Messenger of Truth

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Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series has become a favorite of mine. I’ve been listening to them in audiobook format, read by a wonderful narrator, Orlagh Cassidy, and have just finished the fourth volume, Messenger of Truth.  As I read through the series, I’m becoming more and more fascinated with the history of the time period after World War I and into the 1930s. And according to Jacqueline Winspear, that fascination is exactly what she hoped would happen with her readers.

“If, IF, they take something in that book and it makes them think and wonder and consider what has gone before–maybe a curiosity about a certain part of history–maybe just wondering about something that’s going on today and looking at it in a different way… If that happens, well, that’s a job well done as far as  I’m concerned.”

My respect for this author is growing deeper with each book in this series. Definitely a job well done!

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Pardonable Lies

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Pardonable Lies, by Jacqueline Winspear, is the 3rd book in the Maisie Dobbs series. I am enjoying listening to this series on audiobook and have become a devoted Jacqueline Winspear fan. Maisie Dobbs is a private detective and a psychologist, and the stories are historical mysteries that take place after The Great War.

As were millions of women during that time period, Maisie was deeply impacted by the ‘war-to-end-all-wars.’ She was a nurse during the war and is haunted by the tragedies and horrors she witnessed. Her deeply sensitive and empathetic nature made her a wonderful war-time nurse, and an extraordinary investigator in the post-war world. And as she struggles with her own losses and post-traumatic stress, she is particularly helpful to others who were damaged physically and emotionally by the war.

Pardonable Lies is a story very much about healing. Maisie is a healer, having the ability and training to help others suffering from emotional trauma, but she, herself, is also in need of healing. The story of her journey through many of her own post-war demons is at the center of this volume in the series.

I have become very attached to Maisie and her friends. They continue to grow and develop, and are very real to me. It’s so nice to have many more books in this series to look forward to…this is a series that seems to get better and better with each book.

Click here to read a beautiful essay by Jacqueline Winspear, about her visit to the battlefields of World War I in France.

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Spider Woman’s Daughter

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Tony Hillerman was a wonderful writer and I’ve long been a fan of his mysteries set in the Navajo culture of the Southwest. I used to look forward every year to the publication of a new mystery, usually buying his new book on the first day it came out in paperback (those were lean years at our house). I would read the book in practically one sitting, and then wait another year or two for the next one to be published. What a pleasure to realize there was a new Tony Hillerman on the way!

4488So, when he passed away in 2008, I felt the loss quite personally. I had loved his writing, and I had loved his characters — Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, and later on, Bernie (Bernadette) Manuelito. It was sad to think that those stories would not continue.

So imagine my delight when I discovered that there was a new ‘Tony Hillerman book’ soon to be released! His daughter, Anne, has written a new Leaphorn/Chee mystery, Spider Woman’s Daughter, and brought to life again those beloved characters. Of course I pre-ordered the book, and when it arrived on my Kindle, I read it in practically one sitting.

It is no easy feat to continue the work of a master writer, but Anne Hillerman did a careful job of honoring her father’s characters and settings, and she obviously shares his passion for the Navajo culture. I think it must have been difficult to balance her father’s voice and her own, but I felt that she found her way with honesty and love. She focused more in this story on the character of Bernie Manuelito, Jim Chee’s wife, and that worked well. There were times while reading the book when I was very aware that Tony Hillerman was not the writer, but there were also many times when I was simply caught up in the story in that very familiar way.

I hope that Anne will continue with this series, not just as a devotion to her father, but as someone who shares his passion both for writing and for the landscape and culture of the Southwest.

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Reading Mysteries

It took me a little while after finishing The Boys in the Boat to decide what to read next. I was so immersed in the world of rowing in the 1930s that it was hard to shift gears and decide on something else to read. So…back to a favorite, the mystery!

I’m currently reading An Expert in Murder, by Nicola Upson. She uses one of my very favorite mystery writers, Josephine Tey, as a main character and focus in this book. I’m not overly excited about it as I read it, though. I think I’d rather be reading Josephine Tey’s books again!

Next week, I will be reading Mary Stewart’s, The Ivy Tree, for Anbolyn’s Mary Stewart Reading Week, in celebration of Lady Stewart’s 97th birthday.

And I downloaded to my Kindle a mystery to re-read: The Haunted Bookshop, by Christopher Morley. I remember that I liked it when I read it ages ago, but I don’t remember much about it. I’ll call it a re-read, but at this age, all my re-reads are like first-time reads! Ha!

Finally, during our weekly visit to our library, (we go there more often, but we walk there every Monday!) I found another Hazel Holt mystery, Mrs. Malory and the Fatal Legacy, that I haven’t read yet. I love reading Hazel Holt’s books. They’re like having tea while sitting on the front porch with an old friend!

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Cozy

Today’s topic for The Estella Society’s bookish photo-a-day challenge is “Cozy.”  They call them “cozy mysteries.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I really enjoy many of them, especially if they are written by Hazel Holt. I love her writing, enjoy the solving of the mystery, and am attached to the main character, Mrs. Malory, and her adult son.

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#EstellaGram – 25 “Cozy”

Louise Penny

Louise Penny

I just finished listening to Louise Penny‘s A Rule Against Murder. Yes, it was the kind of story, so well written, that kept me sitting in the car in the driveway so I could finish it!  I loved her first book, Still Life, which is currently being made into a movie. And I enjoyed the other two books I read by her:  A Fatal Grace, and The Cruelest Month. I’m so glad there are more to read and listen to in this series!

Knit On It…

“Knit on it?” Kelly repeated with a smile. “What do you mean?” “Well, whenever I need to think things over, I sit down and knit quietly for a while. It calms my mind, so my thoughts become more ordered or something.”

School’s out!  My classroom is closed up for the summer, my desperately needed summer break has finally arrived, and my summer reading has begun!

So as soon as I finished in my classroom, of course I headed for the bookstore right away. But a side-trip to my favorite yarn shop yielded not only a new summer knitting project (a baby blanket for a friend who is in the middle of the adoption process), but also a fun summer read:  Knit One, Kill Two, by Maggie Sefton.  What a fun store–gorgeous yarns AND fun knitting mysteries!

It was the perfect way for this tired teacher to spend the first weekend of summer break. Now…if only our Pacific Northwest weather (setting new records for a gray, cool, rainy June) would cooperate and let the sun shine so it can feel like summer!

Couldn’t Put ‘Em Downers

As busy as I am at the end of a school year, I can’t not be reading!!  So, although the last month has been extremely intense with grades and our school district’s new electronic report card, I’ve also read two books that I simply couldn’t put down!

First one was the young adult book, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, which I picked up out of curiosity when I discovered that an 8th grade teacher friend was using it for a teaching unit in her classroom. I knew nothing about it, (didn’t know it was going to be a movie, too!) but once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

From Scholastic:

Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

The second one was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. I’ve been curious about this book for a long time, and started it last week thinking it would be a good diversion from those overwhelming electronic report cards.  Understatement of the year!  Good diversion = total page turner!

From the Stieg Larsson website:

Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist is hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of Vanger’s great-niece Harriet. Henrik suspects that someone in his family, the powerful Vanger clan, murdered Harriet over forty years ago.

Starting his investigation, Mikael realizes that Harriet’s disappearance is not a single event, but rather linked to series of gruesome murders in the past. He now crosses paths with Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker, an asocial punk and most importantly, a young woman driven by her vindictiveness.

My report cards are done; there’s only 1½ weeks of school left.  Summer is coming quickly now, and I can’t wait to start my summer reading, which will most likely be filled with sequels to some great “couldn’t put ‘em downers!”

The Crime at Black Dudley

crime_at_black_dudleyHonestly?… I chose this book by it’s cover. This nice-looking cover caught my eye in the bookstore, and when I pulled it off the shelf to look at it more closely, I loved the feel of the book. So I bought it and thoroughly enjoyed holding it the entire time I was reading it.

The Crime at Black Dudley was a pleasurable read all the way around because it turned out to be a fun mystery complete with an English country manor, murder in the dark, secret passageways, a completely evil bad guy, and lots of mystery fun. It was a fun introduction to Margery Allingham’s mystery series, and an equally fun introduction to her character/detective Albert Campion.

The company that published this wonderful-feeling book is Felony & Mayhem Press. Next time you are in the bookstore, see if you can find one of their books, and treat yourself to the pleasure of holding it and leafing through the pages. I know I’m not the only person that appreciates the feel of a well-bound book!

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This book is my final read for Carl V’s R.I.P.4 challenge. As always, it was a wonderful challenge experience.  My only regret is that I had such a busy beginning to my school year that I didn’t have time to read as much as I wanted to … but I look forward to next year’s Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge!  Thanks again for hosting another great challenge, Carl!


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Books completed for this challenge:

  1. Summer of the Big Bachi, by Naomi Hirahara
  2. The Crime at Black Dudley, by Margery Allingham