31 December 2013

My Dozen Favorite Books of 2013

Once again, I had to make it a baker's dozen; in no particular order:

book icon  About Time, Volume 7, 2005-2006, Tat Wood and Dorothy Ail (What can I say? I'm a sucker for well-written and slightly snarky Doctor Who analysis; Amazon purchase)

book icon  A Study in Silks, Emma Jane Holloway (good even with the teenage angst; Barnes & Noble purchase)

book icon  Passion of the Purple Plumaria, Lauren Willig (finally! a love story with mature protagonists!; Amazon purchase)

book icon  Paris to the Past, Ina Caro (I'm not even an Francophile, but I loved this tour of historic France; Barnes & Noble purchase)

book icon  Thieftaker, D.B. Jackson (witchery and mystery in Revolutionary-era Boston; Barnes & Noble purchase)

book icon  Eiffel's Tower, Jill Jonnes (made me feel as if I were there; Barnes & Noble purchase)

book icon  One Summer: America 1927, Bill Bryson (captured the flavor of the era; Amazon Vine selection)

book icon  Among the Janites, Deborah Yaffe (and I don't even like Austen, but this was a fine study of fandom of any persuasion; Amazon Vine selection)

book icon  The Apothecary, Maile Meloy (page-turning young adult fantasy; Books-a-Million purchase)

book icon   Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History, Andrew Carroll (if there's anything I like more than history, it's more history; Amazon Vine selection)

book icon  Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh and America's Fight Over World War II, Lynne Olson (America's greatest hero vs. the strong-willed President; Amazon Vine selection)

book icon   Eighty Days, Matthew Goodman (the rival races around the world between Nelly Bly and Elizabeth Bisland—I couldn't believe it when reviewers suggested there was "too much description" of the era in the text...that was my favorite part!; Amazon Vine selection)

book icon   Heidi's Alp, Christina Hardyment (a family in a camper goes looking for all the great children's lit sites and this great narrative is the result; Amazon Marketplace purchase)

Books Finished Since December 1

book icon  The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, Alan Bradley
I'm sorry to admit it, but I was disappointed in this newest Flavia De Luce mystery. I’ve read the Flavia de Luce books since the first and still love her youthful enthusiasm crossed with her precocious chemical interests and attraction to murder scenes. In this latest book, we delve into the mystery of Harriet de Luce, mother of Flavia and her tormenting older sisters, who died eleven years earlier and who has just been brought home to the family’s crumbling estate, Buckshaw. While waiting for Harriet’s coffin at the railway station, Flavia sees a man struck down and killed, and is astonished to see that Winston Churchill is one of the people mourning her mother. What does it all mean, and why has an obscure cousin and her precocious child suddenly shown up?

While I enjoyed the unraveling of the details behind Harriet’s death, the book itself seemed rather erratic, with Flavia jumping from one thing to another in short succession. It’s also not the usual village mystery that has been one of the standards of the series, but that, not to be too spoiler-y, seems fated to change as well. However, we do get to know more of the backstory of Flavia’s parents and also of Dogger, her father’s former batman and now faithful retainer, who often takes Flavia’s part in her investigational escapades, and cunning Aunt Felicity makes a return appearance. Flavia’s cousin Undine also proves an able verbal jousting companion for her.

In short, glad to have solved Harriet’s demise, but not as enchanted with the tale-telling this time and am a bit skeptical of the series change upcoming. Warning: for all of this to make sense, you must read the earlier books!

The rest of the books I read this month are chronicled in my holiday blog, Holiday Harbour, marked with the legend "Christmas Book Review."