WWW Wednesdays, and an oops

Weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Currently reading Jacqueline Winspear’s Messenger of Truth, which is book 4 of the Maisie Dobbs series, and therein lies the oops. I requested several Maisie books all together from my local library, and naively picked up the next one they brought me when I’d finished book 2, thinking of course it was book 3, which is actually a terrible assumption. Sigh. This explains the void in time between book 2 and the beginning of the one I just started – I thought Winspear was being tricky and was going to explain it in flashbacks, but aha! she probably told that part of the story in book 3. Last night I picked up the REAL book 3, which is Pardonable Lies, which I shall start on righ-taway (remember that from Indian in the Cupboard? no?) and put down Messenger until I’m ready to read it in the right order. Whew! I’m a bit sheepish about my mistake but it’s all going to work out.

What did you recently finish reading?

Recently finished Maisie’s book 2, Birds of a Feather.

What do you think you’ll read next?

This is the most fun question to answer today! Because on Friday I leave for NINE days of vacation, and I will be doing some reading! Also some hiking, mountain biking, and socializing, but definitely some reading. What to take with me? Oh my.

Obviously I will need to pick up Pardonable Lies next. I will probably finish Messenger of Truth on the vacay, too. But what else? I finally found a copy of In the Woods, by Tana French, and will definitely want to start that as soon as I can clear my Winspear-plate. I think I would like to read a “classic” soon too, so I can stop feeling so guilty about the Classics Challenge, but what that will be, I don’t know. I may just browse my classics shelf on my way out on Friday. I’ve been thinking lately about Gone with the Wind which I have never read, but I haven’t seen a copy recently and won’t be going out of my way for it before this trip… It will be interesting, upon my return, to see what I HAVE read! I don’t really plan my reading much, so really it’s a grab bag. But I’m excited about the possibilities. 🙂

next Maisie novel: Messenger of Truth

Last night I finished book 2 of Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, by Jacqueline Winspear. I was satisfied with it in the end, after all. Billy’s self-medicating drug use, and the war, and the Order of the White Feather, were all treated seriously and in ways that made me think. I enjoy Maisie more as she becomes a bit more complicated, and I’m especially excited about the idea of her forming some “real” relationships – with any number of different people, and not necessarily romantic. I like Dr. Dene, and I like Billy more and more every minute. I want to see lots of him in the future. Maisie is developing as a character and I appreciate it. I had a smidge of frustration yesterday but today is a new day. 🙂

And it’s time for a new Maisie book! Today I started Messenger of Truth. Hopefully I can blog about it before leaving for vacation this Friday (YAY!), and I’ll be late to the discussion with Book Club Girl, and will catch up when I get home. Hopefully book 4 will see me right on track though.

I like this book so far. I like that Billy is fully involved as Maisie’s assistant; he’s not peripheral at all in this one. (He wasn’t peripheral in Birds of a Feather, though he was more so in Maisie Dobbs.) Not to give anything away, but there are already (in 50 pages) several hints at events since the end of book 2 that we’ll be anxious to learn more about. It’s a good start! Looks like I’m going to enjoy two books in a row from the same author, which isn’t always the case. And I just couldn’t be more excited about how much reading I’ll get to do on vacation, OMG! 🙂

Have a lovely Tuesday and stay tuned!

Tuesday Teasers: Birds of a Feather, by Jacqueline Winspear

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From page 120 of Jacqueline Winspear’s Birds of a Feather:

She was anxious to interview the housekeeper and be on her way back to Chelstone, to plan the next part of her visit to Kent. She was abundantly aware that the initial meeting with Joseph Waite had taken place almost a week ago, and she was not yet certain she had located her client’s daughter.

This is a fine portrayal of Maisie: a bit anxious and all business! Hopefully there’s some fun in her future, too.

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

This weekend I devoted myself to the second Maisie Dobbs novel. (See my notes on the first one here.) I am participating in the Maisie Dobbs Read-Along, although I’m doing a terrible job because I’m so LATE on each book. 😦 I am observing that I will continue to be LATE for at least the second and third books. Perhaps I will catch up on book four…

I am currently nearly finished with Birds of a Feather. We got to know Maisie in the first book: we learn her history as a young girl who loses her mother and goes to work as a servant; gets “discovered” for her intellect and tutored by her lifelong friend and mentor Maurice; goes to college; volunteers to nurse in the Great War; meets the love of her life and suffers tragedy. We learn of her relationships with her father, mentor Maurice, and patroness, if you will, the Lady Rowan. We also meet Billy Beale, who she hires as her assistant. In the second book, then, there is much less background to be covered, although it is sufficiently reviewed that a reader starting with book 2 will be just fine. Really, the review was a bit heavy-handed for me so recently after book 1, but I appreciate a series that can be begun in the middle, so I’ll be patient.

Maisie and Billy have undertaken another case, and operate as a team this time around, whereas in book 1, Billy took on an assistant’s role only late, and informally. Strangely, I don’t find the explain-it-to-the-assistant device to be natural or useful; I liked it better when Maisie just thought things to herself. These are lovely stories, and I love the time and place evoked so beautifully, and I like Maisie herself – plucky, smart, and caring, and with a satisfyingly complex backstory, relationships, and personal hang-ups. She’s very human. But I find myself frustrated, fairly often, with the way Winspear communicates some of her points; things tend to feel a bit forced. I think I want her to show more, and tell less. I still enjoy the books, but I am developing a hang-up. I guess I’m not explaining it perfectly, though, and will see if I can find a concrete example for you as I continue.

At any rate, there is much to like about the book. Billy is a wonderful addition, to the story as well as to Maisie’s life, and I really appreciate the way Winspear addresses substance abuse in the 1930’s. Maisie’s relationship with her father is another realistic device that I feel is well-done, like her problem with visiting Simon in book 1. The men in Maisie’s life in this book add a bit of fun that I hope we’ll continue; if I have a problem with Maisie, it’s definitely the lack of fun! A touch of romance along with mystery, history, evocative sense of place, and relationship dynamics makes for an enjoyable read, if it can just be done naturally.

I’m satisfied to continue reading Maisie Dobbs and discussing with the Book Club Girl. Maybe I’ll catch up one of these days… I expect to give you my end-of-book report tomorrow, and then I’ll venture over to the discussion to participate. For now, I’m avoiding plot spoilers.

book beginnings on Friday: Birds of a Feather

Thanks to Katy at A Few More Pages for hosting this meme. To participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. (You might also consider visiting the original post where you can link to your own book beginning.)

I finished Lee Child’s Persuader last night (great fun, yay!) and will post about it shortly. So this morning, while waiting for road conditions to improve (yes we get a bit wussy in Houston when the whole world ices over and it stays below freezing for days. we get wussy because this NEVER HAPPENS and so we don’t know what to do when it does), I got to start a new book!

Unfortunately I’m behind in the Maisie Dobbs Read-Along, but I picked up book 3 along with book 2, so maybe I can catch up. Today’s book beginning comes from book 2, Birds of a Feather, by Jacqueline Winspear.

“Maisie Dobbs shuffled the papers on her desk into a neat pile and placed them in a plain manila folder. She took up green marble-patterned W.H. Smith fountain pen and inscribed the cover with the name of her new clients: Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Johnson, who were concerned that their son’s fiancee might have misled them regarding her past.”

Did you find the missing word? I did, and I found it jarring, especially RIGHT at the beginning like this. What a shame! Professionally published books should NOT include typos, but in the first two sentences… it troubles me. If anyone were going to catch a typo you’d think they could catch the one in the second sentence of the book!

Aside from this, it’s a perfectly nice beginning. We have some detail to hint to us about Maisie’s organizational habits, and a fairly strong hint as to her line of work. I am interested in revisiting her. What will she encounter this time? Are the typos just beginning?

catching up: Frederica, Maisie Dobbs, and Running Blind

Oh my, I’m so sorry! I’ve gotten behind. I didn’t know the holidays would throw me so hard; I really didn’t expect it; but they did. I owe you several book write-ups now!

First of all, over the holiday weekend for New Year’s I finished Georgette Heyer’s Frederica, and enjoyed it so thoroughly! The characters were so cleverly drawn, and the dialogue was so witty and fun, I just giggled and hated to put it down. I will definitely seek out more Heyer. Who knew what I was missing all these years? I have never considered myself a reader of romance, but I shall have to either amend this statement or somehow define romance around Ms. Heyer, which I don’t think the reading world will permit. My only complaint would be that it ended rather abruptly. You know, what we look for in romance is not surprise: we know from the beginning, more or less, who’s going to end up together. We don’t need to be surprised. We just need to sigh in satisfaction at the union being competently arrived at. And at the end of Frederica, when the appropriate couple finally couples, it’s sort of abrupt, brief, and not very well-described. I didn’t need graphic sex or anything, but I wish we’d gotten a bit more declarations of sentiment. Ah well. I’ll be back for more all the same. The witty banter throughout were the best part anyway, that and the “scrapes” of the younger Merrivilles.

Then I was home sick yesterday, and didn’t blog (ack!) but I *did* get to read a whole book cover to cover: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. This is in thanks to Book Club Girl, who’s hosting the Maisie Dobbs Read-Along. I signed up for this challenge/read-along out of curiosity, not having encountered Maisie before, because she sounded interesting in the blurb provided. I figured I would sign on for just this first book and see how it goes. Well, I found Maisie delightful!

I really enjoyed the WWI history and the feeling for that time-and-place setting that was evoked. I actually cried a bit at some of the wartime farewells and hopeful loves and deaths – am I getting sappy in my old age or what?? – find myself crying a lot at books these days. I thought Maisie was remarkable for her poise and dignity in a number of strange situations, from childhood onwards. What a story of movement between classes in a time of change. The flashbacks and back-story on Maisie were some of my favorite parts. But I also enjoyed the up-to-date relationship she formed with Billy Beale, too. I hope he sticks around. I liked the characters and I look forward to more of them. So, I’ll be sticking with this read-along!

Today I was caught off-guard at lunchtime without a book, gasp, and picked up the nearest-to-hand Lee Child book: Running Blind. As you might have noticed before this, I’m becoming a fan of Jack Reacher. This one is right in line with Reacher’s vigilante loner style. See my Teaser Tuesday. Go Reacher!

I’m Mad for Maisie!

I’m getting a little crazy, because I don’t have enough books in my life as it is, and I’m going to go ahead and read a little bit about Maisie Dobbs along with Book Club Girl, who’s hosting the Maisie Dobbs Read-Along.

Courtesy of Book Club Girl: About Maisie Dobbs – The First Maisie Dobbs Novel

The daughter of a struggling greengrocer, Maisie Dobbs is only 13 when she’s sent to work in the house of the wealthy Lady Rowan Compton. A voracious reader who longs to learn, she is discovered late one night reading in the library. Fearing dismissal, Maisie is shocked when she discovers that her thirst for education is to be supported by Lady Rowan and a family friend, Dr. Maurice Blanche. But The Great War intervenes in Maisie’s plans, and soon after commencement of her studies at Girton College, Cambridge, Maisie enlists for nursing service overseas.

Years later, in 1929, having apprenticed to the renowned Maurice Blanche, a man revered for his work with Scotland Yard, Maisie sets up her own business. Her first assignment, a seemingly tedious inquiry involving a case of suspected infidelity, takes her not only on the trail of a killer, but back to the war she had tried so hard to forget.

I’ve never read any Winspear, but it sounds intriguing. I have already requested this book from my local PL and will be looking forward to being involved in the read-along! For now (because, again, of all those books in my life) I’m only committing to read the one, and see how it goes. Thanks Book Club Girl for piquing my interest!

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