Long Bright River by Liz Moore

How I Read It: Print/ Audiobook

Dates Read: 1/20/20-1/22/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Set in Philadelphia, Mickey works patrol in the area of Kensington Ave (which according to Google Maps is just east of North Philly. Even doing a Google search, you learn about how bad the drug use, prostitution, and general crime are in this area. In this book, Mickey’s little sister, Kacey, has resorted to prostitution in order to get her fix.

When Kacey disappears, Mickey begins investigating to find her. Unfortunately, a serial killer has hit the area attacking young prostitutes, causing Mickey to believe the worst happened to her sister. But as Mickey gets farther into the investigation, she takes risks that could jeopardize her life as she knows it. Alternating between “then” and “now”, we learn about Mickey’s past and how that has affected her present.

I apparently chose to read some of the most depressing stories this week, so here is book #2 this week (for me, probably not for you because I’m not trying to depress you all) about addiction. As I may or may not have mentioned previously (because I am really good at this whole running a blog thing), I grew up in a small town ravaged by the opioid epidemic. I, personally, do not know much about the opioid epidemic, dealers, prostitution, or any of the other topics discussed in this book, but I did find this story extremely informational (though that wasn’t its original purpose).

I did wish that the story was more focused on the serial killer than just Kacey. It felt like the author made them this really connected and intricate story, but then mentioned the serial killer whenever it was convenient. I almost wish there was more. Also, the killer just took a break for a while because we were more focused on Kacey? Yea, okay.

And while everyone seems to love this book, I just wasn’t a fan of the storyline of Kacey. And I don’t know if this is just me but I felt like the author was just trying to push a happy ending, which I feel like this book didn’t need. I don’t know what exactly I was hoping for, but this book didn’t end up hitting my mark. I would probably give this 4.25 out of 5 stars, but I would still recommend it for people who like thriller-esque novels (I don’t really think this book was as thriller-y as most books in that genre, but I think it still belongs there).

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 Wives by Tarryn Fisher

How I Read It: Audiobook

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

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Wow…. this one is intense. Quick trigger warning, this book talks about polygamy and domestic violence, so if those are triggers for you, please read at your own discretion.

Okay, so homegirl is in a plural marriage with a dude named Seth. Essentially that means that she is the wife he visits on Thursday and that he has a wife for Monday and Tuesday. As she has this extremely secual relationship with Seth (don’t read this one grandma), she starts to learn things about the other wives. Soon, she gets in too deep, and her relationship with Seth begins to deteriorate. But then, shiz hits the fan, and we find out that homegirl’s name is Thursday, and maybe she’s crazy. But then, maybe she’s not? It gets really crazy really fast, so ya’ll need to buckle up and pick this book out!

There is a lot of buildup for the drop that occurs about halfway through the book. I don’t think that it is too much, but if you can get yourself over the hump, you won’t regret it. Along that line, there are 0 characters that I actually liked in this book, which I think was the point. So if you can completely ignore that we are meant to hate literally everyone (except maybe Hannah), then this book would be great for you! I personally would rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, which seems consistent with other readers on Goodreads.

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!

Tightrope by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 1/16/20-1/19/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

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

I went into this one planning to listen to it while I was at work. However, if you know me and my reading preferences, I am not a huge fan of nonfiction books, especially ones that are not memoirs. This one was even harder for me to read that I thought it would be, but I got the deed done and I am happy to say it made me start to think.

Some background on me, I grew up in a working class America small town. I grew up in a farming community, and I have already seen multiple members of my graduating class get buried due to the opioid crisis. I was lucky to be in the upper middle class where I wanted for nothing, which gave me a huge head start into college and beyond. I watched a lot of people with less growing up and I know how easy it is to fall into that path.

This book is a conversation about the working class and how hard it is to get out of it. We talk about poverty as if it isn’t happening in our country, but it for sure is. And this book offers options to solve the problems that can end the cycle. There main point is that we need solutions for young at-risk children. If we give them opportunities out, then the statistics shows crime will go down.

Also, we discuss mass incarceration in this book. And while we don’t go into a lot of detail, mass incarceration is the easy way to keep someone from getting a job, thus continuing to put them through the negative spiral.

And while I have many opinions about this issue, I strive to make this blog as non-partisan as possible. Though this really shouldn’t be a partisan issue to begin with, I am just trying to share my thoughts on the book without getting backlash about being biased. And more importantly, this book isn’t trying to be partisan. It is about how we can fix the issues in our country. So I think that there are a lot of things that we could change, and if we start younger, we probably could do a lot more. I don’t agree with decriminalizing drug charges, but I do agree that we need to offer better and more accessible rehab programs. And more importantly, we need to work on financial education while in schools so that when we become adults, we know more about how to keep money in our bank account than to just balance our checkbooks.

This book obviously makes some good points, and some that I can’t see our political system implementing. But for anyone that is interested in what poverty looks like in the United States, make sure to read Tightrope. 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!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 1/27/20-1/30/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “A Fantasy Novel” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

When this was a choice for the November 2019 box, I had originally chosen it. While it had been on my TBR list for the past few weeks, I ultimately chose it more for its length than any concept of the story (I need some long audiobooks to listen to while at work). Going into it, I assumed by the cover that it was probably in the fantasy genre and probably was going to be dark, but there wasn’t a lot of dark moments. It actually was funny at times.

Galaxy Stern (nicknamed Alex) was the sole survivor of a murder rampage and drug overdose. She was given the opportunity to go to Yale University with the promise that she would be the Dante in a magic society called Lethe. She was being trained by a man named Darlington, who ended up disappearing, leaving Alex to figure out how to be Dante by herself.

A ritual goes wrong, leading to the death of a young girl. Alex then starts investigating the murder initially to make her report, but soon she keeps looking after being turned away from the leaders of Lethe. Switching between the past and the present, we learn about the history of Lethe and the houses within, the magical tricks they use, and the power of ghost magic (yea, did I mention lots of ghosts in this one?).

I was surprised how into this book I got. While I have not experience any of the same things as Alex, I felt like I really felt her character (which makes sense because normally I am attracted to the bad*ss character in most novels), and her sense of humor. It also was more of a suspense novel with a fantasy element IMO, which falls into my favorite genre. According to the author, there will be a sequel, and you best believe I will be sharing that with all of you as soon as I can get my hands on it!

One of the cooler parts of the audiobook is that they did an interview with the author. In that interview, the author revealed that many of the aspects of the book are real, minus the magical elements of course (although now that I think about it, she never said that the magic wasn’t real, so maybe there is some stuff going on in New Haven, CT), including the houses in mausoleums. In fact, she revealed that she was part of one of the houses, which is super dope.

One of the other bigger projects that I want to get into from her is the Grishaverse. I have been told that I should give it a chance, and now that I know that I like her writing style, I might try it out. My major concern is that this book was not targeted to young adults, and I’m not sure if the style I experienced will match her other works. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I look forward to the sequel!

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 Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/11/20-1/14/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Welcome back everyone! This book is full of supernatural and crime scene investigations, so if either freaks you out or are triggering, read at your own discretion (Side note: I have never seen a trigger warning for supernatural stuff, but as someone who has been terrified to the point of tears over supernatural things when I was younger, I feel like I need to warn it for the people like me).

Switching back and forth between 1982 and 2017, this story follows Viv Delaney and her niece Carly Kirk as they work in the Sun Down Motel as the night clerk in Fell, NY. Throughout this story, we learn more about the murders that have occurred in this town and piece together what has happened in the years leading up to 1982. When Viv disappeared out of the blue in 1982, Carly comes to Fell to figure out what happened, and gets more than she was hoping for. Add in the assorted ghosts of the Sun Down, and you are in for a wild story.

I had plans this weekend, so I wasn’t able to finish it until a few days later. When you are all the way into it, this book goes so fast and is super enjoyable. However, when you are away from it, something in it changes that makes it less enjoyable. But I read close to 200 pages in one day just because it was so good and enrapturing. If you have a day that is away from people and you like true crime stories, you probably will love this book. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, which would probably be 5 out of 5 if I had finished it without a break.

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!

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 1/14/20-1/15/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This book marks off the “A Book Set on an Airplane” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

I remember thinking when I saw the cover that this book was going to be big. But I did not expect for it to blow up as much as it has, including getting featured on Jenna Bush’s book club (and mentioned on the Today Show). To give you some perspective on how into this book I was, I average about 4.5 hours of listening while at work, and yesterday I listened to about 5.5 hours of my 6.5 hour work day. Lots of numbers, but essentially, I listened to this book A LOT. And I couldn’t get enough. This book is totally worth the hype. Okay, sales pitch over, let’s get into the synopsis:

The Adler family is moving to LA from NYC. 15-year-old Jordan and 12-year-old Eddie are just trying to deal with this huge change. For Jordan, that means challenging his parents, including going vegan, refusing the scanner thing at the airport security, and dating the girl at the deli. For Eddie, that means refusing to face the change. The family boards flight 2977 to start their new lives.

Eddie, now known as Edward, wakes up to learn he is the lone survivor of the Flight 2977 crash. At 12-years-old, he has to deal with survivor guilt, grief, PTSD, insomnia and a bunch of other mental health issues. Following his life over the next 3 or so years, we watch Edward grow up and come to terms with his past.

Switching between the passengers on the flight and Edward’s new life post-crash, we watch the plane crash and Edward grow in a beautiful juxtaposition.

I don’t have a lot more I can say. This book is beautiful in its openness. And while I don’t recommend reading this on a plane (for obvious reasons), I do recommend learning about Edward and what he had to overcome.

As for the cultural significance: this story is based off of 2 plane crashes, one of which where the only survivor was a 9-year-old boy. We have this tendency to wonder “what happened to them?” after a tragedy strikes someone, and this story discusses what it’s like to be that person. But even more so, it shows how broken people are when tragedy strikes, and how we need someone, anyone, to be able to show our pain. All I’ll say is read it, love it, enjoy it, and never let it leave you. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, and I will never not encourage you to read 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 Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 11/20/19-11/24/19

How I Found It: Book of the Month

I’ll be honest, I’m not a psychologist. At all. In fact, I got a C in Intro to Psychology when I took it as a freshman in college. To me, psychology is not that interesting in the abstract, but I find particular case studies interesting. For example, the Stanford Prison Experiment (which was created into a movie in 2015) and Pavlov’s experiments have always interested me. This book discusses a study called Being Sane in Insane Places by David Rosenhan. In this study, Rosenhan gets 8 mentally healthy people to go into an insane asylum and initially convince them they are insane, then trying to prove their sanity to get back out. Within this book, we learn about the people that were involved, especially Rosenhan, and how mental health analysis has changed both in connection to this study and as our view of mental health has changed.

Firstly, let’s start with Cahalan. When she was in her twenties, she was hospitalized with symptoms of schizophrenia. While many people with that diagnosis would be stuck in psychiatric wards, her parents fought for another reason. Eventually, a thoughtful doctor found the illness was autoimmune encephalitis, which is when your body attacks the brain. The disease was caught just in time, and Cahalan was able to fully recover. Another woman had the same disease but it was not caught early enough, and now she is forced to live in a hospital for the rest of her life. Since she could have easily been the woman, Cahalan shared her story in a memoir, called Brain on Fire (which has been adapted into a Netflix movie in 2018).

In Rosenhan’s study, 9 people (including Rosenhan himself) went into a mental hospital intake area saying that they heard voices that said something along the lines of “empty”, “thud”, and “hollow”. According to his results, 8 of the pseudopatients were given a schizophrenia diagnosis, with one pseudopatient receiving a manic depression (now called bipolar disorder) diagnosis. Most stays lasted between 10-30 days, while some pseudopatients stayed in hospitals for as long as 3 months (over multiple stays). According to Rosenhan, all pseudopatients left the hospital against medical advice “in remission”. (One of the pseudopatients was not listed in the original study, but rather in a supplemental report. This supplemental report was important because the patient, according to Rosenhan, could not be counted because he lied about other aspects of his life that could result in a mental health disorder.)

When Rosenhan reported the study in 1973, along with Rosemary Kennedy’s lobotomy, mental health reform came to the US. But this study received A LOT of criticism. One of those problems was the small number of pseudopatients, which causes a lot of extrapolation. Also, Robert Spitzer wrote a response on Rosenhan’s experiment calling it “logic in remission”. He believed that there was misreporting within the study that led to fabricated results.

Cahalan got Rosenhan’s notes from his time on Being Sane in Insane Places after his strokes. Using these notes and his friends from that time period, Cahalan tried to piece together who the pseudopatients were hoping to find out more information about Rosenhan’s study. What she found questions the entire validity of the study, with many of the pseudopatients being impossible to track down, or the ones that can be found giving different testimonies than reported.

I found the book a little repetitive, but I think the amount of research that went into the book is INSANE. I think that there are a lot of things that don’t add up, and sadly, we can’t ask Rosenhan about them. I think that he was a man that wanted to prove his point, and gain notoriety along the way, even if he has to cut corners to get there. But obviously my opinion is slightly biased because I have just listened to 11 hours of one side. So let me know what you guys think and if you think Rosenhan’s study was valid or not.

In terms of rating, I would probably give this one 4.5 out of 5. While completely out of my usual, I did listen to it whenever I had a chance to, which means it is pretty good. There were a few things that bothered me, but otherwise I thought it was easy for someone who didn’t know anything about the study (like me) to be able to read and understand this book.

(P.S. I totally think that a movie called Being Sane in Insane Places needs to happen)

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!