PaperBackSwap Blog


Historical Fiction Review and Book Give-Away – Cup of Blood

July 29th, 2014

Cup of Blood by Jeri Westerson

Review by Cheryl G. (Poncer)

 

Cup of Blood is a prequel to Jeri Westerson’s Crispin Guest series. Set in Medieval London, Crispin, a defrocked knight has turned his attention to solving mysteries.

In this book, we get the backstory of how Crispin met his partner, Jack Tucker, though Crispin won’t readily admit that he needs a partner.

The books begins in a tavern, where someone has been murdered. Turns out he is a member of the Knights of Templar, thought to be long disbanded.

Through out the book we get to experience old London through Crispin eyes, experiencing the dangers and conditions that make merely living there a risky proposition. From the back alleys to the gloom of Newgate Prison, to the grandeur of Westminster Palace, we are privileged to have an inside peak at what the city must have been like in the late 1300’s.

Jeri Westerson makes history alive in her matter of fact writing style. She makes it very hard to put one of her books down, and I often read them well past my bedtime.

Below are the books in the Crispin Guest series:

           

 

Jeri Westerson has generously offered to give a copy of her new book, Cup of Blood to one lucky PBS member who comments here on the Blog. You have until Friday, August 1, 2014 at 12 nooon EDT. Winner will be announced on Saturday, August 2, 2014.

 

Mystery Monday – The Underground Man

July 28th, 2014

The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

Ross Macdonald’s complicated plots hinged on PI Lew Archer’s investigations into family backgrounds. Social class, economic hardship, mental illness, and substance abuse pressure families, leading moms to snap, dads to disappear, and kids to dabble in trouble. Macdonald’s stories are all virtually the same, but the concise style plus the social and psychological insights keep us fans reading these uniquely American tragedies.

In The Underground Man, Archer is hired by a distraught mother whose child has possibly been kidnapped by two crazy, mixed up teenagers. Set in about 1970 in California, two specters haunt the setting. The psychedelic drug LSD drives kids to places their minds probably shouldn’t go. Environmental damage is caused by deforestation and wildfires and subsequent landslides as well as oil spills and chemicals  such as DDT. Referring to DDT damaging the eggs of seabirds, he mentions “a generation whose elders had been poisoned … with a kind of moral DDT that damaged the lives of their young.” Indeed, the moral rot and cowardice among the California rich go far beyond one character’s bald advice to small business owners, “The rich never pay their bills.”

The wonder of Macdonald, though, is his Agatha Christie-like talent at misdirection. We readers get so immersed in the calamities that these families must face that the reveal of the perp comes as a complete surprise. Whatever that literary magic thingy is that keeps us reading, engrossed, Macdonald, like Dickens, Christie and Gardner, had it in spades.

 

 

 

 

Free Book Friday Winner!

July 27th, 2014

The Winner of this week’s Free Book Friday Contest is:

Valerie D. (6thdaughter)

 

Congratulations! Your prize will be on the way to you shortly!

 

Thank you to everyone who commented!

 

 

 

Free Book Friday!

July 25th, 2014

 

This weeks Free Book Friday prize is:

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth Joy and Hard Times

by Jennifer Worth

At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in post war London’s East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies all over London – from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives to the woman with twenty-four children who can’t speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city’s seedier side – illuminate a fascinating time in history. Beautifully written and utterly moving, Call the Midwife will touch the hearts of anyone who is, and everyone who has, a mother.

ISBN 9780143123255, Trade Size Paperback

There are currently 63 members wishing for this book. 1 lucky member will win a brand-new Hardcover copy.

 

To enter, simply leave a comment on this Blog post. You must be a PaperBackSwap member to win.

 

 We will choose 1 winner at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

 

You have until Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 12 noon EDT, to leave a comment.

 

Good Luck to everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – The Passenger From Scotland Yard

July 21st, 2014

The Passenger from Scotland Yard by H. Freeman Wood

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

The opening chapters feature the shenanigans on the overnight mail train to Dover and the crossing of the English Channel. Wood deliberately obscures what the five passengers are up to so we readers stay on guard. After a killing comes out of the blue, we wonder if the book will focus on the murder or the diamond theft.

Reading an early mystery, I had prepared myself for Victorian verboseness and digressions. I was pleasantly surprised by the tightly constructed plot. The characterization of the Scotland Yard man Byde, the fence Grandpa, the pickpocket Bat, and his vicious mentor St. John held my rapt attention. Only mildly stagey and wordy, the intricate and subtle conversations were enjoyable to read. The author feels affectionate toward Byde’s touching belief in education, especially the use of Euclidean geometry to consider and eliminate suspects. Mathematics fans will like Wood’s implicit assertion that training in math fosters clear thinking, a skill and habit that can be transferred to other areas of life.

The evocation of traveling by train in the 1880s is not the only effective period re-creation in the novel. Wood must have lived in Paris during that time because his believable descriptions of the people and places are full of life. Back then, when the cops were unable to identify a corpse, they would expose the remains at the morgue near Notre Dame so that worried friends and relative and perhaps curiosity-seekers and tourists too could stroll by and recognize the departed. I find descriptions like this most worthy tangents:

“Passing to the rear of the cathedral, and skirting the little gardens which there lie, the inspector and his companions saw that groups of idlers had already congregated in front of the Morgue. Persons were also approaching from the bridges on both sides, and others were ascending the two or three steps at the entrance to the building. Visitors who had satisfied their curiosity lounged through the doorway, and down the steps, and augmented the knots of debaters scattered along the pavement. Some of the women and children were cracking nuts and eating sweetmeats, purchased from itinerant vendors who had stationed their barrows at the side of the road. One hawker was endeavouring to sell bootlaces; another was enumerating the titles of the comic songs which he exhibited in cheap leaflets, strung together on a wooden frame.”

Just wonderful. In the midst of life, there is death, but in the face of death life rocks and rolls, cracking nuts and putting up song sheets on wooden frames. Fin-de-Siecle Paris I add to my list of places that would have been cool to have lived in.

In the introduction to the Dover edition released in 1977, editor E.F. Bleiler, whose job was to distinguish trash and treasure, considers The Passenger from Scotland Yard to be the best detective novel published between The Moonstone (1866) by Wilkie Collins and The Hounds of Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1902).

 

 

Free Book Friday Winner!

July 20th, 2014

 

The Winner of the brand new copy of the book 

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

is:

Suzanne S. (schwip)

 

Congratulations! Your prize will be on the way to you shortly!

 

Thank you to everyone who commented!

 

 

 

 

Free Book Friday!

July 18th, 2014

 

This week’s Free Book Friday prize is:

 

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

 

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry. — Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded was the result of a character that had been forged by life experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

This capacity enabled President Lincoln to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to preserve the Union and win the war.

ISBN 9780684824901, Hardcover

There are currently 227 members wishing for this book. 1 lucky member will win a brand-new Hardcover copy.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this Blog post. You must be a PaperBackSwap member to win.

We will choose 1 winner at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

You have until Sunday, July, 20 2014 at 12 noon EDT, to leave a comment.

Good Luck to everyone!

 

 

Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!