Reviews

Review: Once Upon a River ~ by Diane Setterfield

480 pages ~ Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

2018 ~ Atria/Emily Beatles Books

My Rating: 5/5 ✰✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense, and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

“Along the borders of this world lie others. There are places you can cross. This is one such place.”

My Thoughts:

First, let me say that this book is probably not for everyone. It is a very meandering, atmospheric type of narrative that is more about mood than it is about plot. Although there is a mystery at the heart of the plot, it is not the type of suspenseful mystery that would keep someone up till 3 am trying to get to the bottom of. I would not recommend this to readers who need a fast-paced, suspenseful plot in order to stay engaged. I would recommend this to readers who, like me, enjoy rich, dreamy beautiful prose, simply for the sake of beautiful prose. Fans of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries would definitely be into this. The plot is slow moving, but this book is more than plot. It is about storytelling in all of its various forms and what those stories provide us. Setterfield has a very distinct style that I can only describe as magical. Here were some highlights for me:

-The celebration of storytelling- As I said above, this book is really a celebration of how stories influence us, inspire us, help us cope, and help us make sense of things we can’t understand. The river, in this story, both gives and takes life, it is both salvation and destruction simultaneously. It both inspires the stories, while the stories, in turn, define the river and what it is capable of. This was really such a beautiful theme, especially for someone who spends their life between the pages of a book.

-Darwinian themes- Because so little was known about the nature of medicine and science during the Victorian era, it was really interesting to see how these characters created stories in order to make sense of things that were, to them, unimaginable.

“Once upon a time, a long time ago, an ape became human. And once upon a time, long before that, an aquatic creature came out of the water and breathed air.”

-Connection to the real Henry Taunt– I had no idea that there was an actual Victorian photographer who floated around the Thames on a boat with a darkroom. When reading Setterfield’s notes at the end of the novel, it was really fascinating to see how her own research of Taunt lead her to create this story. I spent about two hours online mesmerized by his photography. I think that it would have been really lovely if the book included a map of the river and some of Taunt’s photography.

-Setterfield does a remarkable job of making the reader feel as if they’re are part this magical transaction of storytelling. You feel as if you are sitting down at the Swan with a pint, listening to this remarkable tale.

“And now, dear reader, the story is over. It is time for you to cross the bride once more and return to the world you came from. This river, which is and is not the Thames, must continue following without you. You have haunted here long enough, and besides, you surely have rivers of your own to attend to?”

Happy Reading!!

For more information on Diane Setterfield and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

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Monthly Wrap-Ups

2018 Year in Review

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2018 was a really different type of reading year for me. Prior to this year, my reading experiences have mostly been a solitary affair. I have always been a big reader, but other than college, I never really shared my thoughts or opinions on what I read. At least, not beyond my own reading journal. I am so glad that this year I decided to break out of my comfort zone and start blogging. It has really meant a lot to me to have this small space online and to be able to connect with all of you amazing and thoughtful readers and writers. I love hearing your opinions and seeing what you are reading. I can’t wait to see where your reading adventures take you in 2019!

img_3068In reviewing my 2018 reading, my choices were all over the place. From Fantasy to Mystery, Romance and Historical Fiction, I read a little bit of everything. I read a ton of YA Fantasy this year. Besides reading Harry Potter as a teenager, this is the first time I have read so much fantasy. My daughter has been really into reading the last few years and this is her favorite genre. So, I really wanted to share those books with her. It was really fun reading The Throne of Glass, The Shadow and Bone, and The Infernal Devices series with her. My personal favorite in this genre was The Arc of the Scythe (Scythe and Thunderhead) by Neal Shusterman. My Daughter and I also visited the YA’ll West Festival together this year which was an amazing experience. The level of commitment that YA fans have is staggering!

I also read a lot of Literary/Historical Fiction this year: The Immortalists, Alias Grace, The Witches of New York, The Silence of the Girls, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies. My Mystery selections also went really well this year: Lethal White, The Last Time I Lied, and Final Girls. Riley Sager is one of my new favorite mystery authors. As far as romance goes, I read Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, and London Belongs to Me. Roomies being my favorite romance of the year.

Well, without further ado, here are my top five reads of 2018: (click on the titles to read my full review for each)

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The Heart’s Invisible Furies – Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction:

This was hands down, my favorite book of the year. This book is a thought-provoking, insightful, heartwarming, and bittersweet story of one man, Cyril Avery. As a baby, Cyril is put up for adoption by Catherine Goggin, a young girl who is kicked out of her small parish, country town in Ireland for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Cyril is taken in by a wealthy couple, who have very little time for him and barely notice his existence. He discovers at an early age that he is gay and his relationship with his best friend, Julian Woodbead, proves to be a complicated one. Over the course of the novel, while in the midst of trying to understand his sexuality, and also find real love, Cyril has to navigate the hypocrisy of Irish society at this time (late 1940s-1980s). In his search for identity and meaning, Cyril’s life, just like all of our lives, is filled with moments of blissful happiness and moments of sorrow and loss. However, there are so many moments in this book that come full circle that it leaves you with a feeling of rightness, despite the heartbreak that you witness. The title couldn’t be more perfect. We all carry around burdens, pain, loss, and injustice that become etched on our hearts. These are our “furies,” and as heartbreaking as they may be, they are also part of what makes this life so beautiful.

 

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The Silence of the Girls – Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction:

Barker does something pretty brilliant in this book- she manages to simultaneously celebrate The Iliad (the original source of this story) and challenge it. Her challenge comes in the form of perspective because her story brings to light the thoughts/feelings/struggles/triumphs of the women in this story- who both A) played a crucial role in the politics and the emotion of the story, and B) whose perspectives were woefully left out of the original. However, her book also celebrates the Iliad. She gives you a sense of the majesty of this story and the complexity of its heroes. I honestly can’t say enough about how much I loved this book- it was a breath of fresh air, it was moving, emotional, honest, and beautifully written. If you’re a fan of Greek Mythology/retellings, you should definitely check this out.

img_2958-1Book of Dust– by Philip Pullman – Fantasy:

Philip Pullman is a master craftsman of the slow spun tale. His rich, building, lyrical style is so comforting that it draws you into a parallel universe. The protagonist, Malcolm, is such as smart and likable boy that you can’t help root for him as he gets caught up in this world of political intrigue, scholarship, and magic. If you are a fan of Narnia or Harry Potter, you would definitely enjoy this.

 

3d2832c7-d396-4ed9-9eec-26ae1753cab5Thunderhead– YA Fantasy:

I really loved Scythe, but Thunderhead takes the loose threads from book #1 and spins them into a whole new world of intrigue, danger, and suspense, with some really cool philosophical questions underlining the whole plot. While book #1 focuses on the Scythedom and Rowan and Citra’s place within it, book #2 continues this journey, but with more connection to the Thunderhead- the vast, all-knowing, God-like “server,” that monitors the world. Instead of being privy to the journals of the Scythes, we now get the journals/thoughts of the Thunderhead. The actions of the Scythes and Rowan, woven together with the thoughts of the all-seeing Thunderhead, created a brilliant contrast. If you’re a fan of YA dystopian, do yourself a big favor and read this series. The next book in the series, Toll, comes out in 2019.

 

0d838b18-8cfb-4c17-ad8c-2407b575136cLethal White– Detective/Mystery:

The same attention to detail and suspense that Rowling gives us in HP, works so well in her detective series. Every tiny detail is crafted to come together at the perfect moment, and suddenly, all of the pieces fit together and it is so satisfying. I have loved every Cormoran Strike novel so far, Cuckoo’s Calling being my favorite, but Lethal White was so much more intricate than the other 3 novels. Unlike all of the other Strike novels, we are not dealing with one crime in Lethal White. There is policial corruption, blackmail, and a repressed memory that, for the majority of the book, we’re not even sure is real). The length was completely welcome for me. I wanted to stay with Strike and Robin as long as I could and continue to take in all of the minute details of the case as they unfolded. I would have welcomed another 500 pages if it meant staying with these two a little longer.

Overall, a great year in books for me. Thank you all for being here and sharing with me. Stay tuned for my 2019 reading goals/TBR coming up in a day or so. Happy New Year, everyone! 

Click here: @somewhereinpages to find me on Instagram and here:  erinrossi to find me on Goodreads. 

Happy Reading!

Reviews

Review: The Silence of the Girls ~ by Pat Barker

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Review: The Silence of the Girls ~ by Pat Barker

291 pages ~ Literary Fiction/Greek Mythology Retelling

2018~ Doubleday Books

Audio Narrated by Kristin Atherton and Michael Fox

10 hr 44 mins

Published by Random House Audio

Presented by Audible.com

My Rating: 5/5 ✰✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, which continues to wage bloody war over a stolen woman—Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman—Briseis—watches and waits for the war’s outcome. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.

When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and coolly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position, able to observe the two men driving the Greek army in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate not only of Briseis’s people but also of the ancient world at large.

Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war—the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead—all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives—and it is nothing short of magnificent.

“Many of these songs I remember from my own childhood. As a small girl at home in my father’s house, I used to creep down to the courtyard when I was supposed to be in bed asleep and listen to the bards playing and singing in the hall. Perhaps, at that age, I thought all the stirring tales of courage and adventure were opening a door into my own future, though a few years later- ten, eleven years old, perhaps- the world began to close in around me and I realized the songs belonged to my brothers, not to me.”

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My Thoughts:

Barker does something pretty brilliant in this book- she manages to simultaneously celebrate The Iliad (the original source of this story) and challenge it. Her challenge comes in the form of perspective because her story brings to light the thoughts/feelings/struggles/triumphs of the women in this story- who both A) played a crucial role in the politics and the emotion of the story, and B) whose perspectives were woefully left out of the original. However, her book also celebrates the Iliad. She gives you a sense of the majesty of this story and the complexity of its heroes. I honestly can’t say enough about how much I loved this book- it was a breath of fresh air, it was moving, emotional, honest, and beautifully written. Below were some of the high points for me:

  • The connection to the Iliad- Barker is very careful to interject Briseis’ voice into Achilles’ story- Briseis never attempts to rewrite it or make it her own. She is very honestly telling the events from her own perspective- inserting her own thoughts and feelings while also commenting on the differences between her story and the romanticized legends of Achilles and the Trojan War.

“Suppose, suppose just once, once, in all these centuries, the slippery gods keep their word and Achilles is granted eternal glory in return for his early death under the walls of Troy…? What will they make of us, the people of those unimaginable distant times? One thing I do know: they won’t want to be told about the massacres of men and boys, the enslavement of women and girls. They won’t want to know we were living in a rape camp. No, they’ll go for something altogether softer. A love story, perhaps? I just hope they manage to work out who the lovers were.

His story. His, not mine. It ends at his grave.”

  • With this connection to the Iliad, we also see Achilles in a completely new light. He continues to be the brutal, ruthless, killing machine that we know, but in seeing his love for Patroclus and his connection to his mother, there is a new depth to him. Even his relationship with Briseis changes over the course of this story. They form a mutual respect and understanding of each other. It’s not loving, I wouldn’t even call it friendship, but it’s definitely a shared acceptance and protection.
  • The everyday struggles and triumphs of the women and their day-to-day life in the camp was beautifully captured. The women like Briseis who have been captured and taken away from their homes to live as slaves in the Greek war camp find a magical way to cope with their reality. Through caring for the children, caring for the sick and wounded, preparing the dead for cremation, all preparing the food, the women in the camp find connection and purpose despite what they are forced to endure.
  • Use of the Gods- There is not as much interaction with the Gods in this story as there is in The Iliad. In fact, Achilles’ mother, Thetis, is the only God these characters ever interact with. The subtle inclusion of the Gods allows for the possibility that some of these “curses” and “bargains” with said Gods could actually be in the minds of the characters rather than a reality.
  • Narrative style- For the most part, the story is told in the first person by Briseis. It is as if you are sitting down with an old friend and she is telling you about the most horrific experiences of the life. This story is raw and unsentimental, unlike the romanticization we find in the Iliad. This story is coming from a person who has become immune to the horrors and the pain that she suffered. To her, it is just her life, not a heroic legend or fanciful tale. Briseis even poses questions for the reader. Questions that she knows the reader might have or questions that a friend might have in hearing her story.

“This man killed your brothers, he killed your husband, he burned your city, he destroyed every single thing you’d ever loved- and you were prepared to marry him? I don’t understand how you could do that?

“Perhaps that’s because you’ve never  been a slave?”

Again, I can’t say enough about the beauty of this book. If you are a fan of Greek Mythology retellings, this is a must!

For more information on Pat Barker and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review ~ Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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Review: Vengeful ~ by V.E. Schwab

478 pages ~ Adult Fantasy

2018~ TOR

My Rating: 4/5 ✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

Link to my Vicious- Book 1 Review

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My Thoughts:

Even though I loved Vicious, I actually enjoyed the plot of Vengeful much more. With Vicious I found myself disinterest at times, but Vengeful grabbed me right from the beginning and never let go. The build-up/plot was much more complex and intricate than the first. Schwab is such a skilled writer and there were so many unique themes running through this book. Below were some of the high points for me:

  • My enthusiasm for this book is in large part due to Marcella. She was such a great addition to this story because she added the drama and romance that was lacking in the first book. Her relationship with her husband and their backstory made her revenge and descent into villainy even more poignant. I felt like I really knew her and the motives behind her actions, which is something that was often lacking for Victor and Eli. I loved that Marcella’s character was beautiful and powerful. Schwab did such a great job playing with this femme fatale vibe.

“People looked at Marcella and assumed a whole lot. That a pretty face meant an Empty head, that a girl like her was only after an easy life, that she would be Satisfied with luxury, instead of power- as if you couldn’t have both.”

  • The banter between June and Marcella was also a really great addition. Two powerful females, the hit woman and the mod wife, trying to feel each other and anticipate each other’s moves was really fun to watch.
  • I really loved June as well- she had a very Arya Stark vibe with her “kill list.” She protected Sydney but also tried to empower her by teaching her the value of a family that is chosen rather than the one we are born into. I would have really liked more backstory on June, but maybe Schwab has plans for that.
  • The connection with the mod also gave the book a very cool film noir vibe that I absolutely loved. I can completely see this being made into a film noir style detective mystery complete with black and white stylized cinematography.
  • Eli’s backstory was fascinating. It was so interesting to finally see the motivation behind his actions. His backstory then brought up so many questions about motive. Victor and Eli commit the same crimes but for different reasons- Is Victor less evil because he kills EOs in order to protect Syd, their makeshift family, and find a cure for himself? Do we still consider Eli purely evil once we understand the full extent of his motive? These were all really interesting questions that the book brought up and I actually really liked that it never attempted to answer them. “There are no good men in this game.”- because no one is wholly good or bad.
  • Haverty- AKA: Frankenstein – His desire to tap into what the EOs have was a really cool reflection on Victor and Eli creating their own monsters (themselves). I would have liked more with the doctor at the end of the novel. His role was really shaping up to be something pivotal at the end, but it was over pretty quickly.

What was missing?

  • Ok, my only complaint is really the same complaint that I had with book one. Victor and Eli are supposed to be these legendary friends turned enemies. The inside cover of the book even compares them to “Magneto and Professor X” and “Superman and Lex Luthor.” But because we never get very much of the backstory on the formation of their friendship, I just consistently found it hard to understand their intense hatred for each other and their desire to destroy each other. There is a small flashback to the day they met, but that is it. It was not enough to understand the connection and/or love that they once had for each other. It might seem a little nitpicky, but I just wanted to be more invested in their relationship than I was. Ultimately, it was the side characters that I really ended up investing.

Without giving anything away, the ending does seem to leave you guessing. This could mean a potential continuation of the EO would, I’m not sure, but I would definitely be there for that.

For more information on V.E. Schwab and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Monthly Wrap-Ups

November Wrap-Up

Happy December, Everyone! Time is flying by and now it is full speed ahead into Christmas. November was such a great reading month for me. I managed to read 4 books total, but I didn’t have a lot of time to write up individual reviews throughout the month. So, I thought I would do a monthly wrap-up with 4 mini-reviews. So here goes:

Roomies by Christina Lauren ✰✰✰✰

I was in the mood for something lighthearted and fun over the Thanksgiving weekend and Roomies was a perfect choice. It definitely indulged my weepy romantic side, but it was also really well written. The characterization of both Holland and Calvin was so unique and really gave a sense of the whole person, not just who they were in terms of the relationship and the plot. I loved that the authors included all of their embarrassing moments – including Holland’s obsession with her “hot subway busker,” and Calvin’s marriage lies to his family back home in Ireland. These were all very real and relatable moments. My only complaint here was that I never really questioned either character’s motives in the same way they questioned each other. So it was a little frustrating at times to watch the two of them essentially make up things to be upset about. But overall, this was a perfect feel-good romantic comedy with really adorable characters.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren ✰✰✰✰

img_1016Ok, full disclosure, I read Roomies so fast that I needed another feelgood romance to finish out the long Thanksgiving weekend. Since I loved Roomies so much, I picked up Josh and Hazel. This was a really cute “friends to lovers” troupe with a fun twist. Ok, Hazel herself is really the twist. She was so unlike any female lead character I’ve read. She is unapologetically over-the-top, loud, blunt, free, and absolutely amazing! I loved that even though she’d been told time and time again that she was “too weird” or “too crazy” she never changed. She never altered herself in any way or attempted to please anyone but herself. For that, I give Christina Lauren a big high five. Hazel’s personality contrasted so well with Josh’s uptight demeanor and they made such a funny pair of opposites. I also really loved the Portland vibes. Having lived there for two years, I can definitely see someone like Hazel being happy and thriving in this amazing city. Thanks for keeping Portland weird Christina Lauren.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager ✰✰✰✰

The second I read that this book took place at a creepy summer camp in upstate New York where a mysterious crime once took place, I was all in. Emma is a prominent New York artist who returns to the summer camp she attended at age 13 to confront the unsolved disappearance of her 3 cabin roommates 15 years prior. Once Emma actually arrives back at the camp, she starts to uncover cryptic clues and messages left by the girls. She has to unravel these clues in order to finally figuring out what happened to them. This novel was so fast paced and kept me guessing the entire time. It led me on a wild goose chase. Emma herself is constantly following different leads and theories, and I was following right along with her. Every time I thought I had it figured out, a new clue appeared and it was right back to square one. With about 5 pages left in the book, I thought everything was nicely wrapped up. I was completely wrong! Another crazy plot twist left me stunned. This was a perfect mystery with a crazy fun plot twist! My only complaint was that at times there was this weird time warp happening- where things happened exactly as they did in the past. Even down to what the camp served for dinner. I am not sure if all of this was intentional, but it took away from the believability at times.

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay ✰✰✰✰

After Halloween, I was really feeling the witchy vibes. Although the plot took a little while to pick-up for me, I loved the mood of this book. Witch grimoires, talking ravens, crafting spells, reading tea leaves- all of this created such an irresistible mood. The 1880s (Gilded Age) New York was the perfect setting for this story- gas lamps, horse-drawn carriages, bowler hats, parasols, plus the growing urbanization of the city. Adelaide, Beatrice, and Eleanor, our witches, are powerful women, but still, have to hide their talents for fear of persecution. With the start of Women’s Suffrage at this time, their little tea shop becomes a safe haven for all women seeking change. The overall message of the story was a really powerful one about what women can accomplish when they come together.

So that is my November Wrap-Up! Here’s to some more cozy holiday reads in December! Happy reading! 

-Erin

Follow me on Instagram and Goodreads 

Reviews

Review: Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) ~ by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Review: Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) ~ by Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)

656 pages ~ Detective, Mystery, Crime

September 2018~ Sphere (Little, Brown, and Co.)

My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

“I seen a kid killed…He strangled it, up by the horse.”

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott—once his assistant, now a partner in the agency—set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been—Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.

My Thoughts:

Ok, let’s be honest, I’ll always be a little bias when it comes to Jo Rowling. She gave me one of my favorite series, which has been a constant source of light and love since first reading The Sorcerer’s Stone when I was 17. I can never thank her enough for bringing Harry into the world. That being said, her detective novels deserve the same amount of praise as far as I’m concerned. The attention to detail and suspense that we get in HP, works so well in her detective series. Every tiny detail is crafted to come together at the perfect moment, and suddenly, all of the pieces fit together and it is so satisfying. I have loved every Cormoran Strike novel so far, Cuckoo’s Calling being my favorite, but Lethal White was so much more intricate than the other 3 novels. I can now see why it took so long for this book to finally make it to publication. The level of detail and intersecting plot points make it seriously remarkable. Was it long? Yes. Did I care? No. The length was absolutely necessary when considering the intricacy of the plot and the investigation. Unlike all of the other Strike novels, we are not dealing with one crime in Lethal White. There is policial corruption, blackmail, and a repressed memory that, for the majority of the book, we’re not even sure is real). The length was completely welcome for me. I wanted to stay with Strike and Robin as long as I could and continue to take in all of the minute details of the case as they unfolded. I would have welcomed another 500 pages if it meant staying with these two a little longer.

Below were some high points for me:

  • The Detail!- Unlike most detective novels, where certain pieces of information are withheld from the reader until the perfect moment, Rowling doesn’t do this. The reader gets EVERYTHING! And I mean everything. All of the tiny pieces of the mystery that Strike and Robin are grabbling with and trying to fit together, are given to the reader. You have all the pieces to the puzzle, but like Strike and Robin, you don’t understand how they fit together. Because you have all of the pieces, seeing how they fit together at the end is even more satisfying. This is my absolute favorite element of Rowling’s detective novels, and it is really beautifully done in Lethal White.
  • The Realistic lives of Strike and Robin- If you haven’t noticed, I love these two. They are smart, funny, real, honest, and good, truly good – with no gray area. But now that we are into the 4th book with them, their personalities, their imperfections, and unique way of seeing the world and themselves are really coming through. There is so much of their own inner dialogue in this book and it was great to get to know them even more.
  • Politics: Every member of this diverse cast of characters has a political connection. There’s Jasper Chiswell- the Tory MP; his rich, dysfunction family; Della Winn- the blind, Liberal, Saint-like MP; her sleazy, power-hungry husband – Geriant Winn; Flick Purdue – upper-class daughter, turned Liberal activist; Jimmy Knight- troubled, Liberal activist, bent on bringing down the Tories; his brother- Billy Knight- mentally disturbed and convinced he witnessed a murder when he was young. All of these characters are multi-dimensional, none are wholly good or bad, and you find yourself liking them all at certain points in the novel.  I also loved that no political leaning came out squeaky clean. The Liberal characters (or Whigs in the UK), come out looking just as bad as the Conservatives (Tories), and vice versa.
  • Undercover work for Strike and Robin was new in this novel. There are small moments in the other novels, but we get so much more of it here. This was a really fun element in the novel. It was great to see them both thinking on their feet, taking on new personas, and reacting when things didn’t go as planned.
  • Romance: I have heard the comment so many times that J.K. Rowling can’t write romance, and I really just don’t agree. The subtle moments of tenderness and affection between Strike and Robin are realistic and in tune with their working relationship. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are so many lovely kernels of romance throughout the book- it’s just enough to give you the warm and fuzzies, and leaving you guessing.

Needless to say, I loved it. Rowling continues to be one of the favorite writers, and I can’t wait for book #5. I am keeping my figures crossed that this is planned for 2019. 

For more information on Robert Galbraith and the other Cormoran Strike novels, check out Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: Clockwork Princess ~ by Cassandra Clare

Review: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices Series book 3)~ by Cassandra Clare

567 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2013~ Simon & Schuster Teen

My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

“Sometimes when you cannot decide what to do, you pretend you are a character in a book, because it is easier to decide what they would do”

My Thoughts:

Ok, now that I have finally finished the whole series, I can reflect back on how I felt going into it. I was honestly not expecting to love it this much. I had watched a few episodes of the Shadowhunter series on Freeform with my daughter and I honestly thought it looked super cheesy. However, I was complete attracted to the Victorian aesthetic and so many people had recommended it. So, I thought at the most it would be a fun fantasy. It was fun, there is tons of action, humor, and romance, but I did not expect to be so moved by these characters and to fall so in love with Cassandra Clare’s writing. She has not only managed to craft a beautiful love story between these characters, but she has thoroughly paid homage to the Victorian era and its literature. Below were some high points for me:

  • My favorite thing about the final book in the series was way that Clare was able to clearly express the bond between Will, Jem, and Tessa, and the love they have for each other.

“They say you cannot love two people equally at once,” she said. “And perhaps for others that is so. But you and Will—you are not like two ordinary people, two people who might have been jealous of each other, or who would have imagined my love for one of them diminished by my love of the other. You merged your souls when you were both children. I could not have loved Will so much if I had not loved you as well. And I could not love you as I do if I had not loved Will as I did.”

  • Clare is also so good with plot! Sometimes with fantasy the epicness of the plot can overshadow what is going on with the characters. Here, the dangers which the characters were up against (Mormain, the automatons, ect), mirrored their own internal struggles, questions, and shortcomings. Everything just melded together so well.
  • I know I mentioned this in my Clockwork Angel review, but I just love the way Clare was able to make the novels feel so Victorian. This consistently kept me immersed in that era as I read.
  • The parabatai connection between Will and Jem was so beautiful described in this book- the rune, the knife, glimpses of the ritual- I loved this element of their bond and the way Clare made it feel so scared and otherworldly.
  • There are so many great minor characters here:

Magnus Bane – his need to protect Will and his desire to find true love despite his impossibly long and tedious existence

Woolsey Scott – the aesthete-werewolf – his snarky loathing of everything

Henry – his inability to make anything that works, but still be completely charming

Sophie- who is finally able to fight for herself and what she wants 

  • Lastly- I loved that the final message of the book was connected to human goodness and redemption. That although we are such flawed creatures, there is always the potential for goodness.

“There was human goodness in the world, she thought- all caught up with desires and dreams, regrets and bitterness, resentments and power, but it was there.”

There was so much tragic beauty in these novels and I won’t soon forget these characters.  Ok, I’m obviously complete trash for these books and should probably end my rant now.

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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