The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham

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This novel is about unambitious Barrett who can’t find love and sees a vision in the park one night. He lives with his older brother, Tyler, a tired musician who is hitting a wall whenever he tries writing a wedding song for his dying girlfriend, Beth. The three of them live together in Brooklyn. There’s little plot and lots of meandering days in this novel. It’s lack lustre except for Cunningham’s beautiful writing. But even that didn’t redeem this novel for me.

Gwenamon says: Meh

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Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte

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This is a(n often brutal) satire about four young college graduates living in San Francisco. It’s cleverly written and a few times I honestly did laugh out loud. However, I’d say the language and self-awareness goes over-the-top during Linda’s diatribes. Some of those I just had to skim. It’s pretty impressive that Tulathimutte seems to work every millennial influence, concern, or criticism into this novel.

Gwenamon says: Well done and having lived in SF, I loved the conjuring up of its neighbourhoods

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Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

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John Carreyrou uncovers the story of Standford dropout’s, CEO Elizabeth Holmes’, multibillion startup – Theranos. It was built on smoke and mirrors, and endorsed by big-name investors. Carreyrou writes of Holmes’ sociopath duplicity in promising to revolutionize the medical industry with easier and quicker blood tests, while raising billions of dollars with technology which didn’t work. The book doesn’t discuss Holmes’ comeuppance – probably in order to get the story out in time. She’s still awaiting trial.

Gwenamon says: A quick, easy read that that’s kind of unsatisfying because of where it ends

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The Impossible Lives of Greta Walls by Andrew Sean Greer

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Greta tries a treatment to jolt her out of a deep depression brought on by her dear twin brother’s, Felix’s, death. The treatment’s effects take her between her own time (1985) and two others – 1918 and 1941. She has to confront different issues, choices, and social mores while getting another chance to listen to her heart.

Gwenamon says: Decent and a quick read

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The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

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Oh this book. It’s told from Private Bartle’s perspective both during and after the Iraq war about being powerlessly caught up in the war machine with his buddy, Private Murphy. I was moved by this novel which is quite beautifully written. Some people have criticized that it’s confusing and jumps around, but although I found that, I read it as purposeful given the enormity of the topic – the cost of war.

Gwenamon says: Yes!

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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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This is Kya’s story. She’s known to the locals as Marsh Girl, having survived on her own in the marsh for years, where only the seagulls are her friends. But she does forge a few key relationships and even finds love. And she also becomes suspected of murder. Although the plot is pretty unbelievable and quite predictable, the beautiful writing superseded all of that for me. I couldn’t put this book down.

Gwenamon says: Unbelievable plot, but wonderful writing

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Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

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I find most science fiction books aren’t very well written, but this one is quite decent. It definitely meanders in parts and belabours points. However, it doesn’t have grammatical errors like the last book I tried to read that had won a Nebula Award. Doomsday Book is the first of a series, but I doubt I will read the rest. This one is satisfying though. A young female student, Kivrin, is sent back in time to study England before the bubonic plague. Of course, many things go wrong and I kept reading to find out what happens.

Gwenamon says: Decent

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