Showing posts with label Alan Bradley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alan Bradley. Show all posts

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Book Buying Bargaining ~ With No Self-Control

Got rid of a lot, and brought plenty back in.  Oh course, through store credits and bargain-area shopping.  Kind of a strange mix–but not really.  The Susan Wittig Albert books were simple enough to pick up.  Toni Braxton memoir I found tucked in a low shelf in a bookstore bargain section for $5.  I went ahead and grabbed Laurell K Hamilton's A Shiver of Light, because I'm compulsive when it comes to completing series.  Even those I've grown to dislike.  And, because I want more fantasy in my life, I decided to go back to my initiation into fantasy via a T. A Barron novel.

Apprentice in Death came out on September 6th.  I moved heavy and earth to get to it.  (Currently reading it.  This is only the dust-jacket.)  Salvage the Bones and Speaking from Among the Bones I got for $2.50 apiece.  Both easily crossed off that Amazon wishlist.
Now.  Will this book craving stop?
Hell, no.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#MarchMysteryMadness Video Challenge #1

Welcome, guys.  #MarchMysteryMadness is still in action!  I'll leave all the links to the challenges below.  But first I need to share the host of #MarchMysteryMadness, LizziefayeLovesBooks.  She is the originator of this tag and the link to her video follows:
The #MarchMysteryMadness VIDEO CHALLENGE #1 TAG questions/instructions/answers:
For this challenge lets do a book tag for the words March, Mystery, & Madness. Here are the prompts (Amazon affiliate links): 
A. March #1 Pick a book that is green.
~ The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (  My written thoughts:
B. March #2 Pick a book with a Leprechaun or other tiny person.
~ Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (
A. Mystery #1 Recommend a mystery.
~ How about my March TBR video?
B. Mystery #2 Pick a mystery from your TBR.
~ No Rest for the Wiccan by Madelyn Alt (  This is book #4 in the series, but I have my thoughts on book #3 HERE:
A. Madness #1 Pick a psych. thriller or a psychopathic character.
~ Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (  Written thoughts HERE:
B. Madness #2 Pick a book with a sports theme.
I ain't got a thing.  At least that I feel will uphold this question.  Maybe next time.
THANKS AGAIN LIZZIE FOR TAGGING ME!  I'll tag anyone who wants to participate!  GO!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

#MarchMysteryMadness: The Preparation Book Haul

I’ve been a Barnes and Noble member for years and recently found the benefit of using the member card online.  FREE SHIPPING!  Where have I been?  (Oh, I’ve been on Amazon where they upped their free shipping price margin.)  Nonetheless, with #MarchMysteryMadness coming up, I needed to stock books to fulfill the upcoming mystery reading challenges.  So those, and some books I've collected from a couple of used bookstores, are featured in this haul post.  Many are from familiar series I plan on tackling #MarchMysteryMadness with–furthering my excitement for the challenges next month.

1.       Finally got a copy of Burn Marks.  It's book six in Sara Paresky’s V. I. Warshawski private-eye, hard-boiled series.  Now I’ve passed this particular 3rd edition hardback many times at the used bookstore.  Until now.  It’s right where I’m at with the series, so I went ahead and grabbed it.  The book is in great condition.  For a 1990’s release, the pages are super clean and crisp.  All that aside, this one has got to be a winning chapter in the Warshawski series.  You see, another one of Warshawski’s distant relatives is coming back in the picture.  And she's all set to hire her niece to solve a murder.  (For more on my Sara Paretsky reviews, see the LABELS at the bottom of the post.)
The other three books will feature on my #MarchMysteryMadness TBR video...
4.      Blanche Among the Talented Tenth by Barbara Neely.  Blanche is back!  I've had the third book since forever, but since I have to read a series in order, it has sat on my shelf awaiting book two.  Until now!  A black, domestic housekeeper solving murders makes a boy's dreams come true! (Visit Barbara Neely LABEL below for my thoughts on the first book in the series.)
5.       I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, book four in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series.  YAY! It's finally in my hands!  Bookstore after bookstore I’ve searched, after reading The Red Herring Without Mustard [book three].  Actually, I would have to drive over the mountain to another Barnes & Noble in the valley to get a copy of this book.  Though I couldn’t see myself attempting so with a recently replaced crankshaft, and a cracked axle boot.  I feared my car wouldn’t pull the hill.  So I’ve ordered the book instead and can’t wait to continue with Flavia and her murder-solving mischief.  (For those unsure of what I’m even talking about, click the Alan Bradley LABEL below for all things de Luce.)

6.      The Goldfinch by Donna Tart.  Always, always wanted to give this book a go.  With all the acclaim and praise, it slammed onto my reading radar.  I was curious, and finally found this crisp copy for $4 at my public library’s bookstore.  With it in hand, I drew the attention of a staff member who stopped to gloat her love/hate relationship with the book.  This, naturally, fueled my excitement.
7.      No Rest for the Wiccan.  Another “I been to bookstore after bookstore” book.  Book four in Madelyn Alt’s Bewitching Mystery series required an online order as well.  I have a soft spot for this cozy mystery series about a witch solving local murders.  But I’ll digress for now.  (Click the Madelyn Alt LABEL for my thoughts on the previous book.)
8.      Two copies of Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles cozies.  That’s entry two [Witches’ Bane] and three [Hangman’s Root].  I’ve craved these hard-to-finds after discovering the first book while browsing the used bookstore.  And loved it.  (For my thoughts on the first book, click the Susan Wittig Albert LABEL below.)
Well, that’s it guys.  I’ve been hauling the hell out of books so far this year–and can’t wait to get into them all.  I have a copy of Buffy Season 10: Old Demons on the way also.  And in an attempt to use my Kindle more, I ordered/downloaded Marcia Muller’s Ask the Cards a Question.  It's book two in Muller’s Sharon McCone series.
So basically I’m back in my reading playground.  Cozies.  Female sleuths.  And murders.  With a splash of literature on the side.  Anyway, happy reading and all that jazz!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Goodreads Year in Books | List of 10 FAVORITE READS OF 2015

Goodreads Results 


My goodness.  There’s so much I can say about the year 2015.  A uniquely challenging year?  Absolutely.  I definitely feel like this was a year filled the hurdles to leap over–in both my reading and personal life.  However, personal stuff aside, I read a little less this year than last.  Right out the gate I started the year having taken down six books in both January and February.  My reading slumped heavily in March and April, but picked up in July.  August brought a new burst of readings where I took down either five or six book (too lazy to look up).  The rest of the year was steady.
I love reading.  I love books.  I love reading what I want and falling into a story.  And I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store.
Did you reach your reading goals this year?  What were your favorite reads?  Share in the comments below!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

So Far: Falling for Herring, Mustard, Bradley

Flavia de Luce strikes again.  This time she’s running against the police investigating the bludgeoned near-death of a Gypsy woman.  And if that’s not enough, a town thief finds himself hanging from a statue with a lobster fork gouged up a nostril.  Gruesome business indeed.  And especially for a pre-teen English girl with a bottomless affinity for the study of death and a little known gag reflex when approaching a corpse.  Nonetheless, it’s all Flavia’s business.  And she peddles her bicycle across her village uncovering stones, roots, and community secrets to fulfill her curiosity.  Oh, and solving murder.
As the third book to Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mystery series, I have to express how I believe I’m finally settled into dedicating myself to this series.  Well, it was no question how I planned to read the books.  The question was the pace I would take in doing so.  Stuff them down in one go?  Or spread them out months at a time underneath the phrase "a little bit at a time goes a long way."  Fortunately, the "spreading" idea wasn't the case.  Immediately after I read A Red Herring Without Mustard, I went in search of the following book (with no luck thus far).  
See, there was no wishy-washy feelings after I read Mustard.  No “eh, eh.”  None of that.  Only the burning need to hit up my local bookstore with a debit card anxious to acquire the following four or five books in this currently-running series.  You see, the previous two books more or less won Bradley’s style of mystery plotting into my groove.  Book one [The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie] read like a test run.  But of course an engrossing run.  And book two [The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag] seemed off balanced from a murder generated 100 pages in, and a file of branching story threads that eventually wove together.  Unbelievable woven, I should say.  So despite finding myself in like with Bradley’s youthful and precocious protagonist, Flavia; I had until now to find myself hungry for more of her in whatever circumstances Bradley features.  
As I said before, Flavia reminds me a lot of myself at her age; filled with questions and willing to find answers when not given.  Particularly by adults.  A Red Herring Without Mustard had that better balance of Flavia, overlaying mystery, suspense, and charm that locked and keyed me to this series.  Sadly, my local bookstore didn’t have the fourth book.  So I’m still waiting to collect her next adventure.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

1st Fall Haul ~ And The Ones I Want

Books!  Books!  Books!  Let's all buy books!
I want to share my first Fall reading haul.  I still got a couple of Spring and Summer books I want to get to, but you know how it goes.  See a book.  Buy a book.  Save a book.  And when the mood strikes, notice your options and finally read the book. 
Naturally, I had to get the latest J. D. Robb futuristic crime-fiction thriller, Devoted in Death.  That’s a no-brainer.  Book number 41 has homicide lieutenant, Eve Dallas, battling a couple who cross-country drive ala Bonnie and Clyde-fashion.  Oh, did I mention they're spree killers?  The minute I close this post–and shut down watching This Is Life with Lisa Ling–I’m running back to this thriller.
Speaking of J. D. Robb, I got Nora Roberts’s Key of Knowledge.  This is book two in Roberts’s Key Trilogy.  Here’s what Goodreads has to say about it:
What happens when the very gods depend on mortals for help? That's what three very different young women find out when they are invited to Warrior's Peak. 
To librarian Dana Steele, books and the knowledge they hold are the key to contentment. But now that search for knowledge must include the second key needed to release three souls held captive by an evil god. In each generation three are chosen who have the power to release them - if they dare accept a challenge that could promise them great riches but also grave danger... 
As I mentioned in my post about the first book in the trilogy, I’ve decided to keep reading this series.  The same applies for Alan Bradley’s third book in his Flavia de Luce mystery series.  The second book was a touch disappointing, but I’m dedicated to watching eleven-year-old Flavia’s snooping unfold.  In book three, The Red Herring Without Mustard, we see Flavia…
Flavia had asked the old Gypsy woman to tell her fortune, but never expected to stumble across the poor soul, bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan. Was this an act of retribution by those convinced that the soothsayer had abducted a local child years ago? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how could this crime be connected to the missing baby? Had it something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites? While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon another corpse--that of a notorious layabout who had been caught prowling about the de Luce's drawing room.
Finally, so moved by The Swimming Pool Library, I grabbed a copy of Alan Hollinghurst’s latest offering, The Stranger’s Child.
Anybody else take pictures of books to remind themselves to buy them later?  You know, while browsing the bookstore?  Well, I’ve been doing some of that as well, and had to take a few shots of the books I want to get in the future.  Sometimes, you just don’t want to pay full price for a book and have to do some bargain shopping online.
As an advent fan of the Ghost Adventures TV show, I’ve kept the two hosts' (well, one is a former host) paranormal/biography releases on my list.  I absolutely love Ghost Adventures.  I have to watch the show every Friday and Saturday.  And have been dating back to its October 2008 premiere.  There’s a comforting quality to stapling this show inside my weekends.  And I would love to post more on why I love the show; flaws and all.  Nonetheless, the point is that I want to read these damn books by paranormal investigators Nick Groff and Zak Bagans.
And the last book I really want to get my hands on is this one…
That’s all, folks!  Let’s read!  And what have you hauled in to open up the Fall season?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Comfort Readings

My job makes me sick. No, really. It makes me sick. Clock in. Clock out. Misery. Draining. Being pounded by energy that infects my own. Not living, but slowly dying. Like Spike said to Buffy while she worked at the Double Meat Palace, “This place will kill you.” It’s a phrase that comes to mind as I beg God not to let me die in “this place.”

These past two weeks have been filled with bad weather; snow, icy roads, frozen cars on slushy streets with a manager willing to spin his truck through it all to collect his employees to fill shifts. A manager who just wouldn't give up. My Sundays were filled with running a store alone, while the assistant manager clocks out at 9am or comes in for an hour and a half at 11am to do paperwork and leave as a line brews before my register. I often wonder what‘s the point of her even coming. And when she’s gone, I'm picking up the business phone to calling my general manager (who’s at home with his kids) to tell him that I have a line and he has vendors, complaints, equipment failures, and a dirty store that is cheap and irresponsible of him to give to one employee alone with any expectations.

Last Saturday I told him I wasn't coming the next day.  He would have to find somebody else to manage his store alone Sunday.  And I didn't come.  So I came to work Tuesdays with rumors of my suspension floating around, which I'd gladly take considering the job already snatched me from taking a vacation since last June.

So I have to smudge myself to get rid of psychic garbage, as I wonder when this will end. When will this chaos finally dissipate?

However, there's always books!  So in the meantime, I've gathered comfort. Only two this time, though I browsed Barnes & Nobles for a few more that I placed on my TBR. Nonetheless, emphasizing "comfort," I decided on Rita Mae Brown’s Murdered, She Meowed (book #5 in her Mrs. Murphy series) and The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, book #2 in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series. One involves pets solving crimes; the other an eleven-year-old English girl doing the same.  I haven't cracked open a book all of March, so I have to defibrillate myself with some faves and familiars.

Nevertheless, the two interesting books that I had passed in favor of comfort are the newly encountered Gods and Shadows by Jayde Brooks and Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang.  Two in which I can't wait to check out on my next visit.

So here's to not letting people, places or situations steal our joy!   

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Flavia's Sweetness

"It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak.  Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.  For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.  'I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't.  Quite the contrary.  This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.'"

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was just as sweet as its title.  Sliding from Martha Grimes’ twelve-year-old sleuth, Emma Graham, and into Alan Bradley’s similarly close-aged sleuth, Flavia de Luce, proved successful.  The tartness and twang the two series share is undeniable, albeit explored through protagonists who are a year and decade apart as well as from different countries.  Nevertheless, hear me when I say that Flavia is just as precious, intuitive, resourceful, and smart-alecky as Grimes' Emma. I will say that Emma’s mouth is a lot slicker than Flavia, though. Flavia has her moments when she "reads" an adult or peer down, but she’s not as creatively shady as Emma.  That's probably because Emma's pessimistic and general disregard for any adult who sees her only as a child is a lot stronger.  Whereas Flavia uses an adult's perspective of her to become virtually "invisible" as she snoops.  Seriously, the girl walked straight through the police station at one point and, upon getting caught, bubbled up tears used to ensure her way forward.  Emma would've pitched a fit, but eventually gain the same results. 

Nonetheless, let’s not split hairs here. The truth is that both ladies know how to carry a pleasurable, humorous and intriguing narrative. And respectively speaking, I can't count the number of times I burst out laughing while reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. It was simply hilarious watching the curious and outspoken Flavia attempt to solve her given murder mystery; whether she’s questioning a suspect, giving the police crap, or pedaling her bicycle all across the English village she lives in.  And she's not always 100%, but I pique in those tiny moments where she considers something I may have looked over.  An example as simple as her pulling her bike into a shed, so that she can rifle through old newspapers unbothered, is one considerable moment.  Or her hanging back behind a tree to witness an argument, and then walking forward as if casual and unawares (with a high-pitch greeting) is another.  Or covering her ass on the spot with a shameless lie when her presence comes into question.  So I appreciated her thoughtfulness and forward thinking.

Oh, and I have to mention how passionate she is about chemistry and uses her knowledge of it throughout the book. However, on the flip-side, she’s not exactly passionate and mindful of her own family.  While her two older sisters often give her hell, Flavia does have to look after them as well as her father.  (Her mother, Harriett, passed when Flavia was too young to remember her.)  Nonetheless, there were sweet moments where Flavia sort of appointed herself guardian of her father, who naturally found himself arrested as a suspect while the murder took place on his property.  And even toward the end, it was Flavia's oldest sister that came to her rescue.  I've kind of grown to like the de Luces, so I'm interested in seeing their family grow and develop as a sort of B-hook to the series.  Because essentially there's a lot of interesting points made in this area.

I can say that I’m hooked to this series now, and can't wait to start on the next book. Except for a few questionable investigative moments–like Flavia using her braces to pick a lock–The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was a wonderful ride.  It wasn't the most guttural or complicated of mysteries, and sometimes the backstory related to the victim got in the way of watching Flavia flourish on paper.  Nonetheless, all that rounded out as a necessity to the mystery and narrative.  Otherwise, you may find yourself caring less about Flavia's troubles and fine detection.



Just like with Emma, I have to capture and quote my favorite moments with Flavia.  These are the times I cracked up the most.

"It was dark inside the little bedroom, but there was light enough to see the form lying on the bed; to see the white face staring back at me, its mouth gaping open in a horrid 'O.'

'Flavia!' Miss Cool said, scrambling to her feet, her words muffled by the window glass.  'What on earth–?'

She snatched her false teeth from a tumbler and rammed them into her mouth, then vanished for a moment, and as I leaped to the ground I heard the sound of the bolt being shot back.  The door opened inwards to reveal her standing there–like a trapped badger–in a housedress, her hand clutching and opening in nervous spasms at her throat.

'What on earth...?' she repeated.  'What's the matter?'

'The front door's locked,' I said.  'I couldn't get in.'"


"One day when I found her sobbing on the bench with her head on the closed piano lid, I had whispered, 'Give it up, Daff,' and she had flown at me like a fighting cock.

I had even tried encouragement.  Whenever I heard her at the Broadwood, I would drift into the drawing room, lean against the piano, and gaze off into the distance as if her playing hand enchanted me.  Usually she ignored me, but once when I said, 'What a lovely piece that is!  What's it called?' she had almost slammed the lid on my fingers.

'The scale of G major!' she had shrieked, and fled the room.

Buckshaw was not an easy place in which to live."


"The little man's pale blue eyes bulged visibly in their sockets.

'Why, it's only a girl!' he said.

I could have slapped his face.

'Ay, that's her,' said the suntanned one.

'Mr. Ruggles here has reason to believe that you were up in the tower,' the Inspector said, with a nod at the white mustache.

'What if I was?' I said.  'I was just having a look round.'

'The tower's off limits,' Mr. Ruggles said loudly.  'Off limits!  And so it says on the sign.  Can't you read?'

I gave him a graceful shrug."


"'Feely,' I said, turning on her, 'do me a favor:  Pop back into the pit and fetch me my handkerchief–and be sure to bring me what's wrapped up inside it.  Your dress is already filthy, so it won't make much difference.  There's a good girl.'

Feely's jaw dropped about a yard, and I thought for a moment she was going to punch me in the teeth.  Her whole face grew as red as her lips.  And then suddenly she spun on her heel and vanished into the shadows of the Pit Shed."


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