What’s going on, everyone? Hope you’ve all been well! I for one have been busy tackling my Goodreads Book Challenge! Which I’m determined to complete by the end of the year. So without further ado, here are my favourite books from the last few weeks.
The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
Admittedly, I took to this book based on it being written by the lady of my life – JK Rowling – a huge inspiration to my own work. I was excited to see she had delved into her first crime debut, which didn’t surprise me considering I always thought Harry Potter to have an air of mystery and detective allure.
Centered around the protagonist Detective Cormoran Strike as he’s commissioned to uncover the truth about the death of super model Lula Landry, which not only digs up secrets of those involved but also pulls him further into his own personal dilemmas.
I’ll start with what I didn’t love (still liked very much, but not loved.) The plot itself didn’t feel very urgent. I find this with crime now and then, at how the terrible catastrophic thing has already happened, and the novel itself is just the aftermath with no real lingering threat. This changes however around two thirds in but still I would have liked to have experienced a little cruciality.
Another thing that bothered me a little, had to have been Cormoran’s ability to get things done pretty easily. Sure there was a few set backs here and there, but given his skill level as a detective, it seemed almost too easy for him to meander from one clue to the next. Usually I’d love this sort of thing in a character – proactiveness is crucial to a protagonist – but in this scenario, the missing ingredient for me were the lack of obstacles.
Now to what I did love! JK has always had a gift for creating loveable characters. No matter what spectrum, the characters of her novels always seem to hold my attention. I find with many stories the main character is more of a template to satisfy every reader, or a faceless lens that examines the story and world around it, but with this novel, every character was flawed, imperfect and just wonderful.
Characters were memorable, dialogue superb and conversations edgy, realistic, dramatic and heartfelt. Just what I want. JK has also been slammed in the past for her over simplistic writing style. I found this still to be the case here, but with far more understandable complexity and an obvious maturity, all down without me seeing the writer’s hand within the words.
I highly anticipate the next three novels. Forever a fan of you, Ms Rowling! x
My Story – Jo Malone
Call me pompous or just a bit campy (I Don’t mind) but as a guy, I have always admired my ability to regard my female idols far higher than my male ones. I’m sure this could be grounds for debate to certain people, but as a fan of many women and their work, it’s evidential just how much extra effort I feel they must go to. This being highly evidential in “My Story by Jo Malone.”
Documenting the strenuous and hard working life of Joanne Malone, entrepreneur, beauty therapist, perfumer and visionary, the autobiography delves deep into both the realities of self-made and fate-made success. Jo is a little cryptic about some of the more meaty aspects of her journey, like the finer details of the deal with Estee Lauder and how exactly she came to meet a majority of her contacts, which any budding entrepreneur, myself included, would love to have known more about.
But then again, there are some parts of the biography that truly share some of the more poignant moments of her journey, some of which we are all very familiar with, and some that we as fans had never known had we not read this book. As a writer and keen reader, I admit that this was still the very first book that made me tear up a little. Never thought it would happen, but there we are.
If like me you are a fan of this incredible, tenacious, hard working and fascinating woman, find and cherish a copy of this and prepare to admire this story of rawness and accomplishment.
The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
I first saw this novel on the Best Seller’s table at Waterstones. I’m usually wary of Best Sellers, but I guess the subtle male-on-male romance aspect of it drew me in. Okay I lie, it was the main reason. I mean come on, who doesn’t want to read about Achilles stumbling into a tent after battle, drenched in dirt, sweat and blood and barely clothed?
Forgive me, I digress. I am however very happy that this novel was not as smutty as I had hoped it to be. Sexy yes, but in no ways filthy. This was first and foremost an allowable liberty-taking love story between strikingly perfect Achilles and his companion/best friend/ lover, Patroclus, the novel’s protagonist.
It portrayed the blossoming friendship of both men from childhood, as one learnt the art of war whilst the other the art of medicine, a preemptive preparation for the inevitable Trojan War at Troy, and the personal sacrifices and struggles both men had to endure, when all along it was evident how happy and beautiful things could have been for the two men, had the war never happened. As is with ALL wars.
The pros in this novel are superb. Being a debut novel I had predicted the story to be somewhat amateurish. But apart from a few hiccups with pacing and dramatic structure, my own personal opinion I’ll stress, the novel itself was superbly written and well researched, which is understandable from a writer with a BA and MA in Latin and Ancient Greek, not to mention has been teaching for over a decade and even specialising in classical to modern adaptations.
The style of The Song of Achilles was one that will forever stay imprinted in my mind. As mentioned before, I’m glad the story was not what I had expected. Instead of a Ancient Greek “themed” novel of sex and war, I was introduced to a well-informed, adult interpretation of an ancient classic, which in itself has been crafted with the same expertise the ancient Greeks would have accepted with open arms, thus being an instant modern classic.
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
I like to pride myself on my range of book interests. It’s only recently however that I ‘ve delved further into non-fiction in an attempt to broaden my horizon in life. For some strange reason, be it that I’m but only an amateur novelist, I convinced myself to only read in the field that I wrote in, which until now was fantasy and science fiction. Not that I’ve ceased reading these genres, but recently I’ve learnt to spread out my interests and read something entirely different.
The irony of the above paragraph is it portrays exactly what Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg delves into. Everything we do, whatever it is, however we do it and for whatever reason, is all down to habit and how our bodies have evolved, been programmed and been nurtured by family and society to process situations and react to our own actions.
Not only that, but the book talks in great detail of how, as long as we become aware and analyse our habits, we can in fact change our habits and train our bodies to cope with new situations. Charles goes to great effort explaining the positive outcomes of successful people after they had identified their own bad habits, altered the process and successfully changed the habit altogether in a short space of time to better their lives.
I was recommended this book by Alux, the online success channel for those striving to take control of their lives. I for one knew I had to master my self-discipline, for I knew I didn’t read enough, didn’t exercise enough and ate way too much junk food. The Power of Habit was a top book recommendation I’m so happy I fell for.
As cliche as it sounds, this book has changed my life. Every time I identify an aspect of my life and situation I’m not happy about, I’m now able to assess how I can change it with the power of negative habit alteration and positive habit creation. Do you feel powerless? Read this book and take control!
Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance
If like me you’ve ever played the game of Famous Dinner Table, or whatever you call it, where if you could have anyone in the world round for dinner, who would it be, I am more confident, especially after reading this book, that Elon Musk would be the first person I would invite.
I feel both lucky and unlucky to be in a world with Elon Musk. Unlucky only because I find it difficult to imagine a colonised Mars in my lifetime, an objective Musk has always strived for. However, I, and I mean we, are so incredibly lucky to have a man like Elon Musk living on this exerted rock of ours.
For those of you who don’t know who Elon Musk is, he is what the business world would call an entrepreneur. But for me, Musk represents more than that. For me, Musk is the reason I have come to know the term “raison d’être”: the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence.
Elon Musk has taken the world entrepreneur, and has, for want of a better word, SUPERCHARGED it. The book, which has been heavily and authentically researched by Journalist Ashlee Vance, is an insight into Musk and his phenomenal achievements in advancing the human race.
The book is also very unbiased, speaking often about the struggles of obtaining certain information from those close to Musk, including Musk himself and his reluctance to bare the gritty details about both his professional and personal life. Though the book has made great progress in documenting the current state of affairs with Musk’s current and past business ventures, all of which have created the movement that I am confident will come to be known as “Musk Culture.”
For any budding entrepreneur, this book is such a treasure trove of useful insight I will hold it above any other to hail it as an urgent must read. Gone are the days where luck and good timing contribute to success, and hello to the days where working for twenty hours at your desk, sleeping for two on a bean bag and spending the remainder not showering and eating take out with mystery objects in your milkshake.
The book makes no assumption that everyone can be like Musk, but it does however prove that Musk is a man, however hard to get on with and however oddly mannered, is someone we must all strive to be like: beyond incredibly hard working, overbearingly passionate, and hardwired to not fail. But most importantly, it speaks volumes about finding one’s RAISON D’ÊTRE.
As I mentioned previously, I am so happy to be undertaking the Goodreads Reading Challenge. For anyone interested, all you must do is sign up to Goodreads, search for a bunch of books that take your fancy, and place them onto your “Want to Read shelf.” After that, all you have to do is partake in the Reading Challenge by pledging to read however many books you’re confident you can get through before the end of December.
It’s great fun and by doing so ensures you commit to reading every day. Give it a try and see how far you get. You may surprise yourself!
As always, Id love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or follow me on any of my social medias. I try my best to update regularly on each, and if you like, you can always sign up for my Monthly Newsletter, where I talk in detail about all the things going on in my life, plus any updates on books and projects I’m currently working on.
What books are you currently reading or have recently read? Let me know and let’s start a conversation. 🙂 x