Catch-up Review: Ruth Galloway Series by Elly Griffiths

6 Jun

I’m doing a series of catch-up review posts to try and make up for my year of not blogging. These are quick reviews of books I’ve read over 2012-2013.

Genre: Crime fiction, Forensic Archeology

Series list: https://www.goodreads.com/series/46415-ruth-galloway

Review

This is one of my all-time favourite series that I discovered in 2012. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist who teaches at Norfolk University. In her forties, single and overweight, she’s a successful woman who manages to overcome what society tells her her life (and weight) should be. And just for this I love her. She is witty, sarcastic and all-too human. Oh and she has two cats and they’re not baby substitutes. And she lives on the desolate Saltmarsh.

In the first book of the series, The Crossing Places, DI Harry Nelson enlists Ruth’s help when the remains of a child are found. Nelson thinks that it might be the bones of Lucy Downey, and little girl who went missing years ago. While these bones turn out to be from the Iron Age, Ruth starts to help Nelson with the missing child case. Although Nelson is (happily) married, the attraction between him and Ruth is evident and while this is not front and centre overall, it is certainly an important part of the character arcs.

The second books of the series moves from the Iron Age to Ancient Rome and the two-headed god, Janus. The third book then moves on to the Second World War. In Room Full of Bones, the fourth book (the most fantastical of the lot) Ruth learns about Aboriginal beliefs and in Dying Fall, Ruth goes to Blackpool to to help with the identification of bones unearthed by an old friend.

Apart from Ruth and Nelson, the other recurring characters are also loveable – at least unforgettable – chief among them the Druid Cathbad. An anti-establishment eccentric who also works in the university, he becomes a sort of protector to both Ruth and Nelson

Summarising five books in one post is too much to ask for, but I’ve  loved each of them and very much look forward to the next installment of the series.

Verdict

Witty, sarcastic forensic archaeologist as the protagonist, gripping storylines – great for history buffs who are not historians.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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A Room Full of Bones 4 Dying Fall 5 The Crossing Places 1 The House at Seas End 3 untitled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catch-up Review: Rizzoli and Isles Series by Tess Gerritsen

3 Jun

I’m doing a series of catch-up review posts to try and make up for my year of not blogging. These are quick reviews of books I’ve read over 2012-2013.

Genre: Crime fiction, Procedural

Series list: https://www.goodreads.com/series/41620-rizzoli-isles

Review

Some months ago, I spent the entire weekend curled up in bed with my Kindle reading this series in quick succession – all ten of them (I skipped book #8.5). I watch the TV series of the same name and quite like it – although I can’t stop wondering – how is their hair always so bouncy? The books, on the other hand, are a lot more gritty and real and I love them.

Jane Rizzoli is a detective in the Boston Police Department and Maura Isles is the M.E. Nicknamed, rather obviously, Queen of the Dead, Maura only makes an appearance in the second book of the series – The Apprentice. Rizzoli as the only woman on the team has to fight her way through the boys’ club to prove that she is a good detective. She does go on to grow from being a loner to falling in love and having a family. Isles also holds herself aloof and it takes a lot more for her to find some peace.

While some of the stories are rather predictable and most of them are gruesome, the two-woman team kicks ass. They don’t do girly sleepovers like in the TV series, rather they respect each other as professionals. From serial killers, copycats, dead doppelgangers, baby smuggling rackets, bodies that come alive on the autopsy table, secret clubs, religious cults… there is no dearth of variety in the stories.

Verdict

I loved these thrillers. The mix of forensic science and detective work and the strong female characters was a big win for me.

Rating: 3.5*

*See myRating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

ApprenticeBody Double 4Ice Cold 8Last to Die 10The Keepsake 7The Mephisto Club 6The Silent Girl 9The Sinner 3The SurgeonVanish 5

Catch-up Review: The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

30 May

I’m doing a series of catch-up review posts to try and make up for my year of not blogging. These are quick reviews of books I’ve read over 2012-2013.

The Poison TreeGenre: Psychological thriller

Synopsis: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9209512-the-poison-tree

Review

I love stories that glorify the student years – those years when consequences seem far away and the possibilities stretch endlessly.

When shy Karen is befriended by the gorgeous Biba, her life changes forever. Karen, who is studying linguistics has laid a staid, boring life so far. When Biba engages her to teach German (which she needs to know for the play she is in), she gets a taste of the hedonistic life that Biba leads. She moves into the rambling, rather decrepit house that Biba shares with her brother, Rex, and some other friends. While it starts with great promise and a sense of adventure, we know that this is not going to end well…

Ten years later, Karen and her ten-year-old daughter Alice pick up Rex from the prison. And in bits and pieces we start to find out what happened to bring them to this point. And while Karen is hyper-vigilant and wants to protect her family from the past, the reader knows that of course, this will not happen. The story doesn’t start with a bang, and for the first few pages I was left wondering where this was going. But it soon pulled me in and I wanted to find out what had really happened in that old house all those years ago.

I’ve loved other books like this – The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, The Likeness by Tana French – although all of them are very different genres, what they have in common is the school/college life – a life that is highly romanticised. Also see my review of Dominance by Will Lavender.

Verdict

I enjoyed this psychological thriller, especially for the college life setting. It was also a well-told tale of mistakes and secrets.

Rating: 3.5*

*See myRating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Correction: The Secret Life corrected to The Secret History.

Book Review: Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan

27 May

Toss of a LemonGenre: Historical fiction, South Asian

Pub date: 2008

Source: Personal copy

Synopsis: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6602401-the-toss-of-a-lemon

Review

At over 600 pages, this slow-paced book that tells that story of one community and mainly one family is not for everyone. But it definitely was for me – I enjoyed it hugely. Part of the reason for that was perhaps the fact that a lot of it was rather familiar – the food, customs and family life portrayed here is in the late nineteenth century Brahmin community in Tamil Nadu. This is a story that my grandparents will be familiar with (and Padma Viswanathan was inspired by her family history).

Ten-year-old Sivakami is married off to Hanumarathnam (astrologer and healer) even though a problem in his horoscope predicts an early death. While the birth of their first child, Thangam (named for her gold colouring) is auspicious, the son’s birth time turns out to be inauspicious for the father’s life. Hanumarathnam draws up their astrological charts by asking the nurse to throw a lemon the moment the child’s head is seen. Hanumarathnam is a practical man and goes about training his wife and a devoted servant Muchami to handle the property. After his death, as per the dictates of religion and custom, young Sivakami withdraws from public life (not that women had a public role in any case). But she never stops doing her best for her children.

Sivakami’s brothers marry her daughter Thangam off rather carelessly. And when they determine that her son Vairum (named for his ice-cold diamond eyes) is only fit for the life of a priest, she rebels against custom. Moving back to her marital home, she takes control of her life and that of her son’s. The entire village seems enamoured of Thangam, who I found impossible to know or like. Vairum, on the other hand, has no friends in the Brahmin quarter, but is full of intelligence and a hurt and I felt like I could understand him. When Thangam’s husband proves that he is incapable of being responsible and taking care of his family, Sivakami again steps in and takes care of Thangam’s children.

Spanning three generations and umpteen characters, this is a family saga and also a socio-cultural chronicle. It is the story of a woman strong in her beliefs, one who dares to go against family and some traditions so that her son can have the best. This story is set against the larger backdrop of changing times -the World Wars, Independence, the anti-Brahmin movement in Tamil Nadu – breakdown of the rigid and unfair caste system, the end of the devadasi system.

Written for the Western reader, there are some things that were over-explained – customs and traditions that an Indian reader, especially a South Indian reader will be familiar with. This didn’t bother me too much though.

Verdict

I loved this slow tale set in a different time. Heavy and sad at times, hopeful at others, it tells the story of many things that have changed forever. While I loved it, I can absolutely see other readers being put off by the length, pace and ‘exotic’ elements.

Rating: 4*

*See myRating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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