Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Why hello Internet! Welcome to my bad idea. For whatever reason (okay, probably Ghost Files) I have been obsessed with spooky this season. From binge listening to true crime and campfire story podcasts to binge watching true crime and ghost hunting videos, I have been Team Spoopy this year. I’m going into this box as I normally do with OUABC boxes, however I know that this is their spooky box for 2022, meaning it is their scary version. As I was opening up the box, I read the letter on the back of the print and just the writing was enough to get my heart racing, so this is going to be an adventure. I’m starting this at 10:30 pm because I love bad ideas, please pray for my soul. Look, let’s just jump into this, and if you are reading this, just know that I at least survived until the morning. I’ll see you soon at the first gift!

Page 26

“While her eyes were shut tight, the fingers of her right hand twitched around the screwdrivers.”

Just Like Home, page 26

Vera returns home to her childhood home because her mother is dying. Her father was obviously a bad dude because everyone knows his name (and not in the Cheers way), but we don’t know what he did yet. We know the house is creepy, but don’t know why yet.

Firstly, thank you to the OUABC team for breaking up this moment. This particular gift is both the most practical and the most me gift I could have gotten. I have the most wonderful nephew whose love I am desperately trying to buy, so the amount of tiny little screws I need to remove is crazy. I definitely will be using it every day of the week.

In regards of the book, I had a solid hour and a half of falling down the video rabbithole, so I’m a little on edge but not totally invested. Had I not opened this gift, I probably would be hooked because the lead up to this figure on the bed had me spooked.

Anyway my friends, I am going to finish this chapter, crash, then see you all tomorrow morning with the next gift!

Page 45

“She let out a sob of relief as the long gray rope fell to the floor…”

Just Like Home, page 45

Vera goes to sleep, bringing us to a memory from her childhood. In that memory, she is talking with her father about something underneath her bed. Her dad tells her there is nothing there, and they also have a conversation about how she can’t go down into the basement, that is her father’s place. Which knowing that he eventually gets arrested is a bit of a red flag. As Vera awakes, she is 1) in a closet which is weird and 2) cold which she then goes into a hole in her gut to pull out the thing that is making her cold. Yes, I recognize that is a weird sentence, but that is where we are.

I haven’t pulled this completely out yet, but I do appreciate that it isn’t the white stringy mess you normally get in a CVS. I’m hoping that it is a little cartoony spider web that I can hang on my fireplace during the season.

In terms of the story: I have had a rough go getting into this one. I want to be very clear, it has nothing to do with the wriiting, I think the writing is incredible. But with other responsibilities in front of me, I’ve lost track of trying to keep up with the story. I have about 3 hours to focus in on this book, so hopefully I can really get into this. Anyway friends, I will see you all in about 20 pages!

Page 67

“She held the thermos over the countertop and shook it hard from side to side until the little cylinder of paper stopped catching on the inside of the lip.”

Just Like Home, page 67

Alrighty friends, so Vera makes it through the night and the next day goes into town to get storage bins. While in town, she runs into her childhood best friend’s mom which does not go well. Vera meets James Duvall who is the artist staying at the Crowder House. Once she returns home, Vera begins working on the kitchen where she finds her father’s old thermos.

Friends, there are not a lot of things that get me super hyped, but water bottles and candles are my jam. This is such a cute water bottle that I 1000% am going to take to work with me. I was disappointed when the thermos was introduced in the previous pages and we didn’t get to the gift, but this guy blew me away. I’ve been getting OUABC gifts for a few years and I have received water bottles from them that were really small for my liking, but this is a full sized one that is also metal which is another plus in my heart. I cannot express how genuinely happy I am to be getting this. Okay, let’s move on.

Does it surprise anyone that I am now almost 8 hours after the last gift. I truly am so easily distracted. Anyway, I will say that I am starting to really get into this book (I promise) because my heart was hammering when Vera looked into the thermos. I was fully expecting a jump scare. But I am going to put my computer and phone away from me and see what that does, hopefully I will see you all soon!

Page 190

“…she couldn’t tell herself that she was imagining the sensation of the quilt stretching out.”

Just Like Home, page 190

Vera has continued to find more notes from her father’s journal about her. She is hoping to learn more about her father’s love since she isn’t getting it from her mother. We begin to unravel Vera’s history with her father including the time she was kissed by her male best friend and her parents’ different reactions. We also learn that Francis, Vera’s father, would kill men that he felt had a grease in them, which I am assuming is based around the adjective “slimy”. When we open this gift, we had our first real taste of something strong under Vera’s bed.

I know I said in the last gift that water bottles and candles get me hyped, but I didn’t even have blankets in my mind when I said that. Give me comfort items and you best believe I am happy. Now I know I didn’t open it up completely, but this is a woven ouija board blanket. I grew up believing that ouija boards are no joke, so I am a little hesitant around the blanket (can take the girl out of the church but can’t take the church out of the girl, am I right?) but I am surprised by the quality. It feels really soft for a woven blanket, so I am curious to see how it holds up!

We are now on night 3 and the scariest night because it is Halloween night. I as a grown adult am actively deciding to read in the dark hoping that will cause me to have less distractions. I am really starting to get into this one to the point I read past the post-it note just so I would know how the scene ended. I am so excited to keep reading, and I am hoping that since there are no more gifts that I will really fall down the rabbit-hole tonight!

Final Thoughts

We really go down memory lane to understand who Francis was and what he had done. We also learn about how he was caught. As we go, we start to really build in conflict with James, even so far as he claims that he is the rightful owner of the house. The intensity continues to build until we eventually find out what is under the bed and how we can finally reach a resolution to this situation.

Listen friends, I got really into this. I ended up finishing around 1 AM, and I wanted to end still feeling the aftereffects of a haunting. Unfortunately, the ending just didn’t do it for me. It felt to me like we were trying really hard to tie everything up in a few pages and I almost wish we didn’t. I think the story would have been so much better if we never knew what lived under the bed. Like it felt like we found out too much at the end, but I think it would have been better to have something still up in the air. Something about having so much resolve left me feeling like “oh… okay I guess” which is really disappointing for how amazing the writing was.

For someone who is looking for a spooky tale, this one’s for you. There were a few times where I was mentally preparing myself for the jump scare coming at me. The jump scares were a little obvious, I was ready a page or so ahead of them, but it hit the spooky bells for me. I don’t recommend it for my friends who have a hard time reading scary novels (no shame in the book game, I only recently started getting into scary novels), I don’t recommend this one. It is just a little too much for general audiences. Ultimately, I am going to give this a 4.5 star rating for the writing, but a 3.75 for the book as a whole.

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!

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 12/23/20

How I Found It: Once Upon a Book Club/ Book of the Month

The 3×5 print from the Christmas 2020 box

Hello friends and happy holidays! Before I go into this book, I want to stress that I know nothing about this book. I am going into this book with you guys as well, so let’s jump in and I will see you all at the first present!

Page 144

“Mom pulls her hair back into a bun, slips on her Mrs. Claus apron, and takes the wooden spoon from my hand, wordlessly telling me that she’ll take it from here.”

In a Holidaze, page 144

In a cabin in Utah, Mae struggles to understand how she ended up making out with her family friend, Theo, especially when she has a huge crush on his brother, Andrew. When she learns that this may be her last trip to the Utah cabin, Mae finds herself wishing for the opportunity to be happy. Suddenly, a car crash derails her, and she wakes up on the flight leading to the exact same trip she just finished. With a bit of a Groundhog Day feeling (says from someone who has never seen Groundhog Day), Mae continues to relive her trip until she reaches happiness.

As for the apron, it is a little on the cheaper side, but I have someone who absolutely loves aprons, so I will be sure to get this one to her the second that the pandemic lets up!

Page 164

“‘Dude.’ He points upward. ‘You two are under the mistletoe.'”

In a Holidaze, page 164

Okay, I am not a mistletoe person, at all. I personally think this is a really dumb tradition. But I do appreciate that this is plastic so that it can be used over and over for Christmases to come!

Page 281

“In my sketch, the figure is easily in his eighties, but clearly Andrew…. We’re sitting on the porch swing of the cabin, side by side, fingers interlaced….”

In a Holidaze, page 281

I was terrified that this was going to be a close up on people. If you know anything about me, then you know that receiving portraits of people that I don’t know is the same as inviting a ghost into my house. So I am incredibly happy that this picture is 1) not creepy and 2) not the main gift that they are trying to give us. Also, I love this frame! I can’t wait to put pictures of my nephew in this!

Page 285

“I lift my foot, pick the item off the bottom, and study the silver object.”

In a Holidaze, page 285

Fun fact about Papa Slick: he is obsessed with this type of Hershey’s Kisses. When we enter December, almost every year, he will buy 3 packs of the Candy Cane kisses, and would take handfuls of these up to his office. Truly, I grew up on these, so I am so incredibly excited by this gift.

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 2020 Advent Calendar Day 12

The Promise by Hazel Prior

I was not expecting Magnus to be illiterate. And while I don’t actually think that this is how to become literate, this is still an incredibly cute story.

This is a terrible picture, but this is an Alice in Wonderland blanket. So in their first advent calendar, I got a blanket with the same script pattern that is in so many of their gifts and packaging. That blanket is still one of my favorite blankets, and I use it to this day. Comparatively, this blanket is a lot thinner, and slightly less quality. And while I don’t want to seem ungrateful, I want you guys to know what I am thinking as I am opening the presents.

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 2020 Advent Calendar Day 11

The Right Path by Krista Holly

Out of all of the stories, I think this is one of the top ones that I didn’t get into. I think that if this story was expanded or shrunk, it probably would have been better, but because of the size of the story, it didn’t flow very well in my opinion.

...sitting in our camping chairs and taking in each other like we're just now seeing all the connections, he reaches into his pocket, pulls out a small box and opens it.

I’ll be honest, the ring is already on my finger as I am writing this review. I absolutely love it. As for the stool thingy, I probably will never use it. It is annoying to try and put away, and it is incredibly small, but I am saying all of this as someone who never camps.

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 2020 Advent Calendar Day 10

Long Overdue by Wendy Waltrip

I cannot explain to you how much I love this concept. Heads up for anyone who is trying to date me (though I feel like I am going to already regret putting this energy out in the world), send me cute notes like this. I think everyone wants to feel noticed, and that includes me!

*Copied from Amazon*

How long does it take to travel twenty light years to Earth?

How long does it take to fall in love?

To the universe, eight days is a mere blip, but to Matty Jones, it may be just enough time to change his life.

On the hot summer day Matty’s dad leaves for good, a strange girl suddenly appears in the empty field next to the Jones farm—the very field in rural Pennsylvania where a spaceship supposedly landed fifty years ago. She is uniquely beautiful, sweet, and smart, and she tells Matty she’s waiting for her spaceship to pick her up and return her to her home planet. Of course she is.

Matty has heard a million impossible UFO stories for each of his seventeen years: the conspiracy theories, the wild rumors, the crazy belief in life beyond the stars. When he was a kid, he and his dad searched the skies and studied the constellations. But all of that is behind him. Dad’s gone—but now there’s Priya. She must be crazy…right?

As Matty unravels the mystery of the girl in the field, he realizes there is far more to her than he first imagined. And if he can learn to believe in what he can’t see: the universe, aliens…love…then maybe the impossible is possible, after all.

I’ll be completely honest, out of the books from this calendar, this is the least likely one I would pick up to read. I absolutely love the cover art, and I feel like I probably would have selected this book by the cover, but the synopsis is not drawing me in this time around (which is totally okay. Not all books were made for me).

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 2020 Advent Calendar Day 9

Memories at Maple Grove Inn by Kristine Eckart

This feels like the start of a really cool novel! I always find moments where unexplainable phenomena occur incredibly romantic, even if in this case it isn’t a relationship romance.

A patch of white with script handwriting caught her eye. Thinking she may be discovering an old letter or something, she reached in. She pulled out a steering wheel cover, decorated all over with the same script she had initially spotted.

Wow, who would have thought that a car was in that little box. Just kidding, but honestly, how cool is this? This one completely threw me for a loop, but it is already on my steering wheel and I am ready to vroom vroom.

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 2020 Advent Calendar Day 8

Little Treasures by Juliet Madison

I have definitely read books similar to this story, although I cannot for the life of me remember what books they are right now. I love me a treasure hunt, and I always find stories where people return home to find that that is where they belong make my little heart happy.

Sienna accepted the gift and carefully slid her finger under the wrapping paper, opening it up to reveal a small cardboard package, and inside, a coaster set. But not just any coaster set. It had the book cover of Little Women on each one.

We are not really coaster people, but I love this one! Fun fact, my great-grandparents (I think?) gave both my brother and I classic novels for our birth, and mine was little women. I have yet to see the movie, but that is 100% a goal for 2021!

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 2020 Advent Calendar Day 7

Share Your Joy by Abi Steer

Very beautiful story, but not one that kept my attention (am I okay?). I also am well aware that we already received a notebook earlier in the calendar, but the story kinda led us to a completely different gift than what we goot (not that I am complaining, this gift is pretty sick).

*Copied from Amazon*

Some bodies won’t stay buried.

Some stories need to be told.

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the present and the past.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations–both yesterday and today.

I am hoping that this year, I will be featuring more novels about the fight for racial equality around the world, but specifically in the United States. With 2020 bringing a rise in the fight for the Black Lives Matter movement, I am hoping to include more novels that bridge this blog towards justice and equality. I am excited to pick this one up and read it, and I will happily share with you guys my thoughts once I get 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!

Once Upon a Book Club 2020 Advent Calendar Day 6

Before it Snows by Jenny L. Smith

Fun fact about me: I want a goat. I live in a farming community, so I am constantly around cows and chickens, but give me a goat, and I immediately become 6 years old. I loved reading this story, and I am slightly disappointed that the gift wasn’t a stuffed goat.

Kara wrapped the ribbon around the handle, tugging it as she pulled the strands through the loop she created.

HOLY POOPSTICKS! The picture does not do this justice, but 1) it is on wheels, 2) the little pouch on the front can also hold the entire tote bag so it is the size of a clutch, and 3) it is freaking cool! I cannot wait to look official toting my tote bag full of books around town!

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 2020 Advent Calendar Day 5

Lumi Blanche by Tia Aaron

I have wanted to look into more mythology, especially because I tend to stay away from fantasy novels. Since we base a lot of our history and thoughts on the mythologies from the past, I would love to get into it more. After a Wikipedia search (because that is the ultimate source of knowledge), I do not think that this is actually based on Greek mythology (especially because Snow White was originally a Grimm Fairy Tale), but it still is an incredibly cool story.

Slowly, she opens it and pulls out the green roller wand her mother always used to put on her creams.

Let’s be real, I am going to be repurposing this box. I am going to pull out some creative touches and hopefully hide the day 5 section of the book. I have never used a roller to put on moisturizer, but I am incredibly curious. My main problem is that I have a tendency to overdo it when I use something like this, so I will probably make a mess the second I try. But still, thank you!

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!