November Rewind

In November I read 8 books. They were:

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
The Booby Trap and Other Bits and Boobs edited by Dawn O’Porter
Lets pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Unsouled by Neal Shusterman
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher
The Casual Vacancy by J.k. Rowling
Slated by Terri Terry

After waiting a year for it to be published and then a week searching for a copy I finally got to read Unsouled by Neal shusterman. It was so good. I won’t say too much here  because I’m going to review it now that I’m not completely swamped with coursework.  The only bad thing is that I now have to wait another year for the final book to be published.

Most of the books I read in November were new to me. The two books I reread were The Casual Vacancy and Catching Fire. If you want to know what I thought about The Casual Vacancy you can read my review here.

I ended up going to see the film adaptation of Catching Fire the other day. It was well done but I thought that there were far to many kisses between Katniss and Gale. It and the previous film would have been a much better if the film makers had concentrated less on the love triangle and it had a certificate higher than a 12A.

In December I’m going to have to read at least 10 books because I challenged myself to read 75 books this year and I’m currently on 65 books.  I’ve had that little bar on Goodreads telling me that I’m behind schedule for about a month now.

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Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

001Title: The Cuckoo’s Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Genre: Crime fiction, Detective Fiction
Number of pages: 449

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case. 

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . . 

When I first heard about The Cuckoo’s Calling I was curious but didn’t want to buy it straight away because crime novels aren’t really my thing. I downloaded the free sample on my kindle to get a sense of whether I would enjoy it or not and knew after the first chapter that I would end up buying it.

The Cuckoo’s Calling begins with the death of famous model Lula Landry. Since she fell from a balcony and had mental health problems the police quickly write it off as a suicide. Her brother John isn’t so sure and calls in our protagonist Cormoran Strike a private detective to look into it further. The book follows Strike as he interviews the people around Lula Landry and tries to piece together how and why she ended up falling from that balcony.

I haven’t read much crime fiction but I really enjoyed this book. It only took me a few days to read and kept me guessing all the way through. I couldn’t decide/work out who of two different people had some responsibility for what happened until it was revealed right at the end. Ok that sentence may have be worded weirdly but I don’t want to post any spoilers, people who spoil things suck.

Strike is a likeable enough main character and I liked the relationship between him and Robin. I’ve said this before but one of the things J.K. Rowling is best at is writing characters and it shows. There’s a large cast of characters in The Cuckoo’s Calling and they all felt pretty realistic.

I thought it was interesting that this book is set in 2010. It doesn’t explicitly tell you that it is but there are little hints like mentions of things that happened in the run up to the election and famous characters talking about having their phones hacked. I think I understand why Rowling chose to set the book in this time because the death of Lula Landry and Strikes investigation of it are heavily surrounded by the media and the press. 2010 makes sense because it was just before the Phone hacking scandal was revealed and the Leveston inquiry, at that time the press had much more freedom to hound celebrities and get ‘news’.

I definitely recommend The Cuckoo’s Calling even if you don’t read crime fiction.

The Elephant House

I spent the first 3 days of last week in Edinburgh and while I was there I visited The Elephant House. For anyone who doesn’t know The Elephant House is the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book.

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When you go in it just seems like a slightly fancy cafe, there are only a few pictures of J.K Rowling on the wall. The food is decently priced, I got the Pesto and Mozzarella panini which was nice although a bit fancier that what I would normally eat.

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But then when you go in to the toilets, it is floor to ceiling covered in ‘graffiti’: messages from Harry Potter fans of all ages, from all over the world, quoting the books, films, a very potter musical and leaving thank you messages to J.K Rowling.  I spent a good 10 minutes reading them and taking pictures of my favourites and of course I had to sign the wall myself. I drew a Deathly Hallows symbol and beneath it I wrote my initials & the date. Below are some of the pictures I took, they’re a bit blurry because I took them on my I-pod. (I may do another post showing them all)IMG_0151

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Ron’s Emotional Range

What I wrote

What I wrote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If  you ever get the chance to visit The Elephant Cafe I recommend that you do.

Review: The Casual Vacancy

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Title: The Casual Vacancy
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Adult
Number of pages: 503

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults

I’ll be honest and admit that I bought this book mainly because of who the author is. However I didn’t go into it thinking that it would be anything like Harry Potter, and I was right to think that. The Casual Vacancy is about as far from Harry Potter as she could have gone. I have mixed feelings about this book, I think that it was good but I didn’t like it.

The book centres around the issues of whether or not the nearby estate called The Fields should remain a part of Pagford and whether the drug rehabilitation centre should be shut down, with most of the characters being on opposing sides.  It’s very much about politics and class.

J.K Rowling is a very good writer and one the things she is best at is writing characters. The Casual Vacancy has at least 10 of varying ages and the narrative switches between them.  Each character from 60 something Howard Mollison to teenager Andrew Price is realistic and well written but not very likeable as each is flawed. The characters in this book are very human.

One of the things I liked the most is that she gives you a good understanding of how characters got to where they are, so that you imagine them more complexly instead of just judging them straight away. A good example of this is the character of Terri Weedon who is a drug-addict and prostitute. When you first meet her you are sort of just like ‘oh she’s a drug addict, it’s probably her own fault that she’s that way’. Then the story switches to her perspective and you learn more about her life & childhood and you understand more why she is the way she is and how she got there.

This is a book which focuses on issues such as addiction, rape, self harm and abuse and for that reason it is a book which is not really suitable for younger readers.