Thursday, June 29, 2017

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce, #7)As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The change of setting in this installment in the Flavia series was hard for me. I'll give it credit for the variety it brings and the chance for the character to grow, but it had some issues. First, while I get that Flavia is supposed to be a child prodigy, she still is human and she doesn't remotely act her age. Second, an Academy of all girls at that age seems like there would have been more conflict. A tickling attack? An obsession with smoking? OK, I guess that one might have been a real thing, I don't know, but it still seems like we didn't see the underside of any establishment like that. Cliques, negative peer pressure, those that naturally fight Flavia's control of situations. Other than that it was OK. A nice 3 star read, but not one I would spend time on if it weren't for my commitment to the series.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce, #6)The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one had a slower pace than previous books in this series, as all the action was around the funeral. Also, it lacked the ingeniousness of her normal sleuthing activities, although we still got the usual heavy helping of precociousness. The bright spot was the deepening of the bigger plot. I wonder if this was really all planned out in the beginning, or if around book three or four Bradley realized he was on to something and started building up to a cloak-and-dagger type plot? While I do like the "new" plot, it is lacking some of the whit and charm of the old plots, and we will have to see how the next school setting installment turns out before I decide if I feel like the series was ruined, or given new wings.

On a final positive note, the exclamation "Yaroo!" has officially entered my vocabulary during this reading, so points to you, Mr. Bradley.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia de Luce, #4)I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Flavia marathon continues! Now I'm on an extended road trip with my family, and since I am in the drivers seat most of the time, I'm get to choose the book and so we are making some good progress on Flavia.

This book continues the subplots started in the last book regarding the death of Harriet and the financial woes of the family, all in the context of the post war rebuilding era. The best thing about this book isn't the sleuthing, but rather the emotional growth of our relationship with the de Luce family, which we needed if this was to be a series. We needed to understand their complex interactions better, ironically so we could be mystified by them at the same time. We needed to know that the sisters really do love each other, to be properly confounded when they mistreat each other for obtuse reasons. We need to see Colonel de Luce's love for his youngest daughter, and for his beloved wife, so he doesn't fade into the background of this story like an uncaring stamp-collecting stump. Bradley steps up to the plate and does all of this and more in this book, earning it an extra star. I'm looking forward to the next book more for the overarching emotional tension than I am to hear another whodunit, although, that is a necessary part of a mystery.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce, #3)A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A while back (2015) I decided to attempt getting through the Flavia de Luce books again. They are not bad by any means, but my wife enjoys them more than I do and my attention wanders a bit in between installments. Well, I got through 2 books, and sure enough, my attention wandered. The good thing for me is that I put first five or so books on my phone, and there I was running a week or two ago and my audio book ended. As I ran along I navigated to my book folder and selected the first thing that I hadn't listened to yet, and so progress on my Flavia goal has recommenced.

I like the mystery aspect of these books, as well as the characterization. Flavia is a precocious star. I do struggle with the impossible thought processes and behaviors packed into this 11 year old character, but as long as I can put that aside, the story is enjoyable. Some of the description, and even the style of the author tends to be overly wordy and drag a bit, but I've found that I easily overcome the objection by listening to it at 1.5x speed.

Overall, I enjoyed this read, especially as it pertained to the overall series. Read it, but start with book 1, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.