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ClairesReads

ClairesReads

Joined May 2016

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Murder Theory by Andrew Mayne
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Loose Units by Paul Verhoeven
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

An impressive debut. This starts like a crime novel, but Ahmad pivots from the conventions of this genre into a complex exploration of Pakistani history, the rippling impact of corruption, and the weight of parenthood. It‘s a gritty, demanding read which rewards the attention you pay it.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

You literally cannot make this stuff up. Freezing Order reads like a political thriller but it‘s the stuff of real life. The reach of Purim‘s tentacles and the lengths his administration goes to in order to protect the kleptocracy is terrifying and astounding. I‘m going back to read Red Notice which I wish I‘d read before I dipped into this one.

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ClairesReads
The Club | Ellery Lloyd
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Pickpick

The Club was billed to me as Big Little Lies meets Succession as a novel and it really delivers on this descriptor. It reads like an episodic television series, and is propulsive reading because of this. There are of course, lots of rich people problems, and rich people doing awful things. This is a genre I find particularly compelling, for no specific reason. A bit of a slow burn to start, from the halfway point the pace builds effectively.

BookLineNSinker This was a pick for me too and I am with you on this genre, I'm obsessed. It's definitely a guilty pleasure. My Read list is full of these types of books. Right now I'm reading the tagged book and it had been pretty good a little anticlimactic though. 7d
ClairesReads @BookLineNSinker it‘s such a fun genre- thanks for the recommendation that one looks interesting too. 6d
41 likes2 comments
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ClairesReads
Blue Hour | Sarah Schmidt
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I went in expecting to be impressed and I was. Blue Hour is an exceptionally moving novel about the complexities of motherhood, inherited and generational trauma, and the lives experiences of women trapped in a world where opportunities and options are limited. It‘s measured, the horror builds slowly, and because of this the moments where the horror resonates are stark and unflinching. It‘s pitch perfect, you won‘t regret reading it.

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ClairesReads
Looking Glass | Andrew Mayne
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Pickpick

Very chaotic, very fun, very few brain cells required.

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ClairesReads
No One Goes Alone | Erik Larson
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Who doesn‘t want to read a ghost story grounded in History? Larson is one of my fave writers of historical non-fiction, and this story shows us that he is just as adept at exploring the past through fiction. No One Goes Alone is spooky, atmospheric, and historically accurate. It‘s beautifully produced in audio, building tension with expertise. A fun, engaging novel. If you love History and ghosts, this is for you.

Cathythoughts Sounds good 👍🏻 2w
30 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

It‘s great to be able to rely on tried and true faves to break you out of a string of average reads. The Rizzoli and Isles series never disappoints me when I am looking for compelling crime reading. I had enough distance on my first read of this to find it enjoying to look for the clues I might have missed the first time around. Looking forward to the new instalment next month.

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ClairesReads
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Mehso-so

A fine, but very romantic concentration camp novel. This is a novel that skates along the surface of this atrocity, the worst is unseen and in the background. As a historian this just didn‘t do enough for me. That being said, it‘s probably an interesting read for people who are looking for less.

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ClairesReads
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Panpan

This book has absolutely no right to be as boring as it is. Shakespeare re-telling, Shanghai in the 1920s, an epidemic of madness which has people literally ripping their own throats out. It has so much potential to be an exciting story. But. It‘s. Just. Not.

CoverToCoverGirl I was uncertain about this one but your review has help me to decide. Off the shelf is comes, not interested in the ripping out of throats. 😬 3w
batsy Oh, that's disappointing. I was intrigued by the description but it also seemed like the type of book that would be either hit or miss. 3w
ClairesReads @CoverToCoverGirl glad to have helped! 3w
ClairesReads @batsy I was disappointed too- lots of people seem to have liked it but I just could not get invested 3w
35 likes4 comments
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ClairesReads
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Mehso-so

As expected, this memoir of growing up in the Children of God religious cult was full of dramatic and outrageous twists and turns which makes it an interesting story. I do think it could have done with a bit of an edit. While separately interesting, I'm not sure all the vignettes needed to be included to support the overarching narrative. The end was a little positive/preachy for my taste but that's a personal preference thing.

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ClairesReads
Say You're Sorry | Michael Robotham
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Say You‘re Sorry has all the components of a great crime novel, and is really well-paced. Having a psychologist as a central character rather than a detective worked well here, allowing Robotham to lean in to examination of the psyche of characters surrounding the crime and to focus the investigation through profiling. I found this angle made some of the conventional elements of this story more engaging.

Centique And such a cute cat! 🐈🐈🐈 1mo
ClairesReads @Centique thanks! She‘s so cute 4w
40 likes2 comments
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ClairesReads
The Naturalist | Andrew Mayne
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What a bloody romp. The Naturalist is chaotic, plotty, exciting crime reading. At times it feels vibrantly original, at others it almost (maybe?) crosses the line into mania. I have zero regrets that I‘ve started this series which is the perfect tonic for a busy brain at the end of a week. 100% fun.

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ClairesReads
Rattled | Ellis Gunn
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Gunn does an excellent job here of interweaving her very personal story of surviving a stalker with thoughtful analysis that explores the perpetuation of cultures of misogyny and violence against women. It‘s possible that if you go in just looking for a personal memoir, that you might find this book a bit structurally disjointed. However, I found the interweaving of personal and analytical engaging and thought-provoking. Great on audio too.

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ClairesReads
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Mehso-so

The case itself is interesting in that its circumstances are relatively unique, and the unravelling of the investigation in a mworld much less saturated in technology and surveillance than the present was compelling. As many other reviews have pointed out, the author relies heavily on transcripts from the trials. As a result, a lot of the book circles back on ideas and phrases repeatedly. This structure limited my engagement at times.

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ClairesReads
The Candy House | Jennifer Egan
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Jennifer Egan proves again she is a master of the cultural zeitgeist and the interconnected vignette in The Candy House. A Visit from the Goon Squad is as near to pitch perfect as a novel can get for me, and The Candy House is a worthy follow up which I loved. In it, Egan captures the cultural concerns of a generation, extrapolating them out into an imagined future. Complex, gritty, ambitious, and challenging. There is much to love here.

Cinfhen I love your cover/ edition 🥰so eye catching 🤩 1mo
BarbaraBB What @Cinfhen says 🥰 1mo
AmyG I am so happy to read this is good. I loved Goon Squad. (edited) 1mo
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ClairesReads @Cinfhen @BarbaraBB it‘s so good looking isn‘t it?! 1mo
ClairesReads @AmyG I was worried too but it‘s fab! 1mo
Megabooks Great review! 1mo
ClairesReads @Megabooks thank you! 1mo
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ClairesReads
The Candy House | Jennifer Egan
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ClairesReads
Breathless | Amy McCulloch
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Mehso-so

It took me a long time to read this and I think that's because it never really captured my attention. The mountaineering context is a refreshing change from conventional dead-girl murder mysteries, and the structure of the narrative is clever. Unfortunately for me, the characters were pretty flat, and while it was well-paced, the unravelling of the crimes felt a bit hysterical.

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ClairesReads
Reckless Girls: A Novel | Rachel Hawkins
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Mehso-so

Relatively compelling but also quite absurd? I wouldn‘t say Reckless Girls was a bad read, because I read it in a day and didn‘t really ever feel compelled to put it aside. But, reckless is a generous adjective for girls who were in the end, just quite silly. I was glad when the action picked up in the final third but also this is where the absurd vibes really came in. Am I mad I read this? Not really.

Megabooks That ending was unbelievable too. 1mo
ClairesReads @Megabooks absolutely outrageous! 1mo
41 likes2 comments
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

Still so great even ten years after I first read it. Egan has found the sweet spot between a novel and interlinked short stories. Pitch perfect prose, incisive in its observations of human interaction, immensely affecting and thoughtful. Goon Squad remains a worthy fave.

Caroline2 I really liked this one too. 👍 2mo
merelybookish I loved it when it came out but have shied away from re-reading it. I'm glad to hear it holds up! 2mo
ManyWordsLater Insist heard her speak about her new book (tagged) very interesting woman. 2mo
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ClairesReads @Caroline2 it‘s excellent isn‘t it 2mo
ClairesReads @merelybookish it really does! 2mo
ClairesReads @ManyWordsLater I‘m just starting Candy House tonight 😊 2mo
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ClairesReads
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Mehso-so

Hmmmm. The title of this book made me expect something different to what I read here. Although separately interesting, the three parts of this narrative (the story of the murders Maxwell is suspected of committing, the investigation into these crimes, and a sort of biography of Harper Lee loosely framed by her interest in Maxwell‘s story) didn‘t really hang together as a coherent whole.

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ClairesReads
Young Mungo | Douglas Stuart
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So bleak and so beautifully written, Young Mungo really hurt my feelings. Perhaps not as structurally sound as Shuggie, but more complex in its characterisation and narrative arc. Young Mungo was highly anticipated and everything I wanted it to be.

Cathythoughts Great review! I‘m looking forward to it. 2mo
Ruthiella I struggled with the bleakness in Shuggie Bain. Not sure if I want to subject myself to it again. 2mo
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ClairesReads
Dune | Frank Herbert
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I‘m glad I re-read this- as an adult reader I appreciated the world-building much more than I did in my first read. I could definitely tell that old mate Herbert was dabbling in psychedelics when he wrote this, but it works. Some parts of the story have aged well (and ecological catastrophe is always timeless) while others grate a little in a modern context (hello the patriarchy). Nonetheless, an immersive read that I really enjoyed revisiting.

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ClairesReads
The Plot | Jean Hanff Korelitz
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The Plot is a VERY compelling and satisfying suspense novel. I love a book about books, and this one centres of a stolen/borrowed/liberated narrative. It‘s a very engaging premise. The novel is very difficult to review it without giving away the plot (do you see what I did there? Haha) so I‘ll just say that Stephen King was right when he blurbed it- “insanely readable.”

Caroline2 I really enjoyed this too. 👍 2mo
ClairesReads @Caroline2 it was good hey? 2mo
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ClairesReads
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Panpan

I‘ll just say the wheels really fell off with this one. It makes a promising start in a similar way to the first two books in the series. But unfortunately the turn this story takes is both unbelievable in its detail, and untrue to the characters that have been developed over the first two books. Very disappointing.

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ClairesReads
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Wow, yes Anthony Marra is a magician because this book is MAGIC. Marra really excels in the short form, each story here stands alone pitch perfect on a sentence level, and yet is intricately woven into a cohesive whole. Although these are very much stories about the chaotic spirals of Soviet History, they are as much stories about History generally, and about the ways our personal histories stand on the shoulders of those who have come before.

jlhammar So good! Can't wait for his new novel. 2mo
ClairesReads @jlhammar I am absolutely jazzed for it too 2mo
rachelk Great review! This was my first book by Anthony Marra. I‘ve just ordered (edited) 1mo
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ClairesReads
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Very compelling, very topical, VERY UNDEMANDING. Goodness knows we love a domestic drama and The Herd is exactly that. It‘s not super original and I spotted the twist a bit early but it‘s a satisfying, easy read.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

Notes on an Execution was pretty close to a perfect reading experience for me. It‘s a chilling, starkly constructed, victim-centred crime novel that balances the procedural and psychological expertly. The blurb suggests that Kukafka asks us to “consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the minds of violent men” and I think this is the best description of what is done so well in this novel. LOVED IT.

swishandflick Great review! Couldn't agree more. 2mo
ClairesReads @swishandflick it exceeded my very high expectations- what a great read. Glad it worked for you too 2mo
Oryx Great review 2mo
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ClairesReads
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir | Michelle Zauner
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The hype is real kids, this is a very moving, well-crafted grief/food memoir. Zauner explores complex parent/child relationships, the loss of a parent and the ensuing grief, the significance of culture and the rituals through which culture is lived in our lives, and the feeling of not quite belonging anywhere with sensitivity and vulnerability. This memoir is authentic and resonant. I had no complaints, highly recommended.

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Fake | Erica Katz
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I love a crime novel and I especially love one with a unique premise or setting. Fake is a well-crafted crime novel. You can guess generally about the broad framework of the central crime from the first chapter but the specifics are metered out so carefully that it's hard to put down. What I think Katz is most skilled at, is drawing her reader into a world. Fake is as much about a particular crime as it is about the flaws of the art world itself.

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ClairesReads
Paradais | Fernanda Melchor
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Pickpick

If you‘ve read Melchor before (hello Hurricane Season) you know what you‘re in for here and if you haven‘t, buckle up. Paradais is an uncomfortable reading experience. In Paradais, Melchor explores toxic masculinity and the thin line between it and violence in graphic, confronting detail. This is a novel which drops you right into a horrifying headspace. It‘s extremely well-done, and as such a pretty full on reading experience.

BarbaraBB Great review. I have this one waiting beside my bed. 2mo
ClairesReads @BarbaraBB thank you- I hope you enjoy it 2mo
sarahbarnes Great review - waiting for this one to come in from the library. 2mo
ClairesReads @sarahbarnes thanks Sarah! Hope you don‘t have to wait too long 😊 2mo
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ClairesReads
Love in the Big City | Sang Young Park
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a story specifically about the queer scene in Seoul, and broadly about looking for love in the wrong places. Told in a series of vignettes, Park‘s story took me into an unfamiliar world, all while presenting me with interactions and feelings that resonated in their universality. In the end it wasn‘t necessarily the ‘love‘ that really captured me, instead the moments of missed connection and feeling unseen in even the most intimate of spaces.

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ClairesReads
Cleaning the Gold | Karin Slaughter
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Pickpick

I always love Jack Reacher and this surprise library find did not disappoint. Of course, a novella wasn‘t enough and I wanted more, but it‘s a fun, quick read. Perhaps a helpful inroad to Slaughter‘s novels to entertain me while I wait for the next Reacher.

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ClairesReads
Above Suspicion | Joe Sharkey
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Above Suspicion is a super interesting true crime narrative. It has all the components of a great story. What is most effective is the way the narrative is constructed. You know what the central crime is from the moment you start reading and for the first half I found myself thinking the moment was around every corner. Once the crime takes place the retelling on concealment, investigation, conviction is so well-paced it reads like a novel.

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The History Boys is the clever, funny, erudite play that I wanted it to be. On the surface this is a funny story about a clash in teaching styles and life in a school (which is my niche). Underneath this there‘s some thoughtful observations about access to high education and the ways that exclusivity is maintained in the Oxbridge environment. Deeper still is where the sharp exploration of inappropriate student/teacher relationships takes place.

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ClairesReads
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ClairesReads
Blood on Vines | Madeleine Eskedahl
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What a treat to read a solid crime novel set in our own backyard. Blood on Vines was exactly what I hoped for, a twisty and dark, fast paced crime novel that‘s full of recognisable places, and people, and things. Such a fun read, I am looking forward to the next in the series.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

The Island of Missing Trees hits a lot of my fave things to read about in novels; history, inherited trauma, complex relationships, and secrets. It‘s not surprising then that I really enjoyed this. Shafak explores the complex historical context of the 1974 coup/civil war in Cyprus with real humanity. The conceit of the magically realist fig tree narrator was interesting but perhaps a splash overdone.

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ClairesReads
Stay Close | Harlan Coben
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A compelling and undemanding crime novel. I‘ll admit that this was a little less domestic than I‘d anticipated and the context threw me a little initially. But it‘s action-packed and propulsive. It asked for little from me and kept me entertained during a busy week. Looking forward to watching the Netflix adaption now.

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Super late to the party with this one, but thoroughly enjoyed this memoir about Kerman‘s brief, delayed incarceration. Orange is the New Black is a thoughtful examination of some of the flaws in the prison system in the United States. Kerman narrative her story with humour and thoughtfulness. I appreciated that she acknowledges how her privileges continued to benefit her while incarcerated and in the transition back to life beyond prison.

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ClairesReads
The Paper Palace: A Novel | Miranda Cowley Heller
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The Paper Palace is a great mix of some fairly conventional intergenerational domestic drama, an exploration of the impact of trauma on relationships in our lives, and the significance of place to human experience. It should be noted that there are a handful of fairly confronting scenes depicting abuse and trauma which were a bit unexpected for me. It‘s not a literary masterpiece but it‘s a compelling weekend read which I really enjoyed.

CoverToCoverGirl Lovely photo 😻 3mo
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ClairesReads
The Perfect Lie | Jo Spain
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The Perfect Lie is a very compelling, pretty pacy crime novel; a perfect midweek read. I could tell Spain is a screenwriter as I was reading. The construction of this narrative is perfectly episodic, slowly revealling information, building to a range of plot peaks, rather than slowly building towards a single one. There are just enough red herrings that kept me guessing for much of the novel. On the whole a really fun way to spend a few evenings.

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ClairesReads
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This took my breath away even more on a reread. on reflection I realised that what is so resonant about this novel is it‘s timeless observations about humanity. Although Marra does shed light on the Chechen War, at its heart this story is about many of the things that make us universally human; resilience in the face of unspeakable horror, betrayal, forgiveness, and the unforgivable, and most significantly human connection.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

Women in the Picture offers a really interesting analysis of the treatment of women in the world of art. McCormack tackles this from several angles, considering female figures depicted in art, female artists, and the way that both these groups have been interacted with and analysed over time. There‘s lots of really interesting stuff connecting classical art to pop culture and the modern world which is sure to challenge all of us to look deeper.

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ClairesReads
Sorrow and Bliss | Meg Mason
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Sorrow and Bliss is a very moving exploration of one woman‘s experience of mental illness. Among small moments of comedy, this novel is much more sorrowful than blissful. A bleak, gritty, and authentic exploration of the weight of mental health issues both for those who experience them, and the people in their lives. In spite of how many dreams are left unrealised and how much is lost, somehow Mason still manages to make this a hopeful novel.

TrishB Great review 👍🏻 and totally agree. 3mo
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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

A very, very interesting analysis of the language of cults. Montell explores different ways that cults use language to manipulate behaviour, and then examines the many contexts in which language is used similarly in cult-like features of our everyday lives. It is clever, engaging, and well-reasoned. I was captivated.

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ClairesReads
Tall Bones | Anna Bailey
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Tall Bones is a small town, slow burn mystery and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bailey does a great job of capturing the claustrophobic nature of small communities, and shows how such tight knit communities can be vulnerable to abuse of power by leaders, and the adjacent rise of problematic cultures. On the whole it is a cleverly plotted, complex mystery which led me in several directions before it‘s conclusion.

Cathythoughts Sounds like a good one .. I‘ll try a sample on kindle 👍 4mo
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ClairesReads
Not a Happy Family | Shari Lapena
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Just a VERY COMPELLING rich people problems domestic mystery. There is just no better murder narrative than one grounded in a messed up family dynamic, too much money, and a healthy dose of secrets. Highly satisfying mid-week read. No regrets.

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ClairesReads
Olga Dies Dreaming | Xochitl Gonzalez
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Mehso-so

There‘s some stuff to enjoy in this novel which is both a political/social commentary, and a soap-operatic domestic drama. I found both elements of the novel separately interesting I wished this had been one kind of book or the other; the fusion didn‘t really work for me. There‘s also A LOT going on, some of which comes off more authentically than other parts. I found this interesting at times, but it‘s didactic tone tempered this significantly.

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ClairesReads
When I Was a Child I Read Books | Marilynne Robinson
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Panpan

It is my fault that I didn‘t like this book. A lesson in reading the blurb not just the title. I was expecting a series of essays about childhood reading and instead got one about human nature with a heavy spiritual bent. I was propelled by a couple of interesting historical analyses early on in the collection and my respect for Robinson as an author of fiction. At the end of the day there was just too much God here for me.

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ClairesReads
Good Girl, Bad Blood | Holly Jackson
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Super readable YA crime is just what you need sometimes. Jackson has really nailed this genre. At times I thought that beyond the fairly adolescent context (school and parents feature relatively frequently) I wouldn't necessarily read this as YA. I particularly enjoyed the use of podcast transcripts, and other documents as a structural device. I'm looking forward to getting into Book 3.