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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!

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!

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/19/21- 1/27/21

How I Found It: Once Upon A Book Club

The only things that I know l about this book going in is that it features musicals. Considering the majority of my Spotify review for 2020 was the Hamilton soundtrack, I think that I am ready to step into this one! (Side note: the box this time around is ridiculously heavy, so my standards are high for the gifts with this box)

Page 182

“l glance at Odile. She’s sitting on the floor with her purse beside her, a thick paperback open on her lap.”

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, page 182


Before I get into this gift, let’s catch up on the plot of this novel. Firstly, Melody McIntyre’s immediate concern has always been for the Beaconville High School Drama Department. So it should be no surprise that her girlfriend, Rachel, thinks that she isn’t focused on their relationship. And when their relationship dissolves during the most complicated lighting pattern in the show, it became a point of distinction within the crew. Their solution? Melody should avoid falling in love so that the spring musical, which is Les Miserables, can go off without a hitch. But when the acting star of
BHS, Odile, auditions for the musical, Mel starts to realize that she isn’t as intimidating as she thought. Now Mel needs to choose between her heart and her musical.

Okay, I live. I’m going to expose myself right now, I have had Les Mis downloaded on my Kindle app since high school and I still haven’t read it. But one day! I grew up with a mom obsessed with planners and stickers. Now that I have reached adulthood, I get it. I love stationary. Now with the question of will I use it? I don’t know. I don’t really live the type of life where I can justify using this, but post- pandemic life could be completely different. we’ll see!

Page 299

“The curtain that is descending is dark-as black as the night sky-
bot all over it are twinkling stars. Hundreds of them.”

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, page 299

Fun fact about me: I love stars. Really I love everything to do with the skies, including sunsets, northern lights, star trails, etc. And if I had a reason to use a shower curtain, I would be all in for this. Sadly, I don’t so this will go in my resell pile, but do know I absolutely love this gift!

Page 394

“She gets up so fast her purse catches on the armrest.”

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, page 394

I need more excuses (post-pandemic obvi) to carry around a purse. While I have baskets in my room of this material, I’m not sure how much I want to carry this around. However, this is a really good neutral, so it could probably work with most outfits. So essentially I am trying to justify keeping this.

Book Review

This book was incredibly cute and fun to read! While I say all of that, I wasn’t able to keep my attention on this book. When I was actually trying to get through this book, I could read a lot more, but throughout the week, I would only read about 50 pages when I would pick it up. I think that all in all, I would list this book as a 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!

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 9/13/20-9/24/20

How I Found It: High School English

I am so excited to finally be reading the entire series. Many moons ago, at the ripe old age of 14, I had to read The Giver for my freshman English class. At some point while I was in college, I had discovered that the book I loved from my English class was really the first in a four book series. For years, I have always said “I will get to it eventually”, and I think it is about time that I do just that. So I’m buckled in, let’s see what these books have to offer!

Side note: Books one and two can be treated as independent works. Books 3 and 4 depend on the information/ characters from the first two books. Unlike most series posts, I will be making a rating for each book individually, and an overall rating of the series at the end.

The Giver

Set in a small community, Jonas is about to turn Twelve. Within this community, the first 12 years of life bring a new achievement into the path of independence, with Twelve being the age of earning a job. Jonas is given the job of Receiver, known as the most important and private job in the community. As The Receiver, Jonas has to be given the memories of the communities before this one, which includes the happy memories and the sad ones. But when Jonas learns of the atrocities that occur in this community that no one talks about, Jonas and the former receiver, known as The Giver, come up with a plan to escape the community and begin life anew.

I normally don’t do this, but I wanted to talk about this book specifically before I start reading the other books in the series. As mentioned before, this book was a requirement for my 9th grade English requirement. And other than talking about Utopian/Dystopian themes, I don’t remember a whole lot about what we talked about with this book. But for people who were never forced to read this book, there are themes of sameness/uniqueness, governmental control, and “ignorance is bliss” to name a few. There are a lot of things that as a society we are dealing with, and I don’t think that it would be a stretch to say that this book shows you aspects of what would happen if we went into a state of complete control.

This book won a Newbery Medal for its contribution to children’s literature. It was also adapted for film in 2014, which I will not be reviewing. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Gathering Blue

We begin the book on Kira, a young crippled girl who has just lost her mother to an illness. Now an orphan, Kira finds herself begging the Council to let her stay in the town. They decide to keep her in a living quarters in the Council of Guardians (essentially a town hall) where she would work as an embroiderer. Every year they have a big celebration where a singer would sing the town’s history for hours, with the cloak he wears being a mural of the history, and the staff he stands with being a reminder of the parts of the story so he wouldn’t get lost in the song. With Kira the future for the robe, Thomas the future of the staff, and Jo the future of the song, the young children discover the dark pasts of the town, and how they ended up in this position.

I personally don’t think that this book is as good as The Giver (which might be more nostalgia than anything else), but I do think that it is very good, so I will be giving it a 4 out of 5 star rating.

Messenger

Matty now lives in the Village, but works as a messenger for the Leader (Jonas from The Giver). When dark trades start to occur, the people within the Village start to change, including the selfish notion of closing their borders to refugees. The Leader sends Matty to put up signs to warn travelers that they cannot enter the Village, and the Seer (Kira’s dad), asks Matty to bring Kira back to the Village before the borders close. In order to get to Kira’s town from the Village, Matty must pass through the Forest, which is getting thicker and more dangerous. Quickly things become more treacherous, and Kira and Matty have to push themselves through obstacles, and I’m really struggling to make the open-ended “will they make it” statement, but uh… will they make it?

Compared to the other 2 books, I think that this is the saddest one. It is also the shortest one. I do not think it was anywhere near as good as the first two books, so I will give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Son

There is a lot that happens in this last book, so bear with me on this synopsis. So we start with Claire, after she gives birth to a son, whom we later learn is Gabriel (I’m realizing now that I didn’t list Gabriel in The Giver synopsis, but he was the baby from that book, and he’s really important for this book, so heads up on that). Anyway, as a Birthmother, Claire isn’t supposed to have any contact with Gabriel after he is born. But after a complicated delivery, Claire is no longer able to give birth, forcing her to go into another job. Anyway, some stuff happens, Jonas disappears with Gabriel, and Claire, heartbroken, leaves on a boat.

Flash forward a bit, Claire wakes up on a beach in a small village. She has no memories and she has no understanding of the world. As she slowly understands the world, she remembers her son and the pain of losing him. She decides to leave the village to go find him, but that journey came at a price. She met the Trademaster, who took her youth in order to take her to her son. And that leads to the final part of the book, which I won’t describe here.

This book is approximately the length of the first 3 books combined. And despite its length, I think that is is more a wrap-up than an individual book. But I’m at a conundrum here. I personally don’t think this book is bad (and I think that it is better than Messenger), but I don’t particularly like the rating I’m about to give. I’ll give it a generous 3.5 out of 5 stars, purely based on the rating on the other books.

The Giver Quartet

An included map of The Giver Quartet world

I really enjoyed The Giver and Gathering Blue. I don’t think that they needed to be connected. With that being said, I enjoyed Son. And with all that being said, I don’t necessarily think that Messenger was a bad book, but it was slightly purposeless. I personally would have loved a collection of stories, including The Giver, Gathering Blue, and the story of Claire when she tries to leave the seaside village. It felt forced that these stories were interwoven this way. I think that as a series, I would give it 3 out of 5 stars (though I think that might be slightly generous).

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!

This is How We Fly by Anna Meriano

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/1/21

How I Found It: Instagram

Hi! Before I get into this post, I want to say that I completely support the LGBTQIA+ community. I do not stand with JFK on many of her opinions. Please be kind and respectful to all people.

First review of 2021 (at least for me, not for you guys!) and I am READY! This is the time where I expose myself for never finishing the 7th book. Maybe one day? I mean, there was a moment where I was going to read the Harry Potter books for the blog so maybe I will in the next 5 years? Anyway, I have seen all of the movies, maybe about 100 times, and I am ready to talk about quidditch!

Ellen is just trying to have the best summer before she heads off to college. However, her step-mother clearly has a vendetta against her, and she finds herself grounded for life. With the help of her friend Melissa, and the loophole of exercising, Ellen gets permission to attend Quidditch practices. Soon, this thing that was just a way to get out of the house and see her friends becomes her entire life. With the fear of losing her life as she knows it, Ellen finds what is the most important for her, and the answer may surprise you!

Firstly, yes for Quidditch. I love books that feature “nerd sports”, the ones that we made fun of kids for doing but as adults sound incredibly fun. (Also, any friends in the Maryland area, want to play Quidditch?) I absolutely loved the way that this was incorporating this sport with the storyline of the story, and I cannot begin to describe how fun this book was to read.

One of the worst things about the print version of this book is the amount of dead space. There are probably 10 extra pages in the print version with nothing on them. While I doubt this is Meriano’s fault, it is something that should be rectified, especially when the main character of this book is so incredibly environmentally conscious.

This book does talk a lot about social issues, and there are a lot of comments that can be triggering. The entire purpose of these comments is to show the disparity between generations, and these comments are used as little digs throughout the novel. But overall, 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!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

How I Read It: Print/ Audiobook

Dates Read: 12/22/20-12/23/20

How I Found It: Instagram?

Trigger Warning: This book contains depictions of suicide, including suicidal ideations and suicidal notes. This book also has mentions of drug and alcohol abuse. There is a lot of talk about depression, and some mention of self harm. Please read at your own discretion.

Nora is incredibly done with her current life. After taking an overdose of drugs, she is ready to end it all. But instead of death, Nora finds herself in a library. This library, held at the moment of midnight, Nora is given the option to undo all of her regrets and see what life would look like if she made different decisions. As we follow the story, we experience motherhood, marriage, the life of a rockstar, the life of a former Olympian, a glaciologist (which i just learned is a thing), and many more lives for Nora. But as we experience all these lives, we also see the disappointments as we learn that each individual change doesn’t bring her the universal happiness she was looking for.

Here’s the thing about this book, it is incredibly philosophical and an interesting read. I mean, Good Morning America made it a part of their book club (which once again, I had no idea this was a thing), so you have an idea of how important this novel is. However, there were moments where I zoned in and out a little bit as I was listening to this one. There were moments when I was all the way in, and there were moments where I didn’t really feel a part of the story. From what I have seen, that is more of a me thing than an overall feeling.

I recommend this for people who were interested in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, or anyone who is interested in fantasy mingled with reality. I personally would give this book 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!