Genre: Mystery

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…

Hello, and yes I am still here.  It’s been two months since my last post.  It’s been a challenging couple of months both at work and at home, and so my blogging has very much suffered.  Things aren’t going to quieten down in the foreseeable future, so I’ll blog when I can, making no promises.  I sincerely apologise to the publishers who have been kind enough to send me ARCs – I suspect that I will not be able to meet my commitments to review these books, but my responsibilities to my employer who pays our bills and family must come first.  At this point in time, reading needs to remain an escape without pressure to review.

So onto the books I’ve read in the last couple of months.

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, Newt Scamander
Series: Hogwarts School Books
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Eddie Redmayne
Length: 1 hr and 40 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

One of the pure joys of my reading/listening time recently has been the audiobook of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them narrated by Newt Scamander himself, Eddie Redmayne.  This was a wonderful surprise – I really wasn’t expecting it to be as entertaining as it was.  This is a “revised edition” film tie-in, to include an additional footnote by Scamander commenting on the events of the film and implying more editions will be released as more Fantastic Beasts films are released.  It certainly whetted my appetite for more of Mr Scamander’s adventures.  The audio edition is described as enhanced for audio with original sound design. This audiobook includes “audio footnotes” which have been treated with a sound effect to differentiate them from the main narration.  These includes very subtle sound effects of the various creatures about which Scamander is talking, which really added a lot to the listening experience.  What I hadn’t expected was just how funny it would be.  I regularly found myself laughing out loud.  Who knew that the Loch Ness Monster was actually a publicity hungry kelpie?  I suspect this will be a go-to book to put a smile on my face for a long time to come.

As a bonus, proceeds from the sale of the books go to Rowling’s Lumos charity and also the UK’s Comic Relief.  A wonderful listen and definitely worth the five stars I gave it.

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Stephen Fry
Length: 71 hours and 2 minutes
Genres: Mystery
Buy from iTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection narrated by Stephen Fry was somewhat of an impulse buy for me.  Audible just happened to announce the publication on Facebook at a time when I happened to have a spare, unspoken-for Audible credit (a rare occurrence.)  I don’t regret it at all.  As it happens I don’t have a Sherlock Holmes collection in my library and Stephen Fry’s introduction and narration adds a lot to the stories.  His passion for the source material really comes across and who could complain about listening to Fry’s melodious voice for 72 hours?  I can’t say I’ve listened to all the stories, but I’ve loved what I’ve listened to so far.

I gave Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection 4 stars.

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Format: ARC
Pages: 513 pages
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Hachette was kind enough to send me an ARC of Claudia Gray’s upcoming YA sci-fi novel Defy the Stars.  Now, I’ve read quite a few of Ms Gray’s novels and really enjoyed them, which is why it’s a real shame I’m having to consign Defy the Stars to my didn’t finish pile.  See: introductory remarks.  It took me at least three attempts to get beyond the first few chapters of Defy the Stars, and I’m giving up at 50% or so through.  Maybe later I’ll be able to pick it up and enjoy it more.

Several choices made by Gray contributed to my struggles with this book.  She starts off the book with the sucker punch of stating that the main character will be dead in two weeks.  However, she didn’t provide a strong enough reason for me to really care about that.  Our protagonist, Noemi, is not an immediately sympathetic character;  interesting, sure, kick-ass certainly, but not a character you can root for at least in the beginning.  She is first and foremost a soldier.  Too many times Gray asked me to suspend my disbelief more than I was prepared to do.  Not disbelief in a situation but in how a character would act.  

On a positive side, the relationship developed between Noemi and the AI Abel was very well done and I would have enjoyed watching it develop as well as Abel’s growing humanity.  The world created by Gray was also – as usual for her – richly detailed and fascinating.  These were not enough to convince me to continue the story at this time.

As I did not finish it I will not assign any rating.

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
Genres: Mythology
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

Norse Mythology, written and narrated by Neil Gaiman, was another book I specifically chose to experience in audiobook format, a choice I would wholeheartedly recommend.  In his introduction to the audiobook Gaiman speaks of the oral tradition through which much of the Norse mythology has come down to us.  This is clearly something that the production team bore in mind when making the audiobook and I really had the impression of listening to Mr Gaiman narrate his tales around a blazing hearth in the dark of winter.  

The tales themselves are fascinating, even though I understand they are somewhat sanitised by Mr Gaiman.  Readers of my blog know that I have been following Rick Riordan’s series Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, also based on this set of mythology.  It’s been a real treat to see how the same tales have been handled by two extremely talented and very different writers.

I gave Norse Mythology four and a half stars out of five

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
Series: Rain Wilds Chronicles
Format: eBook
Pages: 500 pages
Genres: Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

In my intense anticipation of Assassin’s Fate, the final book in Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy, I realised that there was a whole section of Hobb’s world about which I’ve not read.  i’m talking about her Rain Wild Chronicles.  I hope to read all four books before Assassin’s Fate is released on May 9th. If you’re interested, check out my initial reread of the Realm of the Elderlings.

As familiar as I am with Hobb’s writing, I knew that the first book in a new series is generally very slow, spending time introducing the characters and their struggles and motivations.  That is also true for Dragon Keeper.  It sets up the story very satisfactorily, at the expense of slow pacing.

I gave Dragon Keeper three and a half stars out of five.  Now onto Dragon Haven!

Upcoming releases

April is a very quiet month for me in terms of book releases about which I’m excited. Other than the aforementioned Defy the Stars, the other book i”m excited about is Red Sister by Mark Lawrence.  This is the first book in a new series set in a different world from The Broken Empire and Red Queen’s War.  It centres around a young female protagonist being trained as a killer in a convent.  This concept sounds awesome, if reminiscent of Robin LeFevers His Fair Assassin series.  In Lawrence’s hands I’m sure it will be wonderful and I can’t wait.  Red Sister will be released on April 4th.

five-stars

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – Review

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – Review1000 Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is a YA sci-fi mystery in which teenager Marguerite Caine must use technology developed by her parents, the Firebird, to chase her father’s murderer across multiple dimensions.  She finds out that things aren’t as they first seemed.

I picked this book up partly because of this concept and partly because I’ve enjoyed books (Star Wars) by Claudia Gray.  Thanks to Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice I picked up both the Kindle book and the audiobook, narrated by Tavia Gilbert.  Most of the time I listened to the audiobook which was amazing.

What I liked

The concept.  I found this a really intriguing premise for a novel, moving into alternate dimensions to solve a murder mystery.  Gray comes from a sci-fi background and clearly has a firm handle on it.  It was a lot of fun when Marguerite jumped into a new dimension trying to work out what situation she was in! I’m not certain that I’d agree with the Orphan Black comparison; the main – only? – similarity is that characters frequently find themselves having to impersonate other people and to think on their feet to work out what’s going on. 

The audio narration.  Tavia Gilbert did an awesome job of narrating this book.  Her accent work was impeccable.  There’s a funny scene early on where Marguerite has fun with her current doppelganger’s accent.  That came across really well in audio format.  My one frustration with this is that often the accent “spoiled” in some way the leaps into new dimensions.  From the voices it was often clear where Marguerite had landed long before it was revealed in the text.  

The worldbuilding.  The fun thing with this concept is that Gray gets to build several worlds; the multiple alternate dimensions into which Marguerite leaps.  It would be too spoilery to name them all, but each of them is beautifully developed with supporting characters, rules and challenges for our protagonist.  The fact that Gray’s travel system has limitations was particularly well done – as in fantasy, often it’s the limitations in the magic system/technology which can generate the most interesting conflicts for the characters.  I loved that the dimensions had varying degrees of technological advancement which made things interesting.

The pacing.  Gray keeps the plot moving along fast, with new information and revelations keeping our protagonists – and readers – engaged.

What I didn’t like

The characters.  I found Marguerite somewhat bland.  The way her loyalty seemed to be so easily won and lost did not sit easily with me, and the revelations of the villains was a little too obvious.  The fact that Gray reverted to the trope of “the special”, our protagonist having unique traits which make her the only person capable of foiling the evil plot is rather disappointing.

Despite these flaws, I really loved 1000 Pieces of You and gave it four and a half stars out of five.  I will certainly be picking up the sequel soon.

four-half-stars

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016

yellowbrickwar

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  Again, it’s been a month where I’ve really struggled to focus on reading and blogging.  I really should be more ruthless about putting books into my Did Not Finish pile.  I spent too much of the month plodding through books which really weren’t doing anything for me.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #3
Also in this series: Dorothy Must Die
Format: eBook
Pages: 288 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-stars

With regards to Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige, I’ll be perfectly honest and say that my opinion and rating is heavily influenced by my – mistaken – impression that this was the final book in the Dorothy Must Die series.  This is a series involving an updating and reimagining of the world of L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. I had been expecting, and looking forward to, resolution to the plot points introduced in Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise.  So coming towards the end of the book when I realised there were no resolutions coming, I felt annoyed and frustrated.  My own fault, I freely admit it.  Had I known there was one more book to come, I could have better appreciated the continued excellent worldbuilding and character development in Yellow Brick War.  I will certainly read the conclusion when it comes out.  I look forward to reading the conclusion of Amy’s story.

I gave Yellow Brick War three stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 336 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: two-stars

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro is one I should probably have consigned to the Did Not Finish pile much sooner than I did.  The concept sounded fascinating.  In Cavallaro’s world Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were real and their modern day teen descendants Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson meet up at an exclusive boarding school to solve mysteries.  It’s clear that a significant effort was made to reflect the personalities of Holmes and Watson in a modern day setting and to some extent it succeeded.  What completely turned me off this book is that the author introduced sexual tension between Holmes and Watson.  With that partnership it is a meeting of minds, not bodies and I personally lost all interest in the story after that.  That is a personal opinion and your mileage may vary.

A Study in Charlotte rated barely two stars out of five on my scale.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 468 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Supernatural
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

This was my second attempt to read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys.  The first time I started, I just couldn’t get into it at all.  This second attempt was much more successful.  It’s clear that this is setting up a series.  The book opens with a real bang – Blue is fated to meet and/or kill her one true love within the next year.  I definitely want to read how that plays out.  There were multiple points introduced that I expect will pay off in later books – I would say Stiefvater is an architect rather than a gardener.  I found the characters interesting even if not all of them are immediately likeable – or intended to be so.  The type of supernatural events in this book are ones that to me, personally, are very creepy.  I will have to take a break and read a cutesy contemporary to clear my mind before I start The Dream Thieves!

I gave The Raven Boys four stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Format: eBook
Pages: 350 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Fire Touched is the ninth book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.  I must admit I wasn’t overly excited about reading it.  I like Mercy and the rest of her allies; I just feel after nine books her story has pretty much come to an end.  I’ve felt that way for the last couple of books.  It’s like a long established, high quality TV procedural.  You pretty much know what you are going to get going into it, but you still enjoy it.  I keep saying I’m not going to read any more, yet I still do and still enjoy them.

I gave Fire Touched three and a half stars out of five.

In other news, I’m beginning to get excited about Book Expo of America, BEA, in Chicago in May.  This will be my first time there, so if any of you old hats could give me some tips that would be very much appreciated.

Upcoming releases in April

There are two books coming out in April about which I’m rather excited.  

The first of these is Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.  This is a young adult fantasy and I was drawn to it by the concept; what happens to young people like Alice or Dorothy when they return home from Wonderland or Oz?  How do they adapt?  Every Heart a Doorway is released on April 5th and I’ve preordered it in Kindle format.

The second is Eligible, the next in the Austen Project series of modern retellings of Jane Austen classics.  Eligible is the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and is written by Curtis Sittenfeld.  There is a sneak peek of the audiobook available on SoundCloud, which sounds fantastic.  I have preordered the book in audiobook format based on this snippet.  That’s not to say I don’t have my concerns.  The Austen project adaptations have ranged from the bland and uninspired (Emma, Sense and Sensibility) to the very, very good (Northanger Abbey).  Pride and Prejudice is probably the best known – and most adapted – of Austen’s works and Eligible has a lot of work ahead of it to compare to the superb Lizzie Bennet Diaries YouTube series. I am intrigued that Sittenfeld has moved the story to Cincinnati and aged up our protagonists to nearly 40, giving a more modern pressure point for Lizzie and Jane to look for a husband.  It could well work, and from the snippet I am cautiously optimistic.  Eligible is released on April 26th.

Have a good week and will review more books soon. 

three-stars

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015

This last couple of weeks I’ve read some great and some not so great books.  Here they are.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015The Martian by Andy Weir
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: R.C. Bray
Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
Genres: Sci-Fi
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Now sci-fi isn’t my usual fare, especially where there is more emphasis on the science than the fiction, but The Martian has been getting so much buzz lately that I decided to check it out.  Within a few minutes of listening I was hooked by Watney’s situation; abandoned on Mars, has to use his ingenuity to survive in an inhospitable environment until rescue can come.  Written as it is in a first-person journalistic style this is a perfect book for the audiobook medium, and R.C. Bray did a wonderful job of bringing Mark to life.  Mark is a very witty and engaging protagonist and it is very easy to root for him.  Weir did a fantastic job of explaining the various challenges Mark encounters and his solutions in a way that was easily comprehensible to someone like me who is not science minded.  The story of Mark’s plight and his attempts to secure his rescue was very appealing on a human level.

I gave The Martian five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
Series: Agatha Raisin #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
Genres: Mystery
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

I picked up Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death some while ago when it was the Audible deal of the day.  It caught my eye because it was narrated by Penelope Keith, a favourite actress of mine. 

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death is the first in a series of mystery novels about a retired London PR executive who moves to the English Cotswolds and solves crimes.  I must admit it’s not my favourite mystery series.  As a protagonist, Agatha is distinctly unappealing.  She is the kind of woman who thinks nothing of using a disabled parking space because it’s convenient, or in this case, presenting a store bought quiche in a competition as her own baking.  Her interactions with those around her are generally abrasive and self-centred.  I suspect that later on in the series she may become more likeable, but for this book, she wasn’t the pleasantest person to spend time with.  The mystery was fun.  I’m generally useless at predicting whodunnit, so I can’t say how clever it was.

What I did very much enjoy was the narration.  Growing up the UK, Ms Keith was a staple of comedy TV – The Good Life and To the Manor Born.  Check them out if you’ve not seen them.  She has over 45 years’ experience in television, theatre and radio, and it shows in her witty and competent handling of the narration.  

I gave Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death three stars out of five, but the narration merits five stars.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015William Shakespeare's Tragedy of the Sith's Revenge by Ian Doescher
Series: William Shakespeare's Star Wars #3
Also in this series: The Empire Striketh Back, The Jedi Doth Return
Format: eBook
Pages: 168 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKobo
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

The Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge is the last in Ian Doescher’s retelling of Star Wars in Shakespearean language. These are very clever, but my enjoyment of them reflects my enjoyment of the source material.  I did not enjoy the prequel trilogy nearly as much, and so I’ve not enjoyed the adaptation to the same extent.  The original trilogy is deliberately based on the Monomyth which gives it an epic feel, perfectly suiting it to a Shakespearean adaptation.  The prequel trilogy seems more based on special effects which doesn’t pass so well in a Shakespearean setting.

Also, when R2 started channeling Elsa from Frozen saying he should let it go and that the heat never bothered him anyway, I found that a little too distracting.  Your mileage may vary.

I gave The Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge three and a half stars out of four.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #0.5
Also in this series: Glass Sword
Format: eBook
Pages: 45 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
Evelynne's rating: three-stars

I very much enjoyed Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen, so I was keen to pick up the novella Queen Song set in the same world.  I found it very disappointing.  It had none of the great worldbuilding of the main novel and, to be perfectly honest, I found the book just depressing.  I am still very much looking forward to Glass Sword, book two in the series.

I gave Queen Song three stars out of five.

That’s all for this week folks.  See you next time.  Happy reading!

five-stars

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith – Review

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith – ReviewThe Silkworm by J.K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith
Series: Cormoran Strike #2
Format: eBook
Pages: 455 pages
Genres: Mystery
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith follows the mystery surrounding the disappearance of writer Owen Quine.  Strike and Robin are hired by Quine’s wife to find out where he has gone.  As Quine was on the point of publishing a new novel thinly disguised as a tell-it-all peak at the world of London’s literati, the suspects in his disappearance soon add up.

I have to admit I wasn’t feeling very inspired when writing this review.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book – I did – but I feel I have very little to add to my review of the first Cormoran Strike novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling.  In other words, if you enjoyed the first, you will almost certainly enjoy the sequel.  As in its predecessor, I enjoyed the writing style and the brisk pace set by Rowling.

What I liked

The developing friendship between Strike and Robin.  I found myself a little frustrated by their misunderstandings, but that was only because I felt invested in their relationship. I appreciated the fact that they both really respect and appreciate one another.  This continues to be explored and deepened in this second book.  I liked that their relationship remains platonic – at least this far – although I suspect we may see that change in future books.  I’m kind of on the fence on that one.  It’s refreshing seeing a pair who respect each other without the will they/won’t they tension that is all too common.

What i didn’t like

The perpetrator is pretty obvious towards the end.  Now mysteries are not my usual field and I’m usually very surprised at the endings.  However, I found I did identify whodunnit fairly easily.

I would certainly recommend The Silkworm – it’s a decent mystery and I find myself becoming more and more invested in the lead characters.

I gave The Silkworm four stars out of five.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible, eBooks.com

four-stars

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived by Victoria SchwabThe Archived by Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 337 pages
Genres: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

The Archived by Victoria Schwab is another book that has been gathering great buzz on the booktuber network, and with good reason.  It is a very fresh young adult paranormal mystery with great characters and excellent worldbuilding.  it tells the story of Mackenzie Bishop, a young woman who has a secret job as  Keeper; in the world of The Archive, when you die, your life history is recorded and kept in the Archive, physically represented by a copy of your body.  Occasionally a History will wake and try to escape to the real world and it’s a Keeper’s role to return this History to the Archive.

When Mackenzie moves to a new area she finds that her Keeper territory is extremely busy and that it could be related to a series of murders that took place in her new building as well as an an internal betrayal within the Archive.  She must investigate this connection as well as adapt to her new home.

What I liked

The supernatural murder mystery.  I really enjoyed the way this was built up with various suspects and roadblocks to information.  I enjoyed that Mackenzie had to use both her supernatural and her normal powers of deduction to work out what was happening.

The worldbuilding.  I enjoyed learning with Mackenzie about the Archive’s secrets.  The novel also incorporates flashbacks to the time when Mackenzie first became a Keeper and her induction.  This was an effectively done way of providing the information without slowing down the pacing.

The writing style.  Schwab clearly has a classicist background with references to both Faust and other classical literature.  Her writing style is clear, crisp and very engaging.

Identity questions.  Mackenzie has been a Keeper since she was twelve years old and it is a major part of her life.  Some of the time she wishes she were ordinary – she thinks of the normal girl she would have been without the Archive and identifies her as “M.”  Yet she fears losing her Keeper identity.  I felt this conflict was very well done, as was the way the M persona was in a way turned against her.

What I didn’t like

Slow start.  It took me a little while to become immersed in the world of the Archive.  This was partly due to my confusion between “Da” Mackenzie’s deceased grandfather, who was the previous Keeper from whom she inherited the role, and “Dad” who is her perfectly normal father.   I kept wondering what the deal was with her father, who I’d assumed to be dead and the person from whom she’d inherited her role.

The romance.  I didn’t particularly feel invested in the Wes/Mackenzie romance.  I’m not entirely certain why.  Perhaps I felt it was a little too contrived.

All in all, I loved The Archived and gave it four and a half stars out of five.

From Netgalley I received a sneak preview of the first few chapters of The Unbound, the sequel.  In it, Mackenzie is dealing with some serious post-traumatic stress after the events of The Archive as well as adjusting to her new school.  Given what she learned about the Archive, this poses a serious threat for Mackenzie’s future.  We also meet some new characters at the school.  I was particularly interested in Amber Killey who seems good best-friend material, a relationship that was rather on the back burner in The Archived.

The Unbound is released later on this month and I have preordered it from Amazon.  I’m looking forward to reading the next chapter in Mackenzie’s story.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes

four-half-stars

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling – Review

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling – ReviewThe Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Length: 15 hrs and 54 mins
Genres: Mystery
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible

Some time after its publication, The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith was revealed to have been written by none other than J.K. Rowling.  It was published under a pseudonym to allow the book to stand on its own merits and not that of its author.  Until the revelation, it was selling slowly but surely and gathering positive reviews.   It is difficult, if not impossible, to review this book without being aware of its authorship now that the secret is out.  I would like to think though that I would have enjoyed the book as much whoever wrote it.  It is a solidly written book, much more engaging than The Casual Vacancy which was written officially by Rowling.

The Cuckoo’s Calling tells the story of Cormoran Strike, an ex-SIB private investigator hired to look into the apparent suicide of model Lula Landry.  Initially it appears an open and shut case of suicide, but Strike’s client, Landry’s brother John Bristow believes she was murdered.  Strike is ably aided and abetted by his temporary secretary, Robin.

What I liked

Meticulous planning.  One of Rowling’s strengths as a writer is her detailed, long-term planning.  In Harry Potter, minor throwaway lines in book two tend to take on major significance in book six. This same planning is ably demonstrated in The Cuckoo’s Calling.  The clues to resolve the mystery are scattered throughout the book and are there for a sharp eyed reader to pick up.

Likeable characters.  I really enjoyed reading about Strike and Robin and thought they were engaging and realistic.  Strike comes across as shrewd and level headed while Robin’s efficiency and enthusiasm for the field of investigation complemented his skills perfectly.  I appreciated that a man and woman were shown as working together well without the added layer of sexual attraction that is all too often a plot device in many modern novels.  The mutual respect and admiration between Strike and Robin comes across beautifully.

Writing style.  While not as witty and funny as the Harry Potter novels, I did enjoy the writing style.  It was immediate and engaging and kept the story moving along.

The pace.  The story moves along at a good clip, with narrative tension maintained.

The narration.  The Cuckoo’s Calling was narrated by Robert Glenister, who did an excellent job.  I particularly enjoyed his soft Cornish accent for Strike.   Here’s a sample

What I didn’t like

There was nothing I didn’t enjoy about The Cuckoo’s Caling.  I found it an excellent read and gave it four and a half stars out of five.

 

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes or Audible

Reading Roundup – 15th November 2013

Reading Roundup – 15th November 2013State vs. Lassiter by Paul Levine
Format: ARC
Pages: 254 pages
Genres: Mystery
Buy from Amazon
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

One of the books I read this week was one I was given free to review by the author, State vs. Lassiter by Paul Levine.  This is a legal mystery/thriller in which trial lawyer Jake Lassiter sees court from the other side as he is framed for murder.  This is the tenth in the Jake Lassiter series, but only the first one I have read.  Not having read the others didn’t impact my enjoyment of the book; State vs. Lassiter is quite capable of working as a stand-alone.  Legal thrillers is not a genre I read a lot of although I do enjoy it.  In this one I particularly appreciated the way Levine, a former trial lawyer himself, was able to express complex legal aspects clearly and succinctly to be easily understood by a layman like myself.  

The narrative style was fresh and engaging and each chapter ended on a cliffhanger to keep me reading more.  One aspect I didn’t appreciate so much was the way women were depicted in the novel.  For me a little too much focus was placed on their sexual allure rather than their mental acumen.  Despite that, I enjoyed the book and gave it four stars out of five.

This week a new trailer was released for the Divergent movie starring Shailene Woody and Theo James.  From what I’m seeing this looks to be a great adaptation of a fantastic book.  There have been some great casting coups – I’m particularly looking forward to Oscar winner Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews.  

This week, too, I’ve been sucked into the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary buildup.  Having watched some interviews with David Bradley, who plays William Hartnell, and writer Mark Gattiss, I’m particularly excited by An Adventure in Space and Time.  This is a docudrama about the origins of Doctor Who.  Both Gattis and Bradley come across as very passionate about the project and also very sensitive of the place the program occupies in British culture.  Reviews from the prescreening at the BFI have been positive.  Go and take a look at the trailer.

It’s not often in these days of the internet that show runners are able to pull off a major surprise, but it appears Steven Moffat has succeeded in keeping the secret of the prequel The Night of the Doctor.  Much fangirl squeeing and running off to check out Big Audio Finish’s selection of Doctor Who full cast audiobooks ensued.  Judging from the Twitter frenzy, most of the fandom seemed to agree with me, which was lovely to see.  What a wonderful birthday gift for PM.  

A rather interesting exercise I undertook this week was to watch the very first episode of Doctor Who first broadcast almost 50 years ago, An Unearthly Child, and follow it up with the most recent episode of the reboot, The Name of the Doctor.  It’s interesting to see how much it has changed – and what has stayed the same.  The Doctor’s personality is different, understandable, given how it changes with regeneration.  However, the focus was more on exploration than saving the planet from destruction.  The police box and signature tunes have remained though – ware the show runner who messes with those icons!

Added to my library this week

In keeping with my mania for all things Who, I’ve added a couple of audiobooks to my collection,  The Ultimate Foe and the Eighth Doctor’s Dark Eyes.  I also added a couple of the Best Of the classic Doctor collections.  Amazon and iTunes already have preorders up for The Day of the Doctor, and I chose the iTunes season pass.  As well as the forthcoming Day of the Doctor and An Adventure in Space and Time, it includes the Doctors Revisited documentaries for Doctors Eight to Eleven.  

Also this week I took advantage of the Whispersync for Voice deal to pick up Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas from Audible for $4.

Since I loved The Darkest Minds so much, I added the novella, in Time to my Kindle collection.

Are you excited about the Doctor Who anniversary?  Let me know in the comments.

four-stars
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers