PaperBackSwap Blog


Mystery Monday Review – The Case of the Buried Clock

January 20th, 2020

The Case of the Buried Clock by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

In the 22nd novel starring the lawyer with super-powers and his trusty sidekicks Della Street and Paul Drake, Gardner shows that he’d mastered his way with punchy dialogue. Plenty of clues make the plot elaborate but not bewilderingly complicated: a clock set to sidereal time; the “truth serum” scopolamine in the vic’s body; an uncertain time of death; and finally Gardner’s trusty old “two revolvers” confusion.

The Mason novels that Gardner published during WWII make passing references to war-time culture, such as blackouts, tire rationing, frugality with gasoline, and internment of Japanese-Americans (it was California, after all).

Also, readers who’ve read many of his novels will recall that Gardner tended to look at reality with no illusions. For instance, in this one Gardner tweaks home-front pieties when the returning veteran says that instead of giving a “flag-waving” speech at a luncheon, he bluntly told them that winning the war was going to take a lot of hard work and that the US could be defeated in the conflict. Even more shockingly, Mason bluntly asserts that there are no ethics when dealing with the police.

Perry Mason fans regard this 1942 mystery as one of their favorites. The plot is crystal clear, and for once, he plays fair with the reader, laying out all the clues.

 

 

 

Fiction Review- Your Perfect Year

January 17th, 2020

Your Perfect Year: A Novel

Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas (translated by Alison Layland)

Review by Mirah W (mwelday)

I recently received news that would impact my career and I was feeling a bit discombobulated. It wasn’t news I was wanting, and I found myself going through the stages of grief over the change…and not necessarily in the correct order. I was angry one day, in denial the next, just all over the place.  I went to find a book that I thought could give me a new perspective on things.  I found Your Perfect Year.

A bestseller in Germany, Your Perfect Year is about how we can get so stuck in our routines and expectations that we fail to see what is happening around us.  Jonathan has been living a regimented existence without any joy. Hannah has been thrown for a loop with her boyfriend’s recent decisions.

One day during a punctual and structured outing, Jonathan finds a daily planner complete with activities for every day of the next year.  Why was this diary left for him?  And how can a diary written for someone else really make a difference to him?  Jonathan tries to find the real owner of the diary but when he finally admits to himself that maybe he needs some change in his own life, he decides to embark on a new life using this diary as a guide.

I am giving Your Perfect Year 3 out of 5 stars for ‘I liked it’. I found the characters a bit difficult to connect with, but the storyline was a good one. I am not sure how much of my lack of ‘spark’ was a translation issue (originally written in German) or a story/character development one, but I still liked the book and the overall theme.  Sometimes life deals us uncertainty and confusion and how we react can truly change our lives. This was the message I needed during my own time of confusion and frustration with the changes being thrown my way. If you’re in the same boat, go on this adventure with Jonathan and see the difference an open mind can make.

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction Review – Leaving Time

January 9th, 2020

Leaving Time: A Novel

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

I have long been a fan of Jodi Picoult. Her take on current social and ethical dilemmas make for heartbreaking and heartwarming fiction. I recently read Leaving Time and I was, once again, struck by Picoult’s ability to create a story that captivated me.

Jenna has been searching for her mother Alice for years. Alice was an elephant researcher and disappeared in the wake of a tragic and mysterious event at the elephant sanctuary where she worked. Jenna joins online chat groups and forums and searches Alice’s journals for any clues to explain her disappearance. Jenna refuses to believe her mother would abandon her without a word.

On Jenna’s journey for the truth she joins forces with two others: Serenity, a psychic, and Virgil, a private detective. The three of them slowly pull back the layers of family drama that led to the tragic event leading to Alice’s disappearance. But in true Picoult form, when the truth is revealed I was left stunned with the outcome and precision and depth of the story.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Picoult novel and this was just the right one to reintroduce me to one of my favorite writers. Complex relationships and grief impact each of the characters in compelling ways and I found Leaving Time a truly enjoyable read. I give Leaving Time 5 out of 5 stars for heart, emotion, and imaginative story-line.

 

 

Authors We Lost in 2019.

December 30th, 2019


Authors We Lost in 2019.

By Vicky T. (VickyJo)

The end of a year is a time of reflection for most people. We think about the past year, the highs and the lows, and we look ahead to a new year full of promise and new beginnings. For me, as a reader, I have a tendency to look back on the authors who left us in the past year. 2019 was a rough year in that we lost some bright stars.

So, in alphabetical order, we must say goodbye to:

Dorothea Benton Frank (Sept. 12, 1951 – Sept. 2, 2019): I’m not sure South Carolina was even on the map before Ms. Frank came along and shared her love of this beautiful area with all of us. Her 20 novels bring to life Charleston and surrounding areas, and the families living there. Her last novel was Queen Bee, but she was also known for Plantation, Sullivan’s Island, and Shem Creek, just to name a few. Just by opening one, I think I can smell the sea and feel the sunshine of her beloved Lowcountry.

Ernest J. Gaines (Jan. 15, 1933 – Nov. 5, 2019) : Mr. Gaines wrote of the struggles of African-Americans in such novels as A Lesson Before Dying and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, focusing on a time before the civil rights movement in this country. He wrote eight novels and many short stories, and was honored with numerous awards, culminating in the National Medal of Arts bestowed on him by President Barack Obama in 2013.

Tony Horwitz (Jun. 9, 1958 – May 27, 2019): A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Mr. Horwitz authored several books, and is probably best known for Confederates in the Attic. He took us all over the world: Australia, Bagdad, the deep South, islands in the Pacific. His books embodied the best of armchair travel combined with history and a peek at various cultures, some foreign, and some perhaps very familiar.

Judith Krantz (Jan. 9, 1928 – Jun 22, 2019): She started out by giving us Scruples in 1978, and she really didn’t let up for almost 20 years. Her first novel was published when she was 50 years old, which should give every aspiring author a great deal of hope. She retired from writing at age 70, after the publication of Spring Collection.

Johanna Lindsey (Mar. 10, 1952 – Oct. 27, 2019): If you are of a certain age, I can almost guarantee you started your career in romance reading by picking up one of Johanna Lindsey’s 50 novels. She started with Captive Bride (1977) and not only gave us wonderful love stories set in various historical time periods, but who didn’t love the Fabio covers?? I remember my grandmother catching me reading one of Ms. Lindsey’s books—and after confiscating it, and reading it herself, asking me if I had any more.

Robert K. Massie (Jan. 5, 1929 – Dec. 2, 2019): My love of Russian history and the tragic story of Nicholas and Alexandra came directly from Mr. Massie’s powerful biography of the two doomed rulers. His biography Peter the Great won him the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1981, and his final book, Catherine the Great, earned him the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography.

Vonda McIntyre (Aug. 28, 1948 – Apr. 1, 2019): Ms. McIntyre began her career in the early 70’s, winning her first Nebula Award for Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand. This novelette soon expanded into the novel Dreamsnake (1978) for which she won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. She was a trailblazer in the field of science fiction, and is probably best known for writing several Star Trek and Star Wars novels.

Toni Morrison (Feb. 18, 1931 – Aug. 5, 2019): Words fail me here. From The Bluest Eye, her first novel, through her last novel,
God Help the Child, and up to her last book, a work of non-fiction titled The Source of Self-Regard: Essays, Speeches, Meditations, Ms. Morrison enriched our lives. The list of her awards is incredibly long and impressive. She will be missed.

Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (Nov. 12, 1928 – Mar. 12, 2019): Every beginning reader from the early 1970’s on has picked up a Nate the Great book and been thoroughly entertained by the boy detective. Ms. Sharmat is the author of over 130 books, and the Nate books alone have been translated into 24 languages.

Gene Wolfe (May 7, 1931 – Apr. 14, 2019): Not only was Mr. Wolfe an accomplished science fiction author, best known for his multi-volume work The Book of the New Sun, but he had an amazing life. He had polio as a child; he was a Korean War vet; he was an industrial engineer, and we can thank him for the machine that makes Pringles potato chips! His final novel, Interlibrary Loan, is due to be published in 2020. And of all the authors in this list, he has had the most books written about him.

Herman Wouk (May 27, 1915 – May 17, 2019): That’s not a typo. Mr. Wouk almost made it to 104, bless him. He gave us  The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and the sequel War and Remembrance, and several works of non-fiction. His final work was Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year Old Author (2015). Now that seems like a book worth reading, and it has been added to my TBR pile.

And so we say goodbye, and thank you. Thank you for the sound foundation of reading, for the history, the romance, the imagination and the glimpses into other cultures, other times, and other worlds. We will be forever grateful.

Winners! Derek’s Great Thanksgiving Escape

December 20th, 2019

The Winners of the Brand-New Book, Derek’s Great Thanksgiving Escape are:

 

Tracy K. (dixiegirl)

Ronni E. (rifkachaya)


Laurie H.

 

Congratulations to our Winners!

And thank you, Mr. Denert for sharing your book with us!

 

If you would like to read the author interview with
D.M. Denert, you can find it here.

Book Give-Away and Interview with Author D.M. Denert

November 26th, 2019

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Mr. Denert for agreeing to this interview!
I’m glad to do it, thanks for having me.

First, please tell us a little about your book, Derek’s Great Thanksgiving Escape.
To be honest, it all happened quite spontaneously. I’ve been meaning to write some of the bedtime stories I’ve told my kids over the years, but never found the time.
Then one day, a bit out of nowhere, the idea to write a short story about Thanksgiving popped into my head. One thing led to another and I ended up turning the short story into a short book because I just had too much fun writing it.

It is a very amusing tale, told from the perspective of an 8-year-old boy trying to get out of spending Thanksgiving Dinner at the table with his relatives, including, his angry sister, weird cousins and kissing aunties whose kisses are inpossible to wipe off.
How much of this story is drawn from your experiences as a youngster?
I would say a great deal. However, it wasn’t just Thanksgiving as we tend to spend it with a small family group, so it wasn’t that bad. Other holidays and family gatherings were a whole different story, and often-included weird cousins and kissing aunties.
Those, I dreaded and tried to escape more than once, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Do any of your own children have plans to escape from Thanksgiving  dinner this year?
I don’t think so, but then again, they seem to enjoy family gathering more than I did when I was a kid.

There are some very handy tips in this book about how to avoid monsters, particularly attic monsters. Would you please share them here, just in case any of our members need to avoid attic monsters during the upcoming holiday season?
Sure, there are 3 key ones:
• Be super quiet. Monsters seem to avoid you if you’re staying silent
• Pretend you’re asleep. Closing your eyes seems to make them go away
• Have a clear path of escaping when the two above don’t work.
With that said, it’s probably best to avoid attics and basements when you’re alone in general.

Have you always been a writer and storyteller?
As a kid I was often told I have a very active imagination, I guess most kids do, but it seems I didn’t grow out of mine. With that said, I did write some fantasy as a teenager and young adult, but really got going as a storyteller when my first daughter was born.
I had to tell her at least 3 or 4 stories per night before she would let me go.

Do you have plans for publishing your next book?
Yes, I have a few in mind.
Two will be a continuation of Derek’s adventures. One about Christmas and the other summer vacation.
I’ve been also toying with the idea about writing a fantasy novel for children. Naturally, these will include dragons, fairies and monsters.

Did you have a favorite author growing up?

Growing up some of the earliest reading I did for fun, instead being forced to, were the Harry Potter books. The whole idea that there was another world paralleled to our one has really captivated my early years. Especially, how I was 11, the same age Harry is at the start, when the books were published in United States.

I think JK Rowling did a great job making it believable and I spend more than a few nights reading the series. Which also kick-started my passion for reading and later writing.

And now, do you have a favorite author?

One of my favorites, if not the favorite, author as an adult is Fyodor Dostoevsky. Others are Stephen King, Joe Abercrombie and of course Tolkien and CS Lewis, as both I discovered and enjoyed as an adult.

Now for some fun questions:

Stuffing or dressing?
Definitely stuffing, with bacon and mushrooms

Fresh cranberries or canned?
I think I never had fresh, so canned?

Apple or pumpkin pie?
Apple, while I enjoy pumpkin pie apple pie has always been my favorite.

Weird cousins or kissing aunties?
Weird cousins, nothing is worse than kissing aunties! I’m just kidding, but weird cousins seem to be a lot more fun. __________

Mr. Denert has generously offered to give away 3 copies of his book to PaperBackSwap Members who comment. Tell us who you would like to read his book to for a chance to win. We will choose 3 lucky winners at random from the comments we receive here on the Blog. Good luck to Everyone!

If you would like to learn more about Mr. Denert you can view is website at:  dmdenert.com

or follow him on Facebook here.

 

 

Veterans Day

November 11th, 2019