The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 10/13/21-10/15/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warning: This book includes instances of rape, criminal trials, and police corruption. If these are triggers for you, read at your own discretion.

Rachel has a podcast called Guilty or Not Guilty that focuses on a true crime where she breaks down the evidence to figure out whether the suspect is guilty or not guilty. She travels to Neapolis, North Carolina for her subject of season 3, a rape trial between a future Olympian and the granddaughter of the former chief of police. She continues to post podcast episodes throughout the trial, giving her audience the chance to be in the jury box.

On her way to Neapolis, Rachel discovers a letter from a fan, Hannah, who asks for Rachel to look into her sister’s, Jenny’s, death. While the official report is that Jenny died from an accidental drowning, Hannah is sure that is a lie. Telling her story over a series of letters, Hannah slowly lets Rachel in on Jenny’s death and why she thinks that Jenny died under suspicious instances.

Following a present rape trial while we follow the death of another rape victim, we slowly begin to investigate who is guilty, and how history repeats itself.

As I was looking through my TBR pile, this was the book that I gravitated to the most. There is something so modern and cool about following a podcast in a book. While I am aware that she chose to follow a rape case because she wanted as much attention as she could get, there is something that feels uncomfortable about the whole guilty or not guilty thing. Considering how difficult it is for women to be believed in sexual assault trials anyway, I don’t like the idea of basically saying “do you believe her or not?”. It just doesn’t sit well with me.

I do like the idea of Hannah’s storyline, but I don’t like that we don’t meet her until the end of the novel. It just feels like a really weird resolution that totally could have happened earlier in the novel. They also totally could have met before the final scene. It almost seemed like overkill.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this novel. I think I had slightly higher expectations, but it was a solid novel nonetheless. Overall, I would give this 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!

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 10/12/21-10/13/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warning: This book has instances of murder of a child, a murderer who is a child, manipulation, death (including decay), gore, and suicide. If any of these are triggers for you, please read at your discretion.

Ciara meets Oliver at a grocery store and go for coffee. They connect over their love of space travel, and quickly their connection leads to dates. Both of them feel like secrets are hovering over their relationship, but neither is willing to give in to what they know. When the COVID-19 pandemic shuts down Ireland, they decided to move in together for the 2-week lockdown, hoping that their secrets would stay out of the apartment. But as things go on, their secrets become stifling, and they have to make the hard decisions in order to keep each other.

56 days later, a body is found in the apartment. In an advanced stage of decay, the police can’t decipher who the victim is and whether it was a result of murder or an accident. They discover that the resident of the apartment is Oliver St. Ledger, a former child murderer. As they investigate, Lead Investigator Lee has a gut feeling that something more happened here, but she has no evidence to prove it.

As we switch between the past and the present, we slowly begin to unravel what happened in that apartment and relationship. But will justice be served?

This is the first book that I have read where the story is actually set during the pandemic. There are some authors who have claimed that they will never write a book in the pandemic times, but I think that the pandemic really opens up the mystery/thriller genre. Since so much of the pandemic feels like a horror movie, I hope that more thriller writers will write about this time in the future. I also am surprised that we haven’t had more adventure novels out since we have been stuck inside with only the opportunity to do nature activities instead of traveling. I feel like there are so many possibilities with the pandemic, and since there are so few books that are set in this time, each one will be so unique.

Anyway, this book is so brilliantly written. From the get-go, Howard sprinkles a little bit of doubt, then slowly regains control of the situation so that she can blow it up at the perfect time. It was so fun to read, and I cannot encourage you enough to pick it up and read it for yourself! I am going to go with 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!

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 10/11/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warning: This book includes instances of murder, gore, manipulation, police investigation, poisoning, stalking, financial crime, and miscellaneous other crime. If any of these are triggers for you, please read at your own discretion.

The 3 children and their partners attend Easter dinner. When there, they learn that their parents are selling the house, which Catherine dreamed of inheriting. Their father also went on a tirade, belittling both Dan and Jenna as well. They storm out of the house, but each of them have a gnawing feeling over the day’s events. Days later, the parents are found brutally murdered, and none of the children have an alibi for Sunday night. As we follow the investigation, we have to ask what we would do for our family, would we ever cover up a crime for the people we love?

I like that we get bits and pieces of the motives and what could have been used for the murder bit by bit. It does really add to the mystery to have little hints that something important was kept from everyone, not just us. I personally found the Audrey storyline really annoying, but I think it would have been less annoying if she was actually the detective. I think following the detective in this story would have been really cool since they knew about as much as we did anyway.

I do like the psychological torture element for the partners. It does add a lot of ambiance to the mystery aspect of the story. I kinda wish that Jenna had a more established partner, since Jake always was a peripheral character.

Spoiler Alert: I will say that the murderer is pretty obvious in hindsight. It’s almost like we were so pushed towards the other two siblings that we almost ignored the murderer throughout the book. I almost wish the book led us to Rose as the killer since she was such a surprise. But I also see how she was used as a red herring, which was also a really cool idea. I think Ellen would also be a really cool killer in this case, too.

I think that this is a really cool story that definitely had me invested from the beginning. There are things that I wish happened that didn’t, but overall, I would give it a solid 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!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 10/15/21-10/16/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

When Maggie was a child, she lived in a house called Banberry Hall for 20 days. Her father (with support from her mother) wrote a true story memoir called House of Horrors, claiming that the reason the family left was because the house was haunted by the former residents. When her father dies, she gains full ownership of the house. Since she works as an interior designer, she wanted to go and refurbish the house in order to hopefully gain a bigger profit, but more importantly gain closure over this time she doesn’t remember.

Upon coming back to Banberry Hall, Maggie immediately learned that everyone in the town hates the book. She begins to investigate the clues that were left from her family’s time in the house. As she finds more and more evidence that confirms the events of the book, she begins to believe that maybe her father didn’t make it all up. Flipping between the House of Horrors book and Maggie’s adult experience in the house, we follow a journey towards discovering what is really haunting the house once and for all.

I was listening to this book while working and let me tell you, that was a mistake. I have talked about it previously, but I am not a paranormal person. Due to a childhood trauma, paranormal/ haunted tropes get to me more than I think any other. Give me gore and I’m fine; give me a ghost and I’m running screaming. As my coworkers slowly trickled out of the building, I became one of the last people at work. One of my coworkers, who is the sweetest grandmotherly-type person, often brings me chocolate at the end of the day, thinking that I would need the little bit of sugar to get through the rest of my shift. With no warning to her presence, I turned around and she was right there. I swear I almost pooped my pants. Lessons learned, not a good idea. But it created a memory that I am always going to associate with this book, which is always one of my favorite parts of reading. There is something so magical about that.

Anyway, I totally didn’t see the ending coming. I think that it is very humanizing, but I think that the book would almost been better if it didn’t come together with a perfect bow. I think that would have made it completely unique. In the same vain, I also see why we needed closure for who the ghosts are. It’s a really hard line to cross, and I also am very introspective today about books, so ignore me, I’m being weird.

OOOOOOOhhhhhhh, I almost forgot. I hate the title of this book. Where did it even come from? It 1) was not said at all during the book and 2) was not even implied in the book. Let’s be honest, I don’t know what I would have called this book, but I also hate when titles do not match the content of the book. Again, that’s a personal feeling, but it is something that bugged me when I finished it.

I think this book is good, but I personally would give it a 3 out of 5 stars. Trying to think in a non-biased viewpoint, I would probably bump it up to a 3.5 or 3.75. I would say that it is good, but I also don’t think it is as good as Sager’s other 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!

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Print

Dates Read: 10/8/21-10/10/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warning: This book has moments that feature rape, sexual assault, murder, body dumping, manipulation, car accidents, and panic attacks. If any of these are triggers for you, please read at your own discretion.

Emily and Kristin are backpacking through Chile when they meet a Spanish backpacker. Kristin takes him back to their hotel room where he attacks her. She ends up killing him. A year earlier, Emily was in the exact same position in Cambodia, where Kristin killed a South African backpacker after he attempted to rape Emily. In both cases, the two women worked together to destroy the evidence and get rid of the bodies. 

Following their return home from Chile, Emily felt a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. Kristin was not acting as if she was raped and killed in self-defense, she was acting like she had a completely normal trip. When Kristin moved back to Wisconsin from Australia soon after the trip, Emily couldn’t feel more stifled by their blood soaked history. As time continues, we watch as Emily becomes more and more paranoid and Kristin becomes more and more present in Emily’s life until we finally reach a breaking point.

This book really puts you right into it. While that is a huge plus in my eyes, there are always going to be people who wish they had time to ease into it. I think part of the reason why I immediately got into this book was because we began with action. That being said, your major conflict happens within the first 20-30 pages of the book, which does take away some of the novelty by the end of the book.

I think this is the most thriller-y book I have read in a while. I truly felt the feeling of paranoia and fear in a way that I haven’t felt in a book in a while. It was a super cool experience that kept me on the edge of my seat from page 1. For that reason, I 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!

The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood

How I Read It: Print/ Audiobook

Dates Read: 2/24/21-3/2/21

How I Found It: Book of the Month

Trigger Warnings: There are instances of abuse, including manipulation, physical, and sexual abuse.

When I saw the cover of this book, I was all in. I will say that this book is 100% not what I was expecting on a romance level, but I learned a lot about the feelings and emotions of trying to come to the US with the hope of earning the American Dream.

Let’s be real, Anvar Farris was not destined to be a “good” muslim. He questions everything, has differing views on the world, and he never memorizes the Quran. When his parents moved the family to San Francisco, CA, Anvar was ready for the new experience. He fell in love, went to college for English, and felt like he had his place in the world. But when his relationship fell apart after a disagreement of religious beliefs, Anvar finds his life in turmoil. When his mother experiences a very racist situation, Anvar goes to law school to become a lawyer. He ends up getting a case, but hs client ends up dead after a bomb strike in Syria. Feeling helpless, Anvar stops living, forcing him to take charity in order to have a place to live.

Safwa was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. After her mother’s death, her father has to start working for the Americans in order to keep the food on the table. But when he is taken by the Americans, Safwa tries to take care of her crippled brother. Eventually, she has to leave her brother behind, forcing her uncle to take care of him in his last days. When her father returns to her, Safwa has to withstand his wrath. But when she meets a man, Qais, who might be able to get her out of Afghanistan once and for all, she is willing to pay the price. Once she lands in America, she tries to avoid Qais, but the deal that she made continues to catch up to her. She meets Anvar, and the relationship that they forge gives her an idea to hopefully earn the freedom she came to America for.

In my opinion, the book is a little dense. However, I also listened to this book more often than I normally do. I think that this is one of those books that I recommend that you listen to it over reading it, but that may also be what worked best for me. There were times where the timeline was slightly confusing to me, but otherwise, think that this book is pretty easily accessible for the average reader. I think overall, 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!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 10/25/20-10/31/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month, Personal Recommendation

Did I hit my steering wheel on my way home from work because of this book? Maybe. Was the older man in the car beside me completely concerned for my well-being? Probably. Is that the power of this book? Absolutely.

Adeline, aka Addie, was in Villon in 1714 when her parents found her a husband. Hoping to be free, Addie began praying to all the gods to save her from her marriage. But when the sun set, Addie didn’t pay attention, finding herself praying to the gods of the dark. This god’s main currency is souls, and Addie ended up promising her soul after a lifetime of infinite freedom.

“Infinite freedom” is obviously a trick, and Adeline becomes a ghost. The second that she is out of someone’s eyesight, she is completely forgotten, with no ability to leave a mark of her own. Her only way out? To surrender her soul to the god of darkness.

Quickly, the deal becomes a war. The darkness, who Addie named Luc, is the only “person” who can remember her. But as he said, there is power in words and ideas, and soon Addie tries to find ways to outsmart Luc’s curse. And as we continue through this story, we watch their game of chess unfold move by move.

300 years later, Addie meets Henry, and suddenly she is remembered. As she tries to understand how this could be possible, she thinks that maybe she found a way around the darkness. As we switch between Addie’s 300 years and 2014, we learn about both the lack of and abundance of survival, love, and power.

So when this book was first offered to me as a Book of the Month option, I was hesitant. I am not a big fan of fantasy, and I just didn’t think I would enjoy it. When my friends from college started recommending it, I decided to give it a chance, and man, was it the right decision.

It was a little slow to get into, in my opinion, but the payoff was a million times worth the effort put in. I truly believe I could have a hours long conversation about the terms of Addie’s deal, any potential plot holes, or just the book itself with my friends, which puts this one pretty high up on the list for me. And while I personally think that Henry’s origin story is dumb, I realize that that is probably the point, so I won’t knock the story on that.

For the people who are not really interested in fantasy novels, this book really isn’t one. While the overall premise is supernatural, this book is more about the human condition, and that is why I think this book truly is for everyone. I am going to give this book 4.75 out of 5 stars, and I hope you pick it up soon!

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 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!

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 2/18/20-2/21/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

This was a wild card for me. I have statistically not enjoyed fantasy novels, but there is so much humor in this book that it doesn’t feel like a normal fantasy novel. I had to catch myself for a minute because I was going to say it was different than any other novel in the genre, but the humor aspect is very similar to Ninth House. Along with that book, I will happily be reading the sequel to these novels whenever they come out!

Aaslo is a forester in the land of Aldrea. He grew up with his “brother in all things”, Matthias, who is the prophetic savior of the world. But when Matthias is killed, Aaslo decides to taken on Matthias’ mission to save the world. In order to prove to the king that the savior is dead, Aaslo had to carry his head to the palace. Upon entering the city, he meets two thieves named Peck and Mory, who become part of his gang of misfits. The king essentially said he wouldn’t touch the situation with a 10-foot-pole, causing Aaslo to seek help from someone else. Trying to find the next place of support, Aaslo meets Teza, a healer.

Intermingled with Aaslo’s story is the story of Myropa. She is a reaper, meaning she takes the souls of dead people and returns them into the Sea of Transcendence, and that she is associated with the gods. She begins to follow Aaslo in order to report back to the gods as to what is going on in the savior pathway. She gives us insight into how the gods are manipulating the world in order to fulfill the prophecy.

I love the humor in this book. I would say that this is a fantasy comedy (or comedy fantasy, however you want to phrase it) in that both parts feel equally identifying for this novel. I do think that for people who are head over heels in love with fantasy novels, this book might not be as good, but it allows people who aren’t as interested in fantasy to explore a new genre.

As for the fantasy element, I personally liked that we got a look in on the gods. I did think the whole adventure-esque story was extremely confusing and felt more like a means of connecting fantasy elements than because she was telling a real story. Some of the mage stuff was a little confusing (which if you have a print copy of the book, there are indexes to provide context), but I really enjoyed the audiobook of this novel.

I was extremely nervous as I was approaching the end because I wasn’t sure how this was going to end. I have said time and again that if you are going to write a series, each book should have an actual ending and not just a complete cliffhanger. I think that this book does have somewhat of a resolution, but obviously it sets up for another novel, so there is a cliffhanger ending. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, but I think that value can change depending on how the series ends.

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!

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 2/3/20-2/4/20

How I Found It: Book of the Month

A young girl on the fetal alcohol syndrome spectrum has an adoration for vikings. She believes that in order for her to be a viking, she needs a fair maiden, to get money for her hoard, to love and maintain her tribe, and listen to the wise man (aka her therapist). Throughout this book, we watch as our viking, Zelda, goes on her quest to become legendary.

Zelda’s brother, Gert, is trying to supply a life for his sister. Many people say that she couldn’t become independent, and he has continued to work and go to school, both things that many people say he couldn’t do either. He finds himself asking for help from a drug dealer, which then puts him in the position of working for him.

This book is an interesting discussion about what is capable of a person, and how mental/ development health issues don’t necessary impede your ability to become independent, and how determination and hard work are the main factors. It reminds me a lot of The Reckless Oath We Made, which I also highly recommend you read.

The main character has some mental retardation, so the majority of the book sounds stilted. I don’t think that it is too bad, especially when you are physically reading it instead of having it read to you. There are moments that seem real awkward, especially when she plans losing her virginity to her boyfriend. There are many times I wish I could walk through the book and help her understand situations, but as the book continues, we see how more educated about the world she becomes. I think that this book will be a book that people will remember for a while, and I hope you all will read it! I give it 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!