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Number One Chinese Restaurant
Number One Chinese Restaurant: A Novel | Lillian Li
An exuberant and wise multigenerational debut novel about the complicated lives and loves of people working in everyones favorite Chinese restaurant. The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is not only a beloved go-to setting for hunger pangs and celebrations; it is its own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting, loving, and aging within its walls for decades. When disaster strikes, this working familys controlled chaos is set loose, forcing each character to confront the conflicts that fast-paced restaurant life has kept at bay. Owner Jimmy Han hopes to leave his late fathers homespun establishment for a fancier one. Jimmys older brother, Johnny, and Johnnys daughter, Annie, ache to return to a time before a fathers absence and a teenagers silence pushed them apart. Nan and Ah-Jack, longtime Duck House employees, are tempted to turn their thirty-year friendship into something else, even as Nans son, Pat, struggles to stay out of trouble. And when Pat and Annie, caught in a mix of youthful lust and boredom, find themselves in a dangerous game that implicates them in the Duck House tragedy, their families must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice to help their children. Generous in spirit, unaffected in its intelligence, multi-voiced, poignant, and darkly funny, Number One Chinese Restaurant looks beyond red tablecloths and silkscreen murals to share an unforgettable story about youth and aging, parents and children, and all the ways that our families destroy us while also keeping us grounded and alive.
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Hestapleton
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Eggs 👌🏼📚🦜👏🏻 6mo
53 likes1 comment
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SqueakyChu
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This book is getting tough to read. Its characters are SO annoying! As you can see, I‘m taking a #PokemonGo break. I‘ll then have to decide if I want to finish this book. I‘ll probably try to continue it as it‘s a shared read for a #TIOLI challenge on #LibraryThing.

umbrellagirl Bronzer! 2y
SqueakyChu Yep! He‘s my current buddy! 😃 2y
SqueakyChu I like that Bronzer‘s colors match this book‘s cover. 😂 2y
SqueakyChu I‘m bailing on this book. I hate the characters who are all disrespectful individuals. The action is too chaotic, and I‘m unable to follow the details of the plot. I thought I‘d give this book a chance, but I really hate this story. (edited) 2y
20 likes1 stack add4 comments
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SqueakyChu
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I‘m not sure about this book. I won a copy of it on #LibraryThing Early Reviewers, but it was never sent to me. I found a large print version of it in my library so I‘m reading it now. So far I hate all of its characters. I sure do hope this book gets better as it‘s set in my own city of #Rockville #Maryland!

MicheleinPhilly I won this from Library Thing and never received it either! 2y
SqueakyChu @MicheleinPhilly I was really disappointed when it didn‘t arrive, but I‘ve won so many other books from LT that I just moved on to other reads. A few others haven‘t arrived, but most do. 2y
14 likes1 stack add2 comments
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youneverarrived
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Mehso-so

Nothing to write home about but still an entertaining read about family dynamics & being in the restaurant business. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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batsy
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Pickpick

I liked this just fine & was invested enough to read till the end, but I felt that it could have been better. I appreciated the depiction of a dysfunctional Chinese-American family & their restaurant business, but it did feel aggressively overwritten & workshopped to death, as others have mentioned. I felt the author's presence more strongly than I did the characters. A compelling look at family dynamics & the American Dream, but frustrating.

batsy I was reading this as part of the longlist for #womensprize2019 & am of course behind times 😅 … But I can understand why this didn't make the shortlist. 3y
JennyM I always love your reviews! Always spot on. And your coffee looks good ☕️😊 3y
ElishaLovesBooks Great review-I bought this one at a sale. So glad to prepare my expectations 😁 3y
batsy @JennyM Thank you! ❤️ And that's what's known locally as "white coffee", with Chinese origins... Felt fitting for the book ? 3y
batsy @ElishaLovesBooks Thank you ☺️ I'd love to know what you make of it. 3y
90 likes5 comments
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BrownGirlReading
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Bailedbailed

This one was a no go for me. Boring as fuck and I could have cared less about the restaurant. I wouldn‘t recommend it.🙄

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Redwritinghood
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Mehso-so

#womensprize2019 It took me too long to finish this book! My biggest issue is that there are too many characters in the book and most of them were underdeveloped so that they came across as caricature or stereotypes. The story mainly centers around a family that owns a Chinese restaurant that succumbs to fire. Unfortunately, the author tries a little too hard to jazz it up instead of dealing with the intricate family dynamics more deftly. 3⭐️

72 likes1 stack add
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BookishRedhead
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Mehso-so

Meh.
It was a nice little story about a Chinese family and their restaurant

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charl08
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My reading for the #womensprize continues...

Redwritinghood I‘m just starting this one, too. 👍🏻👍🏻 3y
41 likes1 stack add1 comment
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sprainedbrain
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Pickpick

Of the 16 books that made the Women‘s Prize for Fiction long list for this year, I had already read 5 and had 6 more on my tbr... so of course I decided to finish the whole list, and my many challenges/MtTBR can just wait a hot minute. 🤪

Tonight I finished 1/11, and I really enjoyed this audiobook! Well-written, with lots of drama and a whole cast of interesting characters, some that I loved and some that I despised.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

#womensprize2019

batsy Way to go! I'm sure you'll be able to do it. I'm interested in reading the longlist, too; quite a number of the titles are in my TBR. But so far I've only actually read one ... 😂 3y
sprainedbrain @batsy Ha! I probably wouldn‘t have tried if I hadn‘t read so many already. 😃 3y
charl08 Doing the same, or attempting to! 3y
146 likes3 stack adds3 comments
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suzisteffen
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Pickpick

The intensity of close third-person narration in multiple characters‘ heads ... w h e w. The humor, the pathos, the deep truth of family and loss and essential natures - it‘s impressive that this is a first novel. So controlled and so bleakly funny and sad at the same time. And so, so good about the restaurant business, immigration, & much more. A pointed, compelling illustration of the idea of essential natures. #literaryfiction

15 likes1 stack add
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suzisteffen
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In the middle of this one! A novel that‘s already covered arson, the planned takeover of a parent‘s house by her two sons, hush money owed and paid, adultery in the wake of a cancer diagnosis, and much more, with humor and almost with resignation at humanity‘s foibles. Can‘t say I particularly like it, but I‘m interested in what happens next.

suzisteffen Whew and I just looked at its Litsy numbers. Y‘all DO NOT like this one! I think it‘s well-written but yep, so far no super likeable characters. 3y
13 likes1 comment
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wen4blu
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Up next. Dysfunctional family plus food.

47 likes1 stack add
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mcctrish
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Pickpick

This book is like a train wreck you can‘t look away from or stop reading. Almost everyone is awful: self centred, ill humoured, broken and they make BAD choices because of it. Yet I kept hoping somebody, anybody would do the right thing, be kind, not be so cringeworthy. It‘s a testament to the writing that I stayed hooked to the end. It‘s not awesome but it has impact.

36 likes2 stack adds
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mcctrish
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The complete opposite of a love story yet things are done in the name of love 🤦🏻‍♀️ Happy Valentine‘s Day Littens ❤️

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mcctrish
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Another from my Christmas haul

30 likes2 stack adds
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MelissaSue81
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Mehso-so

Meh. This was basically a big soap opera. I didn‘t like any of the characters enough to care what happened.

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MelissaSue81
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I‘m about 100 pages in and I‘m agreeing with the others that these characters are pretty unlikable. However, I “lived” the plot of a fire at a family owned/run restaurant about 9 years ago... so I‘m finding it oddly relatable.

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Nitpickyabouttrains
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Mehso-so

I picked this book because it was on the best of list for npr this year. I would not have put it on a beat of list but it was an enjoyable read. It really explored an unlikable character in an unapologetic way. Overall I have not thought about it since I finished, though.

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sarahs.thoughts.on.books
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Panpan

While I finished this book, I would have preferred to bail. I kept on reading going that there would be more, but there never was. The characters were not likeable. The ones that might be likeable, you just don't get enough time with.

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Sapphire
Mehso-so

I never did really get to empathize or like any of the characters too much. Just an ok for me.

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Expandingbookshelf
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Panpan

I have been craving drunken noodles for WEEKS and these are just so good and I want to order another plate but I‘m worried the waitress will judge me. But I might do it anyway. As for the book...I didn‘t really like “Number One Chinese Restaurant.” There was nothing obviously wrong with it but I just never connected. I thought it was a boring and bloodless story about uninteresting people. My first pan of 2019 😑

MEGR My mouth is watering 😋 3y
13 likes1 comment
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EKonrad
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Mehso-so

Although it's hard to really root for anyone, Li does do a great job describing the motivations of the members of the Han family who run a well-respected and popular Chinese restaurant. As ambitions and greed take over, they soon see all of their hard work decimated. I enjoyed the inside look at immigrants trying to tackle the American dream, but there wasn't a lot of suspense to keep me inherently interested the whole time. 3.5 stars #Netgalley

42 likes1 stack add
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MadCatRamble
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Mehso-so

There‘s nothing wrong with Number One Chinese Restaurant - some of the characterization and use of language is lovely - but, in the end, it was just a banal story about banal, sometimes awful people. It also had the highly polished but almost voiceless quality you sometimes get in highly workshopped novels and / or MFA program writers, which I don‘t, personally, enjoy. In the end it was good enough, but bloodless and definitely just so-so.

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BooksForEmpathy
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Pickpick

Between a pick and so-so for me. This was short and sweet, and was plot-driven in a way that I don‘t gravitate towards really ever. However, I heard an interview with Lillian Li on the podcast Racist Sandwich and I was intrigued enough to give it a go. I love reading about the restaurant business, and learning about career waiters and the family behind The Duck House was fun! This also got me very excited for my trip to Shanghai in March!

IheartYA No 1 Chinese Restaurant is a few streets over from us. It's the only Chinese food we'll eat. 😂 3y
82 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Bookalong
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Pickpick

An enthralling and emotional family saga.
I enjoyed this one. It was very character driven. Author did a wonderful job developing these interesting set of characters. This one was slower paced but not in a bad way. It was full of drama and humour. Exploring relationships, their ups and downs, complications, and beauty. I also enjoyed the writing. I found her style unique. I found how she wrote about the family particularly well done.
#bookblogger

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ameliapacht
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Mehso-so

This book was supposed to be the IT book for summer book clubs but I found it to be a little underwhelming. There are so many great books on the market about the complexities of Asian American family life, I‘d reread Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet before picking this one up. Just my take!!

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Jee_HookedOnBookz
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Thank you for doing this @TheLibrarian and CONGRATS on your 70K Litfluence!! 🎉💃💃

#70kgiveaway

I have also tagged my fav read of 2018 so far. It was tough but one's gotta do what one's gotta do! 😅

TheLibrarian Thank you for entering! The book sounds interesting! 3y
Jee_HookedOnBookz @TheLibrarian yes it is especially if you're curious about Chinese family dynamics and culture😊 3y
Jee_HookedOnBookz @TheLibrarian no, Thank YOU for organizing and doing this giveaway to celebrate your achievement!! Congrats once again! 3y
21 likes3 comments
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Jee_HookedOnBookz
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Pickpick

Expect family drama, complex characters and relationships, love, betrayals, sibling rivalries, and power struggles. This novel is what you'd get from a Chinese drama, featuring a wealthy business family. If only my mom loves reading as much as I do, I'd recommend this to her! Full review: https://hookedonbookzblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/numberonechineserestaurant-by... #NumberOneChineseRestaurant #lillianli

12 likes1 stack add
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Lauren.Archer
Bailedbailed

I could not get into this book at all. Need to leave this behind.

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Lauren.Archer
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Home from vacation and unpacked. Gonna start this one, since it has to go back to the library soon.

sarahs.thoughts.on.books I just bought this book today. 3y
101 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Colleenma
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Looking forward to starting this. I am so into families who own restaurants and the dynamics behind the scenes

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MarticaMustRead
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Bailedbailed

😒🤦‍♀️👎 #Audiobook #Bummer

I got about 4 chpters in & just couldn't continue.

Maybe it was the deceiving bookcover or my preconceived assumptions, but all I know is that I'd been looking forward to some light hearted humor, likable characters & maybe a quirky story.

But I got oppressive, grimy feeling & just plain dull instead.

I considered trying it in print, but my coworker who did read it, said not to waste my time, so I won't. 🤷‍♀️

LiteraryinLawrence Whoa, that‘s so good to know! I was (am) expecting the same qualities you were, so now I need to change my preconceptions... and see if I still want to read it. 3y
MarticaMustRead Good luck @LiteraryinLititz , hope you're able to enjoy it the way that I wasn't able to! 3y
31 likes2 comments
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razmanda
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Pickpick

Such an immersive book! Great cast of mostly unlikable characters, but lots of heart and heartbreak. It ends a little abruptly and doesn‘t quite satisfy but overall, compelling. First book finished for #24in48!

26 likes1 stack add
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razmanda
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Just got the toddler beast down for a nap so gonna try to get a little more reading in and then follow her lead. Readathon plus tiny human is tricky! #24in48

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BookshelfAl
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It's tough to make progress in @24in48 readathon when you keep getting commentary from the peanut gallery.
6 yo- Ha! Mom is reading a book about a duck!
Me- It's a book about a restaurant.
6yo- A DUCK WORKS AT A RESTAURANT?!?
Me- No. The restaurant serves duck.
6yo- The duck is trying to get away?
Me- All the ducks in this book are dead.
4 yo- (takes the book away). There's no pictures in there.
#readathon #24in48 #24in48readathon

Sace 😂 3y
12 likes1 comment
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razmanda
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First up for #24in48! Also have an audiobook queued up and a play date at the library‘s story-time on deck.

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BookshelfAl
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After doing Agatha Christie on audio for a bit for the @24in48 readathon, I'm gonna move on to a physical book! This cover is delightful 😃

#readathon #24in48 #24in48readathon

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RealLifeReading
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2. 29c/84F and 16c/60F
3. Penne with sausage, zucchini and asparagus
4. That‘s a funny question! Erm make 10 copies?
5. Cold barley tea
#humpdaypost

MinDea How are you liking this book? 3y
XenaBooks Looks tasty. 3y
83 likes2 comments
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RealLifeReading
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Pickpick

This wasn‘t a definite 🤘for me. We didn‘t exactly start out as best friends, this book and I. I was wanting more for our relationship, expecting book here to leave me salivating and craving Chinese food (yes, even Chinese-American food) so I was a bit disappointed. But our friendship grew as I realized this was a book about the drama of ordinary families, amid the struggles of a second generation running a restaurant. More 👇

RealLifeReading And like a Chinese eatery, it is loud and chaotic and sometimes the service can be brusque but in the end you leave satiated. 3y
Liatrek Loved this review❤️ I‘m adding to my TBR😊 3y
wallacereads My library hold just came in! 3y
123 likes4 stack adds3 comments
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hejmarguerite
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I am thoroughly enjoying this book and all its complex characters!

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RealLifeReading
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I‘m still slowly making my way through this book! Lunch is leftovers of kimchi fried rice, soy garlic wings and one last spicy wing and don‘t worry I also had some vegetable soup. I‘m attempting to make a blackberry sorbet - I don‘t have an ice cream machine so am trying out the freezer method! Wish me luck!

MommyOfTwo Good luck! 🍀 I hope it turns out! 3y
RadicalReader @RealLifeReading soy garlic wings sound deliciously sensational trifecta of terrific soy sauce garlic and chicken wings 3y
Kalalalatja Good luck! 3y
See All 6 Comments
BarbaraBB That food 😍 3y
RealLifeReading @MommyOfTwo @Kalalalatja the sorbet turned out to be so yummy although it doesn‘t really scoop very well! 3y
RealLifeReading @RadicalReader @BarbaraBB seeing that photo again makes me want to eat those wings. So good. 3y
141 likes1 stack add6 comments
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RealLifeReading
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I‘m a bit less than halfway through but am not really feeling this book. At first I thought maybe I was expecting a more quirky read (well I mean that cover) but now I realized it‘s because the book barely mentions food. It‘s here and there but it feels like it could do with far more.

Kalalalatja Great photo! 3y
LeahBergen Oh no! I expected this to have some good food writing. 😠 3y
111 likes2 comments
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RealLifeReading
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Things to do on a hot Saturday
- take the kids swimming ✅
- turn on the AC ✅
- crack open some beer ✅
- start on a new book ✅

Leftcoastzen I want to read that!😁 3y
BethFishReads I liked the book 3y
RealLifeReading @Leftcoastzen @BethFishReads I‘m enjoying it so far! 3y
175 likes6 stack adds3 comments
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JosieG
Bailedbailed

I've struggled and struggled with this book for awhile now, and I've made it all the way to 63%. I still don't care about any of the characters, and I feel like I'm forcing myself to read it every time. Moving on to something else.

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Preciouz29
Panpan

I think maybe this should be a so-so, but because it did not meet my expectations, it dropped to a pan. I was absolutely expecting one type of story and then I got this instead; kinda dreary.

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susanw
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Mehso-so

I liked the premise, a lot. I liked the writing. I liked the alternating points of view. I didn‘t care about any of the characters.I‘m not a person who needs likeable characters, but I do need to care about at least one of them. And in this one, I didn‘t care about any of them. Things just happened to them, no one really grew and their arcs were pretty flat. I felt it could have been so much more, so overall I was disappointed with what I got.

KateFulfordAuthor May I recommend my debut to you? Tight plot, sassy female protagonist and a well crafted characters 3y
65 likes1 comment
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BooksForEmpathy
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#bookmail! Loved coming home to these!! Anybody read these yet!?

LeahBergen No, but I want to read both. 😄 3y
RobinGustafson Keep hearing awesome things about The Great Believers. Can‘t wait to read it! 3y
saresmoore I‘m echoing @LeahBergen once again! 3y
Jess I‘m 100 pages into The Great Believers and I can already tell this is going to break my heart. It‘s really good. 3y
minkyb Same as @Jess which is making me read slowly. 3y
83 likes1 stack add5 comments