Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

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(My Rating: 3/5)

In The Cuckoo’s Calling, which is the first of the Cormoran Strike detective series by J.K. Rowling writing under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, Strike is hired to investigate the apparent suicide of a supermodel who has fallen to her death from her apartment balcony in Mayfair.

I generally prefer to watch TV shows such as Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse, Miss Marple and the like, rather than read Crime/Mystery novels, so this is a new area for me. I enjoyed it and I think it’s a good genre to intersperse my usual reading with.

It was a very readable novel, paced well enough that you want to know what happens next, yet it does not hurtle along so fast that you’ve forgotten what happened five pages ago. I felt that the attention to detail Rowling paid while creating the wonderful magical world of Harry Potter for us is here translated into meticulous attention paid to creating numerous interesting characters and their interactions, a good plot and a well rounded story, that doesn’t cut corners just to make it go faster. And of course, as we already knew, she writes well and knows how to tell a good story!

I would definitely read more Cormoran Strike.

And finally, amidst getting all caught up in the story and eager to find out whodunit, there was a paragraph towards the end of the book that made me stop and re-read it a few times. I thought it was so true and so distressing, because it was so true:

“How easy it was to capitalise on a person’s own bent for self-destruction; how simple to nudge them into non-being, then to stand back and shrug and agree that it had been the inevitable result of a chaotic, catastrophic life.”

Book Review – Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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(My Rating: 5/5)

 An unusual story in an unusual setting, Burial Rites is Hannah Kent’s impressive debut novel, based on real life events that took place in Iceland in 1829.

Agnes Magnúsdóttir has been sentenced to death for the murder of her lover and it has been decided that she, along with the other two people who were party to the crime, be executed in the district where they committed the act. Since the district has no suitable place, such as a public house or factory, in which the prisoner can be housed till the execution date, the district commissioner decides that they should be put up at local farms – houses of ordinary citizens. And this is how Agnes, who in real life was the last woman to be executed in Iceland, comes to stay at the home of District Officer of Vatnsdalur, Jón Jónsson, his wife Margrét and their two daughters. Imagine a convicted murderer coming to live (and work) in your home!

This book is a page-turner done well. Hannah Kent, looks at the whole incident from Agnes’s point of view and this is what makes it an unusual book – who was she? What sort of an upbringing did she have? What were the incidents that led up to the murder? What of her loves and joys and sorrows? Was she just an ‘evil’ woman or was there more to her? Continue reading

Book Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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(My Rating: 3/5)

My first Atwood book and my first dystopian novel, I kept changing the rating I was going to give The Handmaid’s Tale, as I progressed with the book – sometimes a 3, sometimes I felt it deserved only a 2 and at others undoubtedly a 4.

It’s hard to give a concise explanation of what the book is about, without giving too much away, but I shall endeavour!

The story is set sometime in the future and the premise is that the United States government has been overthrown and a group known as the Sons of Jacob have taken over control of the country (or at least a portion of it) which is now known as the Republic of Gilead. Women no longer have a say in anything, but are categorised according to what service they are meant to provide.

What struck me most as I began the book was that it felt like it was written in 2015 and not 1985 as was actually the case. It had a very “recent” feel to it, so I imagine it must have been way ahead of its time when it was first published. I appreciate the book’s premise (and what a scary premise it is!) and I think Atwood has done a great job of imagining and creating the world of Gilead. Continue reading