As you may know, J.K. Rowling has branched out somewhat since the Harry Potter series. Aside from The Casual Vacancy (which received lukewarm reviews), she has developed the highly popular Cormoran Strike series under the nom de plume Robert Galbraith. The series has been well received, and is soon to be dramatised by the BBC. Having read the first and third books in the series (The Cuckoo’s Calling and Career of Evil respectively), I was eagerly awaiting reading the second book, The Silkworm – and I was not disappointed.
As Ben Macintyre points out in Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, the relationship between cricket (that most English of sports) and spying (at which the British have always excelled) is deep-rooted and unique. Something about the game attracts the sort of mind also drawn to the secret worlds of intelligence and counter-intelligence — for both are complex tests of brain and brawn, high-stakes games of honour and ruthless good manners interwoven with trickery, dependent on minute gradations of physics and psychology interwoven with tea breaks.
Reading James Runcie’s Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death reminded me of three classical detectives of fiction – Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, and Father Brown. In the nature of the short stories, which toy with the predominant format in similar stories of an unseen murder, investigation, and denouement, I felt some of Conan Doyle; in the setting of a rural and academic Cambridge, alongside the highly educated nature of the protagonist I felt definite echoes of Dexter; and in the ecclesiastical, gentle, and easygoing nature of the stories I felt reverberations from Chesterton. Runcie’s collection of six short(ish) stories was highly enjoyable, a nice armchair read with a good bit of character development – albeit requiring what Coleridge called a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’.
Is the BBC biased? It’s interesting that in the UK, people generally assume the media to be trustworthy reporters presenting news that is of objective importance. The mainstream print media covers a wide political spectrum, from the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph which present generally conservative views, to the left wing outlooks of the Daily Mirror and The Guardian.
However, broadcasting media is dominated by one huge corporation: the corporation, Auntie, the BBC. 93% of the population of the United Kingdom use a BBC provided service at least once a week. A whopping 256 million people worldwide receive their news from the BBC in some form, that’s a staggering one in twenty-eight. This is an astronomical figure, and the BBC’s reputation and renown for impartiality even in wartime is a key factor in retaining such a wide usage-but in recent years this reputation has come under increasing attack. Is the BBC really a trustworthy source for information with regards to key issues? Put simply, can we trust the news the BBC presents?
Image from Goodreads
The Body in the Library–a woman dies, and someone tries to find out who killed her.
I’m on a bit of an Agatha Christie roll recently. I’ve just finished The Body in the Library, and have just started The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side. One of the things I love about Christie is the near impossibility to guess the outcome of some (read: most) of her works. The Body in the Library is no different, and though not my favourite Christie novel by some way, it was entertaining enough to be a page turner and interesting, a good diversion, but not a complete occupier as some Christie stories are.
I doubt that there are many books with a premise as downright bizarre as John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. John Green, as most readers will be aware, writes these teen angst stories very well in my (limited) experience of him, and I enjoyed Paper Towns when I read it. Yet reading this quirky book, I found myself reminded of another book, similarly quirky, and just as gripping. Was Green just trotting out a book with superficial tweaks to the plot which had worked wonders to him before?
If you asked me a few years ago what my calling was, I would tell you I was born to teach. I loved being around elementary school children, seeing the world through their eyes. I taught music, and I loved seeing the kids build skills, learn concepts, and enjoy making music.
Then everything changed. Without going into detail, teaching became a burden rather than a joy. Recognizing that the educational paradigm was shifting, I tried to roll with the changes, telling myself I could hang on until things got better.
They only got worse. Demands increased as resources dwindled. Morale at my school plummeted. My stress level rose. After grieving for three years over my profession’s shift from rewarding labor to drudgery, I resigned in May of 2014. I had to. I couldn’t suffer it one more day.