The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 2/4/20-2/17/20

How I Found It: Instagram

Okay, after probably one of the worst illnesses of my life, I FINALLY finished this masterpiece. When I first saw the cover for this book, I knew I wanted to read it. Initially, I was reading through it super fast, and then life happened. When I finally felt like picking it back up, I read it kinda slowly just to get it done. I would love to reread it without getting really sick in the middle, because I genuinely think this is a good book, but it could be so much better without a week break in the middle.

Cal Lewis Jr. wants to be a journalist. He runs a live stream on FlashFrame where he talks about what is going on in New York City. But soon his life gets completely turned around when he has to move to Houston, TX so his dad could be an astronaut, literally. The worst part, he would have to give up his FlashFrame streams in order to be on the astronaut reality show on StarWatch. But Cal is not going to go down without a fight, and he begins fighting back against StarWatch and the perfect fantasy they are trying to project.

Within that fantasy is Leon. His mom is a future rocket pilot, and often he feels like he has to go back to gymnastics in order to be good enough for his family. Soon Cal and Leon dive into their attraction to each other, but both have to learn how to be the person that the other needs. Told through an incredible prose, this book truly is a feel good book that I hope will be a movie one day.

My one issue with this book is that I felt like things didn’t move all that quickly. In some ways, it felt like we didn’t see the relationship because they were mentally preparing to be in a relationship for the majority of the book, but I also appreciated how mental health was portrayed throughout the book. It is kinda a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” moment, and I’m not sure if I could be 100% happy with this book, but that may also be because I was away from it for so long (I’m trying to be as fair as I can). I would ultimately 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!

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!

American Royals by Katharine McGee

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/31/20-2/2/20

How I Found It: Amazon

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

Have you ever wondered what America would look like if it was a monarchy instead of a democracy? This book takes us on a trip through the romantic lives of the 3 Washington children as they their love lives are blown up in their faces.

The oldest child is Beatrice. She is the future Queen of America, especially because her father is not doing well. She is forced to find a suitable match, leading her to Theodore “Teddy” Eaton. The only problem? She is in love with her guard.

The oldest of the twins, Samantha (“Sam”), met Teddy before her sister, and had a proper makeout. Now she is trying to deal with watching her older sister maintain a relationship with the man she loves.

The youngest and only male, Jefferson (“Jeff”), had a relationship with socialite Daphne, but ended the relationship after realizing his feelings for Sam’s best friend, Nina. But Nina never asked to be a royal, and the attention she begins to receive creates a wedge between the two lovebirds.

Because this book is the first in a series, it ends very abruptly. I believe that there is a way to finish an early book in a series without leaving on a complete cliffhanger (see Ninth House for a better example or the Caraval series), but I also recognize that this book ended on a really important moment. There are tradeoffs between what I want and what actually happened, but it did leave me wanting more, which was the purpose, right?

One of the greatest things personally as an avid book collector is the stylistic markings of the hardcover. The page break symbol is on the cover of the book, the hardcover is red, white, and blue, and the overall aesthetic of the book is so beautiful and thoughtful.

I did enjoy the writing style, but it did take me a hot minute to get into it. I feel like some of the story is missing, but I can’t figure out if I feel like there are parts lacking of the story because it ended so abruptly or if I wish a specific storyline was fleshed out more. All I can tell you is that I feel like something is missing. I feel like overall I would give this book 3.75 stars, with the possibility of being more if and when the story (aka the series) is completed.

The next book comes out in Fall of 2020, and I will make sure to update you guys on the sequel when I can get my grubby little hands on 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!

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/1/20-1/5/20

How I Found It: Unplugged Book Box

Flashback to Unplugged Book Box Advent Calendar in 2019 and you know full well that I was super excited about this book! I assumed it would be similar to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close or a book from my childhood about keys that I will look up from my personal library one of these days, where we are trying to solve a puzzle throughout the entire story. Going into this book, I figured that this would be a really quick read and that once you got into it, you would be hooked. What I didn’t figure is how intricate this book would be. Despite other books of the same length only taking about 4-5 hours to read, this book took SIGNIFICANTLY longer, so be prepared because this one will eat time like it’s its job.

Tuesday is the person who finds out as much personal information about you as possible to guarantee a donation to the hospital. She grew up in Salem, MA and was the best friend of missing girl Abigail Hobbes. She has a best friend named Dex, who has a history in musical theatre and horrible relationships, that she continues to support despite his many woe-is-me moments.

While at a charity dinner for the hospital, Tuesday meets Nathaniel Arches, who definitely doesn’t match the person she’s researched. But when bajillionaire Vincent Pryce dies of an aneurysm, Tuesday’s life changed forever.

Upon his death, Vincent Pryce designed a game that encourages people to find and piece together clues that would result in a hidden treasure. Soon, Nathaniel comes to Tuesday’s door asking for her help in solving the puzzles, leading to what often times feels like a wild goose chase. Filled with twists and turns, this novel will take you on a wild ride that will make you stop and think so many times you won’t believe it!

I really enjoyed this one, but I did wish that there were more clues to the story. It felt like we were about to enter a much more intense scavenger hunt than we actually did. But at the same time, the overall story was so complex that I get why aspects of the scavenger hunt took a back seat. I also think that Tuesday’s and Archie’s relationship did not need to turn physical. Especially when it did nothing for the story or their storyline. It felt unnecessary and cheap.

There is obviously a lot of the story that I haven’t talked about, and parts of the story that I hinted at by introducing characters, that I didn’t include because I don’t want this post to be 20 pages long. But at the end of the day, you really need to read this one to see what it is about, and I hope you guys like it as much as I did! I will give this book 4 out of 5 stars, with a possibility of being 4.5.

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!