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Alena

Alena

Joined June 2016

Everyone has a story.
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Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
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Alena
Machine Dreams | Jayne Anne Phillips
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Pickpick

I loved this book so much that when I turned the final page, I hugged the book to my body and just sat with it a while. I love the style of alternating stories, shifting perspectives, working the story from the outside and slowly closing in on the important pieces. Phillips allows me to get to know her characters as an observer instead of describing their personalities in obvious ways. "She would always be herself, pretty and tarnished."

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Alena
In the Shadow of Alabama | Judy Reene Singer
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Dying is not a direct action. Like a plane in turbulence, people dip and dive, maybe hit a smooth spot and recover a little, before the flight ends.

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Alena
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I was about to risk the safety of my carefully managed unhappiness for the possibility of something more.

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Alena
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Mehso-so

It breaks my heart not to rave about this book. Roy is brilliant author and much of the writing just took my breath away. But I also found the historical and military context of India confusing and the scope of this book just too much for me to handle. It's an epic and I wanted to instead focus on just a few of her dynamic characters' stories.

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Alena
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The moment I saw her, a part of me walked out of my body and wrapped itself around her. And there it still remains.

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Alena
Harmless Like You | Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
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Pickpick

I fell head over heart for the beautiful ache of this novel. Difficult subjects and not much plot line, but the emotional truths and the intense beauty of the writing spoke to my soul. Loved it.

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Alena
The Woman on the Stairs | Bernhard Schlink
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Mehso-so

I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. It was such an awkward start, with a young attorney involved in a ludicrous contract, falling immediately in love with a mysterious women. I had a very hard time buying into the storyline and never particularly liked the protagonist. But there's something compelling about Schlink's simple and direct writing. I finished this in two sittings. This book finished stronger than it began.

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Alena
The Refugees | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

Wow. These stories are really good. Centered primarily around Vietnamese refugees, Nguyen covers a wide array of experiences and perspectives. Each story definitely stands on it own -- great arc, developed characters, complexity-- yet they hold together so strongly in theme that I had the satisfaction of reading a full novel.

6 likes1 stack add
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Alena
The Refugees | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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At first glance I thought the cover image was Wonder Woman.

RealLifeReading 😂😂 3y
5 likes1 comment
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Alena
Between the World and Me | Ta-Nehisi Coates
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Pickpick

It's been a while for me a #Litsy but #WorldBookDay and this marvelous, life changing bit of brilliance seemed a good reason to return.

12 likes2 stack adds
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Alena
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My wonderful husband, who first introduced me to Billy Collins, bought me his new collection for my birthday. This poem stopped me in my tracks. I've read it over and over again.

Blueberry Wasn't he the national poet laureate a few years back? 3y
Alena He was @blueberry, and incredibly deserving. But 20 years ago, I'd never heard of him. 3y
4 likes2 comments
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Alena
The Big Book of Sounds | Jon Steinhagen
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My friend of almost 30 years wrote a book!!!! And this morning I have a little time to myself to read it. He is brilliant! ☕️📖

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Alena
Commonwealth | Ann Patchett
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Be still my heart! Autographed to me from My favorite author, Ann Patchett, straight from Parnassus Books. My book-geek joy can barely be contained!

bedandabook How wonderful! Really can't wait to read this one myself. 3y
10 likes1 comment
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Alena
Pickpick

This is a very compelling, kind of creepy novel about a family crumbling as quickly as the dilapidated home in which they're living. Liars, scammers and cheaters all set in an idyllic lakeside home with a deep history. Just a great page turner.

BookBabe I concur! 3y
8 likes1 comment
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Alena
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This little beauty paired wonderfully with lots and lots of book talk! #dirtywatermelon #booklovers #booksandbooze

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Alena
Vinegar Girl | Anne Tyler
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Mehso-so

I believe one of the reasons people are reluctant to read Shakespeare is because his language is so dense. The humor, emotions, characters, double and triple meanings are all extremely deep.

This modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew is pleasant and witty, often funny and pretty true to the original. But it is not deep.

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Alena
Siracusa | Delia Ephron
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Mehso-so

I can't quite figure out the buzz on this book...it's good, and unique, but I'm not sure it's amazing. I found all of its characters so unlikable that I almost gave up after 100 pages, but I'm glad I stuck it out. The second half picks up; the questions become more interesting; but the characters never became people I cared for.

britt_brooke I liked it but I didn't think it was amazing. I thought it was actually pretty funny. Or at least, I thought it was meant to be ridiculous, and it was. 😉👍🏻 3y
Alena I think I missed the comedy @britt_brooke, which is disappointing since I like some dark humor. Ridiculous, yes. 3y
4 likes3 comments
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Alena
Siracusa | Delia Ephron
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In life one rarely knows which remarks of the hundreds uttered in the course of a day will turn out to be auspicious. In fiction, foreshadowing is planted and flagged in some (hopefully or desperately) subtle way, drama demands it.

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Alena
How to Party with an Infant | Kaui Hart Hemmings
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Bailedbailed

I just couldn't engage. I've liked her other novels so I honestly don't know if it's the book or just the place I'm in right now. Moving on

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Alena
The Muse: A Novel | Jessie Burton
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Pickpick

I liked this a lot -- enough to stay up too late and sneak chapters in between errands. Mostly I appreciate its sense of unrest -- artistic, political, racial, relationship-based. I think Burton writes women well and there was enough mystery in the plot to make me want to keep turning pages.

MrBook Great review! And nice cover 😊👍🏻. 3y
kdwinchester Such a gorgeous cover. 3y
17 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Alena
The Muse: A Novel | Jessie Burton

I had yearned for eccentric, confident people to enhance my life; I thought I deserved them, the sort of people you only found in novels.

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Alena
Bailedbailed

After hearing so many raves and waiting to read it, I just could not engage in this book. Might just be a timing issue, as I was trying to make time during a crazy week, but I'm going to step away.

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Alena
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Mehso-so

This is a good effort for a debut novel but it felt a little timid. Elements of magical realism are interesting and creative, but Feldman could have explored those further. She paints the typical portrait of the segregated South, but didn't really break any new territory. There was a lot of potential in the premise of 2 sisters, 1 black 1 white, but I was left wanting more.

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Alena
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Unless you a beautiful princess locked in a tower or some magical sleep, ain't no man ever gonna come rescue you. They ain't interested in your misery.

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Alena
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Mehso-so

I'm not even sure how to rate this strange little book. I chose it for its title and brevity and I didn't dislike it but I didn't exactly like it. It's almost poetry more than a novel so I needed to reset my brain.

The language and chaos and heartbreak of grief are terrific, but there were many times that I felt a little dumb, like I wasn't getting some of the allusions and deeper meanings.

Kind of frustrating.

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Alena
Homegoing: A novel | Yaa Gyasi
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Pickpick

I fear the wrath of the reading world but I didn't LOVE this novel. I'm in awe as it is an impressive feat of storytelling, tracing 9 generations of sisters' offspring through slavery and race conflict in both Africa & America. Beautiful language and some hard-to-face truths, which I loved.
But the style left me strangely dissatisfied. This is a novel I will admire, but it doesn't "live inside me" as the author would say.

Suzze And that's why there are so many books! We all like some better than others. I always feel weird when I don't like a book everyone raved about. (A Confederacy of Dunces --- ugh!) 3y
Alena Thanks @Suzze I stand by my reaction, but I still feel like I'm missing out on something. 3y
litsybookclub This is our book of the month! We would love if you would join us for discussion 😊 3y
Alena I signed up @litsybookclub hoping it will work with my schedule. 3y
13 likes1 stack add4 comments
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Alena
Homegoing: A novel | Yaa Gyasi

The need to call this thing "good" and this thing "bad," this thing "white" and this thing "black," was an impulse that Effia did not understand. In her village, everything was everything. Everything bore the weight of everything else.

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Alena
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Pickpick

👍👍👍👍👍Just wow. This book is very much in my wheelhouse - cerebral and emotional, filled with questions and doubt, smatterings of historical context and events told from multiple perspectives. Plus, the writing is so lush and gorgeous. Just wow!

whelanmaria Omg yes! I felt the same way! 3y
Lacythebookworm Good to hear! I've got a copy that I need to move up my TBR list! 3y
Alena Hooray @whelanmaria! I was blown away by both content and style. Have you read The Girls from Corona del Mar? 3y
Alena I hope you do @Lacythebookworm. 📚❤️ 3y
whelanmaria @Alena no, but it's definitely on my TBR list!! 3y
8 likes5 comments
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Alena

I finally did sleep for a little while, only it was like the difference between Pringles and actual chips, like someone took sleep and then put it through a horrible industrial machine, made it into a paste, and re-formed it and baked it into a shape that was supposed to look like sleep but was not anything even close.

4 likes1 stack add
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Alena
Homegoing: A novel | Yaa Gyasi
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Today's #libraryhaul was outstanding. Wish I didn't have to go back to work next week.

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Alena
Sweeping Up Glass | Carolyn D. Wall
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Pickpick

What a great way to spend a day with a book. The comparisons to To Kill a Mockingbird are apt, and though I didn't fall in love with Olivia to quite that extent, she's still a dependable and engaging narrator. Race relations, poverty, mountain life, violence all come together especially as the book picks ups momentum in he second half.

5 likes1 stack add
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Alena
Sweeping Up Glass | Carolyn D. Wall
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Another dysfunctional mother-daughter duo.

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Alena
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Pickpick

Not the best choice for a beach read as it takes place in a refugee camp during Sri Lanka's Civil War, but despite the fact that I can't locate Sri Lanka on a map, I was drawn into this book. If you don't want 4 pages devoted to the description of bathing, this is not for you. The author painstakingly details living in the midst of chaos, death, fear and despair. It's hard and it's incredibly sad, but also beautiful and extremely well written.

4 likes1 stack add
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Alena
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Things just happen and we have to accept them. Happiness and sadness are for epitome who can control what happens to them.

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Alena
Let Him Go: A Novel | Larry Watson
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Pickpick

I can only offer a list of adjectives: brilliant, desolate, violent, searing, linguistically perfect.
1951 South Dakota is not my typical read but everything about this novel captured me. I will certainly read more of Watson.

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Alena
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Pickpick

Wow! This is a brave debut novel centered around a woman who makes some terrible choices before and after 9/11. It's a marvelous feat that I continued to like her and root for her. A lot of promise in his author.

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Alena
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Does life get any better?

RealLifeReading Envious! 😍 3y
7 likes1 comment
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Alena
Career of Evil | Robert Galbraith
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Mehso-so

I had no trouble getting through 500 pages, back in Cormoran Strike's world, but I didn't like this one as much as the first two. The killer's perspective was interesting (and disgusting) and I was kept guessing throughout, but there was way too much Robin/Cormoran romantic tension. It felt more like Moonlighting than the accomplished writing I expect.

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Alena
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Pickpick

Another excellent WWII novel to recommend. Multiple characters and perspectives are layered beautifully to tell a story of courage. Courage not only in the face of battle (although there are compelling depictions of that), but courage to live and to love and to believe even in the face of relentless siege.

KikiLovesBooks Loved it!!! 3y
6 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Alena
Career of Evil | Robert Galbraith
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I have my work cut out for me this vacation! 📚📚📚

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Alena
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"One knows one won't be killed, but that's hardly the same as living."

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Alena
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Pickpick

#recommendsday Darkly comic (and sometimes just dark), the Fangs live at the border between life and art. "Art, if you love it, was worth any amount of unhappiness and pain." Wilson takes this thought-provoking premise and fills it with these wonderful characters. Buster and Annie are exactly the products we might expect from a dysfuntional family. I couldn't help falling in love with them as the story twisted through to its conclusion.

Gayan This is next up on my Kindle. I want to read it before the movie comes out. 3y
Alena I'm still in such shock hearing about a movie @Gayan At least I heard its Jason Batemen, whom I ADORE! 3y
Gayan @Alena I just love him. 3y
13 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Alena
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#tbrtuesday My pile just keeps growing. Interesting that my next read is a title I can't find on @Litsy , Let Him Go

Suzze I have a copy of Let Him Go, so I was curious - found it! 3y
[DELETED] 2232195534 Disclaimer was good and odd. 😉 3y
MrBook Nice stack!! 3y
See All 6 Comments
Alena How did you do that @Suzze ? I tried searching by author and title. Did you notice there's no activity? So I can't be the only one.... 3y
Alena @kaysreadinglife I don't know where this book came from...must have been passed along at some point. Hoping it'll make a good poolside read next week. 3y
Suzze @Alena I put in "let him go Watson" the same technique I use on Goodreads to narrow things down to what I really want. 3y
13 likes6 comments
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Alena
The Girls: A Novel | Emma Cline
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Pickpick

This debut didn't quite live up to its considerable hype, but I'm still impressed. Fascinating topic and Evie is an engaging protagonist. But I'm not sure Cline fully brought the cult mentality of 1969 to life. Felt a bit unfinished. Still, it's way better than so-so.

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Alena
The Girls: A Novel | Emma Cline

"I thought that loving someone acted as a kind of protective measure, like they'd understand the scale and intensity of your feelings and act accordingly. That seemed fair to me, as if fairness were a measure the universe cared anything about."

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Alena
The Girls: A Novel | Emma Cline
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Climbing on the bandwagon. I devoured Part 1 this morning before the sun got too hot on my deck. Can't wait to return later today.

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Alena
Heat and Light: A Novel | Jennifer Haigh
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Mehso-so

The references to Mousetrap in this book were spot on, as I find that game overly complicated with too many pieces. There is so much going on in this novel about fracking, community, addiction, loneliness, family, marriage...I had trouble keeping the pieces straight. Haigh is a talented writer and brought it together in the end, but it just felt unfocused.

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Alena
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This week's #libraryhaul. Some new. Some old. I really need vacation to come.

9 likes1 stack add
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Alena
Why We Came to the City | Kristopher Jansma
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Pickpick

Funny, the things that usually drive me batty - self involved characters, melodrama, contrived plot points - are all here, but the whole thing worked for me. Jansma's writing is so damn smart and these broken hearted 20-somethings just sucked me right in. I pretty much love this writer.

5 likes1 stack add
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Alena
Why We Came to the City | Kristopher Jansma
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The seas are full of forgotten monsters, yes, but they're full of forgotten glories too. And the people who stay home and sit out the war never get to see them.