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+

Quiz: Which ‘Mean Girls’ character are you?

9:02 am EDT, September 29, 2016

Ever wondered if you’re more of a Cady or a Regina? Today is your lucky day!

To celebrate Mean Girls Day (October 3rd), Episode, the world’s largest mobile network for interactive stories and creators of Mean Girls: Senior Year, has made a quiz to determine which Mean Girls character you are.

Once you’ve found your Mean Girls spirit animal, continue the fun by downloading both seasons of the Mean Girls story on Episode for iOS and Android. Rejoin all of your favorite characters as you navigate everything from new crushes to sorority pledging. You choose how the story plays out.

Read full article

Ever wondered if you’re more of a Cady or a Regina? Today is your lucky day!

To celebrate Mean Girls Day (October 3rd), Episode, the world’s largest mobile network for interactive stories and creators of Mean Girls: Senior Year, has made a quiz to determine which Mean Girls character you are.

Once you’ve found your Mean Girls spirit animal, continue the fun by downloading both seasons of the Mean Girls story on Episode for iOS and Android. Rejoin all of your favorite characters as you navigate everything from new crushes to sorority pledging. You choose how the story plays out.

You go, Glen Coco!

Let’s play! Which ‘Mean Girls’ character are you?

Play Mean Girls in the Episode app today!

Note: This quiz was sponsored by the advertiser.

It’s no longer a “Perfect Illusion!” Mother Monster will headline the Super Bowl LI halftime show early next year.

Update (Sept 29): Lady Gaga is officially confirmed to perform Sunday, February 5, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas for the Super Bowl LI halftime show! The announcement arrives a few weeks ahead the release of Gaga’s latest album, Joanne.

Watch the announcement video released by the NFL.

Read full article

It’s no longer a “Perfect Illusion!” Mother Monster will headline the Super Bowl LI halftime show early next year.

Update (Sept 29): Lady Gaga is officially confirmed to perform Sunday, February 5, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas for the Super Bowl LI halftime show! The announcement arrives a few weeks ahead the release of Gaga’s latest album, Joanne.

Watch the announcement video released by the NFL.

Read on to see why we think Lady Gaga is the perfect person for the job!

Original (Sept 13): “One of the main reasons for why the NFL is said to be hot on the singer was her performance of the National Anthem at the 2016 Super Bowl,” according to the report. Watch Lady Gaga’s rendition again below:

A couple months ago we learned the NFL was pursuing Adele, but she later revealed she turned the offer down due to stage fright.

Lady Gaga would be wise to take on the Super Bowl 2017 halftime show. She just released a new single, “Perfect Illusion,” which is a part of her next studio album. A Super Bowl performance would surely help boost album sales and, presumably, ticket sales for whatever tour she embarks on in support of said album.

Gaga will appear in the next season of American Horror Story which kicks off this week. She’s said that her upcoming studio album will be released “really soon,” but the exact date is still unknown to the public.

The 2016 Super Bowl halftime show featured Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and Coldplay.

Do you think Gaga should take on the 2017 Super Bowl?

She seems like the perfect candidate for the job.

Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will star Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Count Olaf, and on a recent episode of Live! with Kelly, the actor shared many interesting details about the new show.

Anyone who’s looking forward to the book to film adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s wonderful series will no doubt be thrilled to hear what Harris had to say while updating Kelly Ripa on what he’s been up to.

Perhaps most notably, NPH revealed how A Series of Unfortunate Events is being cut up into episodes. So far, the first four books are two episodes each:

Read full article

Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will star Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Count Olaf, and on a recent episode of Live! with Kelly, the actor shared many interesting details about the new show.

Anyone who’s looking forward to the book to film adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s wonderful series will no doubt be thrilled to hear what Harris had to say while updating Kelly Ripa on what he’s been up to.

Perhaps most notably, NPH revealed how A Series of Unfortunate Events is being cut up into episodes. So far, the first four books are two episodes each:

Netflix’s ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ episode count

neil-patrick-harris-series-unfortunate-events-netflix

“They truncated all of the books into a two hour movie,” Harris said of the Unfortunate Events movie starring Jim Carrey, noting that it just wasn’t a great adaptation. “And there’s thirteen books in the series. So [Netflix’s take] is more spread out. Each book is going to be two episodes. We did the first four books, the first eight episodes of the show.”

As for the tone of the show? Great news: “It’s super dark,” he said. “It’s a much darker on the take on the material than has been seen before.”

When Kelly asked Harris if her kids could watch it, the actor dropped some interesting information about Neflix’s plans:

“I hope so!” he replied. “It’s not Rated-R dark. It’s the most expensive show that they’ve ever done. It’s the first one they call a four quadrant show, so they’re try to get four different quadrants to like it. So in addition to being for adults and for 20-somethings and teenagers, they want it to be for kids as well.”

Dark, appealing to all ages, and two episodes per book? We are so down.

Netflix has yet to share a premiere date for A Series of Unfortunate Events, but we’ll keep you posted.