The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 10/25/20-10/31/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month, Personal Recommendation

Did I hit my steering wheel on my way home from work because of this book? Maybe. Was the older man in the car beside me completely concerned for my well-being? Probably. Is that the power of this book? Absolutely.

Adeline, aka Addie, was in Villon in 1714 when her parents found her a husband. Hoping to be free, Addie began praying to all the gods to save her from her marriage. But when the sun set, Addie didn’t pay attention, finding herself praying to the gods of the dark. This god’s main currency is souls, and Addie ended up promising her soul after a lifetime of infinite freedom.

“Infinite freedom” is obviously a trick, and Adeline becomes a ghost. The second that she is out of someone’s eyesight, she is completely forgotten, with no ability to leave a mark of her own. Her only way out? To surrender her soul to the god of darkness.

Quickly, the deal becomes a war. The darkness, who Addie named Luc, is the only “person” who can remember her. But as he said, there is power in words and ideas, and soon Addie tries to find ways to outsmart Luc’s curse. And as we continue through this story, we watch their game of chess unfold move by move.

300 years later, Addie meets Henry, and suddenly she is remembered. As she tries to understand how this could be possible, she thinks that maybe she found a way around the darkness. As we switch between Addie’s 300 years and 2014, we learn about both the lack of and abundance of survival, love, and power.

So when this book was first offered to me as a Book of the Month option, I was hesitant. I am not a big fan of fantasy, and I just didn’t think I would enjoy it. When my friends from college started recommending it, I decided to give it a chance, and man, was it the right decision.

It was a little slow to get into, in my opinion, but the payoff was a million times worth the effort put in. I truly believe I could have a hours long conversation about the terms of Addie’s deal, any potential plot holes, or just the book itself with my friends, which puts this one pretty high up on the list for me. And while I personally think that Henry’s origin story is dumb, I realize that that is probably the point, so I won’t knock the story on that.

For the people who are not really interested in fantasy novels, this book really isn’t one. While the overall premise is supernatural, this book is more about the human condition, and that is why I think this book truly is for everyone. I am going to give this book 4.75 out of 5 stars, and I hope you pick it up soon!

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!

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Print

Dates Read: 1/13/19

How I Found It: Book of the Month

I’ll be honest, I listened to this book because I was on an 8 hour shift and I thought I could listen to all of it. I was only about 40 pages short, so I figured I would just finish this one out. This book does talk A LOT about sex, including conversations about rape, sexual assault, fetishes, etc. If these are triggers for you, please read at your own discretion.

This story is a collection of conversations over about 2 decades about sex, marriage, and life. And here’s the thing, even the cover synopsis is essentially that description. I don’t know how else I can describe this book.

I didn’t really enjoy this book. I like books that have a clear plotline, and this book was designed to not have one. This book also was way to heavy on sex for me. Everyone has their preferences, this just happens to be mine, so I am going to have to rate this book 2 out of 5 stars.

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 3/4/20-3/6/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “A Book With a Flower on the Cover” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

Trigger Warning: This book does mention anxiety, depression, grief, and sexual offenses. If any of these are triggers for you, read at your own discretion.

When you first look at this book, you might think that this is an average length book. But if you choose the audiobook (and you become a connoisseur of audiobooks to know the average is between 12-14 hours), then you realize that this book is super short. I chose to read this book purely because I only needed a book for 2 days of work and this book was the right length for that predicament. I wasn’t expecting to completely fall into this book, but as soon as I got home (and thankfully it came in the mail that morning), I kept up reading it just to find out what happens to Casey.

Casey is a struggling writer. After working on her book for 6 years, Casey is trying to reach the end. But with a looming debt and a minimum wage job, she is just getting by. At a party, Casey meets Silas, another aspiring writer who has a very similar attitude towards the world. But when he disappears before their first date, Casey meets Oscar, an established writer whom is a widower with 2 sons. Soon, Casey finds herself in the middle of the two men, and as her personal life is growing more complicated, her mental health is continuing to fall apart around her.

I don’t know if I have ever really talked about it, but I really want to be an author one day. My biggest issue is that while I have ideas that I fleshed out, I was taught as a science major to not be flowery. And I don’t know if you know this, but novels are focused on flowery language. So, yea, I’m not getting very far. But it was cool to feel like I was writing a novel by reading this book! I don’t think that the mentions were too far for the book, but there were a lot of literary references that I just don’t know.

I did think that the mentioning of mental health issues were really nice. As someone who has gone through the process of grief, I thought that she described something that was very similar to my experience. I have not experienced anxiety in the same way as described, but I also know how similar those feelings are for other people whom I have talked to about their anxiety, so I do think that this book could be a good discussion starter about mental health.

Despite all the extremely positive ways I have described this book, I don’t know if this is a re-readable book. I also have this reticence to rate this book too high, so I am going to go with a 4.25 out of 5 stars, but I could see that value changing plus or minus .5 stars depending on my mood. What I’m trying to say is I have no idea what I’m doing anymore and I am just trying to keep up appearances, but it is getting harder and harder for me to rate these books.

But anyway, 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!

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 2/5/20-2/25/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

After almost a month, I finally finished this book. Set in the 1800s, this book follows Bridie as she tries to find a missing child who also happens to be a mermaid. For the record, maybe we should stop writing books about mermaids in the 1800s because both The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock and this book had to be some of the worst books I have read. Here’s the thing, I have already let you guys know that I am not a historical fiction type of girl. But even so, there needs to be a level of writing where you can actually understand what is happening. When I think back on what happened, I truly think the plot could have been okayish, but I found myself zoning out all the time while listening to it. After reading it in ebook form, I realized that an audiobook made the writing style worse, but it still was easily distractable.

Bridie gets called into a missing child case. She meets a ghost named Ruby who is from her past. And because why not, they start to fall for each other. As Bridie investigates the disappearance, she finds herself in a really dark situation involving kidnapping, murder, and robbery. Oh and we keep going back in time to when Bridie was a child because the guy that bought her when she was a kid (I know, right?) had a creepy son.

Has anyone else notice that I have gotten worse at writing synopses? I have only been doing this for a year, but I still think I was so much better when I first started. Did this turn into a therapy session? Maybe. Okay, I think that this book isn’t as bad as The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, so I am going to give it 2 out of 5 stars, but I really recommend that if you do want to read it, you shouldn’t read it through an audiobook.

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 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!

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!

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

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

How I Found It: Book of the Month

A young girl on the fetal alcohol syndrome spectrum has an adoration for vikings. She believes that in order for her to be a viking, she needs a fair maiden, to get money for her hoard, to love and maintain her tribe, and listen to the wise man (aka her therapist). Throughout this book, we watch as our viking, Zelda, goes on her quest to become legendary.

Zelda’s brother, Gert, is trying to supply a life for his sister. Many people say that she couldn’t become independent, and he has continued to work and go to school, both things that many people say he couldn’t do either. He finds himself asking for help from a drug dealer, which then puts him in the position of working for him.

This book is an interesting discussion about what is capable of a person, and how mental/ development health issues don’t necessary impede your ability to become independent, and how determination and hard work are the main factors. It reminds me a lot of The Reckless Oath We Made, which I also highly recommend you read.

The main character has some mental retardation, so the majority of the book sounds stilted. I don’t think that it is too bad, especially when you are physically reading it instead of having it read to you. There are moments that seem real awkward, especially when she plans losing her virginity to her boyfriend. There are many times I wish I could walk through the book and help her understand situations, but as the book continues, we see how more educated about the world she becomes. I think that this book will be a book that people will remember for a while, and I hope you all will read it! I give it 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!

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 2/26/20-2/28/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “NY Times Best Seller” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

Trigger warning: This book follows migrants traveling through Mexico to get to the United States. There is strong political talk, discussions of cartels/gangs, corruption, rape, assault, and extreme levels of murder. Be warned, this is a hard book to read, but also an important book to read. Read at your own discretion.

Look, you have to read this because it has Oprah’s stamp of approval. And as someone who was raised watching Drake and Josh, you must always respect Oprah! But seriously, Oprah picks books that have cultural significance upon a major historical moment (i.e. The Water Dancer about the underground railroad or The Poisonwood Bible about the Congo post-colonization), and this book is no exception.

In Tolupeca, Mexico, Lydia and her son, Luca, survive a mass shooting that led to the death of 16 family members. Believing that this was the work of the head of the cartel, Lydia takes Luca so that they can immigrate to the United States of America. We follow the two migrants as they move up Mexico, and we track what occurs for illegal immigrants to get to the US.

Personally, I have learned a lot about El Chapo thanks to my Netflix account. From everything I have learned about him, he was highly respected by his community for his philanthropy, but he also killed a lot of people, including innocents. And I never could understand why anyone could support him, until I realized that he is just as human as the rest of us, even if we say without ever being in the situations he was in that we would never have made those decisions. But this book kinda raises a good point: we are so obsessed with these powerful bad men that we forget about the people they killed, tortured, maimed, or threatened. And those people deserve our respect more than the people who are oppressing them. So this book is for the unsung heros who had to be heros for themselves.

I was born an American citizen, as were my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, so on and so forth. I never once had to question whether I could apply for college, get a job, or could live in my childhood home without repercussions. And there is a lot of ignorance that comes from never feeling unsure about my security, it was always something I just expected. I never really felt unsafe by my living conditions. But there are people who are afraid to walk out their door everyday because someone may be there with a gun, or that someone will track them to the ends of the Earth. And with all of that being said, I need to get hit on the top of the head with some truth in order for me to get out of this ignorance, which this book is determined to do. I am grateful to at least have some idea of what it is like, but of course I also wish it wasn’t true.

From the first moment I started listening to this book, I was all in. There was never a moment where I wasn’t trying to process more of this story (and the two sleepless nights fueled by nightmares are a testament to how hard I was trying to process what happened), and I was constantly trying to keep reading to find out what happens. The writing style is crazy good and it’s definitely worth taking the time to read. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars (although I probably will never pick it up and reread it).

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 Holdout by Graham Moore

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 2/24/20-2/25/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “A Book With a Red Spine” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

I cannot express to you the level of hype I am currently feeling. I definitely screamed many times in my car (not at my place of work because I have a little shred of dignity) and made a lot of weird krumping-styled arm movements followed by a weird “oooh” sound. Here’s the thing: I grew up reading Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie. I have read a lot of thriller books, and very few have so unapologetically had my full attention for hours on end, especially just listening to it. And this book ticked everything on my list. So here’s why you should read it:

Mya Seales is a successful defense attorney in Los Angeles, California, United States of America. But her past catches up to her when her fellow juror from a former murder trial, Rick, comes and invites her to a reunion of the jurors. But the reunion doesn’t go as planned when Rick is found dead in her hotel room. Soon Mya finds herself the prime suspect in a murder trial, with an eerie deja vu of the former trial. Alternating between the former trial and her investigation into Rick’s murder, we follow what really happened between all these jurors and how hard it is to find the truth when everyone needs to protect themselves.

Moore finds a way to give us a snapshot of the mindset of each of the jurors as they went through the trial, and how their connections are pieced together. This book is so intricate in its connections but also easy to follow as a reader. As we dive deeper into this world, you can’t help but want to know more, and soon you are so hooked that you don’t even notice the passage of time around you.

And while I am talking about a lot of really amazing things that this book does, I do think that there were a few easter eggs that were a little too easy to piece together. And while I can’t really tell you what they were because I’m trying not to give away any bigger part of the story, I will say that I still felt like I had a big eureka moment when I figured out a little bit before the book revealed bits of the ending.

Also, speaking of things being easy to piece together, I had a pretty good suspicion of who was Rick’s murderer for the majority of the book. There were certain things that gave me a gut reaction, and honestly I don’t even know what some of those things were, but I had a specific killer in mind. But that may be more of a personal feeling than a universal one. I would personally give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I would totally pick this book up again and reread it one day!

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!