6.29.2013

THE ROSIE PROJECT - Graeme Simsion


Don is a professor of genetics whose life follows a very structured routine - he gets up at the same time every day, shops at the same markets, eats the same meals and goes to bed at the same time. Everything in his life makes sense. Everything is rational.

Until he meets Rosie.

Rosie the red-headed barmaid is everything Don isn't looking for in a woman. She smokes. She swears. She only eats ethical seafood. But despite all of this, Don decides to use his expertise in genetics to help Rosie look for her biological father. The Rosie Project is born.

What begins as a good deed on Don's part ends up changing not only his routine, but the way he looks at the world - and Rosie. Before long he realizes that, much to his surprise and despite the myriad reasons not to, he enjoys her company. And that's when things start to get really complicated.

----

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I have to admit that the cover was what drew me in and piqued my curiosity. But once I got a bit of the way in, I realized I was enjoying it immensely.

I loved the main character - and as someone who's fascinated by different cultural and social perspectives, the experience of seeing the world through his eyes was incredible. I also enjoyed getting to know the other characters; how flawed and human they all were, yet somehow beautiful and loveable. The story itself progressed well for about the first 3/4 of the book, and I was completely enthralled by it.

As I got towards the end of the book, however, I started to feel a bit put off by how the main character was changing. Which isn't to say people can't change, but for someone who has a behavioural situation like Don's (who I believe has Asperger's, though they never really state it definitively), seemed a bit too extreme. The magic of the book, for me, lies in the characters' imperfections, how they learned to love those imperfections in one another, and how they learned to deal with the imperfect nature of life itself. I didn't want them to change, and I didn't want every storyline tied up in a neat bow.

That said, however, I have absolutely no regrets at having read this book. I think it's definitely worth it just to meet Don and Rosie and to live in their world for awhile. It's not my new favourite book, but it's sweet and I enjoyed (most of) it.

6.25.2013

Are You A Restless Reader?


Oh man, this is SO familiar. My biggest problem occurs when the book I'm reading is so engrossing that I don't even notice I'm uncomfortable before serious (and probably permanent) damage is done. This reminds me of a hilarious YouTube video I watched ages ago:



Which caused me to exclaim: "WHO WAS RECORDING ME IN MY BEDROOM???"

What's your favourite reading position? Do you manage to find one comfy spot and stay there or are you a restless reader like I am?

6.24.2013

The World is a Scary and Sad Place.


Did you know that the four Twilight books sold over 116 million copies - and Stephen King's entire works sold only twice that? Check out this and 12 other booky facts in Buzzfeeds' article "13 Utterly Disappointing Facts About Books." Though it might depress you, it's interesting nonetheless - and makes me really inspired to pick up a book!

6.23.2013

PAPER TOWNS - John Green



After finishing The Fault In Our Stars (aka The Blue Book) in a blizzard of Kleenex, I wanted more of John Green's writing. So I moved on to Paper Towns looking for more of the poignant and humorous narrative.

The first thing I'll say is this definitely is not The Blue Book. Don't get me wrong, it's good and entertaining in its own way, but it's a bit darker, a bit less hopeful. Which is funny considering that this is the one that isn't about cancer.

The book starts off with two kids, Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman finding a dead body in the park near their houses in a suburban town in Florida. While Quentin is deeply disturbed by the questions and worries this experience brings up (being the son of two therapists he has a more of a grasp on the implications of the scene than many kids his age would have), Margo's reaction is very different. She wants to know who the man was, where he lived, why and how he died. Her curiosity outweighs any sense of danger.

The book skips ahead several years. As the two kids got older they grew apart - Margo becoming a popular kid in high school and Quentin becoming more of an introvert and "good kid." It isn't until their senior year in high school that they spend time together - when Margo climbs into Quentin's bedroom window and whisks him off on a night-long mission of revenge, adventure and discovery. After which she disappears, leaving Quentin a few clues and a need to figure out where she went.

The implied (and sometimes overt) sense of menace that was created by the deathly introduction to the story overshadows the rest of the book and makes Margo's later disappearance take on a feeling of doom. As Quentin's search continues for most of the book, he (and I, as the reader) became more and more convinced that her disappearance had a sinister undertone.

I enjoyed the character of Quentin - Margo a little less - and there are definitely parts of the book that are magical and evocative. But the middle half of the book dragged a bit here and there for me, and I found myself getting a bit bored here and there. To be fair, though, this could partly be because I read The Blue Book first, and it did set the bar pretty high. I stuck with it, though, and am glad that I finished it. Because it's a young adult book, it's a pretty quick read, so the fact that it slowed to a crawl in parts was forgivable and my overall impression of the book was that it was sweet and enjoyable.




6.21.2013

DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan


First thing to say about this book is that it was written by the same duo responsible for Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (yeah, the one that was made into a movie with Michael Cera and Kat Dennings). So that gives you an idea of the sort of story it is. Cute and quirky.

It's the story of two teens - both of them book lovers, both a little bit socially awkward. The story starts in the Strand bookstore in New York, where Dash discovers a red-covered Moleskine notebook hidden next to Franny and Zooey (by J.D. Salinger, in case you don't know). He opens the book to find this message:

I've left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don't, put the book back on the shelf, please.

Dash takes the dare. So begins an unlikely correspondence between two teenagers who each, in their own way, have ended up needing... someone. Someone to talk to, be silly with, to draw them out of themselves.

Through this adventure (which, by the way, appropriately takes place over Christmas holidays), we come to know Dash and Lily. We find out what they hope for, daydream about, fear. How they see the world and their place in it. Over the course of their adventure we see them face up to the most important element of adolescence: the need to figure out who we are - and who we want to be.

Reading this as an adult was a nostalgic experience that reminded me of what it was like to have a simpler yet much more complicated life. I imagine that teens reading this book will recognize something of themselves and their own challenges in Dash and Lily.

It was an entertaining read - certainly easy to become drawn into. It wasn't quite as good as I expected it to be - some of the plot points are a bit disappointing - but overall I'd recommend it for those who enjoy YA novels and are looking for a whimsical foray into life as a teen. 

6.20.2013

THE NAME OF THE STAR - Maureen Johnson


This book grabbed my by the throat and just wouldn't let go. It's the story of Rory Devraux, a Louisiana teen whose parents relocate to Bristol (in England), giving Rory a choice of schools for her senior year of high school. She picks Wexford, a boarding school located in London - right in the area of London that served as Jack the Ripper's hunting grounds.

Which would just be an interesting and vaguely creepy historical aside if it weren't for the fact that a new string of Ripper copycat murders has begun - the first of which happened on the day Rory arrived in London.

But wait, it gets creepier. I don't want to give away how, exactly, because I think the less you know the better. Just trust me - creepier.

As the murders continue, circling closer and closer to Rory's school, friends - and eventually, to Rory herself - she has to come to terms with the fact that the killer may, in fact, be after her.

I love murder mysteries. This book is like a cross between your typical YA novel and my favourite show, Criminal Minds. An odd combination, but the result is mesmerizing. It has the perfect amount of teen drama, the perfect amount of London and the perfect amount of suspense. If this sounds like your particular brand of Bloody Mary (sorry, had to), pick it up. I doubt you'll be able to put it back down again.

OH and also - if you don't follow Maureen Johnson on Twitter, you totally should. She's always on there (pretty sure she never sleeps) and always hilarious. Find her here: @maureenjohnson.

Book Depository's 25 Hours of Deals - ON NOW!!


My favourite online book-shopping destination is at it again! Book Depository is offering 25 hours of book deals - a new one every 15 minutes. But the catch is that when they're sold - they're sold! Follow them on Twitter (@bookdepository) to see all the new deals as they come out.

6.19.2013

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS - John Green


Better known amongst my group of friends as "The Blue Book" (for obvious reasons), this book took me completely by surprise. A friend of mine recommended it, saying that he loved it, that it made him all emotional and that I should definitely read it. So one Sunday when I was recovering from a horrible case of the flu, I decided to give it a try. And there went the whole rest of the day. I could. not. put. it. down.

The book is about a teenaged girl, Hazel, who has terminal cancer. One day at the support group she attends, she meets a boy called Augustus. The two begin hanging out and, over the course of the novel, become partners in adventure. They set off to find the author of Hazel's favourite book to find out what happened to the characters after the somewhat sudden end to the book - most notably the pet hamster, Sisyphus. (Can you get any better than a hamster names Sisyphus? Seriously.)

But before you roll your eyes and assume that it's a book about cancer that will be saccharine and paint an angelic picture of a cancer kid, or that it's going to be full of depressing, agonizing moments where the family confront their anger at how unfair it is and the cancer kid realizes she's ready to let go -  let me set you straight (because I would have found that off-putting as well). It's about a kid who has cancer, but it's not about cancer. I think of it as a backdrop - kind of like how if a book is set in Alaska, there'll be references to warm clothing and cold weather, and people won't go swimming in outdoor pools a lot. But other than that, the fact that it takes place in Alaska doesn't necessarily factor in. The cancer in this book is like Alaska. It's there, but it's not the point.

What I loved most about this book was the characters. By the end I had grown irrevocably attached to them - despite my best efforts not to because, you know, CANCER. But I just couldn't help myself. The book was written with such delicacy and raw honesty that at times I felt almost voyeuristic - as if I were peeking into parts of the private lives of the characters I wasn't meant to see.

By the end of it I both couldn't stop reading but never wanted it to end. Before I reached the final page I was already wondering how long I'd have to wait before re-reading it. And so far everyone I know who has read it feels the same way - and that's coming from a pretty wide range of people. High praise.

Basically, you need to read this book. Immediately, if not sooner.

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