November turned out to be a bumper reading month, for two reasons: the first was that I changed jobs, but had some holiday time before starting my new role, which meant plenty of time to read. The second was that I wanted to make the most of this free time and immerse myself in some engaging but not too challenging reads, so I ended up working my way through a pile of Sookie Stackhouse novels, which I’ve read several times in the past.
Sorry, not sorry. The Southern Vampire Mysteries are perfect reading for a dark winter day and when I pick one up I know I’ll be happy to spend hours working my way through the story.
While I was away I also read a couple of crime novels.
First up was the new Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling, Career of Evil, which I’ve been dying to read for months. Usually I’d be reluctant to pay the best part of £10 to download a book to my Kindle, but I was super eager to read this and I had an Amazon voucher to spend so #winning.
Career of Evil is the third in the series of Cormoran Strike crime novels, which sees the private detective hunting down a sadistic killer after he sends a severed leg in the post to Strike’s assistant, Robin. Convinced that the murderer must be one of three men who hold a grudge against him, Strike is forced to look back at some of his most difficult cases.
One of the best things about these stories is the characters and here the author doesn’t disappoint, as there is a good bit of character development for both Strike and Robin. In particular, we find out much more about her past and why she was so keen to become a detective. There are also some changes in the dynamics of Robin’s relationship with her disapproving fiancé, Matthew, which add further layers to the rapport between her and Strike.
If you haven’t read any of the Galbraith books yet and you enjoy a good thriller, go out and buy them now!
While on holiday I also read yet another Icelandic crime novel, Snow Blind by Ragnar Jonasson, which is set in a remote town in the north of the country and follows a young, newly qualified policeman who moves from Reykjavik to the countryside to take up his first post.
This book was an average thriller, mostly because the story is quite thin; not much actually happens and there are few twists and turns. But where the book does excel, is in its depiction of life in this remote town, which becomes even more isolated during the winter when the snow cuts it off completely. The sense of claustrophobia felt by the central characters is vivid and the author manages to bring this community to life.
Also this month, I borrowed Looking for Alaska, by John Green, from the library. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Green and have had The Fault in Our Stars on my Kindle for ages, without finding the right time to read it.
But I was a little disappointed with Looking for Alaska. The story follows Miles who moves from his lonely Florida life to study at boarding school in Alabama, where he makes friends with a bunch of misfits, including the gorgeous Alaska.
The first half of the novel is really only setting the scene for the second half, introducing the characters and building up their relationships. As such, a lot of the action felt a bit contrived. These are teenagers in the mould of the Dawson’s Creek gang; it was hard to find them believable thanks to their conversational style, elaborate pranks and fascination with historical biographies.
Alaska definitely fits the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope: she’s funny, smart, hot and loves to talk about sex, as well as planning pranks, smoking and buying illicit bottles of wine to share with her guy friends. She flirts winningly with Miles despite being so in love with her boyfriend, even finding him a girlfriend of his own. But she also has a darker side, prone to sudden moods and fits of anger, thanks to her troubled but mysterious past.
This isn’t a bad book by any means and it does explore some difficult themes, such as mental illness, but I felt that it was trying a bit too hard to win over its teenage audience.
And finally, I enjoyed the new Robert Galbraith novel so much that I decided to go back and read the first book in the series: The Cuckoo’s Calling.
I’m still pretty far away from my target of reading 70 books this year; so far I’m at 59. I have a couple of weeks’ holiday in December, so it might be possible. Watch this space!
Includes affiliate links.
- Dead To The World: A True Blood Novel: 4, by Charlaine Harris
- Dead As A Doornail, by Charlaine Harris
- Definitely Dead: A True Blood Novel (Sookie Stackhouse Book 6), by Charlaine Harris
- All Together Dead: A True Blood Novel (Sookie Stackhouse Vampire 7), by Charlaine Harris
- Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike), by Robert Galbraith
- Snowblind (Dark Iceland), by Ragnar Jonasson
- From Dead to Worse: A True Blood Novel: 8 (Sookie Stackhouse series), by Charlaine Harris
- Dead and Gone: A True Blood Novel (Sookie Stackhouse Book 9), by Charlaine Harris
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
- The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike), by Robert Galbraith