Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ornament Review: Happy Halloween! #4 - Vampire - 2016 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Creative pumpkin reveals a fun scene inside
Cons: Slight tip, some details can get lost in background
The Bottom Line:
Blood sucking pumpkin?
Creative execution
Of a spooky scene

It’s a Blood Sucking Fiend in This Year’s Pumpkin

Last year, I broke down and started Hallmark’s Happy Halloween! ornament series.  I just can’t seem to resist their scene within something else series (and they’ve got several).  Plus I got a kick out of the variations they had on the themes.  2016 gives us another wonderful entry.

This year, our little monster is a vampire.  In keeping with that theme, the pumpkin mouth, while wide open, has two fangs sticking down from the top.  The eyes are also slit a little and the stem from the pumpkin looks just like a hair on a classic vampire.  The pumpkin itself is back to orange this year.

Inside, we see a well rested vampire rising for a night of blood sucking.  He’s wearing a black cape and standing in front of an open coffin with red velvet inside.  The open coffin lid does get a little lost in the background, which are red curtains.  And this dark cavern is illuminated by two torches.

What really got me with this series is the way the pumpkin changes to match the monster.  I just love that creativity.  However, I’ve got to say that the scene inside the ornament itself is wonderful as well.  The details are a little harder to see, but they are there if you look for them, and I love that.

There is a nice, wide base, so you can set this ornament out as part of a display if, you know, you don’t have any place to hang your Halloween ornaments.  You’ll also find the 4 in a Christmas tree series marker down there.  (And I’m going to keep campaigning for a Halloween series to have a pumpkin series marker.)

If you do want to hang the ornament, you’ll find that it tips back a little.  It’s not too terribly a tip, but it is noticeable.  Of course, it if is going to tip one way or the other, better to tip back because it allows us to see the scene easier.

Wonderfully executed creativity is always enjoyable, and that is once again what we get with the 2016 Happy Halloween! ornament.  If you enjoy that holiday, be sure to check it out.

Be sure to check out all the spooky fun with the rest of the Happy Halloween! series.

Original Price: $15.95

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Book Review: The Silence of the Library by Miranda James (Cat in the Stacks Mysteries #5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun mystery with a girl series twist
Cons: Not as much of the supporting cast
The Bottom Line:
Series mysteries
Lead to modern mystery
For nostalgic fun

Teen Sleuth Leads to Murder

If you read my reviews regularly, you’ll notice that I love the Trixie Belden series.  While my love for that series has lasted well into adulthood, as a kid, I devoured the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Encyclopedia Brown as well.  All of that made me really look forward to reading The Silence of the Library, the fifth Cat in the Stacks mystery.  Why?  Because a fictional teen sleuth series plays a huge part in the book.

As a child, Charlie Harris was introduced to Veronica Thane one day by his aunt.  As a result, he has long loved this lesser known series from the golden days of the teen detective series books.  The Athena Public Library is setting up a display about the various teen sleuths for National Library Week, and Charlie is lending his expertise to help Veronica get the spotlight.

No one has heard anything from the author, Electra Barnes Cartwright, in years, so Charlie is a bit surprised to learn that she is not only still alive but living not that far from Athena.  She is almost 100 years old, but she has agreed to make an appearance during the week to meet her fans.

But the news of this rare appearance brings out the crazies among her fans – collectors who will do anything for a rare copy of a book or an autograph.  Charlie is beginning to think that this author appearance might be a bad idea when someone dies.  Can he figure out what happened?

Over the course of this book, we are treated to the first few chapters of the very first Veronica Thane mystery.  I must say that “Miranda” James (really a pen name for Dean James), has perfectly captured the flavor and style of the old series.  It’s a little over the top even for the genre, but it is a hoot.  There are many references to other, actual, teen series books as well, mainly Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys but the others get mentioned as well, so mystery readers who grew up reading the genre will be delighted.

Another thing I loved about this book was how the modern day story incorporated elements from the teen sleuth genre into the plot.  Oh, it is a murder mystery, but the plot brings in enough other elements, sometimes as red herrings and sometimes as real clues, that it provides a nice change of pace for a cozy.  Of course, things do lead up to a logical climax, which isn’t a surprise for this series.

Unfortunately, we don’t see quite as much of the series regulars as I would have liked.  Still, that’s a minor complaint since we get some wonderful new characters here.  They keep Charlie confused and us turning pages until the end.

Diesel, Charlie’s Maine Coon cat, is as much a fixture as ever, of course.  He’s a real charmer and continues to be a fantastic scene stealer.

You don’t have to have fond memories of series books from your childhood to enjoy The Silence of the Library.  Any fan of cozies mysteries will enjoy it.  But hours spent in the company of Nancy or Trixie or any of the others will give this book an added boost that will leave you smiling.

And if you haven’t met Charlie and Diesel yet, here are the rest of the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries in order.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Movie Review: Garage Sale Mystery - The Wedding Dress

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery bring past to modern times
Cons: 70’s fashion not represented; one sub-plot; usual cheese
The Bottom Line:
Wedding dress with clue
To an open mystery
That happened in past

An Old Dress Reopens the Mystery of the Missing Groom

It’s always tricky when you try to use a mystery from the past and bring it into the present.  You have to make sure that the story has consequences for someone in the present, so that adds an extra layer to the story.  The Garage Sale Mysteries on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel have all had an element of the past in them so far, but none as pronounced as The Wedding Dress.  While the movie isn’t perfect, it does handle the past and present coming together perfectly.

Jennifer Shannon (Lori Laughlin), garage sale enthusiast and owner of Rags to Riches, never passes up an estate sale.  And she’s found a real treasure at the most recent one – a wedding dress from a top designer in excellent condition.  She should be able to sell it and make a nice profit.

However, when Jennifer examines it closer, she finds a hidden pocket with a blood stain in it.  Always up for solving a mystery, she begins to dig into the history of the dress, even tracking down the bride, (Cheryl Ladd).  She soon learns that the groom vanished between the wedding and the reception and was never heard from again.  With the bloody pocket, Jennifer thinks she may know what happened.  Is she correct?

This was actually a good mystery.  It may be 35 years since the groom disappeared, but the story unfolds logically as we watch Jennifer try to piece things together.  I didn’t have things figured out before the ending, although I felt foolish for not picking up on it beforehand.

On the other hand, I did have a sub-plot involving her husband pegged from the get go.  And can I just say that women who won’t tell their husbands what is bothering them are bigger idiots than they think men are?  Seriously, that entire sub-plot annoyed me like crazy.

I’m sad to say that Jennifer’s son Logan is not in this movie.  I’ve always loved the character and the way the actor interacted with Lori Laughlin.  Instead, he spends the movie at computer camp.  Looks like he’s been recast for the next one, which means all of Jennifer’s family has been recast at this point.

The acting is standard for a movie in this franchise with a hint of cheese to it, something that is not helped along by the dialogue the actors are forced to say.  Know what you are facing going into the movie, and you’ll be fine.

But can we get to my real complaint about the film?  If you’ve done the math, you’ll figure out that the wedding that started the entire thing took place in 1979.  And yet, the actors and the styles that everyone wore look like it could have been a wedding from last week.  And we get several flashbacks to that wedding, too.  It always threw me out of the film.  And you know it’s obvious if I’m commenting on it since I know nothing about fashion.

Overall, The Wedding Dress is a decent mystery that will entertain you for an hour and a half.  And really, what more could you want?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Review: Commander Toad and the Dis-Asteroid by Jane Yolen (Commander Toad #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: A non-scary science fiction picture book
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Commander Toad to
The rescue with…beans?  More fun
With crew of Star Warts

Not Reading This Book Would be a Dis-Asteroid

There aren’t many genre picture books, or at least they aren’t super popular.  One of the rare exceptions in the science fiction genre is Commander Toad.  I’ve been enjoying rereading these books recently, and Commander Toad and the Dis-Asteroid proves to be another fun addition to this series.

Commander Toad and his crew on board the Star Warts are about ready to leave the headquarters of Star Fleet when they are given their new mission.  It seems that Star Fleet has received a distress call from an asteroid somewhere between Jupiter and Mars.  However, the distress call doesn’t quite make sense.  The call seems to be requesting beans.  Armed with many kinds of beans, Commander Toad heads out to see what is happening.

They arrive to find the asteroid completely covered in water with pigeons flying over the surface.  One of them lands and tries to communicate the problem, but he is speaking Pigeon Toad.  Will Commander Toad be able to understand and fix the problem?

This is such a fun book.  While there is definitely some danger and a real problem that needs to be solved, this is the least scary problem the crew has encountered to date.  So if you have a little one who is super sensitive, this might be a good book to read.  The story moves along at a decent pace as well, with the detours being lots of fun.

As always, this is a book full of puns.  Even if kids don’t get them all, their parents will love them.  One or two are even explained for the kids.

Bruce Degen once again provides wonderful illustrations.  His pictures provide some laughs all on their own, especially with some hidden gags early in the book.

These are classified as easy reader books, and outside a few names or titles (Lieutenant springs to mind), I don’t see any of the words in this book being a problem.  And if parents are helping their kids read, there will be no problem at all.

So be sure to pick up Commander Toad and the Dis-Asteroid.  You and your kids will enjoy this science fiction tale.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cookie Review: Chips Ahoy! S'more

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good tasting cookies
Cons: Doesn’t actually taste like a s’more
The Bottom Line:
Delicious tasting
But taste not as advertised
Missing marshmallow

Valiant Effort, but Doesn’t Capture That S’more Magic

I was walking through the grocery store a couple weeks ago, and I made the mistake of walking by a display of Chips Ahoy! cookies.  Their newest flavor jumped out at me – s’more.  Since I love s’mores as much as anyone else who has grown up camping, I had to give these cookies a try.  I wasn’t expecting too much, and it’s a good thing because these turned out to be less than they could have been.

The basis for these cookies is a standard chewy Chips Ahoy! cookie.  In the center of the cookie is a disc of chocolate.  And there are still plenty of chips in the cookies, both chocolate and a white chip.

I suspect that the white chip is white chocolate that they are hoping to have flavored to have tasted like marshmallow.  Sadly, they didn’t quite hit the mark.  As often happens when there are white chips in these cookies, there is a sweet factor, and they taste different from a normal chocolate chip cookie, but they don’t come anywhere near a s’more.

The package does recommend heating them, 9 to 10 seconds in the microwave for two cookies.  I gave that as try as well.  Doing this really brings out the graham cracker taste in the cookie, something that is missing when you eat it cold, and it melts the chocolate disc in the middle, which is delicious.  But it does nothing to introduce the flavor of marshmallow.

Now don’t misunderstand what I am saying.  These cookies certainly taste good.  They just don’t taste much like s’mores.  And since that is what they are going for, they fail to deliver on that promise.

So if you are looking for a twist on the chocolate chip cookie, feel free to pick up Chips Ahoy! S’more.  Just don’t expect them to have the marshmallow flavor actually needed to create real s’more taste.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Book Review: The Sound of Murder by Cindy Brown (Ivy Meadows Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Humor, deep characters, good mystery
Cons: Sub-plots overwhelm a bit in first half, but still a great book
The Bottom Line:
Murder of neighbor
And Ivy’s new dinner show
Another fun book

Sounds Like Another Winner to Me

When I tried the first Ivy Meadows book a few months back, I loved and I couldn’t wait to start the next one, so I’m a little surprised it took me until now to get around to reading The Sound of Murder, her second mystery.  The wait was worth it, however, because this was another fabulous read.

Ivy Meadows is trying to divide her time between two interests, acting and learning to be a PI.  On the acting front, she has landed a gig in The Sound of Cabaret, a new musical that combines The Sound of Music with Cabaret as Mary, a postulant nun, helps a bunch of Jewish dancers flee the Nazis while falling in love with the Captain Vaughn Katt, the owner of the club where they dance.  This show is at a dinner theater in the community of Sunnydale, outside of Phoenix proper and large enough to really be its own town.

Unfortunately, Ivy has just had a small fire in her own apartment, and she is looking for a place to live while it is being renovated.  Fortunately, she lands a housesitting gig for a resident of Sunnydale.  But she’s barely arrives when one of her new neighbors dies in his garage, an apparent suicide.  The man’s daughter doesn’t buy the suicide angle and hires Ivy’s uncle, a licensed PI, to learn the truth.  Ivy takes on the case as her very first assignment and is determined to do a good job.  But is there more to the suicide than meets the eye?  Can she balance the investigation with her acting schedule?

Now if you didn’t figure it out from the description of the play, this is definitely a humorous cozy.  I dare you to read the description of the scenes and the songs without getting a smile on your face.  There is plenty of humor from the characters and situations as well.

And yet this book has a depth to it.  While we may be laughing at certain things, the death that starts the investigation is treated very seriously.  There are also things that Ivy is facing that are serious as well.  This is never awkward; the book finds the perfect balance between the funny, the sometimes absurd, and the serious.

This results in some fantastic characters.  There is a richness and depth to them and makes them truly shine.  While I already knew I loved the series regulars, there were some great new characters in this book, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them pop up again in the future.

There are several sub-plots in this book, and at times they push the murder investigation to the back stage.  But you know what?  I didn’t mind because I was having a fabulous time hanging out with the characters.  As the book progressed, some of those sub-plots actually did begin to tie in to the murder, and the mystery took center stage more and more.  The climax brought us a logical and fun solution to the mystery.

I’m thrilled the third Ivy Meadows mystery is already out and you’d better believe I plan to read it soon.  If you are looking for a fun mystery set in the world of theater, The Sound of Murder is definitely for you.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ornament Review: The Big Bang Theory - 2016 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 1 out of 5
Pros: It hangs straight
Cons: Execution is every detail ruined what could have been a good ornament
The Bottom Line:
A good idea
Horrible execution
Easy to skip it

I’m Still Waiting for the Bazinga!

I freely admit I am one of the millions who loves The Big Bang Theory.  Heck, it’s the only show I have my DVR set to record reruns, and I religiously watch them.  I’ll even turn on TBS’s marathons and watch them if I have nothing else to do.  Yet I will not be buying this year’s Hallmark ornament based on the show.

The idea behind the ornament is great.  The shape is based on the atom spinning logo that the show has made famous.  That gives us six sides.  One of them has the full logo for the show while the other five have portraits of the five original characters, Leonard, Penny, Sheldon, Raj, and Howard.

The problem is in the execution.  The people themselves look very poorly done.  Sheldon and Raj almost look like themselves if you squint, but Penny especially looks very cartoony.  It’s like someone created them in clay and they were squished a bit.  I know that an ornament will never capture a person exactly, but this is beyond artistic license.

But wait, it gets betters (and by better, I mean worse).  This is a magic ornament, and if you press the button by Raj’s head, you’ll get to hear the theme song from the show.  Only it isn’t the theme song as performed by Barenaked Ladies.  No, they must have wanted too much for Hallmark to license the song, so instead we get someone covering it.  Whoever did it gives the song just a hint of country flavor.  It’s not bad, but it makes it obvious it is a cover.  And then there is the fact that they get the lyrics wrong.  It’s “billions,” not “millions” as they sing here.

The ornament is wide, although I’d be hard pressed to set this out to display because I’m not sure it would stand up for very long.  Instead if I were to buy it, I’d definitely want to hang this ornament, and fortunately, the ornament does hang straight.  See, I did find something nice to say about it.

But that’s all there is nice to say about it.  The idea could have made for a hot seller, but the execution completely ruined this ornament.  This Big Bang Theory fan will stick with last year’s Sheldon Cooper ornament instead.

Original Price: $19.95

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Review: The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg (Fox and O'Hare #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong story and humor keep the pages turning
Cons: Characters a little flat as always
The Bottom Line:
Fox, O’Hare, madman
As plot, laughs twist together
For page turning romp

Fans Will Pursue This Book

While I can usually handle cliffhangers on the TV shows I watch, I find them frustrating in books.  I have no idea why that is – maybe it’s because I know it will be nine to twelve months before I get resolution?  However, they certainly make me want to pick up the next book, which is why I couldn’t wait to read The Pursuit.

If you haven’t read this series yet, it stars Nicolas Fox and Kate O’Hare.  After years of FBI Agent Kate O’Hare pursuing con man Nick Fox, she finally caught him, only to watch him turned loose as part of a deal.  Now, the two are teamed up for some very, very off the books opps as they take down dangerous criminals that no one would be able to stop via traditional means.

This book opens moments after the last one had ended.  Nick has been kidnapped.  When Kate arrives where she is supposed to meet him in Hawaii, she finds signs of a fight, but no Nick.  She quickly sets to work trying to figure out just what happened to him.  The criminals have left some clues for her to follow, and she begins tracking them down as quickly as possible.

Which is fortunate since Nick is being held by Dragan Kovic, an ex-Servian military officer who has made a fortune stealing diamonds.  He has “requested” Nick’s help for a seemingly impossible robbery.  Can Kate find Nick?  Will the two be able to bring this mad man down?

Now if you are worried that I’ve spoiled too much for you, my teaser just covers the first few pages of the book.  Once again, the plot of this book twists in some fun, surprising, and unexpected places before we reach the fantastic ending.  In fact, I felt like the pace of this book was a little faster than normal for the series.  There were certainly a lot of great twists along the way.

While the focus on the action, the characters are a little flat here, but that’s been my constant complaint over the course of the series.  We get to know them enough to truly care about them, but they aren’t as developed as many series I read.

Having said that, the fun and humor of the series is in fine form, and much of that comes from the usual crew that Nick and Kate once again bring together to help them take down the bad guys.  Two in particular always make me laugh, and it is a joy to see them in action again.

So yes, the time spent waiting to see how the climax would be resolved was time well spent.  I enjoyed every page of The Pursuit and can’t wait to find out what happens next to Kate, Nick, and their crew.

New to their adventures?  Here are the Fox and O’Hare novels in order.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TV on DVD Review: Royal Pains - Season 8

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: More wonderful episodes with these characters
Cons: We have to say goodbye to them
The Bottom Line:
One last Hamptons trip
Filled with fun and laughter as

HankMed says good-bye

HankMed’s Final House Calls

I think everyone knew it was coming.  Two years ago, the USA Network renewed Royals Pains for season 7 and 8, but each season would only be eight episodes.  While they waited until this spring to officially announce that season 8 would be the final season, I wasn’t surprised to hear the announcement.  However, the writers and creators took advantage of this news to craft a wonderful final season that will leave all fans thrilled.

As this season opens, it’s the start of a new summer, and the HankMed gang is getting ready for business as usual.  Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) has a new potential girlfriend.  His brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) is still trying to balance the demands of HankMed and his job running the hospital.  Meanwhile he and his wife Paige (Brooke D’Orsay) are still trying to have a child.  Dr. Jeremiah Sacani (Ben Shenkman) is attempting to get back to treating patients after spending most of the year in the lab.  And physician assistant Divya Katdare (Reshma Shetty) is anxiously waiting for word on getting into medical school while expecting a child with her new husband – Raj (Rupak Ginn).

While the HankMed gang deals with all this going on in their lives, Hank accompanies Boris (Campbell Scott) on a trip to Hong Kong, Jeremiah treats his favorite author, and we meet a family of kids who need help.

But there is definitely change in the air.  First, Hank and Evan’s father Eddie (Henry Winkler) reappears announcing his upcoming marriage to Ms. Newburg (Christine Ebersole) before he vanishes.  Then a surprise reappearance from Jill (Jill Flint) captures Hank’s interest again.  Are things changing for our characters?  Where will everyone end up?

Yes, there really are only 8 episodes in the season, and they are jam packed full.  There is not a wasted second here.  As always, the emphasis is as much if not more on what is going on with the characters as it is the medical mystery of the week.  Oh, we get some new clients and their ailments, but we tune in because of these characters.

And the final episode nails why.  (No, I’m not going to spoil anything.)  These characters are a family.  They have stood by each other through thick and thin, and they truly care for each other.  Oh, they may fight and have disagreements (we do need conflict on a TV show after all), but they work things out in the end.  I have loved watching their relationships grow and change as the characters grew over these eight seasons.  For fans like me, this didn’t disappoint.

Which brings us to the final episode.  It was perfect!  I’m actually a little surprised I didn’t bawl all the way through it, but there were so many wonderful moments between the characters as everything was wrapped up.  And I am absolutely thrilled with how they wrapped things up for the characters.  In fact, I was so happy with it, my poor roommate had to listen to me ramble on about it a couple times that night after I’d finished watching it.

Since the writers were treating it as a final season, they brought in quite a few past characters for cameos.  Many of them showed up in the musical episode, which was a lot of fun.  And let me just say, the female cast is super talented.  The men hold their own when it came to singing, but the ladies shine.

Of course, I’m going to keep the praise going by talking about the great acting.  The stars and the recurring actors nail their parts once again.  The guest stars rise to the occasion as well.

If you are a fan of this show, you’ll be thrilled with how it ended.  Buy Royal Pains Season 8 today so you can enjoy it over and over again.

Season 8 Episodes:
1. Stranger Danger
2. Palpating the Orbital Rim
3. Fly Me to the Kowloon
4. Doubt of Africa
5. Saab Story
6. Home Sick
7. The Good News Is…
8. Uninterrupted

Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Review: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #6)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Amazing character and character development
Cons: As usual, the mystery is the weak link
The Bottom Line:
Harriett’s return
Grows character; changes things
Strongest book to date

Strength in Mourning

Since I started the Flavia de Luce series last year, I knew the basic set up of the sixth entry, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, a long time ago.  That didn’t stop me from being intrigued by the way the topic was introduced at the end of the last book, and I was looking forward to seeing how things paid off here.  The result was the best book in the series to date.

For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s something different.  Flavia de Luce is an eleven-year-old amateur chemist and amateur detective in 1951 England.  It’s not often you see a child as the main character in an adult novel, right?  While some rave about the series, I’ve found them to be a bit slow at times as mysteries, focusing instead on Flavia and her family, her World War II vet father and her two older sisters.

“You’re mother has been found.”  As this book opens, it’s been a week since Flavia’s father has made that shocking announcement.  Flavia’s mother, Harriet, went missing in Tibet a decade ago and has been presumed dead, but no proof has ever been found.  Now, her body is coming back on a special train into their village of Bishop’s Lacey.

There is a crowd on the platform when the train bringing Harriet’s body arrives, including not only friends from the village but people that Flavia doesn’t know.  One of them comes up to Flavia and starts to give her an important but cryptic message to pass on to her father.  A moment later, this stranger is dead, crushed under the wheels of the train as it is departing.  Who was he?  What did his strange message mean?  Does it have anything to do with Harriet’s death?

I have complained in the past that the mystery often gets swallowed by other going ons in the book, and that certainly happens again here.  There are pieces and clues to the mystery scattered throughout the book, so when Flavia does piece things together, it all makes sense.  I will say one aspect of the climax seemed a bit abrupt to me, and I’m still wondering why the characters behaved in that manner, but it’s a minor issue for me.

Since the mystery takes a back seat, this book is really about the mourning that the characters go through.  Since Flavia is our narrator, her conflicted emotions are the easiest to see.  She never knew Harriet since her mother died when she was just a baby, yet she worries that she should be feeling something.  Her father clearly still loves Harriet deeply, and Flavia’s sisters try to deal with the confirmation of the loss in their own ways.  It makes for a fascinating read as each of the character’s reactions is genuine and perfect for them.

As a result, I don’t recommend jumping in here.  To fully get the impact of this book, you need to know the characters.  But if you take the time to get to know them, you’ll be very glad you did.

Just in case this is sounding like a dark book, it is and it isn’t.  Flavia’s antics help keep things light, and she gets a new foil in this book that is entertaining.  There was one scene that had me welling up with tears one minute and laughing out loud the next.  The book walks a very fine line, letting us experience the character’s grief without overwhelming or depressing us.

There are some developments in several ongoing sub-plots.  I called part of what happened here, but I was still shocked by the rest of it.

This novel does shift our understanding of the characters in a big way, filling in backstory on some of them.  I actually bought what the author did in this respect based on some of the conversations and bits and pieces we’ve seen in earlier books.  I’m quite curious to see what if anything is done with this in future books.

As always with this series, I listened to the audio version.  Jayne Entwistle is Flavia, and her narration is absolutely delightful.  If you go this route, you will not be disappointed.

The next book in the series is set up at the end of this book.  I know that some fans have been disappointed with it, but I’m quite interested to see what I will think about what happens to Flavia next.

The mysteries continue to be weak here, so I can’t give the book my full endorsement, but fans of Flavia and her family will be enthralled by the character study that is The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.

Since this book works best if you know the characters, you'll want to read the Flavia de Luce Mysteries in order.