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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 everyone’s 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 family’s 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 father’s homespun establishment for a fancier one. Jimmy’s older brother, Johnny, and Johnny’s daughter, Annie, ache to return to a time before a father’s absence and a teenager’s 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 Nan’s 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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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. 2mo
JennyM I always love your reviews! Always spot on. And your coffee looks good ☕️😊 2mo
ElishaLovesBooks Great review-I bought this one at a sale. So glad to prepare my expectations 😁 2mo
batsy @JennyM Thank you! ❤️ And that's what's known locally as "white coffee", with Chinese origins... Felt fitting for the book ? 2mo
batsy @ElishaLovesBooks Thank you ☺️ I'd love to know what you make of it. 2mo
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⭐️

70 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. 👍🏻👍🏻 3mo
41 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Annl
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I have to garden and do laundry and get ready to go back to school on Monday, but here is a small tbr and I have finished one book, started another, and have read for almost 5 hours! #24b4Monday. @Andrew65 @TheReadingMermaid

Crazeedi I like the gaslight series!! 3mo
Annl @Crazeedi I just followed you and see you are also starting on the Elly Griffiths series. I have the first book on hold at the library! Great minds! 3mo
Andrew65 @Crazeedi @Annl I read the first two in the Gaslight Series in January and loved them, but having trouble getting hold of book 3. The Elly Griffiths Series is one of my favourites. 3mo
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Andrew65 Well done on the time. 👍 3mo
Crazeedi @Andrew65 I started the gaslight series a couple years ago when I found out the author teaches at a school close to me. Seton Hall in western PA. I enjoy the series. Elly Griffiths series is going to be a favorite now too! 3mo
Crazeedi @Annl great minds indeed! You will like! I have to try to get the next couple either borrowed or holds placed! 3mo
Crazeedi @Andrew65 I'm so sorry I gave my series to my local little library or I would have given them to you😥 3mo
Andrew65 @Crazeedi No problem, 😊, I‘ll chase them down! 3mo
Annl @Andrew65 the friend who loaned the books to me had to order the first three from a thrift store in Atlanta. She has managed to acquire the next 2 from her library. 3mo
Andrew65 @Annl Not sure why my library has ignored this series! 3mo
31 likes1 stack add10 comments
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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 ... 😂 3mo
sprainedbrain @batsy Ha! I probably wouldn‘t have tried if I hadn‘t read so many already. 😃 3mo
charl08 Doing the same, or attempting to! 3mo
146 likes3 stack adds3 comments
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fleeting
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Today's companion as I wait for the café which never opened. 😒 I'm enjoying this so far, because of its interesting family dynamics and character studies. Hopefully this will continue to be good!

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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. 3mo
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.

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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

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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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essayareayaitch
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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 😋 5mo
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

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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. 😂 6mo
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! 8mo
Jee_HookedOnBookz @TheLibrarian yes it is especially if you're curious about Chinese family dynamics and culture😊 8mo
Jee_HookedOnBookz @TheLibrarian no, Thank YOU for organizing and doing this giveaway to celebrate your achievement!! Congrats once again! 8mo
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.

essayareayaitch I just bought this book today. 10mo
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. 🤷‍♀️

LiteraryinLititz 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. 11mo
MarticaMustRead Good luck @LiteraryinLititz , hope you're able to enjoy it the way that I wasn't able to! 11mo
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

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? 11mo
XenaBooks Looks tasty. 11mo
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. 11mo
Liatrek Loved this review❤️ I‘m adding to my TBR😊 11mo
wallacereads My library hold just came in! 11mo
123 likes5 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! 11mo
RadicalReader @RealLifeReading soy garlic wings sound deliciously sensational trifecta of terrific soy sauce garlic and chicken wings 11mo
Kalalalatja Good luck! 11mo
See All 6 Comments
BarbaraBB That food 😍 11mo
RealLifeReading @MommyOfTwo @Kalalalatja the sorbet turned out to be so yummy although it doesn‘t really scoop very well! 11mo
RealLifeReading @RadicalReader @BarbaraBB seeing that photo again makes me want to eat those wings. So good. 11mo
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! 11mo
LeahBergen Oh no! I expected this to have some good food writing. 😠 11mo
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!😁 11mo
BethFishReads I liked the book 11mo
RealLifeReading @Leftcoastzen @BethFishReads I‘m enjoying it so far! 11mo
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 12mo
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. 😄 12mo
RobinGustafson Keep hearing awesome things about The Great Believers. Can‘t wait to read it! 12mo
saresmoore I‘m echoing @LeahBergen once again! 12mo
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. 12mo
minkyb Same as @Jess which is making me read slowly. 12mo
83 likes1 stack add5 comments
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BookishShelly
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I saw this on the new shelves at the library and had to get it.

AmyG I have heard good things. Let us know what you think. 12mo
Jaimelire Sounds entertaining! 12mo
47 likes2 comments
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JosieG

“You‘re not okay right now,” she said. “You probably haven‘t been okay in a while . But you‘re going to survive this.”

JosieG Sometimes you just need to hear it. ❤ 12mo
47 likes1 comment
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susanw
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Three totally and completely different books on the go. All really really good! I struggle with which one to pick up. Ya, ya, I know there are worse problem to have. I envy you monogamous readers. #bookpeopleproblems

ephemeralwaltz Same! Juggling 3 right now too. 12mo
JacqMac I‘m juggling two. But I have another one that I‘m not going to be able to resist much longer. 12mo
54 likes2 comments