Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley

Book description:
Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. 

Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.

This fifth offering from Alan Bradley featuring the young (and homicidally inclined) Flavia de Luce is a wonderful addition to the series.  Though the fourth book focused more on Flavia's development than the murder, this book skillfully blends the two into a masterpiece of a mystery.

It certainly seems Bishop's Lacey is a magnet for murder, but as usual Flavia is on the spot to do a bit of detecting.  The mystery this time arond is much more nuanced, and allows for a suitably nuanced picture of Flavia to emerge as well.  As she goes about solving the murder with panache, she is also coping with a much more complicated mystery- the mystery of growing up.

From start to finish this book pulled me along with Flavia and her band of misfit friends and relatives.  The murder mystery is tight, Flavia's development is both realistically and empathetically presented, and the cliffhanger of an ending a delightful shock.

This is a must read for anyone following the series, and the series is a must read for anyone who loves a good mystery.  Now I'm hanging on the edge of my seat, waiting for #6!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The American Patriot's Almanac: Daily Readings on America by Dr. William J. Bennett & John T.E. Cribb

Book Description:

365 reasons to love America! The fife and drum of history mark the time of each passing day. And within their cadence, personalities, conflicts, discoveries, ideas, and nations peal and fade. American history is no different. From the starving time of Jamestown during the Winter of 1609, through the bloody argument of the Civil War, and to today, the United States is a tale best told one day at a time.
In The American Patriot's Almanac, Bennett distills the American drama into three hundred sixty-five entries-one for each day of the year. 

Though not the kind of thing you will read through in one sitting, this book is an enjoyable addition to my history shelf.  This is the kind of book I pick off a shelf maybe once every couple of weeks and read through for the pleasure of it.  I can definitely see how useful it would be for anyone with kids at home because it is a great way to digest small and enjoyable tidbits of American history.  This isn't the place to learn all about everything, but this book is a great jumping off point for any student of history.  All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable almanac of Americana.