Fiction Friday Round-Up – June 5th, 2015

This was a pretty busy week; among other things, Jane and I launched our new pop culture website, Mind the Gap (which you should totally check out because we have a lot of great content!). But I also managed to completely catch up on the Flavia de Luce series, and finished a couple of ARCs. As always, please click the titles for the full review!

  • As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust – Alan Bradley: “The series is no longer simply a collection of unrelated mysteries; it started to hint at the bigger picture and Flavia’s role within that larger narrative.”
  • Devil’s Daughter – Hope Schenk de-Michele and Paul Marquez: “It had a great plot and some interesting moments but, while it had an open ending, I’m not tearing down the house in anticipating for the sequel. Definitely a good change from most of the other angel-based YA out there, though.”
  • Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “If I was trying to pitch this book, I’d say it was a combination of Melissa Marr’s Made for You and Elizabeth Chandler’s Kissed by an Angel but with more ghosts and, well, grunge (those are all good things, by the way).”

Last week, I read a truly disappointing ARC:

  • Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas: “I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but this is one of those rare cases where I feel too old to read this and I think it would be better received by readers aged 12-14”.

But I also read a great female-centric comic book, so it sort of evened out!

  • Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery – Kurtis J. Wiebe: “There are also light, funny moments in between all the fighting; whether it’s Betty packing candy and drugs for dinner again or Dee being anti-social i.e. reading a book at a party, you get a good glimpse at the queens’ personalities.”

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust – Alan Bradley

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust – Alan Bradley

21874813Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide.

No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school.

I’m finally caught up on all the Flavia de Luce books!! Which leaves me feeling bittersweet because I really enjoy hanging out with her and now I have to wait for the next book like everyone else!!

Fun fact: this is the only Flavia book I have in hardcover and (I’m sorry, I have to brag here), it’s signed by Alan Bradley who is an absolutely adorable man. Flavia’s voice and personality are so strong and so girlishly realistic, you wouldn’t think her creator was a man in his seventies.

This book takes us out of jolly ol’ England and into Canada – Toronto, in fact. I was intrigued by the setting since I live just outside of Toronto and I’ve been in the Danforth area, so I had fun trying to imagine where Miss Bodycote’s school could be.

Of course, the only problem with it taking place outside of Bishop’s Lacey is that a lot of the characters you’ve come to know and love are mentioned in passing, but don’t actively play a role. There are many new intriguing characters – Mrs. Bannerman, the acquitted murderess, for one – and it’s fascinating to see Flavia interact with a bunch of girls in her age group (previously, we’d seen her interact with mostly adult figures), but I missed her volatile relationship with her sisters.

Another shift in this installment is the story line. I think the sixth book, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (which was my personal favourite), marked a transition. The series is no longer simply a collection of unrelated mysteries; it started to hint at the bigger picture and Flavia’s role within that larger narrative. So while it makes sense that this book continued along that path of pheasant sandwiches, it was also a little frustrating. Flavia asks a lot of questions but doesn’t get a lot of (solid) answers. It does do a great job at setting up future adventures (there’ll be a total of ten books once the series ends), and I’m eager to see where Flavia ends up.

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