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MelKelsey

MelKelsey

Joined June 2019

Lover of fiction books, puzzles, and teaching Kindergarten
review
MelKelsey
The Crooked Branch | Jeanine Cummins
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The Crooked Branch is a story of motherhood. The novel alternates between the story of Ginny in Ireland during the famine and her ancestor Majella, a new mother in Queens. Moreso than any book with two time periods, the storylines are distinct and could stand alone. An engaging, enjoyable read. The ending is abrupt and simplistic and the depth of the writing and characters isn't nearly as good as American Dirt. Still, I recommend reading it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

20 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
Malibu Rising | Taylor Jenkins Reid
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Book 6

Malibu Rising is an easy read primarily about the children of a rock star trying to make it in Malibu with their dad's name but none of his fortune. It's about sacrifice for those we love and learning to embrace your dreams. Enjoyable but surface-level. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
The Wonder | Emma Donoghue
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Book 5

I listened to The Wonder. Set in Ireland in the 1850s, the story's about Ann, a girl touted as "The Wonder" for surviving four months on water. In hopes of legitimizing this
miracle, Lib, is hired for two weeks to keep watch, The mystery unravels slowly with dark, sometimes unexpected, twists. The palpable setting and piety make for a rich novel. More characters should be dynamic, but The Wonder is another Donoghue worth reading. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 4

I listened to Forty Autumns thinking it was historical fiction; it's actually the author's family's story. I learned a lot about the Cold War and think more fiction should be written with it as the setting. Most of the characters were very flat, making it hard to love the book. ⭐⭐⭐

megnews I would love to read more HF from this time period as well. 1w
21 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
Apples Never Fall | Liane Moriarty
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Book 3

Apples Never Fall is an easy-to-read, enjoyable, and light mystery. A woman with grown children goes missing. Is she dead? Who killed her? It's a good, unpredictable novel by Moriarty. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Dreams of Joy | Lisa See
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Book 2

I listened to Dreams of Joy by Lisa See, a favorite author. Her characters, settings, and historical research are deeply detailed and compelling. I was surprised to find this novel lacking initially, but it picked up halfway and I was enthralled. I didn't know it was the second in a series, but it follows the 19-year-old daughter from Shanghai Girls running away from her family in the States to live in Communist China in the 1950s. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 1
Susan Meissner writes a compelling story with good characters. The Nature of Fragile Things is about a woman from Ireland who responds to an ad for a mail-order-bride. As she becomes a wife and mother, Sophie learns that she isn't her husband's only wife. I wish the story would have remained here longer and unraveled slower, but it quickly progressed to a deeper and different story as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake hits. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

26 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
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Book 156

I listened to A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. It's a darker Harry Potter-like story. Very fun. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

tpixie A seller at B&N recommended this to my 29 yo son. He really enjoyed it! I bought him the 2nd book for Xmas. I think the 3rd will be published in Sept. It sounds very interesting! 2w
MelKelsey @tpixie Thank you for commenting and letting me know about the publication of the third book in the series. 2w
tpixie @MelKelsey ♥️🥳📚🥳♥️ 2w
28 likes3 comments
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MelKelsey
The Remains of the Day | Kazuo Ishiguro
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Book 152

I listened to The Remains of the Day, a well-done novel with a classical feel, by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is a slow-paced dive into Stevens, a butler in England in the early to mid-1900s. His character is so stiff and...butlery, but you warm up to him. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
This Is a Book | Demetri Martin
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Mehso-so

Book 153

I got and read this book on Christmas. It's a fun collection of humorous jokes, pictures, word play, and short writings, all in true Demetri Martin style. It was mildly enjoyable but not my preferred genre. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
The Samosa Rebellion | Shanthi Sekaran
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Book 154

I read the Samosa Rebellion, a middle-grade fiction book, because I liked Lucky Boy by the same author. The story is of a fictional island called Mariposa where the president decides to deport all immigrants who've been there less than three generations. It is a simplistic version of a common story. I would have preferred more complexity. 3.5 ⭐s

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MelKelsey
Look at Me: A Novel | Jennifer Egan
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Book 155

4.5

Look at Me is an intricate story with complex characters, excellent writing, and a dense vocabulary (perhaps overly so).

Published in 2001, it's the story of a limited social media that's not free. It's very interesting to read currently.

So many characters, not all evenly fleshed out. I wanted more about Ellen. I don't completely get Moose.

I really liked the book and look forward to reading more by the author.

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MelKelsey
These Silent Woods: A Novel | Kimi Cunningham Grant
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Mehso-so

Book 151

These Silent Woods is a mild thriller about a man and his daughter who live in a cabin in the woods in order to avoid some unknown danger. It's a story that's been told, with an underwhelming backstory. It was okay but nothing special. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Bel Canto | Ann Patchett
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Book 150 Bel Canto is a slow-burn. A group of political leaders that has gathered for a private opera performance is taken hostage by a guerilla group--a thrilling set-up. The first half is a slog as the reader anticipates action that won't ever begin. It's the final quarter that the excellent writing comes to life as the characters develop and the reader's expectations are adjusted. A beautiful piece of writing, if you make it to the end. 3.5 ⭐s

charl08 I'd like to reread this one: read a long time ago and I don't think I really "got" it! 4w
Brimful I reread this recently and got much more out of it than first time around! Great piece of writing! 4w
marleed I watched the movie and then I read the book. I loved the book but the movie may have aided my experience! 4w
MelKelsey @marleed I didn't know there was a movie. I'll check it out! Thanks! 3w
26 likes4 comments
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MelKelsey
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Book 149

I listened to The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot. Two women, a teen and an 80- year-old, with "life-limiting" illnesses meet in the hospital near the end of their lives and undertake a joint art project. It's a familiar story that takes a while to become engaging. It's emotional but doesn't live up to its hype. 3.5⭐s

20 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
The People We Keep | Allison Larkin
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Book 148

I listened to The People We Keep by Allison Larkin. It is an engaging story about a teenaged girl who leaves her small town to make a bigger life for herself. The relationships are compelling but end was a little disappointing. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
The One | John Marrs
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Book 147

I really enjoyed The One by John Marrs. It's set in a dystopian world in which the strand of DNA that can match you with your perfect partner has been identified. The book follows several people who've been matched, including a serial killer. It isn't noteworthy, but it's a fun read. I'm curious to check out the show, though it looks like it doesn't include all the storylines. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 146

I listened to Code Name Helene, a work of historical fiction about Nancy Wake, a notable spy during WWII. It was good but there's a lot of similar books written. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir | Michelle Zauner
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Book 145

Crying in H Mart is a well-written, highly-satisfying memoir about the author's experience growing up Korean-American in the US. Michelle Zauner writes (and reads) dynamically about her relationship with her mom, her mom's sickness and death, and the role food plays in it all. As a bonus, she weaves her love of music throughout. I highly recommend. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

33 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
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Book 144

A WWII retelling of the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. Well-written, emotional, and dark, with some specific, disturbing details (of the cremations at the camps). Chapters jump between characters' storylines that aren't always entirely clear, but the chapters focused on the kids shine. Well-done and original. I'd like to read more from this author. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kimberlone I read this YEARS ago, but I still remember it as being quite good, if very sad 1mo
26 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
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Bailedbailed

DNF

Read 66 pages. Fascinating story that reads like a news article/research paper. I get the idea and don't want to read it.

Becker I felt the same. Fascinating story but I got bogged down with the the enormous amount of detail which eventually killed my interest. 1mo
JanuarieTimewalker13 I started with hardcopy, then went to audio. and then the book flew. Very good listen! (edited) 1mo
MelKelsey @Becker glad to know I'm not alone! 1mo
See All 6 Comments
MelKelsey @JanuarieTimewalker13 maybe audiobook is the way to go! Thanks for the suggestion! 1mo
JanuarieTimewalker13 It worked for me!!! It‘s been a while, but I think that book was an important read/listen. 1mo
JanuarieTimewalker13 I find I do much better with nonfiction on audio. I‘m currently listening to Becoming Bulletproof by a former USSS agent. (edited) 1mo
22 likes6 comments
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MelKelsey
This Tender Land: A Novel | William Kent Krueger
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Book 143

I listened to This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. In the afterword the author mentions he wrote this as a modern story like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which was funny because I made that comparison while listening. It's jam-packed with the unbelievable adventures of a 12 year-old boy who escapes a boarding school and travels the country with friends in the 1920s. It's well-done and sweet, though not my usual style. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

JanuarieTimewalker13 Loved this book! 1mo
25 likes1 stack add1 comment
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MelKelsey
Left Neglected | Lisa Genova
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Book 142

Lisa Genova writes about another curious, obscure syndrome. Left-sided neglect is caused by brain damage to the right hemisphere and makes the injured unable to process stimuli from the left. It's fascinating and unnerving to imagine living with this! The characters and story itself are standard--overworked protagonist is forced to reassess her priorities and take life slower after a car accident. 3.5⭐s

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MelKelsey
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Book 141

I listened to This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. It's a cross between a memoir and an advice book for writers. I almost gave up, but I'm glad I didn't. The author reads it, and I enjoyed getting to know her. And it did motivate me to write. ⭐⭐⭐.5

27 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
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Panpan

Book 140

I listened to David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants for a book club. The examples are shallow, trite, and weak. I don't recommend reading this. ⭐⭐

JanuarieTimewalker13 Outliers was good, if you haven‘t read it already. I may have bailed on this one. Yup, I think I did. (edited) 1mo
24 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
Lucky Boy | Shanthi Sekaran
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Book 139

Lucky Boy was a slow-burn, but so delicious! Incredibly complicated characters and a detailed, rich story line. Fiction about immigration to The United States, detention centers, and deportation. Worth the read! I will read her first novel and can't wait for her to write more. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 138

I listened to Beautiful Country, which was narrated by the author. A very well-done memoir about immigration to The United States and growing up in poverty. Highly recommend, and I hope the author will write more. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Once There Were Wolves | Charlotte McConaghy
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Book 135

I listened to this well-written story with themes of wildness and ferocity of humankind and animals. the protagonist's career is to reintroduce wolves in the wild. She also must help her sister heal from an abusive relationship and come to terms with the abuses she has endured. There is a lackluster element of fantasy that fell short of the author's intent but did add complexity to the character and uniqueness to the story. 4 stars

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MelKelsey
Life of Pi | Yann Martel
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Book 134

Reread for book club November 2021. I had forgotten the ending. My review would be similar to what I wrote in 2008, though I wouldn't say it's hard to understand. It's quite technical, but that makes Pi's voice and humor more unique and interesting.

34 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
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Book 133

I listened to Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson, a book about a young mother who is held hostage during a gas station robbery. This experience motivates her to accept her past and unravel her feelings. It was an engaging, easy listen. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
Five Total Strangers | Natalie D. Richards
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Book 137

I read Five Total Strangers because it was the Big Library Read. Five strangers that meet at the airport, rent a car to get home for Christmas. The road conditions are terrible and things start disappearing. The characters aren't compelling. The story could have been more suspenseful; I almost DNF. The bad guy was a surprise but the book isn't recommendable. 2.5 stars

Eggs I bailed on this one… 2mo
28 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
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Book 128

I listened to The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall. A character-driven, slow-unwinding story of two couples that are mirror images of each other. Beginning with their individual love stories, it moves into their shared career as pastors; it loses focus when it evolves into their children. It's worth the read, though, and I'm curious about other books by the author.

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MelKelsey
Infinite Country: A Novel | Patricia Engel
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Book 129

I listened to Infinite Country by Patricia Engel, a story about a family separated by an ocean because of deportation. It's a quick and slightly confusing read. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
One by One | Ruth Ware
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Book 131

I listened to One by One by Ruth Ware; the setup is a familiar one-a group of people snowed-in to a ski chalet begin disappearing and dying. It was fast-paced and thrilling. Nothing memorable long-term, and the reveal wasn't surprising (maybe wasn't supposed to be? ) but an enjoyable escape while it lasted.

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MelKelsey
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Book 132

I've seen the play adaptation, so the story wasn't unexpected but was thoroughly enjoyable. The imperfect perspective of the protagonist is sweet and charming and seeing his difficulties navigating the world broadened my compassion for and understanding of autism. The ending isn't completely satisfying and leaves some questions unanswered, probably due to Christopher's perspective. But a highly- recommended, five-star read.

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MelKelsey
Only Child | Rhiannon Navin
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Mehso-so

Book 127

Told from an on-the-mark perspective of a six-year-old, Only Child is the story of a school shooting. The novel starts out as a page-turner, loses focus in the middle, and improves in the end. It could have been better. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 126
I listened to Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. It's a fun, lighthearted but familiar-feeling story about the time between death and what comes after. A fantasy with a love story. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 125

I was excited to read this fictionalized-version of what may have happened to Agatha Christie when she went missing for 11 days. It ended up being disappointing. Too contrived. ⭐⭐⭐

Blueberry That's disappointing. It is the December selection for my f2f bookclub. 3mo
24 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
Betty: A novel | Tiffany McDaniel
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Book 124

I listened to Betty by Tiffany McDaniel. This book is a fictionalized-version of the author's life growing up in the 1960s with a Cherokee father and an Appalachian mother. I'm not a sensitive reader, but I had to take some breaks from the explicitly-written, depressing stories
Betty is a beautiful writer and all her family members are rich and compelling/abhorrent characters. The voice acting was notable. Well-done! A must-read author.

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MelKelsey
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I read Code Girls by Liza Mundy for a book club. Mundy bites off a lot to write the history of the women (ahem, mostly the white women) code breakers during WWII. Considering the massiveness of the project, it's well-done and has some characters that the reader comes to care about. Nonfiction really isn't my jam, but I recommend it for those who like the genre. ⭐⭐⭐.5

29 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
Homegoing: A novel | Yaa Gyasi
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3.5

Book 120

I listened to Homecoming, a story about slavery and the slave trade. It's well-written and educational. I recommend reading it rather than listening to it.

36 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 121
The Story of Beautiful Girl is a story of a girl institutionalized by her family because she has an intellectual disability and a man institutionalized because he can't communicate (he's deaf, doesn't know sign language, and is illiterate). A romantic and familial love story told from the perspective of three characters. It's slow, and I almost gave up. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Panpan

Book 122

I listened to A Grown-up Kind of Pretty--a mystery unfolds when baby bones are found in the yard of a Southern mother, daughter, and granddaughter. Written in 2012, I was shocked and bothered by the author's use of the r word, multiple times. ⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
The Long Walk | Stephen King
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Book 117

I listened to The Long Walk by Stephen King, a dystopian story about an annual walk during which, if you stop walking, you get shot. The entire thrilling novel takes place during the walk. Characters could be better developed and the ending could be more satisfying. 3.5 ⭐s

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MelKelsey
Never Have I Ever: A Novel | Joshilyn Jackson
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Book 116

I listened to Never Have I Ever, a blackmail mystery story. There is nothing notable about the writing, but it was compulsively readable! I lost sleep to keep reading. 4.5 ⭐s

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MelKelsey
Blue Ticket | Sophie Mackintosh
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Book 115

Blue Ticket is a dystopian novel in which girls receive a ticket when they reach puberty; a white ticket means motherhood and a blue ticket means career. A quick easy-read about how feelings of fulfillment are only possible with freedom of choice. I am definitely interested in reading The Water Cure, by the same author.

30 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
Hollywood Park: A Memoir | Mikel Jollett
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Mehso-so

Book 114
I listened to Hollywood Park, read by the author. Jollett writes about his difficult childhood, including adjusting to the world outside of the Synanon cult. It feels mismarketed as the cult isn't the central focus of the memoir.
⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 113

She Would Be King is a mythical story about the creation of Liberia. It's well-written with three, unequally-strong, characters. It started out compelling, but when I returned to reading after taking several days off (ggrrrr...work!!), it was hard to get back into. 3.5 🌟 s

24 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
Overstory | Richard Powers
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Mehso-so

Book 112

I listened to The Overstory, a book about trees, by Richard Powers. It's a novel with potential; it has heart, interwoven storylines, and compelling characters. It's too long, though. I don't know if I would have been able to sludge through actually reading it. ⭐⭐⭐

JLaurenceCohen Very funny to describe a Pulitzer winner as a novel "with potential," though there are certainly too many characters 3mo
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MelKelsey
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Book 111

WWII historical fiction, with magical elements, about hiding and surviving in the forest from Nazis. An original novel, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is compellingly readable. Unfortunately it loses focus near the end when the protagonist leaves the forest. ⭐⭐⭐⭐