Showing posts with label Flavia de Luce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Flavia de Luce. Show all posts

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 31, 2015

Flavia, Weed and Puppets

"Flavia de Luce, a dangerously smart eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders, thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop's Lacey are over–until beloved puppeteer Rupert Porson has his own strings sizzled in an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity.  But who'd do such a thing and why?  Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she's letting on?  What about Porson's charming but erratic assistant?  All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can't solve–without Flavia's help.  But in getting so close to who's secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?"

It took me way too long to read The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag. Just way, way too long. A big chunk of March stood lazily strolling through its pages. I've thought about why over a thousand times and came up with the conclusion that I was distracted, without fuss, by outside influences pulling my attention. Now I don't want to call the second book in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mystery series boring. No, I won't proclaim that. I wouldn't even dare, as I adore Flavia enough as it is.  However, I suppose I just wasn't as invested in the mystery's unfolding–or the mystery itself.  Toward the end I found it mostly unbelievable, or rather a stretch to believe.  (Of course I can't give any details without spoiling it.)  However, I also though The Weed was more heart wrenching than its predecessor, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Nevertheless, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag wasn't exactly thrilling, and yet these are not thrillers. Like the previous books, it's told with a near lethargic, old English style of mystery telling; reminisce something Agatha Christie if you will. The juice, however, is the first-person narrative provided by Flavia (let‘s pun this and say the “flavor“). She’s the juice and the disparity; the life, heart and spirit of the book. So should Bradley throw out the mystery elements, I would probably find satisfaction in Flavia spinning around her English village snooping in residents' business. Or sprinting up to her deceased great-uncle’s chemistry lab to concoct an astringent used to lace her older sisters’ chocolates. Incidentally, this is what took place as the book revved up.  You see, the actual murder and investigation elements switch into gear 150 pages deep. That’s right, 150 pages.  Therefore, between the first and 150th page, Flavia was more or less moving about without motive.  Yet at the end, she had everything nailed down to share with the Inspector.  Everything just seemed to come about... right on time for her.

So to speak.  I'm trying to be vague and throw shade at the same time.

Nonetheless, I definitely look forward to the third book.

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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