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

 

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!

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

An Abundance of Katherines – John Green

 “How do you just stop being terrified of getting left behind and ending up by yourself forever and not meaning anything to the world?” 

It’s a known fact that I think John Green is a genius and I ended up buying and devouring any book of his I pick up. I chose An Abundance of  Katherines as my third John Green novel to read about Paper Towns although this novel isn’t bad I wish I had chosen to pick up the latter.

Colin Singleton is a child prodigy, his mind is incredible and he is expected to do incredible things, that is until he hits a limit and start to wonder if he’ll ever have a ‘eureka’ moment. It doesn’t help that Colin has yet again been dumped by another Katherine, number 19 to be exact. To get away from it all, with the help of friend Hassan the two boys take a road trip after graduation and end up in Gutshot, Tennessee and end up having a very different experience to what they had planned.

While the pair find summer jobs in Gutshot and make friends with the beautiful Lindsey, Colin still has Katherine’s on the brain. He settles down to work on the mathematical likelihood of relationships, starting with Katherine one and working through them to perfect the equation. Although it doesn’t sound amusing it is and doesn’t take up the whole book which I was thoughtful for. What I think this novel is really about is a young guy who’s trying to work himself out through the only way he knows, math.

Although the novel was interesting and again Green has worked his magic at making believable characters and that loveable and slightly annoying nerd at the centre of it all, I wasn’t as hooked as I had been with previous novels. Throughout the novel I really didn’t understand the importance of all the Katherines and felt quite confused by it all! On top of that, to match Colin’s character there are a lot of foot notes with various explanations, comments etc and for me it didn’t help. I like getting lost in a novel and I just felt that the footnotes took away from that and made me think about them too much. Although that said I know people who found that to be the best part of the novel, so it really is down to personal preference.

I want to give An Abundance of Katherines 3 stars. I did like it but it’s not my favourite John Green novel. As with Green’s other novels you can’t help but feel as if you are friends with the characters and have your own hopes for them. I would have liked to have known more about genius Colin and what Lindsey did next but that’s not what this novel was about. From my experience of reading it I felt like it was about having that time before a big change to figure yourself out, as usual Green has been fantastic in getting into the teenage mind. I’d say if you’re a fan then you should give this a go but if you’re only just starting then try out The Fault in Our Stars or Looking For Alaska, my two personal favourites.

Further Confessions of a GP – Dr Benjamin Daniels

Although I didn’t read Dr Bens previous book I absolutely fell in love with this one and laughed out loud a lot. I made me laugh and it made me think, two things I like in a book. The book itself was easy to read with short chapters mixed with humour and seriousness. Dr Ben is funny, humbling. The book is both reflective and honest, it feels like reading the notes of a friend. In my opinion he doesn’t patronise, he freely admits that he’s not the healthiest person on the planet and also freely admits when he gets things wrong. There are also moral arguments, financial arguments and the feeling that Dr Ben is just a guy trying to do his job.

While online some of the reviews have been pretty poor ( I can’t understand why!) I genuinely think this book is honest, humorous and really just shows that doctors are humans too. The emotions Dr Ben feels actually made me think about my own doctors. I wish they were as thoughtful as Dr Ben. I liked that the book wasn’t simply stories about patients, Dr Ben has given his opinion on many factors of the NHS and the worries people have. He is obviously a very intelligent man, full of great ideas and seems to have a good way of dealing with and understanding people.

Above all Dr Ben made me realise that a) I could never be a doctor, I’m too impatient and too squeamish, b) Being a doctor involves a lot of poo a lot.  and c) if all doctors took note from Dr Ben going to see them would be a much more pleasant experience. It also opens your eyes to the nature of humans, how different and alike we all are from someone who has usually seen it all. You can imagine some of his characters in your own neighbourhood and want to reach out the them after reading. It was the people who I truly found fascinating, as did I find how Dr Ben handled each situation.

So overall I give this book **** four stars. I can’t help but wonder what my own doctors think of me so thank god there arn’t too many of these books floating around! I’m hoping there will be many more confessions of a GP books and I’m looking forward to reading a few more from the series!

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