Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 9/11/19-9/16/19

Trigger Warning: this book discusses war, suicide, and molestation. If either of these are triggers, read at your own discretion.

Quick fun fact: When I was in college, I had a roommate who was from Vietnam. She told me the story of her first American history class that discussed the Vietnam War and how she thought they were lying. Turns out, while America was extremely concerned about communism, the soldiers of Vietnam were only concerned about keeping their farmland. Everytime I read or watch something about the Vietnam War, I always remember that the 2 sides were fighting for completely different things, and that we should think about that in our own lives.

Set in the summer of 1969 (I know, it’s a shocker), this book follows the Nichols/Foley/ Levin family as they try to cope and understand the new realities they are faced with in their summer house in Nantucket. The head of the family, Exalta, is the mother of Kate, the mother of 4. Kate has an alcohol problem, especially with the notification of her son, Tiger, being selected for the draft. Her oldest daughter, Blair, is pregnant with twins, and Blair suspects that her husband, Angus, is cheating on her. Her second youngest daughter, Kirby, is a feminist who chose to spend her summer working in a hotel on Martha’s Vineyard. Finally, the youngest daughter, Jessie, is stuck on Nantucket with her family, forced to take tennis lessons, and harboring a secret sticky finger habit.

Over the course of the summer, the family is trying to process every new turn in their lives, mixed in with the moon landing, the war, and Teddy Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick incident.

I am not someone who especially appreciates historical fiction. Almost all the historical fiction I have read has either been through BOTM, OUABC, or school. It has never been something that I go for in a bookstore, and I am always hesitant when I pick one up. This was the best happy medium because I have already read a book by Elin Hilderbrand (Winter in Paradise), and I liked her writing style. This book kept that writing style so I didn’t feel like I was reading “historical fiction”.

There is a lot of jumping around, and sometimes she repeats herself over and over again (pet peeve of mine), but at the end of the day, it was an enjoyable experience. For that reason, I will 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!

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 6/30/19-9/10/19

Ji Lin is trying to make money to recover her mother’s debts. She works at a dance hall, where she meets a salesman. After an incident, she ends up accidentally stealing a glass jar containing a blacken finger. This finger be;onged to a Doctor MacFarland, whom Ren used to work for. Ren was tasked with the recovery of the finger after the doctor died. Ji Lin, using her literary-gained detective skills, begins the long journey of where the finger originated. Using the help of her stepbrother, Shin, she uncovers dark secrets of the people in the hospital. With a look-in at interconnecting stories, the power of connection, and the insane things people do for money, this story is both beautiful and intricate.

I had moments as I was listening to this book when I was super into it. I would try to find time to listen to this book so I could learn my next clue in the story. On the other hand, there were days where I wouldn’t even bother because my interest had completely waned. I thought the relationship that Ji Lin landed herself in was extremely gimmicky and not important for the story. Also, there is this night tiger, right? But then NOBODY talks about it by the end of the story. Like what the heck? What happened to this tiger? I feel slightly cheated on that front. I ultimately would give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Recursion by Blake Crouch

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 8/28/19-8/29/19

I have no idea how I can explain this book to anyone. It is extremely convoluted, but I am going to try my best:

This woman named Helena wanted to come up with a way to give her mother with Alzheimer’s her memories back. She comes up with a “memory chair” which is a way to record memories and then you can give the memories back. A man named Marcus Slade offers a lab on an oil rig to explore this research farther. He figures out that if you die when you are given the memory, then your conscious will go back to the moment of that memory. If you are confused, welcome to this book.

There’s this dude, Barry, right? He is a NYPD cop who tries to talk a woman off a ledge. She claims to have FMS, or false memory syndrome, where she has a bunch of memories of a past life. Barry goes to see the man she claims is her husband, and he finds himself at a hotel in New York. He gets captured and forced into a chair where he has to talk about the day his daughter died. He then goes back in time to that memory and relives his life.

When that conscious thread comes to an end, tragedy strikes, and he finds himself in the company of Helena. When their paths cross, love and ideas flow readily. But when they are forced to figure out how to close the loops made by the chair, they have to continue to research and find ways to solve how they can save all of humanity before time gets them.

Okay, so that is the best I got, but this book is A LOT better than my explanation. About an hour into this book, I was sure that I wouldn’t like it, but the farther into it I got, the harder it was for me to stop listening to it. I had zero intentions of reading the ending of this book tonight, but I did anyway partly because I have no self-control and partly because I really wanted to know what happens.

It is extremely convoluted and there are A LOT of lines to connect, but it is super creative. I have read books with a similar basis, but this one is completely original in writing style, intensity, and flight path. I wasn’t a huge fan of how he split up the book, and I don’t think that we needed the different “books”, but I did like that it didn’t split up things in chapters the way most books do. It kept the story going better than most novels. That being said, Helena is a queen and we must all bow down to her. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, and would recommend it for anyone interested in sci-fi thriller books.

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 Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 9/21/19-10/3/19

Sorry I’m late guys, but this one is a doozy. So buckle up, it’s a bumpy ride.

Okay, so there’s this girl called Kristine Hartung. A year prior, she disappeared, but her body was never found. She was presumed dead, but her family still held out hope. Her mother is Rosa, the prime minister of Social Affairs, and her father is a lawyer? something like that.

The two investigators we are focused on is Thulin and Hess. Thulin is a single mother who is hoping for promotion, and Hess is trying to prove to Europol that he is still capable as a detective. They get put on the case of a single mother who was slain at a playground. They discover a chestnut man at the scene of the crime. Their investigation leads them to another man, whose wife gets murdered as soon as they meet him. At the scene of that murder, there was another chestnut man. They discover that the connection between them is abuse allegations, and they are subsequently able to handle business to get the children back into safe environments.

So they try to be smart and they figure out who the next victim is going to be. They go through a witness protection protocol to save her, even though she is a crappy mom, but karma ended up catching up to her in the process. Also forgot to mention, the chestnut man is also cutting off their hands and feet, because that’s what you do I guess. So anyway, now Thulin and Hess are trying to figure out what the f is going on and how they can get ahead of this guy.

Now here’s the thing, I am trying to think about what to tell you guys and what not to, but I will say, this book has more twists and turns than… I don’t even know, something with lots of twists and turns. Almost every single detail matters in this book, and I probably came up with 5 different suspects throughout the story. It is long, but once you get into the story, you will get hooked.

Now, I have 1 major concern with this book. Unless I have completely forgotten this part, we got 0 closure with Thulin’s man friend. He was there one second, and completely forgotten about. That completely bothered me and I figured there was a reason why we weren’t focusing on them, but nope, just forgot. But other than that, I think that this book is really good, and I would probably rank it at a 4 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!

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 9/17/19-9/26/19

I will be completely upfront in that I totally didn’t see that ending coming! The book is reminiscent of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, with a complete surprise wrap-up of the story.

Set in 1932, Odysseus (Odie) O’Banion is an orphan stuck at the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. This school is intended to be a boarding school for Native American children in an effort to “kill the Indian, save the man”. Odie, along with his brother, Albert, are forced into this school because they were orphaned after the death of their father. There they meet a Sioux boy named Mose, who had his tongue removed when he was a boy, leaving him mute.

The school is extremely cruel in their punishments. One of the punishments forced the boy to stay in the “Quiet Room”, where they are physically abused (and possibly sexually as well), left to sleep on a bale of hay, with the only companion being a rat. Odie became well acquainted with this room because he would not fit the mold expected of him. The other punishment was being forced to work in the fields for the local farmers. That hard work tore up their hands and left the boys exhausted, sometimes also making them miss dinner.

While working in the fields, Mose, Alfred, and Odie meet the Frost family, and specifically little Emmy Frost. When a tornado comes through Minnesota, the Frost family farm is destroyed, leading to the death of all the family members except for little Emmy. The owner of the Lincoln School, Thelma Brickman (aka the Black Witch), adopts Emmy following these events, which concerns Odie and company for her safety.

After a trip to the Quiet Room leads to murder, Odie must leave the school. His brother and Mose decide to go with him, but they refuse to leave without Emmy. They kidnap her and run away with the money and papers in the Brickman safe. They decide to take a canoe down the Gilead River, which feeds into the Mississippi, in order to get to their aunt’s house in St. Louis, MO.

The journey leads to a path of self-discovery, love, family, and faith. Each part of the book is a new interaction which ultimately affects how Odie and the rest of the vagabonds interpret the world around them.

As for my opinions, I was slightly disappointed by the ending. I was incredibly surprised, which might be what was expected, but I kept thinking back to whether we were even given clues, and we really weren’t. It seemed like a huge surprise that come out of nowhere. I would rather we get some stepping stones to the ending rather than just throwing us in there.

I definitely would not have picked this book to read for myself. However, there were sections of this book that kept my interest, but there were also other parts of this book that I just completely lost focus. I ultimately would give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, but I could be persuaded to give it a little more.

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!

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 9/16/19-9/21/19

Set in the 1880s, this book follows the story of Annabelle Archer, a young suffragist and scholar at Oxford University. In order to go, she must send money home to her cousin, which leaves her often hungry and weak. When she gets invited to the Duke of Montgomery’s house by his brother, Annabelle and Montgomery (aka Sebastian), have an argument about the suffrage movement that forces her out of the house and into the freezing cold. She gets a fever, and is forced to stay at his house until she is better. During that time, their relationship progresses, and it is becoming harder and harder for them to stay away from each other. But names mean everything, and as he came from a noble household and she did not, it would be inappropriate for their relationship to continue. In a battle for what we want vs what society says is right, this story is the fun (sometimes in vulgar in detail) account of how a girl falls in love with a boy and vice versa.

Unlike the other books I have read so far this month, this book was extremely easy to stay interested in. The language is semi-accurate to the era, but it is not difficult to keep up with in the story. There are some phrases that do not seem accurate to the era, but I am not 100% positive. There is some history within the book, and that history is explained in an author note at the end of the novel. I am assuming that the key players in the novel were completely fictitious and that she is explaining the real history in comparison to the novel. This is obviously a feminist book, and there are many points that are listed throughout the book that are still viable for the feminist movement of today. I ultimately would give this book a 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!

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 9/8/19-9/15/19

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was not expecting this. I am currently listening to a book that is so similar, and did the story better, so I never wanted to pick this book up. This book isn’t bad, but it did not knock my socks off the way other picks have.

Jess is a movie set producer, a single mother to her daughter Mia, and is also now the caretaker for her mother. She never got to go to college for English, which was always her life goal, and so she pushes her daughter to achieve the things she was never able to do.

Lily is a marketing professional for a major firm, mother to her daughter Phoebe, and wife to Daniel. Soon after the book begins, Daniel has to go to New York for work and Lily’s job is on the fritz. At this point, she is just trying to keep busy and keep moving.

Aubrey has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She is trying to understand why her two daughters, Lily and Jess, could not resolve her differences to the point where they are no longer part of each other’s lives. She is trying to experience her bucket list by enlisting the trust of her granddaughters, including singing in a choir and taking a drawing class. When she pushes her two daughters together, they all have to experience the power of secrets, and they can only hope that they will come out on top.

There were some parts of the story that felt very unnecessary to add in unless they were fleshed out, and they never were. I wish she took the time to elaborate on the relationships at the ending of this story, even just for a wrap up. The overall story was nice because you saw all 3 characters as they interpreted the situations, but I just did not find this story as entertaining as I found others. Because of that, I would give this book 3.5 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!