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Chels & a Book

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

Some books are like an attack on your heart, or your soul; a monsoon of emotion and feeling. Other books are the equivalent to sitting your heart and soul by the hearth of a fireplace and feeling warm and soft all over. For me, The Rosie Project was the hearth.When The Rosie Project started floating around our office, it’s definition as a “screwball romance” turned off many people; for in fact, the word romance did appear on the advance reading copy cover. But screwball romance was the perfect way to describe it, and there is so much more to this book than a quirky love story (though that part doesn’t hurt at all!).


The Rosie Project tells the story of Don Tillman, a 39-year-old genetics professor with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome who has decided that he is ready to get married. Like all other research he has conducted in his career, he figures the best way to go about finding a compatible mate is to create a questionnaire. Said questionnaire becomes a sixteen-paged, double-sided mammoth and Don is curious as to why women just can’t seem to answer the questions appropriately.


Enter Rosie, who fails on almost all accounts of wife qualifications for Don, but whom he oddly enjoys spending time with. Rosie has her own agenda: she is on the hunt for her biological father, whom her mother admitted was not he man who raised her, but never gave any specifics before she passed away. When Don agrees to aid Rosie in her search, the two begin an unlikely friendship that will be the most fun you’ve had with two characters in ages!


Both with different goals, both misfits in their own right and both finding in each other things they never even realized they needed, Don and Rosie set off on a quest that leads to unexpected, hilarious and wonderful places. Though The Rosie Project may be considered by some to be a “light” read, it is one of the most refreshing ones I have encountered recently.


Author Graeme Simsion has said in an interview that Don was carefully created from his own experiences and those of his friends, and the topic of Asperger’s is dealt with in the most conscientious way. The themes of identity, love and acceptance were vibrant and strong and I fell in love with Don, Rosie and even Don’s two closest friends, Gene and Claudia. I rooted for them, laughed with them, shed tears for them. I whole-heartedly loved them.


This book deserves a hug. And you deserve to read a book that deserves a hug! Also, when you do decide to pick this book up, do Don and Rosie a favour, and have your favourite cocktail as you read. The more complicated the cocktail, the better! You’ll understand why later!


And lastly, Don has Twitter! @ProfDonTillman!

We Need New Names: A Novel

We Need New Names - NoViolet Bulawayo

This was a heart-wrenching read. Though I pushed myself to read 2/3 of it all at once to meet a deadline, I would have had to do this even on my own time. There was no where to stop comfortably. From the moment you meet Darling, you are endeared to her. She is an honest, rambunctious and curious ten-year-old girl, who has lived a life of such violence that even the most horrific acts are approached with innocence and an unnerving sense of calm. As she grows and learns more about herself, her home country and America, I felt a severe desire to hug her. I needed to make sure she was okay, and so I kept reading.


NoViolet Bulawayo writes in a stunning voice, and with such rawness. Though I found the book extremely hard to read (emotionally), I do truly appreciate the bravery that lingers within the pages.

Stunning & Haunting

Burial Rites - Hannah Kent

I have literally just closed the covers on this book and my heart feels heavy. A novel based on true events and characters, Burial Rites tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir; a woman condemned to death for the murder of her employer. 

This was a haunting read; from the eerie prose, dripping in darkness, to the ravens that constantly circle the farms, waiting for a sign of vulnerability from the animals. 

Hannah Kent creates the atmosphere of rural Iceland in the 1800's with flawless accuracy. I could feel the chill in my bones from the winter winds, and the tiny bits of heat from the kitchen that drift into the rooms as Agnes tells her story to Reverend Toti.

And though these characters lived hundreds of years ago, they felt extraordinarily alive to me. Agnes, the family who hold her prior to her execution, the ghosts of her life before the murder and of course, the young Assistant Reverend who is given the task of preparing Agnes for her death.

This was good. Very good.

Compatibility Quizzes!

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

Indigo's Fiction Blog's Compatibility Quizzes with The Rosie Project's author Graeme Simsion.

One of the international trailers for The Rosie Project.  The perfect feel-good read for this summer :).

Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere

Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere - "Dostoyevsky was exiled to Siberia by the czar because he’s a badass motherfucker."Come on, you laughed, right? Lauren Leto, most commonly known as the founder of the humour site (and also the book of the same name) Texts From Last Night, knows how to pack a punch. Her newest book, Judging a Book by It’s Lover was, all-encompassed, extremely amusing! A collection of essays spanning from personal stories about her attachment to books, to how to fake having read a great classic writer, this book both praises and criticizes writers and readers alike.After reading a post by my friend Lindsey at Reeder Reads, I knew that this was the book to get me out of my reading slump. I couldn’t settle into any specific story, so instead, I educated myself in the ways of literary criticism. And when I say criticism, I mean CRITICISM. Leto spares no one in her witty, though often cut-throat analysis of writers (their histories, their most predominant works and their personal lives) and the readers who love them.I’ll admit that though I never once thought of putting the book down, I was a bit put off by Leto’s deeming of YA, mysteries and romances as “silly books”. She is a self-proclaimed Janet Evanovich fan, but also acknowledges that “silly books shouldn’t be all we read”. As Leto herself is extremely well read, this statement almost seems self-congratulatory Myself, I prefer Margaret Atwood’s outlook on this matter: it doesn’t matter WHAT you read, it matters IF you read. Atwood once said that she didn’t understand the use of terms like “high-brow” and “low-brow”, but sadly, our modern critic for this book, does.After getting over the feeling of judgement for my reading tastes (and I can’t say I wasn’t warned — it’s right in the title!), I did dive into a completely bookish state and devour the rest of Leto’s thoughts. I particularly loved the section where she teaches readers how to “fake” having read an author. Not that I expect to find myself in a situation where this is needed, but some of the facts she included were extremely interesting, and often hilarious! For instance:- Vonnegut’s chief contribution to society was his coining the phrase “flying fuck.”- David Sedaris once made smokers move to the front of the [signing] line because they have less time to live.And of course the Dostoyevsky fact at the beginning of this post.Leto and I clearly see most things differently. In one of her essays, Leto explores the indie versus chain bookstore debate brought to light by the film You’ve Got Mail. She writes “Given the choice, I’ll take the independent over the chain in principle” and “You’ll rarely meet a better-read or more passionate person than your local indie bookseller.” As someone who works for the home office of a chain bookstore, I have to say that passion is distributed quite evenly between chain and indie. Leto saves herself (in my eyes) by concluding that “whether you find yourself in Meg Ryan’s or Tom Hanks’s store, there’s always a quiet corner and a new story to find.” Amen to that, sister.Leto is clearly a book lover. One thing she said hit me straight in the solar-plexus: "Life happens alongside the act of reading — a story is forever mixed with where we were and what we were doing while we were reading that book." I couldn't agree more. My bookshelf is a map of my life; a testament to my changing tastes, the themes I hold close to my heart and characters I saw myself in. When I stare at my copy of Anne of Green Gables, I remember sitting on my Mom's favourite blue couch reading before bed. When I look at Hey Nostradamus, I can envision the Christmas tree I read it in front of. What a wonderful way to preserve memories.So, though we may not have the same opinions, our unity over the love of literature transcended our differences. I really enjoyed this quirky, unapologetic take on the life of a reader!

All My Friends Are Superheroes

All My Friends Are Superheroes - Andrew Kaufman Like many kids of my generation, I grew up on a steady stream of cartoon superhero shows: Spiderman, Batman, X-Men, you name it. I marveled at how badass they were and used to put temporary tattoos of Rogue on my ankle for gym class. To this day, there is just something comforting about the idea that there are masked superheroes out there, protecting humankind.Andrew Kaufman’s novels spark that old flame for me. After reading his fabulous new book, Born Weird, I raced to the nearest Chapters I could find to purchase his backlist. I began with his first book, a novella called All My Friends Are Superheroes.Published by the renowned Canadian publisher, Coach House, All My Friends Are Superheroes tells the story of Tom, an ordinary man who finds himself constantly surrounded in superheroes. Literally all of his friends, and even his wife, The Perfectionist, are superheroes. But on the night of Tom’s wedding, The Perfectionist’s jealous ex-boyfriend Hypno, hypnotists her into believing that Tom is invisible. Frustrated that everyone can see him but his wife, Tom watches as The Perfectionist mourns over his apparent disappearance. After a few heartbroken months pass, The Perfectionist has decided to use her powers to forget Tom. She will take a plane ride to Vancouver and when that plane touches down, Tom will be a figment of her imagination.Desperate to make the love of his life see him again, we follow Tom through some of his most beloved memories as he attempts to craft a plan.Kaufman creates a world to fall in love with. His superheroes are unlike the Batman-types we are used to. For example, The Projectionist can make you believe anything that she does and The Stress Bunny can absorb other people’s stress and make them feel completely relaxed. These ordinary-seeming people, have their quirks turned into superpowers. Also in Kaufman’s world, expressions become literal: broken hearts can be surgically mended and anxiety is an actual monster that can attack you.I couldn’t recommend a more imaginative, tender read. All My Friends Are Superheroes is a book to own: beautifully bound with high-end paper and printed right here in Toronto at the Coach House office. Kaufman’s writing is addictive and one book will not be enough.So let me finish by saying this..Dear Friends: If you have never picked up anything by Andrew Kaufman, you are missing out. Please grab yourself a copy of All My Friends Are Superheroes, The Waterproof Bible, The Tiny Wife (sadly unavailable in Canada, but able to order off Bookfinder) or his newest, Born Weird. You will not regret it!

Shadowlands (Shadowlands (Hyperion))

Shadowlands - Kate Brian A really fun and creepy thriller! Stay tuned for a review closer to pub date =).

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Series #1)

The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins This book is unputdownable! Worth every tid bit of praise it has received over the past few years, THE HUNGER GAMES was one of those novels that sucks you out of your own world and drops you into another. I felt like every time I closed the book, I was like Katniss going to sleep -- making myself vulnerable. I HAD to keep reading -- all the time. Collins not only met all of my expectations for this book, but she exceeded them in so many ways. She created a cast of characters that felt so real to me, and a world that began as a blank slate in my mind, turned into an empire. Panem put me completely off balance, contemplating just how terrorizing it would be to live in constant fear and knowledge that your life is temporary; not in the sense that you could get hit my a car tomorrow, but that the fate of you and those you love is entirely in the hands of a corrupt and insensitive force. And Katniss! This girl easily climbed her way up the Anne Shirley podium of wondrous leading ladies and is sitting among the top (sorry, Anne cannot be dethroned -- ever). I loved her. She was the epitome of perseverence for me and I couldn't put the book down because I had to know that she was okay -- this selfless, courageous and radiant young woman. And Peeta! Not your typical YA leading man, he was the steady heartbeat of the book. Katniss was the calculating one, while Peeta ruled with emotion, in the best way possible. Perhaps my favourite literary team as of yet!I have tried to write this review a few times and have finally accepted that it is just going to come out sounding like a gush anyways. No attempt at clever witicisms will make a difference. I have been a total girl about this book and have been repeatedly watching the movie trailer too. Not one for the cult classic books-to-movies, I have never seen the Harry Potter movies and stopped halfway through Twilight, but this is a whole new ballgame. I cannot WAIT for this film!Suzanne Collins, THANK YOU! Now, onto CATCHING FIRE!

The Space Between

The Space Between - Brenna Yovanoff Before you even open them, some books just scream your name -- the cover is beautiful, the synopsis is captivating and the feel of them in your hands is perfection. This is how I felt about THE SPACE BETWEEN. I had read a fantastic review of the book by Maja from The Nocturnal Library and had to read it right away.THE SPACE BETWEEN centers around Daphne, the daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. She resides in Hell, where everything is made of chrome and steel and the center of it is a giant furnace that burns away anything that does not belong in hell. When Daphne's one true friend, her brother Obie, runs away to earth to be with a human woman, Daphne is sent by her mother to bring him home. Demons who choose to walk the earth run the risk of being killed by Azrael, the Angel of Death and his tormenting "sidekick" Dark Dreadful. When Daphne finally finds herself on Earth for the first time, she knows exactly where to start searching for Obie: find a boy named Truman.When his mother died, Truman's life spiraled into a dark abyss. After too much torment, Truman attempted to take his own life, but was only briefly brought to hell, where he met a girl with long black hair and perfect pale skin. When Truman wakes up in a hospital bed, he meets Obie, a kind doctor who tends to his wounds and befriends him. Almost every night, Truman dreams of a dark voice, taunting him about his suicide attempt, but then he sees the dark haired girl.THE SPACE BETWEEN was one of the most creative books I have ever read. Yovanoff did a wonderful job of illustrating hell and of creating a character who knows compassion, but has never felt love. My favourite part of the book was definitely the descriptions of hell and the traditional biblical figures that exist in it. I also really enjoyed Truman's character -- a dark, hurt and broken boy who just cannot lift himself off his knees. Daphne and Truman's blossoming affections for each other are unlike other YA romances, as Truman is extremely damaged and Daphne is a creature of the underworld, presumably incapable of feeling tenderness and love for a human being. Yovanoff handled their romance with a delicate touch, but it also made it difficult as a reader to throw yourself into their relationship. It was just so unique.There was quite a bit of "searching" in the book, and because of Daphne's lack of feeling for certain things, brutal scenes were swept over as she was unable to react to them the way Truman did. The end of the novel was action packed and my mouth fell open a few times, but I wish this could have happened a bit more during the novel. All in all, I enjoyed THE SPACE BETWEEN and would recommend it for fans of demon books where even angels have darker sides.

The Cloud Searchers (Amulet Series #3)

Amulet, Vol. 3: The Cloud Searchers - Kazu Kibuishi This series is amazing: great story and magestic illustrations!

The Candle Man

The Candle Man - Alex Scarrow Regardless of how gruesome the photos (which actually still exist on the web), or the details of his horrific actions, our culture is taken by the elusive story of “Jack the Ripper”. Perhaps it is the constant mystery; the fear of an unsolved case with plenty of proof, and yet, at the same time, so little. Perhaps it is the fact that we know, if this were to have happened in modern day, advanced science and DNA testing would have greatly increased the likelihood that this man, women or group of people would be behind bars. Though all the possibilities are speculative, the truth remains that our minds fill in the gaps of what the officials could not find. And this is exactly how Alex Scarrow builds his thrilling tale, THE CANDLE MAN.The novel begins with Mr. Larkin, an aging man with cancer, speaking with a muscle-diseased young woman as the Titanic slowly sinks below the Atlantic Ocean. Both man and woman know that their inevitable fate almost guarantees their demise on the boat, and so they choose to share a drink together. As the young girl giggles from the drink, she asks Mr. Larkin if he has anything he would like to share before he meets his untimely death. And so the story unfolds.For the entirety of the novel, Mr. Larkin’s identity within the story remains a mystery, however we know he is one of several men involved in an extremely high-profile and convoluted case. Scarrow weaves together intricate pieces to make a story which exudes such power and illustrates raw writing talent. This was a complete page-turner, with surprises behind every dark corner. His imagery of the Gothic Victorian scenery made the whole story play out on the streets of London in my mind. I could feel the moisture on the wet cobblestone roads and smell the dank stench of uncleanliness lurking in back alleys and in old run-down pubs.This book was such an exhilarating read! My first Scarrow novel, but most definitely not my last. This is also my first Victorian thriller and all I can think of is “how did I not try this before?!” With picturesque scenes, an abundance of secrets and more than enough suspense to keep you reading into the wee hours of the morning, this book seemed to have it all. Plus, who would have thought to intertwine two of the most debated catastrophes of the time into one story?! Bravo, Alex Scarrow, bravo!

The Alchemy of Forever: An Incarnation Novel

The Alchemy of Forever: An Incarnation Novel - Avery Williams I just can't get enough of this paranormal stuff lately! And Avery Williams sure has it all down pat. The Alchemy of Forever is the story of Seraphina, who was killed at the age of fourteen in the 1300's and given a second chance at life by the alchemist's handsome son when he transfers her soul into the body of her killer. Centuries and many bodies later, Sera is still bound to Cyrus -- still as lovely as he once was, but now a vicious murderer and a constant reminder that Sera is very much like him. Determined not to kill any more people, Sera decides to kill herself instead -- but fails. Her new body, that of a sixteen-year-old mysterious and popular girl named Kailey, comes with more than just a physical appearance; it comes with an entire life. Waking up in the hospital, Sera is surrounded by Kailey's family. Where she once would steal a body and escape, leaving the person's friends and family to presume their death, Sera is now stuck in the body of a girl she must pretend to be. Only, this is easier than it should be, and Sera soon finds herself with a family who loves her, and a boy whose looks make her believe that she might not just have a chance at life, but at love.Being a slow reader, I am always so proud of myself when I plow through a book quickly. This one took two days (although only 246 pages) and although I'm excited to be well on my way with my 2012 goals, I feel like I didn't take the time to get to know the characters. I felt like Sera fell into Kailey's life just a little too quickly, and of all the weird things that could have happened didn't end up being as big of a deal. However, Williams' prose was lovely and I loved her descriptions of the San Fransisco landscape verses that of Oakland. The dark nights and the moon were like separate characters. It was beautiful! And Noah -- swoon. This is one of the first books I have read about a guy walking his dog. For some reason, I found that so endearing.There were many questions left unanswered and Williams leaves you on a cliffhanger waiting to find out what happens to Sera, to Noah and to Cyrus. Though I felt that everything went too fast (even contrasting to the hundreds of years that Sera has lived) and wanted to spend a little more time getting to know the characters. Especially Sera. All in all, this was a quick but lovely read!

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses - Ian Falconer Absolutely adorable. Perfect for teaching kids that their individuality is to be treasured!


Smile - Raina Telgemeier Star ratings will not work for this book. In short, I adored it. For anyone who ever had to deal with dental work as a kid (which I did, for years and years), this is perfect. Raina Telgemeier deals with more than just braces; she deals with life as a pre-teen. This is an absolutely wonderful, hilarious, heartfelt read. Love love love.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green One of the best books I have ever read. Normally I would paste my review here but it is much more personal than most reviews. Check it out here: http://chelsandabook.blogspot.com/2012/03/book-review-fault-in-our-stars.html.