The Rosie Effect -Graeme Simsion

the Rosie Effect Being a big fan of the first book, “The Rosie Project’ I was really looking forward to reading the next installment in the life of the much loved protagonist, Don Tillman, albeit a little anxious. Unlike a series this is more like a sequel and I was concerned it would fall into the jaws of the sequel curse.

There was no need to worry, as I found The Rosie Effect to be just as delightful as The Rosie Project. Granted the book didn’t have the freshness or “surprise factor” as I had visited Don’s life before, but once again I became invested in Don’s life, and I laughed out loud and stayed up to the wee hours anticipating the ending.

This is not just a “How to “ book for those square pegs trying to fit into round holes, but it’s a unique novel that explores deeper issues such as judgment and individualism. What Simsion has done well is create characters around Don who have real-life problems and flaws. This emphasizes that we are all imperfect, and yet we are all the same, and what we all need is acceptance and friendship.

If you’re looking for something different from the first book, you won’t find it, but let me remind you of how you felt when you read the last word of The Rosie Project and you were disappointed that it had ended. If you are new to Graeme Simsion’s award winning book then grab both books at once and think of it as one book, and extend the joy. I can think of no better way to spend my day than with a smile on my face laughing at the predicaments and antics of Don Tillman.

Publisher: Text Publishing

Published: 2014

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Defender – Chris Allen

Defender

Intrepid series –Book 1

If you are a die-hard Ian Fleming fan, then Chris Allen’s Intrepid series may be what you’re looking for –think of it as James Bond has had a revamp. Gone is the misogynist protagonist, and in Bonds place is a new hero – Alex Morgan. Morgan works for a secret agent branch of Interpol, he is tough but fallible, and is a character that I think readers will become invested in as they read the future books.

What gives the Intrepid series kudos is the detail. This has obviously been helped by Allen’s extensive experience in the military, federal police and aid work. It’s this experience that gives the book an authenticity that’s hard to attain by research alone. The story feels grounded in reality –something you don’t usually find in the Action Adventure/Spy Thriller genre.

This solid foundation doesn’t detract from the action –far from it. We are taken on a ride, with Alex Morgan, through the seedy world of gun trafficking in Africa, to corruption in the higher echelons of government agencies in England and then onto a climatic finish in the streets (and harbour) of Sydney, Australia. Allen has given us a protagonist who “keeps the bastards honest”, a character you can barrack for, but he has also delivered on international intrigue, a spy who is ruggedly good- looking (always a bonus), a girl (yes, there is a little romance), action, military know-how and a genuine good read for fans of the genre.

Defender is the first book in the Intrepid series which has recently been optioned for a film and television series. It is available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Defender-Morgan-Interpol-Thriller-Intrepid-ebook/dp/B00ABQ0L2A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412811147&sr=8-1&keywords=defender+chris+allen

Publisher: Momentum

Published: 2012

Book 2: Hunter

I caught up with Chris Allen and had the opportunity to discuss the future of the Intrepid series. This interview will be posted in the coming days so stayed tuned.

That’s all folks!

I Am Pilgrim -Terry Hayes

I am Pilgrim

My life has shifted on its axis. I finally delved into Terry Hayes tome, I am Pilgrim and now everything must change. I have to clear out my bookshelf and put this fantastic novel on a shelf all by its self while I ponder everything I just read. So move over Ludlum, shove over Lehane, there’s a new boy on the block and he’s bad (I mean “bad” in the colloquial sense, as in “Damn Good”).

It’s a hefty novel, but that’s no deterrent, as I wish it were even longer. The novel centres on the protagonist Scott Murdoch? (The question mark becomes relevant once you’ve read the novel) who is an American spy, agent, deep, deep undercover operative etc. He is on a race to save the world from a biological attack and time is ticking, and in his spare time he solves a New York murder case –Ha, I love it!

Terry Hayes is a man who knows his craft. This may be his debut novel,but Google his biography and you’ll see he has serious cred. His plotting is very tight and complex; the writing is intelligent and suspenseful. I sat in the waiting room at Toyota while I had new tyres fitted, and my hands were tightly gripping the book as I read the final chapters.

Here’s a puzzle:

How long does it take Toyota to fit two new tyres?

Two hours.

At the end of the two hours I was at a pivotal point in the story, the Toyota man called my name. I put my hand up to silence the annoying man and resumed biting my nails and my eyes continued to rapidly scan the pages. I came to a suitable place to stop, raced home and finished the book.

Like any great book it is still lingering in my thoughts. Hayes has created a hero that we haven’t seen since Jason Bourne, and I hope to see a lot more of him.

This is a suspense novel that deals with sensitive and serious subjects and it is handle with respect, skilled observation and the critique of a good journalist. Hayes doesn’t dictate to the reader he is a masterful storyteller and the reader is taken on a thrilling journey.

NB: This is an adult novel, if considering for a teen reader note that it does contain some torture scenes, although it is not an overly graphic novel.

Catch a Q&A with Terry Hayes here: http://www.randomhouse.com.au/blog/top-writing-tips-from-debut-thriller-writer-terry-hayes-2167.aspx

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

We Were Liars

Another brilliant novel has sailed across my desk – We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This is a YA novel which stays with you long after the final page has been devoured. The story is told through the central character, Cadence. We follow her summers spent on a family island along with her friends /cousins –The Liars. As the liars hold a mirror to their family, they don’t always like what they see, and this has a disastrous effect.

The narrative of this novel is like a boat on the ocean, the reader is rocked by its undulations, of an idyll childhood spent on a private island near Martha’s Vineyard, to the fractures of this Kennedyesq family, which break, heal and break again. The reader is taken on an emotional journey, riding the ups and downs of the waves, which eventually crash to the shore with its stunning conclusion.

Lockhart’s writing is clear and concise but not devoid of description or poetry. It is her writing that first grabbed my attention. Here is an example of the main character describing her cousins and friend.

 

Johnny

He is bounce, effort, and snark.

 Mirren

She is sugar, curiosity and rain.

 Gat

He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee.

 

The writing was taut and effortless, but it was the plot in the end that won me over. I had to know the secret, the mystery.

Do not go in search of other reviews if you are interested in reading this one, as spoilers will surely ruin the whole experience. I’ll leave the last word to the dust jacket.

“We Were Liars is a modern suspense that will leave you reeling. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just lie.”

Title: We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Published: 2014

Genre: YA/ Crossover

All Our Yesterdays – By Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays

I love this book. This is one of those novels that book reviewers pull out all the clichés; a real page-turner, I couldn’t put it down, had me up all night. Because it’s true, I’m ‘exhibit A’ – The kid’s dinner went by the wayside, I was up all hours, zombie eyed; I was obsessed. Every moment I had, the book made its way back to my eagerly awaiting hands. I needed to know what was happening to the characters that had so quickly taken up residence in my life.

A quick plot outline – the two main characters travel back in time to try and save themselves and the world. To do this they must kill someone, but they find this more difficult than they thought.

That’s the gist of the plot I don’t want to spoil anything by giving too much detail. This book is the perfect example of “How to Start a Novel” Terrill puts you straight into the action –tick, questions are forming in your mind, has you curious – tick, tight plot – tick, early attachment to the characters – tick. The story has the essence of The Terminator films, which is fine with me, as I’m a huge Terminator fan; the fiction world has been waiting for a good time travel book for sometime. All I want to say is if you enjoy reading YA fiction then put this one on your shopping list.

 

TITLE: All Our Yesterdays

AUTHOR: Cristin Terrill

GENRE: YA

NB: was awarded the 2014 Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel by the International Thriller Writers

“Shelter” A Book for the Reluctant Teen Reader.

shelter

Recently I mentioned that crime writing was trending in the YA genre. So I have been sleuthing, researching and investigating a few of these novels. The first one I picked up was Peter Cocks Long Reach, I found it totally unsuitable for the 14-18 age group. It was graphic and read more like an adult crime novel.

The next novel I chose was by the well- respected crime writer Harlan Coben he has turned his hand to YA with a new crime series. The first is called Shelter.

The first thing I must mention is cliché, cliché, and cliché.

Next thing I will say is it works.

Despite the cliché use of the new kid in school, dorky best friends, and parent departed. The novel is page-turning fun. I recently wrote a post about dyslexia and a reluctant reader and how this affected my family. This is the type of book that really appeals to the reluctant, male, teen reader. (no sexism intended)

Harlan has taken a character, Myron Bolitar, from his adult series and introduced his nephew Mickey Bolitar. (Lazy or just getting future fans for his adult series)

Mickey’s father has recently passed away, his mother is in rehab, and now his new girlfriend has disappeared. The only responsible adult in his life is his uncle Myron, and he wants nothing to do with him. Mickey is determined to find out what happened to his girlfriend and this leads him into a seedy world of crime. Along his journey he forms friendships, which you can see are going to carry throughout the series. These friendships make the story interesting. The characters are fun, likeable and a little clichéd.

Harlan has successfully adapted the language to a teen reader; there is no condescension in this statement. There is a need for an easy, fast paced read with relatable characters. This is an excellent novel for either those who want a light holiday read or the teen that finds reading a chore.

 

Warning: The main character goes to a strip club; there is suggestion of torture and sex slavery.

Title: Shelter

Author: Harlan Coben

Published: Orion 2011

Genre: YA Crime

Series: Seconds Away (Book 2)

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

Alex

One of the fastest moving trends in the YA genre is the crime novel. John Grisham, Harlan Coben and James Patterson, usually write adult crime, are all producing novels aimed at a younger audience. Next week I will review Harlan Coben Shelter, but first, I thought I should indulge in an adult crime novel so I can compare the two. I chose Pierre Lemaitre’s Alex, it was translated into English and re-published last year, and since that time it has received a lot of praise and won the CWA’s International Dagger award for 2013, so I thought it was a good choice.

The first thing I will say about this novel is don’t read anyone else’s review. This might sound arrogant, but I’m giving this warning for your own well being as many of the reviews reveal too much and I found this tainted any mystery the plot may have held. Most of the reviewers have done this inadvertently, but my readers are an intelligent bunch and I know they can read between the lines.

With that in mind, I will give you a very brief plot blurb. The setting is France (mainly Paris), a girl is kidnapped and the police try to solve this and other evolving mysteries- there. I want to mention a couple of things that bugged me about the novel, I don’t usually do this as opinions can be subjective, but I have an uncontrollable compulsion today to put it out there.

First – the cop, he is the stereotype, white, middle aged, pig headed, flawed character we’ve seen time and again in many crime novels. This is a shame as Lemaitre has a talent for characterization. Secondly- the title, it really “had my goat up” as my mother would say. It did the crime genre, which is unpredictable by nature, no justice.

Now for the good- what I love about the novel is Lemaitre’s keen observations on human nature. He manages to create characters that are incredibly believable. His writing pulls out the subtleties and nuances of the everyday, that most of us are unaware. Lemaitre’s talent is in the detail. I’m not talking of the kind of detail that can bore you to tears, I once read a book that described a fob watch for eleven pages, it’s the kind of detail that forms clear pictures in your mind and allows the story to move along seamlessly. It is that talent that leaves me wondering whether Lemaitre should write in a different genre especially literary fiction.

NB: He did win the Prix Goncourt award for an epic novel Au revoir là-haut on WWII; the highest award for literary fiction in France.

In the end I recommend the book for adults who enjoy this genre, as it was enjoyable. I also recommend it to budding writers, as there is much to be learnt from his style, and its what I found to be the most enjoyable part.

 

Title: Alex

 Author: Pierre Lemaitre

 Published: French 2011, English 2013 Maclehose

 Genre: Crime