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MelKelsey

MelKelsey

Joined June 2019

Lover of fiction books, puzzles, and teaching Kindergarten
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MelKelsey
Every Heart a Doorway | Seanan McGuire
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Book 129

Set in a boarding school for kids who unwillingly returned to the world after traveling through unique doors to live in other dimensions. It's weird, simple, and complex with diverse characters. Can't wait to read the next one and to look into more by the author. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

ozma.of.oz You are in for such a great! This whole series is a delight! 7d
30 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 128

I listened to A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner, a story about an old Southern plantation house filled with history, curses, and ghosts. Characters could have been more dimensional. Nothing memorable. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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MelKelsey
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Panpan

Books 126 & 127

I learned about Mrs. Harris from the movie that recently came out based on the 1950's books by Paul Gallico. The novels are short, but I took too long reading them. Since I'd waited for them on hold at the library, I felt obligated to finish, which slowed down my reading. Mrs. Harris has a lot of potential, but, ultimately, flat and disappointing. ⭐️⭐️

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MelKelsey
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Book 125

I listened to Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up by Selma Blair. I love memoirs! I love listening to memoirs read by the authors (especially celebrity authors), and getting to know their minds, personalities, and lived experiences. Blair talks about her love for horses, her penchant for mediums, her career and struggles with MS, and motherhood. A great listen. 4 ⭐️s

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MelKelsey
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Book 124

I listened to When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry, a Stranger Things type of story very different from Henry's typical rom-coms. A group of teens films ghostlike happenings in the small town of Splendor. Is it other-worldly or related to problems with the steel plant? A pure story with heart but not my fav. 3.5 ⭐️s

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MelKelsey
How to Be Eaten: A Novel | Maria Adelmann
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Mehso-so

How to be Eaten is an intriguing premise; it's a modern-day support group of the women that needed rescuing from classic fables, like Red Riding Hood and Gretel. Each chapter is one character's telling of their story, some more gripping than others. I was disappointed; the characters weren't dynamic and the twist is obvious. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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MelKelsey
Giver of Stars | Jojo Moyes
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Book 122

I listened to The Giver of Stars about the pack horse library in Kentucky--a great book for book lovers. A love and friendship story, with strong, a feminist characters. Highly recommend. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

26 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
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Book 118

I listened to The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins. A 20-something woman with a checkered past moves to a rich area and becomes the neighborhood dog-walker. Soon she's engaged to a recent widower, whose wife's death is suspicious. The twist, though it seems obvious, is s surprise. An enjoyable listen. 3.5 ⭐️s

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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 119

Faithful Place is a detective mystery about an 18-year-old female who goes missing on the night she's planning to run away with her boyfriend. Years later her body is found and her murderer has to be found. It was a little longer than necessary and slightly dry. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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MelKelsey
Bewilderment | Richard Powers
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Book 120

Bewilderment is a great book for a book club discussion. Well-written, it's an almost-realistic, sci-fi/apocalyptic story about autism and medication culture. There aren't easy answers but the book is a great impetus to asking valid questions. Beautiful characters and relationships. Not for everyone, but worth the read.

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MelKelsey
Hello Girls | Emily Henry, Brittany Cavallaro
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Book 121

I listened to Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry. Two high school seniors in toxic families leave to make a better lives for themselves. Entertaining but not a lot of depth. 3.5 stars

26 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
The Girl in His Shadow | Amelia Blake
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Book 99

The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake was an excellent listen. Set in London in the 1800's, Nora, who lost her parents in a pandemic, is raised and trained in medicine by a doctor, in a time when a female practicing medicine was illegal. The characters are strong, and I will read more by the author. 4 stars

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MelKelsey
The Other Side of Midnight | Simone St. James
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Book 101

I listened to The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James. It's a mystery/thriller set during the 1920s about two mediums, one who was killed at a seance and another who's unwillingly drawn in to solve the murder. The author writes unique, dark characters and plots. The settings quintessential and eerie. 4 stars

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MelKelsey
The Measure | Nikki Erlick
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Book 112

The Measure, by Nikki Erlick, is a dystopian novel in which every adult unexplainably receives a box holding a measure of string that correlates with the length of the owner's life. Some choose to look at their string, others are forced to look, and some never look. The eight characters' lives all intertwine, in far-fetched ways. A great impetus for discussion about mortality, but the characters and book could have been stronger. 3.5

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MelKelsey
Reckless Girls: A Novel | Rachel Hawkins
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Book 111

I listened to Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins. A suspense thriller about 20-somethings long-term traveling via boat who end up at a creepy, uninhabited island. The twists seem obvious but go farther than anticipated. A decent listen but not memorable. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
The Blackbird Girls | Anne Blankman
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Book 102

I listened to The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman. It's set in the Ukraine when there was a nuclear explosion in a plant. Two girls must flee to one of their grandmother's houses. It's a beautiful and simple story about friendship. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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MelKelsey
The Life She Was Given | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Book 110

I listened to Ellen Marie Wiseman's The Life She Was Given, an engaging story about a girl with a skin condition whose mother sells to a circus. Initially the twist seems apparent, but it's more complex than expected. The characters are strong, but their internal dialogues are repetitive and overly simple. 3.5 🌟s

Sleepswithbooks Good book 👍🏼 2mo
20 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
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Book 109

The Third Daughter is about the historically-accurate human trafficking of Jewish girls from Russia to Argentina in the late 1800s. Facing anti-Semitic attacks, Batya and her family leave their home in search of safety. Having no food, Batya's parents feel their prayers are answered when a wealthy man approaches them about marrying Batya. The characters are compelling, and the story is very engaging. I will read more by Carner. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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MelKelsey
The Turnout | Megan Abbott
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Book 108

I listened to The Turnout by Megan Abbot. It's a twisty, disturbing thriller about adult sisters that now own and run the ballet studio their mom started. It's dark and has unexpected turns. The characters were flat, and I didn't feel invested in them or their story. 2.5 stars

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MelKelsey
Us Against You | Fredrik Backman
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Book 100

I picked up Us Against You at the library because, though I was confident I HAD read it, it wasn't marked it as read on my Goodreads. Expecting to recognize it soon, I began reading. I finished without ever recognizing the book.

MelKelsey I love Backman's writing; it's intelligent, insightful, and unique. I realized, though, it's not transportive; you never forget you're reading, and you don't find yourself in the story. The Beartown series isn't my favorite of his work, but the characters are dynamic....and frustrating. The social issues are salient. 2mo
marleed I‘m looking forward to the release of the 3rd book in this series! 2mo
MelKelsey @marleed , me, too! I was lucky enough to win an ARC through Goodreads! 2mo
marleed @MelKelsey oh lucky you! 2mo
27 likes4 comments
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MelKelsey
Count the Ways: A Novel | Joyce Maynard
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Book 107

Listening to Count the Ways, my first Joyce Maynard novel, left me surprisingly despondent. The author writes motherhood with clarity and such relatability. Eleanor, an only child of parents that didn't want to be parents, grew up, bought a farm, and created the family she'd always hoped for.

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MelKelsey
The Orphan Collector | Ellen Marie Wiseman
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Book 106

The Orphan Collector is a fictional novel set in Philadelphia in the early 1900s during the flu pandemic. Pia, a young child whose dad is fighting in the war, becomes the sole caretaker of her infant twin brothers after her mom dies from the virus. Berniece, a distraught neighbor of Pia's, struggles with the death of her husband from the war and her baby from the virus.

MelKelsey The author writes such real characters, one that is the epitome of evil, that it is easy to suspend disbelief with the less-believable aspects. It was compulsively readable, and I want to read more by the author. Highly recommend! 2mo
ReadingisMyPassion Loved this book! 2mo
28 likes1 stack add2 comments
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MelKelsey
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Book 103

I listened to These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany, a compelling, religious-themed story about three Muslim, young adult, best friends. Raised with expectations to work hard and marry in their faith, they must decide how to balance the expectations of their culture and families with the desires of their hearts. A well-written novel, I hope the author will write more. 4 ⭐️s

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MelKelsey
A Million Junes | Emily Henry
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Book 105

I listened to A Million Junes, a rom-com-esque, coming-of-age, realistic fantasy story about June, an 18 year-old living in her magical, ancestral home. Being raised on stories about how her neighbors have ruined the lives of generations of her family, she has been forbidden to interact with them.

MelKelsey Now that she's met Saul, her 20 year-old, attractive neighbor, she is determined to ascertain fact from the fiction in her now-deceased father's stories. Henry is a good storyteller and writes compelling characters and good dialogue. A Million Junes, wasn't my favorite novel by the author, but it was engaging and enjoyable. 4 🌟s 2mo
22 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
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Book 104

I love Anne Tyler's distinct, interesting characters and complex family relationships. A Spool of Blue Thread is about the Whitshanks, a family with four grown children, living in a home in Baltimore built by their ancestors. True to Tyler's typical writing, the story doesn't stick with a single generation and jumps to explore previous generations of the family. It is so well-written, but I was left unsatisfied; I wanted more! 4 🌟s

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MelKelsey
Northern Spy: A Novel | Flynn Berry
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Book 94

Northern Spy was a book club pick that I am so happy to have read! It is set in Ireland during a time of lengthy political unrest, when safety isn't an expectation. Tessa, single mother to a newborn and CNN producer, shockingly learns that her sister, Marian, is a spy.

MelKelsey Berry writes with such impeccable pacing that the reader is completely absorbed--never has to question plot, word choice, or any technical or creative aspect of the writing. The story is thrilling, unique and timeless, with well-developed, empathetic characters. I highly recommend and can't wait to read more of her work. 5 🌟s 2mo
28 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
The Violence: A Novel | Delilah S. Dawson
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Book 98

It's post-Covid, and the world is in the midst of a new pandemic: the infected black out and kill anyone nearby. Chelsea and her daughters, though, have been living with a man who has always been violent. The story is unique and interesting but could have been told in less pages. The characters are dynamic but not all equally fleshed out. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
The Maidens: A Novel | Alex Michaelides
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Book 97

I listened to The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Mariana's a therapist and recent widow. When her niece's best friend is murdered, Mariana rushes to Cambridge to help. A lot of characters seemed fishy, and I didn't predict the ending. With ritualistic killings, this thriller is unique. Four stars

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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 95

I listened to In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead. When they return to their alma mater for a ten-year reunion, friends face each other and the unsolved murder of their peer, Heather. The story shifts between two timelines as the reader learns everyone has something to hide. None of the characters are likable. It was interesting but not stellar. Three stars

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MelKelsey
French Braid | Anne Tyler
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Book 96

I had such a book hangover after reading French Braid! Tyler's writing is powerful because it's clear and succinct. Her characters and their relationships are rich. She makes astute observations that are so simplistic and relatable that they should be mundane.

MelKelsey Unlike most authors, she doesn't write a story from beginning to end; instead she facilitates opportunities for her readers to act as a "fly on the wall " by providing detailed snapshots into her characters lives at random intervals. It isn't for everyone, but I love it! 2mo
MelKelsey Her novels don't often come full-circle or have blatant themes, as French Braid does. It's about the connectedness of family and feels very salient to my recent thoughts after losing my mother-in-law. Anne Tyler always writes such identifiable women. I LOVE HER and this novel! Five stars 2mo
28 likes2 comments
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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 93

Sara Grayson's mother, the author of four books in a five-book series, dies and leaves Sara, an aspiring, unpublished author, to finish her series. This is a book for writers; Joani Elliot begins each chapter with a quote from a famous author about writing. That was my favorite part! The characters aren't dynamic; the relationships don't feel authentic. It has unreached potential. 3 stars

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MelKelsey
Bright Side | Kim Holden
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Book 92

I listened to Bright Side by Kim Holden. Kate, despite having a hard life, is an optimist. She is starting college with a different end goal than traditional freshmen. This novel is a slice of life (albeit an unrealistic life)/love story. The characters are dynamic, and the relationships feel real. It was incredibly engaging. 4.5 stars

Victoriahoperose LOVE this book so much!!! So good and not a lot of people talk about it! 3mo
MelKelsey @Victoriahoperose thanks for responding! Have you read Gus? I'm very excited about it! 3mo
Victoriahoperose @MelKelsey I haven‘t read it! I will have to grab it this week! 3mo
23 likes3 comments
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MelKelsey
After I Do: A Novel | Taylor Jenkins Reid
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Book 90

I listened to After I Do. After seven years of marriage, Lauren and Ryan separate for a year in hopes of rekindling their love. It was engaging but straightforward--not twisty, as other novels by Jenkins Reid. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
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Book 89

Dead Girls Can't Tell Secrets is a quick, YA read. Savannah works to uncover the mystery of how her sister ended up in a coma; was it attempted suicide or murder? Everyone is suspicious. All the elements of a good, light thriller are present, but the the characters are shallow. I would read more by Ichaso, but there are more substantial options. 3.5 stars

23 likes2 stack adds
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MelKelsey
Let Me Lie | Clare Mackintosh
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Mehso-so

Book 73

I listened to Let My Lie. Anna struggles to be a mother so soon after the deaths of her parents. As all of Mackintosh's thrillers, the novel is full of twists. It was good but not my favorite. Three stars

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MelKelsey
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Book 74

I wasn't the right reader for The Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship. A memoir about Catherine Raven's abusive upbringing, early emancipation, and solace found as a biologist living off-the-grid is appealing. What she wrote lacked the human element. Two stars

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MelKelsey
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Book 88

After the death of his police chief mom, Noah is left with vague clues hinting at a nefarious miscarriage of justice surrounding her ex-partner's death. Slow-pace with a cast of uncharismatic characters, Keep Her Safe was an unappealing read. The twists are predictable. My least favorite book by Tucker. ★★

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MelKelsey
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Book 87

I listened to Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult. Paige grew up without a mom and marries Nicholas without his parents' approval. She supports him through medical school. *TW: Explicit heart surgery descriptions. (Hearts creep me out!!!)* When she has a child, she realizes she doesn't know herself. The story moves very slowly! The characters aren't likable! There's nothing to recommend this book. Picoult has written a lot better!

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MelKelsey
I Let You Go | Clare Mackintosh
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Book 83

I listened to I Let You Go, another epic thriller with unanticipated twists, by Clare Mackintosh. A young boy dies when he runs into the road after his mother lets go of his hand. A mother hopes to evade her trauma by starting over. The suspense and unexpected extend throughout the novel. Mackintosh is excellent author of her genre. 4 stars

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MelKelsey
Carnegie's Maid: A Novel | Marie Benedict
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Book 86

Clara, immigrated to the US from Ireland in the 1860s, obtains a job as a lady's maid to Mrs. Carnegie, mother of the railroad tycoon. From the house library and Andrew

Carnegie himself, Clara learns business and becomes a confidant and adviser to Andrew. Though the novel is somewhat historically accurate, Clara is a fictional character. Of course, a self-made businessman would never seek counsel from a woman.

MelKelsey Carnegie's Maid, consisting of short chapters, is easy to read. The characters are predominantly dynamic, though not entirely likable. Benedict succinctly explicates a broad piece of American and Irish history. It's good but not great. 3.5 stars 3mo
27 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
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Book 75

I listened to A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins; it's a mystery about the death of a young man on a boat. With his complicated past and multiple suspects, it isn't easy to ascertain who did it. It was enjoyable enough to listen to and had a twist, but overall forgetful. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
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Book 76

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is an atypical novel about slavery. Frannie, the daughter of a white English master and a black Jamaican slave, is accused of murder and tells her story, a dark story that includes forced medical experimentation to prove faulty science about skin color--something that legitimately happened. It's complex and compelling, even without likable characters. 4 🌟s

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MelKelsey
The Lioness: A Novel | Chris Bohjalian
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Book 84

The Lioness, set in the 1960s, is about a group of Hollywood stars on a safari in the Serengeti. Instead of the anticipated adventure observing wildlife, the stars are kidnapped by a group of Russian mercenaries.

MelKelsey The majestic violence of the desert setting was enthralling, and a desire to see African animals in their habitat has grown in me because of reading The Lioness. I was completely ignorant of the African-Russian conflict the book was set amidst and want to know more.

3mo
MelKelsey The book's format held it back from its potential to be a gripping, suspenseful, page-turner. Chapters begin with an excerpt from Hollywood tabloids, rotate between characters, and contain flashbacks to life before. The twists were predictable. The book was well-written but could have been more. I can see it being a great movie! 3mo
26 likes2 comments
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MelKelsey
This Golden State | Marit Weisenberg
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Book 85

Poppy is on the cusp of her eighteenth birthday, and she's spent her entire childhood on the run with her family. She doesn't know her parents' real names, what they are running from, and who provides them with safe houses, new ids, and money every time they have to abandon another city.

MelKelsey I couldn't put This Golden State down and stayed up late to read it entirely in one day. Just as Poppy is in the dark, there are no real clues to uncover the backstory of this unique plot. The end, while not dissatisfying, is abrupt and requires some suspension of disbelief. The novel is marked as a YA, and, while clean, it didn't feel like a book aimed at a young reader. 3mo
MelKelsey Poppy and her love-interest, Harry, are the only (semi-)substantive characters, and their potential-relationship accounts for a good portion of its readability. The pure enjoyment of reading prompts my 4.5 star rating. I am curious to read more by Marit Weisenberg, and I wouldn't be sad to read a sequel! 3mo
21 likes1 stack add2 comments
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MelKelsey
The Shape of Mercy | Susan Meissner
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Book 82

I listened to The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner. Lauren, a college student, is hired by Abigail, a retired librarian, to transcribe the diary of her ancestor, Mercy, a woman accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. The story is engaging from the beginning and the characters are diverse and dimensional. I did occasionally feel frustrated by Lauren's decisions, which means I was invested in the story. I recommend! 4 🌟s

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MelKelsey
Maybe in Another Life: A Novel | Taylor Jenkins Reid
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Book 78

I listened to Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I wasn't a fan of her interview-style books, but this was very engaging. Hannah moves back to LA and has dinner with friends. At the end of the night, she has to choose between going home with her best friend or her ex-boyfriend. The book proceeds with alternating chapters of two storylines, following the effects of each path. It was an enjoyable listen. 4 🌟s

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MelKelsey
The Haunting of Maddy Clare | Simone St. James
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Book 81

I listened to The Haunting of Maddy Clare, a ghost story/mystery featuring World War I vets turned ghost hunters. I love books about hauntings! Even as a child they were some of my favorites. This novel is more focused on the mystery of the ghost, Maddy, as well as the ghost hunters themselves. Though it was well-done, it could have been more engaging with more likable, dynamic characters. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
Reminders of Him | Colleen Hoover
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Book 79
Reminders of Him is a compelling, light romance about Kenna, a mid-20's woman, who's recently-released from prison for the involuntary manslaughter of her daughter's father. Kenna returns to her boyfriend's hometown in hopes of meeting her young daughter, who's being raised by paternal grandparents. It's a sad and fun, guilty-pleasure read. 4 🌟s

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MelKelsey
4321 | Paul Auster
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Book 80
2.5 ?s
I happened upon 4321 while browsing in the library. "A rare find", the GoodReads description, intrigued me. Reading it was, initially, very satiating; the writing is meaty, the observations stimulating, and the endless-references to books and authors is titillating. *Review finished in comments.

MelKelsey Arranged as seven, four-part chapters, each part is a continuation of one of four versions of the protagonist's, Ferguson, life. He grows from childhood to young adulthood, and ultimately authors the fictional 4321 novel. Verbose and pretentious, it's easy to read the protagonist as Aster, the author, and he is a cocksure, unwitting-elitist. I recommend 4321 only to serious fans of Kerouac; it wasn't for me. 3mo
19 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
We Hear Voices | Evie Green
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Book 58
A dystopian, pandemic, end-of-earth novel. 9-year-old Billy survives the pandemic and now has a voice in his head, telling him what to do. Bites off more than it can chew. 3.5 🌟 s