This is the second in the Flavia de Luce mystery series and let me get the bad out of the way first. Many reviewers said it wasn't as good as the first and as far as an outright mystery is concerned, that's true. In addition, others complain that Flavia doesn't sound like an 11-year-old girl and she doesn't.
That said, who cares? Flavia with her child-like glee over chemistry and poisons is downright charming. No, she doesn't act, think or talk like an 11 year old but she's engaging and I really like her.
This time out Flavia meets up with Rupert Porsen and Nialla. Rupert is a TV puppeteer and Nialla is his lady assistant. Their van broke down in town and the parson, roping Flavia in to help, trades getting a couple of puppet shows for arranging for them to billet down at Gorden and Grace Ingsley's farm and for the town mechanic to fix the van.
Flavia in the meantime is weathering hateful sisters and the visit of Aunt Felicity. As she gets to know the entertainers, she deduces Nialla's big secret and figures out that Rupert seems to have some ties to Gorden. Weaving through this is the death of Gorden and Grace's son, Robin, a five year old, found hanging in Gibbet's Woods. How does the past relate to the crime happening now? What does Mad Meg of Gibbet's Woods have to do with anything? Flavia needs to find out. I liked it. I really did. It's quirky.
Les Bijoux #1 by Jo Lun-ha & Sang-sun
Another used bookstore buy. This Korean manga had a couple interesting if not entirely original ideas. In this world, the Habits rule. There are 12 Habits, each owning a gem mine and each ruling over the Spars, the working people, like churlish spoiled brats. Diamond, for example is utterly cruel. Into this world to a dwarf and a hunchback is born a 'cursed' child. Lapis (Lazuli) who is very dark skinned and dark haired (looks rather Indian), has a few problems, not to mention powers. One of his biggest problems is his 'heart.' When it acts up, he turns into a full-grown female (as opposed to the 17-year-old boy that he usually is.
Unfortunately, for Lapis, he has a sense of justice and when Diamond would prefer to run over and kill a few Spar children than turn his dogsled, Lapis kills the dogs to save the kids. The rest of the manga is him on the run from Diamond, oft times getting imprisoned. Diamond, however, has seen Lazuli (the female form) and is instantly in love with her (naturally). Diamond's rage turns against Lapis's family, leaving the young man on the run and out for vengeance. He meets up with Carnelian, one of the younger Habits (well not quite Habit yet) who is running from an older brother who wants no contenders for the mine but is Carnelian a friend. Honestly, I might have picked up the second one but in the author's notes, they were raving about the plot and what was in store and did the one thing I said I wouldn't read on if it was included so…. As for the art, the guys are prettier than women, the typical shojo (or yaoi) stuff.