We all know by now that Robert Galbraith is the queen herself, J.K. Rowling. Fans are celebrating, but post-unveiling we are now left wondering – is the book any good?

The story is a straight up detective novel, in the English crime tradition. We open the narrative following the death of supermodel Lula Landry, whose apparent suicide has the press in a frenzy. Three months later, private detective Cormoran Strike is asked to investigate if, in fact, Landry was pushed.

Together with his new secretary, Robin, Strike navigates the murky waters of celebrity culture, attempting to put Lula Landry to rest, once and for all.

Potter fans be warned (as if The Casual Vacancy didn’t tip you off by now), The Cuckoo’s Calling is the next step in Rowling’s clear decision to try things overtly different from The Boy Who Lived.

That said, even given the cloak-and-dagger nature of The Cuckoo’s Calling, Potter fans are likely to find more they recognise in this secret side project than they did in The Casual Vacancy.

Within the writing, there are bursts of recognition, like flashes of a distant memory. There is a familiar focus on names (bird names take centre stage in this novel), and you can be sure that the most die-hard of fans will already be checking their various meanings and connotations.

The physical descriptions are like the wave of a friend, reminding you of Rowling’s immense skill in bringing a character to life with a few swift strokes of her pen.

There are also some characteristics that we wish Rowling had left behind in her Potter days, such as the pages and pages in which she dumps (admitedly necessary) information on the reader. These have certainly developed from the Harry/Dumbledore conversations in which an entire book would be summarised, but are still offputting in their frequency.

Of course, this kind of information dump is a mainstay in the crime genre, and the question and answer style implemented in The Cuckoo’s Calling reads a lot more authentically than some of the occasions when these occurred in Potter.

As the two main characters, Cormoran Strike and Robin (both bird-related names, for those keeping score) leave a lot of room for development. In The Cuckoo’s Calling there is something vaguely unsatisfying about the large, burly detective and his attractive, plucky sidekick.

You finish the novel hoping that there is more to come for these two characters because their own stereotypical nature is only heightened by the range of brilliantly drawn bit-players surrounding them. Rowling can do better than this trope, and if a series follows as planned, we hope that she does.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is an enjoyable, entertaining read. You read it with the certainty that all loose ends in the Lula Landry case will be resolved by the final page, as part of the contract between a detective novel writer and a reader.

Rowling follows the crime conventions to a T, and the structure she implements doesn’t impede her story in any way. The side characters, in particular, are well drawn and diverse. There is enough suspense to keep you turning the pages.

The detective genre really does allow Rowling to flex the muscles she did not always have occasion to use in Potter, as she addresses more ‘adult’ scenarios, and twists the plot in whatever direction she fancies.

Yet for all that, there is the unsettling feeling that Rowling is doing nothing here that hasn’t been done before by generations of writers. There is nothing in particular about The Cuckoo’s Calling that makes it stand out from the shelves of preexisting crime novels.

Had Robert Galbraith never have been unmasked, he could have gone on to publish many best-sellers without anyone really caring who he was. There is something comforting in the structured formula Rowling makes use of, but there is nothing ground-breaking in it.

With the hindsight that Rowling authored it, you can see the hallmarks of her writing, but without her name having been attached to the novel, it is most likely that you would have read the book with enjoyment, and not thought a lot about it after you finished it.

Grade: B+

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

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The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

cogsworth-lumiere-live-action-beauty-and-the-beast

While it’s nice to finally see a glimpse of a couple of the characters, a big question remains unanswered: How will these objects look once they have faces on them? (Cogsworth’s face might be hinted at in the center of the clock.)

Also on the Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition is a shot from the the “Gaston” musical number. From left to right we see Alexis Loizon as Stanley, Josh Gad as LeFou (just over Gaston’s shoulder), and Luke Evans (with his back to the camera) as Gaston.

live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-gaston

Update: And here’s another look at the movie, courtesy of this person on Twitter — this time we get to see Dan Stevens as human Beast!

human-beast-dan-stevens

We’ll be curious to get our hands on the anniversary edition in September, because we expect we’ll see more from the new movie than the two stills above.

Disney released the first trailer for the live-action Beauty and the Beast in May. It was very much a teaser trailer, as it didn’t provide any looks at the characters — except Belle (Emma Watson), appearing through the glass casing protecting the film’s iconic rose.

In fact, the trailer’s first looks at the various settings (Namely the Beast’s castle) fell in line with the visual style we see in the above concept art.

Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens hit theaters March 17, 2017.

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

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Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

That changes next month, when Apple is expected to announce that the iPhone 7 will be lacking a headphone jack. Instead, users will be listening to music via the Lightning port (which you currently use to charge and sync your iPhone).

And for 2017, Apple will reportedly go one step further by removing the Home button.

Ah, the Home button. It’s always been there for us — it’s our captain for navigating the iPhone. We use it to switch between apps, we use it to get to our Home screen, we use it to summon Siri, and we use it to read our finger print. Back in the “old days,” we used it to force quit apps when they froze on us.

In a new report, Bloomberg says Apple is planning to remove the Home button for the 2017 iPhone, which will presumably be called iPhone 7s. It’s billed as a “major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display.”

Previous rumor mill reports have suggested that Apple will ditch the Home button in order to decrease the size of the top top and bottom bezels, thereby making the phone not as tall, or using the freed up space to add more screen.

Here’s a mock up of what that could look like, via TapSmart:

borderlessmockup1

What remains unclear is how users will be able to unlock and navigate their iPhone without the Home button. Reports have suggested that the whole screen will serve as a TouchID surface and a Home button (using the 3D Touch feature Apple launched last year).

Interestingly, next month’s release of iOS 10 will introduce a new way to unlock your iPhone: You’ll have to press down on the Home button to activate an unlocking. Previously, all you had to do was rest your finger on the Home button while your lock screen was awake.

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

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Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Now, according to Deadline, Disney is developing an all-live-action remake of the film. Nick Hornby will write the script, while Joe Roth is in negotiations to sign on as a producer.

If Mendes’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he directed the last two James Bond features, both Skyfall and Spectre, as well as 1999’s American Beauty.

You can check out the trailer for the horrifying original film below:

As of late, Disney has been announcing live-action versions of its properties left and right, including The Nutcracker (which has a huge cast of well-known actors), The Little Mermaid (with Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to help write the music), Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson), and Cruella (starring Emma Stone), among others.

With the amount of remakes — especially in the live-action department — it’s no wonder James and the giant Peach is the latest to be announced.

Do you want to see a live-action ‘James and the Giant Peach’ movie?