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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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March Madness Reading Challenge!!


The Reader’s Room will be hosting our own version of a bookish March Madness, slated to begin with the start of the NCAA tournament (March 17th). Reading won’t start until March 17 and full instructions won’t be posted until March 1. However, this challenge requires us to do some preparation so it would be very helpful to us to get people signed up early. We hope you join us for this challenge!

Here’s an overview of what you will need to do in the next 10 days:

  1. Let us know if you want to participate. Simply post a reply to this email saying you want to play. This doesn’t commit you to anything but will help us get a sense of general numbers.  You can sign up later too, but those who sign up early will have a chance to impact which books make the official cut.
  2. Come up with the titles of three books from your TBR that you think stand a good chance of beating other books (either because others have rated them highly or because you think others will want to read those books). Books can be of any genre. Think strategically.
  3. Submit your three book titles by 2/20/16. You can post them as replies here or email Jen ( so no one else steals your ideas.

In the near future:

  1. We (Book Worm and I) will create a final list consisting of 64 books.
  2. People (participants, readers of the blog, and other readers) will get a chance to vote on books.
  3. Participants will then get to create and submit their own personal brackets with books they think will win.
  4. Books will be ranked (using a secret formula) and matched with one of the NCAA men’s basketball teams.
  5. To get points, you need to read and review WINNING books. This challenge is NOT about who can read the fastest or who can read the greatest number of books. It’s about strategy and luck. The winner could conceivably be a person who reads only 1 or 2 books.
  6. Scoring will approximate the way points are calculated for NCAA brackets (1 point for round 1 winners, 2, for round two, etc.) Full instructions and details on scoring will be posted before you are required to pick your brackets (likely early March).

One grand prize winner will be selected to win awesome bookish prizes!

*NOTE: If you are a non-US reader and are unfamiliar with march madness tournaments, you can read more about what that is, here. It may sound complicated but it should be easy to figure out.

Non 1001 Book Review: Yuki Chan in Brontë Country


Yuki Chan in Brontë Country by Mick Jackson
Published in: January 2016
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: Yuki Chan in Brontë Country

This ARC was provided by Faber & Faber Ltd (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: “They both stop and stare for a moment. Yuki feels she’s spent about half her adult life thinking about snow, but when it starts, even now, it always arresting, bewildering. Each snowflake skating along some invisible plane. Always circuitous, as if looking for the best place to land . . .”

Yukiko tragically lost her mother ten years ago. After visiting her sister in London, she goes on the run, and heads for Haworth, West Yorkshire, the last place her mother visited before her death. Against a cold, winter, Yorkshire landscape, Yuki has to tackle the mystery of her mother’s death, her burgeoning friendship with a local girl, the allure of the Brontës and her own sister’s wrath. Both a pilgrimage and an investigation into family secrets, Yuki’s journey is the one she always knew she’d have to make, and one of the most charming and haunting in recent fiction.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: Yuki is a young Japanese woman who has come to England to try and reconnect with her late mother by following in her footsteps. All Yuki has to guide her is a set of photographs showing various views in Haworth (Bronte country). Yuki believes her mother visited Haworth because of her enjoyment of the Bronte’s works, however when she meets people who remember her mother’s visit, it turns out her reason being in Haworth is very different and may even provide a clue to her tragic death.

As a character I liked Yuki, she is a young woman struggling to find her place and come to terms with the loss of her mother. You might expect this to make her serious and dull but Yuki is entertaining and funny. I really enjoyed her irreverent descriptions of the Bronte tour and the kind of people on the tour with her as well as her wry observations about the British tourist industry.

There is a serious side to Yuki and this is shown by her need to explore things scientifically. There is a detailed section on snow and the varieties of snow flakes and how they may be produced in controlled conditions. Despite her in-depth knowledge about Snow Yuki is still young at heart enough to appreciate the magic of falling snow (so am I) and this allowed me as a reader to connect with her.

The ending is ambiguous and usually I would hate that (I like things all tied up neatly preferably with a big red bow and a reassuring “The End”), however in this case the ambiguity didn’t bother me because it allowed Yuki and the reader to draw their own conclusions and to choose from two versions of events.

Favourite quotes;

This one refers to an English hotel with shared bathroom facilities “The woman smiles and Yuki smiles right back, nodding madly. Perfect! Now I can brush my teeth while sitting on the lavatory”

“Your mother and I could see who you were right from the very beginning. You were right there, the moment we set eyes on you.”

Who would like this book? If you are looking for a book that revolves round the Brontes, this is not it (in this instance the title is misleading). However, if you like a story that involves an unconventional heroine, discovering family secrets, forming new friendships, and coming to terms with the past, then I think you will enjoy this.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Yuki Chan in Brontë Country

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you plan on reading it?


Book Worm’s Scavenger Hunt Update #2

scavenger hunt list

Jen and I have been making our way through our scavenger hunt challenge and we are working on a few new challenges for a little later in the year. You can read about our scavenger hunt challenge here. For those of you participating in the challenge, we’ve decided to move back the end of the challenge to March 31 to give you all a little extra time to read books. Some prizes will be handed out at that point but others will be handed out at the end of the year to someone who has completed all 31 items. We highly recommend that you try completing “hidden” prize items by the March 31st deadline since those will be awarded at that time. It’s not too difficult to figure out which items those might be if you read the clues.

And now on to my challenge progress… Read more

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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