The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

An instant classic, JK Rowling’s pen name-scribed mystery follows private detective Cormoran Strike and his secretary as they investigate the purported suicide of a popstar. Smart, turbulent, and cleanly pulled together, this was fun to read, and I highly recommend it. As a side, this is definitely not Harry Potter. These characters legit swear in an adult book; no wizarding “bloody ‘ells” here (however wistful that makes one)!

Grade: A

Book: 16/50


Murder at the Vicarage, Agatha Christie

I’ll admit; I chose to read Christie because of a Doctor Who episode featuring her. The Doctor’s statement that Agatha Christie was the best selling author of all time and space was somewhat grandiose, and warranted a library reserve at least I felt. After reading Murder at the Vicarage, the first of Christie’s Miss Marple series, I see why Agatha Christie is indeed only outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare. The murder mystery, told from the perspective of a small-town clergyman who walks into his study to find a body, is impossible to put down. Thrilling, smart, and funny, with language that never distracts but always engages, I loved this story, and can’t wait to read more of Agatha Christie.

Grade: A

Book: 15/50

Number9Dream, David Mitchell

Having read Cloud Atlas for a class recently, I started Number9Dream prepared for some Literature with a capital L. The novel didn’t waver from my expectations, but delivered alongside Mitchell’s modernist writing, non-linear storytelling, and futuristic Japanese lingo was a thrilling page turner I couldn’t put down. The first 100 pages or so were slow going, but just like Cloud Atlas set up the rest of the book for crazy, breakneck insanity as country-boy orphan Eiji navigates Yakuza-run Tokyo in search of his absent father. The more I think about the book, the more I liked it; Mitchell requires plenty of digesting time. 

Grade: A 

Book: 14/50

Dime Store Magic, Kelley Armstrong

Armstrong’s witch vs. sorcerer custody battle story should have been much more entertaining than it was. It follows Paige and Savannah, two witches introduced in Stolen, and their fight to stay together as a family when Savannah’s powerful absent father comes around. Paige, the main character, bored throughout, and the ending was extremely unsatisfactory. Overall, I had high hopes because of how much I liked Bitten and Stolen, but was disappointed and will not be reading the rest of the series.

Grade: B-

Book: 13/50

Stolen, Kelley Armstrong

Stolen was a fast-paced werewolf romp that never slowed down. Fun but not too silly, Armstrong’s sequel to Bitten didn’t challenge but never bored. The story follows Elena’s capture, escape, and subsequent revenge on a crazy billionaire who has been collecting various supernaturals for amusement. I’d recommend it for an easy and entertaining read.

Grade: B+

Book: 11/100

Frozen, Melissa De La Cruz

I was slightly confused throughout Frozen, but liked the characters and the overall story. Nat, a girl born with gifts in a militarized post-apocalyptic world where the gifted are rounded up, embarks on a journey to find the mythological “Blue,” a land free from the pollution and decay of modern Earth. She enlists mercenaries, led by (the of course handsome) Wes, and their ensuing adventure leads them through the disturbing toxic ocean with islands of trash, wastelands of radioactive outlaw towns, slaver ships and more. Frozen is legitimately dark with pounding commentary on global warming, government overreach and more, but was definitely a page turner and I’ll be reading its sequel.

Grade: B+

Book: 10/100

Cinnamon and Gunpowder, Eli Brown

Cinnamon and Gunpowder follows the kidnapping of a famed chef from his 19th century home by an infamous woman pirate. Fun, but with enough heart to touch the reader, Owen’s struggles to create delicacies out of pirate rations while getting to know the crew never slow down enough to warrant putting the book down. I enjoyed Brown’s story, and recommend it as a quick and entertaining, but never too silly, read.

Grade: A-

Book: 9/100

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (vol. 1), Arthur Conan Doyle

Holmes is a classic for a reason, and Doyle’s stories are as good as expected. The hefty book (750ish pages) was an easier read than I expected, which allows the elegance of Doyle’s writing to come through without struggling to understand diction or the like as anticipated. I’ve watched both the most recent movies and BBC show based on Sherlock Holmes (the TV show is my favorite show of the moment); however, the book complemented them without being to close to either. Characters and story lines have been altered enough in the modern renditions that I never knew the endings of the mysteries completely, even having watched the onscreen version. All in all, a great, if long, read!

Grade: A

Book: 8/100