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keepingupwiththepenguins

keepingupwiththepenguins

Joined June 2019

Book reviews for the would-be booklover | Blogging all things bookish at https://www.keepingupwiththepenguins.com
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keepingupwiththepenguins
Dear Child | Romy Hausmann
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Dear Child was a gripping, chilling read (and a quick one!) to devour on a dark, stormy night. If you‘re in the mood for a charged thriller and you can cope with all the triggers (cruelty, violence against women and children, etc.), this is a good one to try. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/dear-child-romy-hausmann/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
Where You Left Us | Rhiannon Wilde
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It‘s rare to read a gothic(esque) novel set in Australia, so Where You Left Us was wonderful on that basis alone. Wilde also weaves in two romances, both equally lovely, without overshadowing the family drama. It all culminates in a good (if fairly foreseeable) conclusion for a fun and intriguing read. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/where-you-left-us-rhiannon-wilde/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
Persuasion | Jane Austen
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Mehso-so

Persuasion is really one for the true fans, often too severe to be funny (and occasionally fat-shamey, by the by) and subtle in its treatment of quite dramatic turns. I wouldn‘t recommend starting out with this one, if you‘re new to Austen, but if you‘ve already read her others, you‘re well placed to give it a go. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/persuasion-jane-austen/

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Here Be Leviathans | Chris Flynn
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Here Be Leviathans is a collection of nine short stories, narrated by animals, places, objects, and even the (very) odd human. A grizzly bear on the run, a plane seat in a terrifying crash, a genetically modified platypus with the power of speech – each and every one, bizarre and brilliant. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/here-be-leviathans-chris-flynn/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
Never Let Me Go | Kazuo Ishiguro
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It‘s easy to see, in terms of tone and style, that this is the same author who wrote Klara And The Sun. They‘re like two halves of the same whole. If you liked one, you‘ll enjoy the other. I can‘t speak to the 2010 film adaptation – I haven‘t seen it yet – but this is an intense, smart, compelling read with a lot to say about the reality we live in. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/never-let-me-go-kazuo-ishiguro/

BC_Dittemore I watched the film adaptation after finishing the book. Superb. One of the rare instances where a movie is nearly as good as the source material. 2w
Kimberlone The movie is ver good! The three main actors are perfect and the tragedy is so well depicted 😭 2w
Bigwig If only the horrifying fate suggested in this novel were limited to fiction. It should be required reading for anyone following the status of Uyghurs in China. 2w
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Her Fidelity | Katharine Pollock
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Her Fidelity is a sharp but charming book that I devoured in a single sitting. It was unexpectedly delightful to read a book about someone my age, from my actual home state, in a similar line of work – is there a word that goes beyond relatable? Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/her-fidelity-katharine-pollock/

CarolynM I‘ve been wondering about this one. Sounds like I should read it🙂 Stacked. 2w
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keepingupwiththepenguins
Notes on a Scandal | Zoe Heller
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I don‘t see why Notes On A Scandal didn‘t make a bigger splash. The subject matter is repellent, of course, but it‘s an intense and fascinating read with superbly crafted characters, each and every one of them delightfully hateful. Well paced, cleverly choreographed, guaranteed to stay with you. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/notes-on-a-scandal-zoe-heller/

Ruthiella Agree! I loved that book. Everyone is awful but still, the psychological development was utterly compelling. 3w
EvieBee I really loved this book, and wondered what that said about me LOL! I was fascinated by the confidant character. Genius. 3w
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The Women Could Fly is an eerie, prescient novel with the sharp social commentary I suspect will become characteristic of Giddings‘ writing. You'll finish it with an intense desire to jump on a broomstick and dance naked under the moon – or, at the very least, write a letter to your local representative. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/the-women-could-fly-megan-giddings/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
The Cry | Helen FitzGerald
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It‘s a dark, psychological thriller with a gripping moral dilemma, perfect for anyone who enjoys a story about good people doing bad things. I really want to emphasise that The Cry isn‘t just for thriller readers; anyone who likes ethical grey areas and/or the complexity of modern families will rip through it. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/the-cry-helen-fitzgerald/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
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Mehso-so

Sick of seeing older women represented in fiction as just crocheting grandmas or lonely baffled biddies? I know I am. I‘m loving seeing more stories about older women with rich, complex, and meaningful lives beyond their kids and the cliches of twilight years. This is a fun story about friendship, truth, and (most important of all) tap-dancing. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/the-tap-cats-of-the-sunshine-coast-christin...

CarolynM Sounds good😀 Stacked 1mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
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Jacobs is genuine in his approach, which I really appreciated. In the hands of a determined cynic, it would have been a very different book. He sets aside his cynicism in favour of curiosity and commitment to the project. He‘s not here to make fun of the Bible or those who adhere to his teachings, nor does he accept everything in it blindly. Excellent read! Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/the-year-of-living-biblically-aj-jacobs/

marleed Interesting review - now I‘m intrigued to read this one which surprises me because I tend to avoid religious discussion during this particular political climate. I support the separation of church and state - freedom of and freedom from religion. 1mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
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Mehso-so

Accomplished is probably not one for the Austen purists, or even for grown-ups who find adolescent angst and harebrained schemes exhausting. But teenage readers who enjoyed The Princess Diaries or Fangirl will absolutely love it. This swoony, slow-burn teen romance is convoluted, but fun. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/accomplished-amanda-quain/

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Wow, No Thank You | Samantha Irby
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It would seem that Irby‘s schtick is to be confrontationally honest about the kinds of things most of us would rather die than talk about. Sure, plenty of people find her essays “gross” or “too much information”, but for those of us who find her honesty refreshing, she‘s a marvel. It‘s not going to be for everyone, but it sure is for me. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/wow-no-thank-you-samantha-irby/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
Odd Hours | Ania Bas
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The dark, wry humour keeps Odd Hours entertaining, rather than wearisome, but it‘s far from a light-hearted rom-com. It lives up to the blurb‘s promise of “a razor-sharp social comedy about human connection”. The plot builds to an unconventionally happy ending that will delight odd ducks everywhere. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/odd-hours-ania-bas/

CarolynM Great review. You make this book sound much more appealing than the official blurb does. Stacked. 1mo
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Red, White & Royal Blue | Casey McQuiston
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Red, White & Royal Blue, unbelievably, lives up to the hype. Of course, it‘s targeted at younger readers, but I can vouch for the fact that it resonates for young-at-heart readers, too. I‘d especially recommend it for fans of The West Wing. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/red-white-royal-blue-casey-mcquiston/

DivineDiana I enjoyed this book. ❤️ 2mo
CarolynM It‘s a charmer, that‘s for sure! 2mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
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This is a very well-balanced, forward-thinking book, one that would make an excellent pair with Jess Hill‘s See What You Made Me Do. I want to thrust Legitimate Sexpectations into the hands of every politician, parent, and school principal. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/legitimate-sexpectations-katrina-marson/

MrsMalaprop How interesting. See What You Made Me Do was so good & important. 2mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
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These short, sharp stories are like fireworks. Fitzgerald is clearly a writing talent to be reckoned with. I particularly appreciated her brilliant use of simile and metaphor, the kinds of descriptions that make you say “woah” out loud. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/everything-feels-like-the-end-of-the-world-...

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Desire: A Reckoning | Jessie Cole
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The intensity of Cole‘s descriptions – of both the internal and external world – will take your breath away. These vignettes read so smoothly, you‘ll lose track of time. It's a poignant and potent read that will have you pensive for days after you turn the last page.

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keepingupwiththepenguins
Calypso | David Sedaris
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I enjoyed Calypso. There was no way Sedaris was going to let me down. Even though the content is a bit darker in parts, he still writes with the humour and panache that makes him unique. It‘s impossible not to be impressed by his mastery of the form, the way in which he can punch in any direction and still manage to remain thoroughly likeable and hilarious. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/calypso-david-sedaris/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
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Honestly, I could talk about the stories in Rogues for hours. Each and every one is masterfully crafted, perfectly balanced, and totally gripping. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/rogues-patrick-radden-keefe/

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The farcical premise and witty dialogue have made The Importance Of Being Earnest Wilde‘s most enduringly popular play. It‘s still beloved by critics, readers, and theatre-goers alike, and I‘m happy to join them in singing its praises. It‘s a quick read, remarkably clever, and delightfully ridiculous. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/the-importance-of-being-earnest-oscar-wilde...

CarolynM ❤️ 3mo
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Life Ceremony: Stories | Sayaka Murata
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Despite (or perhaps because of?) the cannibalism and other assorted taboo-breaking, I loved Life Ceremony just as I expected to. Murata remains a must-read-no-matter-what author for me! Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/life-ceremony-sayaka-murata/

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Happy Endings: A Novel | Thien-Kim Lam
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The writing is exposition-heavy, and as a Coeliac I didn't love the frequent jibes about gluten-free restaurants, but other than that, Happy Endings was a delight to read. The blurb maybe overstates the stakes a little (they‘re comfortingly low), and there‘s a cast of supportive, empowering characters that keep the mood up. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/happy-endings-thien-kim-lam/

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Mehso-so

Despite the abundance of moving parts, Goffney does a good job of keeping Confessions Of An Alleged Good Girl on track. There‘s a villain 180 that will give you whiplash, but other than that, the natural ending is quite clear and it rolls up right on time. It's a quick, enjoyable read that will surely help some young adults with vaginas out there. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/confessions-of-an-alleged-good-girl-joya-go...

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A Tale For The Time Being would be a great pick for fans of Mieko Kawakami, though Ozeki‘s prose is a little more smooth and inviting, a little less edgy and devastating. I was so thrilled to discover that the story lived up to the high, high expectations the blurb had set. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/a-tale-for-the-time-being-ruth-ozeki/

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Out of Breath | Anna Snoekstra
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On every other page of Out Of Breath, I wanted to shake Jo‘s shoulders and shout “You‘re in a CULT! Call your Dad!” (Murderinos know what I mean). Even if psychological thrillers aren‘t your thing, you‘ll enjoy the rich descriptions of the outback setting, freediving, and the pearl trade throughout Out Of Breath. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/out-of-breath-anna-snoekstra/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
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Everything I Never Told You is a propulsive read, but not an easy one, if that makes sense. It‘s much darker than I remember Little Fires Everywhere being, with darker themes and content. Trigger warnings for depression, suicide, infidelity, and racism - but Ng‘s writing shines, despite the darkness. She knows just how to drag a reader‘s eyes down the page. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/everything-i-never-told-you-celeste-ng/

TheLudicReader I absolutely loved this book. It read like a thriller, really and that ending! 3mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
Lapvona: A Novel | Ottessa Moshfegh
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Seriously, folks, if you pick up Lapvona just because you enjoyed My Year Of Rest And Relaxation and you recognised Moshfegh‘s name, you‘re in for a rude shock. This is a guttural story about the most grim and grotesque aspects of human nature. Masterful and revolting. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/lapvona-ottessa-moshfegh/

BkClubCare Really?! Wow. 3mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
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All told, The Joy Luck Club wasn‘t really what I was expecting. It was fine, I‘m sure some find it deep and impactful, but it‘s not one I‘ll be thrusting into your hands or re-reading myself. In fact, I think reading the opening chapter as a short story by itself would make it much more powerful, so maybe give that a go instead. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/the-joy-luck-club-amy-tan/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
The Strangers | Katherena Vermette
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Despite the (very) heavy subject matter, and Vermette‘s talent for stark realism, The Strangers is surprisingly readable. The pages fly by! It really exceeded my expectations, and I‘m still mulling over it days later. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/the-strangers-katherena-vermette/

Cathythoughts I‘m looking forward to this one. 4mo
jlhammar I loved The Break. Can't wait for this one! 4mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
Crazy Rich Asians | Kevin Kwan
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All told, if you‘re looking for a book to take to the beach, Crazy Rich Asians is a very safe bet. Be prepared to weep the next time you check your own bank balance, though! Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/crazy-rich-asians-kevin-kwan/

5feet.of.fury It is a good beach read, Nick was so infuriating for me tho. Just clueless lol 4mo
Karisa The movie was better… 😱😬🫢🤫 4mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
Bone Memories | Sally Piper
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My allegiances shifted, several times, as Bone Memories played out. Hyper-sensitive Billie, conflicted Daniel, and frustrated Carla are all relatable in different ways. Readers of Australian literary fiction and family dramas will really enjoy Bone Memories, for its intensity and keen insight into grief, family, and place-memory. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/bone-memories-sally-piper/

CarolynM Great review. Stacked. 4mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
Outlander | Diana Gabaldon
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The plot is episodic, very Quixote-esque. It‘s one damn thing after another, and a lot of traipsing from place to place to escape whatever trouble they‘ve gotten themselves into. They still manage to make time for plenty of sex, though, naturally. It‘s not a closed door romance, but the door isn‘t wide-open either – it certainly wasn‘t as steamy as I was expecting. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/outlander-diana-gabaldon/

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Our Members Is Unlimited‘s fun format and beautiful rendering belies the significance of its subject – a must-read for fans and followers of Jorts The Cat. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/our-members-be-unlimited-sam-wallman/

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American Psycho | Bret Easton Ellis
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Ultimately, I thought American Psycho was just another – quite good, but gimmicky – commentary on Yuppie culture. I didn‘t hate it, but books that make the same point(s) without the chainsaw murders are a dime a dozen. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/american-psycho-bret-easton-ellis/

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Abomination | Ashley Goldberg
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Goldberg doesn‘t rely on shock-value or voyeurism, making this a remarkably deep story about crises of faith and the ripple effects of secrets and scandal. It‘s important not to try to “binge” Abomination – this is a book that needs to be sipped like fine wine, not chugged like cheap beer. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/abomination-ashley-goldberg/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
The Hours: A Novel | Michael Cunningham
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The story is told over the course of a single day, in the tradition of Mrs Dalloway – and, in that spirit, I read The Hours in a single sitting. It‘s short enough to make that not-too-onerous an undertaking, and I reckon it‘s the best way to do it, if you have the time and capacity. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/the-hours-michael-cunningham/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
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It's fairly formulaic most of the way through, but not everything played out the way that I‘d expected. Not every plot point is resolved, and a few of the beats you‘d expect it to hit are given a miss. It‘s surprising, but not jarring. Pick it up if you‘re a politics nerd (like me!) with a penchant for steamy office romances and slightly ridiculous schemes. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/love-hate-clickbait-liz-bowery/

shanaqui Ooh... I'm tempted! 4mo
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Alias Grace: A Novel | Margaret Atwood
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Alias Grace is a fascinating and compelling work of historical fiction, one that tells us just as much about Canadian society and gender roles and the field of psychiatry at the time as it does the crimes of Grace Marks. I also loved the sneaky Gothic elements, which felt very true to form for a story of this nature. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/alias-grace-margaret-atwood/

jlhammar Such a great book! 5mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
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I was relieved to realise that my own personal library (now at 900+ titles) is perfectly reasonable… but equally terrified to learn new-to-me terms like BABLE (Book Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy). This was a thoroughly enjoyable and highly readable overview of another lifelong bibliophile‘s development. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/no-one-round-here-reads-tolstoy-mark-hodkin...

SRWCF This sounds so interesting! 5mo
Leftcoastzen I‘m an extreme BABLE . 5mo
marleed I kind of love this acronym/word. 4mo
Nute Thank you for reminding me with this post that I wanted to read this book. A few years back, I remember making a choice of another book over this one, but stating to myself that I would come back it. Now it is several years later. 4mo
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Milkman | Anna Burns
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If William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf had a love child who grew up in 1970s Belfast, they would write this book. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/milkman-anna-burns/

CarolynM Your full review is terrific. It‘s a remarkable book. 5mo
IuliaC Wonderful review of a great book! 5mo
keepingupwiththepenguins @CarolynM Awww thank you! 😍 5mo
keepingupwiththepenguins @IuliaC Thank you so much!! ❤ ❤ ❤ 5mo
BkClubCare LOVED this one 💛🖤💖 3mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
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I think it‘s important that you don‘t rely on my (white) reading of This All Come Back Now. Listen to First Nations readers when they share their thoughts, and read it for yourself to learn and understand. This carefully curated collection is, of course, by and for First Nations people, but it‘s required reading for all who live in the colony. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/this-all-come-back-now-mykaela-saunders/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
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I guess I came to Say Nothing expecting a bit more true crime, and a little less history – which is a fault of my own, not Keefe‘s incredible work. It‘s less of a family saga than Empire Of Pain, and more a documentary-style investigation into the consequences of violence and silence. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/say-nothing-patrick-radden-keefe/

kspenmoll I just loved this book, but I am a history major! He investigative journalism is extraordinary- Empire of Pain was indeed focused on the Sackler family as they were Purdue Pharma. 5mo
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Weather Girl | Rachel Lynn Solomon
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I inhaled Weather Girl in one sitting. The plot is just the right level of ridiculous for a rom-com, the characters are well-developed and well-intentioned, and it has plenty of snort-laughs to offer. Best of all, though, were the steamy and – this is key – realistic sex scenes! Honestly, I wanted to high-five Solomon through the page. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/weather-girl-rachel-lynn-solomon/

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UNPOPULAR OPINION 🚨 Conversations With Friends is a better book than Normal People. It‘s a better rendering of intimacy, and the way we perceive ourselves and each other. It‘s more readable and interesting, it‘s more dynamic, and I liked it much better. Maybe I shouldn‘t have been so quick to write off Beautiful World, Where Are You? after all. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/conversations-with-friends-sally-rooney/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
Sadvertising | Ennis Cehic
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Every so often, a short story collection comes along that changes the game completely. In 2017, it was Carmen Maria Machado‘s Her Body And Other Parties. I‘m pretty confident that Ennis Ćehić‘s Sadvertising is next. BRILLIANT. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/sadvertising-ennis-cehic/

Kimzey Great review! Made me check out The Speechwriter too. 📚 5mo
keepingupwiththepenguins @Kimzey Oh, fantastic!! It's a criminally underrated book, I'd love to see more people read it 😍 please do let me know what you think of it if you do! 5mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
Instructions for a Heatwave | Maggie O'Farrell
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This one slots into the middle of the Venn diagram of the “popular” and the “literary”, offering a rich family drama with a curious mystery to draw you in. And O‘Farrell does a remarkable job at guiding the reader through. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/instructions-for-a-heatwave-maggie-ofarrell...

Ericalambbrown Oooohh! I loved Hamnet but that‘s the only book of her‘s I‘ve ever read. Stacking this! 6mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
In A New York Minute | Kate Spencer
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This is a very gentle read. The stakes are low, the early conflict is minor, and there are no triggers as far as I can tell. The only downside is that there‘s not a lot thrusting the plot forward. Aside from a few speed-bumps, everything cruises along to an easy resolution. Still, In A New York Minute has a lovely premise and it makes for good-clean-fun reading. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/in-a-new-york-minute-kate-spencer/

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keepingupwiththepenguins
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Mehso-so

I don‘t read a lot of plays, so I‘m not sure if this is a universal feeling for the format or specific to Waiting For Godot, but I couldn‘t help feeling it would be better to see it played out on stage than to read it. Beckett writes in a lot of visual gags and slapstick humour as stage directions, and rhythmically it just seems like it would be better read aloud. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/waiting-for-godot-samuel-beckett/

TheLudicReader I think that's the problem with plays; they are really meant to be seen. 6mo
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keepingupwiththepenguins
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A decent chunk of this one is made up of extracts from Tedeschi‘s addresses to the jury, and this was what I found most interesting (other parts relied a little too heavily on speculation for my taste). It was fascinating to see how prosecutors speak and present complex evidence to laypeople, and why they make the choices they do in how they argue a case. Full review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/missing-presumed-dead-mark-tedeschi/