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Archive for November, 2011

Romantic Historical Fiction Review – Fortune’s Son

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011


Fortune’s Son by Emery Lee


Review by Jerelyn (I-F-Letty)


I think it is important to first point this out Romantic Historical Fiction, is not a mistake, it is a deliberate choice to categorize a sub-genre of historical fiction.  Historical Romance is much too broad a brush.  Emery Lee is an author who writes historical fiction with an emphasis on romance.  While her stories are relationship driven don’t be fooled by the covers, there is serious research and substantial scholarship behind her writing. Lee’s talent is how she takes you into the decedent lush Georgian time period and can impart a wealth of information which is intelligently presented in her own unique style. She sweeps you into the England of George II.  Fortune’s Son is a powerfully emotional love story set at the time when the Hanoverian King was anything but secure on his throne.

With the absolute glut of Tudor’s reheated, I cannot tell how happy I am to find a book that is, A) not about the Tudors. B) A brilliantly executed work of historical fiction.  Emery Lee’s Fortune’s Son, is part sequel and part prequel.  Beginning and ending 1751.  We find Phillip in a state of financial ruin… But how did he get there? How did Sukie and Phillip meet?  How did they live their lives from 1739 to 1751?  Get ready and enjoy the ride. This is a standalone novel but I recommend that you also read The Highest Stakes.

Philip Drake is the younger son of the Earl of Hasting, who has lived his life away from his cold father, determined to go his own way and in so doing has garnered a reputation as a Greek.  Which in the modern vernacular would be a “shark”.  He knows just how fickle lady luck can be. Well how else is a disgraced younger son unwilling to bow to his father and elder brothers machinations; supposed to make his way in society where gentlemen didn’t work?  He is only about 20 after all.

Susannah, (Sukie) Lady Messingham, is a woman 10 years Phillips senior and refuses to belong to any one man again, not even if the man is the Prince of Wales.  Meeting Philip and seeing his skill a plan begins to form.   If Phillip can make a living gambling why can’t she?   There is only one catch she needs to learn how to gamble.  She persuades him to become her teacher, and show her how to win at the tables. Reluctantly Phillip agrees to instruct her if only to protect her; also in hopes of becoming more to Sukie, than teacher and gaming partner.

While there is so much more I won’t go into here.  I will say that I enjoyed Ms. Lees intelligent take on this historical period, the world of high stakes gambling, that was not just cards and dice, the English would wager on anything and everything and it was fascinating.  I think that Ms. Lee has a rare gift and I am looking forward to reading her books for years to come.

Grab This Book!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

You wish you could get the books you want faster.  We wish you could too!  Alas, popular books do take a little longer.   To thank you for your patience, here is a Book Grab Giveaway!

 Each month we’ll surprise you with chances to win a brand new copy of those hot books for which you’ve been waiting.   We’ll be choosing books from the list on the Most Wished for Books on PBS.

It’s so easy to enter…just reply to this post, but here’s the catch…you only have 24 hours to enter the Giveaway for the featured book!  We’ll randomly draw a lucky winner from all entries. Stay tuned to the PBS Blog …you never know when the Book Grab Giveaways will happen or which book you can win!


A Stolen Life by
Jaycee Dugard


Members, leave a comment to Grab This Book, but only until 11/30/11 at 9am EDT

Good luck!




Mystery Monday – Tenant for Death

Sunday, November 27th, 2011


Tenant for Death by Cyril Hare

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


First published in 1937, Tenant for Death is the first novel by Cyril Hare, a Golden Age crime writer cast in the same mold as methodical Freeman Wills Crofts (Inspector French’s Greatest Case) and ratiocinating E.C. Bentley (Trent’s Last Case). This mystery introduces Hare’s series detective, Inspector Mallett.

A crooked financier’s scams have all gone all ahoo. He is found strangled in a dreary rented house in middle-class South Kensington. The renter of the house has disappeared. Inspector Mallett of the Yard mentors his young assistant Frant as they flush out the culprit.

I’d been getting a little tired of the Golden Age settings of country manors, universities, and high class men’s clubs, so I was happy to read a mystery set out in the world and populated with various kinds of people. Mallett employs different techniques to coax information out of real estate agents, newspaper hawkers, and the financier’s oily secretary, mistress, and subordinates.  The many characters are convincing. The pace is steady, with typical mystery writer’s improbable coincidences and tricks to spin things out in the last quarter or so.  Of course, it’s dated, but I think it can be read with enjoyment in 2011.

Judge Gordon Clark (Hare’s real name) worked in the criminal justice system and took to writing fiction at the age of 36 in order to augment his income. His grammar is not elaborate, his vocabulary is educated but he doesn’t use out-of-the-way words. His plotting, style, and subtle wit make up for his mild upper-class snootiness about class differences. Hare kept up the high standard he set in this premier outing so his later mysteries are well worth reading too: Suicide Excepted (1939), When the Wind Blows (1949), An English Murder (1951), and Untimely Death (1958).

HIstorical Fiction Review – Ines of My Soul

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende

Review by Kelly P. (KellyP)


Somehow my “world” history classes in high school never covered South America. I think in a geography class many years ago I learned the countries and their capitals, so I have a very basic idea of where the countries are. And, then there is Evita, and of course, coffee and llamas and alpacas.

That pretty much sums up what I know about South America.

So, to read about the Spanish colonization of Peru and Chile in the mid-1500’s via the skillful writing of Isabel Allende in her book Ines of My Soul was informative, very interesting and a true treat.

The book is carefully crafted historical fiction based on real people and actual events. Our main character – who tells her own story – is Ines Suarez, who as a young woman obtains permission and leaves her native Spain in search of her wayward husband who had gone to “the Americas” in search of the famed City of Gold.

I’m not giving anything away by telling that the wayward husband has been killed in battle. Ines becomes mistress to war hero and field marshal Pedro de Valdivia and accompanies him and 109 other Spanish conquistadors on the grueling trek across the Atacama Desert and into Chile. The mission is accomplished – even successful, depending on how one would define the word – and the city of Santiago is established. Ines is a water diviner, skilled in the healing arts, a cook, seamstress and natural leader. The “flesh” that Ms. Allende gives the bare bones facts of this woman gives us a character that is well-rounded, passionate, strong, loyal and intelligent with a wry sense of humor. She is a character worth knowing and worth knowing about.

I know a lot of people will turn away for the very simple reason that it’s written in first person; but, it really works for this book. Ines tells her story to her adopted daughter, Isabel, and intersperses the narrative with “current time” directives or information. In one place, she talks about the Spanish conquistadors’ lamentable lack of love-making skills and tells Isabel that if she needs any advice, she should ask now, because after Ines’ death, there won’t be anyone else to ask.

In an interview with the author, Ms. Allende said, “… the story could only be told in her voice. This story is so removed in time, and the place also so removed, that the readers would not feel close to the story if it was not told in first person narrative by Ines herself.” And, I certainly agree.

The first person narration brings a high degree of intimacy to the book and brings the reader into the story. And, this personal touch is also a good (and needed) counterpoint to the brutality and cruelty of the conflicts between the invaders (the Spanish) and the native Indian tribes who fought with all the strength and will they had to defend their way of life, their homeland, their culture.

This is the first book I’ve read by Isabelle Allende, and I could be quite wrong, but I feel that this is her story to tell. Ms. Allende is from Chile – this history is her history. She has known political upheaval and its accompanying fear and turmoil – she was forced to leave the country after the 1973 assassination of her uncle, President Salvador Allende and the resulting political coup. Lastly she has known tragedy and personal loss – her beloved daughter Paula died at the age of 28 after slipping into a coma after complications of the disease porphyria.

I really enjoyed this book; it was a worthy and worthwhile use of my time. While it wasn’t a book I couldn’t put down; it absolutely was a book I looked forward to getting back to. The book gets a solid five out of five stars.


Fantasy Friday – Endurance

Friday, November 25th, 2011


Endurance by Jay Lake


Review by Bowden P. (Trey)



Well, I got my wish from the my review of Green – I got to see what happens next. I lucked into an ARC of Endurance and it answers my question and then some. Endurance picks up four months after the events of Green in the hills above Copper Downs with Selistans looking for Green. Also, her friend Ilona tells her that she needs to talk to a living ghost who steers her to the ghost of an ancient king with a warning for Green and Copper Downs… From there Green plunges back into the events and politics of Copper Downs where things are still roiling from the death of the Undying Duke and the theogeny of Endurance.

This is a hard review to write – not because I didn’t like it. I really enjoyed it and stayed up late to finish it. No, its difficult because I’m afraid I’ll spoil everything if I’m not careful.

Green is her usual self – clever, quick witted and fast moving. Also razor tongued, bossy and ill tempered. All of these aspects of her personality play into the events of Endurance, both as strengths and weaknesses. I won’t go into too much details for fear of spoilers, but Green makes at least two huge mistakes. One in understanding, another in who she trusts. The “Aha! Oh, crap!” moments are worth the price of admission for me at least. Because from there, she has to apologize, ask forgiveness, help people who have wronged her and try to fix things that all her clever plans have set in motion. Add in that there are god killers on the loose, and its a complex, spicy mix – a bit like the description of the curry she makes in one scene.

I liked it for the same reasons I liked Green. Green herself, though this phase of her maturation, is a bit harder to take. Granted, she is doing things she doesn’t want to do. The city of Copper Downs, its history and secrets – including the Sorcerer Engineers – make for some interesting contributions. Plus, the discoveries and revelations about complex world of the gods and the role of the priests.

I give it four and half stars. Why four and half? For that dratted middle of the series syndrome that Lake largely avoids, but still leaves me looking for the forthcoming Kalimpura.


Likes: Green and her growing up; Copper Downs; The titanics/elder gods; Sorcerer Engineers; Fate of the god killers for irony.


Dislikes: That the book ends in success not victory and promises to take Green back to Selistan and Kalimpura. How is this a dislike? I want to see what happens next!


Suggested for: Fans of P.C. Hodgell, early J.G. Keyes and strong female leads.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2011


Cyn C. (Cyn-Sama) is thankful for my love of books and the joy I get from reading. It means I am never bored, and never alone.


Diane G. (icesk8tr) is thankful for good friends (including ones I have met on PBS), wonderful family, and the PBS Tour Guides.


Linda (Angeleyes): I am thankful for my family, my friends, my health and for all the wonders of the world…..
CJ R. (cjr) I am thankful for my God, country, family, friends & good health.

Sianeka: I am thankful for Health, family, and friends (these things mean happiness and love to me!)


Leslie P. : I am thankful for another year with all my loved ones around our Thanksgiving table. 


Amanda S. (ABCatHome): I am thankful for love. If we have love and give love, we will have a peace that is indescribable.  



Hunter S. (Hunter1): I am thankful for PURPLE!


Len S. (lens): I am thankful for my daughter who was brave enough to move to California to pursue her career, and then landed her dream job within six months. I am thankful for my brother and his family for remaining strong for all of us during his two recent battles with cancer. I am thankful for my sister who works hard to keep our family intact after the passing of our parents. I am thankful to work for a company that serves a good purpose in the world, and for all my co-workers who help make PaperBackSwap run like a well-oiled machine. I am thankful for the many PBS members who’ve reminded me by their actions that being kind and helpful to virtual strangers is the way the world should work.

Pat L. (PitterPat): I am thankful for the ability to read. 


Greg (VOSTROMO): I am thankful for the Normans, who first filled moats with water, without which development no Minions would survive the tossing thereinto.


Deana F. (PBSDeana): I am thankful for family, friends, love and laughter. 


Robin K. (jubead): I am thankful for PBS Community and the long lasting friendships I have made over the past couple of years,  family and friends.  I am also thankful for chocolate covered gummy bears.


Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty) is thankful for laughter, and for friends and family to share it with. And cheese cake!


  Cozette M. (CozSnShine): I am thankful for every person who serves in our military and  makes possible our liberty and freedom. 



Mary S. (MaryMary) I am thankful for my two wonderful boys and that my husband is back to work! Yay!


Patty P. (Patouie) …the humor that softens rough edges, the different colors of love in my life, the thoughtful conversation with someone I respect who disagrees with me, the many authors who have changed my life in a thousand ways, hummingbirds, rosemary, and a tomato straight from the vine.


Misty (millywv): I am thankful for Family, Friends, Books, Bags, and Shoes!



Michelle H. (mishnpow): I’m thankful for my kids. I’m enjoying watching them grow into themselves.



Joshua: I am thankful for having a great job serving the PaperBackSwap community.



Kathy H. (Nellie): I am thankful for a lot of things, but for this year, my wonderful new husband!


Teresa E.:  I am thankful for family.


Maria (SassenachD):  I am thankful for Family, friends and for what I have. As of late, I deal with so many that go/do without. My selfishness has a time limit of 7 minutes and that is probably 7 minutes too long. I am very blessed!



Ivy (PBSmaven) is thankful for the roof over my head, my dogs, my friends and family, my good health (I don’t have a lot of it but what I do have I’m thankful for!).



June E. (junie): I am thankful for good health, a wonderful family, for belonging to PBS and making fantastic friends on this site!

 Mary S. (kilchurn): I am thankful for the memories of the past, the joys of today and the hope of the future.


Holly (xhollishx) is thankful for family.


Tiffany K. (tiffanyak): I am thankful for being on track to finally get my college degree, and also for the family and friends who have helped make it possible.


Jaime (jaimefowler): My family and friends.


Joy L. (vintagejoy): I am thankful for my relationship with God, my family, and the fact that after 5 years I have little to no foot pain!!

Zack: My wife and I are thankful for the many blessings God has given us this year, most especially for our family and friends who greatly  enrich our lives. 

McGuffyAnn M. (nightprose): I am thankful for the memories of yesterday, the blessings of today, and the possibilities of tomorrow.



Joan D. (keeponreading) is thankful for all God has done for me and family.


Cathy W. (Firefly): I am thankful for family, friends, food, and good books.

James L. (JimiJam): I am thankful for the chill autumn breeze, for hot teas and warm sweaters, for the promise of feasts all too quickly approaching. I am thankful for my friends, for their friendship; for their ears and their shoulders, and their reliance on mine. I am thankful for the passage of time, advancing undaunted, the challenges and changes of years past, the adventures and growth yet to come.


Photo by Michelle H. (mishnpow)

Photo by Robin (Jubead)


Cheryl G. (Poncer): I am thankful to all the contributors to this Blog, to the many who have contributed throughout the year, and to the many who will contribute in the future. Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!



Please share with us your own reasons to be thankful by leaving a comment.





Romance Review – The Next Always

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The Next Always by Nora Roberts

Review by Susan R. (Sue-in-AZ)


Story Synopsis

After her army husband is killed in the war on terror, Clare Brewster returns to her small-town roots with her three young sons.  Clare dedicates herself to raising her family as a single working mom. She’s holding it all together, but there’s no room in her life for a new romance. She’s not even sure she wants romance at this point.

Beckett Montgomery has known Clare all his life.  And he’s had a hopeless crush on her since high school.  But he’s not sure his interest is welcome, so he hides his interest behind casual friendliness. He stops in at Clare’s bookstore every morning for coffee, but otherwise keeps his distance.

Beckett, along with his two brothers, is busy rehabbing an old, historic hotel.  Long the town eyesore, the brothers have a plan to return the hotel to its former glory as a country inn – with lots of modern comfort and convenience.  One morning, getting coffee at Clare’s shop, Beckett casually invites Clare to see a tour of the work in progress at the hotel. Clare jumps at the offer – everyone in town has been itching to see the work inside.  While getting the grand tour, Clare trips on some construction material. Beckett catches her and they pause for a moment with Clare in Beckett’s arms.  They “almost” kiss, before coming to their senses.

Initially, they are both very embarrassed at the “almost” incident, but then one thing leads to another and soon the two are an item.  Add in adventures with Clare’s three sons, a dangerous stalker, a ghost in the hotel, and lots of romantic tension, and this is a great story!


My Review

I have to confess that I love Nora Roberts’ books.  I always want to be girlfriends with her female leads; and the male leads are always believably human.

She does a great job of painting a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business – and the difficulty that can lead to when starting a new relationship.  Interaction with Clare’s girlfriends & sons, and Beckett’s brothers really do a good job of rounding out the story and giving depth to the personalities involved.  The scenes of Beckett interacting with Clare’s sons are really well done.  There’s a hilarious scene where Beckett is babysitting the three boys for the first time – and domestic disaster ensues.

I found this to be a really fast, fun book to read.  There are two more books to come in the series, with the story lines set up in this first book. I can’t wait until they come out!