Review: Craig Lancaster – Edward Adrift

17046608It’s been a few years since we last checked in with Edward, and so far, he’s having a shitburger of a year. He was fired (or should I say involuntarily separated) from his job at the Billings Herald Gleaner, his new best friend Donna moved away with her son Kyle, Dr Buckley has retired, and possibly worst of all, Edward’s dragnet tapes have broken, stopping his usual nightly 10pm tradition. Everything is turned upside down for Edward, the routines that we were introduced to in the first book have been smashed to pieces and Edward is feeling adrift. He’s still ‘fucking loaded’, but he has no idea what to do with his life.

But Kyle is in trouble at school, and Donna phones up to ask that Edward drive down and see if he can find out what is wrong. Edward would do anything for Donna and Kyle, so he willingly obeys, but Kyle is rude and disruptive and Edward ends up leaving early. But when he’s well on his way home, he notices a little stowaway in the back seat of his car – Kyle has hidden to come along for the ride. And so starts a road trip like no other. And when Edward finally finds out what has been bothering Kyle so much, he’s shocked to the core and insists on driving Kyle straight home.

Which leads Edward into trouble in a big snowstorm. The ‘landing him in hospital with serious injuries’ kind of trouble. With Kyle gone home with his parents, the story then shifts to the burgeoning relationship with Sheila, the owner of the motel where Edward was staying. They are more alike than he thinks, and you can see straight away that they are perfect for each other. But for Edward, nothing ever runs smoothly, and this time it’s Edward’s own mother putting a spanner in the works, insisting on dragging him straight home and wrenching him away from Sheila when it looks like life may finally work out perfectly for him.

And so my heart was breaking once again for poor Edward, just praying that something could happen to let Edward run down the course of true love.

There were many things I loved in this book. First of all, Edwards choice of words. Shitburger, shitballs, tallywhacker, his bitchin’ iPhone. I was listening to this book in my car and I found myself constantly laughing out loud (when I wasn’t close to crying, that is). Most of his unusual choice of language is influenced by his ex-colleague Scott Shamwell. He was always good to Edward, but his language was crude at best. But he did help Edward make some very important decisions towards the end of the book. Advice like this:

“Love is something else, man. Love is bullshit and weird and stupid, but shit, man, if you have love, everybody should leave you alone and let you keep it for as long as you can.”

He’s such an extraordinary character than you can’t help rooting for him to win. There’s simply not a bad bone in his body and all the way through the book, you’re just constantly wishing for him to be happy. I think it’s possible that I’m a little bit in love with Edward. He’s most definitely my favourite character from any of my recent books. He’s kind and loveable with an extremely good heart, and when I started reading this book, I was devastated that he was having such a bad time. All I wanted was to reach out into the pages and give him a big hug.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I really can’t give enough praise to this masterpiece of a book. I would absolutely love a third book in the series so that we can see what happens to Edward next, I’m just so reluctant to let him go so soon.

I would also really recommend listening to the audio version of this book instead of simply reading it. The way that the narrator brought Edward to life was masterful and just gave the book that extra something which I think made it perfect. Highly recommended, I simply can’t find anything bad to say!

5/5

Review: Craig Lancaster – 600 Hours of Edward

15994564There are a lot of books in this genre, and I’ve definitely read a fair few, but I never get tired of them.

The book revolves around a man called Edward Stanton. He has aspergers and lives his life around a very strict routine. Waking at the same time almost every day, eating the same meals every week, and of course, his daily 10pm episode of Dragnet (only the colour episodes).

A few reviews said that this book was repetitive and that it made it boring, but I think quite the opposite. The repetitiveness in it made it compelling. Even though you thought you knew what was going to happen next, you had to continue reading just in case something unusual happened.

And lately, unusual things are happening for Edward. Things that are completely shaking up his usual routine and blowing his life upside down. Written from Edward’s perspective, we see how what we may think are relatively minor things affect his life in a big way, and the emotions that he feels, which although not expressed in what we might consider the usual way, are still very very real.

In Edward, I think we can all see a bit of ourselves. These idiosyncrasies that he has are not isolated to aspergers sufferers, we all do things that may seem a little odd. Okay, we might not record the time that we wake up every single day, but in general, people do things that other people may find unusual, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I found the story funny in places, heart-breaking in a lot more, and the whole range of emotions in between. I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline, but it’s fair to say that Edward makes some startling breakthroughs over the 300 pages (600 hours) of the story. The book is superbly written and you can feel every bit of Edward’s pain, anger and joy. Although I don’t think Edward would say he loves the word ‘Joy’.

I mostly listened to the audio version of this book on my commute to and from work, and I loved the narrator (Luke Daniels). The inflections in his voice perfectly captured how I would have read the book in my head, and it made the story so much more enjoyable than suffering through 8 hours of terrible accents as I have done previously.

On finishing this book, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there’s a second Edward book, and it’s already out and available with narration on Kindle Unlimited. I’m downloading it as we speak, I just hope that Luke Daniels is also the narrator.

Perfect book for fans of books like The Rosie Project, definitely recommended.

5/5

Review: Graeme Simsion – The Rosie Project

Graeme Simsion - The Rosie ProjectThis book was received from the Goodreads First Reads program, where you can enter a giveaway for the chance to win an advanced copy of many books. I believe by the time I received this book, it had already been released in shops, but it made me very happy that mine says ‘Advance Reading Copy’ on the back, and for an extra bonus, it’s autographed too!

The book centers on Don Tillman, a very smart but socially awkward professor of genetics at a university in Melbourne. He has only two friends (Gene and his wife Claudia), and has never been on a second date. He’s perfectly content with all areas of his life, but for one thing. He wants a wife. His problem is that every woman he dates ends up having some problem; they smoke, they wear excessive make up, they’re vegetarian, they’re always late, and so on and so on. Don’s problem is that he has to sit through a date with these women before he realises what is wrong with them.

He decides on a questionnaire to pre-filter his dates to help him find the perfect woman – ‘The Wife Project’. The problem is, once he has asked all the questions he wants to ask, it comes out at 16 pages long. He uploads it to his online dating profile and waits for the women to start contacting him.

Days after posting his questionnaire, a young woman called Rosie turns up at his office. Don assumes that Gene has sent her following her submission of the questionnaire, but she’s actually there looking for his help as a genetics professor. She doesn’t know the identity of her father, and her mother died and only left her the clue that she was conceived at her graduation party. With Don’s help, Rosie thinks she can find her father, and so starts The Father Project.

Throughout The Father Project, Don carries the assumption that Rosie turned up as a possible Wife candidate, but she’s the worst candidate imaginable, she smokes, she’s a vegetarian, she’s always late, and she has no regard for schedules. But somehow, Don doesn’t mind, and you can see him slowly falling in love with her, in his own way.

Back to The Father Project, and Don tracks down an old graduation photo online, which happens to have the names of all the attendees written on it. Then starts the interesting and sometimes hysterical process of trying to get DNA from all these men without them knowing. Don has many sneaky ways of doing this, from stealing hair from a hairbrush, mopping pee off the floor of a bathroom, and even spending the night posing as a barman (which he was exceedingly good at, thanks to his spectacular memory).

One by one, the men are eliminated from possible fatherhood, but just as they are getting to the last few candidates, Don’s awkwardness in social situations, or rather one social situation in particular, pushes Rosie and Don apart, and it seems like The Father Project may have come to an end.

I’m going to leave my story review there, because I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone wanting to read the book.

As soon as you start reading, you’re immediately endeared to Don. Even though he’s not very good in social situations and he has routines for everything, including a 7 day set meal plan where he eats the same meal every Monday, every Tuesday etc to avoid the pain of shopping and concentrating on cooking new meals, he seems like the most charming guy and someone you would love to be your friend. He reminded me a lot of Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory, intensely clever but inadvertently funny. But throughout the book, I never found myself laughing at Don, just at the situations that he found himself in, like the Jacket Incident at Le Gavroche. There were many moments when I actually found myself laughing out loud, it’s a good job that I was at home.

The writing drew me in completely and I devoured this book within a few hours, I just couldn’t bring myself to stop reading and put it down because I had to know what was going to happen next. I would love to read the book again later this year at a more leisurely rate to find the nuances of the book that I no doubt missed from being sucked in so completely. Graeme Simsion is definitely on my list of authors to watch out for, I would love for a follow up sequel to this story so that we can hear more from the lovely Don.

Definite 5 star book.

5/5

Now Reading: Daniel Tammet – Born on a Blue Day

daniel-tammet-born-on-a-blue-day-e1330617744852This book is the first of four books that my cousin Hannah lent me when she found out about my challenge to read 100 books in a year. I love reading books that other people suggest – they are usually books that you wouldn’t think of reading but most of the time you find something great.

This one looks really good, it’s the memoir of Daniel Tammet , a man with Savant Syndrome (an extremely rare form of Aspergers) who according to the back of the book, sees numbers as shapes, colours and textures and can perform extraordinary maths in his head.

It sounds intriguing, and the reviews I’ve read of it make me think it’s going to be a very good read – definitely something to get me thinking.