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HillsAndHamletsBookshop

HillsAndHamletsBookshop

Joined October 2017

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HillsAndHamletsBookshop
Olga Dies Dreaming | Xochitl Gonzalez
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May every activist cause & social justice movement get themselves a Xochitl Gonzalez. It is a rare gift indeed to be able to write a novel that is so incredibly rich, satisfying, and fun to read while also educating the reader about something as complicated as Puerto Rico‘s history of colonial oppression. I rooted for Olga as she fought for her family and to get the life she desires, while taking breaks to google more about Puerto Rican history.

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Groundskeeping | Lee Cole
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I‘ve lived most of my life in southern college towns, where professors & liberals live in tense bubbles in a sea of religious conservatism & working class anti-intellectualism. This is the backdrop of Lee Cole‘s debut novel, about a love story btwn Owen & Alma, from two very different backgrounds, & the way race & class impacts the dynamics of their relationship and their families in the age of Trump. Every character felt like someone I‘ve known.

Christine Great review - a must-stack for me! 2w
HillsAndHamletsBookshop @Christine thank you! I honestly couldn‘t put it down. It kept resonating with my own experiences over and over, and does a good job of avoiding caricature when handling rural/southern/conservative characters in the story. Also I went to high school and college in KY and it has lots of geographical references that were familiar, which added a nice dimension. The writing about place was almost as good as the characters. 2w
Christine Thanks for sharing these additional thoughts! Wow - I can't wait for this one. Minus the geography, I feel that much of this will resonate with me, too (and I look forward to that strong southern sense of place you describe!). 2w
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Smith‘s personal, intimate examination of sites of historical significance to slavery is as soulful and accessible as it is urgent & important. The opening chapter on Jefferson‘s Monticello is one of the best chapters of American historical writing in recent memory, & should be required reading on the legacy of America‘s founders. It‘s rare to encounter a work where every paragraph brims with significance, but Clint Smith does just that.

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In The Dawn of Everything Davids Graeber and Wengrow have packed the foundations of modern political philosophy with dynamite and lit the fuse. They accomplish this by synthesizing and sharing recent advances in the fields of archaeology and anthropology which show a truly dizzying diversity of sophisticated models of human social organization among indigenous peoples the world over, spanning tens of thousands of years. (Cnt‘d in comments)

HillsAndHamletsBookshop Why are these recent archaeological revelations so important? They undermine our temporal bias toward recent European based ideas of social progress. 1mo
HillsAndHamletsBookshop The basic premise is that we currently suffer from a catastrophically crippled political imagination, due largely to the myth of linear historical progress. If we believe that things HAD to be how they are today because history was leading inevitably toward US, then it means there could be no other way for things to end up. 1mo
HillsAndHamletsBookshop Graeber and Wengrow‘s meticulously researched and sourced masterpiece transforms you into a kind of sociological time traveler, dipping in and out of the vibrant social worlds of ancient cities and cultures in such a way to vividly remind us that
— despite the invisible hum of our culture telling us otherwise — other wiser, richer, saner ways of life remain possible.
1mo
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Great Circle | Maggie Shipstead
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I loved this incredible epic novel, definitely making my top 10 list for 2021! Some reviewers didn‘t like the modern thread of the historical/modern dual narrative, and it isn‘t as strong as the historical thread, but I still enjoyed it all. Definitely my favorite of this year‘s Booker nominees. The fictional tale of the lives of aviator Marian Graves and her artist brother Jamie makes for a damn fine yarn. Thanks to Libro.fm for the ALC!

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The Beatryce Prophecy | Kate DiCamillo
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I don‘t typically read much middle grade fiction but I absolutely LOVED The Beatryce Prophecy! Thanks to Libro.fm for the ALC!

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Revelator: A novel | Daryl Gregory
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Revelator is a delightfully creepy Appalachian folk-gothic-horror novel about a mountain family and the strange, vaguely sinister god they worship. Think H.P. Lovecraft meets V.C. Andrews meets Mexican Gothic. Not my normal fare but I really enjoyed it! Thanks to Libro.fm for the complimentary listening copy!

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Bewilderment | Richard Powers
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Bewilderment is powerful environmental & social criticism masquerading as an emotionally devastating novel. Powers‘ follow up to his Pulitzer Prize winner The Overstory continues his tradition of no holds barred environmentalist fiction, this time through the lens of childhood mental health, astrobiology, & American political dysfunction. I found myself longing for a comforting sentimentality, but Powers‘ brilliance is psychologically relentless.

underground_bks Fantastic review! This sounds INTENSE. 7mo
HillsAndHamletsBookshop It is! I don‘t think the Trump years did anything to improve Powers‘ optimism. There is a kind of seething anger underlying this book that one can‘t help but feel is deeply justified. 7mo
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Matrix | Lauren Groff
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Lumbering & enigmatic Marie de France is cast out of the 12th century royal court of Eleanor of Aquitaine as too coarse & spends her life building a small empire as an Abbess at a rural abbey. I can‘t say I ever love Groff‘s books, but I always *respect* them. They are so sharp, and the line-by-line writing is euphoric, virtuosic even. Matrix is like this. It is a smart if peculiar exploration of power, womanhood, faith, ambition, and sensuality.

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The Ministry for the Future | Kim Stanley Robinson
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This hearty work of hard science fiction has been the antidote to my climate change despair. As a novel it is good. As a thought experiment imagining a near future in which humanity averts complete disaster and begins the transformation into an ecologically humane civilization — it is a masterpiece. If we‘re going to overcome the converging catastrophes of our century we‘ll need powerful and well researched stories like this to help find the way.

SamAnne Oh I need to read this. I work in conservation and it‘s been a rough week. Year? 8mo
HillsAndHamletsBookshop I can only imagine! It really is good, and manages to be hopeful without being pollyannish, if that‘s a word, haha. 8mo
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My biggest problem with the book was that I listened to the audiobook and wish there had been a professional reader rather than the author. I finally got used to his voice, and was able to enjoy the content, but I wish more space had been given to two things: 1. a deeper understanding of indigenous attitudes toward land “ownership” and 2. more attention to radical/alternative/visionary models of land ownership/stewardship. Overall still 4 stars.

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Ecotopia | Ernest Callenbach
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Mehso-so

What are some books you like that explore positive visions of the future? Ecotopia was just okay, with a lot of dated perspectives on gender, sexuality, and race. I‘m interested in the concept though, using fiction to imagine positive or utopian futures (that don‘t always just devolve into dystopias). I‘m hearing more about the emerging genres of “solarpunk” or “hopepunk” and am looking for recommendations if anyone has any! 🤓📚💚

SamAnne Oh blast from the past. Yes it is very outdated. But one I read in my late teens. 9mo
HillsAndHamletsBookshop It had been on my TBR for a long time, and I‘m glad I read it. 🙂 9mo
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HillsAndHamletsBookshop
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I read about 60 books a year. If Becky Chambers had 60 books out already I would happily stop all all other reading and spend a year immersed in her universe. This fourth, and apparently final, book in her Wayfarers Chronicles series continues her tradition of writing characters that are so rich, relationships with such emotional depth, world building that is so imaginative, that you don‘t even care that the plot feels like an afterthought.

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This short and sweet, charming and funny, and quite educational book about the curious love lives of birds is the perfect little gift book for bird lovers or the bird-curious. I listened to the audiobook on Libro but we have physical copies for sale in our bookstore, and it is a beautiful book inside and out.

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Overall really enjoyed this, though as others have pointed out, it is far from a perfect novel, with a few flat, or eye-roll inducing moments. Still, I liked the concept and apothecary/poison themes, and the audiobook narrator did a great job of giving life to the 3 main characters. I would put this in the category of a fun & smart beach read, nothing too heavy but not totally lacking substance either.

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HillsAndHamletsBookshop
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As an avid reader of nature writing, I found World of Wonders a pure delight, and the beautiful cover and illustrations throughout don‘t hurt. Each bite-sized essay has a specific plant or animal theme, many drawn from the poet‘s experiences as a child. The writing is personal, tender, at times funny, always thoughtful, and tinged with a kind of prescient, soulful mourning for the looming collapse of species diversity on our tiny precious planet.

Chelsea.Poole I loved this one. Great photo! 🌿 9mo
HillsAndHamletsBookshop @Chelsea.Poole thank you!! 😊 9mo
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Michaela Carter‘s spellbinding work of historical fiction about the Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington had me spending hours scouring the internet looking at the artist‘s paintings. A perfect book for anyone interested in the 20th century‘s modernist avant-garde art movements (the book also features POV chapters from Max Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim), the book tells a compelling story while also elevating the profile of lesser known women artists.

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I devoured This clever, entertaining, and thought provoking memoir. Perfect for fans of magic, illusion, gambling, philosophy, performance art, or just plain good storytelling! DelGaudio‘s tale of how an adolescent obsession with sleight-of-hand eventually landed him a job as a cheating card dealer for a high stakes Hollywood poker game is more than just a solid page-turning yarn. It‘s a complex meditation on deception in all its varied forms.

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A quietly devastating masterpiece! Ishiguro‘s layers of emotional nuance pair well with his explorations of the profound ethical and metaphysical quandaries posed by our near future‘s AI technologies.

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The Four Winds: A Novel | Kristin Hannah
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I devoured Kristin Hannah‘s masterful work of historical fiction. I found myself desperately rooting for the Martinelli family as they face a persistent series of crises during the Great Depression & the Dust Bowl. This is character driven storytelling at its best — each time I stepped away from it I couldn‘t stop thinking about them. The Four Winds is a deeply moving story about a particularly dark era of profoundly relevant American history.

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A brief but insightful survey of humans‘ ongoing attempts to geoengineer fixes for the environmental problems caused by our previous fixes. Kolbert‘s skeptical eye reveals the hubris inherent in these efforts, even as she befriends the well-meaning scientists and environmentalists behind them. It‘s hard to feel optimistic after a read like this, but it is nonetheless an excellent, deeply thought provoking book.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God LP | Zora Neale Hurston
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My first reading of Hurston‘s work. I had no idea what I was missing! So good!

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Midnight Library | Matt Haig
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A sweet, smart, satisfying book overall, but would say 4 out of 5 stars. Haig is accumulating an impressive mental health oeuvre in both fiction and nonfiction. While it felt a tad trite at times, with shades of Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol, its message about what makes a meaningful life IS an important reminder. Looking forward to seeing Nora Seed‘s story as a movie!

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The Best of Me | David Sedaris
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I love listening to Sedaris read his stories. He‘s such a good storyteller and humorist. While avid fans like me have likely read most of the stories within, I still enjoyed it. The chronology also puts on display how he has matured as a writer, with increasing depth over time, with touches of sorrow and melancholy added in that give him more of a three dimensionality than you find in earlier work. Thanks to Libro.fm for the free listening copy!

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Anxious People: A Novel | Fredrik Backman
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I enjoyed this, it was a sweet, fun, light read — a nice break from the heavier reading I‘ve been doing lately. I really like Backman‘s unique voice and perspective on life, but none of his books have been as good as A Man Called Ove in my opinion. Thanks to Libro.fm for the ALC!

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Wilkerson‘s new book is a deeply thought provoking dive into the similarities between America‘s racially stratified hierarchies & the caste systems of India & Nazi Germany. Despite a couple of places where I didn‘t follow some leaps she made, I consider it among the most powerful and sophisticated critiques of American culture I‘ve read this year, & that is saying a lot since this has been a banner year for books spelunking our national psyche.

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I don‘t consider myself a big history reader in general, but the two Erik Larson books I have read now (this one and Devil in the White City) have both been amazing, and are making me give the whole genre a second chance. The incredible research he does really brings to life what daily life under the bombing of London during WWII must have been like. Excellent book!

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Greenwood | Michael Christie
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I read Greenwood because it was comped to Richard Powers‘ The Overstory, which I loved. The story follows the lives of 3 generations of the Greenwood family & the old growth forest on the island which bears their name, one an industrialist timber magnate, one a hippie activist, and one an forest scientist. While it doesn‘t rise to the epic level of literary achievement of The Overstory, it was a solid & satisfying “forest fiction” follow up.

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Deirdre Mask‘s The Address Book is a smart and satisfying work of pop history, sociology, and cultural geography. It explores both the past of how addresses were invented and the future ways this may be changing. It is entertaining without sacrificing scholarly rigor. A good read for fans of intelligently quirky, curiously specific histories like those of Mary Roach or Bill Bryson.

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Jessica Ingram‘s book is a unique approach to civil rights history through photography. It is a work of quiet force, power, & emotion. Combining her own photography, archival research, & moving testimonies, Ingram honors the memories of civil rights activists who were victims of racist violence. Road Through Midnight reminds us that resistance to the regressive forces in our society is an ongoing struggle we each bear the responsibility to face.

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Pride of Eden: A Novel | Taylor Brown
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Pride of Eden is rich, dark, and atmospheric. It is a southern novel whose nature loving outlaws are reminiscent of those in Edward Abbey‘s classic environmentalist adventure tales of the southwest. Brown‘s skill and sophistications seems to grow by leaps and bounds with each new novel. This Southern novelist‘s career is just taking off and I am here for it!

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A horrifying, in-depth, and eye-opening investigation into the deeply corrupt shit show that is the Trump presidency.

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The Dutch House | Ann Patchett
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I think i would have liked reading the book, but I really loved the audiobook, which is read by Tom Hanks. He did a wonderful job and really brought the story to life.

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The Infinite Game | Simon Sinek
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Games like chess or checkers are “finite” in that they can be won & have a determined end. One can‘t “win” at things like life or business though. These are infinite games. Sinek‘s brilliant new book draws on the work of philosopher James Carse to find inspiration for a new way of orienting the world of business, toward what he calls Just Causes, or mission based goals, as an antidote to the myopia of short sighted capitalism today.

underground_bks Can‘t wait to read this! I loved Start With Why! 2y
HillsAndHamletsBookshop 🤓📚❤️ 2y
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I enjoyed it, though I will say you have to be pretty interested in book history for it to be a good fit. Price presents some fresh perspectives on book history and our current print zeitgeist that are thought provoking for modern book activists.

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Toil & Trouble: A Memoir | Augusten Burroughs
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Thoroughly enjoyed this funny, dark, and offbeat memoir in which Augusten Burroughs comes out as a witch. Seriously, he‘s a witch. Burroughs reads it himself and has a weird, drawn out style, but I got used to it after awhile. Thanks to Libro.fm for the complimentary listening copy.

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A badly needed dose of practical optimism from one of the cofounders of the successful tech company Kickstarter. Strickler‘s manifesto for expanding our definition of value creation beyond the primitively narrow current paradigm of simple “financial maximization” is both timely and urgent. His “Bentoism” tool is simple and thought provoking. A great read for fans of Yuval Noah Harari, Malcolm Gladwell, or Adam Grant.

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Thanks to Libro.fm for the complimentary listening copy of this audiobook. It was exceptional. Gladwell creates a truly engaging audiobook experience and does an amazing job of making us question so many of our basic assumptions about how we interact in the world with strangers. It‘s a brilliant piece of deeply thought provoking pop sociology that I simply couldn‘t put down.

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Fair Play | EVE. RODSKY
Mehso-so

Our publishers rep gave us a heads up that this is about to be a pick for Reese Witherspoon‘s book club. It is very narrowly geared toward hetero couples with children, in relationships in which one partner (typically the woman) is carrying a deeply unfair portion of the work required to manage household affairs and family obligations. It offers a practical card game tool for rebalancing a couples household chores.

jillrhudy That‘s a great insider piece of news that I wish I‘d seen when you posted it. Following you! (edited) 2y
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A Closed and Common Orbit | Becky Chambers
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I think I loved Chambers‘ second book even more than the first, which is saying a lot. I read a lot of heavy nonfiction and I find myself wanting lighter fiction that is fun but still has substance, and Chambers‘ books fit my needs perfectly. I‘m going to save the third book set in the Galactic Commons for a time when I really need the sweet mental health break I get from these books.

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Deeply moving & intellectually honest! Juliet Cutler‘s new memoir about her time teaching at the first school for Maasai girls in East Africa is nothing short of inspiring, even as she acknowledges the challenges & struggles inherent in the work. I felt privileged to get to read about the ways her students were impacted by access to education & reminded of how those who serve are often themselves transformed in ways they could never have imagined.

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City of Girls | Elizabeth Gilbert
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The ideal summer beach read! A pure, unadulterated joy to read. Fun, sexy, and smart.

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Underland: A Deep Time Journey | Robert Macfarlane
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Yeah, MacFarlane is a genius and I‘ve found a new permanent resident author for my staff picks shelf in our bookstores! 🤓📚❤️

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I was introduced to MacFarlane‘s work through his beautiful concept art book The Lost Words and wanted to learn more about him and his writing. With the highly anticipated release of Underland coming out this June, I wanted to catch up on his back list titles. The Old Ways didn‘t disappoint. The way Rebecca Solnit blends myth and literature into politics, MacFarlane does for nature and travel. I‘m now obsessed & am going to read his entire ouvre.

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The Lost Words: A Spell Book | Robert Macfarlane, Jackie Morris
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Pure magic! An outstanding book in form, concept, and execution!

AndiM Love the cover!😍 3y
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A super fun, smart, and brain tickling space opera! Thanks to Libro.fm for the complimentary listening copy.

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Panpan

Not having read any of Jesse Ball‘s work before, but aware of the enthusiasm for his work, I was excited to read this new ARC. Unfortunately I had no idea what was happening through most of the book. I kept hoping for a payoff in the end, but was disappointed. It was pretentiously and obtusely literary, trying way too hard. Maybe if I was reading it as part of a graduate lit class w/someone to help explain it I could have appreciated it.

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I think this book would have been better titled An Introductory History of Socialism, Up to the Present Day. Given the spike in interest in contemporary America, it was interesting to learn about some of democratic socialism‘s roots. A bit tedious at times, I found it overall thoughtful and engaging. Thanks to Libro.fm for the complimentary audiobook.

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Turbulence | David Szalay
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Just started this advance copy the upcoming title by David Szalay and it grabbed me from page one. It‘s gonna be a good one!

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Daisy Jones & The Six | Taylor Jenkins Reid
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I was skeptical of the concept at first but this book won me over. It didn‘t hurt that the audiobook version has exceptional production value. I listened to the entire thing in a couple days, couldn‘t get enough of it. The only problem is I really want there to be real music to go with it! Apparently it‘s going to be a tv series, read the book first!

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