Monday, August 20, 2018

Review: The Rosie Project

Title: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date:  January 30, 2013
Source: Purchased

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

The Rosie Project is a fun, light read that had me flipping through the pages at a breakneck speed. I'm not a fan of the label "chick lit," as I think it's limiting the audience of a book at people of both genders can enjoy, but The Rosie Project does remind me of romantic comedies and Sophie Kinsella.

Our main character is Don Tillman, a highly intelligent and highly rigid man, diagnosed but assuredly somewhere on the autism spectrum. On the other side we have Rosie, as different from Don you can imagine. In typical rom-com style, fate throws Don and Rosie together, opposites attract and hi-jinx ensure.

I believe that Graeme Simsion did an excellent job making Don a very likable character (although perhaps one of those characters that you prefer to know in book form, rather than in real life). He did an excellent job making a characters who is likely very different from most readers, relatable. Rosie was a hot mess, yet inherently likable as well.

Overall, a quick enjoyable read, perfect for a beach or vacation, but not something I can see sticking with me for ever and ever.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Review: Cradle and All

Title: Cradle and All (Teen Edition)
Author: James Patterson
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date:  September 12, 2016 (originally published 1980)
Source: eARC from publisher for review.

In Boston, a young woman finds herself pregnant--even though she is still a virgin.
In Ireland, another young woman discovers she is in the same impossible condition.
And in cities all around the world, medical authorities are overwhelmed by epidemics, droughts, famines, floods, and worse. It all feels like a sign that something awful is coming.
Anne Fitzgerald, a former nun turned private investigator, is hired by the Archdiocese of Boston to investigate the immaculate conceptions. Even as she comes to care about and trust the young women, she realizes that both are in great danger. Terrifying forces of light and darkness are gathering. Stepping into uncharted territory where the unknown is just the beginning, Anne must discover the truth--to save the young women, to save herself, and to protect the future of all mankind.

This book is not my usual genre and I think it showed. I enjoy books that strike a perfect balance between character development and page-turning action. Unfortunately, this one was too much page-turner and not enough depth. I think this can often go with the genre of thriller, which is not a genre I pick up often.

As I mentioned, this book was definitely what I would call a page-turner. The chapters are super short and the writing simple and direct and it was a quick read. There was enough suspense to keep me interesting and moving forward.

However, I think the speed and suspense came at a cost for me. I felt no connection to any of the characters. I think Anne was supposed to be the main character, but I didn't feel any connection to her. Her relationship with Justin was really flat for me and needed major development. Kathleen and Colleen were pretty dull as well, despite their bizarre conditions. Nicholas was probably the most interesting character, but he still didn't leave too much of an impression.

I think it's also important to note that I read an updated "teen" edition. I guess what made it a teen edition was the inclusion of more modern brands and items, like Frye boots and iPhones. I found these modern references a bit heavy-handed and obvious and I think I might have preferred the original edition.

This was my first James Patterson book and I'm not sure if I would try another. Like I said, it's not my usual genre, but I might give one of his newer books a try.

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Let's try this again...

So I guess it's pretty obvious that I took a bit of an unplanned, unannounced hiatus from blogging. I was just feeling a bit burnt out pressured and I needed some time. The kind of ironic thing is that I ended up reading more than I did when I was blogging. So in the end, I guess it was a good thing.

So what does all this mean? To be completely honest, I don't know. What I do know is that I love reading and I missing chatting with other blogger about books. I also know that there are a bunch of review books that have been sitting on my shelf for months or years that exert a bit of guilt onto me when I look at them, not the mention the ones on Netgalley. But I also know that this is a hobby and I don't get paid, so I shouldn't feel obligated. That's why you won't find an apology in this post.

So basically, my goal is to review books on a semi-regular basis. I'll be posting books I got for review, as well as some other books I read along the way. I won't go back and review books I've read in the last few months and I won't review books where I haven't reviewed previous books in the series.

Alright, let's get back to reading!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: May 5 2015
Source: Won.

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beastwith faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

I'm realizing just how much I love Sarah J. Maas. I'm a bit late to the party, but I really have loved the 3 books I've read by her. Her characters are amazing: heroines that strike the perfect balance between badass and vulnerable. I want to be best friends with them

Feyre is the only thing holding her family together. Really, her family sucks, but in a very human, true-to-life kind of way (as opposed to the flat, inexplicably evil families that drive me up the wall). But Feyre is the only thing keeping her family alive, something that is getting harder and harder to do. In the process of trying to keep her family alive, Feyre gets into unfortunate situation and ends up travelling to the Fae realm as a prisoner/guest. I loved the fae characters in this book as well, but I think my favourite was Lucien, although I can see the appeal of Tamlin.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, this book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. But at the same time, it's also based on a somewhat lesser known story of Tam Lin, who was stolen away by the fairy queen.

The world created by Maas is rich and deep and really well done. Honestly, I can't think of anything I would have changed about this book. It's that good.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Title: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
Author: A. S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary ecopy in exchange for a honest review.

In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last--a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more.
Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities--but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she's never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way...until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person's infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions--and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women's rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she'll do anything to make sure this one doesn't come to pass.

While I enjoyed the creativity in this book, the writing style and characters didn't while do it for me.

Glory is not a likable character. He best friend Ellie is not a likable character. Her father would almost be likeable if he had a life. Darla might have been likable if she was alive.

What bothered me most able Glory was her apathy. I don't connect well with apathetic characters and Glory was no exception. She didn't have any goals, didn't have any relationships besides Ellie (who she doesn't even really like) and her father and didn't care about anything.

I also didn't like the writing style. I know it was supposed to be Glory's thoughts, but she would tell the reader something in her head, then repeat it by saying it out loud. I didn't save any exact quotes, but it was kind of like this: "When I came home, my dad was watching tv. He doesn't usually watch tv. 'Why are you watching tv?' I asked." It kind of threw me off.

With that said, I found this to be a really creative book. Glory's history of the past and future was really interesting and I found myself waiting for those chapters that were interspersed in the rest of the book, but I certainly preferred them. The whole thing with the bat was a bit too bizarre though in my option.

There were some really interesting elements to this book, but it wasn't an overall success for me.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Stealing Parker

Title: Stealing Parker
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Source: Purchased

Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?
I'm the first to admit that contemporary romance books are not my thing. I'm much more of a fantasy/action/adventure kind of girl. But I heard so many great things about Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series that I have been giving it a try. I read Catching Jordan quite a while ago and honestly didn't enjoy it all that much, so I was pretty skeptical going into Stealing Parker.

But I ended up really enjoying it! I connected way more with Parker than I did with Jordan. I really felt Parker's struggles and I was rooting for her the whole time (even as I screamed at her when she made decisions I disagreed with). I think they reason why this book worked better for me than Catching Jordan is because Stealing Parker is less of a romance-driven plot and more of a character-driver plot. Sure there are romantic aspects, but they all contribute to Parker's journey within the book.

This book touched on a lot of issues: eating disorders, sexual identity, slut-shaming and inappropriate relationship. Despite the long list, I felt like each issue was handled well by the author.

This book has brightened up my expectations of the Hundred Oaks series and I am looking forward to reading the next book.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Review: Sweet Madness

Title: Sweet Madness
Author: Trisha Leaver & Lindsay Currie
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Seventeen-year-old Bridget Sullivan is alone in Fall River, a city that sees Irish immigrants as nothing more than a drunken drain on society. To make matters worse, she's taken employment with the city’s most peculiar and gossip-laden family—the Bordens. But Bridget can’t afford to be picky—the pay surpasses any other job Bridget could ever secure and she desperately needs the money to buy her little sister, Cara, passage to the states. It doesn’t hurt that the job location is also close to her beau, Liam. As she enters the disturbing inner workings of the Borden household, Bridget clings to these advantages.

However, what seemed like a straightforward situation soon turns into one that is untenable. Of course Bridget has heard the gossip around town about the Bordens, but what she encounters is far more unsettling. The erratic, paranoid behavior of Mr. Borden, the fearful silence of his wife, and worse still…the nightly whisperings Bridget hears that seem to come from the walls themselves.

The unexpected bright spot of the position is that Lizzie Borden is so friendly. At first, Bridget is surprised at how Lizzie seems to look out for her, how she takes a strong interest in Bridget’s life. Over time, a friendship grows between them. But when Mr. Borden’s behavior goes from paranoid to cruel, and the eerie occurrences in the house seem to be building momentum, Bridget makes the tough decision that she must leave the house—even if it means leaving behind Lizzie, her closest friend, alone with the madness. Something she swore she would not do.

But when Bridget makes a horrifying discovery in the home, all that she thought she knew about the Bordens is called into question…including if Lizzie is dangerous. And the choice she must make about Lizzie’s character could mean Bridget’s life or death.

SWEET MADNESS is a retelling of the infamous Borden murders from the point of view of Lizzie’s Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan.
This was a book with a lot of potential. I like the premise and the story overall, but there were major pacing issues for me that dropped this one down to 3 stars.

I think the star of this book was the atmosphere that Leaver and Currie created. Everything felt creepy and there was a certain wrong-ness that came through all of Bridget's experiences in the Borden house. However, there was a case of too much of a good thing. The pacing in this book felt way too slow for me and that combined with the growing sense of dread, made the book a bit laborious in the middle. With that much stress on the reader for such an extended number of pages made the book a bit exhausting.

Bridget was a likable enough character, although I didn't always agree with her decisions. However, they weren't easy decisions to make, so I can't hold that against her. And I think Leaver and Currie did a good job of making Lizzy a sympathetic character at the same time as being a ticking time bomb.

This story and characters had a lot of potential, but the mix of a thick atmosphere with slow pacing kind of got the better of the book.