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Posts from the ‘1001 reviews’ Category

1001 Book Review: 2666 Roberto Bolano



I accidentally posted this review a few months ago when it was half finished. It took me a long time to finish writing up my section because it’s hard to review such a monster of a book (monster in length and heaviness of content). I finally got around to finishing my review. Book Worm and I reviewed it together and she was much better and wrapping up her review in a timely manner. Here’s what we thought about the book: Read more

1001 Book Review: Cloudsplitter Russell Banks



Book Worm and I review Russell Banks’ epic tale of the Brown family and we disagree. See what we thought of the book and let us know with whom you agree. Read more

1001 Book Review: Hangover Square Patrick Hamilton


Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
Published in: 1941
Literary Awards:
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: Modern Classics Hangover Square

Synopsis from Amazon:

A pitch-black comedy set in London overshadowed by the looming threat of the Second World War.

London, 1939, and in the grimy publands of Earls Court, George Harvey Bone is pursuing a helpless infatuation. Netta is cool, contemptuous and hopelessly desirable to George. George is adrift in a drunken hell, except in his ‘dead’ moments, when something goes click in his head and he realizes, without a doubt, that he must kill her. In the darkly comic Hangover Square Patrick Hamilton brilliantly evokes a seedy, fog-bound world of saloon bars, lodging houses and boozing philosophers, immortalising the slang and conversational tone of a whole generation and capturing the premonitions of doom that pervaded London life in the months before the war.

Book Worm’s Review: Set in Earls Court London in 1939 this is the story of George Harvey Bone a mild mannered, pathetic drunkard who is obsessed with the beautiful but contemptuous Netta.

George seems to suffer from either split personality disorder or schizophrenia as he has 2 very distinct modes of life which he describes as he brain flicking a switch. In his normal life he is the stooge to Netta and her group of admirers while in his “dead mood” real life becomes like a silent film and George’s only purpose is to kill Netta, each life is separate and when inhabiting one he cannot remember the other until late in the book when things begin to cross over.

George is an unlikeable character because he is a drunk, because he is desperate for someone to love him and because he allows Netta and her group to walk all over him, however he is more likeable than every other character (with the exception of one) and so as a reader I found myself routing for him to allow the “dead mood” to take control and for Netta to get what is coming to her.

I enjoyed being inside George’s mind when he was in his “dead mood” and there are humourous moments where he views things that he has arranged as coincidence. I was curious as to how George would rationalize murder and how he would come up with a method as well as being confused by his belief that if he did kill anyone if he got to Maidenhead it would be alright.

This will appeal to those with a dark sense of humour as well as those who enjoy an insight into a single character’s state of mind.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Modern Classics Hangover Square

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

A Fine Balance

a fine balance

It’s been a while since both Book Worm and I have given the same book 5 stars. We are both fairly stingy with our 5-star ratings. So when a book comes along that gets 5 stars from both of us, we get very excited to share it with you. See why we thought it was so good and let us know if you loved it too! Read more

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

on beauty

I think I was the only person in the world to dislike Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. I read her debut when it first came out and I actively disliked it although I don’t remember exactly why I disliked it. Ever since then I’ve been meaning to give Smith another try. I picked up this book for our winter scavenger hunt since it fulfilled item #21: A book with no images on the cover. Here’s what I thought… Read more

Read Around the World: The Republic of Guinea


From Finland we are heading to Africa. The Republic of Guinea is the next stop in our world tour or reading! Join us as we explore some of what Guinea has to offer in terms of literature and find out which book we selected. We hope you help us to add to the list of recommended reading for Guinea!

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Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter


Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
First published in: 1984
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by: Jen
Find it here: Nights at the Circus

Picaresque, whimsical, sassy, irreverent, and magical are a few words that come to mind as I try and describe this novel. Nights at the Circus was a magical ride that centers on the life and escapades of circus performer Sophie Fevvers. Sophie is an famous aerialist who claims she was hatched from an egg and abandoned by her parents, raised in a brothel, and sprouted fully fledged wings.

The novel is broken into three parts. Part one is set in London in 1899. Walser, a young journalist who is skeptical about the powers and reality of Sophie, decides to interview her for a newspaper entitled “Great Humbugs of the World” in an attempt to prove her to be a fraud. Yet, after meeting her he becomes enchanted with her and the circus. In part two, we find Walser working as a clown in the circus in order to become closer to Sophie. This section takes us deep into the heart of the circus and centers on an array of colorful characters and scenarios. The final section takes place in Siberia. The circus troupe is headed across Siberia to Tokyo but the train derails and a number of events ensue (I will leave it at that rather than provide spoilers). The novel is filled with magical moments, irreverence, and humor.  Carter leaves it up to the reader to decide whether Sophie is really magical or just an excellent con-woman.

Nights at the Circus has a strong feminist message and is a blend of genres with magical realism being central. The heroine is strong and not the sort to require male rescuing. In fact, she is often the one who does the rescuing. She’s crude but in an amusing way and she is constantly defying stereotypes.

Why oh why did I discover Angela Carter so late in the game?  I knew very little about Angela Carter before reading this book and when researching her found out that she had taught at Brown University (I have personal ties to the school) for several years. She died from cancer at the age of 52 and was named one of the “50 Greatest British writers since 1945” by The Times. Carter was known for her whimsical and feminist writings.

I really enjoyed this book yet I am struggling to adequately describe or review the book. It’s smart and funny and wonderfully quirky. I will be adding Carter as an author whose works I want to explore in depth. You’ll enjoy this book if you like magical realism with a feminist twist.

Favorite quotes:

As we say in our country: ‘tomorrow never comes’, which is why you’re promised jam tomorrow. We live, always in the here and now, the present. To pin your hopes upon the future is to consign those hopes to a hypothesis, which is to say, a nothingness.

“Perhaps…I could not be content with mere contentment!”

“We must all make do with the rags of love we find flapping on the scarecrow of humanity.”

He would have called himself a ‘man of action’ He subjected his life to a series of cataclysmic shocks because he loved to hear his bones rattle. That’s how he knew he was alive.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Nights at the Circus

Have you read this book? What did you think? Have you read others by Angela Carter? What do you think of her works?

1001 Book Review: The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison



Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye was my favorite read of January and my first 5-star read of 2016. Find out why and let us know what you thought of the book. Read more

Love it or Hate it? The World According to Garp


Have you ever noticed how some books seem to drive a wedge between people? You check the reviews and find almost no middle-of-the-road ratings. Instead people either seem to love it or hate it. Well, welcome to the Love it or Hate it post category! Each month, we’ll pick one book to review and two contributors will battle it out to convince you to pick it up or throw it out. Last time we discussed The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The “Love its” won with 57% of the vote. Many thanks to our reviewers. Linda was our Love it Reviewer and Cindy was our Hate it Reviewer.

This month’s selection is The World According to Garp by John Irving. It is another book that is on Boxall’s 1001 List of Books to Read Before you Die. So the question is… do you Love it or Hate it? Continue reading to find see our two reviews.

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The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Science fiction is not my favorite genre but this classic had me rethinking my mild aversion. Find out why… Read more