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!

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!

A Royal Christmas Wish by Lizzie Shane

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 12/23/19-12/25/19

How I Found It: Once Upon a Book Club

Hey guys! I have been putting off reading this one, but we finally got here! In an effort to read it as quick as possible, I started listening to it through Audible (since it is a free book under Audible Escape). Despite the gold circle on the cover of the book, I was still shocked to discover the Hallmark has a publishing house. Once I realized that this is a Hallmark book, my expectations for the story quickly became the passionate love story. Based on the title, I am guessing that this has something to do with a royal family, but that is all I know going in.

Page 68

Okay, so I am actually about 120 pages in after my work day, so I’m going to give you the full spiel of the story so far. Jenny is just out of college and trying to find her niche in the world. She works odd jobs to get by, but still tried to give back to people (and animals) that need it. After a really poor interview, Jenny seeked solace from Prince Harry, the puppy (which if I was in that position, the puppy’s name would be Prince Hairy), and a playdate in the park. After a game of fetch gone wrong, Jenny ends up running into a man jogging along the running path named Dom. They had an easy repertoire, and Jenny couldn’t get him out of her head. During her job as a cocktail waitress that night, Jenny runs into Dom again where she learns that he is the prince of a small country between Switzerland and France.

During the party, Jenny had met a woman associated with Dom who had a snowflake bracelet on. She ended up finding the bracelet and returning it to the woman. As a thank you, the woman granted Jenny’s wish of having a fairytale Christmas. The next day, Jenny woke up in a palace with maids, obligations, and a husband. She then has to play the role of princess, which is surprisingly harder than she thought it would be.

This particular gift is super cute, but broken. Literally. The chain attachment to the snowflake was broken before I opened the gift, so this is probably trash at this point.

Page 272 and the End

Okay, so this is exactly how you think it is going to go. Despite having difficulty right away, she soon comes into her own as a princess. But her wish only lasts for a short amount of time, and she must make the most of it before the clock strikes midnight.

As for the candle. I am slightly concerned because it doesn’t initially smell strong, but I won’t know until I start burning it. But the scent is right up my alley, so I can’t wait to start burning 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!

Once Upon a Book Club Advent Calendar Day 12

Merry Christmas for all who celebrate and Happy End of Advent Day for everyone else! Today’s gift is one of those that you just don’t really know what to do with it. Since I currently live in a tiny bedroom, I just don’t really have a place to put a clock, so I am going to be giving this one away, but still an incredibly beautiful clock.

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!

Once Upon a Book Club Advent Calendar Day 11

Based on the synopsis, it seems like a novel about coping with grief after a disappearance of a family member. The cover of this one is so beautiful that I just want to hang it up on my wall! One of the reasons I love getting boxes like these is that I find books that I would never purchase for myself!

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!

Once Upon a Book Club Advent Calendar Day 10

OH. MY. GOD. I have received from them water bottles before, but none of them were full-sized. I absolutely love the simplicity of this one, and I am so excited to bring it to work with me today!

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!

Once Upon a Book Club Advent Calendar Days 1-7

FINALLY! After almost 2 weeks of waiting (plus the month before we reached shipping date) I have finally gotten my advent calendar in the mail. And while it may be my puppy’s birthday, I managed to get the most gifts *hair flip*. So today, let’s go on a journey of the past 9 days.

Day 1

When I first heard about this box, I thought that they were going to do poems, but I really enjoy this story. Unlike last year, this advent calendar has an overarching story instead of a bunch of short stories, which requires SO much creativity, so hats off to the ladies at Once Upon a Book Club!

As for this book! From what I understand of the synopsis, this book weaves fact with fiction as we learn about the woman behind a famous painting. I can guarantee that I NEVER would have picked this book out for myself, but that’s one of the major reasons I love these types of subscription boxes.

Day 2

I am slightly concerned by these mittens because I got some big hands (story of my life). I can get them on, but they don’t feel that great on me. But they are adorable, and now I have to make some tough decisions.

Day 3

Already this keychain is on my keys! I am so happy with this one! Firstly, it is my colors, and secondly, look at it! Ugh, I am in heaven over here!

Day 4

From what I can tell from the synopsis, Ernest Young was sold at the 1909 World’s Fair in Seattle. He ended up at a brothel where he found a sense of security. But the secrets of his past stay secret until 50 years later when the next Seattle World’s Fair comes to town. I am super confused by the synopsis, but it sounds really interesting, so I’m excited to try it out!

Day 5

Truly my favorite gift so far! I have showed it to every single member of my family! The light is slightly on the bluer side, which I don’t like to read under, but it is so freaking cute, so worth it?

Day 6

Yes. Yes yes yes. I literally just bought myself a locket in the shape of the box, so brilliant minds think alike!

Day 7

From what I understand of the synopsis, women in 1881 attended a college in Illinois to become physicians. In an effort to have a “sisterhood” between these women, Beth Carrington sets out to open a fraternity. But she receives a lot of backlash from the people who think women should go to school for secretary jobs. As she continues to fight for the fraternity, she learns a lot about the school, friendship, and love.

I think out of all the books in this post, I am the most excited for this one! I love 1) reading literature about women being awesome, and 2) I love books about women going into the sciences.

Once Upon a Book Club Advent Calendar Days 8/9

Hey! During the making of the last post, WordPress stopped working on Day 8, so here are the last 2 days to get all caught up!

Day 8

I’m not as excited about this one, but that could be because I am not at peak adulthood yet. Check back in a few years to see if I am into this one!

Day 9

I am hesitant to use wood bookmarks because unless the book is a paperback, the book doesn’t really close, but it is still super cute. Plus, I am guessing that is the theme for this year’s advent calendar, which is super sweet. Ugh, I am so happy!

Alright guys! Thank you for being patient with me, and I will see you all tomorrow!

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!

No One’s Home by D.M. Pulley

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 10/13/19-10/17/19

This is the Spooky Mini Halloween box for 2019. I don’t know anything about this book, other than that it is supposed to be “spooky”. I am slightly concerned because I am not a “scary” book type of person, and I often get bad nightmares from horror novels. But YOLO, so I am going to be reading this and trying it out. Pray for me.

Page 184

There was no good way for me to get a picture, but the gift this time around is a silk robe with the lace embroidery on the sleeves and the bottom. My big concern is that I am not a small gal, and often “one size fits all” scenarios do not include my size, but I will try it out and let you know!

As for the story. I don’t find it particularly scary, but it is creepy. The concept revolves around this house and the families that live there. As far I can tell, I think that we only really follow 4 of the 5 families that lived in the house (according to the family listing in the front of the book), but it may just be that we haven’t gotten to their storyline yet.

Margot and Myron Spielman, along with their son Hunter, move into this “fixer-upper” in the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. With every family comes secrets, and this family is no exception. Margot runs a yoga class online, which then becomes a sexual webcam situation. Myron has a drug problem. And Hunter feels the presence of something in the house.

Then you have the Rawlings, who were the original owners of the house. Set before the big crash of ’29, Walter Rawlings comes home and tries to put a gun to his head. He couldn’t get himself to do it, so he took a bunch of pills instead. He left his wife, who has gone through multiple miscarriages after the birth of her only child, and his son, Walter Jr. The maid, Ella, has been trying to fix the money situation, so she began to run a bootlegging brewery out of the attic.

The next family is the Bell family. As far as I can tell, we don’t know anything about them, though I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn a lot of messed up things about them soon.

The next family is the Klussmans. The son, Benny, is in his 20s, but do to some mental or physical defect, is unable to communicate (especially through vocation). He hits his head when he gets upset with himself, he convulses, and he hears a voice in his head. His mother is trying to take care of him in the house instead of sending him to a hospital.

The final family of the house is the Martin family. The father is the head of the town construction company, and he may also be sexually abusing his daughter, Ava. Both Ava and her brother, Tony, sense bad energy in the house, and they try to explore the parts of the house that were considered “off-limits” for them.

The main focus is the Spielman family, and especially Hunter who is trying to unearth the history of the house. The robe is supposed to signify the white nightgown that the ghost of a little girl is seen wearing. (Update: it does fit, and it is super cute, though very short)

Page 228

One night while Benny gets out of the house, a young girl gets murdered. So far, police have no evidence against him. Tony is forced to leave the house after his father dies and his mother can no longer pay the bills. Ava could not come with him, and is possibly the little girl ghost of the house. The Spielman’s find the secret room in the attic and the papers within. Information from those papers say that Walter Jr. was killed by his mother. Myron learns of Margot’s webcam situation, and Hunter learns of Myron’s drug addiction. This leads to huge rifts in the family, and Hunter has taken to sleeping in the basement to stay away from his parents.

When I read the sentence for the gift, I got really excited. I was going to be really impressed if they sent me wine through the mail. But alas, I got bubble bath (nothing wrong with that!). While my current living situation prevents me from taking a bath, it did bring up memories of my youth when I went on vacation in a cabin by the lake. Good times, good times.

Conclusion

Meh. As a work of fiction, I found myself engrossed in the story. As a horror novel, it didn’t do it for me. If you are looking for something more spooky, check out Laurie Faria Stolarz. I personally feel like a horror book should not be able to be tied up in a perfect bow, but that might just be me.

Once I got into the meat of the story, I was able to read over 100 pages a day. But it took me a solid 3 days to get 100 pages in. For someone who wants to get into the spooky season without getting TOO spooked, I would recommend this book! I would ultimately 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!

House Witch by Katie Schickel

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 10/9/19-10/12/19

This is the 2019 Sweet Halloween mini box from Once Upon a Book Club! I know absolutely nothing about this book, other than that it shouldn’t be scary and it is supposed to be fun with an added magical element. Unlike the larger boxes, this box only contains two gifts, which I will share with you guys as I get to them!

Page 132

I didn’t completely open this up, but I am pretty sure this is a blanket and not a cape, which I am grateful for. I do not know what to do with a cape if I had one, although I probably could try and make a Halloween costume out of it, but I digress.

This book is about a Allison Darling, born Allesone Ellylydan. She originally was raised by her mother, Wilhemena, but at the age of 9 was removed and placed in foster care, while her mother was forced into a psychiatric hospital. Now in adulthood, Allison is focused on fitting in with the other mothers in her small town of Monrovia, MA. The head mom, Astrid, soon takes a shining to Allison, though that might be because she catches Allison performing transfiguration.

When Wilhemena dies suddenly, Allison is pushed toward her aunt, Aurora. Aurora warns of the Black Witch, who is also Allison’s aunt, and that Allison is vulnerable to attack. After Aurora has a suspicion that the Black Witch is recruiting people in Monrovia, Allison begins pinpointing who she thinks is a witch. We finish this section by finding out that Astrid’s group of friends are all witches that use their magic (in the form of potions) to make the small town paradise. They offer a spot in their coven to Allison, which she has been given 2 days to decide if she will join or not.

As for my opinion, I haven’t been able to keep this book down! I was surprised how easily I fell into it, and I am excited to keep reading! I am not a huge fan of the actual storyline of the book, but I am extremely attracted to the writing style, which has continued to pull me along.

(Side note: when I opened it up all the way, it appears to be a scarf? It’s a strange material for a scarf, and also ridiculously long, so I’m not sure I will wear it, but hey, it is still a cool concept!)

Page 165

OOOOOoooooOOOOOO!!! I knew it had to be something chemically because the actual present was shrink wrapped, but I was not expecting this! Now I am slightly concerned because I did read ahead and the mask from the book turned her face permanently green, but they wouldn’t do that to me, right?

As for the storyline, Allison goes to Aurora in the hopes of letting her know that there is a coven, but that Allison is going to stick with her family. Aurora essentially says, we don’t want you, so Allison gives the middle finger by accepting a place in Astrid’s coven. After accepting a place, she is pampered with a spa day, a makeover, and a new designer wardrobe. This section ends with a basket being delivered to her door with all the ingredients and the instructions to make a face mask, which Allison then applies to her face. It didn’t seem to go well.

Conclusion

So Astrid makes Allison do some bad things, including destroying the mental health home in Monrovia for the “sake of beauty”. When Allison realizes that the good things are not worth doing the terrible things, she throws out any product from the soap factory Astrid owns and finds herself exiled from all the members of Astrid’s coven. Soon, Astrid begins using tactics to mess with Allison’s kids as well. Allison convinces Astrid to leave her family alone as long as she gets the ashes of Wilhemena for the use of an immortality like potion. Allison teaches her kids that they are witches and Astrid (who is the black witch BTW) sees them at work and within their meeting, Allison’s youngest daughter gets mortally injured. Allison then has to try to defeat the Black Witch in order to save her daughter’s life.

This book is a lot of back and forth between we like this person and now we hate them. It seems really strange and almost juvenile for the intended audience. I was extremely invested (especially in the last 2 days) in the storyline, but I also was easily distracted as I was reading it. I think that for a debut, it is really good, but I also thought she contradicted herself at times. I ultimately would give this book 3.25 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!