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!

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 9/4/19-9/8/19

At 14 years old, Adrienne was woken by her mother, Malabar, as she said “Ben Souther kissed me”. After than, Adrienne found herself in the middle of Malabar’s and Ben’s wild romance. Over the years, Adrienne became a confidant, often creating spaces so that the two lovers can be alone. She had to lie to everyone, including her stepfather, Charles, and Ben’s wife, Lily. They had a deal, when Charles and Lily, who were in bad health, died, then Ben and Malabar would be together. When Charles died, Malabar began to expect Ben to leave Lily, or at least give her more time together, but that wasn’t how it worked out.

Adrienne met Ben’s son, Jack, and began a relationship with him. They eventually married, though at a price. Since Adrienne did not tell Jack about the affair, news broke a few weeks before the wedding. This put a huge rift between Lily and Adrienne, and especially Lily and Malabar. Ben chose to stay with Lily instead of going to be with Malabar. After the wedding, Adrienne became incredibly depressed, and she released that she was giving up all of her dreams in being with Jack. She moved back to the east coast where she reset her life.

When Lily passed away, Ben immediately went back to Malabar. They quickly married less than 3 months after Lily’s death. Adrienne addresses her relationship with her mother and how the affair has affected each step of her life, including her future.

Here’s the thing, I have never been in this situation. I don’t know what I would do if I was placed in this situation. I think all of us would say that we wouldn’t have made the choices Adrienne did, but how can you be sure? Adrienne looked at this situation very openly and with scrutiny. It is dark at times, including talks about depression and self harm, so trigger warning on that. But overall, I would give this book a 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!

Let’s Talk… The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Okay, so this is awkward. Normally, Once Upon a Book Club books are not the same books as Book of the Month, but of course, this time it is. Since I already read the book, I felt like I should at least share the gifts with you guys! So let’s talk… the gifts from my August 2019 OUABC box!

Page 56

Okay, so the drawing was awkwardly faded, but it is the drawing that Rowan finds in the nightstand drawer in her room at Heatherbrae House. The cord is a USB cord with 3 different types of cords so you can charge your phone (whether it is iPhone or Android) or your laptop (at least, it fits my thunder outlet for my Mac?). I’m also sure you can charge multiple items at the same time with the one cord, so it is efficient for traveling.

Page 213

I love this. If I drank coffee often, I would use this all the time, but thankfully my sister-in-law will be putting this to use! It is incredibly beautiful and of higher quality that the other mugs I have gotten from OUABC before!

Page 304

Honestly, I would love this if it were my initial. It is a very beautiful necklace (though a little big), but I probably will never pull it out of the box. So if you want a necklace with a ‘R’ initial, I got you fam.

Page 335

Okay, so I can’t really show you the gift because it essentially tells you the whole plot of the book, BUT it is literally the letter from the last 2 or so pages. This is the present that is literally just a printout for the box, and while it completely fits the book, I still wished that it was something else. But, here we are.

Sorry guys, if I would have known, I would have waited, but I am completely oblivious to everything right now, so I’m just going to leave you guys with a promise to do better! Until then, 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 Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 9/2/19-9/4/19

An incredibly beautiful cover! Like most of these, I have no idea what this is about. I am guessing based on the wrapping of the gifts that this book is about mermaids. But otherwise, I am going in as blind as usual, so I will see you all at the first gift!

Page 84

My guess was completely wrong! Instead of mermaids, it is snakes! This book starts out with a super creepy story about a girl, named Hulla, who befriended snakes and they then took over her mind and when one of them killed, she felt the aftershocks of it. From there, we meet Milla, a young girl who is separated from other people for fear of catching demons. Her brother, Niklas is at an age where he wants to get married, so he asks his father to bring Iris, who is also the granddaughter of their neighbors, to come live out in the middle of nowhere with them. When Iris begins to hear voices, she tells Milla. But when she runs away, Milla is the only who is able to find her since she could hear Iris in her mind. Iris gets sent away, leaving Milla reeling.

The comb feels wooden and really strong. I hesitate from combs purely because I got the devil’s hair, so I break anything that tries to tame it. With that being said, I will be sure to try this out in the near future!

Page 97

Serves her right! So Milla’s mom, Gitta, is the sister of the woman in that creepy story I was telling you about! Milla’s mom was so mean to her sister, so I’m glad that her daughter is becoming a “demon”. Also, BTW Milla is now growing snakes in her hair. Totally normal things. And Niklas wouldn’t leave Iris at The Place where they take demented girls, so now he’s gone.

The gift is an apron, which I don’t normally use, but I feel like I need to start getting in the habit.

Page 198

Is it sad that I was super excited for this sewing kit? Ah man, I am really an adult!

Milla goes to The Place to find Niklas and Iris. When she gets there, the girls convince her to lock Niklas in a cell in order for them to escape. As Milla gets out of The Place, she gets on a horse which leads her to a house in the middle of nowhere. She gets taken in by the family of Katrina and Otto with their children Kai and Liss.

Page 275

This is super cool, although I am unsure how to burn it? Do I need to put a little dish underneath it? It doesn’t smell like anything, but will it when it is burning? Or is it more of a candle that you leave sitting around and don’t touch, because I am not about that life. So many questions!

This comes at the end of the story so I am going to talk about the whole book as a whole. Milla begins to bring a blight on the family, so she goes to confront Hulla to see why she is punishing her so. Hulla says that since Gitta did not treat her well as a kid, that is why Milla is being punished. Milla then returns home in the idea that apologizing to Hulla will get Hulla to reverse the curse. And that is where I will leave you!

The overall book was okay, but hard to follow at points. I also wasn’t really invested in this story, so it was hard for me to keep with the book. It is a little creepy, but fine for a young audience. I would give this book a 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!

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 8/29/19- 9/2/19

I am literally going in without a clue about what this book is about. Using context clues from the cover, I am assuming that it is about a Muslim woman/girl, and that’s all I got. Also, all the gifts look beautiful, so I don’t know what that means, but I like it.

Page 1

Okay, so I still know nothing, but this is extremely cute. It seems like so many of these OUABC boxes have either a coffee mug or a tea cup, so I’m glad we are staying on brand here. But hopefully by the next gift, I actually can tell you something about the story!

Page 197

Is now the time to tell you all that I have never read Pride and Prejudice? This book is supposed to be essentially the Muslim version of P&P, so I don’t know much going in about what is going to happen. As for the gift, the notebook is incredibly beautiful, and when I need a lined notebook, I will be sure to grab this one!

As for the story: Ayesha is a substitute teacher. Her family has taught her to fall in love rather than depend on the arranged marriage system. Her cousin, Hafsa, had reached the age where she is accepting proposals from eligible men, but she doesn’t really seem to know where her life is headed. Khalid is a very strict Muslim. He wears the robes, has the beard, doesn’t touch women, and performs all his daily prayers. His mother, Farzana, is trying to get him a suitable wife. Khalid is a ecommerce programmer (I think), and his female boss does not like his attire and overall religious actions, so she forces him to work for a lingerie site in an effort to get him flustered and quit, which so far hasn’t worked. In fact, it has seemed to backfire.

When the mosque begins to go under, they begin to organize a Muslims in Action conference to encourage younger members to join their congregation. Ayesha is asked to go, and since Hafsa missed, everyone thought she was Hafsa. Khalid also participates in the planning committee, and he finds himself around “Hafsa” quite a bit. They seem to hit it off in their time together, but when Farzana finds out what is going on, she begins to scheme to get Khalid and the real Hafsa engaged.

Page 272

Ladies and gentlemen, the print-off gift of the box! It is nice to feel like part of the story, but these gifts are my least favorite to get.

The story: Ayesha is heartbroken when the news breaks that Khalid and Hafsa are engaged. Tarek, one of the planners for MIA, has a history with Khalid’s sister, Zareena. Zareena was shipped to India after finding herself in trouble in Canada, so she is a sensitive subject. Khalid is frustrated because he fell in love with Ayesha in their times together, but his responsibility is to marry Hafsa.

Page 306

Ugh this is too cute! It is a little difficult to get the USB stick out, but it is so cute and fun! I love this! I’m not going to share anymore of the story, but I did want to show you all the gift!

Conclusion

This was an incredibly cute story. While she uses Urdu words, all words are quickly translated or has clear context clues as to what they mean. The writing style was easy to read, though there were times, especially at the end of chapters, where I felt like she ended a scene before it was ready. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, and I would love to read Pride and Prejudice to see the comparisons!

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!