Tag Archives: england

The Moonstone

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This is it. The last novel of 2015. In a way I can’t believe it’s over. I have to say that this book challenge was so much fun to do. It got me reading so many novels that I felt were way too far outside my comfort zone to try. This Book Battle has not only made me a more adventurous reader but also a more open minded one. Instead of just turning down a book because I think that I don’t like the genre, I’ll give it a try and see if I actually do or don’t. And thank you all for coming on this journey with me.

Now for the review.

I have to say that I didn’t enjoy The Moonstone nearly as much as I enjoyed The Woman in White. Both novels have very similar set ups. They’re epistolary novels and told in many different perspectives and in many different voices. I did enjoy the butler’s narrative in this novel but there were many that I found rather grating. In The Woman in White, I really enjoyed how many strong female characters Collin’s incorporated into the novel. The Moonstone is almost entirely male dominated and the women are just on the margins or, quite plainly, annoying.

I do love the detective aspect of this novel and seeing detective novels in their infancy and how much they have grown since this time. The detective isn’t in the novel long and isn’t infallible. He doesn’t quite have it right at first. He only solves the case after everyone comes together a second time.

All in all, The Moonstone was an enjoyable novel. However, if you’re looking for a great Wilkie Collins read I’d chose The Woman in White. 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

In a Dark, Dark Wood

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“In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house. And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room. And in the dark, dark room there was a dark, dark cupboard. And in the dark, dark cupboard there was a dark, dark shelf. And on the dark, dark shelf there was a dark, dark box. And in the dark, dark box there was…”(Alvin Schwartz).

Sometime not completely unexpected but surprising nonetheless.

In a Dark, Dark Wood is Ruth Ware’s first novel. In the beginning, this novel reminded me so much of Agatha Christie’s Endless Night. There’s a house in the middle of the woods cursed by the townspeople for it’s very existence. A young woman about to be married, in this case throwing a hen party, and suffering through a series of “tricks” that will test her psychological stamina.

I loved how Ware created the creepy and suspenseful ambience in the novel. The house was terrifying. Full of windows that give the characters the feeling that they are a spectacle meant to be watched. Actors on the stage of a play they haven’t been given the lines for.

The main character, Nora, is a writer who left her hometown under mysterious circumstances and has yet gotten over it. She’s suddenly invited to her high school best friend’s hen party out of the blue and on a whim decides to go. Once there, she and the rest of the hen party, are in for quite a surprise.

This novel did pack some twists and turns but I have to say that I was a little let down by the big reveal. The foreshadowing in the beginning of the novel was amazing but kind of faltered in the middle and never was quite able to match the suspense of the beginning.

I did like how Ware used her red herring in the novel. It definitely threw me off the scent for a while.

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel. I liked a nod to the Classic Mystery genre, and one of Agatha Chritie’s lesser known novels. I’m excited to see what Ware’s next book will be and whether she will continue in the mystery genre.

Rating: 3.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

 

The Bottom of the Pile

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book on the bottom of my to read pile. Since I’ve been doing this challenge, my list of books to read has narrowed and narrowed. I don’t have many books from which to choose for this category anymore. Ultimately, I decided upon Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood. This book was published this year and hasn’t been on my list long. However, since I’ve started this book challenge, I’ve bumped this novel from many other categories it could have fallen into. I was going to read it for the crime novel but decided against it. Then I was going to read In a Dark, Dark Wood as an author I’ve never read before and bumped it again.

Finally I bumped the novel to this category, a perfect fit. From the back, this novel sounds like it’s going to be a nice cozy type mystery. Women get together after many years for a hen party that goes tragically awry. I can’t wait to see what twist awaits me in this mystery.

Stay tuned for the full review of In a Dark, Dark Wood. Happy reading!

Career of Evil

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Career of Evil is the third installment in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling. The first, The Cuckoo’s Calling, introduced us to both Strike and Robin and focused much of it’s efforts on how to plot of the novel brought the two characters together. The second Strike novel, The Silkworm, was extraordinarily plot driven. And this newest novel is a mix of the two. Career of Evil lets us get to know more about these characters that we’ve come to love. We learn about both Strike’s and Robin’s past and how their pasts lead them to each other and the life that each has chosen.

Strike and Robin remind me so much of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. They have a similar rapport with each other, outside of crime solving. Out of the three, this novel is by far my favorite. I feel like these two characters have been through so much together but know so very little about each other. And as a consequence, we the reader, don’t know much about either’s past.

This novel shines a light on the past of each and how it drew them to where they are. As we already know, Strike’s mother was a groupie and his father a famous rock star. The crime in this case directly goes back to Strike’s past and is the perpetrator’s way of getting revenge on Strike. The three main suspects represent each phase of Strike’s life and all of them have a good reason to want revenge. Robin’s past, although not directly related to the case, ultimately leads to her involvement in it.

I loved seeing both Robin and Strike evolve in this novel. The characters have so much depth to them. The closer I got to the end the sadder I became. I didn’t want this novel to have an ending. I would happily continue reading about Strike and Robin.

As with the other two novels, this one has all of the danger and perhaps a bit more romance. I loved the focus on each character as they get to know each other better, faults and all. This novel has a lot of miscommunication, especially between Robin and Strike. They see and hear what they want, and that may not be at all what the other person means. It leads to many tense moments in the novel and to the novel’s conclusion, which isn’t so much about the plot but more about resolving the conflict between characters.

Rating: 5/5 Can’t wait to see what’s next for this crime solving duo.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

The Mistress of the Salmon Salt

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book my mom loves. Like myself, my mom loves a good mystery. She’s been reading the Cormoran Strike novels and recommended them to me for this challenge. I read the first two and liked them immensely. Cormoran Strike is a brilliant character. He’s an English Philip Marlowe if you will. He’s got all of the demons chasing him from his past that he continually tries to outrun.

In this novel, his assistant Robin gets sent a human leg in the mail which leads them down a dark trail to find a killer who has a vendetta against Strike. Once again, Strike and Robin take matters into their own hands and doggedly try to solve the case against the wishes of the police department.

I can’t wait to read what’s in store for Strike and Robin and perhaps find out more about both of their pasts.

Stay tuned for the full review of Career of Evil. Happy reading!

Rivers of London

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Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch reads like a hybrid between a Doctor Who episode and a police procedural. In a way it’s not surprising since Ben Aaronovitch has written two serials for Doctor Who about Daleks.

Rivers of London is the first book in a series by Aaronovitch about police detective/wizard Peter Grant. It doesn’t take the novel long to reveal it’s magic elements to the reader. The first element introduced is the ghost Nicholas Wallpenny. Grant sees Wallpenny while investigating another crime and Wallpennt gives Peter details about the crime. The crime itself has it’s supernatural elements as well. A man seems to appear and disappear without ever being caught on camera.

As Peter delves deeper into the mystery he is confronted by the head wizard in the police department, Nightingale, and asked to join as his apprentice. Grant then becomes the first English apprentice wizard in over 70 years. As the apprentice, Peter must practice and hone his magical abilities as well as solve two seemingly unconnected cases.

In one case he must find an entity that is possessing people and forcing them to kill, and in the other Peter must make peace between the gods of the River Thames. As the novel unfolds the connection between the cases becomes clearer.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the protagonist, Peter Grant, and the way he interacts with those around him. I did, however, find this novel a bit hard to follow in terms of the plot. It read very much like a TV show, abrupt cuts and all. But whereas in a TV show you have visuals that connect these scenes together, in the book it left me a bit lost.

Even with a few plot holes, I would love to read the other books in the series and see what’s next for Peter Grant and Nightingale.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

It’s All in the Initials

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Midnight-Riot

Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book where there author has my same initials. This was by far the most difficult book for me to find. In the end, I could only find two authors who shared by exact initials, B.A. I found so many who were A.B. I considered it for awhile but decided that I wanted to continue with the challenge. While browsing a bookstore I found Ben Aaronovitch and his novel Rivers of London, also known as Midnight Riot. 

From the back, this novel is about Peter Grant, a young police detective who finds himself as the apprentice to a wizard working for the London police. While learning magic, Peter becomes entangled in a strange series of crimes somehow based on the Punch and Judy puppets .

I must say that I’m extremely intrigued as to how all of these elements are going to fit together. I can’t wait to meet this Peter Grant and see how he solves this series of bizarre crimes.

Stay tuned for the full review of Rivers of London. Happy reading!

The Casual Vacancy

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If instead of going off to Hogwarts with Harry Potter, we stayed behind with the Dursley’s the result would be this novel. The Casual Vacancy is exactly what it says it is. It’s a big novel about a small town. Rowling seamlessly blends all of the disparate lives in the village of Pagford together, showing you the entire picture of a town on the brink.

So many people have told me they hated this novel. After reading it I’m not sure why. The Casual Vacancy has everything Rowling’s writing has to offer. She narrates a tale that plays like a movie in your head. Never intrusive just laying down the picture of the way things are. There’s no magic in this novel, just the magic humans can create together. I really can relate to this novel, growing up in a small town myself. There’s so much politics in a small town and the good old boys network that wants to keep everything the same while a small minority fight for much needed change.

Pagford is a dueling town. It’s dueling with keeping the status quo or growing in beneficial but difficult ways. After the death of the town’s big fighter for change, Barry, the town is bereft. Barry left a legacy felt by everyone. The town and the people in it just come apart at the seams. They’ve lost the glue and the gusto in Barry and revert back to their petty feuds.

Rowling presents the town as the best realist writers do, faults and all. Every single character has flaws, and by the same token, redeeming qualities. No one is one dimensional. These are people that you probably know from your own life. From high school boys trying so hard to be cool, to overwhelmed parents who don’t know what to do anymore. The novel deals more with the real world than a fairy tale happily ever after. The plot builds until it’s final tragic conclusion. I won’t spill the details but the ending hit me hard.

All in all, I really enjoyed The Casual Vacancy. I liked seeing how Rowling deals with a world bereft of the magic of Harry Potter.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Misunderstood Literature

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel with bad reviews. It took me awhile to find a novel suitable for this category. But I finally settled on The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, her first novel after the beloved Harry Potter series. Pretty much everyone I talk to has some pretty negative things to say about this novel. From it’s just too depressing to it’s just too tedious. It makes me wonder if the response to this novel is so negative purely because it’s not Harry Potter.

I can’t wait to find out for myself what it is that makes people dislike this novel so much. Having read Rowling’s Robert Galbraith novels I know she can write amazing things outside of the Harry Potter world and am excited to see what she conjures up in The Casual Vacancy. 

Stay tuned for the full review. Happy reading!

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

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At first the plot line of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency isn’t quite clear. It’s a little bit of everything. The story starts off with Richard MacDuff attending a dinner at his Cambridge Alma Matter with an old professor named Professor Chronitis. During the dinner the professor performs a magic trick that seems nearly impossible. He takes a salt shaker and a clay pot and then fuses the two together. It’s not until after dinner that Richard realizes he forgot to pick up his girlfriend Susan, the sister of his boss Gordon Way. He leaves an awkward message on her answering machine that will later incriminate him in the untimely death of his boss.

It’s this message that brings Richard and his old pal Dirk Gently together. Having taken many names before Dirk is now running his own P.I. business where he believes that all things are connected together in some fashion or other. Using very unorthodox methods, Dirk begins to work out what happened to Gordon Way and it’s far more complicated than a simple homicide.

There’s the Electric Monk, an alien from outer space trapped on Earth, and a time traveling professor who’s managed to hide his time machine disguised as his apartment. While he unravels the death of Gordon Way, clearing Richard’s name in the process, he discovers that the alien has a nefarious plan and his using a man determined to prove himself at any cost.

I won’t spoil the entire plot unraveling but I will say that this book is one rip roaring adventure. Just when you think you have it nailed down it takes a turn in the opposite direction. This novel had a bit of everything in it. There was humor, mystery, science fiction elements, and romance. It took a bit for the plot to start moving but once it did it moved quickly. Anyone who enjoys Doctor Who themed novels with love this one.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!