Book Ten: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, Alan Bradley

Yay! I really needed more Flavia in my life and I got her. I love this implausibly precocious, mystery solving 11-year-old chemistry enthusiast. These books are pure escapism for me--I really wish I could live in Bishop's Lacey and I wish I could cruise around town on my trusty bike, Gladys, and get into, okay, not as much trouble as Flavia, but maybe just a little bit of trouble.

A+ mystery. A+ anglophilic indulgence.

Book Nine: The Gone-Away World

The Gone-Away World, Nick Harkaway

Imagine this book is your boyfriend. You meet this guy and you are instantly attracted and intrigued so you decide to date him. Sure, he talks fancy and makes you laugh and, at first, makes you feel great when you're around him. But, after a while, you start to think he might be kind of one dimensional "Maybe he's all talk. Maybe he just likes to listen to his own voice and his fancy words and he doesn't care about me at all." But, you give him the benefit of the doubt and stick with him. But the magic is definitely starting to wear off. And then he does something bad. Ok, so he doesn't hit you, but he makes you feel really horrible. And you think, "This is it. We're done. I am out of here." But then he suddenly, out of nowhere. he does something truly magical. He takes you on a magical date or bring you the most amazing gift or surprises you with a gesture of utter thoughtfulness and sincerity... something that gives you actual chills. You feel transported and amazing. So you give him another chance. And so it goes. Up and down, up and down. Most of the time you can't stand him, but every so often, when you're ready to break up with him, he surprises you with a moment of true beauty and then you're not so sure.

Yup, that pretty much sums up how I felt about this book. 90% of the time I couldn't stand it. I thought Nick Harkaway's writing was contrived and irritating, I thought he watched too many movies by directors like Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, and Guy Ritchie. I thought the book could have used a good editor. But then, there were a handful of moments that really did give me chills. That were so simply moving in their truth and beauty that I felt like I had to continue on. I just wish there were more of those moments. Sure, I'm glad I stuck with it and finished the book, but I kind of resent all the time I spent on the rest of it. We probably should never have gone out in the first place.