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The Ensemble
The Ensemble: A Novel | Aja Gabel
The addictive debut novel about four young friends navigating the cutthroat world of music and their complex relationships with one another, as ambition, passion, and love intertwine over the course of their lives. Brit is the second violinist, a beautiful and quiet orphan; on the viola is Henry, a prodigy who's always had it easy; the cellist is Daniel, the oldest, the angry skeptic who sleeps around; and on first violin is Jana, their flinty, resilient leader. Together, they are the Van Ness String Quartet. In The Ensemble, each person picks up the melody, from the group's youthful rocky start through to adulthood. As they navigate devastating failures and wild success, heartbreak and marriage, triumph and loss, betrayal and enduring loyalty, they are always tied together--by career, by the intensity of their art, by the secrets they carry, and by choosing each other over and over again. Following these four unforgettable characters, Aja Gabel's debut novel gives a behind-the-scenes look into the competitive, mysterious world of high level musicians. The story of Brit and Henry and Daniel and Jana, The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth.
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bourne.shell
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Pickpick

I can't believe how much I liked this book. It's basically all character development with just enough plot to move the story along. The idea of musicians as family was very engaging, loved the characters and how intimate without being sexual they were. It shows how deep their love is for each member of the group and what kind of an impact they had on each other. I would recommend this to others, it's worth your time

LauraBeth I really like your description and haven‘t felt compelled to read this until now. 6d
bourne.shell @LauraBeth Perfect! I'm still shocked I picked this up. I had it in a stack with 3 or 4 other books and it was one of those, where you find reasons to read all the other books first. But I'm so glad I did. It's a beautiful story of 4 people sharing life together as they grow old and the joys and pain of being as tight knit as a family. 6d
3 likes2 comments
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elisebarker
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Pickpick

I LOVED this book!!! It was very nostalgic for me because I was a music major in college and all of the musical terms and the beautiful way being in an ensemble was described was perfect. Beautifully written!!

JennyM I loved this one too! It doesn‘t get enough #litsylove ♥️ 2mo
14 likes1 stack add1 comment
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NicoleThatsMe
Mehso-so

For me I really did enjoy the characters and the music but the plot did get kinda boring. It didn‘t feel like I wanted to know what the ending was. I just wanted to get to the next book.

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Stephaniereads1
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Mehso-so

I don‘t know how I feel. I liked the cover and into music so I gave it a try. It‘s about the relationship between a music group and their personal connections with each other.

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Stephaniereads1
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Starting this.

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Aloisi_tribe
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Pickpick

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This book was recommended by Anne Bogel and Annie Smith on their podcasts. The Ensemble is the story of a string quartet, its four members, and their families. It‘s a book about families you‘re born into and families you choose. For those that like plot and action, this book isn‘t for you. But if you like in-depth character studies and addictive writing, this might be right up your alley.

21 likes1 stack add
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sudi
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1. The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
2. No plans
3. Brown 😑
4. I think it would be a variation of the name i currently have, so i will say Sudhesh 😂
5. Done ❤❤❤

#Friyayintro @howjessreads

CouronneDhiver Ooo - that‘s a great book cover! 6mo
48 likes1 comment
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Cinfhen
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Feeling blessed ❤️awesome #bookmail from @squirrelbrain 🙌🏻 My very own Litsy Book Mail stickers that I‘ve been coveting with the cutest Christmas card & a gorgeous book from my sweet SIL she said the cover was screaming “Cindy”❣️❣️❣️I‘m ridiculously excited about the stickers🤗🤗🤗Thanks so much for thinking of me @squirrelbrain 😘

kspenmoll Litsy stickers?!! Fabulous! 8mo
Cinfhen I know!!! Right!!!! I‘m beyond excited @kspenmoll I ALMOST don‘t want to use them 8mo
BookaholicNatty Ahhhhhh those are the best stickers EVER!!!!!!!!! 8mo
See All 20 Comments
Cinfhen @squirrelbrain ‘s husband designed and produced them!!! Maybe you can purchase them!!! We need a Litsy shop!!!! I‘d buy them @BookaholicNatty (edited) 8mo
BookaholicNatty @squirrelbrain I would sooooo buy some!!!!!!! @Cinfhen we soooo need a #Litsy shop! I would totally buy tons of gear and stuff!!! 8mo
Cinfhen I was looking for a business venture @BookaholicNatty I need to talk to the higher ups!!!! ohhh, the possibilities are endless 8mo
squirrelbrain Glad you like them @Cinfhen ! @BookaholicNatty I‘m happy just to send you some if you send me your address to helenharrogate at gmail dot com ❤️ 8mo
Kalalalatja Cute stickers! 👌 8mo
BookaholicNatty @Cinfhen I think that‘s a wonderful idea! Like so good! People could use #Litsyswag for swaps. The possibilities really could be endless! ❤️❤️❤️😍 8mo
TrishB I get very precious about my stickers. They‘re awesome aren‘t they! 8mo
Cinfhen I first saw them on a package from you @TrishB and they are adorable @Kalalalatja You really could start a side business @squirrelbrain and YOUR personalized stickers are FANTASTIC 🐿❣️ 8mo
squirrelbrain I know @Cinfhen - I love my squirrelbrain stickers! 🐿❤️ 8mo
kspenmoll Agree to all the above @squirrelbrain !!! 8mo
kspenmoll Litsy shop!!!‘ 8mo
JennyM The book is excellent. One of my faves this year. Hope you enjoy 😊 8mo
Cinfhen I remember you posted this book a few months ago @JennyM I‘m looking forward to reading it 🧡I‘m worried how my hubby will react when I tell him I want to own a Litsy Swag Shop @kspenmoll @BookaholicNatty @squirrelbrain 🙄😬 8mo
squirrelbrain @Cinfhen @kspenmoll @BookaholicNatty I mentioned it to my husband last night and he was fine with us opening a shop! 🤪He suggested we sell bookmarks, blankets and chocolate as well! 8mo
Cinfhen And mugs, totes, teas, socks, pens and candles!!! @squirrelbrain xx #SwagShop 8mo
Cinfhen Ohhhh.... magnets & book pins!!!! 8mo
Reviewsbylola I love this cover and the stickers are awesome!! 8mo
106 likes20 comments
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lovelybookshelf
Mehso-so

This started out great, but somewhere along the way I started getting bored. From the halfway point on I felt like I was slogging to the end. These characters weren't interesting to me, and came across almost cliche as far as musicians go. I don't have strong feelings either way about the novel. But the writing is lovely, and I'm sure I'll give Gabel another try in the future.

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JSW
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Library haul! Plus Kleenex for the first cold of the season.

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SincerelyWinona
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Love is inexact... it is not a science. It is barely a noun. It means one thing to one person, and another thing to another. It means one thing to one person at one point and then something else at another point. It doesn‘t make sense. We are gathered here today to not make sense... I love you, it‘s a mystery. Because it‘s a mystery we have to take care of it. Feed it. It can go missing, but we can‘t tie it up. We can only tie it to someone else.

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Deborah42
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Pickpick

This reminded me of The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, but with main characters bound together by the music they make together rather than a summer camp experience.

Four musicians form an ensemble (two violins, a cello, and a viola) while in graduate school and then spend the next two decades navigating their lives, relationships, and careers.

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JennyM
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Pickpick

This is a beautifully written book and easily one of the best I‘ve read this year. While the story is centred around the lives and careers of a classical music quartet, Gabel has managed, in my opinion, to essentially capture the human experience. Raw, messy, sad, joyful...I found it deeply moving, and I am so glad to have read it.

Cathythoughts Great review... I‘d like to read this too. Stacked 🎼❤️ 11mo
Cinfhen Wonderful review and stunning cover 11mo
CarolynM Sounds great. Stacked! 11mo
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erzascarletbookgasm The cover is gorgeous! 11mo
JennyM @erzascarletbookgasm @cinfhen the cover is gorgeous! 11mo
JennyM @Cathythoughts hope you both enjoy it as much as I did. And I hope you are enjoying your hols @CarolynM xx 11mo
LeeRHarry Stacked - because you liked it! 😆 11mo
JennyM @LeeRHarry Ha, and I bet you‘ll enjoy it 😊How‘s 11mo
JennyM @LeeRHarry told you we are synced...you just answered my question in another post 🤣 11mo
LeeRHarry @JennyM omg that‘s too weird I just commented on your Loving Frank post! I loved it!! I think they‘ll be a lot of discussion to be had at book club at the end of the month! Guess I forgot to review it 😏 (edited) 11mo
CarolynM Thanks, we had a great time. 😃 First day back in real life today.🙁 11mo
67 likes3 stack adds11 comments
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Avidreader25
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Pickpick

“The inadequacy of human mourning was part of the horror...
Music solved the inadequacy with extra human expression, if only temporarily.”

I loved the writing in this one, but sometimes struggle to connect with the characters. It follows the lives of a string quartet over two decades. It reminded me a little bit of The Interestings.

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KatrinaRose
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Pickpick

Poignant story of four..well, I wouldn‘t call them friends...connected through their music and followed throughout their lives to see if they can change or grow or escape their backgrounds. A little glimpse into the world of classical music artists. Reminded me of The Interestings and A Little Life (but not depressing).

eraderneely I just finished this as well and your review is spot on. 11mo
Avidreader25 It reminded me of The Interestings as well! 11mo
KatrinaRose @Avidreader25 Yes! ☺️I need to reread that one, I remember really enjoying it! 11mo
85 likes3 stack adds3 comments
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eraderneely
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Pickpick

I love a story about a found-family, and in a way that‘s what this quartet was to each other. There are good things and bad things, and they love each other through them. I don‘t know how else to say it, but the book made me feel warm.

Thousand-Lives I loved this one. Great review! 11mo
eraderneely @Thousand-Lives Thanks! 11mo
Jee_HookedOnBookz So drawn to the cover! 😍😍 10mo
eraderneely @Jee_HookedOnBookz Its stunning isn‘t it? That‘s a large part of the reason I picked it up in the first place. 10mo
Jee_HookedOnBookz @eraderneely OH, we book lovers! We are beyond help! Lolol 10mo
19 likes1 stack add5 comments
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carriepaige
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@MicheleinPhilly wants to see stacks of books! Well here‘s what I‘m currently choosing from in deciding what to read next. Which one should I pick?? Thanks for the chance to enter this giveaway 😊. #SHOWME

MicheleinPhilly Hmmm, I haven‘t read any of these yet but I do have The Ensemble so I vote for that! Thanks for entering! 11mo
RebelReader My friend Mary read Fruit from a Drunken Tree and loved it! Our book group will read it when it comes out in paperback. I have it now but will wait to read it until then. 😕 11mo
carriepaige @MicheleinPhilly thanks for the opportunity! 11mo
carriepaige @RebelReader it‘s getting great reviews so that might have to be next! 11mo
RebelReader @carriepaige You‘ll have to let me know what you think of it! 11mo
22 likes5 comments
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JennyM
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21 | #SeptemberDanes

Even with the library sticker, I think this cover is just #SoBeautiful 💐

Cinfhen It is!!!! Curious about the book!!! 11mo
JennyM @Cinfhen I‘ve not read it yet, but it comes highly recommended from @suvata 11mo
Cinfhen I‘ll be waiting & watching 🤓 11mo
Kalalalatja I love the brightness of it 😍 11mo
65 likes4 comments
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Expandingbookshelf
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Pickpick

Full disclosure: I picked up “The Ensemble” from the library only because I loved the cover 💛 I mean, look at it 🤩

Luckily, the book also happened to be really good! Who knew? This remarkable debut from is about four friends who form a string quartet. While navigating life, love, and loss, they always find a way to return to the music-and to each other. It‘s beautifully written, and addicting to read.

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theshrinkette
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Getting some reading in before heading into work, hopefully it will squash the Monday blues.

57 likes1 stack add
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8little_paws
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Pickpick

Great, strong debut. These four members of a string quartet grow and change together and separately. About maintaining that work/ life balance when the work gives you so much life, but will it always be that way as the years go on? I didn't want to put it down. Pic is of my foster cat Mr Jinx who enjoyed roaming my living room while I read.

AlaMich He‘s adorable! 12mo
WhatDeeReads I was about to ask if you‘d finished. 12mo
56 likes2 comments
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8little_paws
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It's muggy out and I got all my to do list stuff done so yes I do think I'll just binge read this today indoors.

Reviewsbylola I always love doing a bunch of chores first thing so I can then read without guilt! 12mo
55 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Heymeff
Pickpick

If music could be translated into words, it would be through Gabel‘s sentences. If you love messy friendships and following characters who are flawed and complex, this is for you!

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suvata
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Pickpick

I like listening to classical music but I am by no means an aficionado. So, when I saw this book on the #MMD summer reading list, I didn‘t expect to appreciate it fully. Yet, it is one of the most beautifully written stories I‘ve read recently. I‘m sure that if I knew more about the music I would have appreciated it even more. But, don‘t let that stop you from reading it. It‘s a wonderful story.

Texreader Gorgeous cover! 💐🌷🌹🥀🌺🌸🌼🌻 12mo
suvata @Texreader I thought so too 12mo
5280reader Thanks for sharing! I love classical music and this might be a future read! 12mo
70 likes5 stack adds3 comments
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suvata
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I‘m in for this weekend. 😎
#12intwo @Samplergal

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RosieBoo65
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Pickpick

For the musician or music lover, this book will strike the perfect chord for literary fiction. I call it the musical version of Crossing to Safety. You follow the lives of a quartet (which I‘m surprised wasn‘t the title, though I see why it is Ensemble) from college through adulthood and the changing of seasons of life that change like keys in music. Britt, Daniel, Henry, and Jana all play music together as if they were born to do it.

1 like1 stack add
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moarbookspleaze
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The timing of my hold coming in on this was perfect. #upnext

moarbookspleaze I have the hardback too but having the audio can really help me get started and I can keep reading even when I can‘t sit down and read. 13mo
30 likes1 comment
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Thousand-Lives
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Pickpick

A quiet and beautifully written novel that follows the lives of four friends and members of a string quartet. Although I am not a musician, I still found the characters highly relatable and interesting. If you like character driven novels, give this one a try.

britt_brooke That cover is so gorgeous! Pretty photo. 💚 13mo
47 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Thousand-Lives
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No better way to start the day! I know these quiet mornings will be few and far between once school starts back next week, so I‘m savoring this time today. Happy reading everyone! ☺️

readordierachel I like your bookmark 🙂 13mo
Thousand-Lives @ReadOrDieRachel Thank you! It‘s from a #pagehabit subscription box 😊 13mo
57 likes2 comments
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Thousand-Lives
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Settling in with this beauty 😍

JanJan I love the cover! My library hold on this just came in on audio too! I‘d be interested to know how you are liking it? 13mo
Thousand-Lives @JanJan I am really enjoying it. I have no real musical background but I am still finding the characters interesting and relatable. The prose is as lovely as the cover. I hope you enjoy it! 13mo
52 likes2 comments
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broughtyoubooks
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Mehso-so

This book is full of beautiful musicality and revived my love for music. I used to play violin (though prefer piano) and following the story through musical terms was incredible. My main complaint was that you lost familiarity with the characters in each leap through time, viewed from the perspective of one of the members of the quartet, and while that was kind of the point, it didn't work for me. (Plus the gossipy tones that broke through.)

sudi I love this cover 😍😍😍 13mo
100 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Nitpickyabouttrains
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Pickpick

Beautiful novel. It touched on an aspect of playing classical music I had not considered before.

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broughtyoubooks
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Left to right: read earlier this year, #currentlyreading and read (and bought) before her name was Juno.

SincerelyWinona I love how colorful the books in this post are! 10mo
79 likes1 comment
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REPollock
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Pickpick

I loved this book. It was about 1000% right up my alley, interpersonal drama among the members of a string quartet over the span of their collective career, peppered w/actual quartet compositional citations so you could listen along, as it were, to the music around which sections were based. Absolutely loved it.

There are a couple red herrings & dissonant moments & i could have completely done without the Coda, which felt tacked on but whatev.

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Preciouz29
Pickpick

Like a less peppy, but still feel the love book version of Mozart in the Jungle.

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BooksForEmpathy
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Pickpick

Finally finished this lovely novel up. Kind of fitting after reading If We Were Villains, because Aja Gabel is also just as obsessed and dedicated to music as Rio is to Shakespeare. The novel follows a quartet‘s members around through the years, as they struggle to make a name for themselves, reach success, and figure out what comes next as they grow together and apart. Beautiful prose, and a story that lingers, despite sometimes lacking depth.

catiewithac Nice rug! 13mo
Sydneyreads That cover though 😍😍 13mo
91 likes3 stack adds2 comments
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Owlizabeth
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Fingers crossed these are winners for me...I love the covers! #definitelyjudgingabookbyitscover

SilversReviews Tangerine will be a winner...give it a few chapters!! 😊 13mo
64 likes1 comment
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sophierayton
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Pickpick

There's something about a story about a tight-knit group of friends which just works every time. I thought the writing was beautiful and that there were some very astute observations. This made me want to get into chamber music and gave me a new appreciation of the work and sacrifices professional musicians have to go through.

5 likes2 stack adds
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UnabridgedPod
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Pickpick

I thoroughly enjoyed #thensemble. The pace wasn't overly fast, but the movement through time, describing the fates of the four members of the ensemble of the title, is revealing and removes unnecessary sentimentality. The descriptions of the music and its effects on the four are lovely, and the shifting through each person‘s perspective was compelling and revealing.

13 likes1 comment
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Bookmarkie
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I'm kind of running out of patience with this one.

39 likes1 stack add
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LitandLeisure

Add to my TBR on the recommendation of Annie Jones on @annebogel podcast episode 123.

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REPollock
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I just picked this up and I‘m already 20% into it. String quartet drama! ❤️

13 likes1 stack add
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erinreads
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Hit up two bookstores today. Top 3 are mine and the bottom one was my husband‘s pick. In love with this #bookhaul! 👌🏻

Libby1 Is that a picture of a green cat on your wall? 💚😻💚 1y
erinreads @Libby1 It is! It‘s a Warhol print that I got from the National Gallery of Art. 😻 1y
97 likes3 comments
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Briget66
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Mehso-so

I really wanted to love this book (look at that cover!). But about half way through I realized I hadn‘t bonded with any of the 4 main characters. It was like they were never fully fleshed out for me and even though I didn‘t dislike any of them (except for Daniel in the middle there), I didn‘t much LIKE any of them either. And towards the end I just found myself wishing the book would just End. So, sadly, this was only a so-so pick for me. 😕

mrozzz Hmmm 🤔 May put this off for a bit then. 1y
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
8 likes2 comments
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moarbookspleaze
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Before heading to the airport yesterday, we stopped in MacIntosh‘s Books and Paper where I picked up these items. And I met Brady the cat.

38 likes1 stack add
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BooksForEmpathy
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Diner food and this book! We are in Paso Robles for the Firestone Walker Beer Festival 🍻 this weekend and stopped for pancakes (and a lot of other things haha!) on our way back home. I love this book so much - all the characters are beautifully drawn and it‘s lyrical and intentional and psychologically driven 💕.

Blaire Saw this book recommended in Oprah mag - love the cover. 1y
Leftcoastzen 👍Paso Robles! 1y
87 likes5 stack adds2 comments
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thebluestocking
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this book about a string quartet. It follows the four members over 20 years of their career and shifts perspectives so you get inside each of their heads and lives. I heard about this one from the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide.

Augustdana That sounds interesting! Haven‘t heard about this one before! 1y
39 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Skybariline
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Mehso-so

This book shows what it is like to be part of a musical ensemble, in this case, a string quartet, and how the artistic process evolves over time. The quartet members become intimately involved in each others‘ lives. My favorite parts of this book were the descriptions of the performances and how it was the combination of four particular individuals that gave a unique vibrancy to the music being played. Some overly elaborate writing, though.

Cinfhen Great review🧡 1y
Mindyrecycles Love that cover. 1y
32 likes2 comments
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Briget66
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They volleyed back and forth a few times, their barbs getting hollower as they got meaner. This kind of meanness was meant for people having sex, people who could later expunge the meanness in the half-tender, half-violent act of merging.

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Briget66
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Another way to say it was: the practice had marched right up to the edge of being inappropriate, and enough was enough. They‘d never had sex, not even close. There‘d been nothing sexually charged about their relationship. Nothing really romantic either, unless you counted that feeling of mutual recognition when someone wraps her body around yours and you both go unconscious.