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How Beautiful We Were
How Beautiful We Were: A Novel | Imbolo Mbue
From the celebrated author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers comes a sweeping, wrenching story about the collision of a small African village and an American oil company. We should have known the end was near. So begins Imbolo Mbue's devastating second novel, How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells of a people living in fear amid environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of cleanup and financial reparations to the villagers are made--and ignored. The country's government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interest. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. Their struggle will last for decades and come at a steep price. Told from the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community's determination to hold on to its ancestral land and a young woman's willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people's freedom.
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Pinta
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^^ p 359 generational differences “It marvels us how much suffering we bore, our parents bore, our ancestors bore, so our children could own cars and forget Kosawa.”

^^ 126 children “Only when we became parents did we realize how we could harm our children in an attempt to clean out for them the smothering decay of this world.”

^^25 “We wanted to be overcome with madness like Konga and relish the fleeting ecstasy wrought of fearlessness…”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Polyphonic narrative in clear, straightforward voice. Members of a fictional West African village fight environmental damage inflicted by foreign oil company. Children sickened & dying, government supporting corporations at expense of citizens, NGOs supportive but limited. No easy answers. Choice to stand against injustice. P 49 “I know nothing about how a girl makes men pay for their crimes, but I have the rest of my life to figure it out.” 2021

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anushareflects
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Pickpick

In essence, this is a story of colonial experience in many ways. Only in this case the coloniser is a toxic corporation that steals, appropriates, and destroys native land. The story is interesting for sure but could have been held together much tighter - it was far too long with repetitive descriptions. But makes for a compelling read.

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DivineDiana
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Current IRL Book Club read. Looking forward to reading this author again. I did like her book “Behold the Dreamers.”

Lindy Ooooh! You have a treat in store. I loved this. 9mo
DivineDiana @Lindy The story is building and I am enthralled. 9mo
Lindy @DivineDiana I found the collective voice very effective. 9mo
61 likes1 stack add3 comments
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BookwormM
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Pickpick

#ReadAroundTheWorld #Cameroon

Author is from Cameroon story is set in a fictional African country where western oil company aided by corrupt despotic leader is poisoning the land leading to the deaths of the village children.

Lack of justice leads to revolutionary actions.

Great characters who show how easy it is to cross the line when no one hears your voice.

A book that sadly could apply to many countries

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Becker
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this as I read it a few weeks ago but it has really stayed with me. It was so tragic and even now - many books later, I still remember the exact feeling I had when I was reading it. It‘s a good example of truth found in fiction. ☠️

32 likes1 stack add
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sprainedbrain
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Pickpick

In as much as one can enjoy a truly heartbreaking, sad story… I enjoyed this book. Mbue‘s writing is, as usual, lyrical and compulsively readable, it‘s full of great characters, but wow, it‘s so bleak—even more so when you consider how realistic it is for actual African countries exploited by corporate greed.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My choice for #ReadAroundTheWorld #Cameroon… it‘s set in a fictional country, but the author is from Cameroon so I‘m counting it!

rockpools I do need to get to this - but not sure I‘m up for bleak this month! 11mo
BookwormM This is my book as well I am at 20% and enjoying it 11mo
77 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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Abailliekaras
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Bailedbailed

I loved ‘Behold The Dreamers‘ but found this slow and bleak. Mbue has a warm, engaging and compassionate writing style and I‘m sure the book is a rewarding read, but I couldn‘t get into it.

Megabooks 💯 agree 12mo
Cathythoughts Oh dear! I loved Behold the Dreamers Too 👍❤️ 12mo
shawnmooney And I bailed on Dreamers, so maybe I‘d get along with this one? 😂😂💕💕 12mo
See All 6 Comments
Abailliekaras @Megabooks I‘m glad I‘m not the only one. 12mo
Abailliekaras @Cathythoughts I wanted to love this one! Don‘t let me put you off. 😬 12mo
Abailliekaras @shawnmooney only one way to find out! 😂😂 12mo
38 likes6 comments
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BookwormM
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Chosen my book for #Cameroon what is everyone else going for?

Currey I thought I would read 12mo
rockpools I‘ve only just got back to my Trinidad book 🤦🏻‍♀️ - To Paradise got in the way! I actually have something by your author on my own shelves, so for Cameroon I‘m thinking 12mo
Currey I have not yet been able to find anything for Comoros 12mo
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Simona I‘m finishing today …. and I have mixing feelings 12mo
BookwormM @Simona @Currey I still don‘t even know where Comoros is 🤣🤣 12mo
BookwormM @rockpools I considered that one then chose the tagged due to setting 12mo
sprainedbrain I‘m reading the tagged book too! 12mo
TorieStorieS I almost went with that one but then realized I already had a Cameroon title on my TBR shelf! 12mo
38 likes10 comments
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Lindy
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Pickpick

Told from six points of view, one of which is first person plural (The Children) this moving tale is of people determined to gain redress for the environmental damage of ongoing oil extraction on their land. Poisoned water, air and soil. Children dying. It‘s a universal story—tragic, yet epic. Also, inspiring, for their faith that an insignificant village of people in Africa can make a powerful corporation & a corrupt government pay attention.

Lindy BTW, I used the cover of a translated edition because I‘m not fond of the North American cover with its white clay arms. 12mo
Lindy I listened to the audiobook, an excellent production with six different narrators reading the different viewpoints. 12mo
38 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Lindy
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Life is funny. People fighting over a piece of land that none of them can take along when death comes. How is that not funny? Everyone wanting something to make them happy, only to realize once they get it that they want something else to make them happy. How is that not funny? Life is a chase after the wind. Meaningless. Ridiculous.

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Lindy
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Sometimes the girls play separately from the boys and other times we play together, and fight each other, and when we‘re done crying and tattling to mothers who sigh and ignore us, we return to being friends, because we‘ll never belong to a group of age mates the way we belong with ours.

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Lindy
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If a man couldn‘t find solace in his own birthplace, what chance did he have at happiness? When we asked Thula the source of Austin‘s unrootedness, she wrote: “I think being born to parents from two different parts of the world made him a man from somewhere and elsewhere, but sadly, from nowhere.”

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DanaManiac
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Pickpick

4.5 ⭐️
Elements I enjoyed:
~The writing is beautiful and it was so lovely to hear about what things were like 'before'.
~There are cases where I am all for vigilante justice, and this was one of them!

Elements I disliked:
~The storyline was too close for comfort. It felt very real, in the saddest of ways.

16 likes1 stack add
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Cinfhen
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Here‘s my favorite book from March 2021 @Andrew65

A timely story of corporate greed, political corruption, inequalities, activism, colonialism and the fight to be heard. This book was beautifully drawn, and every word considered. If you enjoyed Chigozie Obioma‘s novels The Fishermen and An Orchestra of Minorities than this book will be well loved. Perfect for bookclub discussion and would work for #pop22 #ManMadeDisaster

Andrew65 Sounds a great choice. 13mo
KarenUK I‘m definitely going to use this one for #pop22…. So glad to hear you loved it. 13mo
See All 9 Comments
Cinfhen Thanks @KarenUK I did an audio/print combo. Audio was FABULOUS 🎧🙌🏻 13mo
Cinfhen Thanks @Andrew65 13mo
kspenmoll Wonderful review! 13mo
BarbaraBB In which country is it set 🤓? 13mo
Cinfhen It‘s set in a “fictional” African country @BarbaraBB 13mo
BarbaraBB Too bad 🤣 13mo
82 likes2 stack adds9 comments
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bekakins
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Pickpick

This one was a slow burn for me but got into it by the end… I liked the alternating POV chapters & was interesting to rarely get the perspective of the central characters. Depressing though!

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booksandbellyrubs
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Mehso-so

This book tells the story of an entire village exploited by a big company. Of lives being traded for profit.

It has a lot of very strong passages that really get to you. But it also has a lot of chapters that feel a bit like they're just there to fill up space, and that's a shame. It's made me sort of unsure of how to judge this one. Was it bad? Certainly not. Was it good? Meh...

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Suet624
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Pickpick

I‘m giving it a pick for the writing but overall it‘s a do-not-pick-this-book-up-if-you-know-what‘s-good-for-you. These are depressing times right now & this is the most depressing story I‘ve read in a few years. It‘s all too real & it‘s all too much. Oil companies & corrupt governments destroying a village & its residents, courageous characters who sacrifice themselves for the good of their fellow villagers. For what? Ultimately for nothing.

SamAnne Oy. This has been on my TBR but I definitely would not handle the subject matter well right now. 1y
Suet624 @SamAnne my advice is if you have any interest in protecting your heart, don‘t do it. 🥴💕 It just fed on every demoralizing fear that I have. That the bad guys, greed and capitalism always win. Protection of the individual over protection of a community. 1y
BarbaraBB Fab review but I think I‘ll wait a bit (or is that hypocrite?) 1y
Suet624 @BarbaraBB not at all. Do me a favor and find something uplifting to read. 1y
Reggie Yikes, Sue!!! 1y
57 likes5 comments
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Hestapleton
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TiminCalifornia Beautiful picture. 2y
Eggs 👏🏻🖤⚪️🖤👌🏼 2y
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JackieGreco
Pickpick

This book was a really incredible fiction. It was based on a fictional village where the people were taken advantage of by an oil company and the villages fight for their land and culture.

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abookishbutterfly
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Pickpick

The book is powerful and I do believe its potency outweighs any issues I may have had with it. Through an evident labor of love and heartache, Mbue gives readers a great deal to consider and grieve. She skillfully illustrated the nature of arrogance and the senseless silencing of those who had a right to be heard. This is an important story that deserves to be read and ruminated upon by everyone.

Full review on my Goodreads. Link in bio.

59 likes1 stack add
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GerardtheBookworm
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Pickpick

The follow up to Behold the Dreamers again reflects African culture in a fictional village of Kosowa ravaged by American capitalism from the oil corporation Pexton. As the indigenous people suffer from western greed, extremists groups rise forever changing the landscape. At the heart is native girl Thula educated in America who returns to solve her people's problem but gets more than she bargains for in this haunting book

9 likes1 stack add
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abookishbutterfly

“We were young, but we knew death to be impartial.”

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ErikasMindfulShelf
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Pickpick

Great book, but so much struggle and sadness. 4 ⭐️

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Mitch
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Exciting month ahead - 2 on the fiction list are a must! The tagged one plus Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge.

Not so excited by the non fiction this week

https://lithub.com/the-best-reviewed-books-of-the-month-3-31-2021/?utm_source=Sa...

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Tattooedteacher
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Found this in the Library, so I started a little early. Had it on my April TBR for #bookspin So far, it‘s really good.

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 2y
Come-read-with-me I just got it and can hardly wait to start reading! 2y
53 likes2 comments
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Hooked_on_books
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Pickpick

This is a marvelous book about the people of a small village in Africa being exploited by a US oil company then fighting back. It‘s also a wonderful portrait of both family and community in a way I have never and will never experience personally. Fantastic.

Cinfhen I loved this book!!! Great review \ it‘s a hard book to sum up but you managed to convey its essence 🙌🏻 2y
Hooked_on_books @Cinfhen Thanks! The funny thing is I remember, probably wrongly, someone saying this book is uplifting because the village fights the oil company and wins. Either someone‘s definition of winning is very different from mine or I‘m remembering wrong. But having that idea going in made me very confused while listening! 2y
Cinfhen Yeah/ that statement would definitely confuse me too!!! 2y
56 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Megabooks
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Bailedbailed

I tried. I know I‘m supposed to like this, but it‘s just not sticking with me. I‘m not connecting with it. #ItsNotYouItsMe I‘m sure.

I listened to 20%, put it down. Started from the beginning and listened to 48%, so yeah...I feel like I gave it a fair shot for what I‘m able to read right now. 🤷🏻‍♀️ #audiobook

BarbaraBB Oh I‘m surprised! But I completely trust your opinion 2y
Megabooks @BarbaraBB I‘m such a mood reader, but I need to connect with the characters, whether I love or hate them. I can‘t stand to feel indifferent, and that‘s what happened here. I just wasn‘t invested in what was happening in the village. 2y
vlwelser I loved this when I read it last march. I can also understand that it might make for a pretty boring audiobook. 2y
See All 6 Comments
Megabooks @vlwelser the quality of the audiobook was great. Each character had a different narrator, which definitely worked for each section, but it just wasn‘t the right book for me. I‘m glad you enjoyed it, though! 2y
Cinfhen You know I LOVED this book and gave it 5 stars BUT I knew it would be a hit or miss ... it‘s definitely the type of book you NEED to be in the mood for...and the audio is truly fabulous @vlwelser ❣️❣️This book requires DEEP concentration 2y
Megabooks @Cinfhen yes, maybe I just don‘t have the concentration for it now. I stayed on the holds list at the other library for it, so maybe at some point. 🤷🏻‍♀️ 2y
100 likes6 comments
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JustReadingJess
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Pickpick

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue is a moving story about a fictional African Village told from multiple perspectives. An American oil company causes devastating problems for the people and land.

Thank you Random House for the gifted book and Penguin Random House Audio for the gifted audiobook.

Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com/2021/03/11/book-review-how-beautiful-we-we...

85 likes3 stack adds
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Megabooks
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Listening in the car while dad has physical therapy. So far, I love it!

87 likes1 stack add
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Cinfhen
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Pickpick

SO GOOD!!! Much bolder & braver than Behold The Dreamer but still filled with subtle wit and honesty. It takes awhile for the story to build and to fully settle into the language of the villagers. When Kongo, the village madman hatches a plan his action will reverberate for decades to come. Five PLUMP stars!!! I did an audio / print combo and both mediums were wonderful. Multi cast narration was helpful in establishing certain characters.

Cinfhen Can‘t wait to hear your thoughts @Megabooks 2y
emilyhaldi Ooohhhh 5 plump stars! The sign of a fantastic book ☺️🌟 2y
Megabooks Not reading this yet because I don‘t read reviews of books I‘m currently reading, but I did see those first few words! 2y
See All 11 Comments
Deblovestoread I loved Behold The Dreamers. Looking forward to this one. 2y
Cinfhen Definitely a slow burn @emilyhaldi but so worth the effort/ it‘s a little more allegorical than Behold the Dreamers @Kdgordon88 but something magical and more powerful. I don‘t think it‘s going to be an easy pick for everyone but I hope others will enjoy it as much as I did. 2y
Cathythoughts This sounds good. I loved Behold the Dreamers & I‘m on the lookout for a new audio 🤔👍🏻❤️ 2y
Cathythoughts And I live the title ❤️ 2y
BarbaraBB This book is suddenly all over Litsy! Sounds good 2y
Cinfhen It published today @BarbaraBB and it has been highly anticipated by many...I loved it but I‘m not sure if you‘ll have the patience for it. It‘s different from Behold The Dreamers @Cathythoughts but I suggest sampling an audio excerpt. The multicast narration was wonderful 🙌🏻🖤🎧 2y
Kalalalatja I really hope my library gets the audio for this, I‘m so excited for it! 2y
BarbaraBB I‘m pretty impatient, that‘s true. But I did like Behold the Dreamers. I‘ll wait for a bit! 2y
97 likes4 stack adds11 comments
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Cinfhen
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I broke down @Megabooks and used my Audible credit 🙌🏻BEST DECISION EVER!!! Audio is UH.MAY.ZING !!!! LOVING this book

Hestapleton I sampled this after seeing you gush and I hit add to library SO FAST. 2y
Cinfhen Yay!!! I don‘t think you‘ll be disappointed @Hestapleton it‘s a bit “wordy” in the beginning but once you get comfortable with the language & villagers the pages fly by. Im completely enraptured 💖 2y
Hestapleton @Cinfhen I really loved Behold the Dreamers, so I‘m pumped for this! Plus I love me some Chigozie Obioma, and I think I saw someone compare this to some of his books. 2y
See All 6 Comments
Kalalalatja I‘m so excited for this! 2y
Cinfhen I made that comparison too @Hestapleton Definitely felt like parts The Fishermen and parts 2y
Cinfhen It‘s different than Behold The Dreamers @Kalalalatja but this book exceeded my expectations. I think it showed the author‘s growth 🧡 2y
84 likes3 stack adds6 comments
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Cinfhen
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Publishes TODAY!!! Im still making my way through the #ARC ~ it‘s a beautifully written story, multi layered and complex but JEEZ....is it ever WORDY!!!! Set in a fictionalized African village, where a greedy American oil company has contaminated the village‘s water system from their drilling. Reminds me stylistically of An Orchestra of Minorities ( which I LOVED)!!

Megabooks I just posted that I got the audiobook from the library!! 2y
Cinfhen OMG!! The library!!!! You‘re SO LUCKY 🍀 An early bday present 🎁 🎉 @Megabooks 2y
SamAnne I have this one on hold. 2y
76 likes3 comments
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rachelm
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Pickpick

I recommend the audiobook of Imbolo Mbue's HOW BEAUTIFUL WE WERE, available tomorrow. I also highly recommend you procure it from
libroFM to support your local indie. I DO NOT recommend binging it in a single 24 hour period like I just did because 😭😭😭 full cast, multigenerational narrative.

Anyway, thank you LibroFM for the advanced audio copy in exchange for my honest review!

https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9780593209943

Prairiegirl_reading I love a good full cast multigenerational audiobook! I‘ll have to add this to my wish list! 2y
65 likes2 comments
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Lauren.Archer
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Pickpick
BarbaraBB That pic! Is that the cover? 2y
Lauren.Archer @barbarabb yep, it kind of takes you aback. 2y
BarbaraBB Intriguing! 2y
59 likes1 stack add3 comments
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shadowspeak17
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1. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, Breast and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, and The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff
2. How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue
3. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

#weekendreads

rjsthumbelina I loved Elantris! 2y
wisherwishinguponastar Just Mercy is on my TBR. I keep looking at my nonfiction and getting enthusiastic and then going back to something else. Maybe I should pick this one up first? 2y
shadowspeak17 @rjsthumbelina Oh, nice! I‘m reading it with a few friends right now. We‘re only about halfway through, but we‘re all really liking it too. 😄 2y
shadowspeak17 @booksellerofyourdiscontent Yes, you totally should. It‘s so good! And if you happen to be interested in audiobooks, that‘s how I read/listened to it (my first audiobook ever 😬). It‘s narrated by the author, and I thought it was really well done. 😊 2y
wisherwishinguponastar I was considering restarting my audible account for March! Perfect timing! 2y
31 likes5 comments
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Kat-books
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Pickpick

“A masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community‘s determination to hold on to its ancestral land and a young woman‘s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people‘s freedom.” (From the excerpt). This book is a true masterpiece, strong and fierce Thula stands for what she believes in and how important family can be.

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vlwelser
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Pickpick

This may be a candidate for Best Book of 2020. It's absolutely gorgeous.

A village in West Africa is being destroyed by an American oil company. They have polluted the air and the water and the land. The children are dying. It's stunning. I definitely recommend it.

Publication date is 6/16/2020.
I received an #ARC from #RandomHouse via #goodreads

#BookSpinBonanza book 3
@TheAromaofBooks

TheAromaofBooks Great review! 3y
ErinSBecker Ahhhhhhhhh!!! I've been waiting for this to come out and just saw yesterday that the publication got delayed to 2021. 😭😭😭😭 3y
vlwelser @ErinSBecker That stinks. It's still on Goodreads like it's coming in June. I've been reluctant to post expected dates ever since the world went haywire. 3y
42 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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Cinfhen
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Yesssssss!!!! Got approved for the new Imbolo Mbue novel 🙌🏻❤️Thank you #NetGalley #RandomHousePublishing

charl08 Ooh, lucky! What a cover, too. 3y
merelybookish Congrats! I just stacked this on Goodreads! 3y
Cinfhen Yesssss @charl08 can we discuss this GORGEOUS cover!??!!!!?? 3y
See All 14 Comments
Cinfhen Thanks @merelybookish how‘s the family feeling???? 3y
merelybookish @Cinfhen Oh, thanks for asking! The boys are better but my daughter is still feeling miserable. The flu is no fun and not much you can do for it. 😣 3y
squirrelbrain Ooh well done! I loved Behold the Dreamers but just checked, and this one‘s not available to request in the UK yet.... (edited) 3y
Cinfhen Keep your eyes open @squirrelbrain !!! Premise sounds great!!!!! 3y
Cinfhen The flu is terrible my son out in LA had it 😢😢😢and there was no one around to take care of him 💔 @merelybookish (edited) 3y
Kalalalatja So jealous!!! Keep ud posted! 3y
KarenUK That cover! 😍 3y
Megabooks Awesome! Congrats!! 🥳🥳 3y
Cinfhen I‘m debating bumping it up my #NetGalley list or wait, since I have other ARCs publishing in February & March @Megabooks @KarenUK @Kalalalatja (edited) 3y
Cathythoughts I really did love Behold The Dreamers.... lucky you ❤️👍🏻stacked 3y
Reviewsbylola Maybe this will be a BOTM pick! 🤞🏻 3y
85 likes4 stack adds14 comments