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January Monthly Recap


Time for our first recap of 2016! Find out which books were favorites, which were duds, and which ones we are most looking forward to in 2016. We’ll end our wrap up with a calendar of book-related events/facts coming up in February and a glimpse of our upcoming content.

One randomly selected follower (email or wordpress follower) will win a $10 amazon gift card. Scroll down to see if you are the winner. The prize is only awarded if you contact us with your email address so make sure to check these monthly recaps each month to see if you won! We also want to hear from you so let us know what you read in January and what you look forward to reading next month. Have you been living up to your new years reading resolutions? Read more

Terrible Reviews of Great Books: The Catcher in the Rye

one star reviews

There is no such thing as a universally loved book. Each month, we’ll feature a book from Time’s list of the best 100 English language novels of all time. From the nasty to the snarky to the downright absurd, we’ll highlight some of the strange reasons why some people hate these great reads. This month we’ll be taking a look at reviews for The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
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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

Non 1001 Book Review: Not If I See You First Eric Lindstrom


Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
Published in: 2015
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: Not If I See You First

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

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Rules: Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.

Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you’re just getting in my way or bothering me.

Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.

Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That’s why she created the Rules: Don’t treat her any differently just because she’s blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there’s only one way to react—shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that’s right, her eyes don’t work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn’t cried since her dad’s death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened—both with Scott, and her dad—the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.

Combining a fiercely engaging voice with true heart, debut author Erid Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I have given this book a solid 3 stars. It is a good read, but for me it lacked that extra something that makes a good read great.

Parker, the narrator, is blind and she makes it into her trademark rather than letting it hold her back.  Being blind is both good and bad for Parker.  On the one hand she can speak her mind without having to worry about what people think because she can’t see how they react. However the lack of visual information also puts a barrier between herself and others and allows her to live in an enclosed world. As Parker is not aware of the subtle visual clues that we all take for granted. She decides how to interpret everything she cannot see and sometimes her interpretation is entirely wrong — something she is just beginning to realize.

I enjoyed the dynamic between Parker and her friends and I liked seeing how things would work for her at school, especially how the school buddy system allowed her to maintain her independence. I really liked the section where she starts running track and the solutions for how to allow this to happen, and her method of shopping to avoid being ripped off. I also appreciated the fact that Parker could be and often was a bitch.

This is probably my favourite moment in the whole book as I could just visualize it and it would be hilarious;

“The show begins. For the next eleven hours it’s the Lord of the Rings trilogy with Descriptive Audio turned on. It’s hilarious. Listening to the narrator quickly and dispassionately give deadpan descriptions of Frodo’s weepy expressions, arrows penetrating eye sockets, Arwen’s soulful looks of immortal love and the decapitations of countless orcs have us roaring with laughter one moment and shushing each other the next”

So who would enjoy this book? This is a young adult book and I think the target audience will really enjoy it. Among those of us who left school several years ago it will appeal to readers who like a good tear jerker. It doesn’t meet the weepy standard set by The Fault in Our Stars but there were a few moments when I felt myself tearing up. It will also appeal to those who like strong female characters, friendships-focused books and romantics who love a happy ending.

Added Bonus – This fulfills my scavenger hunt item #21: a book with no images on the cover.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Not If I See You First

We want to hear from you! Do you think this book is for you and do you plan to read it? Why or why not? 

What to expect from The Reader’s Room in 2016


It’s official. It has been one year since we started this blog! We want to give a sincere thank all of you for following us and participating in our challenges. We’ve loved hearing your thoughts on books and discovering all of your creative choices for our challenges. We hope you stay with us through the second year of the blog and we look forward to welcoming new readers!

For our one-year anniversary, we’ve been thinking about ways to improve and expand on the blog. We want to share some of our plans for 2016 and we’d love to get your feedback on the things you like most and least about your experiences here. Without further ado, here are some of our plans: Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: My Name is Lucy Barton


My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Published: January 2016
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: 4 Stars
Find it here: My Name Is Lucy Barton

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

Synopsis from Goodreads; A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter.

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

Book Worm’s Review: This is a book about family relationships and how even when estranged for many years, family will be there when needed.

While in the hospital, Lucy is visited by her estranged mother, while Lucy wants definitive answers about her childhood, her mother is only prepared to reveal details about their life through stories about other people.

Lucy is a complicated character. She is trying to get her head around the idea that despite her childhood poverty she is lovable. While she questions if she can be loved, she has no problem with loving others. In fact, she loves most people she meets, including her doctor. She loves in all the different ways that love can be shown, and yes sometimes her declarations of “I love him” can get annoying.

Although Lucy is only in hospital for 9 weeks, those weeks have a profound impact on how she sees her past and ultimately how her future turns out. While these weeks bring her closer to her mother, her own relationship with her children suffers through her absence.

This is a first person narrative so its really important that you like the narrator and I had no problem liking Lucy.  She is human. She bettered herself at the cost of her family relationships, but she still did it and succeeded.  She is self-conscious. She has questions about her life, about what she thinks she remembers, and about her present and why things turn out the way they do.

Lucy is the reason I enjoyed this book. In some ways she reminded me of a Steinbeck character. Even when describing her impoverished childhood, Lucy doesn’t ask the reader to sympathize. She just tells you how it was.

I would recommend this to those who enjoy slow moving, subtle, character driven books.

Some of my favourite quotes;

“She was as beautiful as her face, I thought, and I loved New York for this gift of endless encounters.”

“But once in a while I see a child crying with the deepest of desperation, and I think it is one of the truest sounds a child can make. I feel almost, then, that I can hear within me the sound of my own heart breaking, the way you could hear outside in the open air- when the conditions were exactly right- the corn growing in the fields of my youth”

“I fell silently, absolutely, immediately in love with this man. I have no idea where he is, if he is still alive, but I still love this man”

“I stopped listening. It was the sound of my mother’s voice I most wanted; what she said didn’t matter”

“Both my parents loathed the act of crying, and it’s difficult for a child who is crying to stop, knowing if she doesn’t stop everything will be made worse. This is not an easy position for any child. And my mother-that night in the hospital room-was the mother I had all my life, no matter how different she seemed with her urgent quiet voice, her softer face. What I mean is I tried not to cry. In the dark I felt she was awake”

“Sarah Payne, the day she told us to go to the page without judgement, reminded us that we never knew, and never would know, what it would be like to understand another person fully”

“This is not the story of my marriage. I cannot tell that story: I cannot take hold of, or lay out for anyone, the many swamps and grasses and pockets of fresh air and dank air that have gone over us”

“But this is my story. This one. And my name is Lucy Barton”

As an added bonus this counts towards my scavenger hunt. It fits clue #31: read a book published during our challenge months.

Want to try it for yourself? You can purchase your copy here: My Name Is Lucy Barton

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book?  Do you plan on reading it? What do you think of Elizabeth Strout’s books?

Featured Author: Julian Barnes

It’s been a crazy week for our blog and our reading lives. Our beloved Shelfari is shutting down and we both spent the week scrambling with group administrators to move our 1001 discussion group over to Goodreads and to transfer years of data over to GR and LibraryThing. Add that to the insane amount of traffic our last post generated — a post I wrote largely in the heat of the moment when I was angry — and our regular posting schedule ground to a halt.

So we are happy to get back to normal (albeit a little late) with our Featured Author post.

January’s featured author turns 70 today and will be releasing one of the most anticipated books of 2016.   Read more

Amazon Kills Shelfari


It’s official, the day that I’ve been dreading for several years has arrived. Amazon, which owns both Goodreads and Shelfari, has decided that it no longer cares to maintain Shelfari. Officially, “Shelfari is merging with Goodreads.” But let’s call it what it is: a shutdown. I feel like I’m losing a best friend and I’m pissed off.

For those of you who don’t know about Shelfari, it is a book cataloguing and discussion site. I’m a member of both it and Goodreads, and they each offer different things that I like and use. What makes Shelfari special is its passionate and supportive community of serious readers. Goodreads is great but ,when it comes to book recommendations, I always turn to my Shelfari friends. Why? Because my Goodreads friend list is populated primarily by Facebook friends — many of whom read relatively little or and have vastly different tastes.

Shelfari is superior to Goodreads when it comes to discussions. The Shelfari site had the ability to “nest” replies within discussion threads, thus allowing for more in-depth and active discussions. It has been my experience that Shelfari members are much more serious about their reading (on average) and also are more courteous and respectful. There’s a lot of shaming that occurs on Goodreads that doesn’t happen on Shelfari. For example, check out this article from Book Riot that came out last year.

The worst thing about the whole “merger” is that Amazon is giving Shelfari members just two months to move all their data over to Goodreads. I actively participate in two Shelfari groups that have been operating since 2008/2009 and have thousands of discussion threads, challenges, and games. The move will likely kill one of those groups completely and severely impact the other. So two months just doesn’t cut it – it is rude and sends a message that Amazon doesn’t truly care about some of its best customers.

I get that Goodreads is a giant compared to Shelfari and it makes economic sense to be prioritized. Yet, Amazon should know that Shelfari members are VERY voracious readers. Last year I read over 170 books, many specifically recommended by members in my various Shelfari groups and I buy most of my books through Amazon. One of my groups has 21,000 members listed on the roster and the other group has several thousand. And those are just two of the groups on the site. That is a lot of potential income. How costly can it be to maintain both sites and keep readers (who spend lots of money on Amazon) happy?

Right now I’m wallowing in self-pity and watching my fellow Shelfari members grieve the loss of a site that has become so special to so many of us. So, thanks to Amazon for destroying something that we all love. From what I’m seeing on the discussion threads, it looks like you have sent a lot of potential business to LibraryThing and Leafmarks.

I know a bunch of my Shelfari friends are follow us here. What are your thoughts? 

UPDATE 5/31/16: Turns out that Leafmarks (mentioned above) is also shutting down. Members received an email notifying them of the closure of the site effective July 1. I ultimately migrated to Good Reads since I already had all my books there. I also use Library thing but all my groups are on GR. I feel bad for all the people who decided to migrate to Leafmarks rather than one of the two more established sites. Now they have to make yet another move.

Feeling lost and want to know where to go? Here are some options:

Good Reads:
You can track books, join book discussions, add friends/connections, get recommendations. Good Reads has a social media feel and since I’ve been active there it appears that they are making their interface look more and more like facebook. Downsides: 1) It’s owned by Amazon (that can be a plus depending on your outlook), 2) it is huge so hard to maintain those close connections that you likely had at Shelfari, 3) no nested discussions and don’t expect it anytime soon. Good reads users are very vociferous about their dislike of nested discussions. Upsides: 1) Amazon has clearly made it the platform of choice so it will be around for a while, 2) great database with options to add different editions and covers, 3) lots of authors are there so plenty of opportunity to interact with favorite authors, 4) a wide variety of discussion groups, and 5) they have a mobile app.

Library Thing: You can join groups, track books, join book discussions, participate in early reader program to get free galleys/arcs. If what you are looking for is tracking your books, Library Thing is the best site given the extensive number of features for cataloguing. Downsides: 1) harder to use than other sites and requires some playing around to figure out all the features; 2) no nested discussions; 3) no mobile app; 4) small fee if you want to catalogue more than 200 books. Upsides: 1) great cataloguing site with many features; 2) early reader program; 3) only partially owned by Amazon so for those who dislike Amazon; 4) really friendly users and helpful admins.

Litsy: A new Iphone app that is like a combination of instagram and goodreads. Upsides: great visuals, ability to link photos with short blurbs, reviews, and quotes. Downsides: Only available on iphone (for now), not as good to catalogue books and not that conducive to in depth discussions.

Rifflebooks: I just joined this site so I will come back again later to update. Thanks to one of our readers for letting us know about this site. It lets you track books, create lists, make friends, and they will provide reading recommendations. I’m still exploring all its features.

A few other places to check out include:
Book Likes


Winter Scavenger Hunt: A Book with Water on the Cover

leaving the sea

Item number 4 on our winter scavenger hunt list is a book that features water on the cover. Our participants have selected some good ones so far (you can check out those selections here) and we hope you’ll add your own suggestions or recommendations for good books that feature water on the cover. I’m making relatively slow progress on my list. I chose Ben Marcus’ Leaving the Sea: Stories for my book. Here’s what I thought (prepare yourself for a full-on rant). Read more

Page to Screen: Movie Adaptations in 2016

If you are like me and need to read the book before the movie, you’ll need to do a lot of reading to keep up with all the movie adaptations coming out this year. 2016 will be a big year for book to screen adaptations although much heavier on the YA genre and relatively little in terms of literary fiction. Here are some of the most talked about upcoming movie adaptations due out in 2016: Read more