Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Mystery
Pages: 455
Format: Audiobook
Publication Date: April 30, 2013

Summary:  After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

Review: Yes, I only read this because J.K. Rowling was revealed as the author. No, her being the author will not effect my review. Now that that’s over with, onto the review and a confession. The confession is I’ve never really read, nor liked, mystery novels. I know that the mystery novel is literature’s first and favorite genre, but I’ve never felt compelled towards it. If more mystery novels are like this, I would like to read them so please recommend them to me. I found this book interesting and fun to read and it really made me interested in the mystery genre.

I liked that there were dozens of possible subjects, multiple people with shaky alibis and motive, and an entire lifetime of mystery surrounding Lula Landry. I didn’t think I was going to like Strike at first because he’s a bit of a brute but he’s an interesting character and an even more interesting PI. Underestimated, scared, and yet unwilling to let emotions and situation detract him from his work, he’s the perfect detective. His assistant, Robin plays off him perfectly in my mind and enriches the story. She softens his edges and continues to amaze him with her natural abilities to predict his needs and perform detective work.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I liked the audiobook because there was so much dialogue and the reader did all the different voices so well. I just checked Goodreads and a sequel is planned for 2014. Call me a band-wagoner, but I am so excited.

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Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: Audio Book
Publication Date: June 11, 2013

Summary:  When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry.

Review: Singapore meets Gossip Girl in this fabulously fun and funny novel. I listened to it on Audiobook after he heard an NPR interview with the author. The plot is hilarious, the characters are interesting and charming, and even though it was a 15-hour audiobook, I would consider it a light read. I also highly recommend it as an audiobook because there’s so much dialogue with lots of Chinese words and saying that I can’t pronounce so it was a joy to listen to. The cultural insight was brilliant because this is not a part of Asia that many people hear about in the mainstream media. I enjoyed learning about this side of Chinese culture for the same reasons people love reading celebrity gossip: it’s entertaining.

I love that Rachel gets thrown into this amazing and glittering world that doesn’t seem to line up with her long-time boyfriend, Nick. Back in Singapore, he’s a big-shot on the radar of all the eligible ladies of Singapore. Rachel’s character reacted to the situations and people in a really unique way. She isn’t completely overwhelmed but she isn’t impervious either. It was a rich balance that I think is normally very difficult to hit when a character faces a bizarre, new scenario. This mix of shock and maturity that Rachel maintains is refreshing and helped her as a character. It also made the other characters react to her in interesting ways, such as the girls trying to get under her skin.

Overall, it was a fun story with delightful characters and the audiobook was very well performed. I enjoyed it as one of my summer reads and I would enjoy listening to the audiobook again.

Review: Librarian by Brian Fence

Rating: ★★★★★
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: May 16, 2013

Summary:  Lenna is a librarian. She’s not a mage, an adventurer, or a fighter. She enjoys life between the stacks in her quaint harbor hometown of Port Hollish. But when an old childhood friend comes back under false pretenses, she becomes all these things and more, shedding the life of a librarian. She finds herself in the midst of what she feels is a novel, caught up in the power of one of three Godstones, powerful magic gems that could have devastating consequences should they find the wrong owners.

Review: This is Brian Fence’s debut novel and it was brilliant. I can’t imagine a more skillfully-crafted, original debut for what seems will be a promising series and a promising author. I went blindly into this book after entering its Goodreads giveaway for signed copies (which I did not win). To be honest, the cover caught my attention more than anything (can you blame me?). I bought it for Kindle for $4 and having read it, I would have paid at least double.

I really loved this book. It was fun, imaginative, well-written, and inspired. From the beginning through the end, everything worked for me and the end made me wonder when the sequel will come out. I would like to signal boost this book and encourage any lovers of fantasy, steam punk, or a good adventure novel to read this. It has a disappointing amount of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and it really deserves more attention.

Lenna, the main character, was likeable. She was honest with herself and the reader, flawed and complex with real motivation that kept her actions consistent through the story. Lenna is my ideal heroine: sometime to admire who isn’t god-like and perfect. The other characters were equally well-crafted and diverse. Some of them were introduced too close to the end for my liking. I would have preferred to read more about them, but it gives me something to look forward to in the sequels!

The writing was absolutely superb. Everything was beautifully described, free of hackneyed cliches, and it had a real rhythm to it. One scene blending neatly into the next without any confusing transitions or lapses in focus. There were some issues with the pacing of the story in my opinion. At over 400 pages, the middle portion was a bit lacking in action and the end was a tad rushed but overall, it didn’t adversely affect my pleasure.

I look forward to Apprentice, Librarian‘s planned sequel and I look forward to anything else Fence writes. I am a faithful fan to a very undiscovered read and I highly recommend buying a copy of Librarian and enjoying the ride for yourself.