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Troubled Blood

I am well aware of the controversy JK Rowling has created. Why she feels the need to double down on this subject is beyond me. However,I I separate artist and work. I always have. A celebrity’s personal life has no bearing on what I read, watch, or listen to. That said, TRANS WOMEN ARE WOMEN.

This book is the fifth in the Cormoran Strike series. The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, Career of Evil, and Lethal White are the others. I have really enjoyed these books and rarely see the ending coming. Troubled Blood was no exception. At 900+ pages, I flew through this book because it was excellent.

From Goodreads:

Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough — who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974.

Strike has never tackled a cold case before, let alone one forty years old. But despite the slim chance of success, he is intrigued and takes it on; adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency, Robin Ellacott, are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.

As Strike and Robin investigate Margot’s disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly . . .

The cold case aspect was really interesting, given that many of the people surrounding the case were either dead or near impossible to find. Rowling does an excellent job leaving you hints along the way that become important by the end. Something you think is just a one-off sentence or conversation ends up leading to a major revelation.

If you are turned off of Rowling from this point on, I understand and respect that. However, if you are okay with continuing to read her work, then I highly recommend this series.

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Career of Evil

Whew. Wow. This one was intense. My third round with Cormoran Strike was the best one yet. I previously read The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm and found them both great, if not a bit predictable in parts. The Silkworm is the weakest out of the three, but still worth reading. I ended up listening to 95% of this one and then couldn’t wait to see how it ended, so I grabbed my copy off the shelf and finished it up.

The plot of this one finds Robin, Cormoran’s partner, receiving a leg in the mail. It’s clearly a woman’s, but who it belongs to is quite baffling. Cormoran quickly realizes that Robin has been targeted because of him so he narrows down a list of suspects that want to hurt him. He pulls out three names from his past and begins to track them down, mostly with no luck. There’s a bit of a side plot with Robin’s personal life, but the main focus of the story is on the leg, its owner, and the killer. Most chapters are about Robin and/or Cormoran but interspersed are some about the killer, namely what he is thinking.

The police, of course, think Cormoran is targeting the men on his list out of personal vendetta, but don’t we all know by now that Cormoran is never wrong? This one kept me guessing until the end. I had no idea who the killer was, even though we hear from his perspective throughout the book. Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) has said the fourth (and final, I believe) book is finished, but there is no publication date yet. I definitely will be checking it out, though. I can’t wait to see how everything ends up.

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The Silkworm

I read the first Cormoran Strike book last year The Cuckoo’s Calling and really enjoyed it. Of course, I’ve read all the Harry Potter books multiple times, trudged by way through The Casual Vacancy, but I was really excited about the Strike books, not just because JK Rowling wrote them, but because I love a good mystery series. I’m very picky about mystery books as well. The genre is jam packed full of options, but the writing can be so mediocre and predictable. I expected these to be better than most. And while Cuckoo was better, I was a bit disappointed with this one. This book fits as my “next book in a series you started” category in the 2018 book challenge.

As much as I like Cormoran as a character and the the plot itself, I was a bit bummed by the writing this time around. One thing I have noticed in mysteries is the need to make certain things happen, but the author has no idea how to get to that point. For example, in this book, Cormoran is being followed by a mystery person. And Rowling needs to get Cormoran to notice that he’s being followed, so he inexplicably looks into a window to see the mystery person’s reflection. I know it sounds picky of me, but it just felt like having him look into the window with zero explanation was a forced situation to get him to see the reflection. It didn’t seem like a natural flow of plot. I see this all the time and now that I notice it, it just drives me bonkers.

The picky writing stuff aside, I thought the book was great. Cormoran and his partner-in-training, Robin make a great team and the plot is always creative. This one had a few too many characters in it, and I admit that because I read so quickly, I didn’t keep all the characters straight, but that’s my own failing. I would still recommend these books (reading the third one later this year) for anyone who enjoys mystery books.

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The Cuckoo’s Calling

I really do love JK Rowling. My proof is that I made it through The Casual Vacancy, even though it was a really tough read. So, I was nervous to start this book because I just wanted to really be impressed with her all over again, rather than disappointed. And, thankfully, I was impressed.

The first in a trilogy, The Cuckoo’s Calling introduced us to Cormoran Strike, a private investigator who has hit a rough patch, to put it mildly. He was recently dumped, has very little business, and has nowhere to live. In walks his temp, Robin, and thankfully, a case. Cormoran knew the family from back when he was a child, and one of them came to him with a request- figure out who killed his sister, even though it was ruled a suicide. The sister, Lula Landry, plunged to her death. Lula, one should note, is a supermodel.

Cormoran has his skeletons, which are revealed slowly and with perfect timing. He and Robin fall into an easy understanding, once he admits that he truly does need her help in uncovering the truth behind Lula’s death. The plot was engaging to the point that I hated to put the book down each time because I felt like I was one step away from finding out what happened. This book reminded me a bit of a previous book I read, Night Film , which also starts with a mysterious death and a search for truth.

I look forward to reading the rest in the trilogy. Cormoran is a likeable, honest guy, and with his counterpart, Robin, by his side, I have a feeling they will have interesting jobs in their future.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I’m nothing if not true to my word. I told myself I would get to this book when I finished the 2016 book challenge and The Dark Tower series. If I don’t make myself finish books, I end up putting them off for new and shiny books. And since I had heard less than stellar reviews about this one, I wasn’t really in a hurry to get to it. Ultimately, I enjoyed it and it was nice revisiting the characters.

Since this is a play, it’s very sparse and missing a lot of the magic that the books provide. But I fully expected that going into reading. Somehow, I managed to avoid all spoilers for this book. All I knew was that it took place pretty quickly after book 7 finished. If that’s all you know, too, I would stop reading at this point. I’m not going to reveal tons of stuff, but will address basic plot points.

So, we meet up with the old gang pretty quickly. Ginny, Harry, and their three kids. Ron, Hermione, and their two kids. And Draco and his son. I love that Draco and his son, Scorpio, are central figures to this book. I was always a Draco fan, mostly because he was exactly like Harry- forced into a situation he didn’t want to be in and overshadowed by his father (or lack there of in Harry’s case) and expectations put upon children. And it looks as though neither Draco or Harry has fully resolved their father issues. Neither one of them is a great dad, which was hard to read, given how good of a person Harry is, but it’s also nice to see him still learning about himself and trying to be better. It’s clear that Ginny wears the pants in the family, which is awesome. I always thought she was a good match for Harry and could keep him grounded.

Ron seems to be as lackadaisical as expected. Hermione has succeeded in the wizarding world to the highest position, and Ron manages the Weasley joke shop. He makes some terrible dad jokes and just is very bumbling, although full of love. Seems right on point. The story focuses on Albus, middle child of Harry and Ginny, and Scorpius. They meet early on in the book, after being told to stay away from each other, but they are fast friends. Scorpius is a good kid; nothing like the evil Draco tried to espouse. He has a crush on Rose Granger-Wealsey, Ron and Hermione’s daughter and is just generally a sweet kid.

The Cursed Child named in the title really could apply to many characters. Obviously Harry and Draco, but also Albus, Scorpius, and a character not to be revealed here, because it was a pretty big spoiler. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you really do need to read this just to see what happens to your friends. However, don’t expect to be in love with it the way you are with the books. It’s just not the same reading experience.

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Harry Potter books 2-4

I’m making my way through the series, yet again. I haven’t read them in 7 years, and with the new book/script out, I thought I should revisit these. I have the script, but am waiting to finish the series, first.

A few things have occurred to me as I’ve been reading. The first two books really could have been edited down into one longer book, but I guess the two separate tasks (Sorcerer’s Stone and destroying the diary) really needed their own books. But I felt like each book wasn’t complete. Maybe Rowling just was getting the hang of things, much like the first couple seasons of a tv show, but once you get to the third book, things start rolling. Sirius is my favorite character in the series, so I really love the books he is in. Sadly, he isn’t in the fourth book much, and is mostly referred to in the third, but I still get a good feel for his character, which is a testament to Rowling’s writing ability.

I did something I’ve never done before at the end of the 4th book. I cried a little bit. I’ve always gotten choked up when Mrs. Weasley hugs Harry after the tournament and he comments on how it’s the most motherly hug he’s ever gotten. But this time around, that got to me. Probably because this is the first time reading the series after my children were born. Last time I read it, I had just gotten married, so the parenthood emotion didn’t exist. That said, I know I’ll be a goner in the last book when Harry sees his parents again.