Recent Reads: Flavia de Luce

Flavia de Luce Mysteries

Set in the 1950s English countryside, Flavia Sabina de Luce is an 11-year-old girl living in a somewhat decrepit family manor with her father and two older sisters. She’s also an amateur sleuth and obsessed with chemistry – especially poison. The nearby village of Bishop’s Lacey is, conveniently for her, scene to an absurdly high number of murders most foul.

I picked up the books for their burtonesque covers at first (although Flavia is always described as having dark blonde or mousy hair, not black) and then got the rest of them for the mysteries (who doesn’t love a good murder mystery?). Once I started reading one of them I got through the book in a day, not only because it’s written smoothly enough to just flow by like this but also because I wanted to know how it ends really, really badly.
I have somewhere (probably on TVtropes) read “proto-goth chick” as a description for Flavia which sounds about right. She’s somewhat dark in character, extremely fascinated with death and an expert on poison – not to mention that she lives in the perfect setting for a Gothic novel.

While I love the detailing, the sinister serenity of Bishop’s Lacey – my favourite character is Dr. Darby, the resident physician – and how the past of everyone there seems intertwined and the strange details on chemicals and reactions there are, however, a few things that bug me about the books, mainly the heroine herself more than once.
I found it quite a bit of wasted potential that her relationship with her sisters never changed. I would have loved for her to get over herself for once and ask them to join her in her investigations, tapping their special skills – Feely’s social contacts around the village and musical knowledge and Daffy’s absurd amount of knowledge and well-read-ness -, because mystery-solving sisters would have been just amazing. There wasn’t that much of a character development for Flavia overall, sadly, either, but maybe because the books were set only months apart (which maybe wasn’t the best idea, either). I also wasn’t too keen on the reveals of The Dead in their vaulted Arches which might have explained a lot but not really in a satisfying manner (to me, at least), and As Chimney Sweepers come to dust  – Flavia’s in Canada now, at the same boarding school that prepared her mother for her adventurous live, –  didn’t really make things better, once again thanks to the very short, very unsatisfying and quite back-to-status-quo-ish ending. It also felt a bit like a drag overall, maybe because I didn’t enjoy the book before that too much for several reasons, the main one probably being the lack of overall sleuthing in exchange for more family drama and family revelations that somehow happened all by themselves. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m not going into more detail here.
However, this is just my personal opinion and I’m sure a lot of people actually like Flavia and find her charming – then again, I was never into Wednesday Adams, either, and the characters have some things in common. Everything else is good enough to balance out this harsh judgement of mine (I’m picky, really, don’t mind me) – and after all it’s a first-person view and Flavia might be an unreliable narrator – so I enjoyed the series enough to read all of the books the library had available.

Flavia de Luce mysteries

The novels in correct order are

  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (probably my favourite)
  • The Weed that strings the Hangman’s Bag
  • A Red Herring without Mustard
  • I am half sick of Shadows
  • Speaking from among the Bones
  • The Dead in their vaulted Arches
  • As Chimney Sweepers come to dust
  • and as of Spring 2017 Thrice the Brindled Cat hath mew’d (which the library didn’t have yet)

If you like chemistry, or science in general, the vintage countryside, great old crumbling estates, high-cultural references and dark humor the Flavia de Luce books might be just the right thing for you. Don’t let the fact that the protagonist is just 11 years old confuse you – those are surely not “just children’s books”.

Some of you commented on the vlog I mentioned the books first in that you’ve read them, too. Which one was your favourite? Who’s your favourite character?

Look here for the author’s website and more information on Flavia!

UFO Friday

UFO Friday is my bi-weekly series where I show you what projects I’ve been working on (UFO stands for UnFinished Objects). For more of these, look here and for every other week’s feature, Finished Things Saturday, look here.

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I’m finally putting a new lining in this bag I thrifted for one of my LARP characters. I ripped out the old lining (which was horrible in both quality and style), took it apart and used it as a pattern for the new one.

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The pieces of old lining ended up here:

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That’s the box we use for scraps that aren’t really usable for anything else anymore (or when we have enough rags for the kitchen already) to later stuff draught stoppers and things like that with.

By now I’m done with the small pocket inside the lining for OOC things – I felt like hand stitches might look better here – and the sewing of the lining. All that’s left is to put it in and make a new flap for the bag after I took the zipper out for obvious reasons.

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And I’m also experimenting with fruit leather. There might be a recipe coming up sometime soon!

What did you work on this week? What are your current projects?

Have a lovely weekend!

OOTD: Rust & Soot

Rust & Soot

I know this picture isn’t the best in terms of quality but I liked it so much that I had to use it instead of another for this post. I love this wall in the underground as a background! We went out for sushi that day and stopped by the playground on our way home.

One thing I really like about this outfit is the different textures, especially in the stockings department. And then of course there are the colours, I’ve been feeling drawn to darker reds again lately.

Rust & Soot

Outfit rundown:
– dress: selfmade from old t-shirts
– vest: thrifted
– legwarmers: selfmade from an old sweater
– leggings: Waschbär
– top: thrifted
– shoes: thrifted

Thanks to Scoundrel for taking pictures of me!

Finished Things Saturday: Lace Bags

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Recently I noticed that my fabric cotton pads were too small to just toss them in the wash with everything else. They would wind up in the door rubber thingy and still be dirty. So I went out, got myself one of those short lace curtains for 50 cents at the thrift shop (because I had not tulle fabric or something similar at home) and made this. It has a drawstring secured with laundry buttons and I can simply hang it on the door, put my used pads in and then toss them in the laundry hamper when I’m running low.

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Of course I had leftover curtain so I made another one for salad. Many of our customers have similar bags that all look the same (it leads to confusion and stress. If you have those things it’s a good idea to mark them somehow as yours). This way I don’t have to use new corn starch bags from work anymore every time I get salad, too.

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And last but not least I made a tiny one for my soap leftovers. I only use slices of soap for showering, not the whole bar. On the plus side this keeps the rest of the soap dry and not soggy but on the minus side the slices break apart at some point and then I have tiny pieces of soap I can’t really use (because the “just stick it on the next piece of soap” thing doesn’t work for me). With the lace pouch I can simply put the pieces in there and then use the bag as a whole.

What have you been crafting this week?

10 Things I ♥ in March

10 Things in March '17

  1. Deepart, the app that makes amazing art by your favourite artists out of your pictures. Just look at the gallery, isn’t that beautiful (and sometimes a bit scary)?
  2. On my journey to find a second tarot deck that feels right for me I stumbled over The Attic Shoppe Trading Company which might not have the exact deck I need but is still a peddler of beautifully haunting and weirdly Victorian art. It absolutely appeals to my inner Goth leftovers and the tiny part of me that still believes that Steampunk is awesome.
  3. Julie Houts, the illustrator and underwear designer whose fairly perfect model characters aren’t so perfect after all – and also really funny (and there’s a mouse). To me she seems like yet another reason to finally get an Instagram account…
  4. Don’t Starve looks like a game I’d really like to play (and am thinking about getting). It’s a survival game set in a burtonesque world full of monsters, making things work and the ever-present quest for food. Awesome.
  5. Hanging our laundry out to dry. It’s finally warm enough again and we have clothes lines outside, anyway. We added two more and now we can have breeze-dried things! Clipping things to the line with wooden pegs just feels so right to me (and it’s also picturesque).
  6. Diggy Diggy Hole. Yes, it’s silly, but at the same time it’s so epic and I always think of my old training partner Drake when I hear it (and then I have it stuck in my head for hours).
  7. Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is a western magical girl (and boy) animation series, and it’s beyond cute. I especially enjoy the villain designs because they are so diverse and well-done. Also Cat Noir’s super power thing – Cataclysm – is the coolest thing everrrr. I plan to watch it in the French original, too, to brush up on the language again. I can’t wait for season 2!
  8. Pickled Beet Roots are my favourite snack at the moment, a revival of a childhood habit.
  9. The Rumjacks, a folk punk band from Sydney, Australia. They are my go-to band at the moment for after I’ve already been through the Real McKenzies discography once again..
  10. SPRING! It’s getting warm, really, actually warm again and things are growing and blooming. We have the first fresh local things at work again which feels great after a winter full of storable produce and lamb’s lettuce (don’t get me wrong, I love lamb’s lettuce but it’s basically the only kind of salad that’s available locally in Germany during the winter months and at some point you’ve just had it with the stuff). There are birds outside and warm strolls thought the park and the promise of the coming LARP season. It’s lovely.