**spoiler alert** General Observations: ~Before, During and After: The Princess Diarist goes through three phases: Carrie Fisher’s life before Star War**spoiler alert** General Observations: ~Before, During and After: The Princess Diarist goes through three phases: Carrie Fisher’s life before Star Wars, during Stars Wars and after Star Wars. I must confess the before and after periods were more interesting to me that the segment during Star Wars.
That is not to say the during Star Wars segment lacked for interest. I liked reading about how she was nervous for her audition, how she was afraid she would be fired for not losing weight, I enjoyed reading about her hair and make-up sessions and her talking to the cast and crew, these parts were genuinely interesting. But a large chunk of the section was Carrie Fisher being obsessed with Harrison Ford.
As it was a three-month affair with little substance, it was far more interesting to Carrie Fisher than it was to me, but given Carrie Fisher’s age at the time, it’s understandable. There’s a reason why some people re-read their old journals containing passages written by a love-sick teenager and wish to burn them, however, I’m glad Carrie Fisher resisted that impulse (even if it did drag on a little too long).
~Sexism in Cinema: Seriously, Carrie Fisher is one of the greatest examples of Sexism and Misogyny in Cinema, while Harrison Ford and even Mark Hamill get to move on from Star Wars and complete other projects, Carrie Fisher is immortalised in that stupid metal bikini outfit (seriously, Madame Tussauds Wax Emporium has immortalised Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in that particular outfit with Jabba the Hut holding the chain and lurking right behind her, what the holy fuck?). Carrie Fisher is a brilliant writer and damn good actress and she deserves/deserved better than that.
~Right In The Feels: Unlike Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic, The Princess Diaries were difficult for me to get into, I suppose when you read memoirs detailing Carrie Fisher’s problems with alcohol, then read chapters from a nineteen-year-old Carrie Fisher’s perspective about how she doesn’t like to drink, there can be some disconnect.
I suppose the biggest problem I had with The Princess Diarist was that parts of the book were long segments of introspection of a young woman, starting out as an emerging artist, playing the role of entertainer to cover up the fact that she was deeply unsure and insecure of herself, in other words, it was deeply and uncomfortably familiar.
Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic are the recollections and reflections of an older woman who knows that she has bi-polar, the recollections and reflections of The Princess Diarist are from the perspective of nineteen-year-old woman who isn’t aware that she has bi-polar yet, and is struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants, as well as how to deal with undiagnosed mental health problems.
It was difficult to for me to grapple with the idea that, at one time, Carrie Fisher could be someone like myself, which I suppose was the purpose of the book, one must be a princess before one can become a general.
In conclusion, an interesting insight into the mind of Carrie Fisher, a legendary icon, at a particular stage of her life. It’s a little slow to get into, and there’s not as many jokes, but I consider it a worthy read as I was glued to every page....more
General Observations: ~High Standards: I love Crime/Mystery novels, I have a huge weakness for Agatha Christie, Midsomer Murders, Castle, and Law and OGeneral Observations: ~High Standards: I love Crime/Mystery novels, I have a huge weakness for Agatha Christie, Midsomer Murders, Castle, and Law and Order (I like regular Law and Order, but I prefer Special Victims Unit). So what I mean is, I would consider those to be of standard quality and therefore I’ve got a pretty high standard for other Crime/Mystery books to live up to. However, this might not be the case for other people.
Aspects I Enjoyed: ~Character Orientated: Like Midsomer Murders, The Cuckoo’s Calling is more Character orientated (interacting with people and observing their reactions) and not say Plot Orientated (one clue leading to another in a clear chain of events), there was also minimal forensic evidence involved outside of a laptop being restored. Now, I generally prefer Plot Oriented over Character Orientated, however The Cuckoo’s Calling worked for me
~Interesting Characters: Everybody had their own Agenda, Every Single One of Them, and normally I find that sort of petty drama annoying, but it worked, it was enough to imply that the majority of the people involved had decent motive, but not enough evidence that it gave the game away
~Relationship Dynamics: I really liked the relationship dynamics between Lucy (Strike’s sister) and Robyn (Strike’s secretary), both of them provided genuine sources of conflict, however I would consider his relationship with his sister and nephews positive (if not complicated) and his working-relationship with Robyn positive and healthy. A good contrast to the complicated and messy relationship he previously had with Charlotte.
Aspects I Had Problems With: ~Slow Pace: As I previously stated, the novel was more Character Orientated, which made the plot lag in places and the clues to the crime difficult to decipher and put together.
~Concealing Clues For The Sake of Plot: Strike kept his thoughts and possible ideas pretty close to the chest, even from the reader, and the couple of big moments of Motive-Reveals to other characters came across (to me) as info dumps. The clues and elements of plot were well-concealed from the reader. I often wondered how Strike was able to put the right theory together with so little pieces of provable evidence. It just seemed like the reader was receiving a lot of information right at the end of the book
~Relationship Dynamic: I really didn’t like the romantic relationship drama between Strike and Charlotte, it wasn’t interesting and it didn’t add anything to the book.
Overall, a good read if you’re into the genre and are looking for something intriguing but not overly complicated, I’d definitely read Robert Galbraith’s books over James Patterson’s books...more
~Read Diverse Books 2017: The Cormoran Strike series main character is Cormoran Strike, who was previously a soldier in the armed forces and eventuall~Read Diverse Books 2017: The Cormoran Strike series main character is Cormoran Strike, who was previously a soldier in the armed forces and eventually became an investigative officer within the army. During a tour of Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike was in the back of a jeep when the car he was traveling in hit a land-mine and blew up, the result was that Cormoran Strike lost half a leg and left the army shortly after. Readers might be thinking that a white British man missing half a leg might not count as a representation of Diversity, but I will argue that it's a good depiction of a physical disability.
The disability is shown as having a realistic impact upon the character Cormoran Strike (how it affects him physically and mentally, such as the PTSD moment while he was being driven in the car) and upon the plot of the novel (Cormoran Strike is forced to acknowledge that because of his leg injury and prosthesis, there are just some tasks he can't do and has to delegate them to Robin). The Cormoran Strike series acknowledges the difficulties and side-effects of having a physical disability, but it also acknowledges that it's still possible to lead a relatively happy and successful life and I would consider Cormoran Strike successful.
~Door-stopper Material: The physical paperback is about 400 pages and the audio-book is 17 hrs and 16 mins, reading the Cormoran Strike series is a long-term investment of your time. Am I saying it's an unworthy investment of your time? No. But the sheer size of the book was one of reasons I delayed reading this book and why I eventually decided to go the route of audio-book instead. The audio-book was enjoyable to listen to and I was able to listen to my book as well as perform other valuable tasks at the same time.
~Make or Break: There is a small flaw with the Cormoran Strike series, the characters withhold evidence or thoughts from the reader in order to build suspense for the main case and, while I know some readers of crime fiction who find this intolerable, I was willing to tolerate it, however, this might not be the case for everyone. The majority of the novel has a slow-build-up type of pace, which means all the pieces of the puzzle are slowly being put together and key information is being with-held for the final confrontation. I feel this results in the ending coming across as a bit rushed in comparison to the rest of the narrative pace.
~The Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: In basic terms, some writers choose to focus more of the plot elements of a book (events that happen leading the character and the reader towards a narrative destination or journey) and the plot is what drives the book, while some authors choose to focus more on the character elements of the novel (how the character feels or reacts to an event), the character (how they think and feel) is what drives the novel, the event is secondary to the method in which the character acts or reacts to the event.
I would consider In the Woods by Tana French to be at the far end of the Character-Focus scale. How the officers felt, thought, and how they interacted with other characters in the novel was the focus of In the Woods and thus presented as more important than the crime itself. I don't enjoy that kind of novel, I'm more of a plot-orientated reader and writer.
I feel that the Crime/Mystery/Thriller genre is more suited to plot-oriented focus, however, while Robert Galbraith's writing style does sit slightly more towards the Character-Focus end of the scale, I feel that Robert Galbraith blends the elements of plot and character together in a better attempt at balance. The Cormoran Strike series does have more characterization than plot, but I feel that there is enough plot to keep the reader engaged and the characterization is interesting enough to persuade the reader to continue.
~Authentic Sources of Conflict: While there are slow moments in the books where the personal elements of the main characters Comoran Strike and Robyn's lives, such as Cormoran Strike's ex-girlfriend Charlotte getting married and how he feels about that, Robyn's fiancé Mathew's insecurities and dislike that Robyn's job despite the fact that it is a high priority to her, and the personal conflict between Cormoran Strike and Robyn about where they stand professionally and whether or not Cormoran Strike will give Robyn Surveillance and Tracking training.
I think the Strike/Charlotte relationship was resolved as best the circumstances could allow and Robyn and Mathew (after having several arguments about the subject) were able to to come to an understanding about Robyn's career choices. These conflicts were perhaps dwelt upon longer than they should have, but they were conflicts that needed to be acknowledged and addressed, I also felt they were resolved to a satisfying conclusion.
~Alternative Character Interpretation: While this could just be my personal interpretation, Leonora Quine (the murder victim's wife) came across as someone with undiagnosed Autism, she was direct and perhaps a little too honest (or at least Cormoran Strike seemed to think so), her method of grieving (wanting to speak with the private detective she hired and making sure he was okay) is seen as odd to other people.
They were all expecting her to break down sobbing and when she didn't perform to the police's standards, she was considered suspicious. Leonora Quine did show outward signs of grief and distress, it was mostly centered around how she and her daughter had been forced out of their usual routine, which is very important to Autistic people. I'm not sure, perhaps it's just me, I'd be happy to discuss it in the comments section.
In conclusion, an enjoyable suspenseful addition to the Cormoran Strike series with good character development, I'm looking forward to the third installment - Career of Evil...more
**spoiler alert** Trigger Warning: This book contains mentions of Rape, Sexual Assault, Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Parental-Child sexual abuse, Incestu**spoiler alert** Trigger Warning: This book contains mentions of Rape, Sexual Assault, Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Parental-Child sexual abuse, Incestuous sexual abuse, domestic violence, ableism and Body integrity identity disorder
Aspects of the Novel I Enjoyed: ~Musical Theme: At the start of every chapter in the Cormoran Strike series, there's a verse of prose, such as: Robert Galbraith uses quotes from Elizabethan-era plays like The White Devil by John Webster (a revenge tragedy play) to preface chapters in The Silkworm, but in the novel Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith chooses to use lyrics of Blue Oyster Cult, which I enjoyed because I actually know a few songs by Blue Oyster Cult (it turns out J.K. Rowling is a big fan of Blue Oyster Cult and Pattie Smith). I was disappointment that there was no mention of more Cow-bell.
~Plot-Twist: While the plot takes a longer time than usual to get going (more on this later), however, once the plot begins to gain momentum, I wanted to keep reading, I had invested 17 hours of my time into this audio-book, I wanted to know how all the pieces came together, however, because the ending has such a super-twist ending and while the puzzle pieces do fit together brilliantly in the end, I can see how some readers might see it as an arse-pull.
~Character Development and Expansion: This novel very much centres around Strike's past, his previous cases with the UK Military Police and his Dark-and-Troubled childhood with his mother, because of the Blue Oyster Cult references. Leda (Strike's mother) was a huge fan of Blue Oyster Cult and is known in-universe as a super-groupie to various UK-based rock-bands, which is why buried childhood memories are triggered in Strike when a piece of paper with Blue Oyster Cult lyrics written on it was discovered inside the box that contained the severed leg. The reader finds out about Strike's childhood, Leda's death (which had previously only been vaguely discussed) and the reader is introduced to Shankers (a shady-gangster character Leda rescued and took in when Strike and Shankers were teenagers).
I enjoyed reading about this character background information about Strike and consequently Shankers, it was engaging and I enjoyed Shankers as an addition to the book (I hope he continues to be a regularly occurring side-character). I think Strike, Shankers and Robin all work well together and Shankers and Robin are good foils for each other. The reader also finds out what transpired to make Robyn leave university and have a long stay at home recovering (more on this further down), it was a little predicable but it was still good to know those missing puzzle pieces of Robyn's character that had only previously been hinted at.
Aspects of the Novel I had Problems with: ~Change in Narrative Style: This is the first Cormoran Strike Novel where the reader gets to experience chapters from the point of view of the perpetrator, I think it helps to keep the slow plot from stalling, but the guy is utterly repulsive and, while I understand that those chapters are supposed to be repulsive, I found them difficult to read, especially since he targets vulnerable women.
~Slow Plot: The Cormoran Strike series has always been a series that has a stronger emphasis on character than on plot, and while Strike's and Robyn's characters and back-stories are being explored and developed, the plot appears to suffer because of it. The plot crawled by in places and I was often asking "what is the point of this chapter?". While Strike did lampshade the long waiting period between new items of usable information, the last five chapters did make up for the slow pace by going at break-neck speed, I had to re-listen to a couple of those chapters to fully understand what was transpiring.
~Show, Don't Tell - Part 1: During the investigation of Donald Laing, Noel Brockbank and Jeff Whittaker, Strike and Robyn travel around the UK to interview various agents of exposition and the various interviews show Laing and Brockbank's potential criminal history. The problem with these perpetrators is that their crimes happened in the past, so either the author has to use flashbacks to show or have a small side-character tell the reader information Strike would already know.
So how does an author make a male character come across as evil or irredeemable with little to no effort? The author presents both male characters mentioned not just as rapists, but rapists with a brutal history of not being held accountable for their actions. I understand that in the UK, the reality is that conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator (and that's just civilian cases of rape. Military cases of rape have an even lower rate of conviction and are processed outside the civilian justice system in the UK), however, there is a fine line between highlighting the fact that violent men often have a history of minor crimes leading up to more serious crimes and using rape as a cheap shock-tactic to establish Villain Credentials.
With the exception of Holly Brockbank, the reader isn't introduced directly to Laing's ex wife or Brittany Brockbank (women who have been brutally abused by Laing and Brockbank), the reader only knows them through Strike's flashbacks, and as soon as the ex-mother-in-law is done giving background information, both of these characters disappear from the novel. The pain and suffering these women have been forced to experience is used to cause personal drama and anguish for Strike and I can't help but find it distasteful. Rape victims and survivors shouldn't be used as props for the development of other characters.
~Show, Don't Tell - Part 2: Over the course of the novel, Robert Galbraith continues to use the overused unresolved-sexual-tension between Robyn and Strike as a form of conflict between Robyn and Matthew. I was tired of Matthew's insecurities by the end of The Silkworm and I got the impression that at the end of The Silkworm, Robyn and Matthew had sat down and had a discussion about Robyn's career path and Matthew had eventually realised the truth of the situation, that Robyn wasn't romantically inclined towards Strike, that she enjoyed investigative work and wanted to seriously pursue it for her own merits. It turns out, I was wrong and Matthew continues to be an insecure arse-hat through out Career of Evil as well (which got old very quickly).
It's eventually revealed that when Robyn and Matthew attended University, Robyn was attacked and raped. Robyn eventually left university and developed agoraphobia, however, while Robyn was processing and recovering from being physically attacked and raped, Matthew had cheated on Robyn for 18 months with his university friend. When Robyn found out about this, she terminated the relationship, Matthew also said some extremely insensitive things towards Robyn, however, by the end of the novel their relationship is on the mend and Robyn and Matthew are going through with the wedding. I feel as though they got married at the end of the novel, not because they had resolved their problems but because The Plot Says So. The reader doesn't get to view the conversation where Robyn and Matthew make-up and resolve their problems so, in my view, it comes across as forced.
In conclusion, this was a conflicting novel for me. I felt the elements of rape and sexual assault were handled clumsily by the author and the relationship problems between Robyn and Matthew could have been handled better. Although the mystery plot itself was well-thought out, complex and intriguing, I have contemplated not continuing with the series, however, Lethal White (the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series) will be coming out this year (the official publishing date is currently unknown). I think I'll wait for Lethal White to come out and see whether or not the series is redeemable. If there's a continuation of the Matthew/Robyn/Strike relationship drama, I won't be continuing with the series....more