Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Journey To Munich

Journey To Munich
by Jacqueline Winspear

Why I chose this book? I’ve never read Maisie Dobbs and this one is set in pre-WWII Berlin
When I read this book? April 2016
Who should read this book? Maisie Dobbs fans and those interested in WWII fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Here is a synopsis of Journey To Munich from Goodreads

Working with the British Secret Service on an undercover mission, Maisie Dobbs is sent to Hitler’s Germany in this thrilling tale of danger and intrigue—the twelfth novel in Jacqueline Winspear’s New York Times bestselling “series that seems to get better with each entry” (Wall Street Journal).

It’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

The British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.

Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . . .

My Review

I picked this one up because of the cover; I love WWII era fiction and this one takes place in Berlin in the years leading up to the US entry into the war. Then I found out it is a Maisie Dobbs book. I’ve heard good things about the series, but had never read a book before, so this seemed like a good place to start. I really want to talk about the cover a bit because I do like it very much. The Nazi flag, as well as the train and the clothing give you a feel immediately for the era in which the story takes place. I also like the it is artwork as opposed to photography, letting me ‘feel’ more than ‘see’ what the story is about.

I also want to address this book as a ‘stand-alone’ novel. I opted not to read any of the previous books before this one, because I wanted to be able to tell year if it works as a ‘stand-alone’ novel. The verdict — yes it does. Even though I’d never read a Maisie Dobbs book before, I found the story very easy to follow, with enough background information given when needed, so that I didn’t feel I was missing out. That said, even though it did work well as a stand-alone, there were times when I wished I’d read the previous books to understand Maisie’s relationships to other characters a little better. One example, we are introduced to Sandra, a former employee of Maisie who currently lives in Maisie’s apartment. While details aren’t important to the story in this book, I did feel there are some stories Maisie and Sandra have shared that would be interesting.

Now on to this story — I enjoyed reading about Berlin in the pre-war days and the way people were on edge, wanting to believe that all was well, but in denial about Hitler and what he stood for. I also enjoyed the mystery and the thought processes Maisie used. There were some suspenseful moments. Even though I knew it would all work out in the end, there were times I wanted to say, “Maisie, don’t do it! That is just going to cause trouble for you down the road!”

If you are a fan of Maisie Dobbs, you should enjoy this one very much. Even if you haven’t read the series in the past, I think you will enjoy this one, and perhaps want to go back and read some of the previous Maisie Dobbs books!

About Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Timesbestsellers Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller. 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 Times Notable Book. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

Find out more about Jacqueline at her website,, and find her on Facebook.

My Rating:   ✰✰✰½     3.5 Stars

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes.

Jacqueline’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, March 1st: My Book RetreatMaisie Dobbs
Wednesday, March 2nd: Jancee ReadsMaisie Dobbs
Wednesday, March 2nd: Reading RealityBirds of a Feather
Thursday, March 3rd: View from the BirdhouseBirds of a Feather
Thursday, March 3rd: BookNAroundPardonable Lies
Thursday, March 3rd: Puddletown ReviewsPardonable Lies
Thursday, March 3rd: From the TBR PileMessenger of Truth
Monday, March 7th: Books & TeaAn Incomplete Revenge
Monday, March 7th: Olduvai ReadsAn Incomplete Revenge
Tuesday, March 8th: #redhead.with.bookAmong the Mad
Thursday, March 10th: Joyfully RetiredA Lesson in Secrets
Friday, March 11th: Lavish BookshelfThe Mapping of Love and Death
Monday, March 14th: Queen of All She ReadsElegy for Eddie
Monday, March 14th: Lis Carey’s LibraryLeaving Everything Most Loved
Tuesday, March 15th: Nighttime Reading CenterLeaving Everything Most Loved
Tuesday, March 15th: Lit and LifeLeaving Everything Most Loved
Wednesday, March 16th: Emerald City Book ReviewA Dangerous Place
Monday, March 21st: A Bookish AffairLeaving Everything Most Loved
Monday, March 21st: Book NerdA Dangerous Place
Wednesday, March 23rd: Carina GonzalezA Dangerous Place
Thursday, March 24th: My Reader’s BlockLeaving Everything Most Loved
Thursday, March 24th: Lis Carey’s LibraryA Dangerous Place
Tuesday, March 29th: Curling Up by the FireJourney to Munich
Tuesday, March 29th: nomadreaderJourney to Munich
Wednesday, March 30th: A Chick Who ReadsJourney to Munich
Thursday, March 31st: A Bookish Way of LifeJourney to Munich
Friday, April 1st: A Bookish AffairA Dangerous Place
Friday, April 1st: My Book RetreatJourney to Munich
Monday, April 4th: Raven Haired GirlJourney to Munich
Tuesday, April 5th: Broken TeepeeJourney to Munich
Wednesday, April 6th: Reading RealityJourney to Munich
Thursday, April 7th: Dwell in PossibilityJourney to Munich
Tuesday, April 12th: M. Denise CostelloJourney to Munich
Wednesday, April 13th: A Bookish AffairJourney to Munich
Thursday, April 14th: A Bookworm’s WorldJourney to Munich
Monday, April 18th: Joyfully RetiredJourney to Munich
Wednesday, April 20th: bookchickdiJourney to Munich
Wednesday, April 20th: Emerald City Book ReviewJourney to Munich
Thursday, April 21st: Nighttime Reading CenterJourney to Munich
Monday, April 25th: Time 2 ReadJourney to Munich
Thursday, April 28th: Luxury ReadingJourney to Munich
TBD: History from a Woman’s PerspectiveLeaving Everything Most Loved
TBD: Lavish BookshelfJourney to Munich

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Friday, April 15, 2016

#NFBookClub - The Reason I Jump Discussion 1

This month the Nonfiction Book Club at Doing Dewey is reading The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. Here is a quick synopsis from Goodreads.

You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.
Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jumpallowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.

This is a really short book so there is still plenty of time for you to jump in and discuss it with us. Read more on Katie’s blog here. Katie is also hosting discussions on the book, Here are the first set of questions, along with my answers.

Is the tone of the book what you expected, from someone with autism and/or from a thirteen year old boy?

I’m not sure I had any expectations. He does seem perceptive, and at the same time he seems a bit — I’m not quite sure how to word it, so I will say ‘self-centered’ but I don’t think that is exactly what I mean. He seems to feel his experiences are universal to all who have autism, and I’m not sure that is true. At times I had to remind myself that he is only thirteen years old.

Have you learned anything that has surprised you so far?

I’m not sure I am surprised by anything because I had no expectations. But I am a little saddened by how often Naoki expresses that he ‘hates’ himself because of mistakes he makes or because he makes others unhappy or uncomfortable.

Do you think that you would interact with someone who has autism differently after reading this book?

Probably not. I understand better what that person might be feeling or thinking, but sadly, I am not a very outgoing person. I’m not sure understanding would make me more outgoing and able to set the other person at ease. (I sometimes wonder if I am on the autism spectrum somewhere.)

David Mitchell says that the problems of socialization and communication people with autism display “are not symptoms of autism but consequences.” What does he mean exactly...what is the difference as Mitchell sees it? (source)

I do understand what he is saying about communication being locked up inside the person, even though they understand very well what is being said and are aware of their surroundings. As I read the early part of the book, I thought how much it reminds me of Alzheimer’s patients and other patients with communication problems who become so frustrated because they know exactly what they want to say, but are unable to communicate this information. The inability to communicate is a result of their disease; but it is also a symptom.

That’s it for now. You can read Katie’s answers here and share your own. And look for the second set of questions coming later this month!

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