Final Girls by Riley Sager

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Print

Dates Read: 7/29/19-7/31/19

About 4 months ago, I read my first book by Riley Sager, called The Last Time I Lied. I has originally heard about that book through Book of the Month (which I know I am completely slacking on putting out BOTM reviews out, and I am hoping to be better, especially because this months picks are REALLY good), and I finally picked it up (before my dog ate the book, true story) and read it. I grew up on authors like Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark, so I enjoyed Sager’s novel.

When July’s selection for BOTM included another novel by Sager (Lock Every Door), I immediately clicked for it to be the book I choose. Quick researched showed that Sager had only written one other book, this one. So I hopped on Amazon, got a copy, and here we are. Since I already have a review up for The Last Time I Lied, I figured I would do a mini-author series, so welcome to Riley Sager week!

In this story, Quincy Carpenter is the lone survivor of a knife attack that killed 5? others (when I piece together the list of names from those nights, I only count 5, but I currently don’t have the book with me to confirm that fact). In the media, Quincy along with the 2 other girls who have been the lone survivors in massacres, Samantha Boyd and Lisa Milner, are called the Final Girls. Lisa chose to use her experience as a way to help others, becoming a child psychiatrist. Samantha chose to hide, disappearing from the public eye a few years after Quincy’s attack. And Quincy chose to live, creating a baking blog, moving in with her long time boyfriend, Jeff, and checking in with the original police officer that found her after her massacre, Coop.

When Lisa’s body is discovered in her Indiana home, original evidence suggests suicide. In an effort to quench her guilt, Samantha shows up outside Quincy’s home, with the hope of them getting to know each other. But Samantha is a bad influence, and the farther into their friendship, the more complicated Quincy’s “perfect” life becomes.

I was about halfway into this book when I had a conversation with a friend about it. I was telling them that this girl was obviously the bad guy, which makes me think that she is a red herring. Talking more, I put the blame on Jeff, on Coop, even on Quincy, but I surely was not expecting the actual result. The ending was so surprising, while also thrilling, and I could not wait to finish this book.

The number of days might be a surprise for you. That number had nothing to do with the quality of the book and more the amount of things on my plate. But I literally threw everything aside in order to finish the book when I got home from work, so it is THAT level good.

I would give the book 4.5 out of 5 (due to the extreme emphasis on Samantha being the bad guy, essentially giving away that she isn’t his top pick for the actual bad guy) stars, and I genuinely would recommend this book for mystery/ thriller lovers. Side note: this book gave me nightmares, which is HUGE compliments.

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!

Let’s Talk… The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Is it a cop out to make a Let’s Talk about a book? I wanted to talk about this book since I read the Caraval trilogy yesterday (you should totally click on that link!). Almost all of the reviews on Goodreads for Caraval were about The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and their extremely similar themes. I wanted to see how similar they are, so I got myself a copy of The Night Circus, and here’s what I have found out:

First: a synopsis. The Night Circus is the story of a game. When Celia and Marco are young, her father and his mentor, respectively, bind them together for life. They are required to showcase their talents in magic until eventually their magic outweighs the other. The playing field, a circus that is only open at night. Eventually, Celia and Marco fall in love, causing them to lose interest in playing the game. Other members of the circus who know about the game begin to push for the game to be finished, causing mayhem within the circus. Now, Marco and Celia must figure out how to fix everything without taking everyone out in the process.

  1. Caraval is easier to read. The Night Circus jumps around in time which makes it difficult to keep up with what is happening within the story. There is also almost 10 characters that we follow around throughout the story, which is difficult to keep up with as well. Caraval stays consistently in time with one character. Along with that, The Night Circus is difficult to read because the language fits the late 1800s/ early 1900s time period of the setting. There is no exact date associated with Caraval, but they tend to speak modern while the characters are in un-technological society.
  2. The idea of a “night circus” is different for the two stories. You ever hear about creative writing classes where they start with the same sentence, but everyone makes their own story? It feels a lot like that. Caraval’s night circus is really a game, which only lasts for a select number of days. They do not look like a normal circus, but rather an area that you have to explore in order to solve a problem. The Night Circus is about a “real” traveling circus, so there are tents, acts, etc. that consistently lasts for decades.
  3. The love stories are completely different. Caraval, the love story is a gradual progression of not liking to now I love you. In The Night Circus, the binding connects them from a young age, so they feel that level of connection from the moment they meet.

Obviously, the idea of a “night circus” is a connection in itself, but I think the two authors took their own spins on it. They are too different stylistically for me to see the connections people have discussed on Goodreads (or to pick sides). Neither story would be a book that I would normally pick up for myself, so I might not have the greatest opinion on this. At the end of the day, I recommend Caraval for someone who wants a young adult book with a magical adventure. The Night Circus is a more adult book that has a much heavier influence of magic and less of the adventure.

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!

Caraval Trilogy by Stephanie Garber

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 7/15/19-7/20/19

Caraval was a book that had been sitting on my TBR pile for a while. I had seen it on Goodreads and was interested mainly for the cover (I know, I know, the cliché is real) because I couldn’t tell you any part of the synopsis. In a moment of weakness, I purchased the books on Audible, and then in a more pressing moment of weakness, bought the books on Kindle. Figuring that I had busy days at work that required me to be by myself A LOT (aka more reading time) and a day off, I figured this is the week to GET IT DONE! And here we are!

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.

Book 1: Caraval

The story begins in Trisda as Scarlett Dragda (plus guest) and Donatella (Tella) Dragda get invited to Caraval. A sailor, named Julien, took Scarlett and Tella to the Caraval island, dropping Tella off first before he came back for Scarlett. Scarlett, with the help of Julien, gets into the Caraval game. Given only 5 nights (during the day, the doors to the hotel are locked and everything is turned off), she must find her sister who seems to have been kidnapped. But every chance at help comes at a price, and everything is not always what it seems. Every time Scarlett thinks she has figured it out, another twist in the road comes into play, making finding Tella more and more difficult. Will she find her? And more importantly, will she find herself in the process?

Book 2: Legendary

Tella is reeling from her experience at Caraval. Soon after the after celebration, news spreads that there will be another Caraval in a few weeks in Valenda, the capital of the Meridian Empire. Unlike the first Caraval, everything reminds the players that everything that happens in this game are completely real and have real-life consequences. So I didn’t mention him in the synopsis of the first book because he didn’t play THAT big of a part in it, but there is this performer, Dante. He ends up convincing the people at the hotel that Tella is the empress’ heir’s fianceé, so she gets a special room. Turns out, that heir is the Prince of Hearts, a Fate who is has the power of killing someone with a kiss. He strikes a deal with Tella that he will give her her mother in exchange for the Caraval prize, Legend. But as the game progresses, Tella begins to fall for Dante, causing her to be put between a rock and a hard place between her fianceé and her love.

Book 3: Finale

This one is hard to explain, so bear with me. Okay, so this story is told from both Donatella’s and Scarlett’s POV. Now that the Fates are released into the world, Tella and Scar must find a way to remove their powers in order to save humanity (and Legend). Both Tella and Scarlett are caught up in their individual love stories, which continues to get more and more complicated as their individual plots deepen. For Scarlett, that means discovering the Fallen Star (aka the maker of all the Fates) is her father, and then having to try and find a way to follow his plans to then kill him. For Tella, it means getting caught between the obsession from Legend and the obsession from the Prince of Hearts, when really all she wants is love, WHILE also trying to protect her sister. Yea, if you haven’t figured it out, it is kinda a mess and a lot of the time I felt like:

Image result for always sunny solving meme

The Series

As for my personal feelings, I enjoyed Caraval, the book. I thought it was a cool idea and while I saw a lot of people on Goodreads say it was similar to other books (I specifically saw Hunger Games, the Lunar Chronicles (which I haven’t read yet, but own, so I’m not sure how true that is), and The Night Circus (which I purchased because I wanted to see the connection that people listed)), which is up for interpretation. Whatever the first book may be like, the second book is basically a carbon copy of the first book except it was now in Tella’s POV. The third book was so incredibly convoluted and un-directional that I found myself thinking we were going one way for ANOTHER twist to magically be added. I am glad I read the first book, but I could have lived without the rest of the trilogy. As a whole, I would list the Caraval trilogy as 2 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!

A Serial Killer’s Daughter by Kerri Rawson

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 7/10/19-7/12/19

2 weeks ago, I did a review on a book by Michelle McNamara about the Golden State Killer. Staying on brand, today’s book is on the BTK Killer (Bind, Torture, Kill). The BTK Killer (real name Dennis Rader) killed 10 people around Wichita, Kansas between 1974 and 1991. His arrogance and subsequent taunting (alongside Rawson’s DNA from a previous medical examination) eventually led to his arrest.

Rawson, as you probably figured out from the title, is the daughter of the BTK Killer. Growing up, she was completely unawares that her father had the potential to torture and murder people for decades. She learned of his arrest when the FBI showed up to her apartment in Detroit. Add in that we have a sick obsession with serial killers (hi, guilty), and that everyone is looking for an exposé, and moving on seems completely unrealistic. With love from her family, husband, and God, she began just that, taking every day in stride despite her anxiety, depression, and trauma.

While I find serial killers interesting, I have never been that interested in their descendents. Their children have always seemed like a “no go” area purely because they did not choose to be in the spotlight. HOWEVER, Kerri did a very good job of discussing the guilt and betrayal she felt when she learned the truth about her father.

One of the interesting aspects that I don’t think I ever considered was the family of the killer. When confronted with the choice to present to the jury a complete detailed description of his crimes with the expectation that telling the jury will give him his justice, I immediately would jump on the “yes” train. But nobody asks the family of the killer. Everyone asks the family of the deceased. The family of the killer are also victims, but when you are in the situation, you don’t want to think of them as so. They also have to grieve, also have to deal with guilt, confusion, and frustration, but they are expected to do so silently while the person they love is blasted online and in the media.

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!

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 7/8/19-

Funny story: About a week or so after I got this box, one of my friends went to BookCon. She ended up picking up this book because not only was she interested, but she thought I would be, too! I am making it a point not to read the back, although I am guessing it is a reimagining of Cinderella. So as always, here goes nothing!

Page 7

GUYS! HOLY POOP STICKS! I NOW OWN A REAL(ish) QUILL! Okay, I think that all of us after reading Harry Potter wanted to own a quill purely because we wanted to feel fancy. Now let’s be real, I seriously doubt I am going to be pulling out my quill to handle my business, but it is for sure going on my shelf to show off. Solid reminder that if I ever have a fancy invitation, this is the pen I am going to be using to sign off on it!

As for the book, it’s different than I was expecting. This gift marked the end of the prologue, and it is very dark and creepy. It actually reminds me of Aladdin (as weird as that sounds) where a creepy dude finds himself in a tower where he infiltrates the people and convinces them to do his deeds. It also reminds me of Spinning Silver, which is a reimagining of Rumpelstiltskin.

Page 144

Don’t mind me strategically taking a picture of a mirror without showing myself. This gift is cool to me for 2 reasons: 1) most of the gifts that OUABC sends are knickknacks and this isn’t, and 2) I have decor to go with it! Man, now I need to really work on my gallery wall!

The book is definitely outside of my comfort zone. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Spinning Silver, and this book falls into the same category. Surprisingly, when I do pick up the book, I am enthralled. The biggest issue for me is to pick it up in the first place. And don’t get me wrong, this book is good. It just isn’t a book I would normally read for myself.

We all know the story of Cinderella, but what happens to her “ugly stepsisters” once she gets her happily ever after? This story follows Isabelle (poor choice of naming, although I’m not sure she chose the name, or if the original story did) as she comes to terms with her new reality. Believing that her “ugliness” was her real misfortune, she meets Tanaquill, known as the “fairy godmother” in the popularized version of the story. In order to become pretty, Isabelle must find the broken pieces of her heart.

As Isabelle is trying to figure out where her missing pieces are, Chance and Fate are battling for the girl’s destiny. On one hand, Fate declares that Isabelle will die due to the dictator that is destroying France. But Chance believes that she will be the one that can defeat the dictator and save them all. Discovering Tanaquill has begun to change her destiny, Chance and Fate ask her where the broken pieces are. Once they find out that they lie with Felix (her young love), Nero (a horse), and Ella (her stepsister), it is a race to either help (Chance) or hinder (Fate) the challenge presented.

Page 204

Oof, regretting that close up of my finger, but this has to be the coolest ring box I have ever seen. While I probably would get rid of the stem (especially because I broke it trying to throw it back in the box, whoops), I probably would hold on to the rose ring box. The ring itself is small for me (which doesn’t say much because I have humongous fingers), so I probably won’t wear it much if all, but it is extremely beautiful (the stone is lavender in color, sorry for the poor lighting #bloggeronabudget).

I’m debating in my head about what I want to say about the plot. We are introduced to Nero in this section, and our storyline with Felix has progressed. We also start to see the progression of Isabelle as she becomes more courageous and proud of herself. The overarching feminist theme of the novel is punctuating more as Isabelle begins to solve her problems in order to find her pieces of her heart.

Page 261

Don’t mind the spacing, I was struggling to make it work! Okay, so here’s the thing. I got 3 really cool gifts in this box, and I also know that I should not be selfish. But all I got was a piece of paper. A piece of paper related to the story, but a piece of paper nonetheless. Not even a professionally printed paper. I am talking a piece of regular paper with this printed on it. And while I appreciate the thought, I am still really disappointed that this is all I get (millennial problems, am I right?).

As for the story, there isn’t much I feel comfortable telling you guys without giving away the story. What I will say is that Fate is playing super dirty and I am so proud of my girl Isabelle.

Completion

Let’s go! Way to go Isabelle! Dude, I love Isabelle! The overall story is one about the power of the heart, and the emotions that are attached to it. It is very empowering, beautifully written, and fun to read. I recommend it for anyone (and that says a lot because I don’t normally read these types of books). I will say that the Fate/ Chance storyline was a little confusing, especially in the beginning, but it clears up as the story continues.

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!

Let’s Talk… Walking Away

Hey guys! This one is a more serious post, but it is a post I think I am ready to make. I am not walking away from you guys, don’t you worry, but I am walking away from things that do not make me happy. And here’s why you should, too.

At the beginning of this year, Netflix put out a series called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and while I have never watched the show, I know that the gist is to find the things that make you happy and keep them, while letting go of those that don’t give you that feeling.

When I started reading for fun, I realized that I never liked to leave a book unfinished. I will power through a book, even if I completely hate it, for the sake of giving a book a chance. But that feeling isn’t healthy. Let what I just said settle in for a moment: I literally torture myself by reading books I don’t like for the sake of giving everything a chance. Why should I? Now I have the blog, but I still always have the option to walk away, and I never take it. And that feeling of being stuck continues to weigh heavy on my mind, to the point where negative feelings begin to affect my daily life. That’s not healthy, and I need to learn to walk away.

About 2 weeks ago, I began the process of downsizing, which is HUGE for my hoarding tendency. The hardest thing I have had to do is choose which books I wanted to keep on my shelf and which ones I wanted to walk away from. And while I won’t bore you with the specifics, I will tell you that I got rid of an entire shelf full of books. I did not cry, I did not feel like I lost a limb, and I got rid of books that could make someone else happy. Walking away never felt so good.

As for my life, I have been thinking A LOT about happiness. There are people in my life that I do not associate good feelings with anymore. And while our past may be great, my future should be, too. The biggest lesson I have learned in life? There is no shame in choosing yourself. We associate negative words like “selfish” to that action, but why shouldn’t we be a little selfish? Why should I feel guilty about choosing me? Why should I have to constantly feel negative feelings so that they can feel happy?

A million things change when you choose to be happy. You start to smile more, laugh more, and feel more. Complaining goes down, and positivity goes up. There is no shame in choosing yourself, and there is also nothing wrong with being a little negative. But I am someone who has let negativity eat away at me, and I AM DONE.

So I am walking away. I am walking away from the stress, frustration, and ultimate negative feelings of staying in a situation I am not happy in. I am walking away from the fear of being alone. I am walking away from the fear of missing out. I am walking away from the fear of trying something new. I am walking away.

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!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 7/22/19-7/24/19

This story follows Cather Avery, a college freshman who is trying to figure out where she belongs at the University of Nebraska. Her twin, Wren, has asked to get her own roommate, and has continued her life away from Cath. Cath is stuck in a room with a junior, Reagan. Reagan has a guy named Levi who is always positive and optimistic. He is constantly trying to get Cath to relax and be open around him. In Cath’s fiction writing class, she meets a boy named Nick, who she writes really good fiction with. Eventually, Nick turns out to be a jerk, Cath begins to fall in love with Levi, Wren begins to spiral, and Cath’s father begins to have larger medical issues.

I did a really bad job explaining this book, but it is really good, trust me. It took me a really long time to get into it, but once I got to about the halfway mark, I was completely sold on the story. It wasn’t my favorite, especially because Eleanor & Park set the bar really high, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I did think the relationships were a little flimsy, at best. I wish that they were a little stronger considering they were the focus of the story. I also thought that the fanfictions/ Simon Snow segments were better written than the actual book. BUT the story was still incredibly cute, fun, and overall enjoyable.

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!