The Cuckoo’s Calling

Cuckoo’s Calling was a wonderful read. The beauty in it is the continuous shift in my head as to the identity of the suspect based on the tidbits (i.e., information and evidence) being gathered by Cormoran Strike and her temporary secretary, Robin. And that grand reveal in the end was a surprise for me, I did not see that coming.

Prospectively, I am curious how this partnership between Cormoran and Robin will develop since I like how they are able to work together in this case. I felt like solving the case would not have been successful without one or the other.

There are also subplots involved that tell the story of Cormoran and Robin. I felt that the snippets were wonderfully woven into the narrative, such as a memory triggered by an expression or an event. It also humanizes the characters and presents opportunities for future narratives. Personally, I cannot wait for Matthew, Robin’s fiance, to meet Cormoran.

All in all, I am happy with this read and I could not wait to get my hands on the other books in the series.

My favorite quote from this book is:

People liked to talk; there were very few exceptions; the question was how you made them do it. Some, xxx, were amenable to alcohol; others liked a spotlight; and then there were those who merely needed proximity to another conscious human being. A subsection of humanity would become loquacious only on one favorite subject: it might be their own innocence or somebody else’s guilt; it might be their collection or pre-war biscuit tins; or it might, xxx, be the hopeless passion of a plain secretary.

Thank you to Amazon for putting the Kindle book on sale during their last anniversary! (Having a hard time locating this in our local bookstores)


Falling into Place

Since work is suspended, I ended up speeding through this book.

This is a heavy one – dealing with topics such as depression, suicide, drug use, alcohol, bullying, grief and pregnancy in the context of high school students. Sometimes, I personally wish most of the situations that play out in the narrative are far from what is actually happening but times may indeed have changed since I was in high school. Or, I was just comfortably sitting in the outer circle reading the classics or solving mathematics problems. Nevertheless, this is a good read as it explores the thoughts of someone who planned and committed her suicide.

The story is told primarily from the point of view of the Liz, the resident queen bee, and her two best friends. All of them are broken pieces drawing strength from each other. Their strength as a team, however, most often than not result to destructive consequences for the people around them and even to themselves. There is almost a sense of reckless abandon in the group, particularly for Liz, yet with glimpses of vulnerability, hope and dreams in each of them.

Out of the seven billion people sharing the planet with her, not one of them knew what was going through her head. Not one of them knew that she was lost. Not one of them asked.

That thought of Liz as quoted above is quite powerful. It speaks of how there can be layers to a person; how one's thoughts may not readily be apparent from her actions. Yet, she wants someone to check on her. She actually tried to reach out to the guidance counselor in the story but the trust was just not there and she ended up discarding the counselor's advice in the process.

The story, for me, was also able to flesh out her two best friends – Julia and Kennie – quite well. By the end of it, I understood their personality and their hardships, which is beyond the facade they have been projecting to other students at Meridian High School. There was no mention of what happened to them in the epilogue but I hope they delivered on their promises to Liz while she was still in the hospital surrounded by machines and tubes. And, for Liam, I hope he realizes he deserves someone more – no need to look after broken pieces.

The story was told in various timelines – before the planned suicide, minutes before the crash, and after the crash with recollections from Liz' childhood sprinkled in the narrative. For me, the arrangement was quite ok even if it is not linear since I was able to follow the flow of the story. I found her childhood to be very important in the narrative as it appeared that she never really recovered from her grief in losing her father at an early age. My main concern in reading the book, however, is the voice being used in some of the chapters. I thought she had a sibling but it was just the voice of her imaginary friend. I found it odd.

All in all, it was a good read but a bit too heavy. I should choose my next book carefully.

The book ended with details on resources available 24/7 for people who need help, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK [8755] or or the Crisis Text Line (text LISTEN to 741-741). For the Philippines, Hopeline may be reached at (02) 804-4637; 0917-5584673; and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers (source: gmanewsonline website).

The book also shared some of the signs, namely deep sadness, loss of interest/withdrawal, trouble sleeping or eating, having a death wish such as taking unnecessary risks, increasing use of alcohol or drugs, and mood swings.

Finding Our Forever

This is not my usual read. I found it a bit too raunchy than necessary and was not completely satisfied with how everything turned out. I am still thinking what about the description got my attention, or was it simply the title?

Nevertheless, there is still a lot to take away from the book. My personal favorite is how the book shows that our past may affect our present and/or future but it does not have the power to fully shape it. From Aiyana to Eli, it was evident how change can still happen even if you are from dire situations.

My main reservation with the book was with Cora, the main female protagonist. But it may be a case of, as Cora puts it, "I haven't experienced anything like what you have, which is why I hesitate to offer any advice. I don't appreciate it when people tell me what I should do or how I should feel about certain things when they've never been in the same situation."

Then, just to share some of the quotes I liked in the book:

Creative endeavors are one of the best tools we have to ease the pain and anger that's inside many of them

It's the same with regular parents. All kids should be grateful and aware of their parent's sacrifice.

It's important to know when fear's doing the talking – to keep things straight in your head.

At least, it had a happy ending.