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America Is Not the Heart
America Is Not the Heart: A Novel | Elaine Castillo
Three generations of women from one immigrant family trying to reconcile the home they left behind with the life they're building in America How many lives can one person lead in a single lifetime? When Hero de Vera arrives in America, disowned by her parents in the Philippines, she's already on her third. Her uncle, Pol, who has offered her a fresh start and a place to stay in the Bay Area, knows not to ask about her past. And his younger wife, Paz, has learned enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. Only their daughter Roni asks Hero why her hands seem to constantly ache. Illuminating the violent political history of the Philippines in the 1980s and 1990s and the insular immigrant communities that spring up in the suburban United States with an uncanny ear for the unspoken intimacies and pain that get buried by the duties of everyday life and family ritual, Castillo delivers a powerful, increasingly relevant novel about the promise of the American dream and the unshakable power of the past. In a voice as immediate and startling as those of Junot Diaz and NoViolet Bulawayo, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful telenovela of a debut novel. With exuberance, muscularity, and tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave home to grasp at another, sometimes turning back.
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review
kalinichta
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Pickpick

I finished this book a day or so ago, and I miss it. I especially miss spending time with Hero. This is a slow, quotidian book, which may not be attractive to some readers, but I feel is perfect for the story of a woman who is just learning to be human again after her world ends, and a snapshot of a Filipino-American community in 1990s Northern California. I loved it.

batsy Yes to everything in your review! Loved it for those reasons. 2mo
kalinichta @batsy I've been spending the past couple of days trying to find something to read that would hit that same spot. 2mo
AndjoSant Attended her talk at the Sydney Writers Festival & bought her novel on the spot, 2mo
AndjoSant Can‘t wait to sink my teeth into it, great to see Filipinx authors coming to the fore 2mo
kalinichta @AndjoSant Very cool. Hope you enjoy it! 2mo
12 likes1 stack add5 comments
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lalatiburona
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Reading this made me crave food I know nothing about so I ordered some 😍😍😍

17 likes1 stack add
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suzisteffen
Pickpick

This was a five-star book right up until it lost momentum around 3/4 of the way through, & then I‘d call it a four, so, like, 4.5 ⭐️. Disagreed about almost everything the reviewer for #ToB2019 said about this layered, deeply sad, loving, messily & barely hopeful novel. Major queer rep all the way through, btw. And, well, a lot more (if quietly) about the US‘ responsibilities and horrors in the Philippines. #Pinoy #Filipina 🏳️‍🌈💪🏽

batsy Great review. And I disagreed with the ToB reviewer, as well! 3mo
suzisteffen * a lot more than I have read about before, including in the excellent 3mo
suzisteffen @batsy As a critic, I try never to say “DID WE READ THE SAME BOOK” because obviously, each person‘s experience with a book is separate, and in short, no, but MY GOODNESS, I was confused by her take on this book. Also, I REALLY need to read a lot more #PinoyLit. 3mo
suzisteffen Gosh, I keep thinking about this book, class, and colonialism. There‘s a scene in a restaurant that is incredibly revealing - about Spain - but I don‘t want to say too much. HOWEVER, it‘s utterly clear and subtle at the same time, and the author NEVER refers to it again. But I can‘t stop thinking about it, so I guess it worked! 3mo
13 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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suzisteffen
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“What interested Teresa wasn‘t power, or wasn‘t only power. It was change. Not change in the grand or demonstrably transformative sense, but change in the tectonic sense; change in the tectonic duration. Teresa accepted the title of the kumander but kept the parameters of the role loose, so that people had the sense not that they belonged to something that already existed and wouldn‘t exist without them, greater then their individual lives —

suzisteffen (Cont.) “but rather, that they belonged to something that depended on them every day to survive; something that they were also in the process of making, slowly and clumsily on a small, small, practically imperceptible scale. A few pieces of cracked earth, side by side: rubbing, shivering against each other. An eternity or two later, you had a volcano.” 😍😍😍😍😍 3mo
suzisteffen This book is wonderful. 3mo
10 likes2 comments
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suzisteffen
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Starting this library book now! #springbreak #novel #amreading #NPR

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Readerann
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Mehso-so

My first on The Tournament of Books short list (I‘m attempting to read most of them). Although Hero‘s story should have been fascinating, something about the writing style didn‘t draw me in and I never really connected with her. #ToB

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suzisteffen
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Just put this on hold. Can‘t wait! Also can‘t believe it has to go up against There There in the #TOB2019. 😱 WHAT IF I LIKE ALL OF THE BOOKS.

BkClubCare I need to get my hands on There There, it seems... 3mo
13 likes1 comment
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BkClubCare
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First round #TOB2019! I am always a bit shy abt commenting but I LOVE reading the insights and opinions of the commentariats. I am now excited to read AiNtH and I want to try the audio of A Terrible Country. Not disappointed Speak No Evil doesn‘t advance yet appreciate the discussion on this book. My favorite booknerd time of the year. Anyone disappointed? Excited for today? Big thank you to @Ruthiella for sharing so much of the fun with me

Ruthiella I would have advanced A Terrible Country personally. I understand the love for American is not the Heart but I found it to be too unstructured for my tastes! 😀 4mo
Ruthiella PS Nice T-shirt!🐔 4mo
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thebluestocking Love the rooster shirt! As always, the Tournament is doing crazy things! Today‘s decision in particular surprised me. 3mo
BkClubCare @thebluestocking - right?!? I was sad that the judge didn‘t even seem to appreciate Milkman even if they didn‘t like it. 3mo
BkClubCare @thebluestocking - @Ruthiella was so kind to send me this rooster tee! Which reminds me - I bought another one for myself. (I should have bought her one! Aaash - I‘ll buy her a book...🤪) 3mo
23 likes1 stack add6 comments
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fleeting
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Mehso-so

A good way to share history, but that's the problem: the historical narrative is a bit shallow; the story between Hero & Rosalyn dragged on & the tension was lost. I'm not imposing historical fiction, but as it gave a few hints, I naturally expected something along that. The ending was rushed & tacked-on, but my biggest problem are the ungrammatical sentences in Filipino!!! I wish this were a tight 200 paged book instead of a long-winded 400.

fleeting Not saying you shouldn't read this, but it's not a good representation of Filipino-American works, in my opinion. 4mo
batsy Do you recommend the Carlos Bulosan books? I feel like he's an author I should have read by now! 4mo
fleeting @batsy I recommend his short story collections more. But if there's a writer I'd recommend from the Philippines, it would definitely be Ninotchka Rosca. :) Also Linmark's "Leche" 4mo
batsy Those sound fantastic. Thank you! ❤️ 4mo
10 likes4 comments
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Jolynne
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Pickpick

I thoroughly enjoyed this story of love, hardships, and family of three Filipino women, one actually being a very precocious child, Roni, she was quite a treat.

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ReadingEnvy
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Pickpick

This was a great read about a Filipino woman who is a refugee from living as a political prisoner for ten years. She finds home and family in a Filipino community in California and even finds love. I learned a lot! .

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Emilymdxn
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Pickpick

Loved this book! Perhaps a tiny bit difficult to follow how characters were related to each other in places, but the sense of character and community was so strong, and I adored how immersed I felt in these people‘s lives. I‘m so in love with how many wonderful, complex books about immigrants‘ lives are coming out right now.

Not my favourite of #tob2019 but still a wonderful book

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Mindyrecycles
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These are all #tob2019 except The Children Act which is for book club. Doubt I‘ll finish all but gonna try. #februarytbr #literarylove

BarbaraBB Great stack! I am reading the same books (ToB) and have also read the McEwan. One of his best in my opinion💕 5mo
cathysaid @Mindyrecycles @BarbaraBB This is the first year I have paid any attention to the #tob list and I‘m loving it! 5mo
101 likes2 comments
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Emilymdxn
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Next up is one from the #tob2019 list! Excited for this one

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Rachel_nyc
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Pickpick

There is so much I liked about this book, particularly the insight into what it was like in the Philippines during the Marcos years (though I would have liked even more of those flashbacks) but also the peek into the daily lives of Filipino immigrants in California. My one qualm is the author created an incredible character in the prologue and then relegated her to the background. I would have loved to have some of Paz‘s POV. #ToB2019 #ATY2019

BarbaraBB I remember @batsy writing a great review too of this book. I need to get a copy! For what #ATY2019 prompt did you use it? 5mo
Rachel_nyc @BarbaraBB I used it for ATY rejects category of set in a small town or village but it would work for set in the Far East since it is partially set in the Philippines. 5mo
batsy I agree! I'm hoping for another book on Paz ❤️ 5mo
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Rachel_nyc @batsy I would love that! 5mo
Rachel_nyc @BarbaraBB I just noticed that this is also a NYPL staff pick so it could work for that prompt for ATY. 5mo
BarbaraBB Thanks! I am reading the prompts in order, maybe it‘ll be just in time - depending on if and how long this one makes it in the ToB! 5mo
12 likes6 comments
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aealair
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Mehso-so

There were some really great bits of writing in this but I had several issues with it as well. The pacing was kind of all over the place, the untranslated bits of Filipino languages were distracting. I felt like I was missing a lot of context going into this with no knowledge of Filipino culture and history, which affected my ability to get into the story.

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Tonton
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Pickpick

Amazing and illuminating story of the Philippine immigrants and the American Dream. We follow Hero and Roni and their extended families and their struggle to pursue a good life. I have identity issues (biracial) so a lot of issues resonated. Very highly recommended, especially now.

batsy I loved it too 💜 7mo
Lindy This one was already on my TBR after hearing the author at the Vancouver Writers Fest in October. 👍 7mo
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BookishTrish
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Such synergy between the author and her co-panelists Amitava Kumar and Sisonke Msimang at #VWF2018 tonight in a discussion on finding home ❤️

RachelO Sounds fantastic! 8mo
62 likes1 comment
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Lindy
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Yesterday at Vancouver Writers Fest “This Is America“ with three non-white American authors, McClelland & Stewart publisher Jared Bland opened by asking, “What‘s happening in America?”
Elaine Castillo: Dumpster fire.
Tommy Orange: Trumpster fire.
Together with Amitava Kumar, the writers spoke of Trump as an unsurprising symptom of what‘s been happening for centuries in the American empire: colonialism, white supremacy, police brutality. #VWF2018

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UrsulaMonarch
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“Revert back” drives me crazy, but do you think it‘s just becoming standard usage?

Brooke_H I‘m an editor, and I would definitely delete the “back” every time! 10mo
kgriffith It has, and it‘s definitely one of the ones that irk me. Language evolves, yes, but it should be to clarify and further define, not DEvolve to accommodate error. 10mo
sisilia Oh gosh, I clinch whenever I hear/see the use of “revert” this way. It is so wrong! And there‘s “irregardless” 🙄 10mo
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UrsulaMonarch @Brooke_H 👏 keep up the good work!!💚 10mo
UrsulaMonarch @kgriffith great point! I like that direction... as opposed to redundancy 😣 10mo
UrsulaMonarch @sisilia YES!!! I haven‘t seen that one in published work... yet?!😱 10mo
39 likes6 comments
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callielafleur
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Pickpick

Cleaning time means audiobook time! An interesting story about a woman immigrating from the Philippines, going back and forth in the story between her old life and her new. I listened to the audio of this, because the narrator is also Filipino (as is the author). Lots of the culture and history was woven throughout. Also, the main character is LGBTQ+, so this fulfills that category for #Booked2018. Overall I give it 4 stars.

readordierachel How did you like the narration? 11mo
Reviewsbylola I‘ve got this on my TBR! 11mo
See All 8 Comments
BarbaraTheBibliophage Sounds interesting! Good job on the prompt completed. 👏🏻👏🏻 10mo
Cinfhen Sorry, I somehow missed all your tags 😾🙀 10mo
callielafleur @Cinfhen you are forgiven! 😁 10mo
Cinfhen Thank you 😘😘😘 10mo
Cinfhen I know why!!! I think the comma is throwing off my Litsy handle!!! Try it next time without that comma☺️😉🙃 10mo
89 likes8 comments
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callielafleur
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Doing battle with my overgrown vegetable garden with this in my ears. Note to self- put tomato cages on the plants before they get to be as tall as me. 😂🍅😂

Scurvygirl I did the same thing this year...🙄 11mo
callielafleur @Scurvygirl I'm glad it's not just me! I feel like such a dummy gardening sometimes. 11mo
89 likes2 comments
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batsy
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Pickpick

This is a love letter to Filipino people, history, & culture. After the grim satire of alienation in My Year of Rest and Relaxation, my heart felt bruised & worn. This was like a balm that made me believe in people again. The novel moves back & forth between early 90s Milpitas in the US to Philippines under the Marcos regime & the ever-present spectre of American imperialism. Circumstances finds the protagonist, Hero, exiled in the US. (cont'd)

batsy This a sprawling book that takes its time. It isn't a tidy, tightly-plotted novel with small ambitions; it covers a vast amount of Filipino history & culture & drops you straight into its languages without holding your hand. Queer love & desire, toxic families & unexpected allies within families—Castillo has written a big-hearted debut about politics, love, family, & friendship. What are we, really, without the people who have cared for us ❤️ 11mo
BiblioLitten Brilliant review, Batsy! 💖🙋 11mo
Kalalalatja Great review! 👏 11mo
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erzascarletbookgasm 👏🌟 11mo
saresmoore Wonderful review, friend! This is a subject that I‘ve long wanted to know more about. Thank you for sharing. ♥️ 11mo
Ms_T Stunning review ❤️ 11mo
batsy @saresmoore Thank you, Sara. It's a structurally imperfect book with a grand scope that might not work for everyone ... But my heart just felt so full after reading it. 11mo
rohit-sawant Such a stellar review! 🙌🏻 Stacking! 11mo
batsy @rohit-sawant Thank you! 11mo
mcipher Your reviews are always so awesome! 💚 11mo
CSeydel I always enjoy your reviews. So well articulated and thoughtful. 11mo
batsy @mcipher @CSeydel Thank you both so much, so kind of you ❤️❤️ 11mo
Reggie Lovely. 11mo
batsy @Reggie Thanks! 11mo
Centique Wonderful review! I love the sound of this - I‘m all for novels with lots of heart 💕 Stacked for sure 🙌 11mo
DivineDiana Agree with @Centique ! Stacked! 11mo
batsy @Centique @DivineDiana Thank you both! I hope you enjoy it if you give it a go 💕 11mo
MoniqueReads305 Lovely review stacked 11mo
batsy @MoniqueReads305 Thank you :) 11mo
Tonton On my TBR list; just moved up! Thanks 11mo
batsy @Tonton Great, I hope you enjoy! 11mo
108 likes9 stack adds23 comments
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suvata
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Mehso-so

Personally, I had very mixed feelings about this book and really shouldn‘t give it more than 2.5 stars but I‘ll round up because I liked the characters. I can‘t see myself recommending it to anyone though.

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Liberty
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Hooray, it‘s time for the @deweysreadathon! I have my first book picked out, my reading nest made, and the appropriate attire for an all-nighter. Have fun, everyone!📚

MellieAntoinette Your reading nook is a couch! That‘s genius! 11mo
TheNerdyProfessor This book is on my list. I'm eager to see if you like it! 11mo
Liberty @kbfollmer I loved it! 11mo
rather_be_reading heck yes!! that shirt 😍😍 11mo
140 likes3 stack adds4 comments
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suvata
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I think this will be the first book I‘ve read about the political upheaval in the Philippines. I heard about it at https://www.nypl.org/blog/2018/07/11/your-mark-get-set-librarian-podcast-ep-99. Discussion to air August 9.

callielafleur I just grabbed this on audio! 11mo
57 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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emtobiasz
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Anybody listen to the podcast The Librarian Is In? They just announced a read along with this book, and I‘m thinking about joining in... Discussion episode drops August 9 if anyone else wants to join!

KerryLibME I love that podcast! 11mo
46 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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MrBook
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#TBRtemptation post 2! This debut novel was recently released. 3 generations of women in an immigrant family work to reconcile their new home with the one they left behind. Hero de Vera comes to America after being disowned by her family in the Philippines. She gets a fresh start with her uncle in the Bay Area. The story illuminates the Philippines' violent 1980s & '90s, and the families who resettled in US suburbia. #blameLitsy #blameMrBook 😎

60 likes3 stack adds
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tholmz
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Pickpick

Oh, this lovely book. It admittedly took me a little while to keep track of who was related and how, but after that, I fell completely in love with each character. This is the kind of book that left me feeling like I made new friends.

RachelO Lovely review and I agree! Whenever I picked it up, I felt glad to be back. 13mo
tholmz Definitely something I‘ll read again in a few years! And probably continue to learn so much from. 13mo
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RachelO
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Pickpick

This is a really beautiful book.

You hurtle through Pacita's early life in the Philippines. And then she grows up, moves to the US, becomes distant, a mother, wife, aunt, working 16-hour shifts. And Hero takes centre stage, recently arrived, caring for Paz's daughter in exchange for a roof over her head & no questions. We learn her story through flashbacks; as she gradually opens up to new friends, she builds a family & a life for herself. 👇

RachelO Castillo's writing is urgent. This is a multilingual world - you can't expect to understand every word said. She plays with time, some sections racing, others moving more slowly. Even the minor characters seem fully formed, with backstories. But what I loved the most were her depictions of friendship, messy, complicated and real. 13mo
RachelO I received a copy of this via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This'll be my first for #netgalleytbrattack. And if you're planning a book about the #Philippines for #ReadAroundTheWorld, this isn't a bad place to start. 13mo
TrishB Great review 👍🏻 13mo
RachelO @TrishB Thank you! Too many words! But I liked it. 13mo
TrishB I could tell 😁💕 13mo
51 likes1 stack add5 comments
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RachelO
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I love how Castillo writes about #friendship so I'm using this to check another prompt for #booked2018.

Her friendships are urgent, and extend to/through family and made-family, to/through lovers and exes. No-one is dismissed as 'just friends'.

@Cinfhen @4thhouseontheleft @BarbaraTheBibliophage

Cinfhen This sounds like an interesting read, I know very little about the Philippines! Thanks for sharing😁 13mo
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fleeting
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From one to another. 😌

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peacegypsy
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Welcome to the weekend! My first book for Friday. 😃

RachelO It's so good! 13mo
peacegypsy @RachelO Good to hear! Thanks! 😊 13mo
42 likes3 stack adds2 comments
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RachelO
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What's with these publishers approving me for things straight away? Surely I'm supposed to 'prove myself' first?

Not that I'm complaining, you understand. Massively excited to read this one.

My excuse is I'm packing to move, so in the process of boxing up my print books, and returning all my library books, so ebooks are the thing. To be fair, it's a RUBBISH excuse!
#NetGalley

batsy Ooh, lucky you. I used to follow her writings on Tumblr and greatly admire her work. I can't wait to read this! 14mo
RachelO @batsy Your comment on an earlier post might have convinced me to hit the request button 🤔. It looks amazing! 14mo
56 likes2 comments
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DebinHawaii
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Took📚back to the library on my way home from meetings & picked up my hold of Sing, Unburied, Sing. I also renewed the bottom two as I'm using Avec Eric & really want to start The Confusion of Languages. The tagged book grabbed me from the new books section-family saga, Philippines to America.👍I think one of the MCs is running from political upheaval so it MAY work for #Booked2018 #refugee🤔The top book was $1 foodie NF at the library bookstore.

DebinHawaii I can't resist foodie books for cheap. 🤗I think this one looks good: 1y
LeahBergen Serve the People is really good! 👏🏻👏🏻 1y
DebinHawaii @LeahBergen Oh good! I thought it seemed like one I would like! 👍📚😋 1y
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fleeting Hello! Serve the People is one of my absolute favorites. :) Currently reading America is Not the Heart too. 😊 13mo
DebinHawaii @fleeting Hi there! Great to know on Serve the People. I am worried I will have to give America is Not the Heart up to the library on Monday before I can finish--I've just barely started it and it won't let me renew online. 😥 13mo
fleeting Oh my, that's too bad! Maybe return to it after the other books? 😊 I can also recommend other amazing Filipino-American novels that are very similar to this. :) 13mo
DebinHawaii @fleeting Yes, I'll attempt to renew it in person--sometimes that works and if not, get back on the hold list. I'd love any recommendations too. 🤗 13mo
fleeting Great! As for recomms, try to check out Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn, Rolling the R's and Leche by R. Zamora Linmark, and State of War by Ninotchka Rosca. 😊 13mo
DebinHawaii @fleeting Awesome! Mahalo! 🌺 13mo
123 likes2 stack adds9 comments
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Nitpickyabouttrains
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Pickpick

I loved the way this book used language. The characters are from the Philippines and speak multiple languages. The book has them sue them in conversation, sometimes translating. But it never uses an explanatory aside to give readers information about the culture, it assumes knowledge like books about white people so often do. High recommend.

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whimsy
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Elaine did that! I love it (reposted from @apasionflores on Instagram).

batsy Oh my gosh! I can't wait to read this. Have you read it? 1y
whimsy @batsy Not yet! But it's def on the list! (Shame, I missed her booksigning in a couple of hours, the heat was killing us. 😥) 1y
10 likes2 comments