Flavia de Luce Novels by Alan Bradley

It’s been a while since I wrote up my thoughts on Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, so it’s high time for another Nelly Book Review.

Nowadays I am drawn to various types of non-fiction, mostly how-to type books…they are instructional and straightforward. Really, the physical manifestation of a college lecture in your hands. Many people file these types of book under ‘boring.’

You will find me reading a book on how to improve my writing, strategies for overcoming anxiety or how to parent.   I am drawn to these guidebooks for life as I crave better and more information about how to do more things better (Dude, I know…it makes me exhausted just reading that too).

But we can only take so much instruction, am I right? Even the most serious and dedicated among us must step out of our own mind once in a while. I know I need a break from my mind. I NEED lots of breaks…I take a couple.

Which brings me to Flavia.

Flavia de Luce is the protagonist of a delightful series of mystery novels by Alan Bradley. I came upon the first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, completely by chance. I was going through a highly (HIGHLY) anxious period a few years ago and I had quite a bit of insomnia. I was looking for audio books to lull me to dreamland and the title The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie intrigued me.

Well, it did not disappoint. This book soothed and relaxed me, offering a pleasant escape from my worries and fears. I have listened to The Sweetness countless times…sometimes it would indeed comfort me to sleep. Other times, it would keep me company while I was the only one in the world still awake. Either way, this book did a lot for me — and still does.

I ventured on from the first book and read Book #4 I am Half-Sick of Shadows, this time in hardcop….

Nelly, interrupting: “Wait…What? You read the 1st book, and then you read…the 4th book? WHY?!?!! For the love of God, why?!?!?!   How could you not read the 2nd book next? Weren’t you confused? Did you even know what was going on in book #4? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!”

I know. {cringing} I’m sorry. Sometimes these things just happen. Aren’t you proud of me, though, for breaking the mold and throwing my OCD to the wind? Yah…Alan Bradley is that good!

I will explain. Nelly must explain. Actually, I didn’t even know it was a series until I discovered my mom’s copy of Book #4, Half-Sick of Shadows. I couldn’t wait so I cracked it open immediately. But, rest assured — now that I have read book #2 The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, I am back on the straight and narrow and I will re-read Book #4 after I read Book #3 – A Red Herring Without Mustard.

As Gus from My Big Fat Greek Wedding would say in his heavy accent, “There you go.”

So…back to Flavia. I don’t want to give away too much of the series or the characters because it is really such a delight to discover them for yourself..but I will give you a small taste.

Flavia is not your typical mystery narrator/protagonist. She’s not a detective or a lawyer…She’s an eleven-year-old girl. Flavia has a deep love and respect for chemistry…particularly in distilling poisons!

Cool, right? She’s ahead of the trend of chicks in S.T.E.M.

Flavia also has a less than ideal home situation. Her two sisters are downright mean to her and her father largely keeps to himself. And her mom…well, you have to read it!

A big part of the reason why I love Flavia is because she is true to herself – pursuing her passions and interests no matter what the obstacles and no matter the naysayers. This is really remarkable for such a young girl.

She is smart and funny with an indomitable spirit. She takes risks and makes mistakes, learning as she goes. She also reveals her vulnerability from time to time, especially when her sister says something awful to her. I mean really, really awful.

In addition to Flavia, I quite enjoy Bradley’s storytelling. He is so engaging and subtly funny. He transports me, anxious mind and all, into another world where I can forget my worries and maybe learn some things.

Ok, I’m not going to tell you anything else!!

I highly recommend any and all of the Flavia de Luce novels. I believe there are currently 7. I know I am anxious (haha) to read the rest.

I am thinking of doing my first “Giveaway” of a Flavia de Luce novel – What do you think? If you’d be interested, let me know in the comments. I’d also like to hear the “just for fun” books that you love…just to take your mind off your mind!

Please share in the comments so we can all get more ideas 🙂

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