Member Spotlight: Shelleyrae

By Simon McDonald, Editorial Manager |

Shelleyrae joined TheReadingRoom in April 2011 and has since reviewed more than 400 books, including recently 21st Century Dodos by Steve Stack, Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf and Let Her Go by Dawn Barker. Her reviews also appear on Book’d Out.

What book(s) are you reading right now? What Came Before by Anna George

What book will you read next? Swimming in the Dark by Paddy Richardson

What has been your favorite book of the year, so far? The Storied Life of A.J Firky by Gabrielle Zevin  – a sweet, feel good story about love, and books.


What book are you most looking forward to this year? Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

What was your favorite childhood book? As a young child I adored anything by Enid Blyton, from The Magic Faraway Tree to The Famous Five, as a ‘tween I devoured everything by Judy Blume.

Do you read one book at a time, or several? I’m strictly monogamous!

Where is your favorite place to read? Curled up in the corner of my lounge.

What makes you love a book? Not anything I can articulate – the books I love just speak to me somehow.

What will inspire you to recommend a book? Someone asking me to!

Is there one book you would recommend to everyone? No – as the saying goes, ‘No two people read the same book.’


Is there a book you love that nobody else seems to? Whereas most readers seem to prefer Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility or even Mansfield Park,  my favorite Jane Austen novel is Emma.

What is your favorite genre to read? I read quite widely across genres but if forced to choose – crime fiction and its various subgenres.

How often do you agree with critics about a book? Rarely! I tend to avoid award winning books lavished with critical praise,  I have found they often prioritise style over substance.

How do you feel about giving negative reviews? Reviews are entirely subjective, I can only respond to a book within my own frame of reference, which may be completely different from someone else’s . It can be uncomfortable to criticize someone’s work but I try to be diplomatic and stay respectful of the author.

Have you ever been intimidated to start reading a book? I’m a little nervous to start Burial Rites – it has received so much praise from both critics  and readers alike, what if I don’t like it?

Do you keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? I keep them, as my groaning, triple stacked book shelves prove.

What is a book you didn’t expect to like, but did? I was very reluctant to read Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth but it ended up being my favourite read of 2012

Present Darkness

What was the last book that you couldn’t put down until you finished it? Present Darkness by Malla Nunn, the fourth book in a detective series featuring Emmanuel Cooper, set in South Africa during the 1950s.

What is your favorite book series? There are several series I have been faithful to for years including Jonathon Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series and Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series. More recently I have fallen in love with Ilona Andrews, Kate Daniels series and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, but there are several others that I follow also.

Who is your favorite book character? The first character that comes to mind is Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables – for her courage, her imagination,  her  passion, and I always wished I had red hair.

Who is your favorite author? Stephen King, I’ve been reading his work since I was about 12, he is the least precious and pretentious author I know of.

What is your favorite book of all time? I really don’t have an answer for this question – I can’t even come up with a shortlist, I have so many favourites!

You can follow Shelleyrae’s reviews at TheReadingRoom.