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Posts from the ‘Nicole’s Reviews’ Category

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? 

Beer and Book Pairing: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

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Our contributor, Nicole is back with a beer-book pairing. Check it out…

Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Nicole
Rating: ★★★
Find it here:  The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

I got an email from Goodreads, but they said it was from A.M. Homes telling me I needed to read this book. I love her, so I listened. I knew it was a marketing ploy, but A.M. Homes!

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1001 Book Review – White Noise Don DeLillo

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White Noise by Don Delillo
Published in: 1985
Literary Awards: National Book Award
Reviewed by: Nicole
Rating: ★★★★★
Find it here: White Noise

“Helpless and fearful people are drawn to magical figures, mythic figures, epic men who intimidate and darkly loom.”

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Nicole’s Reviews – Helter Skelter Vincent Bugliosi

*Caution: controversial (and contains spoilers, but … uh … it’s history so … spoiler alert?!)

tell me, tell me, tell me the answer

you may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer

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Non 1001 Book Review – City on Fire Garth Risk Hallberg

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Has it come to this “great American novel?” Are you cliche? Are we? I know one thing, this book is.

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On the Road – The Secret Chord – Geraldine Brooks

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Mount of Olives, Israel

I was fortunate enough to get to visit Israel this past November, and as I was standing in front of King David’s Tomb I realized I didn’t really know anything about him.  A friend posted a review of The Secret Chord and I knew it was the perfect book to educate me.  (I love Biblical fiction, but struggle reading the actual Bible.)

It wasn’t long before it clicked that this was David of “and Goliath” and “and Bathsheba” fame.

I love ancient history and I think that’s one of the reasons Biblical fiction is so appealing to me.  I learned so many interesting things about David, which most of you probably already know, but which were news to me.  Like, he wrote a bunch of the Psalms.  I won’t say too much about him because I don’t want to ruin the story for those not in the know, but let’s just say, he was a maniac.  He is also the first man in “literature whose story is told in detail from early childhood to extreme old age.  Some scholars have called this biography the oldest piece of history writing… ”  Kind of makes me want to read the bible.  Kind of.

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