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MelKelsey

MelKelsey

Joined June 2019

Lover of fiction books, puzzles, and teaching Kindergarten
review
MelKelsey
The Sentence | Louise Erdrich
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Book 49

I listened to The Sentence, a polysemous title, about a Native American woman sentenced to prison and finds refuge in the power of books both during and after her time is served. The writing is rich and the Covid-time setting is salient and relevant. The novel would benefit from a narrowed focus, but I'll read more by the author. 3.5⭐s

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MelKelsey
After the End | Clare Mackintosh
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Book 50

I listened to this story about a couple who disagrees over how long to have their son receive treatment for his terminal cancer. In an author's note, Mackintosh admits to writing from personal experience. It isn't a platform for a specific moral agenda; she chooses an interesting way to explore both heartbreaking options. This book has potential to be a very emotional read but falls short in evoking its heartbreaking potential. 3.5 ⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 45

I listened to a thriller about a college student who, after finding a ride home via a ride share board, is fearful that she may be in the car with her roommate's murderer. The novel jumped right into the suspense, and I worried it was premature. The drama continued and evolved throughout the novel but was overdone. The main character was frustratingly stupid, and I figured out the ending before the reveal. It was engaging. 3.5 ⭐s

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MelKelsey
Hostage | Clare Mackintosh
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Book 44

Hostage is an engaging suspense novel about a hostage airplane situation. The novel is compulsivly readable from beginning to end, with a sympathetic protagonist and layered storylines. I'll read more of Mackintosh's work. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Truly Devious: A Mystery | Maureen Johnson
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Book 43

Truly, Devious was a library summer reading program reward book and was incredibly engaging from the get-go. It's a double-mystery set in a boarding school--a mystery from the history of the school as well as one involving the current class. Unfortunately, the mysteries aren't resolved in this first book in the series (annoying), and the book doesn't maintain its compulsive readability. Still, I will read the next novel. 3.5 ⭐s

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MelKelsey
We Are the Brennans | Tracey Lange
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Book 42

I listened to We Are the Brennans, a family drama, mystery. I didn't want to stop reading and finished it quickly. I'll look into more by the author. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 38

I listened to The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, a juvenile fiction book about a middle school math prodigy who learns to make friends and fit in. Sweet characters and story. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Plot | Jean Hanff Korelitz
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Book 39

3.5⭐s

I listened to The Plot, an engaging thriller about an author who writes the plot told to him by a student who died before writing it himself. The plot is touted as so original and a definitive success, claims that are impossible to live up to. The twists were predictable, but I enjoyed the journey.

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MelKelsey
Salt to the Sea | Ruta Sepetys
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Book 40

So many books have been written about WWII, but the scope of their content could be much broader. Salt to the Sea is about Polish, Prussian, Lithuanian, and German refugees trying to escape by boat. It's told from the perspective of four characters with disproportionate depth and storylines.

MelKelsey Review contd. The chapters are incredibly short, which makes the book read fast but choppy and made feeling invested in the characters difficult. Told mostly through letters he writes to a girlfriend, the German was so despicable! The best part was about the Wilhelm Gustloff, a boat that sunk with 10,000 passengers; some of the details were very poignant and disturbing. 3.5 ⭐s 1mo
32 likes1 comment
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MelKelsey
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Panpan

Book 37

A detective mystery set in France that could have benefited from a character index. A little dull. Not for me. ⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Last Seen Alive | Claire Douglas
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Book 36

I listened to Last Seen Alive, an engaging mystery with a lot of twists. I'll read more by the author. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
A Fall of Marigolds | Susan Meissner
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Book 35

I listened to A Fall of Marigolds, a historical fiction novel about a scarf set in New York during the triangle shirtwaist fire in the early 1900s and September 11. It was a longer than necessary and a little misleading. My least favorite Meissner so far, but worth reading, overall. ⭐⭐⭐.5

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MelKelsey
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Book 33

Enjoyable fluff with all expected elements and good characters and emotional development. I'll read more of this easy-read series. ⭐⭐⭐.5

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MelKelsey
The Wife Between Us | Sarah Pekkanen, Greer Hendricks
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Book 32

I listened to The Wife Between Us, an engaging thriller about an abusive marriage with multiple surprising twists, one early on and the other late-in-the game. I enjoyed it more than I'd expected.

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MelKelsey
Bailedbailed

I stopped reading after ten pages because of it's sentence structure. A stream of consciousness novel that reads more like poetry. I didn't want to invest the requisite mental effort!

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MelKelsey
Mehso-so

Book 34

Murder on the Orient Express, part of a detective series, is my first Agatha Christie novel. It's an easy, quick read and a good, surprising whodunit- mystery. Beyond that, however, it is absent of character and setting development, relationships, plot, and anything that could make it a rich or meaningful read.

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MelKelsey
Nineteen Minutes | Jodi Picoult
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Book 29

I listened to Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It's about a fictional school shooting. It's long-winded but interesting and has a small, surprising twist at the end. 3.5 ⭐s

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MelKelsey
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Book 28

A dystopian world in which parents whose children are removed from them by the state must attend a school for one year in which they learn to be good parents by raising robot doll children. A unique, interesting story. Well-done.

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MelKelsey
A Bridge Across the Ocean | Susan Meissner
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Book 21

A Bridge Across the Ocean is a smorgasbord of a book--parts mystery, ghost story, and an original perspective on the WWII novel. It's well-written. The twist was predictable, but I enjoyed reading it. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
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Book 22

I listened to Force of Nature, a detective mystery novel. As in Harper's other books, the Australian outdoors are a well-written, quintessential part of the plot. It was a surprise conclusion that wasn't revealed until the very end. Good, but not her best. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
Little Earthquakes | Jennifer Weiner
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Book 23

I listened to Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner, an easy and compelling read about new mothers struggling with a variety of challenges. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Perks of Being a Wallflower | Stephen Chbosky
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Book 25

I listened to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a book I should have read by now. It's a coming of age story about a high school boy who struggles with depression. Similar to the movie made after it, the book reads like an iconic 80s film. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
The Outside Boy: A Novel | Jeanine Cummins
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Book 24

A well-written, disappointing novel, set in the 1950s, featuring an Irish boy Traveller (similar to a gypsy) who's lived without his mom his whole life and is coming-of-age, trying to find his path. It wasn't a compelling read, especially in the middle.

3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
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Book 20

I listened to Heavy by Kiese Laymon. It's a memoir about weight, sexual abuse, and race written to the author's mother. While well-written, it's very emotionally disturbing and difficult to read. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 19

I listened to The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix. The novel's set-up sounds more compelling than it is; survivors of violent attacks that meet for monthly group therapy sessions start dying. There are many false endings. Overall disappointing. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 18

I listened to Raising a Rare Girl, a memoir by a creative writing professor about life as a parent with a daughter with Wolf-Hirschorn syndrome. It's a well-written look at parenting and biases about "syndromes ". ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 17

I listened to The Last Graduate, the second novel in the series. The first half reads like the protagonist is talking at the reader instead of having the storyline unfold. The pacing improves, but the book isn't as exciting as book one. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 16

A book about four 30-somethings-friendship, life, mental health, and relationships. The characters aren't incredibly interesting or likable. The book was fine but could have been better.

⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 15

When the Stars Go Dark is a detective mystery novel done Paula McClain style--it's a well-researched, historical fiction. It's engaging, mysterious, and about foster care and childhood sexual abuse. In the Author's Notes McClain shares that she writes from personal experience. My only complaint is that the main character has an unbelievable overload of bad things happen to her. 4.5 stars

24 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
Fighting Words | Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
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Book 14 My first five star read of 2022. Fighting Words is the best I've read of Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's work. It's children's literature without simplistic language, relationships, or emotions. It's about childhood sexual abuse and foster care, about which the author writes from personal experience. It's not at all vulgar, and it has a very hopeful message about working together to fight against these atrocities. Highly recommend.

23 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
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Book 12

I listened to People We Meet on Vacation. A fun, lighthearted love story about friends that vacation together. Easy to listen to and engaging. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Hell of a Book | Jason Mott
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Book 13

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott started off compelling because of its witty point of view-an author on a publicity circuit about his book, Hell of a Book. Both books are ultimately about police brutality and scratch the surface of its emotional weight on children and families. The original novel is short on story and becomes long-winded and discursive but is worth the read.

3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
The Sky at Our Feet | Nadia Hashimi
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Mehso-so

Book 11

After seeing his mom get taken by ICE, a tween boy sets out to find his aunt's house in NYC. The misadventures are continuos, exaggerated, and cringey, as if she's trying to fill a predetermined page count. I'm not a fan of how children's literature expliciltly declares the characters' thoughts and emotions, robbing the reader the opportunity of conjecture. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Between the World and Me | Ta-Nehisi Coates
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Book 10

I listened to Between the World and Me written and narrated by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a good writer and an excellent narrator. It's a short, well-done commentary on race issues in the US. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Lisey's Story: A Novel | Stephen King
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Panpan

Book 9

I listened to Lisey's Story by Stephen King. I knew it was going to be dark, but it was much weirder than I'd expected. It was a long fantasy with other worlds. Not my style, but it might be yours. ⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 8

A History of Wild Places starts out as a mystery about a missing person with a little magical element. It becomes a story about a commune in the middle of the woods. Both are good set-ups but the relationship between the two isn't obvious until the end. It's well-written, and I will read more by the author. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
The Crooked Branch | Jeanine Cummins
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The Crooked Branch is a story of motherhood. The novel alternates between the story of Ginny in Ireland during the famine and her ancestor Majella, a new mother in Queens. Moreso than any book with two time periods, the storylines are distinct and could stand alone. An engaging, enjoyable read. The ending is abrupt and simplistic and the depth of the writing and characters isn't nearly as good as American Dirt. Still, I recommend reading it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Malibu Rising | Taylor Jenkins Reid
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Book 6

Malibu Rising is an easy read primarily about the children of a rock star trying to make it in Malibu with their dad's name but none of his fortune. It's about sacrifice for those we love and learning to embrace your dreams. Enjoyable but surface-level. 3.5 stars

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MelKelsey
The Wonder | Emma Donoghue
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Book 5

I listened to The Wonder. Set in Ireland in the 1850s, the story's about Ann, a girl touted as "The Wonder" for surviving four months on water. In hopes of legitimizing this
miracle, Lib, is hired for two weeks to keep watch, The mystery unravels slowly with dark, sometimes unexpected, twists. The palpable setting and piety make for a rich novel. More characters should be dynamic, but The Wonder is another Donoghue worth reading. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Mehso-so

Book 4

I listened to Forty Autumns thinking it was historical fiction; it's actually the author's family's story. I learned a lot about the Cold War and think more fiction should be written with it as the setting. Most of the characters were very flat, making it hard to love the book. ⭐⭐⭐

megnews I would love to read more HF from this time period as well. 4mo
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MelKelsey
Apples Never Fall | Liane Moriarty
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Book 3

Apples Never Fall is an easy-to-read, enjoyable, and light mystery. A woman with grown children goes missing. Is she dead? Who killed her? It's a good, unpredictable novel by Moriarty. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Dreams of Joy | Lisa See
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Book 2

I listened to Dreams of Joy by Lisa See, a favorite author. Her characters, settings, and historical research are deeply detailed and compelling. I was surprised to find this novel lacking initially, but it picked up halfway and I was enthralled. I didn't know it was the second in a series, but it follows the 19-year-old daughter from Shanghai Girls running away from her family in the States to live in Communist China in the 1950s. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
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Book 1
Susan Meissner writes a compelling story with good characters. The Nature of Fragile Things is about a woman from Ireland who responds to an ad for a mail-order-bride. As she becomes a wife and mother, Sophie learns that she isn't her husband's only wife. I wish the story would have remained here longer and unraveled slower, but it quickly progressed to a deeper and different story as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake hits. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

27 likes1 stack add
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MelKelsey
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Book 156

I listened to A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. It's a darker Harry Potter-like story. Very fun. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

tpixie A seller at B&N recommended this to my 29 yo son. He really enjoyed it! I bought him the 2nd book for Xmas. I think the 3rd will be published in Sept. It sounds very interesting! 4mo
MelKelsey @tpixie Thank you for commenting and letting me know about the publication of the third book in the series. 4mo
tpixie @MelKelsey ♥️🥳📚🥳♥️ 4mo
29 likes3 comments
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MelKelsey
The Remains of the Day | Kazuo Ishiguro
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Book 152

I listened to The Remains of the Day, a well-done novel with a classical feel, by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is a slow-paced dive into Stevens, a butler in England in the early to mid-1900s. His character is so stiff and...butlery, but you warm up to him. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
This Is a Book | Demetri Martin
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Mehso-so

Book 153

I got and read this book on Christmas. It's a fun collection of humorous jokes, pictures, word play, and short writings, all in true Demetri Martin style. It was mildly enjoyable but not my preferred genre. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
The Samosa Rebellion | Shanthi Sekaran
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Book 154

I read the Samosa Rebellion, a middle-grade fiction book, because I liked Lucky Boy by the same author. The story is of a fictional island called Mariposa where the president decides to deport all immigrants who've been there less than three generations. It is a simplistic version of a common story. I would have preferred more complexity. 3.5 ⭐s

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MelKelsey
Look at Me: A Novel | Jennifer Egan
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Book 155

4.5

Look at Me is an intricate story with complex characters, excellent writing, and a dense vocabulary (perhaps overly so).

Published in 2001, it's the story of a limited social media that's not free. It's very interesting to read currently.

So many characters, not all evenly fleshed out. I wanted more about Ellen. I don't completely get Moose.

I really liked the book and look forward to reading more by the author.

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MelKelsey
These Silent Woods: A Novel | Kimi Cunningham Grant
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Mehso-so

Book 151

These Silent Woods is a mild thriller about a man and his daughter who live in a cabin in the woods in order to avoid some unknown danger. It's a story that's been told, with an underwhelming backstory. It was okay but nothing special. ⭐⭐⭐

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MelKelsey
Bel Canto | Ann Patchett
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Book 150 Bel Canto is a slow-burn. A group of political leaders that has gathered for a private opera performance is taken hostage by a guerilla group--a thrilling set-up. The first half is a slog as the reader anticipates action that won't ever begin. It's the final quarter that the excellent writing comes to life as the characters develop and the reader's expectations are adjusted. A beautiful piece of writing, if you make it to the end. 3.5 ⭐s

charl08 I'd like to reread this one: read a long time ago and I don't think I really "got" it! 5mo
Brimful I reread this recently and got much more out of it than first time around! Great piece of writing! 5mo
marleed I watched the movie and then I read the book. I loved the book but the movie may have aided my experience! 5mo
MelKelsey @marleed I didn't know there was a movie. I'll check it out! Thanks! 5mo
27 likes4 comments