Combined book review #9

For the longest time I meant to do a round up of the books I read in 2015. So this combined book review will do just that. At the end of 2015 I entered a tad of a reading slump. I read these 5 books in the course of three months: not that many. But that’s because 2 out of three were a bit meh, 1 couldn’t keep my interest while it was a fun read and only two books really ‘did it’ for me. And yes, I say 5 books: when I took these pictures I didn’t have book no. 5 on hand for picture taking as I had lend it to my mom.

Which of these books have you read?

Robert Galbraith – Career of Evil

The third novel in the Cormoran Strike series starts off hot and juicy straight away. Within the first 2 chapters of the book, Robin, Cormoran’s secretary is sent a leg. And Cormoran knows straightaway there are only a few men who hold a grudge against him to be wanting to do such a thing. Next thing you know, you’re caught in a web of memories and a marvellous whodunnit? tale, as you also get a few chapters here and there from the killer’s perspective giving you clues, but also putting you on the wrong track more than once.

I really really liked this book. I read both other books in the series and I pretty much had the day this would be published marked on my calendar. It helps to know that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for no other than JK Rowling, who shows she can tell a story through this book which is a far cry from Harry Potter. Yet, I felt this wasn’t as good as the previous one, The Silkworm. The story was a little bit more straight forward and since it focuses more on the back story of the two main characters, it sometimes felt a little bit tedious, but it does build a nice arch towards book no. 4.

Ben Aaronovitch – Broken Homes

Another book series! I read book no. 4 in the Peter Grant series by Sci-Fi author Ben Aaronovitch. This time Peter and the Folly find themselves facing off again with their nemesis: The Faceless Man. But why are these random people killing themselves or seem to be killed under suspicious circumstances? And why did the architect who build a hideous concrete block op apartments in Elephant and Castle have a telescope aimed at the building and gazed through it right up to his death? With each mysterious death Peter, Leslie & Nightingale come closer to the truth.

After loving all three books I had read so far, I had high hopes for this one. But alas, this book just didn’t grab me as much as the others. A mixture of modern day London policing with magic, mythology and mystery seems a good mix, but when there are too many characters added to the plot that are difficult to keep apart (was it Richard or Robert who was fried from the inside out? Or was he the guy who dumped a dead body in the woods with their face shot off with a shotgun?), it thickens the plot in a not so nice way. Mostly, I felt this book dragged on a little and all the action was packed into the last 3 pages. Doesn’t mean I am not curious to be reading the next one in the hopes that is better than this one as the other three books, Rivers of London, Whispers Underground and Moon over Soho were all great reads.

Graeme Simsion – The Rosie Project

Meet Don Tillman: a genetics professor with a rigorous schedule, is rigid about rules and how to follow them and a man who has always been the odd one out. He only has two real friends: Gene and Caroline, who are his only model of what ‘proper’ behavior might be. Being as socially awkward as Don, makes it quite hard to find a life partner. Enter The Wife Project, started by Don to find his perfect life partner. Applicants fill out a lengthy questionnaire and no one seems to fit the bill. Until Rosie walks into Don’s office and turns his neat and tidy life upside down.

I read this because I heard many great things about it from friends. This book was supposed to be hilarious. I thought it to be a drag. It is very obvious from the get-go that Don isn’t just socially awkward, but just isn’t aware of the full scope of his ‘specialness’. The plot is predictable, the characters are flat and unimaginative and this features about every stereotype you can think of when describing people who come from dysfunctional backgrounds, are in bad relationships and are the outcasts of modern day society. It was enjoyable at best, but this didn’t have me rolling on the floor laughing my brains out as some people have described it.

Jonathan Stroud – Lockwood & Co The Screaming Staircase

Set in London in an alternate universe where ghosts now roam free after dark and most of them aren’t too kind. This is why many different agencies have popped up to help dispense of unwelcome spirits. There is only one catch: adults can’t see ghosts. Only children and teens with special talents can hear or see these ghosts and hence they are the main employees for these agencies. Meet Lucy, whose special talent is hearing, as she joins Lockwood & co, the only independent (i.e. not run by adults) agency in London. Led by the illustrious Anthony Lockwood the agency tries to hone its craft, which sometimes leads to unfortunate events. This leaves the agency in a rough patch and when the agency is invited by a rich aristocrat to rid his out house from some evil spirits they are set to pass their most ardent test.

This book was such a fun read. It is a young adult book, so it is an easy read. However, the atmosphere is suspenseful and just right. The youngsters of the agency feel a lot older than they are (15-ish) and deal with ‘adult problems’ as they are completely on their own. The characters weren’t too flat (something plenty of YA novels suffer from I feel), but since this is a series I am sure there will be more to them as more books come out. This book pulls you in, engages you and makes the world it creates completely believable. If you enjoy dark tales of fantastical worlds which take place in a real and recognizable setting, then this might be a book you enjoy too.

Lewis Carroll – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass

Alice sees a white rabbit and follows him down a rabbit hole. She ends up in Wonderland and experiences the strangest adventures and meets some extraordinary and iconic characters along the way. From the Queen of Hearts (Off with their heads!) to the mad tea party and the Cheshire Cat: they all make their way in the story until Alice wakes up from her dream. After which she climbs through a mirror for some more adventures ruled by chess pieces, where she becomes a queen.

This story is of course well-known. The Disney movie focuses on just the first book. The Tim Burton one is a combination of the two stories. I enjoyed these stories, but the gibberish, word puns and commentary on ‘proper’ behavior, though brilliant, did slow down the story and by the time I started reading Through the Looking Glass I was a bit bored with it. The stories are wacky and crazy and very childlike from a Victorian point of view. It is certainly innovative and playful. This is filled to brim with jokes, painful honesty and overall ingenious use of language. However, I felt that by the end of the short 200 pages or so this book runs, I had had a little too much of a good thing.

What have you been reading?

2 responses to “Combined book review #9”

  1. Glad to hear those Robert galbraith books are good. I tried reading casual vacancy & was bored to tears. Left me thinking maybe she was a one hit wonder albeit a lengthy & universally loved wonder.

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