The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag is the second book in the series by Canadian author Alan Bradley (sometimes known as The Buckshaw Chronicles). The stories, set in the 1950's, are about a young girl detective, Flavia de Luce, who has a passion for chemistry and, when she's not terrorizing her older sisters, solving mysteries (especially murders). She also gets herself into all sorts of mischief along the way. I happened upon the series when I was given The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (book #1, which I adored!) in a box of books. Since then I found books #2 and #3 in second-hand book sales, so I continue to keep an eye out for the rest of the books!
I recently learned that Alan Bradley has co-written an intriguing book called Ms. Holmes of Baker Street: The Truth About Sherlock, and just released a new Flavia de Luce mystery (September 21, 2016), which means there are now eight books in the series. I love the cover art of these books, and the poetic titles - combinations that are sure to catch my attention! The fact that the main character is a strong-willed young girl makes them even better; and add to that a Canadian author = hopeless case for me!
In The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, a TV puppeteer, Rupert & his assistant, Nialla, come to town. Rupert appears to have old ties to the Ingleby's - the strange couple whose son died five years earlier in an apparent, but suspicious, suicide. As the oddities begin to pile up, Flavia befriends Nialla, and investigates the Ingleby's son's death, as well as the shocking death of the puppeteer in front of the whole town. True to form, she also gets herself into a few tight spots. Ultimately, however, Flavia is instrumental in solving both cases.
Loved the book, and would definitely recommend it. :)
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The number of books in my room, and all around the house, which make up my To Be Read "pile" is enormous... but, as true book nerds know, that doesn't mean you stop buying & collecting books. I went into my local new & used bookstore a few weeks ago (it's right beside where I work - a very dangerous work hazard!) and Little Bee was being featured at the front of the store, as a promotion for lesser-known books. The cover art and back cover blurb are what drew me in, and when I went to check out with it, the clerk told me she had also been intrigued by it and hoped I would let her know if it's good.
We don't want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn't. And it's what happens afterward that is most important. Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.
I mean, who wouldn't be intrigued be that, right?!
Well... it certainly was an interesting read. There's this unspeakable shared past that keeps being referred to throughout the book, which you think must be just terrible... but it's really not as bad as they make it out to be, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, it's disturbing and unpleasant, but not the great horror I was expecting... The last, probably, 1/2 to 1/3 of the book was rather weak and not very interesting. It has a relatively happy ending, but it doesn't feel like it ended well. It was in no way "extremely funny," although I enjoyed Little Bee's dialogues and found her view of the world to be beautiful and amusing. It was a book that I couldn't put down at times, had me crying at times, had me chuckling to myself at times... but I really didn't love it, and would not recommend it.