Tag Archives: Alan Bradley


I’ve officially come out of my heavy deadline season – finished off the last big one early last week and have spent most of the time since recuperating, resting … and reading!

As soon as I could, I started on The Shining, for the #shineon readalong on Twitter this month. But it’s been a while since I’ve had a nice long stretch of reading time, so I found myself very distracted by all the other books that have been waiting for me to read them.

I put The Shining down at page 80 when Diana Wynne Jones’ Reflections on the Magic of Writing came through for me at the library. I devoured Reflections over the course of two days, and it truly inspired me. With huge thanks to Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, who recommended a little iPhone app called eHighlighter, I ended up saving lots and lots of quotes from the book – not quite the same as covering it with highlights, but still very satisfying.


Reflections is on my to-buy list, the next time I go on a book-buying splurge. And in the meantime, I plan to devote a post to it sometime soon, helped along by all the quotes I saved while I was reading.

I moved straight from Reflections to Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, by Sam Weller. I enjoyed this book immensely, too. You get a very real taste of Ray Bradbury the person: quirky, opinionated, loving. What came through the most for me was Bradbury’s immense love and appreciation of LIFE, in capitals.

On the fiction side of things, I’m about a third of the way through The Demi-Monde, by Rod Rees; I’m part of the book tour for the sequel, The Shadow Wars, and I wanted to get up-to-speed with the Demi-Monde world by reading the first book in the series before I start on The Shadow Wars.

I also started The Red Box, by Rex Stout, one of the few Nero Wolfe mysteries I haven’t read yet. I adore Nero Wolfe and Archie, so it was a thrill to see this one at my library’s ebook lending site. I really enjoy the Nero Wolfe novels in audio, but unfortunately this one  hasn’t made it to Audible yet.

In audio, I’ve been listening to Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf, a really fun thriller of a revenge novel. I’m near the end, and had a tough time turning my iPod off last night, but it was sooooo late.

And I have lots more waiting for me, including:

Pursuing the Times, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. I read a sample of this romcom before deciding to review it, and it was delightfully funny.

I am Half Sick of Shadows, the fourth book in the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. I’m playing catch-up, because next up is the newly released book five, Speaking from Among the Bones!

The Memory of Blood, by Christopher Fowler. Bryant and May, of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, are one of the funniest duos in crime literature, and I’m really looking forward to this one.

In other readalong news, I’ll be reading A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle with Joanna of Create Your World. If you’d like to join us, let me know in the comments or zip me an email. I’m also eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Diana Wynne Jones book for the readalong Kristen of We Be Reading will be holding for her month-long event, DWJ March.

So that’s my reading news so far. And I’m finding myself wishing for even more time to read!

Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieEleven-year-old Flavia de Luce has a flair for chemistry and a love of poisons. When she’s not busy concocting weird and wonderful substances in her laboratory, she’s engaging in guerilla-style battles of the wit with her two older sisters. One day, shortly after she sees a stranger in an argument with her father, Colonel de Luce, she stumbles onto the same man, breathing his last breath, in the cucumber patch. Who is the killer? Is her father, or Dogger, their faithful gardener, involved? Flavia plunges into the mystery with single-minded devotion and gusto.

In The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley, it’s definitely Flavia who is at the core of the book’s allure. Incredibly bright for her age, with, at times, a wisdom that’s well beyond her years, she nevertheless embodies a certain childishness that makes for a quirky, not always endearing but definitely interesting character.

Inspector Hewitt burst out laughing.

“There are times, Miss de Luce,” he said, “when you deserve a brass medal. And there are other times when you deserve to be sent to your room with bread and water.”

This sums up Flavia quite well. Inspector Hewitt, the officer in charge of the murder investigation, definitely has his wits about him.

And perhaps that’s another reason why I enjoyed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie so much. It’s not just that Flavia is such a perfect combination of genius, arrogance, wiliness and childishness; each of the supporting characters spring to life in their own individual ways, too.

Inspector Hewitt, though not the star of the show, is smart, not some dull-witted member of authority throwing his weight about. And I liked Flavia’s sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, both of whom played their roles as Flavia’s adversaries with considerable aplomb. They were exactly how the sisters of someone like Flavia should be, sharing the same deliciously malicious streak of ingenuity and making them quite worthy of being Flavia’s foes.

Even Flavia’s dead mother, Harriet, comes alive, so to speak. We catch glimpses of the woman she was, fiercely independent, flamboyant and fun; she’s very much the kind of person you would envision as the mother of children like Flavia, Ophelia and Daphne.

The mystery itself is complex and engrossing, reaching as it does into the past of Colonel de Luce’s boyhood, and involving rare stamps, and magic tricks. The end had me holding my breath.

This isn’t a fast-paced page turner action/thriller of a novel (although the reader is in for quite a thrilling ride near the end). Instead, it pulls you in right from the very start, and as the characters and the mystery are revealed, you find yourself not wanting to let go.

It was as dark in the closet as old blood. They had shoved me in and locked the door. I breathed heavily through my nose, fighting desperately to remain calm. I tried counting to ten on every intake of breath, and to eight as I released each one slowly into the darkness. Luckily for me, they had pulled the gag so tightly into my open mouth that my nostrils were left unobstructed, and I was able to draw in one slow lungful after another of the stale, musty air.

And that’s just the first paragraph.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was an enjoyable read; it’s the first in a series starring Flavia de Luce, and I am very much looking forward to Flavia’s next adventures.

Related Links and Fun Stuff

Flavia de Luce

Flavia Fan Club

Where to buy The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie:

U.S. (Amazon.com)

Canada (Chapters)

UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Review copy details: published by Doubleday Canada, 2009, Hardcover, 292 pages

Lovely Bookish Surprises Today!

I’m so excited – it feels like my birthday today!

I just went to the library to pick up some more holds that had come in, and discovered The Language of Bees, by Laurie R. King, waiting for me!

I’m super-thrilled about this. I had been downright envious when I was over at Bookish Ruth’s the other day and discovered that the book has just been released (and lucky Ruth was already curling up with her own copy of it).

And now it’s here, right here in my house!

And then, wandering around the library (because who ever pops into the library for “just a sec”, right?") I discovered The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley, in the “New in Books” display.

I had just blogged about adding this title to my TBR pile in my Friday Finds post this morning!

So I’m on a roll, right? Absolutely. Because when I got home from the library just now, I discovered an email from EcoSalon.com, letting me know that I’ve won this Buddha Bowl in their Mother’s Day giveaway. It’s kind of bookish news since I usually drink tea when I’m reading.

Now I’m off to curl up in a comfy corner and read …