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Kempii

Kempii

Joined August 2018

review
Kempii
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Pickpick

Wonderful and wrenching memoir about a woman‘s struggle with terminal cancer. Her book was unique to me for its unvarnished and honest personal perspective. Shrinking from the “You can beat it! You have to fight!” drumbeat, the book discusses the pain, what motivates a patient to keep living or not, and the miracle of both life and death.

4 likes1 stack add
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Kempii
Cherry: A novel | Nico Walker
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Pickpick

Imagine your most unflappable friend as a cocaine addict who unintentionally deploys to Iraq and then returns to his life of nonchalant, graphic sex. That‘s this book. It‘s entertaining, easy to read, and muses profoundly on anal sex and true love, often in the same sentence.

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Kempii
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Mehso-so

It's an okay book about middle life and the many signs that you're in your 40s. It wasn't overly poignant or wise. Good enough to not bail, but not good enough for me to recommend or remember it.

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Kempii
When Breath Becomes Air | Paul Kalanithi
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Panpan

It feels unkind to pan a memoir written by a doctor dying of cancer, but after hearing the high praise for this book, I was disappointed. I thought it would be more poignant. There was an element of missed futility for me in the harshness of a doctor who trains his whole career to be a neurosurgeon only to have that life paused indefinitely due to illness. I didn‘t feel that the memoir well explored living in the present.

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Kempii
Tampa | Alissa Nutting
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Pickpick

Yikes! This disturbing, yet riveting book ejaculates on societal boundaries with total disregard. There are few books I've read that are this original or written with such abandon, and for that I give it much credit. I‘ll remember this one for a long time.

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Kempii
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Mehso-so

As a former Obama staffer, I found this book slightly better than the pile of other Obama staffer books, but it‘s missable without much fuss. Nothing surprised me and I didn‘t learn anything new. The lessons he discusses for Democrats to draw from Hillary Clinton‘s loss were the most interesting parts of the book, but he poses those lessons largely as unanswered questions.

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Kempii
Istanbul | Orhan Pamuk
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Pickpick

100! This was the 100th book I read this year. Lovely memoir about Istanbul, its history, uniqueness, melancholy, struggles, and changes. I have read other books by this author and always enjoy reading his prose. It is poetic, creative, even, and enjoyable like a steady, soft breeze ruffling tree leaves. That's the sensation reading his books makes me feel.

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Kempii
Motherhood | Sheila Heti
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Bailedbailed

Horrible. It‘s a short book, but even then I could not force myself to finish it. It presents what I would guess it considers maternal wisdom though a long series of Yes/No questions answered arbitrarily by a coin flip. I don‘t understand the structure or purpose of the book.

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Kempii
Dance Dance Dance | Haruki Murakami
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Pickpick

Steady and solidly enjoyable all the way through. This is one of my two favorite Murakami books. It is surreal, but more grounded than his other books, and less weird. It's a great accessible first Murakami book and was calm and pleasing to read. There was nothing remarkable about it, but it was really enjoyable.

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Kempii
Radical Acceptance | Tara Brach
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Bailedbailed

The premise of accepting and showing compassion for yourself is valid, but I‘ve read far better books by Brene Brown and others on similar topics. I bailed in chapter two.

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Kempii
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Mehso-so

Having worked in the Trump White House as an Obama holdover, there was nothing new or surprising here. When the noblest human in your administration resigns for domestic abuse, it is not a good sign. Practices like the staff stealing memos off the President‘s desk before Trump could sign crazy orders would be humorous if they were not terrifying and sad. The message: Trump is a pathological liar with no compassion for others. But we knew that.

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Kempii
War Storm | Victoria Aveyard
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Mehso-so

It was fine. The ending was a bit anticlimactic and confusing. I had to reread the final chapters to understand how it ended. It concluded the tales of the major characters, but I was not very satisfied. It just kind of ended without serious closure, which may be the best it could do for a four-book series. I think a more experienced author could have written a more satisfying ending.

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Kempii
The Unconsoled | Kazuo Ishiguro
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Pickpick

I think I would recognize all Ishiguro books by the strange events, characters, and narration style common to all his books that I've read. I enjoyed this one and its very subtle situational oddities. I don't know what grand message to draw from the book, but found that it unfolded steadily through a simple story like a slow-blossoming flower.

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Kempii
The Kiss Quotient | Helen Hoang
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Pickpick

Predictable romantic book that was surprisingly erotic. Concerns an autistic woman who hires a male escort. Misunderstanding and romance ensues. It reads easily and was a light diversion from the more serious books I‘ve read recently (like Madeline Albright‘s sober book on fascism). The behavior of the parents to me was unrealistic in how supportive, trusting, and non-judgmental they were of their Asian children, but I enjoyed the book anyway.

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Kempii
Fascism: A Warning | Madeleine Albright
Pickpick

Historical book about famous past and current fascists, what they have in common, and what traits of a fascist Donald Trump exhibits. The eeriest part was the analogy to plucking feathers off a chicken, one at a time--taking steps toward greater consolidation of power so gradually that the people don't realize what's happening until it's too late.

Shawn898 Sounds a lot like what Obama was doing. Seems odd because trump holds the record for the highest amount of deregulation submitted by a president AKA taking power away from the government but hell, in a world uneducated and told how to think by every MSM new source, rich liberal shill, and moronic celebrity out there how could you really blame people for believing such absurd statements as trump is a fascist. Few people think with their own mind. (edited) 12mo
Kempii I worked for both President Obama and President Trump. My opinion is shaped by my direct experience working for both presidents. 12mo
9 likes2 comments
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Kempii
The Immortalists | Chloe Benjamin
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Mehso-so

I enjoyed this book, but had heard a lot of rave reviews and did not feel it lived up to the hype. It had a mild element of magic, but focused more on what people live and die for and what forces people choose to let shape their lives. I‘d read another book by the author, but am ambivalent about recommending this one highly.

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Kempii
Circe | Madeline Miller
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Panpan

It was okay. If you like mythology, you might enjoy it more than I did. It didn't seem that interesting and not much happened. The book seems to show that gods are jerks and humans are jerks and gods are a bit unkind.

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Kempii
Stiletto: A Novel | Daniel O'Malley
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Mehso-so

This book was the sequel to The Rook. It was similar, and good, but there are other, better books about magical individuals living in a mundane world that are better and more surprising. The book had some twists, but there was never a moment of relevation that shocked or delighted me. Overall, kind of blah, though I appreciated the narrator‘s wit and humor.

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Kempii
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Pickpick

Excellent short book with simple lessons about how to live a happier, kinder, simpler life with less stress. It presents straightforward tips and advice on how to approach stressful situations, disapproving comments, rejection, road rage, and the many annoyances and frustrations that arise at home and at work.

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Kempii
Cruel Crown | Victoria Aveyard
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Pickpick

Read it if you like the Red Queen series. The first novella, Queen Song, was great to learn more about Queen Corianne's story and was told in a traditional narrative manner. The second novella, Steel Scars, was told through a series of military reports. I did not find that method great over audiobook because it kept repeating the header information. I didn‘t like Steel Scars and didn't learn a lot I cared about from the characters in that novella.

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Kempii
Pachinko | Min Jin Lee
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Mehso-so

I could love a book by this author, but not this one. Regrettably, I had to read it at a crazy pace to finish it for book club. Multi-generational sagas aren‘t typically my favorite, but the writing was lovely and subtle. My friend said it well in commenting that the author shows, rather than tells. I agree, but would have appreciated more plot. Plot was not the point here, though, and I could easily see others loving it.

LiteraryinLititz Really helpful review! 13mo
11 likes1 comment
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Kempii
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Panpan

I know it‘s highly acclaimed, but I just didn‘t like it. I started off not liking it, then was intrigued by the twisted friendship, then was bored, then was intrigued again, and ended impatient to be done with it. The last 20% of the book was not enjoyable for me and I would have bailed if I had not been close to finishing. The author explores female friendship with nuance, but I did not care for the characters or what was happening for them.

morgan_lionheart I didn't like this either. I didn't even finish it. 14mo
superswank I completely agree with this review but my friend urged me to keep reading and the second book is much better. 13mo
10 likes2 comments
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Kempii
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Panpan

Revels in the mundane matters of marriage, baldness, and common obliviousness to the reactions of others. The writing style had understated wit that triggered many slight smiles from me. I lost interest halfway through, though, and didn't find it unique.

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Kempii
Mem | Bethany C Morrow
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Panpan

It's not a good sign when you reach the end and double-check to make sure you didn't miss a chunk or misunderstand that it is not the first book in a series. I kept thinking the book must have more coming because it set up the story and character on an intriguing premise about an extracted memory fragment who becomes her own being. But then it sputters along and just ends. It read like a long pitch proposal that had not developed into a novel.

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Kempii
The Rook: A Novel | Daniel O'Malley
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Pickpick

It was solid, and I liked it, but there are other books with similar magical powers that I found more exciting or compelling, like the Red Queen series and the Darker Shade of Magic series. I will read the sequel and recommend the book for people who enjoy books about magic or secret government organizations. It was solidly above average in expression, plot, and characters, but not special.

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Kempii
Tenth of December: Stories | George Saunders
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Mehso-so

The halting style of speech is odd, but works. The twisted trains of thought are both familiar and neurotic, with long leaps into tangents and unlikely, but understandable contemplations of consequences. The father‘s lamentations of the impacts on his children are funny while ringing true in their absurdity. The style reminds me somewhat of David Foster Wallace. Short, but enjoyable for a quick read.

9 likes1 stack add
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Kempii
Red Queen #3 | Victoria Aveyard
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Pickpick

Loved it. This was the third book in the Red Queen series. I thought it was the best so far, better than the second in its unexpected turns and in the depth of exploration the author does with each character. I enjoyed the heightened detail and time spent with side characters to supplement the storyline of the main characters. Exciting battles and excruciating choices abound.

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Kempii
Educated: A Memoir | Tara Westover
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Pickpick

Powerful and disturbing memoir from a woman who grew up in a devout, abusive family with a paranoid father. She returns to their abuse over and over again, initially lacking the education and understanding to know her world was not normal or healthy. Even after realizing it‘s bad, she falls back into the hard-formed habits of self-doubt, gaslighting, and betrayal. The book is excellent, but wrenching to read. I was aghast.

LiteraryinLititz Great review, Jen! 1y
11 likes1 comment
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Kempii
The Hate U Give | Angie Thomas
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Mehso-so

I‘m torn. I liked the first quarter of the book and thought it explored complex themes of race, equity, and social justice in a skillful and subtle way. But then the book kept going without evolving into much more and felt repetitive. It seemed like it aimed to provide tough social commentary and advocate for change, but the last half stagnated and it wasn‘t clear what the author wanted me to draw from it. Overall, disappointing.

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Kempii
Glass Sword | Victoria Aveyard
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Pickpick

It was good, but not as good as the prequel. This second novel in the series is darker and has a more predictable plot with less character development and surprises. Though it was solid, I was a little disappointed coming off the enjoyment high of the first book. Still worth reading, and I will finish out the series, but I loved the Darker Shade of Magic series more and felt it was tighter in plot and characters.

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Kempii
Red Queen | Victoria Aveyard
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Pickpick

So good! I can‘t wait to read the sequel. This is the first in a 4-part series about elemental-wielding Silver-bloods and the red-blooded people they dominate. Great female protagonist and satisfying twists and betrayal and excitement throughout the book. Lots of action, but never excessive or poorly paced. I recommend it highly.

6 likes1 stack add
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Kempii
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Pickpick

Heartbreaking novel that draws heavily from a real and devastating history of widespread child abuse and neglect in Tennessee‘s adoption system. Very sad, but told in a clear voice that is never gratuitous in the violence and fear it relates.

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Kempii
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Pickpick

The best book in the trilogy. The characters‘ story arcs all come together and the book lives up to its title. Well told, well narrated through several characters and sub-plots.

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Kempii
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Panpan

I didn't bail on it, but it didn't work for me. I found the mystery not that mysterious, and didn't care much about the protagonist, Ruth. It will sound harsh, but Ruth had low confidence in herself and the author didn't give me enough reason to have confidence in Ruth, either. The pacing was even, but too slow for my taste, never really reaching a climax that I found interesting.

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Kempii
Panpan

The book focuses on the confidence gap in women, overly ignoring that many men lack confidence, too. The book starts off slowly and unimpressively, but improves a bit and is helpful in identifying behaviors for women (and men) to watch for when building their own confidence. It did not provide the tools and recommendations I thought would be useful to build confidence, but it could help identify signs of low confidence that may not be obvious.

5 likes2 stack adds
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Kempii
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Pickpick

Solid sequel that I enjoyed more than the first book. The prequel was funnier, but the story and plot and characters were more engaging in this book. I love Astrid and her story!

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Kempii
How to Stop Time | Matt Haig
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Panpan

It was fine. I was lured in by the title, and a bit disappointed. It was okay, but not revolutionary or surprising. It plodded along at a steady, not intriguing pace. I didn‘t consider abandoning it, but don‘t recommend it.

zzz Totally agree! 1y
10 likes1 comment
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Kempii
Still Me | Jojo Moyes
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Mehso-so

This is the third book in the series about Louisa Clark. It was better than the second book, which was a bit insufferable, but I liked the first book best. Louisa finally shows a bit of spine and self-direction, but she never quite charms me or makes me feel she is a heroine to champion.

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Kempii
After Anna | Lisa Scottoline
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Pickpick

Suspenseful and thrilling story about a manipulative young woman. The book unfolds in an alternating fashion between the defendant‘s murder trial and the events that led up to it. The author does a good job maintaining clear story-telling despite the story jumping back and forth in time. Worth reading, but not gobsmackingly amazing.

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Kempii
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Pickpick

Absolutely adored this book and its female protagonist. Eleanor doesn‘t let illiteracy, office politics, or weekend plans push her down. I resonated with so many of her observations and turns of phrase. This book was enjoyable, serious, and sweet all the way through. Incredibly highly recommend!

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Kempii

“It was part of my new credo, trying new things. I tried it and I very definitely did not like it. ‘LOL‘ could go and take a running jump. I wasn‘t made for illiteracy. It simply didn‘t come naturally. Although it is good to try new things and to keep an open mind, it‘s always extremely important to stay true to who you really are. I read that in a magazine at the hairdresser‘s.” You go, Eleanor!

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Kempii
When She Woke: A Novel | Hillary Jordan
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Pickpick

Wow. Powerful. Creative, heartwrenching, with one of the most compelling female characters I've read. It is about a woman who commits a crime and faces a futuristic society's punishment. Incredible book that explores feminism, penal systems, societal norms, religion, family, and values in deep and complex ways. One of the best books I have read in years. Thrilling and thoughtful, highly recommended. @LiteraryinLititz - I think you‘ll love it.

LiteraryinLititz Great review and it sounds like a fascinating book! 1y
Kempii Full disclosure, I recommended this book to my book club and response was mixed. Some liked it, some remained stuck on how other books have approached the particular lawbreaking that I won‘t spoil, but which becomes apparent in the early chapters. 1y
15 likes2 comments
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Kempii

“I tried to plan my exits from the office so that I didn‘t need to talk to anyone else on the way out. There are always so many questions. ‘What are you up to tonight? Plans for the weekend? Booked a holiday yet?‘ I have no idea why other people are always so interested in my schedule.” Every Monday for me features a friendly, but banal rerun of “What did you do this weekend?”—which I feel obligated to answer each of the dozen times I am asked.

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Kempii

“After much reflection on the political and sociological aspects of the table, I have realized that I am completely uninterested in food. My preference is for food that is cheap, quick, and simple to procure and prepare, whilst providing the requisite nutrients to enable a person to stay alive.” This has been my attitude towards food for most of adulthood, though I now enjoy tasty cooking from my culinarily talented partner.

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Kempii
The Book of M: A Novel | Peng Shepherd
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Panpan

It was okay. The concept was sort of interesting, but in the genre of post-apocalyptic novels, there are so many others that have a more intigruing and better executed premise that this one would never rise to the top of my recommendation list.

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Kempii
Mehso-so

Despite having a Turtle title and Green byline--two of my favorite things--I did not like this book. It was solid and had some nice phrasing, like the description of the thought spirals, and I appreciated the sympathetic explanation of mental illness and neuroses. This is the second John Green book I have read and his books have not quite worked for me. I could maybe like it if I had read it with a different frame of mind at a different time.

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Kempii
Crazy Rich Asians | Kevin Kwan
Pickpick

This book well captures the craziness of Asian family. I laughed throughout the book at the many idosyncrasies that reminded me of my own family. Delightful and entertaining. The end of the book felt like it fizzled to a dull ending, though. The movie adaptation does diverge from the book a bit. As usual, I preferred the book to the movie—this time because the book goes into detail about side characters. I‘d rate this about an 8/10.

BarbaraBB Great picture! 1y
julesG Welcome to the Litsy family! 1y
CarolynM Welcome to Litsy 🌼 1y
Wife Welcome to Litsy!🌹 1y
18 likes1 stack add4 comments
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Kempii
The Night Circus | Erin Morgenstern
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Pickpick

I loved this book so much that I am excited and terrified to see it possibly become a movie. It‘s a cross between the magic of Harry Potter and the star-crossed love of Twilight, but better than both of those books in terms of literary merit. The imagery is described in stunning detail and depth, which is why it could make for an incredible movie adaptation. Gorgeous sets for the scenes described.

Dragon 🎩🖤🎪 1y
irre It‘s one of my favorites! 1y
Kempii Me too! It is one of the few books I know I will keep on my shelf forever. 1y
See All 10 Comments
Marilyncjackson This is my Library bookclub book of the month. I was waiting to read it and I am excited to see such a good review! 1y
Kempii @Marilyncjackson I would love to hear how your book club discussion goes! Though I loved this book and enjoy sharing its joy with others, it seemed a little too straightforward to me to beget good book club discussion. But, maybe that‘s simply because my book club tends to prefer more complex fiction in its discussions. 1y
Marilyncjackson @Kempii I will be happy to let you know how the book club discussion goes. Our book club is very lax. It is a fantasy, urban fantasy, and sci-fi book club. We use the books as an opening to start talking, but they just open the door to discussion. It‘s fun 😊 1y
Kempii Sounds fun, @marilyncjackson! Given your club‘s genre, I would also recommend the Darker Shade of Magic series. It is absolutely fantastic. They might also like The Golem and the Jinni, though I rate that book a bit lower. 1y
Marilyncjackson @Kempii Thank you for the suggestions I will pass them along as we are getting our list for next year ready 😊 1y
RadicalReader @Kempii Welcome to the wonderful witty world of Litsy 1y
StillLookingForCarmenSanDiego Welcome to Litsy 📖💙 1y
20 likes3 stack adds10 comments
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Kempii
Pickpick

One of my all-time favorite books and series. This trilogy is fantastic. I love books about magic. This series includes magical elements, but what makes it stand out are the beautifully described and suspenseful events that form the compelling plot, the rich characters, and the most badass female protagonist I think I have encountered anywhere. Loved this series enough that I may buy it to reread again.

RaimeyGallant Welcome! 1y
14 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Kempii
Life in a Shell | Donald C. Jackson
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Pickpick

Absolutely delightful and informative all the way through. A must-read book for anyone who respects the majestic and humble turtle. Provides insight on the unique physiology of turtles in an engaging and educational manner. Told with scientific rigor, human spirit, and reptilian empathy. One of my favorite books to date.

9 likes1 stack add