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Decalino

Decalino

Joined April 2016

Ex ex-pat
review
Decalino
Metropolis: A Novel | B. A. Shapiro
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Mehso-so

After an elevator accident, the owner of a self-storage facility discovers a cache of photographs in an abandoned unit. Meanwhile, the stories of the facility's residents are told in parallel: Liddy, a wealthy woman fleeing an abusive husband; Marta, a Venezuelan student in trouble with ICE; and Serge, a gifted photographer with mental health issues. It may just be that I was distracted, but I didn't feel invested in this story--not a pick for me.

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Decalino
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Pickpick

Sean Wren is a gifted linguist and one of only two survivors of the massacre that destroyed his hometown. When he and his fellow survivor are involuntarily recruited for a dangerous mission on an ancient scuttled spaceship, Sean finds himself on a quest through dark and uncharted territory. The constant wandering gives this SF story a fantasy feel, but it's Sean's big heart (and unstoppable chatter) that make it such an entertaining read.

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Decalino
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Pickpick

The subtitle makes this sound liks a light-hearted romp but Phuc Tran's memoir describes a childhood marred by physical abuse at home and racism at school. Born in Vietnam, the son of refugees, Tran seeks a sense of identity and safety through academic excellence and skater punk cameraderie, an interesting combination. He uses his earnings as a library page to buy $150 worth of discarded books at a used book sale--that's a man after my own heart.

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Decalino
The Sun Down Motel | Simone St. James
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Pickpick

In parallel stories set in 1982 and 2017, Viv and her niece Carly investigate the murders of multiple women in the small town of Fell, NY, where the Sun Down Motel reveals traces of the dead. The twist is that in 2017, Viv has been missing for over 30 years, and it is up to Carly to retrace her steps. This was a sufficiently gripping read to rate as a pick, although the ending seemed a bit contrived and unnecessarily convoluted.

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Decalino
The Sun Down Motel | Simone St. James
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"The night it all ended, Vivian was alone."

A spooky read for this Friday the 13th!

#FirstLineFridays
@ShyBookOwl

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Decalino
Invisible Things | Mat Johnson
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Pickpick

Although technically a story of alien abduction and first contact, this satirical novel focuses on the human tendencies that keep inequality and sectarianism alive, even in the face of shared societal threats. It all starts when the crew of the cryoship Delaney encounter a startlingly familiar outpost on one of Jupiter's moons, where a microcosm of society willfully ignores the truth about their circumstances, even when it slaps them in the face.

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Decalino
Paradise, WV | Rob Rufus
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Pickpick

When a true crime podcast comes to Paradise, West Virginia to talk about the Blind Spot Slasher, it stirs up trouble for the children of the man convicted of the killings. Fifteen-year-old Henry Lusher is sure his dad is innocent and his new friend Otis may be able to help him prove it. Very atmospheric and a fast-paced read, although the plot wobbles a bit toward the end. Bonus points for Mammaw; she was great.

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Decalino
The Institute | Stephen King
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Fans of Firestarter or Stranger Things will enjoy this story of a secret facility and the abducted children held captive there, chosen for their psychic abilities. When they kidnap 12-year-old Luke Ellis, they make the mistake of discounting his true gift, a brilliant mind. The actions of the sadistic staff were hard to stomach at times, and King's teenagers all talk like someone's Grandpa, but it was still an engrossing and tense read.

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Decalino
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Pickpick

When famous artist Ula Frost mysteriously disappears, Dr. Pepper Rafferty, a professor of forensics, finds herself drawn into the search. Frost's paintings are rumored to depict alternative variants of its subjects, versions from alternate universes. An inventive take on the concept, vividly written and thought-provoking, while also a delight to read.

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Decalino
Desert Star | Michael Connelly
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My son got me this book for Christmas (he knows me so well!) and I read it right away. As usual, Harry Bosch is focused on solving cold cases and finding justice for the dead, this time as a volunteer at the newly reformed Open-Unsolved Unit headed by Renee Ballard. But time is taking its toll on him and it feels increasingly urgent that he find one last murder suspect, no matter what the cost. Another great entry in an exceptional series.

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Decalino
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In the run up to the Civil War, Robert Bunch was named the British Consul to Charleston, South Carolina. Unassuming & agreeable on the surface, Bunch actually spent his tenure actively working against the interests of the "fire-eaters," the pro-secession elements who treated slavery as their birthright & sought a potential resumption of the African slave trade & British recognition of the Confederacy. An intriguing glimpse of antebellum diplomacy.

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Decalino
The Lemon: A Novel | S. E. Boyd
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Mehso-so

This satirical look at the world of celebrity chefs and fickle journalistic fame was biting and sometimes absurd, but I think the humor was a little too crass and cynical for my taste. I'm glad I finished it though, since the ending provided some necessary closure. It apparently occurs in a world where "John Doe" became famous and Anthony Bourdain didn't, but it was still uncomfortable at times, given the nature of their deaths.

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Decalino
Haven | Emma Donoghue
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Pickpick

In 7th century Ireland, two monks, Trian and Cormac, follow a charismatic visionary named Artt on his quest for an uninhabited island he saw in a dream. As Artt's faith blurs into hubris, his followers must depend on each other for survival as their presence depletes the scant resources of the island, a rocky skellig teeming with nesting birds. A masterful work of story-telling, quietly powerful and deeply moving, grounded in the details of life.

jlhammar Great review of a great book! 2mo
batsy Lovely review! 2mo
BarbaraBB Another great review for this book!! 2mo
17 likes3 comments
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Decalino
The Ninth Metal | Benjamin Percy
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By the end of this book I was so hooked I lost track of time & forgot to make dinner. The debris trail from a passing comet has spiked northern Minnesota with a mysterious, powerful & very valuable new element, omnimetal. The battle for mining rights leads to bloodshed, while a military facility conducts terrible experiments. Prodigal son John Frontier returns home to a changed landscape, where corruption, a cult, & his family's secrets converge.

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Decalino
Poster Girl | Veronica Roth
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When Sonya was 17, a revolution overthrew the Delegation and destroyed her family, leaving her exiled in the Aperture. Her father was a high-ranking official & she was a true believer, following the rules and earning points for correct behavior. An unexpected chance at freedom leads her to reassess everything she once held true. An interesting, somber story of regret and atonement. One quibble: Aperture is a really implausible name, in my opinion.

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Decalino
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Set in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this police procedural follows Inspector Mislan as he tries to solve a horrifying and dramatically presented murder. Mislan must deal with office politics, police corruption and threats of gang retribution while piecing together the true story. Written by a former inspector with the Malaysian police, the details--and the food--give this book an authentic flavor.

11 likes1 stack add
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Decalino
Universal Harvester | John Darnielle
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Pickpick

This truly unsettling book takes place in a small Iowa town in the 1990s, where a young video store clerk named Jeremy gets reports of something strange on a couple of rentals and becomes almost unwillingly involved in the search for answers. Creeping dread and profound loss are threaded through this strangely haunting story; anyone looking for a linear plot and simple answers will be disappointed, but the ambiguity makes it even harder to forget.

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Decalino
Wayward: A Novel | Chuck Wendig
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Pickpick

If you enjoyed Wanderers, you should definitely read this sequel--but clear your calendar, it is a chunky doorstop of a book. In both theme and tone, these two books feel like The Stand--people are drawn into battles against true evil, but it's not always clear to the participants what role they are meant to play. The author is clearly working through some feelings about our recent political landscape; I found it cathartic, to be honest.

13 likes1 stack add
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Decalino
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In this powerful book, author Clint Smith explores the legacy of slavery by traveling to Monticello, Jefferson's plantation; Angola prison, where slavery transitioned to forced labor without missing a beat; a Confederate heritage celebration; & NYC's Central Park, where an integrated community of free Black residents & Irish immigrants once stood. By turns revelatory & disturbing, a must read for anyone interested in our country's true history.

21 likes1 stack add
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Decalino
The Survivors | Jane Harper
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When Kieran returns home to Evelyn Bay after a long absence, reminders of the tragic events that drove him away are everywhere. After a young woman is found dead, long kept secrets begin to unravel, revealing the truth about that long ago day. Grief and guilt mark this slow burn story of loss in a small coastal town.

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Decalino
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I loved this series and the third installment did not disappoint. El has survived graduation day but unfinished business leads her to work with the Enclaves to save them from mysterious attacks. An intricately plotted story with exquisite world building and vivid characters, whose story arcs come to unexpected but deeply satisfying conclusions, The Scholomance series is officially a personal favorite. Loved it!

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Decalino
The World We Make | N. K. Jemisin
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Pickpick

This sequel to The City We Became finds the avatars of New York struggling to understand how best to represent their city & realize their potential, while the Enemy works to undo everything they've fought for, enabling hateful allies like the Proud Men & a mayoral candidate who wants to make NYC "great again." A rollicking, cathartic read for anyone who loves a city in all its complexity, or who'd enjoy using a bass drop to vanquish the haters.

12 likes1 stack add
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Decalino
Fairy Tale | Stephen King
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Pickpick

This absorbing novel synthesizes fantasy and fairy tale tropes into an otherworldly and sometimes gruesome boy-and-dog adventure.17-year-old Charlie Reade helps an elderly recluse, Mr. Bowditch, after he falls and breaks his leg. His affection for Mr. Bowditch's dog Radar leads him on a fantastic journey into grave danger, & transforms him in the process. I meant to read it over Halloween, but it made for good Blood Moon lunar eclipse reading too.

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Decalino
The Witch and the Tsar | Olesya Salnikova Gilmore
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Pickpick

I wasn't sure about this novel at first; its blend of Russian-flavored fairy tale and historical fiction took some getting used to. Yaga, demonized in folk tale as Baba Yaga, is the immortal daughter of the earth goddess Mokosh. She just wants to live in the woods with her animal friends and her chicken-legged hut, healing the occasional villager, but when she's drawn into mortal affairs, she must fight to save Russia from a blood-thirsty tsar.

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Decalino
Little Eyes: A Novel | Samanta Schweblin
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Pickpick

In this brief but deeply unsettling novel, a line of cute new robot animals appear on the market, each with the potential for a connection to a real live person. The implications are deeply disturbing, as anyone who's watched Black Mirror can easily imagine. Deft, precise storytelling render what could have been a tired premise both hauntingly familiar and freshly horrifying. I am still thinking about it days later.

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Decalino
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Ha, a scientist, is brought to a remote island chain to investigate tales of an intelligent sea creature living in the bay. What follows is a deeply thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of consciousness, identity, language and connection, set against a background of artificial intelligence, corporate greed, and environmental devastation. A truly remarkable book.

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Decalino
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Set in the 80s, this dark, twisty thriller follows Wayland, a very angry teenager certain his father's suicide is not what it seemed. He witnessed this tragedy and has been deeply marked by the trauma; his bullying best friend, his wild younger sister, and his mostly absent mother are no help in his efforts to seek answers, but even when his crush joins the search, Wayland's single-minded focus leads to unspeakable disaster & shocking revelations.

blurb
Decalino
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"There is no silence in the living nervous system."

Loving this one so far!

#FirstLineFridays
@ShyBookOwl

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Decalino
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Pickpick

This sequel to Doors of Sleep was a delightful adventure, providing an alternative perspective (& helpful refresher!) on the events of the first book while alternating chapters relay Zax's efforts to reunite with lost friends (& save the universe!) Zax hasn't lost his compassion or his drive to help others in need, despite the setbacks he's faced along the way. A big heart, great secondary characters & rollicking adventure make this a pick for me.

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Decalino
Bunny: A Novel | Mona Awad
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In this biting satire, a lonely young writer enrolled in a graduate program at an elite school falls in with a group of women whose penchant for hugs and endearments ("Bunny!") hides an unexpected commitment to radical experimentation. Sharp, incisive writing and inventive turns made this a particularly memorable read. Planning to check out another book by this author soon!

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Decalino
Lark Ascending | Silas House
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I had the pleasure of hearing author Silas House read from this book at Joseph-Beth in Lexington. Inspired by the author's own grief at the loss of a loved one as well as the rising tide of intolerance, this near future dystopia follows a young man named Lark as he flees his family refuge in Maine for a haven in Ireland. As violence & grief threaten to overwhelm him, small moments of natural beauty & the love of a good dog keep him from giving up.

Scochrane26 I didn‘t get to attend that event, but I saw him at the book fair. Reading the book now. 2mo
16 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Decalino
The Essex Serpent | Sarah Perry
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Pickpick

Freed from the confines of an abusive marriage, Cora moves to the countryside in search of fossils, and hears of the legendary Essex serpent. Her magnetic presence and flouting of convention make waves in the village as she strikes up an unlikely friendship with the local reverend. I can see why they made a show based on this book--great characters and an intriguing plot.

KristiAhlers I loved this story! 4mo
19 likes1 comment
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Decalino
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Pickpick

This subtly satirical novel opens in 2008 as John McCain loses to Barack Obama, setting off an existential crisis in a man we know only as the Big Guy. Used to being in control, he brings together a group of like-minded men to develop a long term plan to take back the country. Meanwhile, his wife and daughter are taking the first steps toward independence from his gravitational pull. This was a slow burn but by the end I considered it a pick.

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Decalino
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This book is probably best enjoyed by serious fans of Star Trek: the Next Generation, and even then you should probably have a high tolerance for wacky hijinks paired with disturbing stalker details. Luckily I have always loved Data, and Brent Spiner has certainly created something memorable in this amalgam of memoir and Hollywood whodunit. The result seems like an episode where the Holodeck is glitching big time and all safety protocols are off.

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Decalino
Until the Last of Me | Sylvain Neuvel
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This second book in the Take Them to the Stars series continues the propulsive story of the Kibsu, a mysterious mother-daughter pair driven to help humanity achieve spaceflight in order to save them from destruction. Both the Kibsu and their nemesis, the ruthless Tracker, veer from their paths in unexpected ways. This is a tale of persistence in the face of failure, of devastating loss and drastic action. I will wait in suspense for the next book.

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Decalino
The Sleepless | Victor Manibo
Mehso-so

In a world where millions of people no longer require sleep, journalist Jamie Vega spends all 24 of his daily waking hours trying to figure out who killed his boss. An intriguing concept, but the breathless present tense conspiracy plot and 2D secondary characters made it hard to connect with the narrator or his world. The ending was interesting enough to justify reading this book, but I might have enjoyed it more if it had taken its time.

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Decalino
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Pickpick

This powerful novel follows the Melekhov family, Cossacks with Turkish ancestry, as life along the Don is impacted first by WWI and then by the death of the Tsar. Beautifully detailed scenes of the natural world are followed by episodes of harrowing violence. The author does not shy away from portraying the evils that men do to one another, particularly in times of war. Still, I am glad to have read this extraordinary, memorable book.

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Decalino
The Anomaly | Herv Le Tellier
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Pickpick

This book was a trip, in every sense of the word. I started it while waiting at an airport, maybe not the best idea since the plot involves an Air France flight to NY that encounters terrifying turbulence, with unexpected results. The Anomaly is ultimately a high concept existentential thriller with a distinct flavor of the original French. It quickly reaches conclusions that are open to considerably more debate, but the payoff is a bonkers ending

IuliaC Great review! I very much enjoyed this one too 5mo
Decalino @IuliaC Thanks! 🙂 5mo
15 likes2 comments
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Decalino
Cloud Cuckoo Land | Anthony Doerr
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Pickpick

I wasn't sure about this book at first; the beginning introduced multiple characters separated in space and time, mostly children in danger or dire circumstance, and I was worried it would be too grim. Luckily I kept reading. The ancient fragmented story threaded through these seemingly disconnected lives brings everything together in the end, in a deeply satisfying way. It's a chunkster, but ultimately worth it.

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Decalino
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This sobering & highly readable book outlines the factors that have given rise to sectarian violence & civil war in places like Bosnia, Burma and Rwanda, most notably the emergence of factions based on identity & the perception of an existential threat. The author explores the increasing risk of political violence in the US, & what steps can be taken now to limit that risk before it's too late. A must read for anyone who wants a peaceful future.

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Decalino
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Mehso-so

This was an intriguing concept: white people wake up to find their hair, skin & eyes have become dark overnight. Unfortunately, the story is told in such a mannered, stylized way that I felt constantly distracted & annoyed. Nearly every paragraph is a long sentence, comma splice after comma splice, ad nauseam. I had to mentally add periods & the occasional semi-colon just to finish it. But it was short, and an interesting idea, so there's that.

Decalino For reference, here's a review from NPR, with a sample paragraph: https://www.npr.org/2022/08/09/1116137982/the-last-white-man-mohsin-hamid-review 6mo
12 likes1 comment
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Decalino
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Pickpick

When cancer threatens the life of his young daughter, Mario takes drastic action to get money for the medical bills, leading him down a grim and grisly path. In this remarkable work of supernatural noir, sinister otherworldly forces are at work but it is human greed, fear and hatred that unleash them on the world. Absorbing and gruesome, and definitely not for the squeamish.

vivastory I'm looking forward to reading this one. My botm box is on backorder and won't ship until the end of the month 6mo
18 likes1 comment
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Decalino
Riot Baby | Tochi Onyebuchi
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This brief, powerful novel follows Ella and her brother Kevin, who was born during the 1992 LA riots, when the cops who beat Rodney King were found not guilty. This is an origin story born of rage, as Ella's power grows and the state relies increasingly on surveillance to maintain control. The author notes that he was inspired by NK Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy, and I can totally see it. A searing look at the fruits of injustice.

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Woman, Eating | Claire Kohda
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Lydia is a 23-year-old aspiring artist starting an internship at a gallery after taking a year off to care for her mother. She is also a vampire, raised to survive on pig's blood & consider herself a monster. Faced with unexpected challenges, Lyd struggles to feed herself & ultimately, to understand her place in the world. A strangely realistic vampire novel, rooted in the realities of being young, uncertain and different from everyone around you.

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A Half-Built Garden | Ruthanna Emrys
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A first-contact story set in a near-future world where megacorporations have been exiled to man-made islands, nation states are in decline, and a network of communities devoted to restoring and maintaining the world's watersheds do their best to work toward a sustainable future. A hopeful contrast to my usual steady diet of dystopias, this novel focuses on the connections that make us stronger, and the work it takes to forge them.

12 likes2 stack adds
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Decalino
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This brief work imagines an infamous--and real--hospital for hysterical women from the perspective of its inmates. Their fragmentary lives, the bizarre performances rewarded by exploitative doctors, the actual photographs from the hospital archives--it all blends into a strangely compelling fever dream, an urge to stake claim to individual identity in the face of an imaginary illness invented and described by men to give them power over women.

11 likes1 stack add
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Decalino
City of Orange | David Yoon
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Mehso-so

With some ruthless editing, this could have been a good novella. It only got interesting around pg 160 (why was I stilll reading at that point? That is my curse.) Up to that point, it was like watching someone else play a video game, a boring one. The story of a solitary, amnesiac man in a desolate landscape, City of Orange alludes to Castaway and the Truman Show, but the closer parallel is The Fisher King. If only the book had made me care.

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Decalino
The Fervor | Alma Katsu
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Set primarily in a Japanese internment camp during WWII, this chilling horror novel describes a mysterious and sometimes deadly sickness, with symptoms that include attacks of violent rage. Both science and the supernatural play a role, but the true evil is clearly humanity's recurring willingness to dehumanize others. It's definitely worth reading the afterword for more on this infamous period in US history. A tense and timely read.

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The Dreamers | Karen Walker
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On the campus of a small California college, one student after another succumbs to a mysterious sleeping sickness. A lonely freshman, a paranoid prepper father & his young daughters, a young couple & their newborn, a biology professor, all are affected as the sleeping sickness spreads. A fascinating exploration of the nature of dreams & reality, identity, memory & perhaps even prophecy. I will be thinking about this one for a long time.

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Decalino
The Silent Patient | Alex Michaelides
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Wow, this was a twisty one! I started it after finding it on the shelf of our AirBnb in Chicago, and bought it on the kindle as soon as we got home so I could finish it. Theo, a psychotherapist with some issues of his own, gets a job at the Grove psychiatric hospital to treat an artist who hasn't spoken since she was found over her husband's dead body. The Hitchcock-worthy plot kept me in suspense and off balance until the very end.