Who is Robert Galbraith?

So do you know the author Robert Galbraith? Even if you don’t think you do, chances are you probably do anyway. Because Robert Galbraith is not a man. Robert Galbraith is not a debut author. In fact, Robert Galbraith is none other than one of the world’s best selling authors – J.K. Rowling.

9171165-1J.K. Rowling has surprised us all by publishing a crime novel under a pseudonym. Isn’t that incredible? And no wonder she chose to do this. No one could review The Casual Vacancy without referring to Harry Potter. Of course. So it isn’t all that surprising that Rowling wanted to see what people really think of her writing abilities without having them compared to Harry Potter all the time. Or that she has enjoyed being able to write and publish a book without any expectations from the public and without all the hype.

As far as I can tell, no one knew. The news broke today and have become quite the story. Of course. A new series from J. K. Rowling! Even though I don’t care about crime fiction, the fact that it is J.K. Rowling makes it interesting. And it makes me consider reading the book. And there’s nothing wrong or bad about that. We don’t only read books because their covers are pretty or their blurbs sound good – we choose books because of the person who wrote them. I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy yet but I own it and intend to read it. For the same reason. It’s J.K. Rowling and I want to see what she’s up to – and if she can write something else than Harry Potter.

And a lot of other people feel this way too. The book was published back in April and had sold only 1500 copies – but after the news of it’s real author broke, it’s Amazon sales apparently have gone up more than 150,000%! Wow! I’m not sure I’m really surprised or impressed by this new number but it is a helluva lot of more books sold because the author name has changed! And it is #1 on the Kindle bestseller list. And I guess on every other bestseller list out there.

What I find really interesting is, that this time Rowling has gotten reviews based on skill alone and not on reputation or previous bestsellers. And it seems that the book has actually gotten very good press. The reviews have been extremely positive and apparently, it was discovered that it was Rowling because a journalist thought the book was way too good to have been written by a new writer and a ex-British army officer at that. So after a real life detective story, Rowling was found out…

About the book – from Amazon:

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .

A gripping, elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London – from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the backstreet pubs of the East End to the bustle of Soho – The Cuckoo’s Calling is a remarkable book. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is a classic crime novel in the tradition of P. D. James and Ruth Rendell, and marks the beginning of a unique series of mysteries.

And about it’s (fictional) author – from The Huffington Post:

Born in 1968, Robert Galbraith is married with two sons. After several years with the Royal Military Police, he was attached to the SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for protagonist Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who have returned to the civilian world. ‘Robert Galbraith’ is a pseudonym.

So what do you think? Are you going to read this new J.K. Rowling book?

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

Favorite kick-ass heroines? Wow. When I read that topic, I was just lost. Don’t they belong in YA novels or in urban fantasy or something like that? I suddenly couldn’t remember having read a single book with kick-ass heroines in it. Or do I? Maybe a kick-ass heroine doesn’t have to be someone who kicks down bad guys and fight for her life day in and day out. Maybe kick-ass can mean something else – or someone else. I don’t know. I don’t think that I need to read certain genres to read books with kick-ass heroines in them – it is just that impression the term ‘kick-ass heroines’ gives me. Anyway, my list tries to incorporate some more unusual kick-ass heroines… I don’t know if I succeeded or not – we’ll see.

As usual, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

  1. Ronja from Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren. Yes, Ronja, the girl from the children’s book. Her father is strong and a leader of men. But he has no chance against Ronja. When he doesn’t want her to hang out with the son of his worst enemy, she packs up and leaves his castle and goes to live in a cave. She trains horses, she heals horses, she teaches her father about friendship. She’s tough and loving and she’s the literary character, I named my first child after.
  2. Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Offred is a woman living in a dystopic world where women who can have babies, are valuable and are kept as a kind of breeding cows for wealthy men in power. Offred still remembers her life before, her life with her husband and daughter – and she does what she has to do to live.
  3. The mother from Room by Emma Donoghue. This mother has been kidnapped, kept in a single room for years, raped over and over. She has a son by her rapist – and she manages to bring her and her child away from the kidnapper and to safety. Even though things get complicated in the outside world, she’s still pretty amazing for doing what she had to to rescue her child.
  4. The mother, Eva, from We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Eva fights the worst kind of demons – her own self-doubts, her failure as a mother. And she really has some huge doubts to fight after her son turned out to be a high school killer. We get to know her through the letters she writes her husband, detailing her life and her thoughts as her son was born and grew up.
  5. Alexia Tarabotti from The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Alexia is special – she has an ability to turn werewolves and vampires human just by touching her. She has an even bigger ability to get into trouble. But whatever happens, she always comes out on top – although not always with her dignity intact. But give her a parasol and she’s ready for everything.
  6. Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. Hermione. Oh, nerdy geeky Hermione. She’s just a book nerd as first but she sure shows every desired kick-ass heroine ability in the later books.
  7. Lauralanthalasa (Laurana) from The DragonLance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and others. Yes, I know I said I would avoid this kind of kick-ass heroines but I just couldn’t. I could have chosen a lot of different female characters from this shared world series – Tika or Goldmoon just to mention a few – but I chose Laurana, the Golden General. This beautiful and very spoiled princess who falls in love with a  half-elf and has to work extremely hard to make it through various challenges and hardships to win the man she loves. She goes on to fight as a general for what she believes in and to stand by the side of her son when he needs her the most – playing a huge part in several resistances, always fighting for her beloved Elven people.
  8. Katniss Everden from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. How could I not mention Katniss? She fights against unbeatable odds and comes out on top. She’s tough, she’s taking care of her family and the people she loves. She’s both clever and sneaky – and lucky! She fulfills every part of the kick-ass heroine job description!

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Are recommendations bad for you?

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

-Haruki Murakami

I was browsing Netflix recently and while looking at their suggestions for me based on my previous ratings, I started wondering whether recommendations like these are really the best way to go?

These recommendations are everywhere. Netflix, Amazon … You buy something or you rate something and immediately, you get more suggestions. So because I like Doctor Who, I also want to watch Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, right? Sorry – nope. Not a chance.

Some of these recommendations of course makes perfect sense. If I’ve bought The Brothers Karamazov, it follows naturally that I might be interested in Crime and Punishment or The Master and Margarita. But what I’m trying to get at here is, that as far as I know, these recommendations are based on the idea of ‘more of the same’. So if you like one British comedy show, you get recommended more British comedies. And you’ll probably like these as well. But maybe it would be better to be challenged a bit. To get a recommendation that takes you far out of your normal comfort zone and your normal go-to entertainment choices. And I don’t think these kinds of recommendations are able to do that. I think that if you just follow the recommendations, you might end up just reading the same thing over and over. And there isn’t anything wrong with reading all the Russian classics – in fact, they are definitely worth reading. But is it okay if that’s all you read? (This is probably a bad example for yeah, I’m pretty sure that it’s more than okay if you just read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and the others… but bear with me.)

I know that there’s frequently – or maybe constantly – a discussion about adults who read young adult (ya) fiction. The thought is that if ya fiction is not complex enough to be satisfying for adults and if you read it, you are under-stimulating yourself. I don’t buy in to this at all. First of, I think that if you’re reading, it’s a good thing, no matter what you read. But secondly, I also believe there’s a lot of really great ya fiction out there. The Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games Trilogy are two examples of this – and I’ve also enjoyed reading about Percy Jackson and all the Greek Gods. But I couldn’t just read this – I want to read … well, everything, really.

And because of this I dislike being told by Amazon or others what I should read or watch. I want to be challenged, I want to find something new that can shake my world and make me look at things in another way. I want my books (not all of them, but enough of them) to create new thoughts in my head. To change things. To bring new knowledge to the table so I can make new connections and get new ideas.

And if all I do is watch the same type of comedy shows over and over or keep reading the same type of fantasy as Amazon and Netflix prefers me to do, then I became locked in a box of repetitiveness. Or at least I’m afraid I will be. So instead, I read about a gazillion book blogs, I get inspired by Goodreads, I listen to literature podcasts – and through that, I get what I hope is a very eclectic reading list.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you prefer reading the same genre constantly or do you spread out as well? Do you enjoy the recommendations from Netflix and Amazon and others? Let me know!

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