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You Gotta Read This…

18 Mar

Looking for your next “pleasure read” book? Have I got a book for you?! If you liked The Hunger Games you will love Divergent by Veronica Roth. Although I was initially worried that Divergent was going to be a clone of The Hunger Games, I  couldn’t have been more wrong. The only things that Divergent and The Hunger Games share are a strong female protagonist and a dystopian setting- other than that, Divergent completely diverges! I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but I will say that Veronica Roth manages to create a world that is at once familiar and terrifyingly different. Although the book is pure, adrenaline-junkie entertaining, she slyly manages to make some astute observations about the best and worst features of humanity. Be sure that when you start this one, you have plenty of uniterrupted time because you won’t be able to leave it until you are done!! Keep an eye out, because this is absolutely going to be the next “big read” that everyone is talking about!!

Pure Pleasure Reading

11 Mar

Are you looking for your next “read for pleasure” book? If you’re like me, you keep a constant stack of books to read. Some of the books in that stack are books that I read to stay on top of educational trends, research, and best practice. Some of those books are children’s books that I read as I look for that perfect “just right” book to entice a reluctant reader or to help a reader stretch their “reading muscles”. Some of those books in my pile are also self-improvement books. These include devotionals, inspirational books, sociology, political and historical texts. And then there is the “pure pleasure” pile. Many of these books are brain “junk food” and are what I reach for when my brain is maxed out and I just need to relax.

One series that has been a recent constant feature in my pure pleasure pile is the Maisie Dobbs series by Jaqueline Winspear.  The series, which is part mystery and part historical fiction, follows the life and adventures of Maisie Dobbs. This series moves way beyond junk-food reading with its attention to detail and rich description. You won’t be able to put the book down as you follow Maisie into the mud and blood-soaked fields of France during World War 1. Later, your heartstrings will tug as you follow Maisie and other war veterans back into Post World War 1 London. Each story in the series delves a little deeper into the psyche and development of Maisie and her mentors as you watch Maisie try to solve difficult and dangerous cases. Maisie is no shrinking violet. She is an independent, strong, smart, courageous protagonist. Although she is not portrayed as some super-hero, she is everything you’d want in a book heroine. Ms. Winspear does a great job developing all of the characters in this series, so that you’ll come to feel like they are all close companions. Additionally, you will gain key insights into events leading up to World War I, the brutal conditions that ensued during the war, and the difficult aftermath of the war. You don’t want to start this series when you  might need lots of extra rest because you won’t be able to put this one down. This is definitely an “up all night” reader.

If at all possible, you’ll definitely want to start with the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs. The first book will take you back to Maisie’s pre-teenage years and give you insights into how a girl from the rough East End of London comes to  be a highly educated, successful, entrepreneur, and investigator. You don’t have to read the rest of the books in order, but it will make it easier to keep characters straight if you read them in the sequence in which they were written.The newest book in the series is being released in March (in both traditional and e-book versions). Out of the more than 100 books that I have read this year, this series is absolutely one of my favorites. Enjoy!