The Cuckoo’s Calling was first published under the name Robert Galbraith and sold several thousand copies. That’s pretty decent selling for an unknown debut author in the first few months of being in print, but soon it was discovered that Robert Galbraith was actually a pseudonym for one of the most stratospherically successful novelists of our time: J.K. Rowling. Once that was revealed, sales rocketed and library waitlists grew long. People who were previously completely unaware of the book now wanted to read it immediately (including me).
I found Rowling’s first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, a good read but I also found it to be full of unhappy, often petty people in dreary circumstances. I wouldn’t describe it as a "fun" read, like the Harry Potter series was. As dark as Harry Potter gets at times, I feel the main strength of the series is in its colorful, likable heroes and heroines: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Hagrid . . . how can you not love them?
With The Cuckoo’s Calling, J.K .Rowling’s narration is fun again and you can really root for the lead characters. Our private detective Cormoran Strike, a one-legged Afghanistan war veteran living in his office after a breakup, is irresistible, and his accidental-temp-receptionist-turned-brilliant-sleuth Robin is too. Even the suspected murder victim at the center of the mystery, supermodel Lula Landry, won me over even though we only get to know her after her death from a balcony fall in the prologue.
I certainly won’t spoil the ending to this mystery, but I will just say I was more than satisfied with how Cormoran and Robin handled the case and I look forward to their further adventures (and yes, Rowling has said Robert Galbraith will keep writing about the adventures of this captivating duo).
At the time of my writing, there is still a big waiting list for SJPL’s copies of the standard print ediction of The Cuckoo’s Calling, and the Overdrive e-book has a pretty sizable waiting list as well. However, the audio CD version of the book is currently ready to check out and an e-book is currently borrowable via Axis360. We will also soon have large print copies of The Cuckoo's Calling and they can be requested now.
I always thought that Casanova was a legendary, if not mythical, figure -- a one-dimensional Don Juan who seduced women and did little else. I found out recently I was wrong. Casanova was an historical person. He wrote a book about his adventures, and those adventures go considerably beyond a series of romantic conquests. To find out for yourself, check out our translation of Casanova’s History of My Life, as well as these other stories about adventurous lives.
History of My Life by Giacomo Casanova: The colorful memoirs of the legendary eighteenth-century lover recall not only his amorous exploits, but also his diverse careers as a gambler, businessman, diplomat, entertainer, politician, con artist, and world traveler.
David Crockett: The Lion of the West by Michael Wallis: The life of the legendary frontiersman, soldier, and martyr, from hunting bears in the unspoiled countryside to helping defend the Alamo.
Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventure by Tim Jeal: The journeys of the six men and one woman who risked their lives to solve the mystery of the source of the Nile.
Junius and Albert's Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey by Peter Carlson: The story of two correspondents for the New York Tribune who escaped the Confederacy's most notorious prison after being captured at the Battle of Vicksburg and relied on secret signals and covert sympathizers to travel back to Union territory.
The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini: A vivid and convincing portrait of the manners and morals both of the rulers of the sixteenth century and of their subjects. With enviable powers of invective and an irrepressible sense of humor, reflected in an equally vigorous and extravagant style, Cellini provides an intriguing glimpse into the palaces and prisons of the Italy of Michelangelo and the Medici.
As the nights grow longer and the days grow colder, it feels like it’s time to read something worthy of the weather outside. These novels create a chill that you are sure to feel deep in your bones. So get ready to curl up a cup of hot cocoa or mulled cider and settle in for some interesting reads.
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell follows the harrowing tale of resourceful seventeen year-old Ree Dolly. Ree must save her family from losing their only home and meager land when it appears that her father has skipped out on bond following drug charges. This atmospheric novel creates a bleak reality for the Dolly’s by portraying issues of crime, drug abuse, and mental illness against the barren landscape of the Ozarks in winter. Be sure to watch the film starring Jennifer Lawrence after you read the novel.
The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg is the first novel in a popular Swedish mystery series following detective Patrik Hedstrom. The novel is set in the small coastal Swedish village of Fjällbacka. The story centers on Erica Falck, now a successful writer, who has returned to her hometown for her parents’ funeral only to discover that an old childhood friend has died in an apparent suicide. Eventually, Hedstrom and Falck team up to discover the true circumstances of the friend’s death. The harsh winter environment in which the story takes place creates an overall gothic and dark tone. If you’re looking for a different type of murder-mystery series, this is a good place to start.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a reimagining of the classic Russian fairy tale, set in Alaska in 1920, which follows a childless couple homesteading as a means of escaping past demons. One night, after building a child out of snow, the couple finds a small girl wandering by herself in the wilderness. The couple soon develops an intense love for the child. Ivey’s prose effectively conveys the loneliness, isolation, and love the characters feel, and juxtaposes these emotions against the brutal Alaskan landscape. Essentially, The Snow Child is a fairy tale for adults that is mature, while still being magical.
Did you just finish a good book and still don't know what to read next? Try one of these resouces for your next pick.
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Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Here are some great picture books to help get the little ones in your life ready for the holiday.