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Posts by Book Worm

Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

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Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: Swan Song

This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: They told him everything.

He told everyone else.

Over countless martini-soaked Manhattan lunches, they shared their deepest secrets and greatest fears. On exclusive yachts sailing the Mediterranean, on private jets streaming towards Jamaica, on Yucatán beaches in secluded bays, they gossiped about sex, power, money, love and fame. They never imagined he would betray them so absolutely.

In the autumn of 1975, after two decades of intimate friendships, Truman Capote detonated a literary grenade, forever rupturing the elite circle he’d worked so hard to infiltrate. Why did he do it, knowing what he stood to lose? Was it to punish them? To make them pay for their manners, money and celebrated names? Or did he simply refuse to believe that they could ever stop loving him? Whatever the motive, one thing remains indisputable: nine years after achieving wild success with In Cold Blood, Capote committed an act of professional and social suicide with his most lethal of weapons . . . Words.

A dazzling debut about the line between gossip and slander, self-creation and self-preservation, SWAN SONG is the tragic story of the literary icon of his age and the beautiful, wealthy, vulnerable women he called his Swans.

‘Writers write. And one can’t be surprised if they write what they know.’

Bookworm’s Thoughts: Having read and appreciated Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, I saw the blurb for this book and was intrigued.

This is a well research piece of historical fiction which gives possible explanations for what Truman Capote actions told in the voices of the women he betrayed. Each new chapter takes the reader back in time to when these women first met Capote and follows their relationships forward, ending with an examination of why that specific woman, or “Swan,” ended up being targeted in his tell all exposé. As the women are part of a distinct “set,” a lot of the narrative overlaps because key moments are shared by multiple “Swans.” Therefore the reader gets to see the same events from different viewpoints.

We see how Truman Capote goes from lost lonely boy to media darling to social outcast.  He throws away all success on either vengeance or a misguided belief that he is beyond criticism and will be forgiven.

I certainly learnt a lot about Truman Capote from this book. I learnt about his height, his squeaky voice and fittingly for Pride month I learnt he was openly gay and in a long term relationship. It was an interesting book for me because I am: a) too young to remember the original scandal and b) live in a country where this story is not widely known. My reservations about the book are that for anyone old enough to remember the events, the book doesn’t add anything new. It is airing the dirty laundry to a new generation of readers and like the book Capote wanted to write, it is largely a gossipy, tell all story.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to those who don’t remember the original scandal and who have an interest in Truman Capote. I would also recommend it to anyone who like me read the blurb and thought I must read that.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Swan Song

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

Man Booker International Short List 2018: The White Book by Han Kang

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Second on my list is a novel from South Korea: The White Book by Han Kang. Read more

2018 Man Booker International Short List: Vernon Subutex One by Virginie Despentes

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Well it’s that time of year again when I tried to read all the Man Booker International Short List books before the winner was announced and failed miserably. I have only managed to get hold of half the list from the library and that doesn’t even include the book that actually won. However, in the interest of science, I do intend to read all the books as soon as I can so I can see if I agree with the verdict.

First up from France is Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes so lets dive in… Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: The Burning Chambers Kate Mosse

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The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: The Burning Chambers

This ARC was provided by Pan Macmillan (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Bringing sixteenth-century Languedoc vividly to life, Kate Mosse’s The Burning Chambers is a gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets; of war and adventure, conspiracies and divided loyalties . . . Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: Song of Blood and Stone by L.Penelope

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I’ve been a bit crazed with work and haven’t been posting as much. That will all change in a few weeks when I should be back to my regular reading schedule. Be on the lookout for a burst of literary fiction reviews and a recap of our March Madness challenge that wraps up on May 15.

In the meantime, it’s publication day for this next book, reviewed by Book Worm. Are you looking for a YA epic fantasy read? This might be the book for you. Read more

Non 1001 Book Review; Things Bright and Beautiful by Anbara Salam

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Things Bright and Beautiful by Anbara Salam
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: Things Bright and Beautiful

This ARC was provided by Penguin Books UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Mission House was not built for three people. Especially when one of them won’t stop humming.

1954, the South Pacific islands. When Beatriz Hanlon agreed to accompany her missionary husband Max to a remote island, she knew there would be challenges. But it isn’t just the heat and the damp and the dirt. There are more insects than she could ever have imagined, and the islanders are strangely hostile. And then there are the awful noises coming from the church at night.

Yet as the months go by, Bea slowly grows accustomed to life on the island. That is until an unexpected and interminably humming guest arrives, and the couple’s claustrophobic existence is stretched to breaking point.

Events draw to a terrible climax, and Bea watches helplessly as her husband’s guilt drives him into madness. It’s not long before Bea finds herself fighting for her freedom and her life.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: The first thing I have to say about this book is that I love the cover. It is colourful, vibrant, and has that hint of danger which really reflects the story.

Like Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the message of the book is that white foreigners really should leave the tropics to those who were born there and who understand the land. The tropics are often fatal to foreigners and there are no shortage of potential killers. In this novel the deadliness comes from the change in diet to a very basic rice and greens diet, the insect and animal population, diseases, the weather, and even the land itself.

Missionaries Bea and Max journey to the South Pacific Islands expecting to save the souls of the natives. Instead, they find themselves fighting to save themselves. While on the surface the islanders appear to have accepted Christianity, traditions and superstitions remain strong influences for them.

This novel explores how Max and Bea learn to cope with island life and their changing relationship when they are put in a situation which allows no room for escape, and little contact with the world they left behind.

Who would enjoy this? I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys books that focus on characters rather than on intense action. This book does have action, but the most interesting pieces are those that center on the people and their changing relationships.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? Does it appeal to you? Why or why not?

Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth Jo Nesbo

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Book Worm has been reading through the Hogwarth Shakespeare retelling series. Next up for her is a modern-day retelling of Macbeth by master of suspense/thrillers, Jo Nesbo. The book comes out today in the US. Check out her review and let us know what you think. Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: Territory of Light Yuko Tsushima

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I’ve got admit that I’ve been in somewhat of a reading slump which is why we’ve had fewer posts over the last month. I’m not sure if the reading slump has to do with not finding much appealing or due to a crazy work schedule. I’ve spent the last week listening (I had previously read it) to the audiobook for Ready Player One (because Wheaton’s narration is awesome) and getting irritated by how much it differs from the movie (the book is better). Book Worm, however has been plowing ahead with her reading and is bringing you her latest review of a book that sounds right up my alley. Check out her review. Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

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The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★★★
Find it here: The Toy Makers

This ARC was provided by Penguin Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

Book Worm’s Thoughts: From the opening line I was hooked and transported to a world where Christmas is still a magical time and children can loose themselves in the wonders of a toy store.

Having read and loved The Night Circus, I can confirm that this book has that same kind of feel. The descriptions of the Emporium, and the magic weaved by the toymakers, made me wish I lived in a world where such a store was possible. Yet, while the public face of the store is one of magic, in private sibling rivalry and jealousy threatens to rip the family and the store apart.

For those who think this is a simple children’s story of magic, be warned that the story gets very dark. The inside of the Emporium may be magical to start it with it but it doesn’t protect those inside from the horrors of the real world. Papa Jack manages to survive in pre-war Russia living by the simple maxim of remembering everyone was once a child and played with toys. However, it is harder to keep this magic in mind when faced with the horrors of WW1. The novel tackles the first World War, describes how so many of the young men who went to fight never returned home, and highlights how the war changed those who did survive.

This book also covers several important issues including the right of soldiers to choose which wars to fight, the treatment of immigrants, the importance of understanding and communication, and what makes something truly alive.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to those who enjoyed The Night Circus and those who want to believe in magic toy shops and the power of toys to save a soul.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: The Toy Makers

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

Non 1001 Book Review: The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

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Looking for an engaging historical mystery? Then this may be the book for you. Book Worm shares her thoughts on this recently published mystery novel. Read more