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jenniferheidi
Property | Valerie Martin
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Mehso-so

Book 6 of my #12booksofsummer is a conundrum. Beautifully, skilfully written but a narrator - a plantation owner‘s wife - who, whilst being trapped herself, doesn‘t recognise her own prejudices and actions to limit the freedom of others. I found this quite problematic and didn‘t really enjoy the novel as a result.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

Went off list with what I‘m referring to as Book 5a of my #12booksofsummer challenge because this library reservation came up. Not my favourite of the series but, let‘s face it, I‘d happily read any book Aaronovitch writes about PC Peter Grant.

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jenniferheidi
The Incendiaries | R.O. Kwon
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Mehso-so

Book 5 of my #12booksofsummer challenge is a strange story of a young woman‘s growing involvement in a cult and then domestic terrorism. Some really good quality writing with great turns of phrase and interesting observations on faith, grief and belonging. Even in the first person (which is interestingly slippery at chapter beginnings), the narration is detached and hazy - not a completely good thing. Worth a read but you might forget it.

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jenniferheidi
Fludd: A Novel | Hilary Mantel
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From Fludd. What a writer Hilary Mantel is!

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jenniferheidi
Fludd: A Novel | Hilary Mantel
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Pickpick

Book 4 of my #12booksofsummer challenge was a strange story of faith and transformation. Wonderfully atmospheric and darkly funny, as you‘d expect from Hilary Mantel. Quite unlike anything else I‘ll read during this challenge.

6 likes1 stack add
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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

Book 3 of my #12booksofsummer challenge was my last remaining unread book from the 2018 Cheltenham Literature Festival and I definitely saved the best till last. This book - part memoir of a consultant in palliative care, part call to action to talk openly about death and dying and part guide to a good death - should be read by everyone. I was moved, inspired and even reassured by its honesty and compassion.

5 likes2 stack adds
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jenniferheidi
White Chrysanthemum | Mary Lynn Bracht
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Panpan

Book 2 of my #12booksofsummer challenge isn‘t one I would revisit or recommend. A gruelling tale of a young Korean woman kidnapped by Japanese soldiers who enslave her as a “comfort woman” and her sister left behind to endure even more horrors of war. Whilst the story is important, I didn‘t like this book or the writing and found the plot too implausible.

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jenniferheidi
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Am doing the #12booksofsummer challenge between 3rd June and 3rd September (I know it‘s supposed to be #20booksofsummer but I have a full time job, housework and gardening to do). Anyway, I‘m using it to read books already on my bookcase or Kindle. Here‘s my list! #bookstagram

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

I picked it up in a charity shop a few years ago after reading Life After Life but have never got round to it. I should have read it sooner because it‘s a joy: funny, playful and poignant. The character of Ruby Lennox is so engaging and you can see the origins of many of Atkinson‘s themes and techniques: playing with time, memory, complex family dynamics, war, early death. But if ever a book was crying out for a family tree, it‘s this one.

Lcsmcat I really liked this one too. 6mo
RaimeyGallant Nice review! 6mo
jenniferheidi @Lcsmcat I enjoyed every single page. What a great book! 6mo
jenniferheidi @RaimeyGallant thanks! 😊 6mo
3 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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jenniferheidi
The Salt Path | Raynor Winn
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Pickpick

I didn‘t expect to be so moved by this account of a couple finding themselves homeless and coming to terms with terminal illness by walking and wild camping along the South Coast Path. The feeling of loss, of being uprooted is dealt with so beautifully as is their discovery of another part of themselves, only uncovered by their journey.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

Finally got round to reading this classic. Good, solid, no nonsense writing advice from one of the world‘s best storytellers and some cracking tales from his own writing life along the way.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

A fascinating but harrowing memoir detailing a childhood of poverty in China; a creative awakening at film school in Beijing; and a new life as a migrant in England. I found this so troubling but was completely gripped by Guo‘s incredible journey and creative mind.

Emilymdxn I loved this book too! Everything she‘s written is amazing! My favourite by her is I Am China but this is second 8mo
8 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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jenniferheidi
The Muse: A Novel | Jessie Burton
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Pickpick

I really liked the unusual settings of this book - moving between the Spanish civil war and the 1960s London art world. An unexpectedly good page turner.

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jenniferheidi
Normal People | Sally Rooney
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Pickpick

I inhaled this book - another engrossing and sometimes dark novel by Sally Rooney, exploring the interactions and dynamic between two people over time and the way other people can change us. I didn‘t love it as much as Conversations with Friends but it‘s a very good read.

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jenniferheidi
Instructions for a Heatwave | Maggie O'Farrell
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Pickpick

Inexplicably, I‘ve made it to 2019 before reading any Maggie O‘Farrell. I didn‘t know what I was missing! Really good, solid storytelling with complex but believable characters (I loved Aoife so much in this novel) and family dynamics in which to get completely absorbed. I can see she‘s going to be an author I go back to.

Lcsmcat Sounds interesting! 9mo
6 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

Another unexpected joy. I really loved my friend‘s book club choice this month. Despite the often moving family secrets uncovered by the author throughout the novel, it‘s the opposite of a misery memoir, shot through with his very obvious love for his family and particularly his mum.

5 likes1 stack add
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jenniferheidi
Pachinko | Min Jin Lee
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Pickpick

I am very behind on my book posts. Here‘s one from December! I‘d heard a lot of hype about Pachinko and I‘m usually cautious about reading hyped books but I saw Min Jin Lee at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and liked the idea of an epic novel spanning several generations of a family in Korea and Japan. I LOVED THIS BOOK. Just a wonderful story about really engaging characters and their attempts to hold on their precarious identities.

9 likes1 stack add
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jenniferheidi
Bird Box: A Novel | Josh Malerman
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Mehso-so

Look, this is a very good premise and Malerman does a great job of making the idea that you can‘t open your eyes near unknown creatures quite scary but I did not care one iota for any of the characters in this book.

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jenniferheidi
History of Wolves | Emily Fridlund
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Pickpick

This month‘s book club choice and a great choice it was too. Beautiful writing and a gripping page turner, shot through with a strong sense of dread. I only wish that the last fifth of the novel didn‘t feel quite so much like wrapping up. (Also, I only noticed as I finished the book that the cover shows a girl and not a large bird!)

6 likes1 stack add
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jenniferheidi
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Mehso-so

I think Olivia Laing‘s writing is really exciting. It‘s playful and powerful and you can see the influence of Kathy Acker, the (possible) subject of this novel, if she‘d lived to experience everything 2017 had to throw at us. I didn‘t love Crudo but it‘s a very good book.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

An entertaining take down of those who use bad science to exploit and mislead. I enjoyed this book even though it was slightly terrifying and slightly smug (humanities grads can understand science too, Ben). Particularly interesting stuff on the placebo effect.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

I‘m so behind with my bookstagram posts - I read this back in the summer when I had pneumonia but the book‘s impact has lingered (much like the impact of the pneumonia unfortunately). It doesn‘t flinch from the horror of the Burma death railway and the evil of those who ordered its construction.

4 likes3 stack adds
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jenniferheidi
Ghost Wall | Sarah Moss
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Pickpick

Read this in one sitting. I knew exactly what was coming but the book is so well crafted, so well paced and so claustrophobic that I couldn‘t put it down until its terrible conclusion. Sarah Moss is a genius.

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jenniferheidi
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That‘s my #cheltlitfest done. Highlights: Kathryn Mannix on death; Edmund de Waal on porcelain; Sarah Howe, Xiaolu Guo & Madeleine Thien on China; and showing my mum round the best event in the world. The paneer curry & daal in the food tent was good too. Now onto my book haul...

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jenniferheidi
The Return | Victoria Hislop
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Panpan

Another book club read. I didn‘t really enjoy the writing in this book but it was a good story with a fascinating setting that kept me turning the pages and made me want to visit Granada.

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jenniferheidi
Histories | Sam Guglani
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Mehso-so

Sam Guglani‘s debut novel is a short one but it tackles some big stuff: illness and mortality, power and authority, honesty and the National Health Service. The writing is very good but the book‘s brevity made it feel ephemeral and left me wanting to read something more substantial by Guglani.

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jenniferheidi
Anything is Possible | Elizabeth Strout
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Mehso-so

I have a backlog of book posts to catch up on 😕 This was a book club choice after we enjoyed My Name is Lucy Barton last year. Although I‘m a big Elizabeth Strout fan and loved her writing in this book, I found it too bleak, with not much light relief. But Strout is so good at human relationships and dynamics and enjoyed the chapters where this came to the fore.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

I can‘t put my finger on what it was I liked so much about this book - someone I follow on Twitter referred to its cumulative effect, which it certainly has. I felt quite drawn in. The dynamics between characters - none of them charming or likeable - are so well observed, the misunderstandings and repercussions utterly plausible. And Frances is a well realised character: cold and detached but not really. One of my favourite books so far this year.

4 likes1 stack add
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jenniferheidi
Exit West: A Novel | Mohsin Hamid
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Mehso-so

I was intrigued by the premise of this book: doors begin appearing across the world, allowing people to step through to another country. For many, including the book‘s protagonists, the doors are an escape from war or poverty. But wherever they arrive, it isn‘t home. I‘m not sure the book lived up to my expectations. Nadia was an interesting character and the book successfully humanises a major news story but I kept waiting for it to surprise me.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

This is a fascinating account of the author‘s research into all the people who ever lived in her house and their stories, pieced together from birth certificates, wills and the memories of their descendants. Quite extraordinary stories of ordinary people, linked by one address. I especially enjoyed the stories of tenants who arrived from Jamaica and found themselves in cold dark Clapham.

4 likes2 stack adds
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jenniferheidi
Tin Man | Sarah Winman
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Mehso-so

I tend to avoid books that look and sound like they might be heartwarming because they‘re not my bag and this wobbled towards it, particularly during the first half, which followed Ellis, the Tin Man of the title, grieving for his wife and best friend. But the second half, told from his best friend Michael‘s perspective, was much more vibrant and packed more of a punch. This was a bit sentimental and predicament for me though.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

This book is wonderful in its careful observation and celebration of the ordinary and seeding of clues that unravel slowly and satisfyingly. It is also beautifully written and walks a tricky fine line between moving and sentimental. I think my only problem with it is the blurb, which I don‘t think the book delivers on and left me with a niggling disappointment but that‘s hardly the author‘s fault.

KateFulfordAuthor If you need another recommendation, may I point you to my People‘s Book Prize nominated debut? Sassy female narrative, laugh out dialogue and a pacy plot. Check the link in the bio for 2 free chapters, reviews and more. 1y
3 likes1 stack add1 comment
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jenniferheidi
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Mehso-so

I enjoyed this social history of porcelain, which takes the reader to the white hills of China, to the grandeur of 18th century Dresden, to Plymouth via America and ending in the concentration camps of Dachau. With just enough detail about the technicalities of producing and designing porcelain but a real emphasis on its status and role in history. I found it wondered off into de Waal‘s musings occasionally but not enough to stop me reading.

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jenniferheidi
Broken Homes | Ben Aaronovitch
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Pickpick

I think this was my favourite of the series since the first: the different elements of magical London really fleshed out and coming together now and a juicy twist to set up the next book. As ever, London is the main character but I particularly liked the focus on estate architecture (right up this town planner‘s street).

6 likes1 stack add
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jenniferheidi
Autumn | Ali Smith
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Pickpick

This book started the way all Ali Smith books start for me: in an infuriatingly slippery, ambiguous way, so that I couldn‘t quite work out what was going on and became frustrated that either I wasn‘t getting it or Smith was being obscure for the sake of it. Then, as always, I got sucked in and loved it, felt moved and inspired by it. I think she‘s just a magical writer.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

I wouldn‘t have read this if it wasn‘t a book club choice but I‘m glad I did. We all know her story but the background - how she attracted the attention of the Taliban and her father‘s central role - were fascinating. As were her descriptions of Swat Valley, which sounds more beautiful than I‘d imagined. She comes across as a remarkable young woman (a colleague who met her confirms this) but the book doesn‘t let you forget she was just a child.

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jenniferheidi
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“You can pick up one of my books and think: ‘Oh well, for the next half an hour, I‘m all right.‘” Not a quote from the book but from Tremain‘s Guardian interview a couple of weeks ago that I liked.

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jenniferheidi
Walking Away | Simon Armitage, Sue Roberts
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Pickpick

I read this before the first book - Walking Home - and thought I‘d enjoy it more because I‘m more familiar with the landscape of the South West Coast Path. Like the first book, it‘s gentle, funny and enjoyable but I couldn‘t help enjoying the tougher feat of the Pennine Way chronicled in Walking Home.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

I saved Walking Home, in which Armitage walks the Pennine Way backwards, to read whilst I was on holiday in the Peak District. Armitage takes on the trail, getting by on the kindness of strangers and donations received for a poetry reading at each stop. His prose is humorous but gently so; he is self-deprecating about his abilities both as a performer and a walker and comes across as likeable and easy going but never frivolous. A v enjoyable read.

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jenniferheidi
The End of Mr. Y | Scarlett Thomas
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Mehso-so

This was darker than I‘d expected, mostly because of the very damaged, self-destructive protagonist. But it‘s an interesting, intelligent and enjoyable read, although I found myself irritated by some of the indulgences which took the plot off in strange directions...

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jenniferheidi
Whispers Under Ground | Ben Aaronovitch
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Pickpick

The Rivers of London series never fails to kick start my reading, even in my current rut. I want to read them all at once but I don‘t want them to run out... This one - the third in the series - focuses on the mysterious death of an American art student on the underground and takes PC Peter Grant into the tunnels and sewers. Not my favourite of the series so far but it comes with everything you expect - humour, fantasy and a love of London.

Maddyflake I‘m the same! I love the series so much. If I am in a reading rut, I always go for Peter Grant (or something Pratchett😜) and it always helps. Have read the series twice now and can‘t wait till the next one in November (only...nine months away😬)! 2y
jenniferheidi @Maddyflake I‘m trying to pace myself until November! 😆 2y
7 likes1 stack add2 comments
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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

I haven‘t been reading a great deal recently - it goes like that sometimes - but I did finish this strange and riotous book about a modern day princess and her love affair with an outlaw. It wasn‘t like anything else I‘ve read.

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jenniferheidi
Whispers Under Ground | Ben Aaronovitch
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Loving the cheeky Britpop reference!

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jenniferheidi
The Descent of Man | Grayson Perry
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Mehso-so

I really enjoyed Grayson Perry‘s TV series on masculinity a couple of years ago; he has enormous empathy, which makes for a more nuanced exploration of what makes men tick. This book runs along a similar theme but is more of a manifesto for a shift in masculinity. It‘s an interesting and engaging read but I found it occasionally a bit too broad brush in its descriptions of male behaviour.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

I‘m not sure it‘s right to say I enjoyed this; it‘s full of self-destructive characters and strong violence. But its urgency is really engaging and there are some moments of beautiful clarity, particularly in the sections told from the viewpoint of Maureen, whose accidental killing of an intruder necessitates a succession of cover ups, murders and debts.

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jenniferheidi
The Luminaries | Eleanor Catton
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Pickpick

This was my Christmas break long read and I loved having hours of free time to get lost in the twists and turns of its complex and cleverly woven plot. A playful but really satisfying historic novel.

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jenniferheidi
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Pickpick

Loved this really deliciously dark collection of short stories. The story from which the collection takes its name may be the least dark... It was a book club pick so I‘m looking forward to the discussion!

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jenniferheidi
Beware of Pity | Stefan Zweig, Trevor Blewitt
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Pickpick

I have been particularly tardy with my book posts over the last few months. I finished this one long before Christmas but it‘s a great book. I enjoyed it for its creeping sense of dread and “OH NO YOU DIDN‘T” moments.

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jenniferheidi
The End We Start From | Megan Hunter
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Pickpick

I finished this slim and spare book in less time than it took my husband to watch a film on Netflix but it has lingered in my mind much longer. Ostensibly a post-apocalyptic tale, this novel is really about new motherhood at its most intense and isolating. Really quite affecting.

3 likes1 stack add
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jenniferheidi
First Love | Gwendoline Riley
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Pickpick

A horribly unsettling book about love at its most complicated and unpleasant. The dialogue is incredible, particularly between the protagonist, Neve, and her mum. So uncomfortably honest.