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Posts by Book Worm

Non 1001 Book Review: Gnomon by Nick Harkaway


 Book worm is getting us back on track with our blog schedule with a book that might be good enough to break my reading slump. Check it out.

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway
Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Book Worm  and/or Jen
Rating: ★★★★★
Find it here: Gnomon

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

Synopsis from Goodreads: Gnomon, which took Harkaway more than three years to complete, is set in a world of ubiquitous surveillance. Pitched as “a mind-bending Borgesian puzzle box of identity, meaning and reality in which the solution steps sideways as you approach it”, it features: a detective who finds herself investigating the very society she believes in, urged on by a suspect who may be an assassin or an ally, hunting through the dreams of a torture victim in search of the key to something she does not yet understand; a banker who is pursued by a shark that swallows Fortune 500 companies; Saint Augustine’s jilted mistress who reshapes the world with miracles; a refugee grandfather turned games designer who must remember how to walk through walls or be burned alive by fascists; and a sociopath who falls backwards through time in order to commit a murder.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I love a novel with a twisted timeline and a story that messes with your head, and boy does this book do that. From the moment I read the first sentence I was hooked. I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole and the more I read, the more deeply I feel in love with the book.

At over 700 pages it took me a while to read, but when I got to the last 20% I didn’t want the book to end. Then I was hit with the anxiety what if, after all this build up, the ending is a let down? Don’t worry it wasn’t! I really felt the time I invested in reading this book was paid back by the amazing world to which Harkaway transported me.

I can’t really say much about the plot because the joy of this book is immersing yourself in each narrative and trying to catch the points where they overlap and the clues hidden within. I think I missed a lot of clues and I won’t claim to fully understand the book but that didn’t stop me loving it.

The other things I loved are the observations about people and their relationship to books and the ways in which books were connected to life. Here are a few quotes I can’t resist sharing:

“The human condition is most accurately chronicled in pulp, I think. The ugly and ordinary lusts, the contradictory drives, are all ignored by more self-consciously poetic writers striving to peel away the dross to reveal the inner person who of course exists only as the sum of the dross.”

“These books exist, one sometimes thinks, only in the rumour and desire they excite.”

“People will be very alarmed, and in his experience they always feel better knowing there’s a bookshop open” TRUTH

While I loved this book I know there will be people who won’t love it so here are a few warnings: 1) Harkaway loves making you work. Don’t expect an easy read. The writing can be convoluted and very detailed I have seen a lot of reviews calling the book boring because of the level of detail; 2) If you want a book you will understand, forget it. I am not sure anyone will truly understand it, and those who claim to will all have their own different understanding (in my opinion); and 3) The criticism of modern politics is very blunt (like a hammer) and it’s clear where Harkaway stands (if you voted for Trump or Brexit be prepared to be offended).

Who would like this book? I would recommend this to those who like a longer more in-depth read that makes you think and question yourself. I would say if you loved 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami or The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell you will love this as it has the same feel as these (well it did for me).

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

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

Man Booker 2017 Predictions


Our panel collectively read all 13 nominated books and most of us read all, or almost all of the shortlisted books. Over the past several months we have posted our reviews, rankings, and thoughts of all the books. Keep reading to see which book we think will take home the prize tomorrow. Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond


Next up before we get to our Man Booker shadow panel reviews is a psychological thriller that may be perfect for the summer. Book Worm reviews this book. Here is what she thought. Read more

Shakespeare Retold: Othello – New Boy Tracy Chevalier


While our shadow panel is hard at work reading though the 2017 Man Booker longlist, we’ll be posted a few of the book reviews for books we managed to finish shortly before the longlist announcement. Book Worm takes the lead with her review of Tracy Chevalier’s new book, New Boy. Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: Crazy House James Patterson


Book Worm and I are hosting a reading challenge to read across the USA in books. You are welcome to join in that challenge at any time before the end. You can read more about the challenge here. Book Worm selected this book as her choice for New York. Keep reading to see what she thought about it. Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: Last Seen Alive Claire Douglas



Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas
Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: Last Seen Alive

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

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Hero

Libby Hall never really wanted to be noticed. But after she saves the children in her care from a fire, she finds herself headline news. And horrified by the attention. It all reminds her of what happened nine years ago. The last time she saw her best friend alive.

The Swap

Which is why the house swap is such a godsend. Libby and her husband Jamie exchange their flat in Bath for a beautiful, secluded house in Cornwall. It’s a chance to heal their marriage – to stop its secrets tearing them apart.

The Hideaway

But this stylish Cornish home isn’t the getaway they’d hoped for. They make odd, even disturbing, discoveries in the house. It’s so isolated-yet Libby doesn’t feel entirely alone. As if she’s being watched.

Is Libby being paranoid? What is her husband hiding? And. As the secrets and lies come tumbling out, is the past about to catch up with them?

Book Worm’s Thoughts: This was a solid 3 star thriller where nothing is what it seems and the line between guilty and innocent is blurred.

I always find it hard to review thrillers, as you don’t want to give away the twists and turns in the book that take the reader to the final conclusion. The fun of reading a thriller is seeing what you can guess for yourself (well at least it is for me).

What I can say is that Douglas does a good job in building up an oppressive atmosphere, in describing paranoia, and showing how even the people we love most in the world are not always truthful. I also loved the descriptions of a marriage in trouble and how much compromise is needed to keep things on an even keel.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who needs a break from heavy reading and who enjoys twisty books. I hate to say it but, if you liked Gone Girl you will probably enjoy this. Great literature it is not but it is great fun to read.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Last Seen Alive

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

Man Booker International 2017 Book Worm’s Predictions

Tomorrow is the day that they announce the winner of the 2017 International Man Booker Prize. I have managed to read all 6 books and wanted to sneak in my predictions before they announce the prize tomorrow (thus the reason why we are posting twice today). I had some help from our guest reviewer, Tracy in reading and ranking the books. Here are our ratings:  Read more

Man Booker International Short List 2017: Compass by Mathias Enard


With just hours to go (well maybe a whole day) I have finished the last book on the Man Booker International Short List 2017. This one was a struggle, not least because it is the longest book on the short list. Read on to find out more. Read more

Man Booker International Shortlist 2017: Judas by Amos Oz


Next up in the review of shortlist books is Judas by Amos Oz. Both Book Worm and guest reviewer, Tracy, reviewed this book. I personally love Amos Oz but haven’t read this particular book yet (although I own a copy). Read the reviews below and make sure to check out the winner of the Bailey’s prize which will be announced later today. Read more

Man Booker International Short List 2017: The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen


Next up on my Man Booker International journey is The Unseen, a book about which I have mixed feelings. Keep reading to find out why. Read more