Less by Andrew Sean Greer

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Follow Arthur Less, a failed novelist, as he goes on an around-the-world trip to half-baked literary events in order to avoid the wedding of his most recent boyfriend. As he bumbles his ways through all sorts of predicaments in various countries, he thinks of his loves and his career, but gains no self-awareness. This novel is a clever satire and a love story too. I still giggle about the blue suit’s fate at the Christian retreat.

Gwenamon says: Yes!

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Children of Blood and Bone: Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi

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In this first novel of the soon-to-continue series, Zélie fights against the horrible king alongside her brother and a rebel princess to bring magic back to Orïsha. I really liked this novel’s concept, world, culture, and language. So the fact that the love story is trite and predictable really disappointed me.

Gwenamon: Great, except for the horribly predictable love story

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Circe by Madeline Miller

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When I was looking for something unique to read, a book list (Esquire’s, I think) recommended this novel. I hadn’t read anything about the Greek gods since my university days. I enjoyed returning to the lore because this novel is more eloquent and stylized. Circe is the daughter of the sun god, Helios. But she isn’t powerful like him or beautiful like her mother. Her superpower ends up being that she’s a witch, which gets her sentenced by Zeus to a deserted island. There she explores her magic and learns about her true character.

Gwenamon says: Well done

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French Exit by Patrick deWitt

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High-society Frances and her fully grown yet needy son, Malcolm, leave NYC behind for Paris. Small Frank, the cat, also makes the voyage—yes, they take a ship—since Frances believes he holds the spirit of her dead husband who was a philandering, double-crossing lawyer. The details of his death have made Frances a social pariah. She’s almost bankrupt, too. En route and once settled in France, mother and son encounter a bevy of characters, including Madam Reynard – my fave. This is a dark comedy of manners, kind of like a dark, posh Seinfeld. The ending, though foreshadowed, still felt discordant to me.

Gwenamon: Fluffy, but clever and funny

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The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon

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Phoebe and Will meet and begin a love affair during their first year of university. But both of them have demons they’re trying to get away from. Phoebe blames herself for her mom’s death. Will waits tables to make ends meet on his scholarship since leaving Bible college and religion behind. Everything amplifies and frays when Phoebe becomes interested in a religious group.

Gwenamon says: Really good

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Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

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Annie Bird regularly visits her uncle, Will, a former Cree bush pilot as he lies in a coma in Moose Factory, Ontario’s hospital. She tells him of her plight to find her missing sister, Suzanne. His accounts of his life are interspersed with her story. It’s a multi-faceted novel about family, friendship, love, illusion, tradition, revelation, nature, and acceptance.

Gwenamon says: Yes!

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Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

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This latest novel from Ondaatje is broken into two sections. The first tells of teenagers Rachel and Nathaniel who are deserted by their parents in 1945 London and put in the care of an odd man, known as The Moth.  In the second section, Nathaniel tries to piece together what happened 12 years earlier. The novel’s premise is interesting and there’s—no surprise—some beautiful writing. But whatever I liked in the first section was tarnished in the second, by Nathaniel’s conjecture to sort out his bizarre adolescence and unforgettable first love.

Gwenamon says: It greatly lacks the calibre of The English Patient

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