Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1) by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project 

Synopsis: Don Tillman has a brilliant scientific mind, but social situations confound him. He's never had a second date. And so, in the evidence-based manner in which he approached things, he embarks upon the Wife Project: a sixteen-page questionnaire to find the perfect partner. Then in walks Rosie Jarmon.
    Rosie is on a quest of her own. She's looking for her biological father, a search that a certain genetics expert might just be able to help her with. Soon Don puts the Wife Project on the back burner in order to help Rosie pursue the Father Project. As an unlikely relationship blooms, Don is about to realize that, despite the best scientific efforts, you don't find love: love finds you.

It's not often I come across romance novels written by men. Perhaps they should write more of them, because Graeme Simsion has written one of the most delightful contemporary romance novels I've ever come across. 

The Rosie Project reads like one of those screwball romantic comedies from the 1940s - the ones starring people like Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. It's no surprise really, because Simsion originally wrote Rosie as a screenplay. It's very funny reading Don's objective and unemotional perspective on social norms like dating and small talk. Think of Don as a hotter version of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. He's such a wonderful character - analytical and socially inept but not incapable of showing compassion.  It is so delightful as a reader to see Don fall for Rosie - even if Don doesn't realize that's what is happening.

My only quibble with this book is that I wish Rosie was a more fully-realized character. She is quirky and unique and lots of fun but I felt she was slightly overshadowed by Don. She just didn't quite come to life for me. 

Overall, The Rosie Project is far superior to a lot of contemporary romances our there. Highly recommended for those looking for a fun, light-hearted romp.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Reading Wishlist: October 2014

 October 7

#1) Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2) by Ann Leckie
Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch, #2)

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: The sequel to the award winning and highly-acclaimed Ancillary Justice,where an AI system named Breq is ripped from her starship and given a human body.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. I've heard these books are mind-blowing. I've added the first book to my Xmas wish list.

#2) Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming
Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

Genre: Memioir
What It's About: The acclaimed actor reflects on his childhood, his parents and his career.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. I love the talented Alan Cumming and look forward to learning more about his life.

#3) The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan
The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: The final book in the epic Heroes of Olympus series, the sequel series to the Percy Jackson books.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. I have yet to read any of these books but I've heard they're amazing. I currently have all of the Percy Jackson and am hoping to buy the Heroes of Olympus box set soon.

#4) The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: When a deadly illness swept through the nation, most that were infected, died. Those that survived infection were left with strange markings and mysterious powers - the Young Elites.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. This sounds like an intriguing, complex new fantasy series from the author of the Legend series.

#5) Stray (Four Sisters #1) by Elissa Sussman

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: The first in a series of intertwining stories that features women who are cursed (or blessed?) with magic.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. This series has been described as a cross between Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and a Disney Princess movie.

#6) The Fall by Bethany Griffin
The Fall

Genre: Young Adult Horror
What It's About: Madeline fights to destroy the haunted house she was born in - but the house has other ideas.
Anticipation Factor: 5/10. This book takes inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher.

#7) Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather Demetrios
Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: Nalia, a young jinni, fights to free herself.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I've never come across a YA book about a jinni. The new vampires, perhaps?

#8) The Invisible (Brokenhearted #2) by Amelia Kahaney
The Invisible (Brokenhearted, #2)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: The second book in Kahaney's series about a reluctant teenage superhero, Anthem Fleet.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. These books sound incredible! We need more female superheroes!

#9) Endgame: The Calling (Endgame #1) by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton
Endgame: The Calling (Endgame, #1)

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
What It's About: The superior beings who created humanity left earth but not before promising to return. Their return would mean the beginning of the Endgame - a game that will determine the very future of humanity.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. James Frey is finally doing what he does best - writing fiction. I'm interested to see how he approaches the YA genre. 

#10) Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir
Bleed Like Me

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
What It's About: A story about two teens who fall in love - the damaging, obsessive, destructive kind of love.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. I love the gorgeous cover and I'm interested in reading a YA romance that isn't all hearts and sparkles. (Although I love those kind, too.)

#11) The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes #3) by Richard K. Morgan
The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes, #3)

Genre: Fantasy
What It's About: The final installment in Morgan's brutal fantasy series. The first book is The Cold Commands.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. This book has dragons! I especially love the creepy dragon face on this cover.

#12) The Body Electric by Beth Revis
The Body Electric

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
What It's About: Ella uses her ability to enter people's dreams and memories to help them relive happy memories. But her government wants to use her gift for a far more sinister purpose.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I'm excited to see what Revis, the author of the incredible Across the Universe series, has in store with her new book.

#13) Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond
Girl on a Wire

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: A young high-wire walker discovers an omen of bad luck planted on her costume - and she nearly falls to her death. Now she must band together with a rival trapeze artist to find the culprit.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I love books that take place in the circus.

#14) The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
The Silent Sister

Genre: Mystery
What It's About: Riley has spent years believing her sister Lisa committed suicide until twenty years later when she finds out that Lisa is alive.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10.

#15) The Forgotten Girl by David J. Bell
The Forgotten Girl

Genre: Mystery
What It's About: Jason Danver agrees to look after his sister's teenage daughter for a couple of days - but his sister never returns.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10

October 14

#16) Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Leaving Time

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
What It's About: Jenna Metcalf is determined to find out what happened to her mother, who mysteriously disappeared after a tragic accident.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. Anything by Picoult is guaranteed to become a bestseller.

#17) Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Genre: Memoir
What It's About: An interesting new twist on the standard celebrity memoir, NPH styles his book on the Choose Your Own Adenture books beloved of elementary school children everywhere.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. Who doesn't love Neil Patrick Harris?

#18) War Dogs by Greg Bear
War Dogs

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: An alien race lands on Earth and provides humanity with scientific and technological capabilities beyond our wildest dreams. But these aliens are being pursued by another, more powerful race and they expect us to help them - at any cost.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. Because I am a sucker for any story to do with aliens.

#19) Of Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans
Of Bone and Thunder: A Novel

Genre: Fantasy
What It's About: Apocalypse Now meets The Lord of the Rings in this genre-bending twist on swords and sorcery. Think of it as the Vietnam War but with magic and dragons.
Anticipation Factor: 10/10. I want to read this book so badly! Give it to me now! And I am positively swooning over that gorgeous cover.

#20) Clariel (Abhorsen #4) by Garth Nix
Clariel (Abhorsen, #4)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: A prequel to the spellbinding Abhorsen trilogy.
Anticipation Factor: 10/10. I absolutely loved the Abhorsen series and cannot wait to read this new installment. Plus, there's a dragon on the cover!

#21) You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes by Chris Hadfield
You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes

Genre: Non Fiction
What It's About: A tour in pictures of the Earth seen from the International Space Station.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. 

#22) Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch
Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: Meira has been trained as a warrior ever since she was a child and she is determined to help save the Kingdom of Winter from its cruel overlord.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. I can't wait to read the first book in this epic new fantasy series.

#23) Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Stitching Snow

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
What It's About: Essie lives on the sub-zero planet Thanda where she repairs her loyal drones. But her life is turned upside down when a mysterious boy crash lands on her planet.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10.

#24) The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
The Cure for Dreaming

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
What It's About: Olivia Mead is a young suffragist living in 1900s Oregon. Her father is disturbed by her headstrong ways and hires a hypnotist in the hopes of making her more docile. But the hypnotist has other ideas and gives Olivia the ability to see people's true natures.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10.I would love to see more novels about the women's suffrage movement. This book seems like a good place to start.

#25) Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
What It's About: Glory is unsure of what to do with her life after high school. But one night, she suddenly is given the power to see into the infinite past and future. And what she sees in the future terrifies her - women's rights are steadily rolled back bit by bit until women are sold off and kept in internment camps. Glory records everything she sees in the hopes that she can prevent this horrifying vision of the future.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. This seems like an important book for young women to read - especially because so many are rejecting the ideas of feminism.

#26) Three Hundred Million by Blake Butler
Three Hundred Million: A Novel

Genre: Fiction
What It's About: Gretch Gravey is violent psychopath building a small army of followers. E.N. Flood is the police detective determined to stop him - but first he must understand Gravey's troubled mind.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10.

#27) Heraclix & Pomp by Forrest Aguirre
Heraclix & Pomp

Genre: Fantasy
What It's About: Heraclix was dead and Pomp was immortal. Now Heraclix has been reanimated and Pomp was nearly murdered by an evil necromancer. Together they travel across Europe (with a short side trip to Hell) to try to find answers to why they are the way they are.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. This sounds like an incredibly fun novel.

#28) The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney
The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt

Genre: History
What It's About: The biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. I love reading historical accounts about women in positions of power.

#29) In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
In Real Life

Genre: Graphic Novel
What It's About: Anda loves Coarsegold Online, a multiplayer online role-playing guide. When she meets a player that bends the rules, she discovers that the difference between right and wrong is not always black and white.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10.

#30) Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer
Trust Me, I'm Lying

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
What It's About: Julep Dupree must find out what happened to her father when she comes home from school to find him missing.
Anticipation Factor: 5/10.

October 21

#31) Common Ground by Justin Trudeau 
Common Ground

Genre: Memoir
What It's About: Justin Trudeau, one of Canada's most promising young politicians, recounts his life from his childhood up to his experiences as leader of the Liberal party.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. When this man runs for Prime Minister, I'm voting for him.

#32) Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk
Beautiful You: A Novel

Genre: Fiction
What It's About: A new sex toy has been developed that cause women to lock themselves in their rooms, giving themselves orgasm after orgasm.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. Any new book from Palahniuk is cause for celebration.

#33) Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: The third installment in Stiefvater's Raven Boys series.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I've been collecting these books as they've come out but haven't gotten around to reading them yet.

#34) Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
Beware the Wild

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: Sterling's brother Phin runs into a mysterious swamp in Sticks, Louisiana. Someone else emerges in his place - and now Sterling is the only person in town who remembers that her brother existed.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10.

#35) Loop (Loop #1) by Karen Akins
Loop (Loop #1)

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
What It's About: In the future, Quantam Paradix 101 is a required course and students take regular field trips back in time. But when Bree Bennis travels into the past, she accidentally takes someone back with her.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10.

#36) Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll
Bathing the Lion

Genre: Fantasy
What It's About: Five people who live in the same New England town all go to sleep one night and all experience the same vivid dream.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. When Neil Gaiman calls a book 'brain-smooshing work', you know it has to be good.

#37) The Abyss Beyond Dreams: A Novel of the Commonwealth by Peter F. Hamilton
The Abyss Beyond Dreams: A Novel of the Commonwealth

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: A new space opera taking place in the same universe as Hamilton's Void trilogy.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10.

#38) A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar
A Man Lies Dreaming

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: A man imprisoned in a concentration camp dreams imagines a world where a former dictator ekes out a living as a private eye in London.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. I love the story-within-a-story aspect of this novel.

October 28

#39) Emma (The Austen Project) by Alexander McCall Smith
Emma (The Austen Project)

Genre: Fiction
What It's About: A modern retelling of Jane Austen's Emma. 
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. Emma is one of my favorite Austen novels. I'm interested to see Alexander McCall Smith's modern spin.

#40) Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Yes Please

Genre: Humor
What It's About: A collection of humorous and personal essays by Poehler, in the style of Tina Fey's Bossypants.
Anticipation Factor: 9/10. Amy Poehler is one of my favorite funny ladies.

#41) Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa
Talon (Talon, #1)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: Dragons have learned to walk in human form to avoid being made extinct by The Order of St. George, a society of dragon slayers. But what happens when a dragon slayer falls for a dragon girl?
Anticipation Factor: 10/10. Out of all the books coming out this month, this is the one I am most excited about. According to Goodreads, this is the first book in a five-part series. I'm willing to bet that this is going to be the next big thing in YA.

#42) In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra Bracken

In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds, #3)

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
What It's About: The final installment in Bracken's Darkest Minds series.
Anticipation Factor: 5/10.

#43) Atlantia by Ally Condie

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: Rio lives in the underwater city of Atlantia, but when her twin sister Bay is ripped away from her, Rio will do anything - and go anywhere- to get her back.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. Condie's Matched trilogy is huge in the YA community. This book should be just as popular.

#44) Black Dog (Hellhound Chronicles #1) by Caitlin Kittredge
Black Dog: Hellhound Chronicles

Genre: Urban Fantasy
What It's About: Ava is a hellhound, a servant to a reaper. After a hundred years of servitude, Ava is ready to wield some power of her own by stealing a reaper's scythe.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10.

#45) The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
The Book of Strange New Things

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: Peter becomes a missionary to a new planet where he teaches the alien race about the Bible.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. What an intriguing premise!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains Echoed 

Synopsis: It begins in 1952. Ten-year-old Abdullah and his younger sister, Pari, are everything to each other. What happens to them, at the despairing hand of their father, will test the unshakable bonds of family and irrevocably change not just their own lives, but those of multiple generations.
     In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Khaled Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe - from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos - the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

I loved this book even though it broke my heart. Every chapter was so beautiful and moving and incredibly sad. But there was still a thread of hopefulness running throughout the entire story and it all ties together so beautifully at the end.

The book opens with a father telling a story to his son. The story is about a father sacrificing his own happiness so that his most beloved son could live in a land of paradise. I loved how the novel's plot drew parallels from the fairy tale and resonated throughout the book. Hosseini writes such lyrical sentences that at times, the book reads like poetry. There were several sentences where I had to stop and marvel at the way he put an idea into words. 

Ultimately, this book is about family and what we are willing - and sometimes, not willing - to do for the ones we love. It reminds us that we don't know how much time we will have with the ones we care most about and, even if we are apart from them, we will still love them and carry them in our hearts.