Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 12/2/19-12/4/19

How I Found It: Goodreads

Let me mention, I am writing this review before seeing the movie (although if you scroll down, you can see my opinions on the movie, too), so this section of the review is only about the book. This book reminded me a lot of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in that it is written through a series of letters and the humor behind the stories are similar.

Bernadette Fox was an incredible architect who found ways of incorporating uncommon objects in her projects. When her final project gets bulldozes, Bernadette has to face the grief that comes from that loss. Many years later, Bernadette lives in Seattle with her husband, Elgin, who is a Microsoft leader in robotics, and their 15-year-old daughter, Bee.

Bee decided that she wanted her graduation gift to be a trip to Antarctica. Bernadette, who has become a bit of a recluse, started to freak out over the trip, which exacerbated issues within the family.

Many of the mom’s at Bee’s public school are what Bernadette calls “gnats”. Specifically, Audrey Griffin is the worst gnat of all. Soon, their feud builds to a breaking point, including a mudslide. This behavior begins to worry Elgin, and he decides to hold an intervention to get Bernadette help.

So that’s when things get weird. Elgin began looking for comfort from his admin, Soo-Lin, who is best friends with Audrey, as they prepare for his TED talk and impending trip to Antarctica. When Audrey gets copies of Soo-Lin’s and Elgin’s emails, she warns Bernadette of the intervention. Bernadette ends up sneaking away and eventually was found in Antarctica only to sneak away again. Told from the story of Bee, it shows the love between a mother and daughter and how that connection can’t be topped.

My biggest issue with this book is Bee. The entire time I listened to the story, I assumed Bee had to be younger than she actually is. It threw me off the entire story and constantly bugged me. Also, what 15-year-old is in 8th grade?

I was super drawn into this book, even taking time when I was home from work to listen to the novel. There is a certain humor (similar to Fredrik Backman) that is both cynical and hilarious. My biggest complaint with this book, sans the whole Bee situation, is that it just wasn’t overly memorable. There are books that I will remember forever and there are books that I read just for the sake of saying I read them, and this one will fall in the latter, which is really disappointing, because by all accounts, it should have been niche for me. I am going to have to rank this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, with a “maybe I will come back to it one day”.

After watching the movie, I am impressed by just how close it follows the book. Obviously, time-wise, certain sections of the book were cut out, but more or less the rest of the movie does a really good job. Also, the credit scene of her architecture project is incredible and so satisfying!

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!

Body of Proof by Darrell Brown and Sophie Ellis

How I Read It: Audiobook
Dates Read: 12/27/19

How I Found It: Audible

In 2010, Suzanne Pilley disappeared out of thin air. CCTV cameras caught her on the road headed to work, but she never made it to her desk. Without any other suspects, police arrested David Gilroy, her coworker and lover, for her murder. Now almost a decade later, journalists Darrell Brown and Sophie Ellis are looking into the investigation and trial against Gilroy.

Okay, I’m not going to tell you everything that they figured out, but I will highlight the things that stood out to me:

  1. There was no body. Suzanne Pilley was never found. Police believe that Gilroy buried her before he was brought into the station for questioning, but her body was never recovered. Online sleuths have looked into where they think he would bury her, but nothing has come of that yet. It is rare that a murder conviction comes without a body, but even more so that there is NO physical evidence that Suzanne was ever in Gilroy’s car. I don’t know, it just seems really weird.
  2. What happened on the drive then? Gilroy drove a 3 hour drive in 5 hours. So what happened? He is clearly hiding something, especially in the stretch of drive that he had spent an extra hour and a half in. I don’t know, I can’t get over that.
  3. What type of police force hides CCTV footage? A camera that Suzanne Pilley would have to walk by shows her not walking by it, which means she couldn’t have been married where she was supposed to be murdered at. Which also means Gilroy could not have murdered her. Which means he shouldn’t be in prison. It also shows a car that was parked on the street drive off super fast and illegally when Suzanne would have walked by it. And we just all ignored it.
  4. Scotland’s jury laws suck. If 7 of the 15 jurors think that there is reasonable doubt, then clearly there is a problem. I don’t think he should have been convicted.
  5. We will never know what happened and that sucks more.

There are a lot of thoughts that come out of this audiobook, but I hesitate to take any sides on these types of situations. Shows like Making a Murderer and The Staircase show mostly one side of a coin, and while this one is marketed as being neutral, we follow a lot of David Gilroy’s storyline through the days after the “murder”. I think the only phrase to fit this one is “I don’t know”, and I don’t think we ever will.

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!

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 12/5/19-12/6/19

How I Found It: Amazon/ Book of the Month

In a moment of feeling cooler than I really am, I am happy to report that I had bought this book back in May, almost 6 months BEFORE BOTM decided to make this book one of its suggestions. At that point, I was just picking random books on Amazon whose cover I was attracted to (and if you have never done that then you are lying to yourself), and all those books ended up getting lost in all the other books on my Kindle app. But as soon as BOTM announced it, I hopped right on that bandwagon. Thankfully, the universe was on my side, and this book got chosen right away by the lucky wheel app. As fate would have it, I put the other book I was reading on the back burner so I could continue to cry and laugh throughout this one.

Alright, so we follow Alex, the First Son of the United States (FSOTUS) and future politician, as he attends the Royal Wedding. Upon seeing his arch enemy, Henry, aka the Prince of Wales, they get into a heated debate that leads to the two of them falling into the wedding cake. In an effort to get a more positive image, they are forced to become best friends to the media.

As the become fake friends, their real friendship begins to take off as well. Soon, they begin talking to each other all the time, often with insults, but at least it is talking. And then one faithful New Years Eve party (and a chasten kiss) changed everything. Soon they are actively taking each other’s pants off at any moment they can get. But being the FSOTUS (dumbest acronym) and the Prince of Wales does not a public relationship make, so they have to figure out how much they mean to each other before announcing to the world their feelings.

But also, people suck. That’s the story. People suck, but only cruddy people. The rest are pretty cool. And also, love your friends and family regardless of gender, sexuality, race, or any other bs label that people develop phobias of.

Okay, ignoring the negative comments about society, I really enjoyed this book! And I mean, there is a lot more that happens, but that’s the basic backbone. While at one point I was concerned that this was some surprise smut, it is just a normal book with a lot of sex but many of those details left out. And while I wouldn’t necessary recommend it to my grandmother (because in my mind she is celibate), I would totally recommend it to any of my friends (well, not “any”. Yay for racism and homophobia in America, amirite?) because it is genuinely just fun to read. I would ultimately give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, and a little magic well wish that this become a limited series on Netflix (but not movie, because if we are getting Henry, I want all the Henry).

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 Poet X by Elizabeth Avecado

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 11/30/19-12/1/19

How I Found It: Goodreads

When I first found out about this book, I immediately put it on my to-read list. Almost 2 years later, I finally had a copy and took the plunge. It reminds me of Lot by Bryan Washington, where the story is told over a series of poems and stories.

Throughout this story, we follow Xiomara, a Dominican-raised-in-Harlem high school sophomore who is trying to find her place in this world. She writes poetry as a way of expressing her feelings, especially because her Mami is extremely controlling of her. She grew up defending her brother because he never really defended himself, and she often goes into defensive mode quickly. She is forced to go into confirmation class (a class designed to “confirm” your devotion to God), which she hates, especially because it prevents her from going to Poetry Club. As the year progresses, we watch her interest in boys erupt, her relationship with her brother be tested, and her relationship with God (and subsequently Mami) fray.

It is a very short read, but there are so many hard hitting lines. As someone who went through puberty with a larger chest, I get what she means when she talk about her body being something other people own for their pleasure. And add in the feelings of wanting to be wanted mixed with feelings of disillusionment in Christianity and you literally have me in high school. It is so easy to relate to this story, and it helps that it is written so beautifully. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars, and I would recommend it to anyone who asks!

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!

All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 11/24/19-11/29/19

How I Found It: Amazon

When I read the prologue, I got nervous. I just wasn’t attracted to this book in the first 10 pages, which made me hesitant to keep picking it up. But as soon as I started the first chapter, I wanted to never put this book down!

In this novel, we follow Catherine and Elliot. Catherine has always been an intense child. When she was 15, her father died from a heart attack, leaving Catherine with her mother, Mavis. Mavis turned the house into a bed and breakfast, forcing Catherine to play a large role in ruining the B&B. There are a lot of secrets behind those doors, and soon those secrets force everyone else out of Catherine’s life. Now, she is a social pariah at the high school, but she is just trying to reach her 18th birthday when she can finally be free.

Elliot’s parents constantly fight, and they let him stay with his aunt and uncle every summer to get him away from the toxic behavior. He has always had issues with his anger, so his aunt Leigh gave him a camera when he was 10 to find ways to express himself another way, and that camera led him to Catherine. When he worked up the courage to talk to her at 15, they soon started a summer romance. But the day her father died, Elliot got sent home by his mom, who was afraid he would be stuck in that small town his whole life if he stayed. He never forgot Catherine, wrote letters, tried to get to her, and continued to love her the 2 years that he was separated from her. But he finally put his foot down his senior year and went to live with his aunt and uncle. Quickly, he worked on building trust back up between himself and Catherine, and their love became stronger everyday.

Catherine has always had problems with a girl named Presley. Presley has said incredibly terrible things to her, and has even attacked the people around her. When Presley disappears, Elliot becomes the prime suspect. Now they have to defend themselves from the onslaught of a small town while maintaining their innocence. But with everything going on at the B&B and the investigation, tensions reach an all-time high.

I had a feeling that the B&B residents played a larger role in the story, but I didn’t expect the truths behind those residents. It was a little stereotypical (which you will get it when you read it), but otherwise, I think that it was an incredibly interesting way of writing this story.

I thought the love story between Elliot and Catherine was a little overbearing. Maybe I just don’t get it, but I feel like it was very overwhelming, especially at 17/18 years old. Even more so when they started these feelings at 15. But what do I know?

I really enjoyed this book and constantly wanted to keep reading it. It felt like it went way too fast, and I wanted more (out of selfish reasons and not because the book needed it). I ultimately would give this book 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!

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 11/5/19-11/7/19

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Quick warning to my father and grandmother who may or may not end up reading this post: Please wait until the next one for my big comeback.

Why hello surprise smut. Look, I am on the #stopsmutshaming bandwagon (P.S. make that a shirt please 🙂 ), but man, this book took a turn. It seems that I always go into books lately without any expectations and zero research, and if this book isn’t the prime example, then I don’t know what is. You can tell by the cover that this is a romance, and I immediately figured it was designed for the young adult age group (heads up, don’t give this to anyone who can’t attend a R rated movie by themselves, and maybe even older. It gets REAL graphic REAL quick), but… uh… I was wrong. Nothing like listening to a very intense sex scene while at work, am I right? (sadly that’s true, but I am committed to getting posts out, so worth it?)

Right… the story. Totally need to talk about the story. So there’s this girl named, you guessed it, Chloe Brown. Okay, so Chloe has fibromyalgia which causes her to be in a constant state of pain. She has flare ups that cause her to be extremely exhausted, have rough headaches, and bouts of insomnia. When she almost gets hit by a drunk driver, Chloe realized that she hasn’t experienced much of life, which leads to the “Get a Life” list. Included on that list includes doing something bad, camping, traveling the world with only a carry-on, and meaningless sex. (You see where this is going, right?)

Okay, so the leading man is Redford (Red) Morgan, who is trying to rebuild love for painting after an abusive relationship (Trigger Warning: this book does not focus on his abuse, but it is present. There is only 1 particular scene that I can remember where they focused on the actual abuse, and even then, I did not find it too deep. But the story does address the trauma of being abused, specifically with trust. If these things are/can be triggering for you, I recommend you sit this one out). He works as the superintendent of an apartment complex, the same one that Chloe just moved into. He had been attracted to Chloe from the moment he met her, but was turned off by her aggressive and snooty behavior.

Chloe caught Red painting (without a shirt on, might I add) and subsequently tried to ignore him. But when Chloe sees an innocent cat stuck in a tree, she figures she has to save it. But then she freezes. Red finds her in the tree and helps her down. Which leads to a more graphic than needed wet dream. Buckle in folks, because it gets intense from here. They end up reaching an agreement where she would work on a website to display his new artwork and he would help her with her list. But quickly Chloe realizes that she likes the ideas on her list but not the actual activity, at least until Red sexes her up the whole time.

Okay, so for the sake of having a chance of getting a job whenever I may need it, I will not be discussing the smut aspect of this book (but do know that I wrote about 3 paragraphs of smut opinions before realizing that I sound like a crazy lady), I will share some opinions about “romance”. I am pretty sure that I wrote a let’s talk about the romance genre (and I’m just lazy enough to not look it up within the next 2 months), but why is it that EVERY romance is about two people who seemingly don’t belong together, they get together, they have a fight that causes them to walk away from each other, and then wouldn’t you know, they loved each other all along and they live happily ever after? I had higher expectations for this book, but spoiler, it’s the same storyline we have all read. So why is that? Based on my very limited English education, my guess is that we expect a book to have a climax/conflict. Without it, we feel cheated (which I get). I just wish that wasn’t such a cliché. It is no fun reading a book when you already have a grasp of how things are going to work out.

As for the book itself, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing style was extremely easy to read and the characters were unique. I did think that the amount of sex scenes were a little too much (especially with the amount of detail within them), but I can understand why a lot of people would like this book. I would ultimately give this book 3.75 out of 5 stars (there were a lot of smut related points that I had to take off for opinions that got deleted off this post).

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!

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 11/28/19-

How I Found It: Amazon/ Audible/ Once Upon a Book Club

Happy New Year everyone! Today, I get to read a book that I bought 3 different times, and had to return 3 different times. Despite all of that, I’m not sure I know what is going to happen, so once again, I am going in blind! So I will see you all really soon!

Special New Year Box Gifts

Page 49

Alright guys, so Morgan met Chris when she was in high school. Having no parental supervision, and being attached to her sister and her sister’s boyfriend, the 4 of them were always together. While attending a party, Morgan realizes that her period is late and that she is most likely pregnant. 17 years later, we meet that child, Clara and we follow Clara and Morgan as they process the things around them, including boys and their futures.

This whiteboard is kinda the perfect size and fits the New Year theme, so I am all for it!

Page 349/End

Okay, so this one is kinda weird but so sweet. So Morgan’s sister, Jenny, has been having an affair with Chris. That revelation comes into fruition for Morgan and Jenny’s fianceé, Jonah (also the boyfriend from high school), when Jenny and Chris die in a car accident after spending the day at a hotel together. Now Morgan, Clara, and Jonah need to process everything and come to terms with their new realities. Clara found her support system through Miller, the son of the town bad guy, and their mutual passion for film and acting. As we follow everyone’s path through grief, we are confronted with the importance of family and time.

I feel like I need to really look at this gift, which I haven’t had the time to really do yet. From what I can gather, it is a camera, but that it only captures small tibbits at a time, but I am not completely sure. It is the only technology gift that I have ever gotten in these boxes, and probably one of the coolest, so hopefully you will be hearing back from me soon about what it does!

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!