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1001 Review: A Dry White Season by André Brink

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Bookworm says read this book.

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1001 Book Review: Auto da Fe by Elias Canetti

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Auto Da Fe by Elias Canetti
Published in: 1935
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

Peter Kien would be proud of the way books are retaining their value I paid more for this second hand copy than I would have paid for the new copy in 1978….

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Read Around the World: Macedonia

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Welcome to the February 2019 edition of Read Around the World this month our randomly selected country to read was Macedonia.

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★]

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The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

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The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
Published in: 2019
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★]

This ARC was provided by John Murray Press (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I read a lot of thriller/chillers so I tend to think of myself as hardened to most forms of death and torture this book proved I am not as hardened as I like to think. So take that as a warning there is graphic torture in this book.

Stockholm in 1793 is vividly bought to life in this story, the reader is shown the dark underbelly and the differences that exist between those with a family name and money and those without. The former can live how they like with no fear from the law which can be purchased given enough money. The latter must suffer the whims of those who have more than them and 1 wrong word or false accusation can doom then to a brief life of torture before the welcome release of death.

Following the discovery of a dismembered torso the book goes on to tell the story of 4 people whose stories will overlap with that of the murdered man. It is through these 4 different people that life in Stockholm is revealed in all its different forms. Along the way the reader is shown the dark side of seeking your fortune by pretending to be something you are not and getting into debt; the dangers of rejecting the advances of your betters; the slow decline into alcoholism caused by losses in the war and on a lighter note the fight for justice no matter what the cost.

The central characters all felt real and their situations were believable however some of the baddies felt stereotypical and a couple of events in the book felt like overkill to me hence the 4 star not 5 star rating. I was also puzzled by the ending yes justice was done but it was done in a way that felt out of character given what had gone before.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to those who like historical murder mysteries and have a strong stomach, did I mention there is graphic torture?

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

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Hubby has been sick with proper flu for the last 2 weeks so falling into a deep sleep which no-one can wake you from almost sounds like heaven to me.

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Early Riser – Jasper Fforde

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Every Winter, the human population hibernates.

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The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

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The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: YOU’LL NEVER FORGET THE FLOWER GIRLS

The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.

One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.

Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.

And The Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again…

Book Worm’s Thoughts: This is another case of it’s me not the book, this is actually a well written interesting psychological thriller the problem for me is the story is just too close to home. The events echo what happened to James Bulger in 1993 and while the characters and events are different enough that this is not a retelling of that horrific murder they are still too close for me to feel comfortable reading this as entertainment.

The author does raise some interesting points regarding the legal system with regard to how children are treated compared with adults for the same crime, it questions whether an 18 year old who has spent almost half their life in prison is the same person as the 10 year old convicted of the crime. It also considers how can someone reintegrate into society if they were never actually a functioning member of it to begin with.

Other issues examined are the idea of forgiveness and moving on no matter what horrors you have suffered. The protection of the families of the criminals while the victims family have no protection as the worst has already happened to them. The idea of nature vs nurture and is it possible that some people are just born evil with no redeeming features and should be locked away forever.

Who would like this: Trigger Warnings for child torture and murder (although this is not graphically portrayed) personally I can’t recommend this to anyone old enough to remember the James Bulger case maybe younger readers would be able to read this with no issue.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

Read Around the World: Haiti

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Facts about Haiti borrowed from this website:

  • The official name of Haiti is the ‘Republic of Haiti’
  • The capital of Haiti is Port-au-Prince.
  • The official languages of Haiti include French and Haitian Creole.
  • Majority of the people in Haiti are Roman Catholics, followed by Protestants and Voodoo followers.
  • The currency of Haiti is Gourde.
  • Around 95 percent of the population of Haiti comprises of Blacks, while Multiracial, Arabs and Europeans make up the rest 5 percent.
  • Haiti was the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world.
  • Haiti is the only nation in the world whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion.
  • Haiti was the first nation in Latin America to gain its sovereignty
  • Haiti is the only independent Francophone nation in Latin America. All the other French-speaking Latin American nations are overseas departments of France.
  • Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.
  • Hispaniola, along with Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, is a part of an island chain known as the Greater Antilles.
  • Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The term ‘Haiti’ is derived from ‘Ayti’, a Taino word that means ‘mountainous land’.
  • Did you know? Haiti is not considered a third world country. The infrastructure is so weak in this country that it is actually considered a fifth-world country, and a first in its league.
  • French rule was established in Haiti in 1790s, when the uprising by slaves brought an end to slavery.
  • Haiti gained independence from France on 1st January 1804, when it was declared a Republic.
  • Haiti annexed Santo Domingo between 1822 and 1844.
  • Jean-Bertrand Aristide became the first democratically elected president of Haiti, in 1990.
  • The main industries of Haiti are sugar refining, flour milling, textiles and cement.
  • Decades of violence and instability in Haiti has made it the poorest country in the Americas.

Some Haitian Authors:

  • Josaphat-Robert Large
  • Jacques Roumain
  • Félix Morisseau-Leroy
  • Frankétienne
  • Jean Price-Mars
  • Louis-Philippe Dalembert
  • Marie-Célie Agnant
  • Ida Faubert
  • Edwidge Danticat

My book for Haiti:

The Kingdom of this World by Alejo Carpentier (1001 Book)

This was a 3 star read for me but that is not the books fault it is entirely my fault. This book requires the reader to have some knowledge of the history of Haiti and how the slave revolution lead to the first black led nation in the world and what then happened to that first leader.

The book itself was a quick read I then spent a couple of hours using wiki to find out what it was I had just read.

This is the first example of “Marvellous Reality” as opposed to “Magical Realism” and the distinction lies in the fact that both the marvellous and the real version of events live along side of each other and depend entirely on the beliefs and view of those who describe them. The black natives see the “Marvellous” in events while the colonial whites only see the mundane “Reality”

What books did you read for Haiti?

Do we have any readers in Haiti? and if we do what books would you recommend we read?

Next Destination: Macedonia what books will you be reading? What books would you recommend we read?

 

 

Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen

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Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
Published in: 2019
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★]

This ARC was provided by Orion Publishing Group (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: If you could look at one life in two different ways, what would you see?

Louis and Louise are separated by a single moment in time, a strike of chance that decided their future. The day they were born is when their story began.

In one, Louis David Alder is born a male.
In the other, Louise Dawn Alder is born a female.

Louis and Louise are the same in many ways – they have the same best friends, the same parents, the same dream of being a writer and leaving their hometown in Maine as soon as they can. But because of their gender, everything looks different. Certain things will happen in their lives to shape them, hurt them, build them back up again. But what will bring them back home?

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I love the premise of this book and I love the execution there were several moments when I felt myself tearing up and that ending what more could a reader want?

The book is told from 3 different viewpoints we have the non gender specific view of “Lou” who is both Louis and Louise at the moments in there lives where gender doesn’t matter but important events still occur like the moment of birth (very important that). Then you have the view of the male Louis and the female Louise.

Born on the same day to the same parents in the same papermill town in Maine Louis and Louise really do share one life. They have the same friends and the same dates will be significant to both of them but in different ways and in the end it is the same reason that will bring them both back home to Maine to revisit the past, to learn from their mistakes and to give and seek forgiveness.

The book tackles important issues about perception, about money, about entitlement, about small town life, about what it takes to make a family and most importantly the influence of gender on your whole life.

As well as having great characters the setting of small town Maine is really brought to life and is the butt of several affectionate jokes.

“That’s another way you can tell you’re in main: 70 per cent of radio stations, when you land on them, are playing either the Eagles of Bob Seger”

“Or Stephen King! He makes loads of money. And you’re from Maine, you’re halfway there right?”

“Maine front doors are for company, for salesmen and out-of-town guests. They have doorbells and knockers for strangers to announce their presence. The back door is for everyday coming and going, for family”

Then we have the touching side of the story:

“She smiles, and she’s the girl he’s known all his life, the girl who borrowed his favourite book and took care not to break the spine or crease the pages.”

“That’s the point of funerals, she supposes, much like the point of all the casseroles that have been turning up. They’re excuses for the offering of kindness. They’re meant to make the living feel less alone.”

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good family story, anyone who enjoys a quirky storyline and anyone who likes stories about small town America and the class difference.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think?