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Build Your House Around My Body
Build Your House Around My Body: A Novel | Violet Kupersmith
Part puzzle, part revenge tale, part ghost story, this kaleidoscopic novel set in Vietnam spins half a century of history and folklore into the story of a missing woman. In 1986, the teenage daughter of a wealthy family gets lost in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father and is forever changed by the experience. In 2009, pressed into a dangerous scheme by a former lover, a woman captures a rare two-headed cobra. And in 2011, a young, unhappy American living in Saigon with her sort-of boyfriend disappears without a trace. Over the course of the novel, the fates of these three women will lock together in an exhilarating series of nested narratives. Along the way, we meet a young boy sent to a boarding school in the mountains for the mtis children of French expatriates just before Vietnam declares its independence from colonial rule in 1945; two Frenchmen trying to start a business with the Vietnam War on the horizon; and the employees of the Saigon Spirit Eradication Co., called to investigate strange occurrences in a farmhouse on the edge of a forest. Each new character and timeline brings us one step closer to understanding what binds the three women together. Written with wit, ambition, and playfulness, this book takes us from sweaty nightclubs to ramshackle zoos, colonial mansions to ex-pat flats, sizzling back-alley street carts to the noisy seats of motorbikes. Spanning over fifty years and barreling toward an unforgettable conclusion, this is a fever dream about possessed bodies and possessed lands, a time-traveling, heart-pounding, border-crossing marvel of a novel.
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Cazxxx
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Pickpick

A slow burn but worth the effort. Quite weird with supernatural, horror and folklore elements which I really like. I found this addictive once I really got into it 3.5 ⭐️

Ruthiella I also recently read this and really liked it! Agree, it is a slow burn and I enjoyed puzzling it out. 3mo
Cazxxx @Ruthiella took me a while to get into it then I was hooked 3mo
40 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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Cazxxx
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This weeks reading plans. The tagged book is from the library so I shall be reading that first. Already started Burmese Days and folk tales. Giovannis room is a buddy read which we will be reading a chapter a day

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Ruthiella
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Pickpick

It was a tad long, but then I‘d be hard pressed to know what to cut. I can see the comparisons to David Mitchell‘s Ghostwritten. This book is a puzzle for the reader to put together with its time jumps and seemingly unconnected storylines. A supernatural tale of revenge set in modern day Vietnam with flashbacks to its colonial history, it also reminded me favorably of Hari Kunzru‘s White Tears.

1st completed #20in4 End Of Summer book

Andrew65 Great 👏👏👏 3mo
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Lindy
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Pickpick

This complex, polyphonic & nonlinear novel is a slow burn, mildly creepy, & greatly addictive. A lonely unmoored Vietnamese American English teacher goes missing in Saigon. Past & present overlap in multiple timelines. Women on society‘s margins are the focus, & how they deal with misogyny. Queer content; supernatural possession; snake venom as recreational drug: there‘s something for everyone who appreciates a puzzle. Audiobook read by Quyen Ngo.

vivastory This is one of my favorites of the year. I thought it was phenomenal. Great review! 👏 👏 5mo
readingjedi This sounds awesome! And when I looked on my Kindle I already have it! Result! 🤣 5mo
SamAnne Stacked. 5mo
See All 6 Comments
TrishB I just couldn‘t get into this. Great review 👍🏻 5mo
Lindy @TrishB As your experience shows, it‘s not for every reader. 😊 5mo
41 likes3 stack adds6 comments
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Lindy
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She hated the old drain, hated how it was always clogging, hated that every morning she had to twirl soggy bungs of coiled hair out of it like forkfuls of spaghetti. […] She did not know how her hair could wreak the kind of plumbing havoc that it did, now that it was so short.

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MommyWantsToReadHerBook
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Pickpick

This was not what I expected but still good! The jumpy timeline confused me quite a bit. This may be a great read for people who generally like the supernatural and was definitely unique.

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Karisa
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Pickpick

What a wild, magical realism ride set in Vietnam! It took a little to warm up, but then everything grows beautifully strange.

I was confused at first because the chapters were not sequential and the three sets of characters took time for their stories to braid together. However, once the fantasy (ghosts, fortune tellers, powerful creatures) took over, this was an amazing read!

vivastory One of my favorites of the year 6mo
Karisa @vivastory Agreed! It‘s a gorgeous book. So many layers! 6mo
jlhammar Yes, I thought the braid on the cover so perfectly represented how the story was told. Great review! 6mo
Karisa @jlhammar Exactly! I love it when the cover perfectly illustrates a book. This one did so on a deeper level. Hair also plays a recurring role in the book *shudder* 6mo
46 likes3 stack adds4 comments
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Evita
Pickpick

3 out of 5

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Nebklvr
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Panpan

The best thing about this book is its cover. The worst is a combination of indifferent characters, a mixture of chaotic timelines, and a “plot” that does nothing but irritate.

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Addison_Reads
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Pickpick

Definitely a favorite! 💚

What starts as a book about a girl's disappearance quickly becomes something much different. The non-linear chapters kept me on my toes, my curiosity growing with each new section wondering how it would all come together.

I'm a fan of strange books that leave me feeling unsettled and this book does that and also delivers a uniquely amazing story.

vivastory I can confidently say this will make my best of the year list. I can't wait to read more of her work. 7mo
43 likes1 comment
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vivastory
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Pickpick

In a scene wholly original, yet calling to mind E.A. Poe in the best possible way, Vietnamese American teacher Winnie disappears at the beginning of Kupersmith's novel. The novel then proceeds in non-linear chapters filled with disquieting incidents & characters who reappear in later chapters but aren't instantaneously recognizable (they themselves disappear in a sense). The chapters & characters initially appear unconnected, but Kupersmith ties👇

vivastory everything together at the end & it is fantastic, Featuring blurbs by Karen Joy Fowler, Kelly Link & Paul Tremblay, this is a hard novel to classify.. I'm not going to lie: there are several scenes that made me squirm. Kupersmith has a real knack for getting under the reader's skin, but there is not really body horror. This is literary horror along the lines of Victor Lavalle & Catriona Ward that I would recommend to (edited) 7mo
vivastory everyone, unless you have a fierce aversion to snakes. A favorite of the year! More disquieting novels not set in America, please. (edited) 7mo
TheKidUpstairs Oooh, great review. Sounds intriguing. I already had it stacked, but you've moved it up the list! 7mo
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merelybookish Well now I am regretting my decision to not borrow it when my hold came through. (The audiobook is long and I wasnt sold on it.) Will have to request it again. 7mo
vivastory @TheKidUpstairs I will be curious to see what you think. It seems disconnected, but I promise it comes together. 7mo
vivastory @merelybookish It was a bit long. I read half of it last night, so once I saw where it was heading I couldn't stop. I loved the Saigon setting. 7mo
Leftcoastzen Snakes !why‘d it have to be snakes! 7mo
jlhammar Great review! I was so impressed by this book. Can't believe it didn't make the Women's Prize shortlist. I definitely want to try her other book. 7mo
batsy I'm super intrigued now! I'm not sure why I thought this wasn't for me ... Your excellent review has made me reconsider. 7mo
vivastory @Leftcoastzen 😂 🐍 7mo
vivastory @jlhammar I agree about the Women's Prize. I'm also really disappointed that it wasn't included in the Tournament of Books. It's a real genre bender, so I think that it is difficult to set expectations with it. I will def be reading more of her work. 7mo
vivastory @batsy I think that you will like it. If I recall correctly, you have read Lavalle...it's a bit like Lavalle. In Saigon. 7mo
vivastory @merelybookish I'm not sure what you would make of it. I would say give it 50-70 pages & see what you think. I wouldn't worry about it being disjointed, because it does tie in together later on. 7mo
Megabooks Stacking!! 7mo
batsy Yes, I've only read The Changeling but boy was it a trip! 7mo
Addison_Reads Great review. I started this today and I'm loving it. It has the perfect amount of weird for me. 7mo
61 likes2 stack adds16 comments
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vivastory
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Well, I finally finished a book 📚🤘 I actually focused all day & finished 2 of my 3 current reads today. Will post reviews of them tomorrow. One of them is one of the best that I've read this year. 💙

FlameImperium Saw that Star Wars book in the shops the other day, the cover caught my attention but I didn‘t buy it. Interested in hearing if it‘s worth getting. 7mo
BarbaraBB This sounds so good. 7mo
MaureenMc 🙌 7mo
sarahbarnes Can‘t wait to hear the review! 7mo
Branwen Whoo hoo! 😄 7mo
64 likes5 comments
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vivastory
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I'm only 80 pages in, but I'm really liking this one. So far I agree with Karen Joy Fowler's quote about it being original and disturbing.

Addison_Reads I have this checked out from the library right now. Now I'm even more excited to start it. 7mo
vivastory @Addison_Reads I think that you'll like it! 7mo
DGRachel I loved this book so much! One of my faves from last year. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 7mo
vivastory @DGRachel It's full of bizarre & memorable scenes👏 7mo
BarbaraBB Looking forward to your review! 7mo
80 likes5 comments
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JillR
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Pickpick

Winnie moves to Saigon to teach. She feels an invisible outsider and then she disappears. Winnie‘s story is told in a fragmented timeline interspersed with the stories of numerous others which slowly come together. There is lots of vomit and, erm, hair. There are snakes, ghosts and mysterious smoke. It can be unsettling and unpleasant, and at times it veers into horror. Overall it wasn‘t for me, but was very clever 👇

JillR The author cites David Mitchell as an influence, and at times there was a touch of Stephen King. I also read a review that compared the smoke to elements of TV show Lost. So if you love those things, you may well love this! 7mo
squirrelbrain My thoughts too Jill - not for me, but very good! A bit too clever for me…. I didn‘t know what was going on a lot of the time! 😁 7mo
JillR Me too @squirrelbrain, no idea at times, wished I‘d taken notes! This read was for our book club and most of the others really enjoyed it. I must admit I thought this might make the Womens Prize shortlist even though I didn‘t love it 7mo
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TrishB @JillR @squirrelbrain I couldn‘t finish it! 7mo
squirrelbrain Yes, I put it on ‘my‘ shortlist too, even though it was much further down the list in terms of my favourites. You know me @TrishB - I *have* to finish a book, it‘s very rare that I bail! 🤣 7mo
JillR @trishb @squirrelbrain I‘ll be honest, if this wasn‘t a book club read (that I suggested!) I might have bailed, but actually overall I‘m glad I didn‘t. One of those books I feel I should get a little prize for finishing 😆 7mo
JillR @trishb on an entirely different note I‘m meeting my book club for the very first time IRL in Liverpool today - am I right that‘s where you are? Any hidden gem bookshops we should know about?! 😊 7mo
TrishB News From Nowhere on Bold Street 😁 there is also a big Oxfam on Bold Street with a good selection of books! Enjoy. 7mo
JillR @trishb fab, thank you! 📚 7mo
JillR Loved News from Nowhere @trishb and got a Maggie O‘Farrell in Oxfam to add to my slowly growing collection of her back catalogue, thanks for the tips! 7mo
TrishB Oh cool 👍🏻 glad it was a good day. 7mo
39 likes11 comments
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Brimful
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Half way through this and it‘s an unexpected and highly original journey!

charl08 Agreed! And an amazing cover. 7mo
jlhammar It really is. I recently watched this conversation between Kupersmith and David Mitchell that you might enjoy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=226bo3ggbys
7mo
Brimful Thanks for that. I will watch it! 7mo
15 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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BookishTrish
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Pickpick

I like novels like Homecoming that jump around in voice and time to form a coherent polyphonic picture. This was like that but with less of a sense of how the jumps were connected until the (hurried) ending. I was very much here for the horror and folklore. Any time there‘s a two headed cobra, count me in! This is five for me from the #womensprize longlist; so far they‘ve all had something special about them.

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jlhammar
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Pickpick

Original, strange, kind of creepy. The story jumps around to different timelines with different POVs, but it all fits together in a very satisfying way.

My eighth read from the #womensprize longlist. I think this is one of those books where my appreciation will grow the more I think about it. Would probably make a good book club pick. I‘d like to see it on the shortlist.

charl08 I hope it makes the shortlist too! 7mo
squirrelbrain It was a bit weird for me, although I did kind of enjoy it. It wouldn‘t make ‘my‘ shortlist, but I think it should be on the actual shortlist, as it was so clever and unusual, if that makes sense! 7mo
jlhammar @squirrelbrain Yes, makes total sense. It is a weird one. Enjoy isn't quite the right word for me (definitely doesn't have my heart like Sorrow & Bliss). More like I found myself just going with the strangeness and ultimately found it pretty cool and was impressed. Lots of symbolism, I think. Not sure I even caught everything. Makes me want to give her short story collection a try sometime. 7mo
charl08 I didn't know she'd written anything else, will look for those stories. 🙌 7mo
53 likes4 stack adds4 comments
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emmaturi
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Pickpick

Another longlisted book for the Women's Price and another one I enjoyed. Set in Vietnam in different decades, where two women disappear. It has ghosts and supernatural things going on.

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squirrelbrain
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Pickpick

This was a wild read, and I didn‘t understand some of it (probably my fault for being a speed-reader) but I still enjoyed it for the most part.

It‘s a strange mix of mystery, fantasy and horror that jumps around in time, and to many different locations, including a zoo, the jungle, a language school and a nightclub. Whilst it‘s not one of my favourite reads from the #womensprize long list, I can see it making the shortlist.

Oryx It's so weird, isn't it? I definitely didn't get all of it, but I liked the atmosphere of it. 8mo
squirrelbrain Yes, that exactly it @Oryx - a very dark atmosphere that I wouldn‘t usually like, but I did here. 8mo
charl08 Kind of hoping this one wins... 8mo
JillR I just finished this and am not quite sure what I just read! Not my sort of read overall, but I did appreciate the cleverness of it. I do feel like you need to read it at least twice to fully understand it though! 8mo
squirrelbrain It sounds like you felt just like me! @JillR 🤔 8mo
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Butterfinger
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Panpan

Fell in love with the cover. Was mislead by the cover. Too many times I was sick to my stomach by the food or hair. It was YUCK!!! interesting concept - revengeful ghosts within Vietnamese folklore.

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charl08
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Pickpick

Blurbers on my copy contrast with the new edition images online: interesting!

Great novel, recommended if you like historical fiction, supernatural mysteries and cross-cultural encounters.
I hope it gets shortlisted.

#WomensPrize #2022Longlist

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charl08

What made it so sweet was its unsustainability. They were teetering on the edge: the Worm was knocking on the door, Tan was going to explode if he didn't start eating vegetables again soon, and any day now, Binh would catch her final snake and he would have to tell her the truth. But he wished it could stay like this forever, always seven cobras in the barrels and a little more time before he had to ruin everything.

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charl08
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...they watched the evening's regular lineup of street performers: first there was the man with an amplifier strapped to the back of his bicycle who sang ballads and circulated through the crowds with a fistful of stale candies for sale; then the pair of fire breathers...armed with old Sprite bottles full of kerosene; and finally the man who took a live snake [and] fed it up one of his nostrils, and then pulled it back out of his mouth.

charl08 ("Jesus," muttered Susan, wobbling to her feet and hailing a taxi for herself. "When the snake-nose man shows up you know it's time to leave.") 9mo
48 likes2 comments
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charl08

...he was the one who had to chase after sacrificial chickens when they escaped, drag heavy teak furniture into arrangements the Fortune Teller deemed more pleasing to the spirits, and revive old women with eucalyptus oil when they fainted during exorcisms. He was the one sent outside to burn joss paper during a monsoon, crouching damp and miserable beneath a rusty umbrella while, inside, First Assistant...pretended to chat with the dead.

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jlhammar
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#bookmail A couple more from the Women‘s Prize longlist. I need to get reading!

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Jee_HookedOnBookz
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Pickpick

What a fun ride! Absolutely loved this book. Great for readers who don‘t mind a slow read and doing a little bit of work, figuring out the puzzle and putting the pieces together.

Full review here: https://bit.ly/3dxmip7

AmyG That‘s a great review. Now I need to read this. Thanks, Jee. 12mo
Jee_HookedOnBookz @AmyG Thank you, Amy! And always a pleasure. I'm so glad I stumbled across this because it's been a while since I read a good book 😅 12mo
49 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Cortg
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Not a great reading month, especially considering three of my finished books were audio BUT I‘m enjoying the gorgeous weather; camping, kayaking and hiking! Got to get it in before the weather gets too cold. 🚣‍♂️🥾🏕

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Viji
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Pickpick

Really enjoyed this novel set in Vietnam with alternating POV, imperfect characters, hints of mysticism. Oh, and snakes 😩

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Cortg
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Pickpick

This was a fun and strange book, for sure. It‘s a slow-burn kinda read (my favorite) about a 1/2 Vietnamese, American who goes to Saigon to get away from her family and/or find herself. The book goes back and forth in time as the story and characters slowly reveal themselves and how they interconnect about two girls who go missing decades apart. Throw in the supernatural, Vietnamese Folklore and snakes and you‘re in for an interesting ride!

Jee_HookedOnBookz I enjoyed this book until the very end. Did you get the ending about The Fortune Teller? Pray help! It‘s bugging me! 😅 13mo
Jee_HookedOnBookz Ok went back to it again to try figure it out. The last chapter, the fortune teller I was referring to above, is she the First Assistant? 13mo
Cortg @Jee_HookedOnBookz It's been a couple months since I've read this but now I want to listen to the audio book because I'm sure I missed a few things! Honestly, I'm really not sure. There was the fortune teller that works for the Saigon Spirit Eradication Co. (along with a 1st and 2nd assistant.) Is this the same forutne teller with the lottery ticket that changed the course of Winnie's future? I just downloaded the audio, time for a reread! 13mo
Jee_HookedOnBookz You mean the woman sitting in a wheelchair who sold her the lottery ticket? I don‘t think she was referred to ask The Fortune Teller 🤔 Throughout the book the Fortune Teller had been a man until the last chapter which was what confused me and got me to thinking maybe First Assistant might have assumed his identity. 13mo
40 likes4 comments
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Cortg
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My next book has a list of characters AND 3 maps! 😳

wanderinglynn I love books with maps! 💜🗺 1y
Cortg @wanderinglynn Me too! Books with maps AND a character list is a little daunting, but I‘m diving in this morning! 1y
27 likes2 comments
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Oryx
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Pickpick

This was great. It's hard to explain, but it's summed up in the inside cover as part mystery, part ghost story, part revenge story. The main mystery happens in modern Vietnam, and then it goes back and forward in time, through periods in Vietnam's history, mixing in some folklore and more mysteries, until we find out what happened. Really well written, and I found it very compelling.

alisiakae This sounds really good! 1y
underground_bks That cover is so gorgeous! 1y
TrishB Q9.99 on kindle….. 1y
rockpools Hmm, i just might… 1y
Caroline2 I‘ve bought this in my kindle! 😉 sounds good! 1y
64 likes3 stack adds5 comments
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Oryx
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I think I'm hooked on this one already - love that feeling when you get sucked straight in. Excited to see where it goes. Stunning cover too.

DGRachel Wow. That‘s a very different cover from the one I have. Enjoy the book. I loved it! 1y
TrishB Very tempted….currently only Q9.99 on kindle… 1y
darklydreaming That IS a stunning cover! 😍 1y
Caroline2 Oh this sounds good and for Q9.99 I‘m in. ? 1y
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DGRachel
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Pickpick

WTF did I just read? The cover looks like a family drama/LitFic kind of thing that I would never pick up. The flap calls it “part puzzle, part revenge tale, part ghost story”. The reality is a fever dream of a horror novel and I loved every freaking minute of it! THIS is the novel I wish I‘d read for #readingasia2021 #vietnam The prose is a little overdone, like the author is trying too hard to “show, not tell” but it lulls you into the sights 1/

DGRachel and sounds of Vietnam. It‘s a little tricky at first to keep track of the characters, as the chapters jump backwards and forwards in time, centered around the disappearance of one of the MCs, but the way Kupersmith ties everything together is utterly brilliant. /end 1y
ChaoticMissAdventures I loved this too!! It is one of those books I loved but would be very cautious about recommending to others. I keep hoping it would be a Jenny Lawson Stranglings book pick so that the author could sell lots of copies! 1y
DGRachel @ChaoticMissAdventures There is a local indie bookstore here (Shelves Bookstore) that has a monthly subscription service where you tell the owner three genres you are open to (she has a list) and each month, she chooses a book for you. This was her July pick. 1y
ChaoticMissAdventures @DGRachel that is amazing ❤️. Indie bookstores are the biggest treasures. 1y
BarbaraBB Another unique catch I think! 1y
74 likes4 stack adds5 comments
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DGRachel
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One of my local indies has a monthly subscription service which I just joined. The first book arrived today. This looks really good. I may be shifting my July reading plans around a bit! 😍

charl08 Wow. Gorgeous cover. 1y
BarbaraBB That cover indeed 😍😍 1y
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SoManyBooksNotEnoughTime
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Pickpick

Much deeper and thought-provoking though than what I had imagined. It's also quite creepy, with some chapters deserving a horror label for the genre. I appreciated how it all came together in the end. Many clues and "a-ha" moments occur throughout the book but the ending still was a mystery to me until the last few pages. With important themes including feminism and colonialism, I can tell this is a book I'll be thinking about for a long time.

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ChaoticMissAdventures
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#BOOKSPIN #BOOKSPINBINGO round up for June!
Good month for me! Got to both my #bookspin and #doublebookspin - Liked on a lot, not so much the other. And yesterday I finished tagged to make 3 bingos this month (so, so close to 4!)
Thanks @thearomaofbooks so excited for July's fresh board and more off my TBR!

TheAromaofBooks Yay!! Fantastic month!!! 1y
15 likes1 comment
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ChaoticMissAdventures
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Pickpick

I really enjoyed this one. It is a bit confusing at times but if you just roll with it it is so worth it. Very much a Stranglings read.
Ghosts, hauntings, myth, mystery, and a cast of flawed characters.
Love the title, and the cover. This is an arc and the translation is a bit rough, but I am sure it will be cleaned up before release.

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ChaoticMissAdventures
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Excessive heat warning today for the PNW. We are not set up for this, we should still be having rainy grey days and this makes me anxious about fire season.
Staying in the house, curtains drawn, grateful that I ended up with the only house I viewed this winter with A/C

monalyisha Your home looks so cozy! Good luck keeping cool. ❄️ 1y
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ChaoticMissAdventures
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June reading.