The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

rosie project“Humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others.”

Ahead of the release of The Rosie Effect due out later this week I have decided to give you the review of the first novel in the series. This little jem I picked up after brilliant reviews and an amusing blurb is not something I regret… read on to find out why.

Don Tillman PhD is a man of science and order. One day he decides to begin a new project for himself, something society will most certainly approve of – The Wife Project. After asking for the assistance of colleague and one of two friends Gene who knows a lot about women (enough to be in an open marriage), Don is sure that if he finds a compatible date he will finally be able to conquer the second date! It’s scientific of course!

Candidates must be:

  • A non-smoker
  • Punctual
  • Logical
  • Intelligent
  • A non- drinker
  • A meat eater

Rosie Jarman is none of these things, a kind of wild child who works as a bar maid she tells Don exactly what she thinks of his Wife Project and angrily declares him sexist. After offering to help Rosie with a project herself, to find her biological father Don starts to spend more time with the mysterious Rosie and her unscheduled ways. Out of all this a strange friendship emerges and both Rosie and Don learn something about themselves as well as each other.

What I find incredible is that Simison has managed to take Aspergers and create a character who doesn’t know he has it to educate us all. He’s sweet and although at times can seem rude he is a genuinely nice person with a rather different view of the world. For fans of the amazingly popular The Big Bang Theory another review has described this as ‘Sheldon’s quest for love’, although nothing to do with the show this may give you an idea of the hilarity that is in store. The novel is fun but also has undertones of seriousness and warm hearted humour. The novel flows easily and the characters are easy to love and understand, it’s also showing normal people how to embrace those who are different to us.

I give this novel five stars *****. When I found out that there was to be a second novel and more Don Tillman adventures I actually cheered. Although I can’t spoil the ending for you (it’s too good), I will tell you all that it’s worth reading and not always what you expect. I can’t wait for more adventures from Don and Rosie and neither should you!

 

Review by Chloe Metzger

 

Advertisements

Where Love Lies – Julie Cohen

where love lies

To the outside world Felicity has the perfect life, a job as a children’s author and illustrator, a lovely home in a small village and a doting husband most women would dream of. Underneath all of this though, Felicity is struggling. After the loss of her mother something hasn’t felt right but one day she catches a scent she hasn’t smelt in years…could it be her mother? Following her senses has never been more risky as it all comes down to following her head or her heart.

The novel revolves around love, loss and questioning yourself. As Felicity struggles with what she knows is right and what she feels it leads us as a reader to question our own lives. It is also very important to recognise that Felicity is on her own, the mother she adored has gone, she’s never known her father and feels suffocated by the expectations that life in a small village have put on her.  After the whole village seems to know that her and husband Quinn have even considered having a baby (something which she hasn’t even decided on yet) her feelings of not belonging come to the surface again.

The fact that Cohen has also used multiple POV’s makes this go further than the chick lit title that some have given it (you are WRONG this novel goes further than that!) seeing both Quinn and Felicity’s side opens up a whole new set of questions and feelings towards the characters. I fell in love with both of the characters and it spurred me to read constantly, Cohen has an incredible knack of making you know something isn’t quite right but giving you no clue as to the real answer!

After reading Dear Thing, I was hooked by Cohen’s talent and eagerly waited for Where Love Lies, as I suspected Cohen didn’t disappoint. The novel focuses on the fine lines of love that we sometimes forget, the hazy days of a first love and the realities of settling down. While Felicities’ feelings are confusing and at times hard to understand you live through them with her and are just as desperate as she is to work out what is going on.

Although I can’t spoil it for you, the ending of this novel is absolutely spectacular and so well researched. To top it all off it’s something that you would never suspect and if anything can be slightly chilling as well as an interesting perspective. There is a worry of mine that when a novel builds steadily throughout the reveal will disappoint but I can assure you Where Love Lies is completely worth the wait and the suspense.

I’m giving this novel 5 stars *****. Although initially I wondered how this would work and worried it could be just a romance Cohen has crafted something inspiring with Where Love Lies, the novel makes you think, question and follows you for a long time after you have finished. I think quirky Felicity and loveable Quinn will live in my memory for a long time, and so will the ending but you’ll find out why once you read it yourself!

Boys don’t cry – Malorie Blackman

8239438

On A Level results day the doorbell rings, it’s not the postman with your results but your ex-girlfriend with a baby. She pops out to get supplies and calls to say the child’s yours and she’s not coming back.

Dante is thrown into a life he didn’t chose (ok I know some of you will say he had sex he did chose it but by not knowing that Emma even existed means he didn’t), as struggles to work out what to do and how he can be a father he’s faced with more than just the sleepless nights and trying to work out why his daughter is crying instead of the Freshers nights at uni he planned. One of the many things that stand out about this novel is that it is entirely believable. This could happen in real life and I feel really sorry for the guys who aren’t told until the child is born (unless of course there is an abusive nature to the relationship). Dante handles the sudden shock as many young men would do I think, disbelief, a little bit of denial, struggling and then trying to make a tough decision.

“How could ten forgettable minutes of not much turn both our lives inside out and upside down like this?” 

There are a lot of novels out there that portray the struggles that young mothers face after the birth of a baby, although Blackman highlights this when Melanie says she can’t cope, she has done a fantastic job in showing the struggles of a young father – something society seems to forget. From sexist remarks when he doesn’t know the answer to something ‘Maybe her Mum could come in and register her’, to the social worker who has concerns about the father raising a child alone and generally not knowing what to do on a natural level that women have from carrying a child for nine months. With help from his own Dad and brother (after his Mum had passed away when he was younger) he slowly begins to work out what’s best for him and Emma.

The use of subplot was used spectacularly as well, never one to hide from tough things to deal with Dante’s younger brother Adam has his own worries. Although Adam is comfortable with his sexuality, other around him (including his father and older brother) aren’t as comfortable. One night things change dramatically leaving everyone on edge and Adam’s future hanging in the balance.

I’m giving Boys Don’t Cry five stars *****. I loved this novel, it had a really unique perspective and challenged a lot of perceptions of young Dads. Once again Blackman has shown us the world through a view we might not necessarily consider, if I had my way schools would have to teach this in a combined English/Health class and hopefully we would also have a less judgemental society out of it. I’d love to read a sequel to this and I’m full to the brim with questions…so you can tell it’s a great novel!

Review by Chloe Metzger

 

Where there’s smoke – Jodi Picoult

Picoult once again gives us a spellbinding tale, however, this time in the form of a short story released free for all Kindle and app holders. Where there’s smoke is a prequel to Jodi’s eagerly anticipated novel Leaving Time which comes out later this year. This time we see the world through Serenity’s view, a hot shot television psychic who makes a catastrophic mistake that threatens to not only end her career but also destroy her life.  As things quickly start to fall apart in front of her eyes Serenity realises that fame isn’t always a good thing, but how far will she go to salvage her reputation before she loses it all?

I couldn’t believe that by the end of this short story not only did I feel like I’d fallen into Serenity’s world and was actually living it alongside her, I started to believe in her world. I’m not someone who is into psychics and hangs onto their every word, but somehow I was hooked and started really thinking about the possibilities. It sounds extreme but this is the talent that Picoult holds, something I was entirely sceptical about was going around in my mind. Not only that but by the end of the novella I was desperate to start the novel, which we’ll have to wait until November for! In simply 40 pages Picoult has wet our appetites for the next instalment, however, we won’t have to wait that long as another short story is due to be published in the summer.

Even though I’m not usually a fan of short stories this was fantastic. I want to give this 5 stars *****, it may be short but there is certainly a lot of action involved. The only sad part is that those who don’t have an electronic device to read won’t be able to see this even after the novel is published. Other than that the short story is perfect and a great way to get us involved in the story before the novel is even released.

Review by Chloe Metzger 

If I Stay – Gayle Forman

‘I realise now dying is easy. Living is hard.’

After a fatal car crash that leaves 17 year old Mia barely alive If I Stay lets us follow her through her as she questions whether to comeback, after being certain she has lost both of her parents. Mia has a choice to make. As she watches her family and friends come to terms with the disaster she has to decide will she stay? Or will she let go into the unknown…

As with many other people I because aware of this novel because of its film release (due later this year), I’s heard good things about the novel and the film looked brilliant. We’re guided through the novel by Mia herself as she struggles to watch the rest of the day unfold. All she can do is watch and listen. Her family, friends and boyfriend are all willing her to come back and it’s up to Mia to decide if that’s enough.

Although I like the idea, the novel didn’t particularly stand out to me. The novel is fairly short and sways between the present and past and gives us a good insight into Mia’s life before the accident. I found it hard to connect to the story, of course it made me sad but I didn’t feel a deep rooted connection to Mia or the characters around her. That said, I did feel an incredible connection in relation to how she felt about her music and the prospect of being a musician and this added to the sense of tragedy. If anything I would have loved more insight into her love of music and her hopes and dreams, although maybe this was intentional.

Forman has ventured into a question that few of us will even consider answering, if I could chose would I live or die? For many of us we would instantly say I’d live, but would we? This is not the first novel of its kind, however, it is the first for young adult readers, it makes them think. I makes the reader consider a life without their loved ones and the choices and sacrifices that are made every day. I wouldn’t say that the novel is morbid in that respect but it deals with death in quite a straight forward way, for Mia it appears to be more of an escape. It also raises the question of life after, we have no idea how Mia will be affected by her injurys if she decides to survive. Will she play Cello again? Will her dream of going to Julliard be snatched away from her as her parents were? Is her younger brother Teddy, who she adores, still alive? As I said it is a novel full of questions and what if situations.

If anything I’d say that the book could have been longer. Although well written, there was so much crammed into the book that at times I felt rushed through. I wanted to know the smaller details, memories and possibly more about more minor characters in the novel to give them a bit more life within the novel. Also what about afterwards? If she decides to die, does she meet her family? If she lives do her dreams come true? I guess to an extent this leaves us to make up our own minds but I wish this was included in the novel. 

 I give this novel 3 stars ***. I liked the idea and found Mia to be a nice character but failed to interact with her as a person. I also found that I was hungry for more at the end of the novel and felt that it could have had a better ending or more to it maybe? If you’re looking for a shorter read that raises questions then If I Stay may well be for you.

 

Review by Chloe Metzger 

Dear Thing – Julie Cohen

How could one selfless act make you feel like a monster?

One baby. Two mothers.

Dear Thing…

It’s not every day that your best friend offers to carry a child for you, a dream that looked like it would never come true. This is the case for Ben and Romily, friends since university and inseparable. In the midst of another miscarriage for Ben’s wife Claire, Romily offers to carry a baby for them and to donate her eggs. While at first all goes to plan and runs smoothly it isn’t long until Romily’s feelings develop into something more. While carrying the child of the man she has loved for years she starts to dream of the impossible…keeping a baby that she knows isn’t hers to keep.

I loved the fact that this novel is bold in the face of a tricky subject as well as being believable. A lot of the time novels about surrogacy are quite fluffy and don’t have the complications that Dear Thing has. The relationships are real to us because frankly it could happen to anyone, Romily is sure that the reason she is doing this is because she wants to help her friend after everything he’s done for her. We know she’s battling with her feelings and so does she but I find the character to have remarkable strength and she becomes so real to us because she’s honest. Cohen has done an incredible job of breaking taboos, breaking this image of a ‘natural mother’. Romily does a great job in her own non-conventional way but so does Claire, Cohen highlights a mothers struggles, triumphs and the thoughts most won’t speak out loud.

I’ll admit the character of Jarvis threw me a little and to some seems like a plot device but I liked him. I feel like without a new character and relationship dynamic the novel could have quickly got boring and left the characters weak. On that subject I have to say that Posie is my absolute favourite character because there is nothing like the honesty of a child that always listens. What Cohen has done so well with these relationships the way the characters relate to each other, this isn’t a novel full of happy endings and rainbows, there are times when you feel deep sadness for them or even happiness.

This novel is one that makes you think, not judge, a rare thing in these types of literature. You know what makes sense but reading through you begin to question and in a sense live through the situation and it’s not all black and white, there are a million shades of grey and just as many ways the novel could end…you’ll have to pick up a copy to find out though!

I’m giving this novel 5 stars *****! I absolutely loved it. While it’s thought provoking it’s not too intense on the ready the pace is gentle and fairly steady meaning that if you have a tonne to do (which I did when I was reading it) there are places you can stop, although I warn you, you won’t want to! This is an incredibly well-crafted novel, thoughtful, realistic and bold, go grab a copy now!

 

Review by Chloe Metzger

Just what kind of mother are you? – Paula Daly

 Your friends daughter goes missing.

She was your responsibility and you forgot her.

Just what kind of mother are you?

 

Lisa is the same as any other working mother, she’s stressed, she’s frazzled, she has a job to keep going as well as her three children and husband. Anyone can understand things slipping her mind occasionally, except what she’d forgotten was to pick up her friends child. The next morning she finds out that teenage Lucinda never went home, now she’s missing and it’s all her fault. As the days carry on and the search for Lucinda dwindles people start to point the finger.

I stayed up all night reading Just what kind of mother are you? I cannot put it down became literal, when it got to 3am and I couldn’t take in any of the words I decided to call it a night, only to wake up the next day and begin again. The best thing is that it really keeps you guessing right until the end and even if you take a sneak peak at the last page you have no idea. Daly has done an incredible job of keeping suspense throughout, the novel never gets boring and you may find yourself cancelling those Friday night plans to get to the bottom of what happens to Lucinda.

The multiple narratives that Daly uses work fantastically well. I’ve always been a fan of using more than one perspective to show the reader the bigger picture. You get to see the characters in the eyes of others as well as themselves which I think is really important in these types of novels, no one is innocent. This also relates well to the dynamics of the relationships between the characters and adds to the suspense. I particularly loved the unknown narrator which is used at time, frankly it’s chilling.

The characters were also spot on and incredibly realistic. You could actually imagine each of them, it’s as if you actually know them. Daly is also incredibly good at not making people simplistic, she understands real people. Lisa was an incredible character, she was frazzled, she blamed herself and she made mistakes which makes her seem normal to us. The only fault I could find was that at times her relationship with her husband seemed too passive at times, however, this did pick up over the novel.

I want to give this novel 5 stars *****, the characters and the plot are seamless. The pace is perfect and there are constant twists and turns. I dare anyone to read it and say they are bored because this is fantastic!

 

Review by Chloe Metzger 

Previous Older Entries