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
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.
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
Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
Published in: 2015
Reviewed by: Book Worm
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?
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?
Although we won’t be competing for prizes, Book Worm and I will be participating in our winter scavenger hunt (because it’s fun). If you want to join us, sign up and read the instructions here. For my first task I tried to combine reading challenges by also selecting a 1001 book. I started with item #1: Read a book by an author who shares your birthday. I was born on May 27 along with Dashiell Hammett. So I read the Maltese Falcon. Here’s I thought…
The next stop on our world tour of reading is Wales! This month, we have a special guest contributor: Louise. Louise is from Wales and runs the wonderful blog book a week. You should check out it! She will be sharing some fun facts about her country, Welsh literature, and her personal recommendations for books to help immerse you in your “travels.” I’m especially excited to feature Wales as it is home to the book lover’s paradise Hay-on-Wye. I’ll hand it over to Louise to tell you more…
There is no such thing as a universally loved book. Each month, we’ll feature a book from Time Magazine‘s list of the best 100 English language novels of all time. From the mean to the funny, to the downright absurd, we will highlight some of the strange reasons why some people hate these great reads. This month’s book is 1984 by George Orwell. I have to admit that I last read this in high school and it wasn’t my favorite book, but it certainly merited better than some of these 1-star reviews from Amazon. Keep reading to see why some people hate this book. Read more