Friday, 27 November 2015

Pardonable Lies (#3 Maisie Dobbs) by Jacqueline Winspear

London, 1930. Maisie Dobbs, the renowned psychologist and investigator, receives a most unusual request. She must prove that Sir Cecil Lawton's son Ralph really is dead.

This is a case that will challenge Maisie in unexpected ways, for Ralph Lawton was an aviator shot down by enemy fire in 1917. To get to the bottom of the mystery, Maisie must travel to the former battlefields of norther France, where she  served as a nurse in the Great War and where ghosts of her past still linger. As her investigation moves closer to the truth, Maisie soon uncovers the secrets and lies that some people would prefer remain buried.

I am really enjoying this series of books. I read and reviewed the first in the series, Maisie Dobbs, back in July and then recently read, Birds of a Feather too. In Pardonable Lies, Jacqueline continues her tale of the exquisite Maisie Dobbs.

Maisie is one of the most likable characters I have ever come across in fiction. She is privileged yet well grounded, methodical yet slightly chaotic and determined yet compassionate and it is this juxtaposition of characteristics that make her so easy to identify with.

Set in the 1930's, I have to constantly remind myself that this is a modern book such is Ms. Winspear's skill in bringing the period to life.

If I had to categorize this series I would say they are a cross between Agatha Christie and Alexander McCall Smith and if you enjoy either of those authors you will love the Maisie Dobbs series. I highly recommend this book and am sure you will enjoy it too.

ISBN:  978-0719567360

 Publisher: John Murray

Price (based on Paperback £8.99 - Kindle £1.79

About the author:

Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education and in marketing communications in the UK.

She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal / professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer.

A regular contributor to journals covering international education, Jacqueline has published articles in women's magazines and has also recorded her essays for KQED radio in San Francisco. She currently divides her time between Ojai and the San Francisco Bay Area and is a regular visitor to the United Kingdom and Europe.

Jacqueline is the author of the New York Times bestsellers A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, and other nationally bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex,and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for best novel and was a New York TimesNotable Book.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin

At fifteen, Diana Dodsworth took the opportunity to radically alter the trajectory of her life and escape the constraints of her small-town existence. Thirty years on, she can’t help scratching at her teenage decision like a scabbed wound. 

To safeguard her secret, she’s kept other people at a distance ... until Simon Jenkins sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, and he expects Di to fly out for a visit. She daren’t return to the city that changed her life; nor can she tell Simon the reason why. 
Sugar and Snails takes the reader on a poignant journey from Diana’s misfit childhood, through tortured adolescence to a triumphant mid-life coming-of-age that challenges preconceptions about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.
Visit her website and blog at

As promised, this is the first review from the list of books in my previous blog posting. 

This book is actually quite difficult to review without giving the plot away so forgive me if I sound a little vague at times. Suffice to say that the plot is original and surprising and Ms Goodwin confronts the issues which face her protagonist with sensitivity and insight. 

She is also an excellent storyteller and the plot unfolds deftly in her hands. She has  diligently done her research in putting together this fine novel. 

Diana is a strong and complex character and it was not obvious to me as a reader what her secret is.  Her story is gripping and I loved the way I came to a gradual realisation concerning her refusal to return to Cairo.  In many novels I can second guess what is coming but with this novel the author unravels for us the issues and concerns that Diana confronts in a way that kept me reading in order to discover what was going on.

Ultiimately, this is a story of self discovery which challenges the reader to consider issues of equality and the way in which individuals are conventionalised by the society in which they live. It also deals with the enormity of dealing with decisions that we make when we are young and the impact that has on the rest of our lives.

Well done to Anne Goodwin for producing such a readable and challenging book. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this book when you have read it.

ISBN:  978-1908600479

Publisher:  Inspired Quill

Price (today on Paperback: £8.99   Kindle: £3.49

About the Author:

Anne Goodwin loves fiction for the freedom to contradict herself and has been scribbling stories ever since she could hold a pencil. During her career as an NHS clinical psychologist her focus was on helping other people tell their neglected stories to themselves. Now that her short fiction publication count has overtaken her age, her ambition is to write and publish enough novels to match her shoe size. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Books, books and more books

I have been out of the blogging loop for a little while. Recently, life has got in the way of my blogging as I've had some health issues going on followed by some very successful surgery which means that I am now feeling great and looking forward to getting back to blogging about my reading.

I won't bore you all with the details of recent weeks. However, one of the good things to have come from all this convalescing is that it's given me plenty of time to read and I have managed to get through quite a few books. I have been immeasurably grateful for my kindle and for my husband who has made many library trips to keep me in reading material.

What’s happened to all the lovely books I have adorning my shelves, I hear you ask. Well, in addition to everything that's been going on we are also moving house and so all my precious books have been packed into boxes ready for moving and rather than partially unpacking again I have relied on my local library and my kindle books to sate my reading appetite (as tempting as it was to sneak a few back out of the boxes.)

Well, that’s more than enough about me. Let me tell you about what I have been reading in the past few weeks.  I will be coming back to review my favourites from this selection sometime soon but in the meantime, I thought you might like to see what I have been reading.

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller
Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse
Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
Reunion with Death by Sheila Connelly
Coastliners by Joanne Harris
I am China by Xiaolu Guo
The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
Lessons in Laughing Out Loud by Rowan Coleman
The House at Sea's End and A Room Full of Bones - both by Elly Griffiths
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healy
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats by Hesh Kestin
Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman

These are not in any order of preference so I shall keep you guessing for the moment as to which are my favourites. However, you all know my reading tastes by now. Can you guess which are the ones I really enjoyed reading?