If you read me, you know I LOVE the Flavia de Luce mysteries – focusing on the humorous exploits and detective work of a precocious eleven-year-old chemist in the 1950′s British countryside. Book 5 is coming out in January and I was thrilled beyond belief to get it from Net Galley (adding to my thrill was a tweet from Flavia herself saying she hoped I liked it!).
THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS!
THE DEAD IN THEIR VAULTED ARCHES takes up where the last book left off: Flavia and her family are notified that her long-lost mother, Harriet, has been found and is heading home. However, when Flavia’s family arrives at the train station, it is Harriet’s body that is returning home, not Harriet herself. How exactly did Harriet die on her mountain hiking expedition? And who was with her? What was she hiding? Who is the mysterious young man who whispers to Flavia and then has an “accident” and falls under the oncoming train? And why is the great man, Churchill, himself speaking to Flavia in what appears to be code??Flavia sets about getting to the bottom of mystery of her mother’s death; but first she seeks to use her beloved chemistry in an attempt to bring her mother back to life.
Once again, I enjoyed Flavia’s exploits and especially her uniquely intellectual voice and dry witticisms that had me laughing out loud while reading! Flavia’s attempt to bring her mother back was so poignant – there is hardly anything so heart-wrenching as a young child who yearns for their deceased mother. This time the de Luce family is shown in more of their moral and emotional complexity, and you come to know them as a family torn asunder from the loss of Harriet. Along with this is a rollicking mystery of the family’s involvement with WWII, and a finale that makes the reader think that while we will hear more from Flavia, it won’t be same as when she is toodling around the family estate.
While the first book in this series remains my most favorite, I recommend this to readers of the series. I find the stories follow best if you read them in order.
It comes out next month, but you can pre-order on Amazon where I am an Associate:
Thank you, Net Galley and Delacorte Press, for my copy!!
A while ago (longer than I care to admit), I received a download of Laura Shofer’s novel, THE FINGERPRINT OF DESTINY, from her. Due to an odd issue with my Kindle (where it shuffled my hundreds of novels!) I “lost” it and only recently rediscovered it. This novel has a little bit of something for everyone and I really enjoyed reading it!
THE FINGERPRINT OF DESTINY starts with a fire (arson) with deaths involved in the Hope’s Point area of Long Island. Ellie Sinclair goes to cover the fire (which isn’t the first that has occurred in this area of late) for her newspaper and discovers that her estranged mother is among the victims. This starts a series of events where Ellie digs to find the truth, but also digs up old emotions, an old romance, and memories of her “crazy” mother as she was growing up and their complicated relationship. Ellie is scrappy and tough, though somewhat dysfunctional and has a drinking problem. Add in some historical passages tracing Ellie’s Venezuelan heritage and the “fingerprint of destiny”, a few tough Latino gangs, a mystery, and some supernatural thrills and you’ve got the makings for this story!
I enjoyed reading this novel, the first for Ms. Shofer, and found it engrossing and well-written. I think it has such a variety of happenings that many will find it and its “mash-up genre” appealing!
You can see it on Amazon where it is available for Kindle (and where I am an Associate). As of today is it only $2.99!
Well – where do I start with this one? I loved Diane Setterfield’s THIRTEENTH TALE, so I was very excited to get BELLMAN AND BLACK from Net Galley. This is the story of William Bellman, who as a boy kills a rook with a stone — and rooks and this act seem to follow him throughout his life (England – about a hundred or more years ago). Bellman grows up to run a mill and has a business in mourning and funerals. He has so much loss in his life, it turns him inward. “Black” is his mysterious business partner.
So here’s the thing — I eagerly read the first half of this book, and then it felt like it stalled to me. I had to force myself again and again to return to it to finish the second half (I read it on Kindle, but I see it has just over 300 pages – certainly not a tome). I found it slow and fairly uneventful, but all the time I had the feeling that I wasn’t thinking about this book in the right way. It felt like an allegory – or a fable – or something that I just wasn’t getting. The writing reminded me a bit of Nathaniel Hawthorne or some other stark, 19th century writer. I wanted so much to like this book, this character, this story, but instead it felt a bit like a penance to read it. I kept hoping to have an epiphany that never occurred.
I’d be so curious (and grateful) to hear from others who have read it! Setterfield is an excellent writer, so if this is your only exposure to her, you might want to read THE THIRTEENTH TALE also.
Thanks, Net Galley for my copy. You can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:
I’ve read a lot of Cynthia Voigt’s books, so I was excited to see she had a new novel out for kids. MISTER MAX is about a young boy living at the turn of the century. His parents have boarded a ship for India, but have disappeared, leaving Max to fend for himself with a little help from his grandmother. While Max is only about twelve, his parents are actors, and he uses their techniques and costumes to pass himself off as an adult and makes a business for himself as a detective. Max has several mysteries to solve, with the underlying one being: where are his parents??
There were some things I loved about this book. I almost always enjoy books set in the past. Max was definitely a spunky and resourceful young man. I kept reading to see how things would come out.
Other things I was not so keen about in this book were that it felt long (looks like 400 pages for paper copy), the mysteries were pretty straight-forward (though they are for kids), and there was no final resolution (apparently, this is the start of a series/trilogy). It’s hard for me to say what age to recommend this story for. Content-wise, I would say about ages 9-11, but reading stamina/level wise, I’d say more like 11-13.
Voigt is a wonderful writer and this shines throughout the story. I laughed out loud at some parts. I will most probably read the next installment because I’d like to see how Max’s story turns out.
I got mine via Net Galley for review, but you can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:
Oh how I loved this book! While it doesn’t publish until 1/2014, I just can not stay quiet about this Civil War love story and spunky heroine.
Rosetta and Jeremiah are newly married when Jeremiah leaves to join up with the Union forces. Rosetta is a tomboy and while she loves being married, she detests “women’s work” (of that era) and prefers to run the farm. A series of events lead her to rashly decide to join up disguised as a boy so that she can find her husband and be with him.
I absolutely loved this story and give McCabe credit for creating such a powerful heroine with a unique voice. Her depiction of the Civil War experience is clearly based on much research and I could not forget this book after I was done. I cried in parts. I rooted for Rosetta. I could not put it down.
I got mine as an ARC from Net Galley, but you can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:
I love Fannie Flagg’s books! I think I’ve read them all, but “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” and “Standing in the Rainbow” are two of my favorites. Her latest book came out this month and the wait was so long at the library for it, I had to buy it for myself!
(Note: The following may contain SPOILERS!)
In “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion”, we start with middle-aged Southerner Sookie Poole, who is looking forward to relaxing after two weddings in the family. Sookie is a sweet lady, but has no backbone and even less self-esteem. She has pretty much been bullied by her domineering mother her whole life. Then her life changes when she discovers she is adopted. Her years of Southern heritage, her sorority, her “Simmons foot” are eclipsed by the fact that she appears to be ‘Ginger’ – the illegitimate daughter of a Polish Catholic woman and “father unknown”. Sookie first falls apart, but then embarks on a journey to find out more about her birth mother.
At the same time, we have the story of Sookie’s birth mother and her family. The Jurdabralinski family is from Wisconsin and work hard at running their gas station. When WWII breaks out, the girls of the family run the station; then three of them become female military pilots – WASPS. The stories go back and forth between 1940 and 2005, between Fritzi, the spunky eldest sister, and Sookie.
I really enjoyed reading this book! Fannie Flagg’s writing always makes me laugh out loud, then suddenly I’m crying. It’s funny, poignant, silly, and touching all at once. I particularly liked the chapters on Fritzi and her sisters. I found the information on the WASPS (something I knew little about) very interesting! Sookie’s chapters made me laugh as some of it was pretty silly. I did like the resolution and end of this book.
So glad to see a new one by Ms. Flagg!
You can see it on Amazon where I got mine and where I am an Associate: