Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs

My book club this month read Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla, and–full disclosure–I suck at retaining audible information. I’m very much a visual learner, but I’m so busy that I don’t get to read just for fun anymore unless it’s while I’m shuttling children around town or cooking dinner or going for a jog (walk, really…). Anyway, my point in sharing this is that I don’t focus very well when I listen to audiobooks, but I still loved this story. I couldn’t tell you all the finer points of the plot, but Maisie Dobbs is a kicka** private detective just oozing with coolness.

I loved this book for a few reasons. First, Maisie is a good role model. She’s smart, resourceful, brave, intuitive in her work, and lives with integrity. Second, this book covers a period of time which I’m not as familiar with as others. Maisie goes off to serve as a nurse during World War I. I’ve read many books about WWII, but not as many about WWI, and it was nice to experience this period through a new perspective. Third, it provided a great blend of cozy murder mystery, plot, history, and a touch of love story. The ending was heartbreaking and unexpected, but somehow fit the book and mood perfectly.

The only thing I didn’t like was the transitions to the many flashbacks. I didn’t mind the flashbacks themselves or jumps in the story, but there was no indication that the scene or time had changed, which made it especially hard for me to keep track of things in the audiobook. A note of the year at the beginning of each flashback would have been helpful.

I’ve learned that there is a whole series of Maisie Dobbs adventures and I hope to read some more someday! I definitely recommend this one!

4.5 stars out of 5

Find the book on Goodreads.

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Book Review: Four Ways to Pharaoh Khufu

Four ways to pharaoh KhufuJust finished Four Ways to Pharaoh Khufu! This adventure tale is by Alexander Marmer and can be found on Book Club Reading List.

Synopsis

Michael has dreamed of visiting the Egyptian pyramids since he was a child. On his first day in the country touring the Great Pyramid, he meets a dying German engineer who claims to have been poisoned. After giving Michael a business card for his daughter and a small notebook, his last words are “find four ways.” Michael begins an adventure beyond his wildest dreams, attempting to recover a stolen ancient stele, decode the dying man’s final words, and find the final resting place of the great Pharaoh Khufu. He is accompanied by the German’s daughter, Anna, and together they try to unravel the mystery surrounding her father’s death.

Strengths

This was a very well-written (and well-edited) book. That’s not to say I didn’t find a few typos, but obvious care went into the writing and research of this book. There is SO much fascinating history about Egypt and the pyramids included in this story! I learned more than I thought I’d ever know about Egypt in a single read.

The story line was exciting and full of action. I liked the main characters, Michael and Anna, and enjoyed going on the adventure with them.

Weaknesses

The main weakness for me–which may not be seen as a weakness by someone else–was simply the length of this book. Clocking in at 363 pages, I feel like the same story could be told at two-thirds the length. There were times when I simply couldn’t keep up with the complicated theories the characters uncovered about the pyramids. You almost need a larger base of knowledge about Egypt before starting the book to fully appreciate everything. The extent of my knowledge about Egypt comes from middle and high school history classes, so I’d say it’s pretty limited. By having such complicated and intricate sub-plots, the audience can become bored or feel alienated for not understanding.

Conclusion

It’s obvious an incredible amount of time and thought went into researching for this book. The characters go on a great adventure, survive car chases and murder attempts, recover an ancient artifact, and discover long-held secrets. I love the journey Michael goes on–he’s definitely my favorite character. My girly side wished there was a little more romance to the story; it’s totally set up for Michael and Anna to fall in love, but nothing really happens except mention that they steal glances at each other. And I wish the story was condensed a bit, more focused. I think this is a book that fans of crime fiction or books like The DaVinci Code would love. If that sounds like you go check this one out!!

4 out of 5 stars

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Contact the author on Book Club Reading List.

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Book review: The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club

Gordonston LadiesI finished reading this gem over the weekend. What a great find! I found The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club here on Book Club Reading List.

Synopsis

A unique and comedic murder-mystery story by Duncan Whitehead, The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club (GLDWC) features a wide variety of vibrant characters. In a quiet neighborhood deep in the old south in Savannah, three widowed southern belles enjoy their afternoons with a drink in the local park, letting their dogs get some exercise, and catching up on the most current local gossip. Mr Whitehead paints a detailed story of the residents of Gordonston, whose individual tales connect in unimaginable and delightfully entertaining ways. The first chapter introduces an assassin, lurking in the very park in which the old widows gossip, poised and ready to take out his next target. As we learn about the local inhabitants, their lies, hatred, and secrets, we are left to wonder who will be the target and who is responsible for murder.

Strengths

There are so many strengths to this book! It starts strong and is continually compelling straight through the end.

Good hook intro

As mentioned above, the first chapter pulls the reader in with a scene depicting an assassin getting ready to make his kill. I was immediately hooked and anxious to delve further into the story.

Strong, clear, and descriptive writing

The writing throughout GLDWC is rock-solid. The imagery is clear and concise, drawing the reader into the characters’ worlds. The following quote was one that I especially enjoyed:

“It was the kind of smile reserved for those who had seen all of life’s rich and diversified tapestries. It was the smile of knowledge, the smile of experience, the knowing smile that only the special among the aged can produce.” (page 41)

Well-developed characters

With such a large cast of characters, I’d imagine that it would be Gordonston Ladies 2difficult to persuade the reader to care and really get to know each one. In GLDWC, each character has a rich back-story, complete with families and relationships. My favorite character is Elliott. He has a fascinating history and seems to be a genuinely decent guy, but gets tangled up in some nasty drama with the neighbors. Before the present setting, he lived in Argentina just before getting married and met a very intriguing person. This mystery gentleman made an impressive impact on Elliott’s life. As a gift, he left Elliott an autographed book he said was his original work. It was entitled Mein Kampf. Wowza! Did Elliott actually meet Hitler??? Perhaps an alternate-reality version where he didn’t actually die at the end of World War 2 but escaped and somehow turned into a good person. He leaves Elliott his book with this quote:

“Do not judge me for what I was then, but for what I am now.” (page 50)

Cons

I feel like I have to really stretch to come up with any critical cons to this book. It truly was fantastic. The only negative I could maybe say is the pace felt a little slow in places. I was anxious for more clues to help me decide who was going to be murdered. However, I acknowledge that the developed stories are probably springboards for further plot in the following sequels. Getting to know the characters thoroughly required a little patience as a reader, but ultimately resulted in a strength for the book.

Conclusion

What a delightful read! I loved getting to know the characters and their drama. There is a clever humor throughout the story that I especially enjoyed. Overall, I am itching to get my hands on the next two parts of the trilogy! Go get your own copy here!! 5 out of 5 stars

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Buy it here from Book Club Reading List

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