Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Massie Dobbs Book Tour - The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear

Welcome to the today's stop in the celebration of Jacqueline Winspear's inimitable Massie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator.  Today I review The Mapping of Life and Death, the seventh in the series.  Before I dive into my Massie Dobbs novel, if you'd like to learn more about the series or this March's celebration of Massie Dobbs, head over to the Jacqueline Winspear page on Facebook.

The blurb:
August 1914. As Michael Clifton is mapping land he has just purchased in California's beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, war is declared in Europe -- and duty-bound for his father's native country, the young cartographer soon sets sail for England to serve in the British army. Three years later, he is listed as missing in action.

April 1932.  After Michael's remains are unearthed in France, his parents retain London psychologist and investigator Massie Dobbs, hoping she can find the unnamed nurse whose love letters were among their late son's belongings.  It is a quest that leads Massie back to her own bittersweet wartime dugout.  Suddenly an exposed web of intrigue and violence threatens to ensnare the dead soldier's family and even Maisie herself as she attempts to cope with the impending loss of her mentor and the unsettling awareness that she is once again falling in love.

I'd fully expected to enjoy The Mapping of Life and Death as I'd heard so much about Massie Dobbs and I'm fascinated by this period of history and the stories that have come out of it from War Horse to Downton Abbey to all sorts of wonderful reads.  This was my first taste of Massie Dobbs, so here is what I loved about The Mapping of Life and Death.

Jacqueline Winspear takes us to the period with considerable historical detail.  I felt that I was there - as she captured what you might see, feel, hear,  and even the sense of space.  In little ways you realize that this was the time when certain technology was just beginning; cars and telephones were becoming part of the daily lives of those able to afford them.  Winspear conveyed so well what distance meant in those years before, during, and after World War I. 

Winspear gives us complex, sympathetic, and interesting characters in Massie Dobbs, her colleague Billy, and her close friends.  From the mentoring, patronage, and mutuality that characterizes her friendships with Priscilla and Douglas, Lady Rowan and the Compton family, and Dr Maurice Blanche help us understand and care for Massie.  Even the Cliftons, parents to the young cartographer, are fully fleshed out and I grew to care about them, their son, and this woman that he loved.  The story is complex and progresses with just the right balance of suspense, drama and human interest. 

The Mapping of Love and Death is an engrossing read and a wonderful escape. Highly recommended! I plan to read all others in the series.

ISBN-10: 0061727660 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (March 23, 2010), 352 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours. 

About the Author:
Jacqueline Winspear has received numerous honors for her New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.  Learn more about her and Massie Dobbs at

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daughter of the Centaurs by K.K. Ross

The blurb:
Sometime in the future, the earth will be populated with half-animal, half-human creatures, and one girl, who may be the last human. . .

In this first book of an epic trilogy, K.K. Ross has forged a breathtaking world where myth and magic merge with science and history, peopled with characters readers will wish were real.  With aspects of The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Blue Sword, Island of the Blue Dolphins, classical mythology, and current dystopic fiction, this story reaches beyondn the bounds of fantasy and will grab readers of all genres.

In Daughter of the Centaurs K.K.Ross created a world where human civilization has declined and the remaining humans seem to have lost access to technology and machines.  Malora and her family live in what seems to be a tribe - they must hunt or grow their own food. Their group survived some sort of war and have no other communities to trade with. Their entire survival depends on their ability to set aside food for the upcoming seasons.   While humans coexist with hostile mythical creatures, the humans have a precarious existence.

During the latest attack on the leatherwings, Malora's mother instructs her to escape and not to return.  Malora leaves for the wild with a few horses and it's her training that keeps them all alive. 

When Malora and her horses are captured by centaurs, her life turns upside down. She's brought to the centaurs' city and she learns about the devastating war between humans and centaurs.  Many centaurs still regard Malora with skepticism and hostility and Malora works hard to find her place in this new world while keeping the important parts of herself. 

Daughter of the Centaur
is a coming of age story in an unusual world full of dangerous and mythical characters.  While the book is a fun, interesting read, I found the first quarter of the book slow.
ISBN-10: 0375869751 - Hardcover $17.99 
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (January 24, 2012), 384 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program and the publisher.

About the Author:
KATE KLIMO has two horses of her own and is an avid rider (as well as writer). She is the author of the Dragon Keepers series.

March is Massie Dobbs month!

I've been suffering from the loss of Downton Abbey.  Though PBS has Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop and BBC America has The Hours, I've been looking for books that take me back to WWI and its aftermath.  Fortunately, Jacqueline Winspear is coming out with the lastest Massie Dobbs novel. To celebrate, Harper Collins with the help of Trish and TLC Books Tours have organized the Massie Dobbs Read Along. : )

If you haven't read any of Jacqueline Winspear's Massie Dobbs novels, we'll be discovering her together. : )  The series has received rave reviews from the NY Times and Publisher's Weekly.

You can learn more about Massie Dobbs on her Facebook page.  Come back on Wednesday to read my review of the 7th book in the series The Mapping Love and Death.