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An Update

Hi Friends! It’s been a minute. I think I speak for all of us when I say that what is going on with the world sometimes overwhelms me. I think I also speak for all of us when I say that I often times sabotage the things I enjoy doing when I begin to feel overwhelmed. At the beginning of this year, I set a goal for myself where I would read books by a range of authors honoring different ethnicities and religions along the way. And while I went in with extremely good intentions, that put a lot of pressure on me to perform a certain way. It became completely unrealistic, and eventually I fell off the wagon. By a lot. Now we are half a year later, and though I have a whole bunch of reviews written, I still haven’t taken the time to get them onto this blog. That hopefully will be changing soon. It is my intention to put 0 pressure on this blog. Maybe then I will begin posting regularly again. But I do want to say thank you to anyone who stopped by while I was gone. We reached 1,500 visitors all-time and are rapidly approaching another milestone: 2,500 views! It blows my mind that people even care about my opinions on books and I am grateful for the support!

So updates: my Halloween posts this year are going to be a series called Villians by Serena Valentino. Those reviews will begin October 23rd and will posted once a day until October 31st. November (and probably parts of December) are going to be thriller/mystery/horror reviews from my lead up to Halloween. Leading up to Christmas, I will be posting the Once Upon a Book Club Advent Calendar from last year. Posts aren’t going to follow a set schedule for now, right now I need to get more in the habit of writing reviews than trying to keep up with another responsibility.

Thank you for the support, and I will see you all in the next review!

The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood

How I Read It: Print/ Audiobook

Dates Read: 2/24/21-3/2/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warnings: There are instances of abuse, including manipulation, physical, and sexual abuse.

When I saw the cover of this book, I was all in. I will say that this book is 100% not what I was expecting on a romance level, but I learned a lot about the feelings and emotions of trying to come to the US with the hope of earning the American Dream.

Let’s be real, Anvar Farris was not destined to be a “good” muslim. He questions everything, has differing views on the world, and he never memorizes the Quran. When his parents moved the family to San Francisco, CA, Anvar was ready for the new experience. He fell in love, went to college for English, and felt like he had his place in the world. But when his relationship fell apart after a disagreement of religious beliefs, Anvar finds his life in turmoil. When his mother experiences a very racist situation, Anvar goes to law school to become a lawyer. He ends up getting a case, but hs client ends up dead after a bomb strike in Syria. Feeling helpless, Anvar stops living, forcing him to take charity in order to have a place to live.

Safwa was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. After her mother’s death, her father has to start working for the Americans in order to keep the food on the table. But when he is taken by the Americans, Safwa tries to take care of her crippled brother. Eventually, she has to leave her brother behind, forcing her uncle to take care of him in his last days. When her father returns to her, Safwa has to withstand his wrath. But when she meets a man, Qais, who might be able to get her out of Afghanistan once and for all, she is willing to pay the price. Once she lands in America, she tries to avoid Qais, but the deal that she made continues to catch up to her. She meets Anvar, and the relationship that they forge gives her an idea to hopefully earn the freedom she came to America for.

In my opinion, the book is a little dense. However, I also listened to this book more often than I normally do. I think that this is one of those books that I recommend that you listen to it over reading it, but that may also be what worked best for me. There were times where the timeline was slightly confusing to me, but otherwise, think that this book is pretty easily accessible for the average reader. I think 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!

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 2/15/21-2/16/21

How I Found It: Misfit in Love

I had Misfit in Love as one of the books I found on Instagram that I put on my Amazon Wish List. As I was going through and buying some books, I realized that that book was a sequel to this book, Saints and Misfits. I listened to this book solely, so I am basing the spellings of names on how others who have reviewed this book spelled them. Please correct me if I screwed up.

Janna is the daughter of divorced parents. While she feels like her brother, Muhammad, is her mother’s favorite, Janna feels like she is on her own. When Muhammad switches his major, their father decided to rescind his tuition payments, forcing Muhammad to move home with Janna and her mother and Janna to move into her mother’s room. On top of that, Janna’s crush, Jeremy, who is non-Muslim, is starting to notice her. After Janna’s friend’s cousin attempts to sexually assault her, Janna is trying to understand what has happened to her. A story about a girl’s journey through life and high school, this novel shows that there is no difference between religions or race, we are all just trying to get through the day.

One of the things that I love about reading about characters from different religions and cultures is that we learn that we aren’t that different after all. We are all just trying to make it through life regardless of our lineage. I am excited to read Misfit in Love (which looks like it will be released on the 25th of May), and some of the other novels that S.K. Ali has written. Overall, I 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!

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!