The Rosie Project – Review

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It was the day of travel, when I had to go back to Blighty (more on that tomorrow). I’d gotten my last €40 out of the travel car account, and I decided to buy something to read. I dragged Josh into the airport bookshop, which was a weird, international mishmash version of WHSmiths, and had a look at the English section, unfortunately the smallest section in the whole thing. It meant that I had to do a serious dig, amongst all the chic lit and terrible erotic novellas, and came up with a couple of alright-looking ones (to be fair, I went back twice, as I wasn’t sure the first time whether I’d have enough for two books after feeding Josh and I from a really expensive airport café). The first one I bought I am yet to properly read, but the second book, The Rosie Project, which I’d seen in the bookshops back at home in the UK, was something I had to read first. After the magazines I picked up, obviously.

The story is of a genetics professor, and professional cocktail maker in Australia, called Don Tillman, who is undiagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, although a couple of the characters attempt to hint to him that he may have the disability. He is precocious, has a rigid routine, and is eccentric both emotionally and socially. He decides he wants to get married, but hasn’t got a woman to marry. So he creates ‘The Wife Project’, with a full on questionnaire to make sure he finds the most suitable candidate. It’s a perfect idea to find the perfect wife… Until he meets Rosie. Whilst helping her to find her biological father, he starts to feel an emotion that he hasn’t felt before, even though she is completely incompatible with him according to his requirements. The novel looks at the growing relationship, and his struggle to understand and learn that sometimes, love comes to you rather than the other way round.

This was a book that was believable, funny, sweet and charming. Don is a character that, although you can so see that he is on the autistic spectrum, it’s not the main focus of the novel. It’s about him, and his growth as a person, rather than about his issues. Although, that said, it’s handled sensitively and realistically. The writer says in his interview, that he based Don and his characteristics on people he worked with as an IT specialist, rather than researching the condition in the traditional way. In this case, it worked. You can tell when a writer has had to research a condition, without any personal knowledge of it. This helped to portray Don in a positive light, despite his flaws.

And I liked the additions of  Don’s questionnaire, cocktail recipes and interviews in the edition that I picked up. It gave the book a touch that made you feel more included, not just a reader, but actually someone in Don’s world.

This is the first book ever, with an Asperger’s protagonist, that I actually haven’t had any issues with. I remember reading Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which I feel is one of the most stereotypical and terrible characterisations of an autistic person that I have ever read, as it really focused on the condition, and not the character himself, which is the biggest problem when writing autistic characters. I enjoyed this book, simply because it’s a book about a guy who wants a girl, rather than an autistic guy who can’t get a date.

My rating: *****

For a rom-com, brilliant!

Dissolution – CJ Sansom (The Review)

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(I did say I would be reviewing each Shardlake book as I read them, and I finished this one only today, so I guess it counts in the reading war? Anyhoo, here we go! Also, be wary, there be spoilers in these here parts)

So, Dissolution. This is the first novel in the Shardlake series, starring the hunchback property lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, who seems to be constantly being roped into crimes involving grisly murders, intrigue and scandal.

In this book, it’s 1537, which means… Henry VIII is dissolving all the monasteries, and taking all their riches and land for himself! Yay! Cromwell has ordered our hero off to a monastery in Scarnsea, a lovely little town on the coast, with a sordid issue at hand. The last commissioner, Singleton, has been brutally murdered in the kitchen of the monastery, and Cromwell wants Shardlake to go off and find out why he was so brutally bumped off, as well as to continue the job Singleton started (gathering enough evidence to get the monastery closed down for corruption). Shardlake takes his assistant Mark, with him (mainly to get him out of a pickle involving a lady in waiting. Ahem). What follows is another two grisly murders, loads of red herrings, plenty of me shouting:

“No way?!?!?!”

“I thought it was you!”

“Really?!?!?!”

“…..”

So, yeah! I did start reading this on my Kindle, sneaking a chapter in at work, but then got too busy and left all reading to one side. But when the author himself appeared at work, I made a vow that I would finish all five books before my birthday (I always seem to get book vouchers, which I have to spend straight away on my latest bookish obsession), and that I would review each one (I’m going off topic…) so, yeah.

This is the first proper, grown up crime novel I’ve read from start to finish. And I’ve really gotten into it! I loved the characters in the story. Even the characters we either meet briefly are made to be extremely important, no one is there unnecessarily. Not to mention that they were extremely well written, they have their own distinct personalities, their loves, their hates, their beliefs, and their flaws. It meant that I struggled to figure out which characters I liked best. Brother Guy is definitely my favourite secondary character. Seriously, for a character we are not supposed to be supporting because of his beliefs (he is a monk who is basically the doctor) and because he is black, and foreign, but he is the one who is the most morally sound of all the monks. I also felt him to be Shardlake’s voice of reason in the book, almost a sounding board when Mark has buggered off to chat Alice, the assistant of Brother Guy, up.

Shardlake was therefore my favourite character. I loved his dry wit, one he has had to work on due to his disability. I loved the fact that he wasn’t the typical hero in the story, handsome, dashing and faultless. If he had of been, I would of refused to finish the book! He is also similar to me, and the way I think, as he is methodical in the way he thinks and solves the crime. It feels like you’re next to him, trying to help him puzzle out every clue, every suspect.

And that’s when we come to plot. The sub plot of the love triangle between Mark, Alice and Shardlake was nice and subtle, unlike in other novels where this style of subplot is too in your face, this gave you a nice little break from the main mystery, and also helps you to understand Shardlake’s character far better. You kind of almost want to hug the poor bugger when Alice proper rejects him (Alice, you bitch!). I also liked the flashbacks into Shardlake’s childhood, and of his schooldays in a monastery, where he was refused by the abbot to become a monk because of his disability (just as well really). However, I was annoyed at them being only in a small part of the book, to the point of wondering if they really had much purpose in the novel at all. The way subplots with Brother Gabriel, Orphan and Alice, as well as the Boleyn execution, including it’s political significance, not to mention the effect of one of the men being killed alongside her after having a ‘confession’ tortured out of him is weaved effortlessly into the plot makes this a book that keeps the pages turning. There is always action, wherever you turn, and the ending made me gasp in shock that the author had managed to fool me! Two murderers, two very different motives.

The final review point is historical accuracy. What I sometimes hate in historical fiction is that sometimes writers will use:

· Modern language
· Modern mannerisms/behaviour
· Not research places, society, costume or events properly

CJ Sansom, however, makes sure that his era, the world he is creating for us, is as true to the era as possible. He uses words in dialogue that people would of actually used, he uses events that took place in actual history in order to create a plot, rather than creating a plot and adding the events around it. You feel like you are walking through Scarnsea, you can smell the stench of the sea and the beggers, hear dogs bark and children cry. You feel the awe of the monastery as you follow Shardlake and the monks whilst solving the crime.

Therefore, you feel rather, well, dissatisfied once you’ve finally turned that final page. You right away need to go back there, to get stuck in.

That’s when you know you’ve found an author you’re going to stick with for a long time.

So. Dark Fire next, stay tuned!

Rating:

****

Four stars, because of the flashbacks. But a wonderful book! Would recommend to anyone who likes historic fiction, and a bloody good mystery.

Series Finale of Doctor Who… WTF? (Warning – Spoilers Sweety)

So, just watched the finale of this series of Doctor Who…

SERIOUSLY?

I couldn’t believe the way they decided to end it, on a CLIFFHANGER!

One thing that I can’t stand are cliffhangers. They annoy me for many reasons, simply because of the fact that they make me want the next episode, which I can’t have until a while later, November.

And it was such a sad cliffhanger as well, it made a lump in my throat, the whole, in the name of peace, but not in the name of the Doctor made me want to whimper ever so slightly. It was such an emotional episode, a lovely way to end this series, and, it had to be the best episode of the entire series. OK, there were some pretty neat ones, but this one had to top it, the cinematography and the CGI was beautiful, the writing phenomenal and the acting exquisite, everything you expect from Doctor Who.

I had to explain to my partner the whole River Song storyline as he’d forgotten the whole ‘River and Doctor on different time streams every time they meet’ as he got muddled when she told Clara that she was dead, yet mentally connected to her. It was a bitter sweet moment when the Doctor and her said goodbye in the tomb though…

Anyhoo, I loved it that they revealed more about the whole ‘Impossible Girl’ part of Clara. She has been my favourite Companion, as she’s sassy, she’s brave, and she’s not afraid to take control of the situation. She’s basically a feminist’s wet dream, in a weird kind of way. There are several women who I adore to the point of being willing to ditch my male partner to be lesbian partners with them full time, and Clara is certainly one of them. It made with the whole time stream thing, it explained how Clara became the Girl who Died Twice, though it was unexpected, which is only ever good.

So, it was a really good episode. I’m gutted that we now have to wait til November…

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – The Review

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So, what did I think of this book?

Well, to be fair, I was a little bit skeptical of this book. I don’t usually go for sci-fi novels, as they are not usually my cup of tea, as I usually prefer fantasy and general fiction (I have a chic lit book hidden in the depths of my college bag as I type). My stepfather, as well as some of my classmates told me that I had to read it, especially as I had only just watched the movie with Martian Freeman (he played Bilbo in The Hobbit, and Watson in Sherlock, the BBC production, not the movie), and really enjoyed it. 

So, I ordered a copy off of Amazon, as I didn’t find it in the bookstores, and waited for it to arrive. It arrived quickly, but I didn’t get round to reading it until a couple of weeks later. 

What the heck was I doing my whole life prior to this book?

Seriously, I loved it, and couldn’t put it down! It’s fairly easy to read, and is also a book that is great for dipping in and out of if (like me) you’re rather busy. Many books are books that you ought to read in one sitting, like the Wicked books, or Pride and Prejudice, but Hitchhikers is ideal for that little book you can tuck away at college and read on the bus, before popping it down for the college day, then you can get back into it the same afternoon and have the plot still make sense! The book is written in a very friendly, easy to manage style, and some of the plot is so daft it makes you laugh in front of your family without you quite realising it. 

Following the adventures of the protagonist, Arthur Dent, a fairly normal, if slightly dull guy, though the universe, with his friend Ford, who just so happens to be an alien, after the Earth is demolished  by Vogans, a rather diabolical alien race, so that a hyperspatial express route can be built. He meets various characters on the way, such as the Galactic President, who has stolen a ship and is on the run from everyone, Marvin the Paraniod Android, who is a manically depressed robot, and Trillian, a woman from Earth that Arthur met once at a party, but didn’t manage to hook up with. They discover a planet which is supposed to be the stuff of legends, where they discover the quest for the answer to the meaning of Life, The Universe, and Everything, as lead by the mice, who had created Earth as a computer so that they could figure out the question, as they had an answer, created by the computer ‘Deep Thought’ 10 million years previously. 

So, my feedback?

This book is literary genius! 

My score = ****

Don’t forget that towel, and don’t panic!