Let’s Talk… The Questions

When we learn to form questions, we are told to use the magic words: who, what, when, where, why, and how. I remember being in 3rd grade and having to write stories for class. We had to sit there and plan out all of those questions before we could start writing the story. So why don’t we do that for our lives too? We are so excited to make changes, to “fix” yourself, to make things better, but we don’t sit back and ask ourselves the simple questions. So I figure, since I am taking you guys on this emotional journey with me, to give you my answers.

Who: Elizabeth

What: Happiness

When: Whenever I can get there

Where: Wherever I can get there

Why: I don’t want to wake up in the morning and complain. I don’t want to go to a job I hate for the sake of money. I want to do something that I love, and work my butt off for it. I want to wake up and smile instead of scowl. I want to be moving, not stuck. I want to experience. I want more out of my life.

How: 1) Exercise and eat right. I need time to be happy and the best way is to start taking care of myself. 2) Meditate. Read the Bible, pray, realign my faith and how that connects to my body. Try yoga. Try not to break my back in the process. 3) Rebuild friendships. There are people that needed to leave my life. There are also people that I removed because life was hard. Figure out who needs to stay and who needs to go. Be selfish when needed. 4) Give back. Volunteer for charities and non-profits. Help when people need it. Give my heart to people who need it. 5) Get out. Go for walks. See my friends. Get off my butt and out in the world. 6) Grow up. Move out and move up. Figure out the next steps. If it scares me, then it probably means that I should do it. Keep moving. 7) Don’t expect things to happen. Take the steps I want to take. Be my own advocate. I got this.

These are my questions. Now ask them to yourself. What are your answers? How long have you been working on them? Everyday is a process. It is a chance to work on your answers. But you gotta want it. It’s not easy, being your better self never is. But hey, you got 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!

Let’s Talk… Know My Name by Chanel Miller

I originally planned to make this post a normal review. I had already purchased this book off of pre-order as soon as I learned of its existence, and I was mentally preparing myself to read it. Within the first 20 pages of this book, I learned that there will never be enough mental preparedness to get ready to read the morning after a rape. I wanted to take you guys on the journey with me, through thoughts, tears, and vomit. So here goes nothing:

TRIGGER WARNING: This is the story of a woman after rape. It is extremely descriptive and hard to handle for most. Read at your own risk.

Previous history

Like most people, I had heard of the Brock Turner case, especially at the conclusion of his trial. I read the impact statement written by the victim, named Emily Doe. I was outraged that the media was more concerned by his swimming lap times instead of the fact he just raped someone. I was outraged that people were calling him a “good boy” when he literally just did a heinous act. I was angry for the victim, this nameless girl, who got no adjectives, no history. I was distraught that Turner got such a small sentence, 6 months, which he only had to serve 3. My heart is broken, and I stand with Emily Doe. About a month ago, 60 Minutes did an interview with Chanel Miller about her new book which details her truth during the aftermath of the sexual assault. I didn’t even think twice, I went straight to Amazon and purchased the book. So let’s get into my thoughts:

Sunday, September 29th, 2:51 pm, page 42

I have almost vomited 3 times already. Since I was a little kid, I have hated my body. I have been ashamed of it, and Chanel seemed to feel very similarly. Trying to imagine 3 women pulling at my skin, taking pictures, putting ointments, dyes, and whatever else on and in my body is making my hands shake just typing this. And no one told her why this was all happening. This girl is forced to sign papers already labeling her a rape victim and she doesn’t even know when and how she got there. And to find out what happened to you in a news article. It’s just heartbreaking, and all I want is to hug this girl and tell her she doesn’t have to be strong, because that’s exactly what she is doing. Being strong for her sister who puts the blame on herself. It just hurts me to read it, but I also want to learn how I can be a better ally for someone who goes through this. I don’t want anyone who goes through this to ever feel alone, because I am here and I am someone you can talk to.

Sunday, September 29th, 4:05 pm, page 75

We live in a digital age, where we can hide behind a computer screen and think we can say anything we want without repercussion. We have all heard stories of cyberbullying, and there have been shows, movies, books, and all around media created to discuss the effects on the victims. To have people who blamed Chanel for drinking, or that she was just blaming Turner because she was embarrassed, or any of the other incredibly ignorant posts is incredibly sad. But more so, it is so hard for a victim to continue to feel like it is their fault. And to hear how broken she became, to the point of calling suicide hotlines, is heartbreaking. There are no other words to describe it.

“I told my boss I was at a doctor’s appointment, but it ended up feeling like a job interview. They were deciding if I would make a good victim.” -page 57

On top of that, Chanel is a freaking beast emotionally. This girl has gone through dealing with the suicides of many of her classmates, some as often as 4 in 6 months, a school shooting, and now a sexual assault. Do not mess with this girl because she is stronger than anyone I have ever known.

“I learned it was expensive to be assaulted.” -page 68

Sunday, September 29th, 5:47 pm, page 125

One of the things that Chanel talks about is how catcalling became a trigger for her fear and anger. It’s the idea of losing her freedom, to not be able to walk around, for fear that someone could come out and attack her. As a woman, I have always been told to keep my head facing forward, to not acknowledge strangers’ catcalls, to carry pepper spray or a taser. I was told to put my defenses up, and I have never been sexually assaulted. Imagine what that is like for someone who has.

“I do not include the victims’ names here, for names are sacred, and I do not want them identified solely by what [the attacker] did to them.”– page 90

Chanel also chose at this point to seek therapy for her anger and sadness in the wake of the assault. One of the most impactful moments in this section for me was when Chanel felt so proud and confident of her testimony, only to read about it in the news and how they took the 300+ questions into a statement against her. It is almost like, what do you want her to do?

Sunday, September 29th, 9:12 pm, page 189

Within this section, we see Chanel experience her first week of the trial. We follow the power moves, the ups and downs, the guilt, and ultimately, the fight. Chanel in this week went from just trying to get by to “I will eat you alive”. The anger, guilt, and fear for her family and friends that are forced to stand up in court and defend their actions is completely raw and powerful, and it is so empowering to read. To also have so many of her friends come out and say “I have been assaulted, too, and I wish I had the opportunity you have” is so compelling.

“Whenever I am underestimated, I think, you mistake my quietness for weakness.” -page 131

“If you pay enough money, if you say the right things, if you take enough time to weaken and dilute the truth, the sun could slowly begin to look like an egg [yolk].” -page 150

At this point, I am going to call it quits for the night, and I will see you all after work tomorrow.

Monday, September 30th, 6:15 pm, page 245

I am currently watching a YouTube comedy video in order to try and not throw up as I talk about this. When we start this section, we learn about Turner’s testimony. He said that she said yes every step of the way. Even so, Chanel was clearly completely out of it. For the defense to completely switch her words in order to make their point is absolutely disgusting.

“He had given himself permission to enter me again, this time stuffing words in my mouth. He made me his real-life ventriloquist doll, out his hands inside me and made me speak.” -page 192

For his coach, french teacher, or best friend to decide whether or not he is a rapist is not the purpose of the trial. They aren’t there when he is sexual situations. Of anyone, his ex-girlfriend is the only character witness that I understand. But even then, why does Turner get character witnesses while Chanel is degraded every step of the way.

“Bad qualities can hide inside a good person.” -page 194

From here, we move on to the victory lap. 3 felony counts found guilty. After the verdict, Chanel opened a letter from a woman in Ohio stating that she stands with Chanel. From all walks of life, people stood beside this woman, this victim, Chanel, and that is so beautiful and powerful.

“This victory would be celebrated in rooms in towns in states I had never been to.” -page 212

And then, we fall. Based on past experiences, Chanel asked that Turner get the help he needed. That included therapy and rehabilitation. She did not mean that he would not serve time in jail/prison, but that is exactly what the probation officer interpreted her meaning. He requested the judge to only give Turner 6 months of jail time, which could be halved to only 3 months served. And then the impact statement comes into play. Within the actual narrative, Chanel does not post her statement. It is, however, located at the end of the book. After such a power moment, comes Turner’s father. 20 minutes of action. That is the only phrase we should care about. 20 minutes. In all my times of working out, I have to remind myself every single second that this is something I should do, and it that decision only affects me. You can’t tell me that we do not make a decision to continue doing what we are doing every minute of every day. He had at least 20 decisions in that time, and he STILL chose to continue. As a parent, you chose to love your child no matter what, but I can’t imagine learning all of this about my child. 20 minutes. 20 minutes to ruin all of these people’s lives. It’s disgusting.

“In swimming, one one-hundredth of a second is the difference between victory and loss. Yet they wanted to write off twenty minutes as insignificant.” -page 235

Tuesday, October 1st, 9;10 pm, end of book

“I believe, out of the millions who knew I was brave and important, I was the last to know it.” -page 251

This section is initially positive. We see the impact of her words for the other survivors across the globe. Letter after letter of outpouring and support. People cared about what she said. Chanel moved on, found a new life for herself.

“We live in a time where it has become difficult to distinguish between the President’s words, and that of a nineteen-year-old assailant.” -page 278

We then take a walk from the other high profile sexual assault allegations/lawsuits from the time after her trial. These include President Trump’s “locker room talk”, Cosby, Weinstein, Nassar, and eventually, Kavanaugh. The impact of women standing up, saying “we will not back down”, is an important milestone of our society. It is still an uphill climb to report sexual assault, but we also live in a world that is much more understanding than a few years ago.

“My advice is, if he’s worried about his reputation, don’t rape anybody.” -page 283

We also learn about Brock’s attempt at appeal. Almost 1/3rd of the appeal was about how she was drunk. That’s when you know you got nothing. Ultimately that appeal was denied.

“For Brock, his goal was to integrate, for me it was to isolate.” -page 271

Finally, we see Stanford’s response to the sexual assault case. They were willing to turn the area where the dumpsters were into a garden where students were to study. They were not willing to post a quote from the impact statement that was not hopeful. There will not be a statement of the plaque in the garden. I have talked a lot about hope in this section, but don’t forget that the backbone of hope is despair.

I don’t have a good way to conclude this post, nor do I feel like this book requires a rating system. What I will say is that I am not always a great person, and I often times am awkward and confused, but I will do my best to stand beside any person who is in need (probably with a complaint or two because that’s my specialty). I will give you sass, and I probably will make inappropriate jokes to help cope, but I will never blatantly turn my back to you. You know where to find me if you need to talk, and I hope you use those resources. Thank you for going on this journey with me.

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… Mountain Highs and Valley Lows

From as young as I can remember, I have always felt negative emotions to the extreme. When I was sad, I was crying every day, shoving people away, and/or completely hiding. When I was stressed, I was so puking up breakfast in order to get my job done. When I was tired, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t really focus. Today I wanted to talk about how these feeling affect not only this blog, but also my life in general.

Let’s talk about being sad. At the end of the day, I am at some level of sad. Think of it like a callus, where eventually the painful blisters harden and you don’t notice the pains you were feeling earlier. At some point in my life, I reached a baseline of sad. I formed that callus. And as I have been going through these larger transitions to my life, I have either added to the callus or have tried to shave away at it. Since starting the blog, I have talked about how I am a lot happier than when I started. But over the past month or so, I’ve started to slip up. I have let everything eat away at me, and my negative feelings about my body, my friendships, and my world in general have begun to creep into my day to day life.

Now stress. I have done a very good job of keeping up with posts for the blog, but since I switched to a new position at work, I have been unable to listen to books as I am working. And while I was working a job that left me physically drained and mentally awake, I now work a job where I come home and I feel like I need to be active physically, but the last thing I want to do is pick up a book and read. But for the month of September, all I really needed to read was the BOTM books this week and I got to Wednesday still needing to read 2 books. And I was STRESSED. I began pressuring myself to read, forcing myself to do something that I used to love doing, and I was mentally drained. It is not healthy to force yourself to do anything, even if you like to do it, and I. FEEL. IT. I am probably going to be changing posts in an effort to lower the stress I have been feeling.

As for being tired. There is very few times in my life where I am not some level of tired. We all went through the stages in college of staying up all night in order to finish a paper when we really should be sleeping so our mental health is okay. At this point in my life, I realistically need to sleep on a consistent level, and more or less 7 hours a night. I currently am getting about 6 hours, so yea, I’m tired.

Now that we are talking about some lows, let’s talk about some highs. I have you guys. I have consistency in my life. I am working a job that I am up for promotion for. I am moving. I have so many amazing things in my life, and I need to start appreciating those things more. My mountains are really low compared to where I want to be, but I am proud of all those high moments I have felt.

So why am I telling you this? I want you to understand that I am a person too. I feel the same things that you all feel. I am just as broken as the next person. I struggle, and I have to find a way to get myself out of the rutt I have found myself in. If I can do it, you can too! So let me know how you get out of this, and if you ever need to talk, you know where to find me!

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 Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Okay, so this is awkward. Normally, Once Upon a Book Club books are not the same books as Book of the Month, but of course, this time it is. Since I already read the book, I felt like I should at least share the gifts with you guys! So let’s talk… the gifts from my August 2019 OUABC box!

Page 56

Okay, so the drawing was awkwardly faded, but it is the drawing that Rowan finds in the nightstand drawer in her room at Heatherbrae House. The cord is a USB cord with 3 different types of cords so you can charge your phone (whether it is iPhone or Android) or your laptop (at least, it fits my thunder outlet for my Mac?). I’m also sure you can charge multiple items at the same time with the one cord, so it is efficient for traveling.

Page 213

I love this. If I drank coffee often, I would use this all the time, but thankfully my sister-in-law will be putting this to use! It is incredibly beautiful and of higher quality that the other mugs I have gotten from OUABC before!

Page 304

Honestly, I would love this if it were my initial. It is a very beautiful necklace (though a little big), but I probably will never pull it out of the box. So if you want a necklace with a ‘R’ initial, I got you fam.

Page 335

Okay, so I can’t really show you the gift because it essentially tells you the whole plot of the book, BUT it is literally the letter from the last 2 or so pages. This is the present that is literally just a printout for the box, and while it completely fits the book, I still wished that it was something else. But, here we are.

Sorry guys, if I would have known, I would have waited, but I am completely oblivious to everything right now, so I’m just going to leave you guys with a promise to do better! Until then, 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… 6 months

6 months. 6 MONTHS. That can’t be real. It has felt both like the longest time of my life and also like I just started yesterday. Since we started, so much has happened. I have done 2.5 author series, made over 100 posts, and reached over 300 people in 20 countries on 6 continents (still waiting for Antarctica!). I do not deserve the amount of love and support I have received, and I am so grateful.

So where do we go from here? One of the things I am trying to do is reach out to other platforms. My social media has been lacking for a while, and I think it is time I start to get better at it. Along with that, I am going to be working on putting out a secret project, so expect that in the upcoming months. Otherwise, I am going to keep putting out posts, and hopefully ya’ll will continue to stop by and hang out!

I am going to also be doing holiday posts as we enter Halloween and December (I am going to do my best to not make it all about Christmas. If there is literature about Hanukkah or Kwanzaa that you would like me to read and review, let me know on social media or through email!). I am considering an advent calendar series of posts, which I will obviously be altering as it fits my schedule. Announcements will go out when I have a clearer idea.

I am going to continue to come up with as many new ideas that I can, but I will always be open to hearing your thoughts or ideas. This is just as much for me as it is for all of you, so please 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… Taking a Chance

I am scared. There, I said it. If you are anything like me, then you understand how scary it is to put yourself out there. And I’m not talking about just public speaking, I’m talking about saying to any old stranger that may come across it that I am terrified of life.

From as young as I can remember, I have been alone. And I’m not saying that for sympathy, I am saying it to make a point. I have, since I was in single digits, been afraid to live. Afraid to go out and make friends. Afraid to see what life had to offer. I am scared. And that’s embarrassing.

When I started the blog, I tampered down that fear. I said, “screw it, let’s do this” and I thought that if I got started that the fear would just go away. And don’t get me wrong, I am nowhere near as bad as I used to be, but I am still scared. I still reread posts, say that I am doing an awful job, try to read myself to death so I can put out as much content that I think will attract people as possible, and put myself through hell in order to put off an air of “I got my life together”. But I don’t. I’m still trying. I took a chance, and I’m taking chances everyday with this blog, and I wanted to share what I have learned along the way.

Firstly, you have to start. That’s normally the hardest part. Take the leap of faith. Ask the person of your dreams on a date, apply for that job you don’t think you can get, just try. The worst thing you can do is fail at that point. It is better to know. Hindsight is always 20/20. “Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back”-Babe Ruth

Secondly, consistency is key. Maybe that is only talking about this blog at this point, but put in the effort. I could post 1 review every 3 months, but then people wouldn’t keep me in the back of their minds. The hope is that because I post SO much and I produce content that I am proud of, I will get support. And that has worked some days, and completely failed others. The days were I get no views are hard, because I know how long it took me to get that post out, but that just makes me want to do better next time. “If at first you don’t succeed/ Try, try again.”-William Edward Hickson, Try, Try Again

Thirdly, be innovative. Don’t completely niche yourself. Try new things. I have constantly been trying out new things that I can A) talk about on the blog and B) use for the sake of increasing viewership of the blog. If you aren’t moving, you are stuck. So keep trying. Take another step towards where you want to go. “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” -Conrad Hilton

So go out. Take the risk. It is better to fail and experience life, than to never try. In the words of Steve Jobs: “We had everything to gain. And we figured even if we crash and burn, and lose everything, the experience will have been worth ten times the cost.”

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… Bedtime Stories

Since I was a little kid, I have struggled with the concept of falling asleep. I remember trying to go to sleep at 8 years old and going to my dad’s office yelling that I couldn’t do it. Counting sheep never worked, watching TV kept me more awake, and nothing I did seemed to fix my problem. As an adult, I still can’t seem to get to sleep at night, and I am still trying to figure out what I need to do to get some ZzZ’s.

A lot of the adultier adults in my life said that they read books before they go to sleep and that that action is the routine they need to fall asleep. And let me tell you, it doesn’t work for me. Maybe it would be a better option for someone who doesn’t read all the time, but I am not in that category. And funny enough, I will take a nap while reading, but something in my brain doesn’t let that happen at night. I don’t know man, I’m weird.

In my bedroom at home, I run a fan that is incredibly loud (my family dubbed it The Wind Tunnel), and with the TV on, I can fall asleep. But when I am not at home, and not surrounded by white noise, I can’t block out all the thoughts and ideas that run through my brain right before I sleep.

So you might be asking, what does this have to do with books? Well… what if I told you, you are never to old to be read to sleep? At the ripe old age of 23, I have been read bedtime stories for the past few nights, and I’m not mad about it. I use a meditation app called Calm. Within this app, they have meditations, sleep body scans, and bedtime stories. You get to see how long the story is, which story you want, and the app will close out after the story ends. I genuinely don’t know why someone wouldn’t use that service, except for the price. If you use the app religiously, it is worth it, but otherwise not so much. (This is not an endorsement of any kind. But Calm, call me.)

But in general, hearing a story from someone who is so confident and calm is incredibly relaxing. And while I wouldn’t recommend listening to a scary thriller book (speaking from experience), I totally recommend listening to a soft read before going to bed. Audible also offers an option where you can choose a sleep timer for however long you would like. So try it out. You might find out that a bedtime story is all it takes to get a few ZzZ’s!

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!