#BlackLivesMatter

Black Lives Matter - Wikipedia

Look, I’ll be honest, I suck at running this blog. But I want you all to know that I very much care about the unrest that is going on not only in my country, but around the globe. From the start of this blog, I have avoided saying those 3 words together because I didn’t grow up in an area where that rang true. Coming from an area where there is an active KKK in the next town over, where Confederate flags hang freely from businesses, and where Trump held a rally for the 2016 election, I believed that “all lives matter” but didn’t really understand what I was saying until college.

Now an adult, I still believe that all lives matter, but let’s be real, black lives got the short end of the stick. #blacklivesmatter is not about saying “all lives don’t matter, only black”, but by saying “yes, all lives matter, but black lives are systematically torn down and maybe we should fix that”. So I encourage you to support this movement, to support your fellow man, and to support this movement.

I will never understand what it is like to be black. I will never understand the atrocities they face on any given day. I will never understand, but I will stand beside them and continue to amplify their voices.

To help in any way, here are places that you can donate to:

https://nymag.com/strategist/article/where-to-donate-for-black-lives-matter.html

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Print

Dates Read: 2/29/20-3/4/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “A Book Written by an Author From Asia, Africa, or South America” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

For over a year, I have had this book in my to-read pile but never really saw it as something to pick up and read. Looking for a longer book to listen to, I selected this one on a whim, and was surprised that I really wanted to know what happens between listens, which goes to show kids, get outside your comfort zone every once in a while.

Shalini is trying to deal with the death of her mother and decides to go and find the man who was friends with her mom when she was younger. By the way, I don’t think I could have used the word “her” any more times in that sentence. Anyway, she travels to a warzoned part of India to find this guy, and she ends up finding and staying with his family. I mean, a lot more happens and we learn a lot about what it was like in these parts of India between the army and the militants, plus how men were snatched and forced to join the army, so there is a lot of background and connections that were made during this time, but mainly it is about the people that we meet and about where we feel like we belong.

Normally, I advocate for reading a book instead of listening to it, but as someone who is unfamiliar with Indian names and places, it was convenient for me to hear those pronunciations. It is difficult to switch between the two, so if you start butchering the names/places in your head, then it can be difficult to connect that to the ones being read to you. I also really liked the voice of the actor that read it.

I thought the overall story was extremely interesting and the characters were super complex and intriguing. I liked Shalini, although she was a complete idiot at the end of the book. I appreciated the ending of the book and how that connects to the whole story and its complexity. Trying not to give away too many spoilers, I do think Shalini gave up too easily, but I also wasn’t in that situation and probably can’t give a real analysis of what I would do.

The writing style is a little hard to get into, but once you are in, you are all the way in. Considering this book is out of my comfort zone, I was extremely happy with picking this book up and continuing to read it. I would give it 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I would definitely recommend it for someone with an interest in reading about emotional friendships and about army/militia relationships in India.

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!

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I owe you all an explanation

Okay, I’ll admit it, I have been completely absent from this site. As I have mentioned before, I am from the United States, and if you are aware of what is going on in this country right now, sh*t hit the fan. With the recognition of COVID-19 coming into the country, the country essentially shut down. But I work in conjunction with veterinary sciences, so I was deemed an essential employee meaning that while everyone else was sitting at home trying to figure out how they would pay their bills, I had to work overtime hours in order to get everything done. I am so sorry if any of you needed this site to provide a distraction, but with federal relief coming back in, I should be able to be more available. With all that being said, this past month has probably been the hardest month for me to read. And while I had a little bit of a safety net when it comes to posts, that safety net is pretty much exhausted at this point. So bear with me, we will get through this, but for at least the month of May, posts are going to only be up on Mondays. But I promise that I will be working to change that soon. Thanks guys, I love you, stay safe, and I will see you all soon!

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 3/8/20-3/10/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

As many of you have probably figured out, I’ve spent my fair amount of time in the grieving process. And while many people think that the process is linear, sometimes you find yourself zigzagging through missing to forgetting to loving to hating to acceptance to completely falling apart. Grief, for a lack of a better word, sucks. And I don’t know how else to describe that feeling. But this book shows that grief is not easy or linear, and that we have to find ourselves in order to get through it all.

Lydia Bird is supposed to marry the love of her life, Freddie. At least, she was until he dies in a car accident on her birthday. Now Lydia is forced to live in a world without Freddie in her life. Weeks after the accident, her mom convinces the doctors to give her sleeping medication. Lydia learns that whenever she takes the sleeping pills she is transported into an alternate universe in which Freddie is still alive. But soon those lives begin diverging more and more, forcing Lydia to come to terms with her awake life and her asleep life.

Told over 2 years, we watch Lydia’s life fall apart and slowly piece back together. I will say that I completely called at least the main ending within a few pages of the book, though a wouldn’t have been able to call other things. I don’t know if that says more about my experience with romance novels or the writing style of the book (and also I’m not sure if this is super transparent to other people), but if you were hoping for a surprise ending, this isn’t the book for you.

I did really enjoy this book, and I could totally see myself picking it up again later, but I also felt like there were parts of the book where I didn’t like Lydia that much. Even though I could relate with her about most of the grief experience, she made some weird choices that I don’t fully get. But here’s the thing, we all go through life different, and that’s the purpose for reading, to see how other people experience things.

Silver has a really nice writing style that is beautiful and funny, and will keep your interest throughout the whole story. Even in really dark moments, she still finds a way of adding a comedic moment to ease some of the tension. She also doesn’t make take away from the sadness, anger, or just raw emotions of those feelings, either, just finds a way of breaking them up with some relief. I, personally, would rate this book 4.75 out of 5 stars, and I will totally pick this up in a year or two to read again.

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!

Interview with the Robot by Lee Bacon

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 1/31/20-2/3/20

How I Found It: Audible

This book marks off the “A Book Narrated by a Child” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

Hey everyone! Today’s book is one of the Audible Originals selections from January 2020. In this story, a 12-year-old girl is caught stealing from a store in NYC. Told through the meetings between her and her social worker, we follow the story of how a she is a robot and how she got to New York.

This book is designed for children ages 10+, so the book is not a difficult listen. However, the cool part about being designed for children is that this whole audiobook is a production. There were multiple voice actors, music, and overall sound effects that made the story come to life.

I love that audiobooks are being designed for the younger generation. The more opportunities are available to encourage young people to read, the better are chances are for literacy and future book authors.

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 Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 1/6/20-1/10/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Recognizing that I have listened for about 20 hours a week, I figured I could knock this book off my TBR pile. All I really knew going into this book was that it was going to be long and probably not the type of book I would choose for myself. I was extremely surprised by the content within the book, and while I probably will never pick it up for myself again, here are my thoughts:

Set in France during World War II, Varian Fry is working with the US government to get artists out of Europe and into a safer country. he ends up running into his former lover, Elliot Grant, and is requested to get Tobias Katznelson, son of Grant’s current lover Gregor, safe passage to the US. Following the course of a few months, we watch as Varian goes through 70 million complications while also falling in love over again with Grant.

I feel like I probably didn’t explain this well, but how else do you explain 550 pages? There is both so much that happened and also not that much, which shows just how futile it felt to get these extraordinary people into safety.

A lot of this book is about the relationship between Grant and Varian, which is cool because homosexuality was so taboo at this point of history. My biggest issue is that so much of the relationship took away from the story of the book. There needed to be a balance that wasn’t there, and so I understand why some people were upset by this. It almost felt like this book didn’t know what it wanted to be the focus so it made EVERYTHING the focus.

According to the author’s note, Varian Fry was a real man who saved many artists out of France. According to an interaction with a man named Hessel, the author developed a homosexual tendency for Varian. There was no Elliot Grant in history. Many of the key players in this book are of the author’s inventions, but that does not take away from the lives that he saved. While I knew that there was a movement to save artists in World War II, especially because Nazi Germany was attempting to destroy art, I never had a name to associate with it.

This is a really deep read that requires a lot of focus and patience. There are phrases in French (and potentially other languages too) and it can be very dense at times. But at the end of the day, it is a read that is impactful, and I hope that you take the time to read about this interesting history. Since this is the format, I guess I would give this book 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!

Kind Chemist Wife by Sarah Bigham

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 3/6/20-3/7/20

How I Found It: Facebook

This book marks off the “A Book With 5 or Less Reviews on Goodreads” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

So I’ll be honest, this is probably going to be really biased. The author is the wife of a kind chemist, A.K.A. the best professor I have ever had. I have only met Sarah twice, and only talked to her the one time. I know about her struggles with chronic illness as my friendship with my professor has evolved. As someone who reads book as a very time-intensive hobby, I immediately jumped on the purchase train, figuring that I would put out the review as quickly as I could.

Sarah has a serious of chronic conditions which essentially says that it hurts to move, and sometimes when she is completely still. Using a series of 7,000,000 medical professions (slight exaggeration), Sarah is trying to just get by. Through stories of her time as an educator and as a patient, Sarah explores her life using humor and empathy to give a slight insight into her life.

I truly loved the writing style in this book, and I read through it really quickly. Though I got through it fast, it is super memorable and her story has been bouncing around in my head all day. Some of the stories seem repetitive, but that is because they are a collection of essays posted in different journals. It is weird to know about her life and then connecting it to the stories in the book, so I’m not sure I can play a non-biased reviewer on whether you can come into this book and understand her situation, but I don’t think that my insight gives me an unfair advantage as a reader. I do think that I can’t give an unbiased star rating, but screw it, here are my 5 stars, so go out and get this book!

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 Sisters by Dervla McTieran

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 1/24/20

How I Found It: Audible

Set in Ireland, a woman gets left with a case that she has to defend. The case revolves around a murder, and the only evidence is 2 witness statements. When she believes the case is fragile at best, she asks for her sisters opinion. Soon, the two sisters begin solving the case and save a man’s life.

There was a little bit of a language barrier at some points, but that is more an issue with being American and dumb. Also, murder in an Irish accent is the cutest thing I have ever heard. It kinda sounds like when a villain is trying to be really villain-y.

The story was okay, though a little difficult to get into, especially because they don’t really explain what is going on in the beginning. You have to take a little bit of a leap of faith, but the story is very compact and good.

For anyone who likes mystery/thriller type stories but also don’t have a lot of time, this is kinda the best of both worlds. I would give this 5 out of 5 stars, and it is in a series, but I’m not sure if and when it will be on the blog.

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 Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Print

Dates Read: 12/30/19-12/31/19

How I Found It: Once Upon a Book Club, Book of the Month

Hey guys! If this is your first time on this blog, I am obsessed with books. And I also have zero self control, because obviously. Since I knew that I had this box at home, and also trying to do the noble thing and clean the house and definitely not for selfish reasons, I am going to be opening and reviewing this box!

Page 25

Okay, here’s the thing. I am never going to do anything with this rabbit’s foot thingy. I don’t want it, and I am super grossed out by it. I had a pretty big feeling when I was listening that I was going to be getting this, but this thing freaks me out.

Page 102

Not sure if this is supposed to be a universal passport holder or if it is meant to hold a notebook, or what, but I’m still not sure if I am going to keep this. It is extremely nice quality, just not something I can see myself using.

Page 110

Okay, so this is where I got after my 8 hour work day. There is a lot I don’t understand about this book, but I will try and explain as much as I can. So there’s this girl, Libby, who finds out that she was the baby that was left after a suicide pact. She gets her parent’s house as she comes of age, and she is trying to process what happened. When she was at the house, she heard something that sounded like a cough coming from upstairs, but I don’t remember much coming from that yet. Also, there’s this lady, Lucy, who has 2 kids and a dog, that is stuck in France, but I think that she was there when the suicide pact happened. My guess is that she was the daughter of the parents who died (aka Libby’s sister), but I am completely speculating at this point. And we follow Henry, Libby’s older brother, during the events for the family leading up to the suicide pact.

Page 179

We all know by now that there is one gift in every OUABC box that is just a piece of paper or something that came right off the printer. This is that gift for this box, so moving on!

Page 265

Yooooooooooo! This is soooo nice! I am probably going to start using this wallet! I have nothing more to say, this is one of the coolest things I have gotten in these boxes!

Page 268

Another successful day at work and this is where we are at! Firstly, one of the things I dislike about the audiobook is that it doesn’t give you the time of Henry’s story so it’s hard to get a sense of time in his sections.

As for the story: Okay, there is a lot I didn’t talk about in the first section because I didn’t think it would be relevant but now it is. Okay, so originally in the house, the Lamb family was made up of Henry Sr., Martina, Henry Jr. and his sister, whose name I can’t remember being given, but I am not sure on that. When the family starts to run low on money, Martina allows Birdie and her partner, Justin, to come live in the house. Eventually, she also allows David and Sally Thomsen and their two children, Phineas and Clemency.

Over time, Henry Sr. began to lose control of the house after a stroke leaves him debilitated. David soon begins to take over the house routines, including switching everyone to a vegan diet and taking away all their liberties. Phineas begins to rebel against his father, often taking Henry Jr. down with him.

Libby seeks help from Miller Roe, the journalist that wrote about her family’s history. They end up finding out who produced the cough upstairs, Phineas. And then they get stuck in his Airbnb and get drugged in the process? IDK man, that got weird fast.

Oh, and Lucy! She ended up killing a man to get her and her kids to the house in Chelsea. We know she spent a lot of time there, but not much else.

Final Thoughts

Once I sat down and wrote down what I knew from listening all day, I realized that I had a pretty good idea about how it would end. It truly is just about putting all the pieces together, and more importantly, realizing that what you have is pieces. There were obviously things that surprised me, but if you pay attention and realize the significance of all the details, you can easily figure it more or less out.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, and if I wasn’t pushing myself to read this one, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. But I do think that it is purely because of my preferences and not because the book isn’t good. I will go ahead and say that this book is a 4 out of 5 stars, plus or minus half a star depending on how you enjoy the writing style.

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!

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 2/18/20-2/21/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This was a wild card for me. I have statistically not enjoyed fantasy novels, but there is so much humor in this book that it doesn’t feel like a normal fantasy novel. I had to catch myself for a minute because I was going to say it was different than any other novel in the genre, but the humor aspect is very similar to Ninth House. Along with that book, I will happily be reading the sequel to these novels whenever they come out!

Aaslo is a forester in the land of Aldrea. He grew up with his “brother in all things”, Matthias, who is the prophetic savior of the world. But when Matthias is killed, Aaslo decides to taken on Matthias’ mission to save the world. In order to prove to the king that the savior is dead, Aaslo had to carry his head to the palace. Upon entering the city, he meets two thieves named Peck and Mory, who become part of his gang of misfits. The king essentially said he wouldn’t touch the situation with a 10-foot-pole, causing Aaslo to seek help from someone else. Trying to find the next place of support, Aaslo meets Teza, a healer.

Intermingled with Aaslo’s story is the story of Myropa. She is a reaper, meaning she takes the souls of dead people and returns them into the Sea of Transcendence, and that she is associated with the gods. She begins to follow Aaslo in order to report back to the gods as to what is going on in the savior pathway. She gives us insight into how the gods are manipulating the world in order to fulfill the prophecy.

I love the humor in this book. I would say that this is a fantasy comedy (or comedy fantasy, however you want to phrase it) in that both parts feel equally identifying for this novel. I do think that for people who are head over heels in love with fantasy novels, this book might not be as good, but it allows people who aren’t as interested in fantasy to explore a new genre.

As for the fantasy element, I personally liked that we got a look in on the gods. I did think the whole adventure-esque story was extremely confusing and felt more like a means of connecting fantasy elements than because she was telling a real story. Some of the mage stuff was a little confusing (which if you have a print copy of the book, there are indexes to provide context), but I really enjoyed the audiobook of this novel.

I was extremely nervous as I was approaching the end because I wasn’t sure how this was going to end. I have said time and again that if you are going to write a series, each book should have an actual ending and not just a complete cliffhanger. I think that this book does have somewhat of a resolution, but obviously it sets up for another novel, so there is a cliffhanger ending. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, but I think that value can change depending on how the series ends.

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!