Friday, December 27, 2013

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

I'm a huge fan of the Flavia deLuce mystery series by Canadian author Alan Bradley.  At the
end of the fifth book in the series, Speaking from Among the Bones, there was a major cliffhanger, and I  could not wait until the next book appeared.  

Several months ago while browsing NetGalley, I saw that I could request the advanced ebook of The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.  I did so, and quickly downloaded it.  When I downloaded it there was a note that reviews could not be published until closer to the release date, so I'm just now writing the review, but actually read the book several months ago.  I was afraid that I might forget key elements, but I have to say that this is a book that's sticking with me.

Often in a long-running mystery series the author starts to run out of steam.  At the end of the 5th book I was a bit concerned that this might be the case, but I was pleased to find that this is not so.  

I don't want to give too much away for those who read the previous book and are eagerly anticipating the resolution of the cliffhanger, so I'll try to be careful.  The story starts with the entire deLuce family at the train station waiting for the return of Harriet, Flavia's mother who disappeared when Flavia was a baby.

At the station a stranger gives Flavia a cryptic message, then is immediately killed by an oncoming train.  Long-lost relatives with secrets also make an appearance.  Flavia discovers a home movie that may provide clues to these events, as well as answer some questions about Harriet and her family.  Flavia's Aunt Felicity is also on hand to fill in some parts of the family story.

By the end of the novel, Flavia is ready to face a brand-new adventure, and I look forward to joining her.  Bradley has taken a series that was starting to become a bit stale and reinvigorated it by resolving many questions and taking it in a different direction.  I wish that more mystery series writers would take this approach.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Make an Apple Pie

1. On a nice sunny day in October, visit a local apple orchard and purchase a bag of Cortland apples with the intention of making pies in the next few days. 

2. When you get home put the apples in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. 

3. Whenever you open the refrigerator tell yourself that you really do need to get those pies made. 

4.  Repeat number 3 several times over the next month. 

5 Around Thanksgiving, bring your fancy apple peeler/slicer up from the basement and tell yourself that you will definitely make apple pies for Thanksgiving. 

6.  Decide to bake a Mrs. Smith's Pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. 

7. Whenever you open the refrigerator check the apple to make sure they're still good. Notice that they're starting to get a bit soft, and tell yourself that you really need to get those pies baked. 

8.  Twelve days before Christmas, when you have 17 other projects to finish in the next two days, take time to make 3 pies.  Bonus points if you do this immediately after scrubbing the kitchen floor.