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ClairesReads

ClairesReads

Joined May 2016

review
ClairesReads
Treacle Walker | ALAN. GARNER
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Panpan

Absolute, indecipherable nonsense. I can only presume that there‘s some kind deeply niche knowledge required to make any sense of this which I evidently don‘t have. Strong no from me.

Bookwomble This was my 2021 favourite read. I think you're right in alluding to its being embedded in a specific time (early/mid 20th C) and place (Northern England), & that Garner doesn't feel the need to contextualise that for readers who aren't familiar with it. There are wider & deeper things going on, I think, without claiming for myself any kind of esoteric wisdom 😊 I was born just after mid-century in Northern England, so perhaps I had a head start! 2w
31 likes1 comment
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ClairesReads
The Sentence | Louise Erdrich
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Pickpick

The Pandemic novel is a genre I am increasingly enamoured with, and Erdrich remains pitch perfect, and incisive. This novel is so much and everything all at once.

Centique I‘m so looking forward to this one! Great review 😍 2w
37 likes1 comment
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

I‘ve read a lot of domestic-ish thrillers recently and this is easily one of the best. The balance of domestic drama to actual crime is spot on, the atmosphere is tense and claustrophobic, setting effectively rendered, and the characters are suitably complex and differently problematic. The perfect weekend read.

Cinfhen Great review ♥️#stacked 2w
ClairesReads @Cinfhen thanks! Hope you like it too 2w
43 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

Like being in lit class with George Saunders when you can‘t be in lit class with George Saunders. I love fiction with every fibre of my existence, and this book reminded me of many of the reasons why I love it so much. Even better that Saunders unpacks short stories from my first real lit love, the Russians. Whether short stories, or Russian literature is your jam, if you are a reader this is a book for you. Exquisite.

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ClairesReads
Olive Kitteridge | Elizabeth Strout
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Pickpick

Exquisite, sparse, complex, authentic examination of the human condition. Why did I wait so long to read this “flawless masterpiece” (thanks for that phrase Lee 😉)

fredthemoose Oooh—just borrowed from the library! 3w
ClairesReads @fredthemoose hope you enjoy it too 3w
42 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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ClairesReads
The Reunion | Polly Phillips
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Mehso-so

The Reunion is I guess, a relatively entertaining read but ultimately it felt really derivative to me. It‘s a mean girls (and mean boys) revenge story which leans quite heavily on a past/present narrative structure in an attempt to build tension. Predictably, there‘s a twist which you can see coming. This propelled me through the last 80 pages, which still felt really derivative but in a more exciting way.

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ClairesReads
The Nineties: A Book | Chuck Klosterman
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Pickpick

A fun, but also serious, pulpy but also analytical look at some significant cultural moments of the nineties. Klosterman‘s book is by no means an exhaustive encapsulation of this moment in time, but he strikes a great balance of social, cultural. political, and economic moments to unpack. It reads like a series of podcasts. I‘m obviously the target audience and from this vantage point, Klosterman nailed it.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

I‘ve been waiting for 5 years for Rizzoli and Isles to come back, and friends, I was glad to see them. Listen to Me is the ultimate in comfort reading for me. Not the cleverest or more original crime novel you‘ll read this year, but it is a compelling read, adds a bit of depth to central and peripheral characters in this series, and ticked all the boxes that make me love reading Gerritsen‘s work.

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ClairesReads
The Colony | Audrey Magee
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Pickpick

The Colony is an absolute banger; the kind of book that really gets me going. Magee has crafted and exquisitely lyrical novel about the languages of colonisers and colonisation. It‘s cleverly constructed as a novel that is literally about the impact of colonisation on language, but the Magee‘s exploration runs much deeper than just this one facet. It‘s at once a very small, personal narrative, and simultaneously a far-reaching political critique.

TrishB Great review👍🏻 4w
jlhammar So excited for this one! I wonder if it will make the Booker longlist. I‘ve been reading such great reviews. 4w
ClairesReads @TrishB thank you 3w
ClairesReads @jlhammar I hope it does make the long list. Hope you enjoy it too 3w
Suet624 Great review. I finished it today and was so moved by it. 2w
34 likes2 stack adds5 comments
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ClairesReads
Local Gone Missing | Fiona Barton
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Panpan

Maybe a bit harsh but this was a very meh read for me. It should have fired, because it‘s got a lot of reliable components of a good mystery, and the pacing is fairly good. In spite of this I just…didn‘t really care? Like an unexciting episode of Midsomer Murders.

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ClairesReads
The Resistance Girl | Mandy Robotham
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Mehso-so

Mild, undemanding WWII-lite. If you‘re in the market for this kind of vibe, The Resistance Girl will suit you fine. I enjoyed that it was set in Norway rather than some of the more well-trodden theatres of WWII, and the Lebensborn angle was sufficiently different to the saturation of Holocaust-lite out there. It leans heavily into the lite angle, which normally vexes me, but I was happy to coast along for the ride this time.

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ClairesReads
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Panpan

Two stars feels a bit mean, but although the case that is the centre of this book is interesting it‘s construction is not. There are moments when I found this story quite compelling but ultimately foster circles around himself and his perception of events too many times in this narrative. This repetitive structure managed to make this book at once a bit dull and confusing.

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ClairesReads
Cursed Bunny | Bora Chung
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Pickpick

Absolutely bizarre, but also great, but also disturbing.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

The perfect start to holiday reading, I inhaled this in a day. Spain strikes the balance between pace and mystery with mastery. It‘s got atmospheric setting, multiple timelines, murder, intrigue, and a bit of domestic drama for good measure. A great bit of escapism.

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ClairesReads
Trust | Hernan Diaz
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Pickpick

I‘ve sat on writing a review of Trust for awhile, mostly because it‘s had me thinking. It‘s clever, structurally inventive storytelling, that challenges its reader through form and content. It‘s a book that is about a lot of things, big ideas that are woven together by connection between capitalism and fiction. I‘m still thinking about the things Diaz has to say about truth and perception, fiction and finance.

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ClairesReads
Loose Units | Paul Verhoeven
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Pickpick

I read Verhoeven‘s second book, the story of his dad‘s career in police forensics last year and I loved it. Loose Units tells the story of John‘s early years on the force in Sydney. Entertainment is firmly at the centre of Verhoeven‘s narrative style, and this is only enhanced in the audio production. Alongside these fast-paced, adrenaline-filled vignettes sits some really thoughtful reflection on the pressures of a fairly horrifying job.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

The kind of YA I would have loved as a YA. As an A this was a smidge predictable but ultimately a good rich people problems diversion from real life. I could do worse.

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ClairesReads
Murder Theory | Andrew Mayne
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Pickpick

The most outrageous but perhaps the best in the series so far? Live, laugh, love.

catiewithac Nice mug! 🐳 1mo
ClairesReads @catiewithac thank you! A gift from a friend, I love it 😍 1mo
32 likes2 comments
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

An impressive debut. This starts like a crime novel, but Ahmad pivots from the conventions of this genre into a complex exploration of Pakistani history, the rippling impact of corruption, and the weight of parenthood. It‘s a gritty, demanding read which rewards the attention you pay it.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

You literally cannot make this stuff up. Freezing Order reads like a political thriller but it‘s the stuff of real life. The reach of Purim‘s tentacles and the lengths his administration goes to in order to protect the kleptocracy is terrifying and astounding. I‘m going back to read Red Notice which I wish I‘d read before I dipped into this one.

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ClairesReads
The Club | Ellery Lloyd
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The Club was billed to me as Big Little Lies meets Succession as a novel and it really delivers on this descriptor. It reads like an episodic television series, and is propulsive reading because of this. There are of course, lots of rich people problems, and rich people doing awful things. This is a genre I find particularly compelling, for no specific reason. A bit of a slow burn to start, from the halfway point the pace builds effectively.

BookLineNSinker This was a pick for me too and I am with you on this genre, I'm obsessed. It's definitely a guilty pleasure. My Read list is full of these types of books. Right now I'm reading the tagged book and it had been pretty good a little anticlimactic though. 2mo
ClairesReads @BookLineNSinker it‘s such a fun genre- thanks for the recommendation that one looks interesting too. 2mo
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ClairesReads
Blue Hour | Sarah Schmidt
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Pickpick

I went in expecting to be impressed and I was. Blue Hour is an exceptionally moving novel about the complexities of motherhood, inherited and generational trauma, and the lives experiences of women trapped in a world where opportunities and options are limited. It‘s measured, the horror builds slowly, and because of this the moments where the horror resonates are stark and unflinching. It‘s pitch perfect, you won‘t regret reading it.

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ClairesReads
Looking Glass | Andrew Mayne
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Pickpick

Very chaotic, very fun, very few brain cells required.

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ClairesReads
No One Goes Alone | Erik Larson
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Pickpick

Who doesn‘t want to read a ghost story grounded in History? Larson is one of my fave writers of historical non-fiction, and this story shows us that he is just as adept at exploring the past through fiction. No One Goes Alone is spooky, atmospheric, and historically accurate. It‘s beautifully produced in audio, building tension with expertise. A fun, engaging novel. If you love History and ghosts, this is for you.

Cathythoughts Sounds good 👍🏻 2mo
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

It‘s great to be able to rely on tried and true faves to break you out of a string of average reads. The Rizzoli and Isles series never disappoints me when I am looking for compelling crime reading. I had enough distance on my first read of this to find it enjoying to look for the clues I might have missed the first time around. Looking forward to the new instalment next month.

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ClairesReads
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Mehso-so

A fine, but very romantic concentration camp novel. This is a novel that skates along the surface of this atrocity, the worst is unseen and in the background. As a historian this just didn‘t do enough for me. That being said, it‘s probably an interesting read for people who are looking for less.

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ClairesReads
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Panpan

This book has absolutely no right to be as boring as it is. Shakespeare re-telling, Shanghai in the 1920s, an epidemic of madness which has people literally ripping their own throats out. It has so much potential to be an exciting story. But. It‘s. Just. Not.

CoverToCoverGirl I was uncertain about this one but your review has help me to decide. Off the shelf is comes, not interested in the ripping out of throats. 😬 2mo
batsy Oh, that's disappointing. I was intrigued by the description but it also seemed like the type of book that would be either hit or miss. 2mo
ClairesReads @CoverToCoverGirl glad to have helped! 2mo
ClairesReads @batsy I was disappointed too- lots of people seem to have liked it but I just could not get invested 2mo
35 likes4 comments
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ClairesReads
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Mehso-so

As expected, this memoir of growing up in the Children of God religious cult was full of dramatic and outrageous twists and turns which makes it an interesting story. I do think it could have done with a bit of an edit. While separately interesting, I'm not sure all the vignettes needed to be included to support the overarching narrative. The end was a little positive/preachy for my taste but that's a personal preference thing.

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ClairesReads
Say You're Sorry | Michael Robotham
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Pickpick

Say You‘re Sorry has all the components of a great crime novel, and is really well-paced. Having a psychologist as a central character rather than a detective worked well here, allowing Robotham to lean in to examination of the psyche of characters surrounding the crime and to focus the investigation through profiling. I found this angle made some of the conventional elements of this story more engaging.

Centique And such a cute cat! 🐈🐈🐈 2mo
ClairesReads @Centique thanks! She‘s so cute 2mo
40 likes2 comments
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ClairesReads
The Naturalist | Andrew Mayne
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Pickpick

What a bloody romp. The Naturalist is chaotic, plotty, exciting crime reading. At times it feels vibrantly original, at others it almost (maybe?) crosses the line into mania. I have zero regrets that I‘ve started this series which is the perfect tonic for a busy brain at the end of a week. 100% fun.

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ClairesReads
Rattled | Ellis Gunn
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Pickpick

Gunn does an excellent job here of interweaving her very personal story of surviving a stalker with thoughtful analysis that explores the perpetuation of cultures of misogyny and violence against women. It‘s possible that if you go in just looking for a personal memoir, that you might find this book a bit structurally disjointed. However, I found the interweaving of personal and analytical engaging and thought-provoking. Great on audio too.

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ClairesReads
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Mehso-so

The case itself is interesting in that its circumstances are relatively unique, and the unravelling of the investigation in a mworld much less saturated in technology and surveillance than the present was compelling. As many other reviews have pointed out, the author relies heavily on transcripts from the trials. As a result, a lot of the book circles back on ideas and phrases repeatedly. This structure limited my engagement at times.

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ClairesReads
The Candy House | Jennifer Egan
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Pickpick

Jennifer Egan proves again she is a master of the cultural zeitgeist and the interconnected vignette in The Candy House. A Visit from the Goon Squad is as near to pitch perfect as a novel can get for me, and The Candy House is a worthy follow up which I loved. In it, Egan captures the cultural concerns of a generation, extrapolating them out into an imagined future. Complex, gritty, ambitious, and challenging. There is much to love here.

Cinfhen I love your cover/ edition 🥰so eye catching 🤩 3mo
BarbaraBB What @Cinfhen says 🥰 3mo
AmyG I am so happy to read this is good. I loved Goon Squad. (edited) 3mo
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ClairesReads @Cinfhen @BarbaraBB it‘s so good looking isn‘t it?! 3mo
ClairesReads @AmyG I was worried too but it‘s fab! 3mo
Megabooks Great review! 3mo
ClairesReads @Megabooks thank you! 3mo
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ClairesReads
The Candy House | Jennifer Egan
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ClairesReads
Breathless | Amy McCulloch
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Mehso-so

It took me a long time to read this and I think that's because it never really captured my attention. The mountaineering context is a refreshing change from conventional dead-girl murder mysteries, and the structure of the narrative is clever. Unfortunately for me, the characters were pretty flat, and while it was well-paced, the unravelling of the crimes felt a bit hysterical.

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ClairesReads
Reckless Girls: A Novel | Rachel Hawkins
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Mehso-so

Relatively compelling but also quite absurd? I wouldn‘t say Reckless Girls was a bad read, because I read it in a day and didn‘t really ever feel compelled to put it aside. But, reckless is a generous adjective for girls who were in the end, just quite silly. I was glad when the action picked up in the final third but also this is where the absurd vibes really came in. Am I mad I read this? Not really.

Megabooks That ending was unbelievable too. 3mo
ClairesReads @Megabooks absolutely outrageous! 3mo
41 likes2 comments
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

Still so great even ten years after I first read it. Egan has found the sweet spot between a novel and interlinked short stories. Pitch perfect prose, incisive in its observations of human interaction, immensely affecting and thoughtful. Goon Squad remains a worthy fave.

Caroline2 I really liked this one too. 👍 3mo
merelybookish I loved it when it came out but have shied away from re-reading it. I'm glad to hear it holds up! 3mo
ManyWordsLater Insist heard her speak about her new book (tagged) very interesting woman. 3mo
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ClairesReads @Caroline2 it‘s excellent isn‘t it 3mo
ClairesReads @merelybookish it really does! 3mo
ClairesReads @ManyWordsLater I‘m just starting Candy House tonight 😊 3mo
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ClairesReads
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Mehso-so

Hmmmm. The title of this book made me expect something different to what I read here. Although separately interesting, the three parts of this narrative (the story of the murders Maxwell is suspected of committing, the investigation into these crimes, and a sort of biography of Harper Lee loosely framed by her interest in Maxwell‘s story) didn‘t really hang together as a coherent whole.

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ClairesReads
Young Mungo | Douglas Stuart
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Pickpick

So bleak and so beautifully written, Young Mungo really hurt my feelings. Perhaps not as structurally sound as Shuggie, but more complex in its characterisation and narrative arc. Young Mungo was highly anticipated and everything I wanted it to be.

Cathythoughts Great review! I‘m looking forward to it. 3mo
Ruthiella I struggled with the bleakness in Shuggie Bain. Not sure if I want to subject myself to it again. 3mo
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ClairesReads
Dune | Frank Herbert
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Pickpick

I‘m glad I re-read this- as an adult reader I appreciated the world-building much more than I did in my first read. I could definitely tell that old mate Herbert was dabbling in psychedelics when he wrote this, but it works. Some parts of the story have aged well (and ecological catastrophe is always timeless) while others grate a little in a modern context (hello the patriarchy). Nonetheless, an immersive read that I really enjoyed revisiting.

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ClairesReads
The Plot | Jean Hanff Korelitz
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Pickpick

The Plot is a VERY compelling and satisfying suspense novel. I love a book about books, and this one centres of a stolen/borrowed/liberated narrative. It‘s a very engaging premise. The novel is very difficult to review it without giving away the plot (do you see what I did there? Haha) so I‘ll just say that Stephen King was right when he blurbed it- “insanely readable.”

Caroline2 I really enjoyed this too. 👍 4mo
ClairesReads @Caroline2 it was good hey? 3mo
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ClairesReads
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Panpan

I‘ll just say the wheels really fell off with this one. It makes a promising start in a similar way to the first two books in the series. But unfortunately the turn this story takes is both unbelievable in its detail, and untrue to the characters that have been developed over the first two books. Very disappointing.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

Wow, yes Anthony Marra is a magician because this book is MAGIC. Marra really excels in the short form, each story here stands alone pitch perfect on a sentence level, and yet is intricately woven into a cohesive whole. Although these are very much stories about the chaotic spirals of Soviet History, they are as much stories about History generally, and about the ways our personal histories stand on the shoulders of those who have come before.

jlhammar So good! Can't wait for his new novel. 4mo
ClairesReads @jlhammar I am absolutely jazzed for it too 4mo
rachelk Great review! This was my first book by Anthony Marra. I‘ve just ordered (edited) 3mo
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

Very compelling, very topical, VERY UNDEMANDING. Goodness knows we love a domestic drama and The Herd is exactly that. It‘s not super original and I spotted the twist a bit early but it‘s a satisfying, easy read.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

Notes on an Execution was pretty close to a perfect reading experience for me. It‘s a chilling, starkly constructed, victim-centred crime novel that balances the procedural and psychological expertly. The blurb suggests that Kukafka asks us to “consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the minds of violent men” and I think this is the best description of what is done so well in this novel. LOVED IT.

swishandflick Great review! Couldn't agree more. 4mo
ClairesReads @swishandflick it exceeded my very high expectations- what a great read. Glad it worked for you too 4mo
Oryx Great review 4mo
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ClairesReads
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir | Michelle Zauner
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The hype is real kids, this is a very moving, well-crafted grief/food memoir. Zauner explores complex parent/child relationships, the loss of a parent and the ensuing grief, the significance of culture and the rituals through which culture is lived in our lives, and the feeling of not quite belonging anywhere with sensitivity and vulnerability. This memoir is authentic and resonant. I had no complaints, highly recommended.

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ClairesReads
Fake | Erica Katz
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Pickpick

I love a crime novel and I especially love one with a unique premise or setting. Fake is a well-crafted crime novel. You can guess generally about the broad framework of the central crime from the first chapter but the specifics are metered out so carefully that it's hard to put down. What I think Katz is most skilled at, is drawing her reader into a world. Fake is as much about a particular crime as it is about the flaws of the art world itself.

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ClairesReads
Paradais | Fernanda Melchor
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If you‘ve read Melchor before (hello Hurricane Season) you know what you‘re in for here and if you haven‘t, buckle up. Paradais is an uncomfortable reading experience. In Paradais, Melchor explores toxic masculinity and the thin line between it and violence in graphic, confronting detail. This is a novel which drops you right into a horrifying headspace. It‘s extremely well-done, and as such a pretty full on reading experience.

BarbaraBB Great review. I have this one waiting beside my bed. 4mo
ClairesReads @BarbaraBB thank you- I hope you enjoy it 4mo
sarahbarnes Great review - waiting for this one to come in from the library. 4mo
ClairesReads @sarahbarnes thanks Sarah! Hope you don‘t have to wait too long 😊 4mo
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ClairesReads
Love in the Big City | Sang Young Park
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a story specifically about the queer scene in Seoul, and broadly about looking for love in the wrong places. Told in a series of vignettes, Park‘s story took me into an unfamiliar world, all while presenting me with interactions and feelings that resonated in their universality. In the end it wasn‘t necessarily the ‘love‘ that really captured me, instead the moments of missed connection and feeling unseen in even the most intimate of spaces.

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ClairesReads
Cleaning the Gold | Karin Slaughter
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I always love Jack Reacher and this surprise library find did not disappoint. Of course, a novella wasn‘t enough and I wanted more, but it‘s a fun, quick read. Perhaps a helpful inroad to Slaughter‘s novels to entertain me while I wait for the next Reacher.

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