Bob got a little too inventive and clever for his own good, and was forced to join the Laundry Files, a secret government organization pledged to defe...moreBob got a little too inventive and clever for his own good, and was forced to join the Laundry Files, a secret government organization pledged to defending the universe against eldritch horrors and alien incursions. I really like the concepts of this series, but the writing of this particular book drove me up the wall. Bob is one of those incredibly annoying pedants who pride themselves on being the sysadmin from hell. The female characters all need Bob to explain stuff to them, or they're shrews who worship bureaucracy. Everyone talks in a long-winded, circumlocutory style full of nerd references that is clearly supposed to be clever but mostly just dampens the narrative tension. Even worse is the fact that the info dumps NEVER END. Every single page there's another paragraph of science and sf in an unholy mixture plopped smack dab in the middle of a conversation or action bit. Frankly, the never-ending interjections drove me near to insanity.
"There's a weird smell in the kitchen and something that's, er, squamous and rugose"--a household catch-phrase, and we all have to make the obligatory Cthulhu-waggling-tentacles-on-chin gesture with our hands--"and yellow tried to eat my shoe. What's up?" Brains stands up: "Behold"--he hiccups--"I am in the process of disproving a law of nature; to wit, that it is impossible to make an omelette without breaking eggs! I have a punning clan--"
If you're the type to enjoy writing that sounds like this on every page, even when fighting Nazi-summoned demons, then this might be the book for you. For the rest of us, it might be best to just stay away. (less)
(view spoiler)[The narrator tells us repeatedly that she doesn't like tricks of narration, so of course this whole thing is one big trick. The very la...more(view spoiler)[The narrator tells us repeatedly that she doesn't like tricks of narration, so of course this whole thing is one big trick. The very last chapter reveals, in a fifteen page (seemingly never ending) letter, that the whole novel was actually written by the "narrator's" male lover, and wasn't a memoir at all. The letter is astoundingly cruel and dismissive of her, all the while saying that he loves and understands her and wants to marry her. (hide spoiler)] Fuck that shit.
There was barely any plot and very little actual characterization. The writing is good in parts but gets frequently bogged down in boring stretches of British politics. Basically, this was just too light weight to sustain the twist.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After a brilliant success in The Cuckoo's Calling, Strike and Robin have continued working together. One day a worn out housewife asks them to help he...moreAfter a brilliant success in The Cuckoo's Calling, Strike and Robin have continued working together. One day a worn out housewife asks them to help her find her husband. Figuring it would make a nice change from the usual detective work of photographing adulterers and catching embezzlers, Strike takes the case. But then the missing husband turns up dead, his body mutilated and staged in a horrific way, and the wife is charged with the murder. Strike is in a race against time to find the true killer and prove to the police that the wife is innocent.
The case is great. There's a spread of possible suspects, but I never had any difficulty telling them apart. Galbraith/Rowling is really good at sketching a memorable and unique character in just a few lines. And I was completely surprised by the ending, but it actually made total sense in retrospect. But best of all are Strike and Robin, whose personalities and relationships intrigue me more with every page.(less)
Cormoran Strike is on the last of his money when a rich lawyer asks him to investigate the death of his adopted young sister. Lulu Landry was a beauti...moreCormoran Strike is on the last of his money when a rich lawyer asks him to investigate the death of his adopted young sister. Lulu Landry was a beautiful supermodel reaching the top of fame--until she plummeted off a balcony. Her brother is sure she was pushed, but the police have already ruled it a suicide. With few resources, a troubled personal life, and a brand new (yet very efficient) secretary, Strike investigates to the best of his ability. At first I feared his best wasn't very good, and I read in agony as he stumped around London, seemingly directionless. But by the end I was very, very impressed.
I was also impressed by the author--Galbraith/Rowling does some very clever things in this book. (view spoiler)[At one point Strike sees branded gloves in Lulu's ex boyfriend's apartment. At the time I thought this was a sign that he'd been in Deeby Macc's apartment, but later realized that seeing the gloves had made Strike realize that perhaps the CCTV footage hadn't seen a hooded black man, just a hooded man wearing dark gloves. This kind of thoughtful use of details that the reader sees but doesn't understand is my favorite kind of mystery writing. Too, Galbraith/Rowling writes a kind of character I loved in her Harry Potter series: detestable jerks who are nevertheless not evil. Tony Landry is such a jerk that it was very easy to imagine him as the killer, but in fact he's the only member of his family capable of recognizing his nephew for what he is. (hide spoiler)]
I really liked both Strike and Robin, and I look forward to reading more about their mystery solving adventures.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After her alcoholic step-father endangers her one too many times, Emma goes to stay with her aunt on the Upper East Side. She's nervous about her fanc...moreAfter her alcoholic step-father endangers her one too many times, Emma goes to stay with her aunt on the Upper East Side. She's nervous about her fancy new private school, but quickly finds friends and a crush--the mysterious Brendan. Based on popping streetlights and a few dreams, Emma convinces herself that she's the reincarnation of Brendan's ancestor's long lost love. I was too bored by the paint-by-numbers YA love story and basic writing (which is bad when relating the present day but DIRE when it talks about the past) to push through this. If there'd been more attention to the magical parts of this story, maybe I'd have persevered, but there's only the barest brush of the supernatural here--just enough to give Brendan and Emma immediate crushes on each other and a star-crossed reason to stay apart. (less)
Another splendiferous outing with the inimitable Flavia de Luce. After a gypsy woman is nearly murdered on de Luce land, Flavia dedicates herself to f...moreAnother splendiferous outing with the inimitable Flavia de Luce. After a gypsy woman is nearly murdered on de Luce land, Flavia dedicates herself to finding the culprit. The de Luce house and surrounding villages get a good deal of development in this book, but best of all we get to know Flavia even better. I particularly loved her memories of making dolls out of the myriad silver forks in the pantry, and she's still young enough that they retain a faint patina of imagined personalities. Flavia's as bright and scheming as ever, but this time I noticed her loneliness even more. It's never outright stated, but the little touches--the way she anthropomorphizes her bike, her fantasies about gaining the respect of the Inspector's wife Antigone, her attempts to hide the worst of Dogger's PTSD, and how easily she offers help to Porcelain--build up. This book's mystery plot is possibly a little scattered, but the slow development of the de Luce family (particularly the hints about Flavia's dead mother) is stronger than ever, and solid.(less)
Ryan Dean West just wants to play rugby and make out with girls, but he constantly feels young and wimpy. He talks about this in excruciating, frankly...moreRyan Dean West just wants to play rugby and make out with girls, but he constantly feels young and wimpy. He talks about this in excruciating, frankly completely boring detail. I didn't find the jokes funny or the dialog realistic or interesting. The characters are thinly characterized; four hundred plus pages and I still couldn't tell one from another. I didn't like it, but I stuck with it because other reviews had convinced me that this was a worthwhile book. Then on page 427 his friend (view spoiler)[ Joey is found stripped naked, tied to a tree, and beaten to death. (hide spoiler)] Ryan Dean spends less than ten pages dealing with this, and then the book ends.
Maudlin, sensationalist bullshit. Either deal with grief and gay bashing or don't, but this is just using a tragic event as a climax because otherwise nothing else would have happened over the course of the entire novel. One could argue that this is a book about masculinity and coming of age, but one could argue with equal sincerity that this is a book about nothing much at all, with one shocking horrible moment at the end to maintain the illusion that this book has heft to it. I am frankly angry and disappointed that this book was nominated for the American Library Association Rainbow List, which is supposed to be for "quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content." There's no goddamn GLBTQ content in here--the main character is 100% straight, he has a friendship with a gay dude, (view spoiler)[and then the gay dude is killed and Ryan Dean feels sad and doesn't really process it at all. If the book had been about Joey, or about his family and friends coming to terms with his death, that would be one thing. But this is about a gay man only as much as a book that mentions the Civil Rights struggle in passing is about race relations. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The four Sighted police officers of London are faced with another case only they can solve: Jack the Ripper is back, and he's killing rich white guys...moreThe four Sighted police officers of London are faced with another case only they can solve: Jack the Ripper is back, and he's killing rich white guys this time.
In the last book, the writing and pacing were plodding until about halfway through, when the book switched into high gear and became clever and enjoyable. Sadly, this book is a return to the plodding. There's something about the characters' inner monologues that feels both realistic and deeply annoying and boring. And then it all ends with the bad guy literally monologuing about How He Did It for several pages. Bah!
I was also annoyed by the Gaiman subplot. The cops see Neil Gaiman hanging out at a magic bar and realize he's part of magical London. Cute, I thought. But then he becomes a minor character! That's creepy enough, but it's not even well done--he doesn't talk or act anything like Gaiman does in his numerous public appearances or on his blog, and his writing never comes up. He's completely generic. If you're going to turn a real person into a fictional (view spoiler)[bad guy (hide spoiler)], you'd better have a reason for it, and keep that person consistent with what we know about them. Otherwise, just make someone up!
All that said, I do like some of Cornell's ideas about where magic comes from and the sacrifices necessary to use it. Just once I'd like the Sight or magic to be kinda nice, though. Thus far it's been wholly grim and dark and horrible. Surely EVERYTHING magical isn't awful, right? ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The story of a gay white man growing up in the South in the 1960s. He gets involved in the civil rights struggle and comes out to himself, and later o...moreThe story of a gay white man growing up in the South in the 1960s. He gets involved in the civil rights struggle and comes out to himself, and later others, as gay. It's interesting territory, but I hated the art. It looks outright ugly to me, the characters are nearly impossible to distinguish from each other, and the framing is so cramped that it's nearly impossible to read, there's no white space, and there's so much cross-hatching...I felt my eyes start to hurt trying to read this. I don't feel like the art really added anything to this story--if anything, the difficulty of figuring out who was who made it harder. I started skimming about a third of the way through.(less)
A well-known puppeteer drops dead during a performance in front of the entire village. Flavia de Luce, a girl overflowing with curiosity and arcane ch...moreA well-known puppeteer drops dead during a performance in front of the entire village. Flavia de Luce, a girl overflowing with curiosity and arcane chemical knowledge, is on the case. I love her so much.(less)
Katie is 29 and trying to start her second restaurant. She feels alone and overwhelmed, so when she's given the chance to mystically correct one mista...moreKatie is 29 and trying to start her second restaurant. She feels alone and overwhelmed, so when she's given the chance to mystically correct one mistake, she leaps at it. But then she figures out how to game the mystical system and starts correcting more and more things, until she's living in a life that feels totally alien because it's so far from what she remembers actually doing. No matter how much she changes, she can't seem to get perfect--and all her attempts seem to have excited malevolent interest from something powerful. Her only hope is to rely upon the half-remembered stories of her new friend Hazel, and stick to her good intentions.
I really enjoyed this. O'Malley has a real talent for creating characters and situations that feel true to life, and then dropping in fantastical elements that heighten the story he tries to tell. I love the way his characters grapple with acting with kindness and responsibility. And the art is great! It conveys movement and emotion, but it's also stylistically unique and adorable.(less)
Described as "M/M romance I enjoyed that focuses on a marriage meant to unite two kingdoms after a war. There are some big dramatic events, but a lot...moreDescribed as "M/M romance I enjoyed that focuses on a marriage meant to unite two kingdoms after a war. There are some big dramatic events, but a lot of it is about the importance of engineering and infrastructure in conducting a war and recovering after it."(less)