Book Review: The Nancys by R.W.R McDonald

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The Nancys book cover

Blurb

The Nancys is adult crime fiction in the tradition of a whodunit murder mystery, except all the characters are completely out of control and pay no attention to any rules.

TIPPY CHAN is eleven and lives in Riverstone, a two pub town in South Otago, New Zealand. The same town her UNCLE PIKE escaped from when he was a teenager. Tippy loves her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early versions where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery.

Tippy’s chance comes when her mum goes on holiday, leaving Uncle Pike and his new boyfriend, DEVON, in charge. When her teacher turns up dead beside the small town’s only traffic light Tippy teams up with her babysitters to form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club.

But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs in to a risky investigation. A wrongful arrest, a close call with the killer, and an intervention from Tippy’s Mum all conspire against The Nancys. While the town grieves everyone believes the police have caught the killer, including Tippy’s mum. It is up to The Nancys to go against the flow, as well as questionable interior design and fashion choices, to solve the mystery before anyone else dies.

The Nancys is a book for anyone who’s ever felt outside looking in. At its heart it is about the family we make and the courage required to tell the truth, no matter what the cost.

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The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald

My Review

The Nancys is an adult murder mystery inspired by the classic Nancy Drew books, but it’s so much more than that. It also explores complex themes about outsiders, the family we choose, courage and the importance of telling the truth.

Eleven-year-old Tippy Chan is still grieving for her father when her Uncle Pike and his fashion designer boyfriend Devon arrive from Sydney to care for her while she goes on a cruise. Tippy and her mother still live in the same house in the small two pub town of Riverstone New Zealand that Pike escaped from as a teenager, so his return inevitably brings up ghosts from his past. I grew up in small-town myself, so I could definitely relate to Pike’s uncomfortable experiences bumping into ex-boyfriends and old nemeses and all of the weird feelings that can bring up!

When Tippy’s friend falls off a bridge in mysterious circumstances and then her teacher is gruesomely murdered Pike, Devon and Tippy form a club inspired by Nancy Drew to investigate. Using Pike’s network of old contacts, Tippy’s keen sense of observation, and Devon’s fashion sense, The Nancys seem to be getting close to cracking the case. The only problem is making sure they discover who did it before anybody else gets hurt … or Tippy’s mum puts a stop to their investigation.

I loved this book! It’s in a similar format to a classic Nancy Drew mystery, but it also has so much warmth and heart. I was a huge fan of the Nancy Drew books too when I was around Tippy’s age, and I think The Nancys absolutely did them justice. Nancy Drew really is a bit of style icon and I agree that the older books are the best.

I loved the close relationship between Pike and Tippy and the way he helped her and her mother deal with the death of Tippy’s father. Pike and Devon’s relationship was full of crude humour and in-jokes but I have a good feeling that their relationship will last longer than Pike’s previous relationship record of three months … I will hopefully find out the answer to that in the sequel coming out soon!

About the Author

 

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R.W.R. McDonald author photo

Rob McDonald is a Kiwi living in Melbourne with his two daughters and an extended rainbow family including HarryCat and Stevie Nicks the chicken. Rob realised while studying journalism that writing fiction, rather than reporting facts, was his true bent.

The Nancys is being published by Allen and Unwin with a release date June 2019. This is his first novel.

Rob is a 2016 alumnus of Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel Stage 1 and 2 where he worked on his manuscript The Nancys. In 2017 The Nancys was Highly Commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Outside of writing Rob works in international education.

Details

Published:  June 3rd 2019 by Allen & Unwin

Source: Own copy

Read: Kindle Edition, July 2020

Pages: 316

Rating: 5 stars

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Apple: https://apple.co/2KMQh0D

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Book Review: The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell

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The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village

Blurb

A moving, funny, heartwarming tale of love and friendship, for anyone who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Keeper of Lost Things and Three Things about Elsie.

It’s never too late to grow old disgracefully …

The life of 79-year-old pensioner Peggy Smart is as beige as the décor in her retirement village. Her week revolves around aqua aerobics and appointments with her doctor. The highlight of Peggy’s day is watching her neighbour Brian head out for his morning swim.

Peggy dreams of inviting the handsome widower – treasurer of the Residents’ Committee and one of the few eligible men in the village – to an intimate dinner. But why would an educated man like Brian, a chartered accountant no less, look twice at Peggy? As a woman of a certain age, she fears she has become invisible, even to men in their eighties.

But a chance encounter with an old school friend she hasn’t seen in five decades – the glamorous fashionista Angie Valentine – sets Peggy on an unexpected journey of self-discovery. Can she channel her ‘inner Helen Mirren’ and find love and friendship in her twilight years?

My Review

The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village is a warm and uplifting book about love, friendship and the importance of growing old disgracefully.

79 year old Peggy Smart lives a beige and boring life at her retirement village. She is grieving for her late husband and growing increasingly frustrated with the way that her children and doctor are treating her as a frail old lady. She doesn’t want to be shipped off to a scary nursing home, and rightly so if you pay attention to what actually happens in those places! The only excitement in her life comes from her secret crush on an eligible bachelor until her old school friend Angie shows up at the Jacaranda Retirement Village and sets Peggy on a journey of self-discovery.

I enjoyed the ways that Peggy and the other elderly characters were portrayed as real people who were much more complex than almost any other elderly character I’ve come across before. Many of their issues and character arcs were related to their age, but they were so much more complex than that. It’s refreshing to see elderly characters depicted in this way and I commend Nell for the way she has crafted these realistic and lovable characters. I particularly enjoyed Peggy’s humorous Freudian slips and the politics that went on between the residents of the retirement village.

About the Author

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Joanna Nell

Joanna Nell is a Sydney-based writer and GP. Her bestselling debut novel The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village was published in 2018 with rights sold internationally. Her second novel The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker was published 24th September 2019.

Joanna’s award winning short fiction has been published in a number of magazines, journals and short story anthologies including Award Winning Australian Writing. She has also written for The Sydney Morning Herald’s Spectrum and Sunday Life magazines.

Joanna’s third novel ‘The Great Escape From Woodlands Nursing Home’ will be in stores October 27th 2020!

Details

Published: September 25th 2018 by Hachette Australia

Source: Library

Read: Paperback

Pages: 400

RRP: $29.99

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Competition Winner: “So Lucky” by Dawn O’Porter

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and the winner is…

Thank you to everybody who entered my Valentines Day competition to win a copy of So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I loved reading about everybody’s favourite love stories!

The lucky winner is Melanie Jane who entered on Facebook.

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So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter 

Book Giveaway and Review: So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

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So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

COMPETITION CLOSED

Thank you to everybody who entered my Valentines Day competition to win a copy of So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I loved reading about everybody’s favourite love stories!

The lucky winner is Melanie Jane who entered on Facebook.

Valentines Day is almost here and I have a brand new copy of  the bold and hilarious novel “So Lucky” by Dawn O’Porter for one lucky Aussie reader, thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia.

All you need to do to enter is let me know your favourite love story of all time in the comments here, on Facebook,Instagram, or Twitter. It could be a story about romantic love, or perhaps the love between friends, or maybe a story about the importance of learning to love yourself just as you are, like “So Lucky”.

If you zoom in on the books on my bookshelf you might be able to spy some of my own favourite love stories.

My Review

Bold and hilarious contemporary women’s fiction. So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter will have you laughing out loud and help you realise that you are actually pretty lucky after all.

Three women are doing their best to project a perfect life to the outside world, but are actually feeling miserable on the inside. Beth has the perfect career, but her marriage is falling apart; Ruby has a shameful (in her eyes) secret and feels like she is failing at everything; and Lauren’s dream life is definitely not as perfect as it seems. A big event brings them all together and out comes the truth; nobody’s life is perfect, but that’s ok.

I really loved the character in this novel, and some of the more minor characters had a big impact. There were a more than a few laugh out loud moments, but I should also warn you that some a the humour is not for the faint of heart!

“So Lucky” highlights a very common struggle that most women face: the pressure to have the perfect life is enormous and impossible to ever truly achieve. We all have our struggles and it is often made easier to cope with when we share our struggles with each other.

5 stars!

Synopsis

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

Fearless, frank and for everyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Actually, you’re pretty f****** lucky to be you.

‘A total joy’ Matt Haig

‘Compulsively gripping and taps into the shame and self-hatred we *all* battle with. It is also very, very funny’ Sara Pascoe

Details

Author: Dawn O’Porter

Published: October 31st 2019 by HarperCollins

Source: Publisher

Read: Paperback, 400 pages, 2019

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

Giveaway Details

Giveaway is open to residents of Australia and will posted to the confirmed address after the competition closes at 5pm AEDT Sunday February 16th 2020.

Winner must be over the age of 18 and confirm their Australian postal address via email or private message within 48 hours of the competition closing.

This giveaway is not affiliated with WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or HarperCollins Publishers Australia.

The winning entry will be chosen randomly by a computer generated program and will be notified by email or private message.

All you need to do to enter is let me know your favourite love story of all time in the comments here, on Facebook,Instagram, or Twitter. It could be a story about romantic love, or perhaps the love between friends, or maybe a story about the importance of learning to love yourself just as you are, like “So Lucky”.

HOW TO BE SECOND BEST by Jessica Dettmann. A lighthearted romantic comedy highlighting the ups and downs of modern parenthood. #BookReview

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HOW TO BE SECOND BEST by Jessica Dettmann

Goodreads Description

A hilarious and heart-warming debut that captures the dramas, delights and delirium of modern parenting. This is Marian Keyes meets Allison Pearson, with a dash of Caitlin Moran.

Going from one child to two is never all that easy for a family, but when Emma’s husband simultaneously fathers a third child three doors up the street, things get very tricky, very fast.

No longer is it enough for Emma to be the best wife and mother – now she’s trying to be the best ex-wife, and the best part-time parent to her ex’s love child, and that’s before she even thinks about adding a new bloke to the mix.

Set in an upwardly mobile, ultra-competitive suburb, this is a funny, biting, heartwarming modern comedy that looks at the roles we play, how we compete, and what happens when we dare to strive for second-best.

‘Jessica Dettmann is a fine comic writer. She has an eye for the small details, irritations and inspirations of life which coupled with a truly original turn of phrase and great way with a gag makes for sparkling and heart-warming reading.’ Ben Elton

‘Sharp and crisp and funny. I was dazzled.’ Mia Freedman

Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 17th 2018 by HarperCollins – AU
ISBN 1460755960 (ISBN13: 9781460755969

My Review

A  lighthearted romantic comedy  highlighting the ups and downs of modern parenthood.

HOW TO BE SECOND BEST by Jessica Dettmann examines what happens when  Emma decides to be second best for a change.

She has been so busy trying to be the best at everything ever since her husband left her to start a family with another woman that she hasn’t realised just how much of a pushover she has become. By taking a step back from the competitiveness of modern parenting Emma’s life begins to fall into place, including in the romance department!

HOW TO BE SECOND BEST is a great beach read. Dettmann has hilariously captured the craziness and competitiveness of modern suburban parenthood, which is often made more difficult with mixed families.  I particularly enjoyed the swimming pool scene!

The characters were incredibly well-written and I love the concept of teaching yourself how to be second best in a world where everything seems to be a competition.

5 stars!

About the Author

 

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Jessica Dettmann

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My Book Review of quirky love story THE RULES OF SEEING by Joe Heap @Joe_Heap_

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THE RULES OF SEEING by Joe Heap

Goodreads Description

The Rules of Seeing follows the lives of two women whose paths cross at a time when they need each other most. Nova, an interpreter for the Metropolitan police, has been blind from birth. When she undergoes surgery to restore her sight her journey is just beginning – she now has to face a world in full colour for the first time. Kate, a successful architect and wife to Tony, is in hospital after a blow to the head. There, she meets Nova and what starts as a beautiful friendship soon turns into something more.

My Review 

“What you see depends on what you’re looking for”

I’m finding it hard to categorise THE RULES OF SEEING by debut UK author Joe Heap. It’s part quirky love story between two women with a lot going on in their lives, part thriller, and 100% a great read.

Nova works as a police interpreter, can speak five languages and has been blind her entire life until her brother convinces her to undergo and operation that will help her see the world for the first time.

While she is recovering from her operation she meets Kate who is an architect married to Tony, a police detective that Nova works with occasionally. Nova and Kate’s friendship could develop into something more if it was up to Nova, but they each have their own issues to deal with, including Nova’s difficulties with learning how to see and Kate and Tony’s relationship issues.

THE RULES OF SEEING is a fantastic debut novel and Joe Heap has done a brilliant job of covering a range of sensitive topics, including female romantic relationships, mental health, abuse, and  disability. A great debut and full of unexpected surprises. 4 stars!

 

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Joe Heap: author of THE RULES OF SEEING

 

Joe Heap was born in 1986 to a biology teacher and a drama teacher, and grew up in a house that was 70% books, 25% bags of unmarked homework, 18% underpants drying on radiators, and 3% scattered Lego bricks.

He is very bad at maths.

In 2004 Joe won the Foyle Young Poet award, and his poetry has been published in several periodicals. He studied for a BA in English Literature at Stirling University and a Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University, during which time he ate a deep-fried Mars Bar. It was okay.

Joe is now a full-time writer, but previously worked as an editor of books for kids and young adults. He has also been a subtitler for BBC News, a face painter at a safari park and a removal man for a dental convention. Before smartphones were invented, he manned a text service where people could ‘ask any question’, but he has since forgotten most of the answers.

He lives in London with his long-suffering girlfriend, short-suffering son, and much-aggrieved tabby cat.

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Giveaway Winner of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger

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Thank you to everybody who entered the competition to win a copy of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger by letting me know on WordPress, Facebook and Instagram their favourite way to indulge while reading. I loved finding out the ways everybody likes to read and took notes for my future reading pleasure.

I entered everybody’s name into a random name picker and the winner is…

Carolyn Ansky

who answered on Facebook that she likes to indulge in some Tea with Lemon while she reads. 

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger

Beautiful Messy Love by Tess Woods @TessWoodsAuthor

 

 

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Beautiful Messy Love by Tess Woods

Goodreads Synopsis

What happens when love and loyalty collide? Two couples must deal with the consequences of their messy love not just for themselves but for those who depend on them. For lovers of passionate romance in the vein of Nicolas Sparks.

When football star Nick Harding hobbles into the Black Salt Cafe the morning after the night before, he is served by Anna, a waitress with haunted-looking eyes and no interest in footballers famous or otherwise. Nick is instantly drawn to this exotic, intelligent girl. But a relationship between them risks shame for her conservative refugee family and backlash for Nick that could ruin his career.
Meanwhile, Nick’s sister, Lily, is struggling to finish her medical degree. When she meets Toby, it seems that for the first time she is following her heart, not the expectations of others. Yet what starts out as a passionate affair with a man who has just buried his wife slips quickly into dangerous dependency.
Through attraction, breakups, triumphs and tragedies, these two couples learn just how much their beautiful messy love might cost. A West Side Story for the modern day.

My Thoughts

Beautiful Messy Love is a sequel to Tess Woods’ debut novel, Love at First Flight. Mel’s children are now grown up and the novel focuses on Nick and Lily’s lives and romantic adventures.

Nick is now an Australian Rules Football star who liked to party hard until he meets the enigmatic Anna/Anwar with a conservative Egyptian family and a complicated life. Lily is struggling through medical school until her life is consumed by Toby who is dealing with the recent death of his wife.

I loved Beautiful Messy Love just as much as Love at First Flight, or maybe even a little bit more. Anna’s experiences as an Egyptian refugee with both Christian and Muslim ancestry were beautifully and passionately written. This makes a lot of sense because the author shares a similar ancestry.

Thank you very much, Tess, for including my favourite Australian Rules Football Club in your story just for me. Go Cats! I’m a bit nervous to read Tess’s next novel because I’ve heard a rumour that there will be a character named Jade in that one…

I will be interviewing Tess Woods at the Melbourne launch of Beautiful Messy Love at Dymocks on Collins Street next Thursday, August 10th at 6:30 pm. This is a free event and all Melbourne romance readers are more than welcome to join us for the event. For event details head to trybooking.com  or the Facebook Event Page.  

Looking forward to seeing lots of Melbourne readers and writers there!

Details

Title: Beautiful Messy Love

Author: Tess Woods

ISBN: 1460753836 (ISBN13: 9781460753835)

Published: August 1st 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Pages: 432

Genre: Contemporary Romance

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Amazon

 

 

 

 

The Art of War by Sun Tzu: #bookreview #DBowieBooks

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Goodreads Synopsis

Conflict is an inevitable part of life, according to this ancient Chinese classic of strategy, but everything necessary to deal with conflict wisely, honorably, victoriously, is already present within us. Compiled more than two thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior-philosopher, The Art of War is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world, as eagerly studied in Asia by modern politicians and executives as it has been by military leaders since ancient times. As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict, The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict.

(Original publication date was circa 500 BCE.)

Details

Title: The Art of War

Author: Sun Tzu

ISBN: 1590302257 (ISBN13: 9781590302255)

Published: Originally published circa 500 BCE

Genre: Classics, Eastern Philosophy, Non-Fiction

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 4/5 StarsThis book is part of the

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This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

1. 1984

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Gnostic Gospels

4. A Clockwork Orange

5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

6. The Art of War

My Thoughts

Although The Art of War was written over 2000 years as a war manual for Chinese soldiers, many of the lessons can be applied to almost any situation where there is conflict, particularly the business world. The 13 topics in each chapter include: laying plans, attack by strangers. tactical dispositions, energy, weak points and strong, maneuvering, variation in tactics, the army on the march, terrain, the nine situations, the attack by fire, and, the use of spies.

While it is relatively safe to skip some of the more detailed descriptions of Chinese terrain, there are some valuable and universal lessons to be learned. The biggest take aways for me is that to effectively ‘win’ when conflict arises it is important to learn as much about the situation as possible and deploy the right tactic for each situation. Only sometimes is an all-out attack is the best option:

“To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”.

The Art of War is the 6th book I read since undertaking the David Bowie Reading Challenge approximately one year ago and today is the anniversary of the day Ziggy Stardust went back home. I still wish he was here but the past 12 months have brought my own little Ziggy Stardust into my life and I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated every single book that I’ve read from David Bowie’s top 100 books of all time.

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My own Ziggy Stardust

 

I’m going to pair this novel with David Bowie’s recently released posthumously track, No Plan. After being ripped off in his early years Bowie strategically built his empire to be so strong that he is still in control of when and how his music is released!

Book Review: The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion

Title: The Rosie Project                             The Rosie Project

Author: Graeme Simsion

ISBN: 1922079774

Published: May 1st 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2013)

Genre:  Romance, Humour

Source: I borrowed my copy from my local library

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Description:

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

My Thoughts:

I might be the very last person in the world to read this novel but I’m so glad that I finally did! The Rosie Project begins when geeky and slightly regimented genetics professor, Don Tillman, decides that now that he’s in his 30s it’s time to turn around his dreadful dating history and find himself a wife. He decides that the best method is is to create a Wife Project in a similar way to how he would conduct any large project. With statistics of course.

But when he begins to fall for Rosie Jarman, who is the exact opposite of what Don thinks he wants in a partner, Don uncharacteristically finds himself throwing caution to the wind, disrupting his routine and actually enjoying himself.

There are a lot of people who have commented both negatively and positively on the Aspergers aspect of this novel, but I’m still not entirely convinced that Don even has Aspergers. It definitely could be hinted at but the author claims that even he isn’t sure himself.

What I like about the ambiguity on this aspect is that perhaps the author is trying to suggest that everybody has their own quirks and behaviours that other people find weird. Maybe we should worry more about accepting our friend’s and loved one’s quirks rather than trying to place labels on each other all of the time because I’m 100% certain that every single person out there does something that other people would find weird. I know that I sure do!

Either way, I really enjoyed The Rosie Project. It was a fun, light-hearted read and I really enjoyed Don’s perspective and outlook on life.

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