A WWII mystery (and a good one): To Die But Once

To Die but Once: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by [Winspear, Jacqueline]I have been reading Ms. Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs’s novels ever since the first one was published back in 2003.  When the series began, the world was facing WWI.  Now. a number of books later, WWII is coming ever closer to England.

Against the backdrop of the rescue at Dunkirk, the author tells a story that includes a murder, heroism, a spy and war profiteering.  In writing this one, the author drew upon the experiences of her father during the war years.

The reader also spends time with Maisie’s in-laws, her father, Priscilla and her family, her employees and war time evacuee, Anna.  Long term readers of the series will rejoice in the opportunity to visit with them.

I have read books in the series that I liked a tad better but I NEVER regret time spent with Ms. Dobbs.  You won’t either.

From the Back Cover

Spring, 1940. During the months following Britain’s declaration of war on Germany, as far as the population is concerned, nothing much seems to have happened. Despite the sandbagging of underground stations and public buildings, constant government reminders to carry gas masks at all times, and the barrage balloons bobbing overhead, the newspapers are calling it the “Bore War,” and mothers have started bringing children who were evacuated to the country back home.

Against this backdrop of uncertainty, Maisie Dobbs investigates the disappearance of a young apprentice working on a hush-hush government contract. As news of the plight of thousands of soldiers stranded on the beaches of France is gradually revealed to the general public, and as the threat of invasion increases, another young man beloved by Maisie makes a terrible decision that will change his life forever.

Maisie’s investigation leads her from the countryside of rural Hampshire to the web of wartime opportunism exploited by one of the London underworld’s most powerful men, in a case that serves as a reminder of the inextricable link between money and war. Yet when a final confrontation approaches, she must acknowledge the potential cost to her future—and the risk of destroying a dream she wants very much to become reality.

Some reviews:

“The wartime details … transport us with ease to a milieu where danger is omnipresent but—thanks to the presence of steadfast figures like Dobbs and her like-spirited colleagues—so is hope.” (Wall Street Journal)

“Maisie Dobbs is always looking for truth and the underlying motives in her cases. Her stories are ones that this reviewer always wants to read because of her character, values and thoughts on life…. A story about WWII and England that is close to the heart.” (Bookreporter.com)

“Winspear’s protagonist is indomitable and vulnerable, brilliant and kind.” (Chelsea Clinton in Entertainment Weekly)

“A novel that appeals equally to the intellect and the emotions, To Die but Once advances Maisie’s engaging story and reaffirms Winspear’s eminence in her field…. [A] radiant series.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“First-rate.” (Booklist)

“History comes alive when a character you think of as a friend is in the thick of the action. That’s how Jacqueline Winspear keeps her Maisie Dobbs series so fresh.” (New York Times Book Review)

Little Bear Wants to Grow

Do you remember when you were young and all you wanted was to grow up?  Well, that is exactly how Little Bear feels.  He seeks advice from those he is close to but none of the advice works.  At the end of the story Little Bear’s parents let him know that he will grow little by little.

This book has a lovely message for children.  They will grow in time surrounded by those who love them.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this sweetly illustrated read. The opinions are my own.

#LittleBearWantsToGrow #NetGalley

A virtual degree: Degree in a Book: Psychology

This is a comprehensive look at the field of psychology.  It is a good reference for those who want an introduction to the subject but will also provide a good review and additional information for those who have already taken some courses.

The book is divided into chapters that address different aspects of Psychology.  These include:

What is Psychology

The Psychology of Learning

Cognitive Psychology

Biological Psychology

Developmental Psychology

Social Psychology

The Psychology of Intelligence

Personality Psychology

Clinical Psychology

Professional psychology

Future Directions

The chapters can be read in order or the reader can dip into just those that are of interest.  Concepts and clearly explained and defined.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this good resource.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Out Now

On the Playground is a non-fiction title that introduces children to the ways in which prejudice can be hurtful and damaging. In an afterword, the author states: “When I was growing up, it was common to see other kids being bullied…Much to my shame, I remember doing nothing…I encourage all readers of this book to make better choices than I did.” The author wrote this book to help children understand and do better.

This is an informational text. It does not have a fictional story line. There are illustrations that are multi-cultural and multi-contextual. There is a hybrid of what seems like a read aloud with other sections that are related and instructional.

To this reader, the book did not seem like one that a child would pick up and read but more one that would be part of a discussion in a school setting. While I admired what the author hoped to, and does in many ways accomplish, I found the book to be a bit dry. Using this book as a jumping off point for discussion makes sense to me.

A fighter and fights worth fighting: Muhammed Ali

This is another entry in the excellent Little People, Big Dreams series.  In it, young readers will learn about Cassius Clay and how and why he transformed himself into Muhammad Ali.  There is a lot about fighting but not only fighting in the ring.  The reader learns that there were also causes that this principled man fought for. As always, there are additional photos and facts at the end of the book as well as suggestions of other resources.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for another entry in this series.  The opinions expressed are my own.

#LittlePeopleBigDreams #NetGalley

Soon, Cassius was learning how to box. He was not the strongest fighter,Fight after fight, Cassius proved himself as an junior boxer.


Art to Count on: Kahlo’s Koalas

This is a child’s counting book that adults are sure to love too!  The illustrations are bright, appealing and in the style of ten different artists including Monet, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollack, Frida Kahlo etc.  At the end of the book, there is additional information on each of the artists.  The picture book is an appealing addition (pun recognized) to the counting book genre.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.  I truly enjoyed this one.

#KahlosKoalas #NetGalley