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The Incendiaries
The Incendiaries: A Novel | R. O. Kwon
A powerful, darkly glittering novel about violence, love, faith, and loss, as a young Korean American woman at an elite American university is drawn into acts of domestic terrorism by a cult tied to North Korea. Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn't tell anyone she blames herself for her mother's recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables to get by in secret. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe. Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is increasingly drawn into a religious group--a secretive extremist cult--founded by a charismatic former student, John Leal. He has an enigmatic past that involves North Korea and Phoebe's Korean American family. Meanwhile, Will struggles to confront the fundamentalism he's tried to escape, and the obsession consuming the one he loves. When the group bombs several buildings in the name of faith, killing five people, Phoebe disappears. Will devotes himself to finding her, tilting into obsession himself, seeking answers to what happened to Phoebe and if she could have been responsible for this violent act. The Incendiaries is a fractured love story and a brilliant examination of the minds of extremist terrorists, and of what can happen to people who lose what they love most.
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GidgetsTreasures75
The Incendiaries | R.O. Kwon
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10-2-19: My 80th finished book of 2019! #theincendiaries #rokwon I wanted to like this one more than I did. 📖#️⃣8️⃣0️⃣

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amyf0x
The Incendiaries | R.O. Kwon
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Pickpick

Will and Phoebe find each other and fall in love at college, but Phoebe‘s growing fascination with the enigmatic John Leal and his group of worshippers threatens to be a breaking point in their relationship.

Read September 7-12
Book 47/55

3 likes1 stack add
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ckonicek
The Incendiaries | R.O. Kwon
Pickpick

This was a pretty quick and enjoyable read! It's told through a couple different perspectives and I always love that when it's done well.

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Lauren890
The Incendiaries | R.O. Kwon
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Mehso-so

⭐️⭐️1/2 This book is hard to review. Her writing style is good, but I don‘t think it‘s my favorite. With some sections in first person and others third, it was difficult to really sink into. I was also frustrated that the book jacket told so much of the story. I did appreciate the exploration of losing and/or gaining faith. Ultimately it left me feeling sad and unsatisfied. Maybe that was the author‘s intension?

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Twocougs
The Incendiaries | R.O. Kwon
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Pickpick

More emotional than I expected, realistic, and incredibly sad. I enjoyed Kwon‘s interesting narrative style. My heart broke from the pain these characters felt.

BarbaraBB I loved this one too. 2mo
31 likes1 comment
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RaimeyGallant
The Incendiaries | R.O. Kwon
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Pickpick

A story about how loss (in this case, the death of a loved one) can lead to the seeking out of community (in this case, a cult), which in turn can lead to radicalization. I wouldn't say this the paciest story I've read this year, but I would say it's some of the best prose, and I'm looking forward to more from this author.

Christine Not the paciest - well said! And agreed, the prose makes me want to read more from Kwon. 2mo
RaimeyGallant @Christine Oh good! I'm not alone. :) 2mo
150 likes8 stack adds2 comments
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akfreeborn
The Incendiaries | R.O. Kwon
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Pickpick

This book was not as compelling as I hoped but it has left an image of class, religion and the catalysts to what could lead to violent acts and the power of guilt, pain and the pull of persuasion. I think this is a book you might think about for a while as the characters are more impressions than characters.

22 likes1 stack add
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emtobiasz
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Pickpick

This month‘s #under40bookclub pick is a story of college, privilege, obsession, religious fervor, and lies. I loved the technique and narrative style but was underwhelmed by the actual story. If you‘re going to give me a cult I want MORE of the details, not less! Still, at 210 pages I like a gut punch of a book, and this delivers. Definitely lots for a book club discussion.

61 likes2 stack adds
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mobygrapes
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Mehso-so

This felt like the adult version of Looking for Alaska by John Green. I loved the writing style and the ideas the author was playing with, but the characters never felt fully fleshed out and Phoebe specifically was a little too “manic pixie dream girl”. Fast read, so I would still recommend it if you‘re interested. But it lacked some things I was looking for.

CoffeeNBooks Welcome to Litsy! 📚 3mo
Slajaunie Welcome to Litsy! 📖📚💙 3mo
3 likes2 comments
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jenniferheidi
The Incendiaries | R.O. Kwon
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Mehso-so

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

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rmaclean4
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Mehso-so

Not sure I will remember this book in six months. I was not very invested in the characters and the story telling was very straight forward. Had some interesting observations about faith and the lies we tell ourselves and others.

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Megabooks
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Pickpick

I can‘t tell if this is weird-brilliant or weird-weird. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Leaning towards brilliant...

I promise I will give Kwon‘s second novel a read if she learns how to use quotation marks. If lack of these is a deal breaker, then skip this book.

I also recommend reading this in a day or two, totally possible because it pretty short. 3.5⭐️

Lindy For over 20 rears, my specialty at the public library was readers services, but it wasn‘t until I joined Litsy that I discovered some readers feel so strongly about quotation mark conventions. 6mo
suvata I had a real hard time getting into this book. 6mo
Megabooks @Lindy You know, I‘ve never thought to complain to a librarian in person, but friendly strangers on the internet, sure. 🤷🏻‍♀️😉 6mo
See All 6 Comments
Megabooks @suvata It‘s definitely weird. 6mo
BarbaraBB I really liked this one despite the mixed reviews it gets. 6mo
Megabooks @BarbaraBB It‘s definitely thought-provoking 6mo
93 likes6 comments
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Megabooks
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What is your beef with quotation marks, Kwon?? Hurts the flow so much for me. Sometimes I have no idea when people are talking!!

AlaMich I hate that. I just want to tell the author, you‘re not being fancy, you‘re just being pretentious and annoying! 6mo
Texreader I avoid authors who do that at all costs!! 6mo
CoverToCoverGirl Just no! 6mo
See All 6 Comments
Megabooks @AlaMich Yes! Pretentious and ANNOYING! 6mo
Megabooks @Texreader if this book weren‘t so short, I‘d probably give up! 6mo
74 likes6 comments
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DMC_run8
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This is the face of a cat who is settling in for a long nap after her mom returned one book to the library and came home with five more.

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Chelsea.Poole
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Mehso-so

Ugh. I hate when the writing is beautiful but the story itself is so lacking. I tried to keep an open mind, but I just did not enjoy this one, apart from the sparkling sentences sprinkled throughout. College students take different paths. Religion is a strong theme. I had the #audiobook from #Libby.

MelissaSue81 I felt similarly. Although the style of writing actually also confused me a lot and I had to keep going back and rereading. 6mo
mdhughes72 I‘m struggling to get through this one. Such a short book but so LOOOOONG to read! 6mo
Chelsea.Poole @MelissaSue81 same here! I lost my patience along the way. 6mo
Chelsea.Poole @mdhughes72 oh my gosh, I felt the same way, so long! 6mo
102 likes4 comments
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Godpants
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Panpan

How can a book that is only 200 pages feel SO DAMN LONG. This has all the makings of a novel that I would like, but it‘s so uninteresting.

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Jas16
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@AmyG Thank you so much my friend for this lovely surprise! This book looks so good that I am almost tempted to rearrange my day and start it immediately. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

AmyG My pleasure. Hope you have a wonderful day! 🎉 7mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks 💞💞💞 7mo
57 likes2 comments
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raeintheworld
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Pickpick

Lauren Groff calls this book God haunted, which is a perfect descriptor. Two people living with loss and guilt and the longing for faith. R. O. Kwon‘s description of the loss of faith is exquisite.

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katepoirier
Mehso-so

I wanted to like this book more than I did. Maybe it was because I listened to the audiobook instead of reading, but it felt like just when the story was just getting started, the book ended. I wasn‘t very interested in Will or John and wished I could have gotten to know Phoebe way better.

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suvata
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Panpan

I tried to like this book because it seemed like it was in my wheelhouse. There were some very engaging parts but, for the most part, I found the book rather confusing. In the end, I can only give it two stars. But, that‘s just me. Like Anne Bogel always reminds us, “Not every book is for every person, and that‘s OK.“

laurenslibrary I wasn't crazy about this one either 7mo
suvata @laurenslibrary I still think I would like to read her next book because the writing is good I just couldn‘t get into the story 7mo
Hooked_on_books Yup, I had a very similar response. 7mo
suvata @Hooked_on_books I‘m glad to know it wasn‘t just me 7mo
58 likes4 comments
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Decalino
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Pickpick

This intense, brief novel traces the relationship between two university students from very different backgrounds. Will is a former evangelical teen who lost his faith; Phoebe is a party girl whose carefree manner masks personal tragedy. When Phoebe is drawn into the orbit of a charismatic preacher, Will's jealousy battles with his desire to save her, and Phoebe's newfound faith leads her to take actions no one could have anticipated. Haunting.

17 likes2 stack adds
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clairemaire34
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Pickpick

Utterly compelling. Sparse and opaque, Kwon‘s prose requires focus, but it is far from a chore. I‘m still astonished at how she managed to alter my perspective with a single sentence in the final pages of the book.

2 likes1 stack add
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MEGR
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Mehso-so

There were some beautifully crafted sentences in this book. The beginning really had me....by the middle I was confused and wishing for more depth to the characters that I couldn‘t picture clearly. I kept reading in hopes the ending would redeem the flaws, but much like the characters in this book, there was no redemption.

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VinceReads
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Pickpick

I‘m soo behind on posting. I finished this like a week ago. Really enjoyed this one. It was a pretty quick read, I felt like the ending was a bit rushed and probably could have been drawn out a bit more but other than that, it was pretty solid.

4/5

49 likes1 stack add
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raeintheworld
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I am snuggled into bed with this beauty.

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MEGR
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“In this life of blue honey, I don‘t think of the waste. I lap; I crawl. Navel oranges shine like medallions. A hired man whistles, fishing out the rot. No one lacks food, or falls ill.”

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MEGR
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“She came up flailing, smiling to break her mouth.The lake healed itself around her hips. In a dress like the sun, she splashed out. She picked me up, spattering lake silt.I touched my mother‘s head,the hair wet,sanctified.”

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ElectricKatyLand
Pickpick

Excellent. Through an engrossing three-perspective narration, the novel examines what it means to have faith and the costs of (re)invention. Elite private college + a cult + the line between love/obsession/control. Highly recommend.

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VinceReads
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Starting this one next.

britt_brooke I liked this one a lot. Hope you enjoy! 8mo
54 likes1 comment
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ClairesReads
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Mehso-so

I expected to like more than I did, because at surface level, it ticks a lot of my favourite boxes. The Incendiaries is told in sparse, carefully crafted prose, is driven by exploration into the psyche of its characters, and asks big questions about big ideas like faith and violence. Unfortunately, all this potential was a bit unrealised for me. Kwon is undoubtedly a talented writer, with some interesting and challenging ideas.

36 likes1 stack add
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Courtneynobody
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Probably not the worst villain, but the first to spring to mind—I was incredibly bored by John Leal in The Incendiaries. For a cult leader, he‘s really not given enough charisma or backstory to make him compelling. #lovehate

KatieDid927 This is a good one. 8mo
ErinSueMreads Gosh how do you make a cult leader boring???? 8mo
TheLibrarian I agree!! 8mo
8 likes3 comments
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ClairesReads
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Nothing like a cult novel 👌🏻

45 likes1 stack add
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TheLibrarian
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Mehso-so

Meh. The writing was ok but I found the book confusing at first and slightly boring.

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Briget66
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Pickpick

I liked the writing, I liked the style but I‘d say, for me, this book feel midway between a so-so and a pick. A solid 3.5 ⭐️

BookishMarginalia I agree 9mo
7 likes1 comment
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donnalyy
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Mehso-so

I wanted to love this book and I‘m sad I didn‘t. Many people who have the same tastes as me love this book. And I totally rock with the author. I think if I had read it at another point in my life, I would have absolutely rode for it. The writing is beautiful in its own way. The voices are distinct and trippy. It def gets points for Asian-American working class characters and complicated, deep love, and the painful ways we try to find belonging.

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MicheleinPhilly
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Pickpick

My opinion continuously shifted over the course of this slim novel. While there is a lot to unpack about the nature of obsession and religion none of the characters were presented in a way for me to understand WHY the obsessions took root. Perhaps that‘s part of the danger - I wouldn‘t fall for it so why would anyone else? I‘ll be thinking about this one for a long time and R.O. Kwon is immensely talented. 3.75-4 🌟.

Christine Yes! Well-put, and agreed re: Kwon‘s talent - I look forward to reading more from her. 9mo
Reggie I wanna read this one so bad. Even badder now, lol, after your review. 9mo
Megabooks Agreed. Interesting book! 9mo
89 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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Courtneyjo_reads
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Mehso-so

1.3.19 This book took me a while to get into and enjoy. The way the story is written and told is odd and different to get used to at first. For the first half of the book I was waiting for something interesting to happen. To be honest I was getting a little bored and almost returned it to the library - but I am SO glad I finished it.
The events that happen towards the end of the book are shocking and heartbreaking, definitely worth the read!

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BarbaraBB
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#decemberstats #Decemberwrapup

Fourteen books read made December an excellent reading month. Again no 5* reads, but the tagged one came close and the three others were my 4* reads.

With more books read than ever this year, totally based on Litsy 💕, I am looking forward to next year and wish you all a #HappyNewYear 🥂💃💋

#WinterWonderland

Cinfhen Cheers to you my lovely friend 🥂I‘ve been on the fence about My Absolute Darling... not sure I can read it. 10mo
TrishB Happy New Year, hope it‘s a wonderful one. ❤️ 10mo
TrishB @Cinfhen I bailed on it. If you want a copy to try you can have mine! 10mo
See All 24 Comments
batsy A great month! Happy New Year 🥂🎉 10mo
LeeRHarry Happy New Year ! 😊 Looking forward to hearing about all your fab recommendations in the year to come 😊 10mo
Kalalalatja Happy New Year sweet Barbara! Can‘t wait to follow your reading journey in 2019 😘 10mo
CarolynM Happy New Year 😘 10mo
erzascarletbookgasm Happy New Year! 🎉🥂 10mo
AnneCecilie Happy new year 🎆 10mo
merelybookish Cheers! To lots of reading and happiness in 2019! 🎉🎉 ( @Cinfhen @TrishB My Absolute Darling was my hate read of 2017. I should have bailed.) 10mo
TrishB @merelybookish that‘s why I did bail! Just didn‘t enjoy/appreciate or like at all. 10mo
BarbaraBB @merelybookish That‘s how I felt about The Power. I found My Absolute Darling shocking but gripping, heavy but tender. @Cinfhen I should accept @trishb ‘s offer 😀😘 10mo
Cinfhen Thanks for the sweet offer @TrishB 💕😘 I still think I‘m gonna pass!! So many other books I still want to read first ... not that I don‘t trust @BarbaraBB recommendation. I‘m just a little put off by the subject matter 10mo
MicheleinPhilly Happy New Year! 10mo
Redwritinghood Happy New Year! 🎉🎉🎊🎊 10mo
Izai.Amorim Happy new year, Barbara! 10mo
TrishB @Cinfhen no problem! I don‘t recommend - but it‘s there if you change your mind. 10mo
TrishB I was disappointed in The Power too! 10mo
Cinfhen I liked THE POWER it was dark but not disturbing like I think My Absolute Darling will be @TrishB @BarbaraBB 10mo
Cinfhen Hi @Izai.Amorim haven‘t seen u around in a long time!!! Hope all is well. Best wishes for a joyous new year 10mo
TrishB @Cinfhen it‘s definitely disturbing. One of the few books that actually made me feel queasy/nauseous. Showed me what I need to avoid and how tastes change. I probably could have read before kids. 10mo
Izai.Amorim @Cinfhen Thanks! Shanah Tovah to you, too. 10mo
Cinfhen Hahaha @Izai.Amorim Thank you 🎉🕊😁 10mo
BarbaraBB @batsy @LeeRHarry @Kalalalatja @CarolynM @erzascarletbookgasm @AnneCecilie @merelybookish @MicheleinPhilly @Redwritinghood @Izai.Amorim Thank you all, I really am so happy to have met you here, getting to know you a bit, discussing books etc. I wish you all the best for 2019 and may we continue what we started 💜💜 (edited) 10mo
85 likes24 comments
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masofia
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Pickpick

Wonderfully melancholy tone with a good mix of hope and optimism. Phoebe‘s descent into a cult seems to mirror Will‘s transition into a lifestyle of drinking, fraternity life, and a career in finance. He clearly perceives her changes, but seems almost blind to his own. Even though both lose their way from where they started you have hope that their positive underlying traits will win out.

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Booksnchill
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Pickpick

This review is for Kwon‘s short story “Legends of the Seoul Dogs” day 23 of the Short Story Advent Calendar about a Korean boy living with his father, a doomsday preacher, in northern California after his mother leaves them. The boy is the master of 2 leonine dogs, golden maned and perfect companions for the boy- perfect protectors. The framework is mythological. Very well told.

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Kimberlone
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Settling in to catch up on my Kindle reading by the light of the Christmas tree at my parents‘ house. I have so many #Libby check outs that have already expired stockpiled on my Kindle that I hope to burn through over the next couple days. I read half of this one last night!

CouronneDhiver Log home? Gorgeous! 10mo
44 likes1 comment
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Jason7
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Mehso-so

The Incendiaries is an above average audiobook. The story is somewhat difficult to follow in the beginning, but it becomes easier as the story progresses. There's a lot of colorful language in this one, and some of it fits, though there's a few cases where it misses the mark.The narrator of this recording does a respectable job. This author has potential.

Overall rating: 3.72 stars

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TG789
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I never win anything so this is exciting! Can‘t wait to read this? Has anyone read it?

Bookladylinda Congratulations!!!! 🎊🙌🏾 10mo
BridgetteM OMG! Congratulations! 🎉🎈🎊 10mo
Eggs Welcome to Litsy 🤗 10mo
See All 6 Comments
Bookishlie Welcome to litsy!! 10mo
deadrabbitsbooks Welcome to Litsy! 10mo
Smrloomis Ooh, that sounds good. If you read it, let me know what you think because that could be really good ... 🤞🏽 10mo
26 likes1 stack add6 comments
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BarbaraBB
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Pickpick

A damaged, grieving narrator looks back, trying to understand what went wrong since his girlfriend met a former student who became a cult leader. While he just turned his back to his former Bible College, she embraces this new form of Christianity. They try to stick together though. He tries to understand. I loved them both - and the book. So sorry it didn‘t make the #ToB shortlist.

(Pic: A rainy German town)

batsy Love the photo! (A number of the books that didn't make the #tob shortlist interest me more than some of the books that did :) 10mo
BarbaraBB @batsy Definitely. I made a wishlist of longlisted books that I wanted to read; none made the shortlist! 10mo
MicheleinPhilly @batsy @BarbaraBB I would like to join the “More interested in the books that didn‘t make the shortlist” club. Please and thank you. 10mo
See All 17 Comments
Cinfhen Great photo and I‘d like a copy of those lists, Barb @batsy @MicheleinPhilly because my TBR is obviously suffering from loneliness 😂 10mo
gradcat @batsy @MicheleinPhilly I read exactly two books from TOB shortlist...not very good at all.... 10mo
BarbaraBB @Cinfhen some real great books on that list I think 💕 10mo
batsy @MicheleinPhilly @Cinfhen 🤗 @gradcat Which ones did you read? 10mo
TrishB That‘s a great photo and I‘ve not read this book! 10mo
BarbaraBB @TrishB It‘s real good, recommended! 10mo
MicheleinPhilly @batsy I actually own more books on the list than I‘ve read. 😬 BUT some of my absolute favorites this year completely missed out on the shortlist - The Great Believers, An American Marriage, Where the Crawdads Sing, Sugar Land, Stray City. And to see Keith Gessen amongst the play-in candidates is 🙄. I loathed that book. 10mo
batsy @MicheleinPhilly I'm interested in all those books you listed (read and enjoyed Crawdads)! I'm put off by the Gessen, so it's nice to hear you loathed it 😂 His first novel was that All the Sad Young Literary Men one, I think—couldn't make it through the first few pages. 🙄 10mo
BarbaraBB @MicheleinPhilly Those were almost all on the longlist! I am looking forward to the great believers and the crawdads! 10mo
gradcat @batsy I listened to “Lincoln in the Bardo,” and I read “White Tears.” Totally. Different. Experiences. Lincoln novel was read by a cast of over 160, many of them stars or other authors, etc., so that was fantastic. But Tears was probably one of my favorite books of all time! 10mo
MicheleinPhilly @batsy I read it as a possible BOTM pick and was basically like, “NO! DON‘T PICK THIS! EVERYONE WILL HATE IT!” I think my one line summary was “the epitome of middle-aged, sad sack, white guy mediocrity.” 10mo
BarbaraBB @MicheleinPhilly @batsy It looks horrible indeed. It‘s one if the five shortlisted books I am not (yet) interested in! 10mo
CarolynM Beautiful photo. Thanks for the link, some interesting books I haven't seen elsewhere. 10mo
89 likes3 stack adds17 comments
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elisebarker
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Pickpick

I listened to this book thinking it was going to be about a cult, and it is, but not really. Kwon‘s writing is so beautiful though I got over the fact it was more about a relationship than a cult. It was a quick read and it has really stuck with me since I read it.. lots to think about.

14 likes1 stack add
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Deborah42
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Mehso-so

Will is struggling with a loss of faith and transfers from a religious college to a secular one. There, he meets Phoebe and becomes obsessed with her. Meanwhile she gets pulled deeper into a religious cult.

I had a hard time connecting with any of these characters.

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Apinlibraryland
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Pickpick

Looking at the reviews, this is definitely a polarizing book. I was unsure at first, but the beautiful prose kept me going. Very interesting story.

16 likes1 stack add
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Kenny
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Pickpick

My Favorite Books of 2018.

6. The Incendiaries by RO Kwon. If you‘re like me, you will fall in love with the characters in this book and you will have to ask deep, dark questions about what loving them says about you and then you will keep loving them and everything about this book anyway. #BestBooks2018

50 likes5 stack adds