Review: The Silkworm

Warning! Minor spoilers below, but you can read our spoiler free discussions on the Silkworm part 1 and part 2.

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Amanda: Holly and have now finished The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a/k/a J.K. Rowling) – in my case finished by reading in the car over the weekend while ignoring my husband and daughter.  Oops.  #booknerdproblems

Holly: Oh, I finished sitting outside a coffee shop with a latte. And a cookie. It was lovely.

Amanda: I loved this book! I had my suspicions about the motive and the murderer of course-but when it comes to mysteries I really love to be proved wrong. I did not see the ending coming.  I did have one suspicion as to the evidence in the murder prove correct so I could still feel like a good armchair detective!

Holly: I am impressed that you had a suspicion! I had zero clue what was going on. Observancy is not my strong point, sister. Strike pays attention to all these details and then pieces together the most obvious (though completely crazy-sounding) explanation. Isn’t that basically how Sherlock Holmes stories work too?

Amanda:  Yes! I think you’re right about Sherlock.  I think this means we need more Sherlock in our lives.  Exhibit A: Every Breath-a contemporary teenage Holmes set in Australia  which I need in my life pronto. Exhibit B: Sherlock.

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Anyway, pardon that diversion.  

It will be interesting to see as the series continues what mistakes Strike makes.  There has to be some or he’ll be too perfect.  I feel like none of his theories were wrong in the Silkworm. I hope he doesn’t get a big head!  Also, I loved Robin so much! I’m glad she did more investigative work in the Silkworm and I can’t wait to see how she does in investigative training.  I think they’ll continue to do an excellent “Good Cop, Bad Cop” together.

Holly: Well, sometimes he makes mistakes in his relationships with people – his cop buddy, his sister, and poor Nina! Oh, and his client at the beginning of the book too. So, he’s at least a little flawed. I definitely can’t wait for some more from Robin too.

Amanda: Excellent point! He’d totally be a tosser if he was a crime solver and everyone had to love him absolutely.  I do like that he has the rough edges. Hmm maybe I’m cold hearted, I didn’t feel too badly for Nina.  Maybe he’ll fall in love with Robin and get more in touch with his friends.  Maybe?  I can hope?

Unanimous! 5 stars! Can we have book 3 now please?

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Still Reading The Silkworm

When we last reported on The Silkworm, our favorite private investigator, Comoran Strike, had gone from trying to find a missing person to trying to solve a murder. Check out part one of our conversation here. Now, we’re 60% through the book, and dying (perhaps that’s a poor word choice) to know whodunit!

Holly: So, I have two non-spoiler thoughts on this book so far. First, one of our #1 commenters (hi blodeuedd!) said “not my genre” about this book. So now I feel compelled to explain to everyone that this is not exactly a mystery/crime “genre” book. I mean, I’m no expert, as I don’t really understand book genres, but I think this is more of a really great novel about a guy who also happens to be an investigator solving crimes. It’s got a lot of things I love – including the London setting, the well developed characters (who we are slowly getting more details on!) and just lovely writing.

Amanda: I am no genre expert and if you look at my Goodreads shelves you can see I read a bit of everything.  I think the best mysteries are those that get a bit deeper-who is the investigator and what draws him on the case.  I like that about Strike.  He’s working this case because he needs to know what happened-not because he’s being paid.  I also love the setting.  When can we plan a sisterly trip to London to look for Strike?

Holly: Here is my second thought – J.K. Rowling, winner of the book world, wrote a book about a book in which a (crazy? disgruntled? not sure yet!) writer has written a book that reveals a bunch of character flaws about people in the book world. C’mon – what are the chances she has drawn on personal experience to create the publishers, agents, and editors? Do you think she’s taking digs at anyone herself?

Amanda:  Very interesting idea.  I think I have an idealized image of the creator of Harry Potter in my head that she must be too classy to do that.  But I will say I love reading about the publishing world in books.  Maybe there are some digs from her early days?  I bet there are people searching for themselves for sure! I love that I have no theories built up of whodunit! I feel like the reason for this murder is going to come out of nowhere. I was on the edge of my seat at moments waiting to see what would happen.  Time to get back to it!

Holly: Yes, must finish! And also, let’s start planning that trip to London for sure!

We’re Reading The Silkworm

When Amanda and I started this blog (almost) a year ago, we didn’t really know what we were doing. (Spoiler alert: we still don’t.) One of the first things we decided to do was read a book together and discuss. We started with The Cuckoo’s Calling, and posted check-ins at 30% through, 60% through, and done.

We loved our read-along, so we’ve kept that up to read other books together! We also loved The Cuckoo’s Calling and Private Investigator Comoran Strike.

All this is leading up to saying that it’s time for another read-along, and this time we’re reading The Silkworm, the second Comoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J.K. Rowling.

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If you’re not familiar with our hero, Strike, he’s an Army vet working a one man detective firm with the help of his office assistant Robin (we love Robin!).  Novelist Owen Quine is missing and his wife believes he’s in hiding at a London hotel.  She hires Strike to roust Quine out and send him home.  Strike learns there is much more going on than an unhappy author out sulking when he reads Quine’s latest novel. Then, when Quine is found brutally murdered, Strike becomes much more involved in this case than he expected to be.

We’re up to 30% so far, and here’s what we’re thinking!

Holly: So far, I still adore Robin and I want her to be involved in solving the case! Also, tosser is a British word that we should use more of.

Amanda: We found out what the silkworm is! Also, the book within this book is weird. Of course, totally agree re: tosser.  Will definitely try to throw it into use more often.

Holly: I quite love this line – “if it had crossed Strike’s mind that it might be considered arrogant or deluded of a private detective with no authority in the investigation to imagine he had the power to delegate tasks to the police office in charge of the case, the thought did not trouble him.” I love Strike.

Amanda: I love that even though we’re only 30% in I feel like we’re getting to know Strike a bit better.  I want more about his Army life and how he was led to open this office.  I also want to know more about his ex-fiance, Charlotte, and what life was like for them together.  Basically I want to know why she’s wrong for Strike so that I can see how perfect Robin would be for him.

Holly: So, I still haven’t read Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy (yet), but I hear there is a big emphasis on class distinctions. And, I was thinking about that in how this book has set up the difference between Strike, his office, and his living quarters, as opposed to Robin’s fiance Matthew (bit of a tosser). Or even his own sister Lucy. Or his ex. Strike does not inhabit the world of the comfortably middle-class – though that is at least in part by choice.

Amanda: If you think about Rowling herself I would think she has more perspective on class distinctions than many authors, right?  Going from the poverty line as a single mother to having more money than the Queen of England must leave you with some opinions on class status.  Strike also has exposure to all sides also from his unconventional upbringing, his knowledge of his rockstar father, Army life and then living with Charlotte.  We know the situation he’s in now with living above his office isn’t as bad as things could be, but it will be interesting to see as the series progresses if his income grows how his lifestyle changes.  As long as he doesn’t become a tosser its all good.

Holly: Dude, don’t even!

Amanda: Don’t even what?! What did I do?

Holly: Don’t even call Strike a tosser! That is a misuse of our new vocabulary word.

We’re back to reading and we’ll check in next week with another 30% done!

We’re Reading Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy, His Fair Assassin #1, Robin LaFevers

Published April 3rd 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

529 pages

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Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart.

The last book Amanda and I read simultaneously was The Cuckoo’s Calling (which we LOVED – see here), inspired by an Amazon Daily Deal.

Looking for another book to read together, we jumped on His Fair Assassin of the Grave Mercy trilogy when it was $1.99 (we totally bought the second book at $1.99 also, before reading the first).

It took a while to sync our timing to start reading this one, but here we are!

30% in (or so)

Holly:   So far, all I keep saying is WTF is going on in this book? Like Cuckoo, I didn’t know too much about this one going on, other than it is another blasted YA trilogy (like Divergent). And, I heard it mentioned recently on the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour, described as a fun read about teenage nun assassins.

Yup.

So, WTF?

Amanda:   Who wouldn’t love a book about teenage nun assassins?  Besides clearly my sister?

H:   I’m at 23% and this shit is weird.

WTF is going on in this book and where is Comoran Strike?

A:   Ha! I’m at 24%.  I like this historical aspect, rather than a totally made up world.

H:   I don’t mind the historical, but I don’t get why the religious shit if they are just political assassins.  And is Ismae an idiot?  No questions asked?

A:   Isn’t she probably kind of an idiot?  No education, abused by her father…

H:   Well true.  But ‘here poor abused child, you will be an agent of death?’  I was down for some Dexter shit of killing bad guys, but for all we know the nuns are the bad guys!

A:   Good point! I am hoping that is coming.  Now that she can read and write.  And I am hopeful for her assassin nun friends.

H:   I am also optimistic for her friends.

And on we go.  Anyone else with an opinion on Grave Mercy so far?  Are you optimistic?  Into the killer nuns?

Click here for part 2 of our read-along!

Finished with the Cuckoo’s Calling

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Holly and Amanda

Make sure you check out part one and part two of our discussion on The Cuckoo’s Calling!

Holly has been traveling for work and I have an insane 3 year-old who refuses to go to bed, so we had to summarize our thoughts on the Cuckoo’s Calling by text message. (edited by Amanda to make sense and to cut spoilers)

H:  I finished! I was not sure what to expect with this book at all, but I definitely enjoyed it more than I was expecting! And spending  most waking hours at various and sundry airports was not at all annoying because I was so engrossed in finishing my book!

A:  I also enjoyed this far more than I expected to.  I was so glad that the character I suspected was not the creeper I was predicting him to be.  I was not going to be entertained by that story line.

H:  Yes!! We totally learned our lesson suspecting that person.

A:  I think that Rowling has a gift that makes you care about her characters with very little interaction.  You never meet Lulu alive, but you have to feel sadness and pity for her-even though there are definitely aspects you do not like about her as well.

A: Lulu is like the anti-Harry Potter in a way.  She has no one real to love and support her in life.  Where are her Hermione and Ron?!

H: Oooh, that is a profound comparison about Lulu and HP.  Except wait, HP grew up with no one (visible to him) loving and supporting him.  And Lulu had everyone around her clamoring to get close to her.  So I’m not sure if they are alike or antithetical.

A: Hmm.  Maybe I was trying to sound too smart :p

H:  And I did appreciate the genuineness some characters showed in their affection for Lulu, though it’s hard to tell who is genuine sometimes!

A:  No one was genuine except Guy!! And maybe crazy mama.

H:  And that Strike! He is so clever.  I want to read it again just to see what I can pick up on that I missed.

A:  And Robin! Is her engagement totally falling apart as the series continues?

H:  Oh! I can’t decide if that will happen.  Or if that’s what I want to happen or not.  I am definitely interested to see what Robin gets up to in the next book.  When does that come out?

A:  August 1, 2014 per Goodreads-I’m not necessarily buying that date due to the lack of details.  And Amazon has nothing.

H: My one gripe, because I usually have one, is that the BIG REVEAL scene felt a little dramatic and unrealistic… like that scene was written for a movie.  Because of course in a movie everyone has to spell out what they know and how.  But, maybe its logical based on those characters and their personalities and what they’re trying to prove.

A:  Totally agree.  She could do that in HP because a) it was a “kids” book and b) with magic you can do whatever you want!

Agreement: 4 stars!

Still Reading the Cuckoo’s Calling

Click here for part 1 of our discussion on The Cuckoo’s Callinghttps://guninactone.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/reading-the-cuckoos-calling/

Click here for part 3: https://guninactone.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/finished-with-the-cuckoos-calling/

Check in #2 – 60% In

Warning: Slight spoilers ahead!  We’re more than halfway through the Cuckoo’s Calling and here’s what we think so far:

Holly –

I know I am always going on about the books that Amanda demands I read, but I should probably confess that I am a pretty bossy little sister. I am currently insisting that we discuss this book so far, like five minutes ago, so that I can get on with the rest of the story ASAP! We agreed to stop at 60%, which, with the chapter break ended up at 62% and it was definitely a big moment! Strike just received some very interesting information. (BTW, if you are not a Kindle person, we are not actually crazy with figuring out the reading percentages…Kindle does that for you!)

I am definitely getting into the story, and I’m clearly dying to finish. There were a couple scenes that had me laughing out loud (I do that when I read. J looks at me like I’m a crazy person when I’m reading something funny.) – one where Robin is digging for clues at a high-end boutique, and one where Strike is goading Lula’s Uncle Tony. I have two texts from Amanda from the last few days about how much she dislikes Uncle Tony. I won’t say too much else, at the risk of spoiling anything, but Rowling/Galbraith has definitely left some guns on the wall that had better go off in the last third!

Amanda –

Let me also say Holly’s J looks at her like she’s a crazy person a lot. And most often when we’re together laughing our heads off.

As I’m bombarding my sister with texts about how I dislike Uncle Tony her response: “He is shady without the palm trees.”  Perfect description! What is his deal?!  So many questions need to be answered right now! And Rochelle?  Hello payoff?! What’s happening here?

I am glad this is going to be a series because I definitely need to know more about Strike than I think one book is going to cover. Is he ever going to call Charlotte back?  His dream description is killing me “gorgeous, vituperative and haunted.”  What is up with her?

And can Robin really leave his office to work somewhere else?  This is going to upset me.

My train ride home tonight had better not be too crowded to read again! Suspense is starting to get to me!

Reading “The Cuckoo’s Calling”

Holly: If you think that all Amanda and I do all day is read and blog about books, you are incorrect. We also spend a great deal of time gchatting/texting/facebooking about all the books to read and blog about. Seriously. Oh, and Amanda is also making me tweet. I still don’t know what to do there.

cuckooscallingAnyway, in one of these conversations, we talked about reading a book together, and discussing as we read. Amanda suggested The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K. Rowling’s alter-ego Robert Galbraith. It was an Amazon deal-of-the-day, which was obviously all the convincing I needed.

I had briefly seen the story about how this book was written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym*, but I hadn’t read any details about the book. I haven’t yet read The Casual Vacancy, so I wasn’t sure what to think about a non-Harry Potter Rowling book.

*Now that I just read that story in more detail, WTF? “It was frankly too good for a book by an unknown first-time author”? That may be the more depressing statement I’ve ever read.

30% In

Holly –

This feels very strange. I keep wondering how anyone figured out this was Rowling.** I’m looking for some giveaway, like for Robin to get on Platform 9 and ¾ at King’s Cross. No such luck.

There was a line about Strike’s beer: “The Cornish beer tasted of home, peace and long-gone security” which made me wonder about butterbeer and what that’s supposed to taste like. Is that the giveaway?! I checked: “Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted and seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside.” (Prisoner of Azkaban) And now, I want a drink.

Anyway, I’m still not sure what to think. The story feels worn – down-on-his-luck detective working on a (seemingly) dead-end case with a beautiful secretary hanging on his every word. And it feels like it could have been set 40 years ago just as easily as today. Yet, I totally buy it, and I am invested in the characters, and I’m excited to see what happens next…even if I probably would not have picked up this book if I didn’t know that Robert Galbraith was actually JK Rowling.

**Google just told me that it’s because her lawyer spilled the beans. But apparently before the story was broken, the London Sunday Times did analyze the writing style with a software program. This is kind of an interesting story.

 Amanda – 

I of course had read every story I could see about this being a new Rowling book because: A) I am a huge nerd. B) I miss Harry Potter and even if I cannot have HP back I want more from Rowling’s mind.  I did try The Casual Vacancy, but I did not finish it.  I liked the style and thought it was well written, but honestly it was just too dark for me at the time.  I tried to read it during the holidays and it was just the wrong book.  I need to go back and try it again in the right mindset.  

Like Holly, I am also looking constantly for an indication this is J.K. Rowling writing, but I’m not really seeing it.  I have found myself checking a definition or two on my kindle-certainly not something you have to do in Harry Potter!  I do love a well written mystery so I was really excited with this was an amazon deal of the day.  

I liked Robin right away, though I suppose she’s a pretty stock character-pretty young thing from a small town following her boyfriend to the big city.  I was worried she was going have a run in with our murderer right after she was introduced.  I like Strike and I’m intrigued as hell about Charlotte, Strike’s newly exed ex-fiance. I hope we get more of Strike’s backstory as the book continues, he’s an interesting guy.  

We’ll check back another third of the way through!

In the meantime follow us on twitter-we’ll add a link when I figure it out. @GuninActOne and @Ampersandpaper

Click here for part 2 of our discussion: https://guninactone.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/still-reading-the-cuckoos-calling/