novel, so see if you can find it! I am giving this book a 4 out of 5 stars!

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 Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 1/28/21-1/30/21

How I Found It: Rereading

Trigger Warning: this book includes descriptions of police brutality, racism, and abuse. If these are triggering for you, please read at your own discretion.

If I can call anything a modern classic, I am going to make this book one. I read this book about 2 years ago before I ever had this blog, but I wanted to reread this one as prep for when I read Concrete Rose.

Starr Carter attends a party when she runs into her childhood friend, Khalil. After shots ring out, Khalil takes her home. When a white cop pulls them over, things go sour fast, and Khalil ends up dead. Dealing with the consequences of the officer’s decision, Starr is forced to come to terms with who she is and how she can be the best advocate for Khalil.

There are a lot of Black Lives Matter books, but this is probably the most famous. The incredibly sad part of our history is just HOW MANY BLM books have come out, purely because we still haven’t reached a point where these protests have solved anything. And while I hope that the other stories for this month are not focused specifically on the movement (because black history is more than just this moment), I think that this is book, and especially this author, are the epitome of popular black culture in today’s literary world. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars, and I encourage literally everyone to read this.

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!

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 1/18/21-1/27/21

How I Found It: Personal Recommendation

I come from a deeply liberal family, one who openly supported both Obama and Biden in their presidential wins. And while I try to stay politically neutral for the majority of posts, I think that that liberal ideology has easily leaked itself into the books I choose or the statements I have made. My purpose of reading this book is in part, all because of Trump supporters. Following the insurrection that was performed on January 6th, I have become a news junkie. I have a google alert for “capital riots”, I watch the news every night when I get home from work, and I am constantly worried about what the next day might bring. With the promise of reading works featuring and written by non-whites, I figured that this would be the time to listen to Obama discuss his first term as president of the United States of America.

In an effort of being transparent, I was 13 years old when Obama was elected. At the time of his second term, I was still unable to vote. For the majority of my life, I never paid attention to the news more than the things that got trickled down through conversations. As an adult, I like to think that I am more politically aware, but I still have a long way to go before I believe I am politically literate. So what I will say is that at the time Obama was in office, I blindly supported him, though I knew very little about his actual presidency.

For many parts of this book, I looked at this as someone who is living in a pandemic. With a suffering economy, listening to Obama’s struggle with pushing a stimulus bill seems to hit a little too close to home. Add on that his response on the H1N1 virus and the cliché of “history repeats itself” feels too true for words. And while I won’t go into a whole lot of details about everything that happened in his term, there were a lot of moments where I learned a lot about the things that I knew happened but didn’t realize the extent to which they happened.

There is a lot I can say about this book, but ultimately I will leave it up to you. And while I recommend that everyone, regardless of political affiliation, read about heads of state to get an entire idea of their administrations and the history of this country. I will say that Obama has a tendency to throw A LOT of information at you throughout the book so it is a little bit of a lecture.

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!