PaperBackSwap Blog

Archive for September, 2012

Author Spotlight – Jane Austen

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Author Spotlight Shines on Jane Austen

By Mirah W. (mwelday)



“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.”  I swear, I think those are some of the best words in literature.  I mean, dang, Jane!  How long did it take you to come up with that?  Did it just roll off your quill or did you craft for hours how Captain Wentworth would declare his love to Anne?  However it happened, it’s spectacular and it’s purely Jane.

This author spotlight post is pure indulgence on my part.  I love Jane Austen. I’ve read her books multiple times and I could talk about her books all day.  Mayhaps you think I’m crazy because classics are boring.  Oh, my dear reader, don’t pierce my soul!  Jane Austen is timeless.  I said in a previous post if I had to pick someone, living or dead, to eat dinner with I’d want to have Jane sitting at my table.  No doubt Jane and I would talk into the wee hours about life, love, family, society.  She would ‘get me’, I know it.  And perhaps she’d read my mind and read aloud some of her favorite passages from her novels.  I often have wondered what parts she liked best…when Darcy dismisses Elizabeth at the first dance when they meet, when Lady Catherine spews her ‘shades of Pemberley’ nastiness or perhaps when Mr. Tilney and Miss Moreland walk together and talk of books at Beechen Cliff. It’s all amazing and bears the question: where did this creative genius come from?

Jane Austen was born in 1775 to Reverend George and Cassandra Austen at Steventon Rectory.  Jane’s father encouraged education for his daughters and Jane and her sister Cassandra were sent to boarding school when Jane was just eight years old.  Jane kept journals with poems, short stories and plays.  Before 1796 Jane penned Elinor and Marianne, which would later become Sense and Sensibility, her first published work in 1811. And by 1799 Jane completed her first draft of First Impressions, which would later be published as Pride and Prejudice (1813).  In 1800 Jane’s father retired from the clergy and the family left Steventon to live in Bath.  After her father’s death in 1805 Jane became more dedicated to her writing.  Her mother and sister took on more chores and duties so Jane could write freely and her brother began to get her works published. Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice received positive reviews and were followed by the publishing of Mansfield Park and Emma.  In 1816 Jane’s health began to deteriorate but she continued to write in an effort to complete works she’d already begun.  The next year her brother Henry and sister Cassandra took her to get medical treatment but Jane was very ill and sadly passed away on July 18, 1817 when she was only 42 years old.  After her death Henry and Cassandra saw that her final completed works, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published.  It wasn’t until after her death Henry made it known Jane Austen had written the six novels, whose author had previously been anonymous.

Jane Austen was a woman ahead of her time.  She forged ahead with her writing at a time when women were meant to be demure and bend to wills of their fathers or husbands.  Jane’s love life didn’t have the happy ending most of her female characters experience. It is widely believed she loved Tom Lefroy but was kept from marrying him because of his family’s disapproval.  Her other romantic tie was to Harris Bigg-Wither.  Jane actually received and accepted an offer of marriage from childhood friend Harris but later declined because she was not truly in love with him.  Both relationships are mentioned briefly to family members in letters written by Jane herself.

Jane’s novels are like manna for me.  Having a bad day, read some Jane.  Feeling like life is kind of crappy, read some Jane. Need just a little pick-me-up, read some Jane and call me in the morning. And I don’t even have to read the entire novel, sometimes I can just read my favorite parts, like the letter from Wentworth to Anne I quoted at the beginning of this post.  Maybe I’m biased by being married to a sailor, but Persuasion is my favorite.   I mean, really, how could even the most cold-hearted sod read that and not feel a little flutter of love?  Impossible, I say.

Jane expresses love, hate, friendship and pride in a way that is incomparable.  She puts the truths of society and humanity into words that can’t be ignored.  Take this little gem from Emma:  ‘Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.’  Preach it, Jane!  I think themes about vanity and pride are in all of Jane’s novels.  How often do we discount others, even ourselves, because of pride or vanity?  How many opportunities do we miss because we think we’re too good or not good enough to deserve the chances?  Pride and vanity were interfering with people’s happiness in the days of Jane Austen and it’s still happening today.

Another common theme in Jane’s novels is being true to self.  I think of Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility who wants a quiet life in spite of his mother’s plan for public greatness.  In a conversation with the Dashwoods he provides these words of wisdom: “I wish, as well as every body else, to be perfectly happy; but like every body else, it must be in my own way.”  Bravo, Jane! Jane, a woman who didn’t live the way society dictated she should, eloquently reminds us all we need to be true to ourselves in order to find our happiness.

I daresay Jane’s novels are just as relevant today as they were when they were first published.  Think your family troubles are dragging you down?  Read Mansfield Park…now that family has issues.  Think your love life is complicated?  Try walking in Colonel Brandon’s boots…he has had it rough.  The point is we’re not alone.  Jane Austen observed life, her life and the lives of those around her, and documented life and all its complications in the pages of her novels.  Her novels serve as proof we are not the only ones who stumble, make mistakes, succeed and find love in the most unexpected places.  In my opinion, dear reader, being timeless is the mark of a classic.  And no one is as classic as Jane.











Time to Celebrate! PaperBackSwap is 8! Contest Winners!

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012












8 Credits each for these 8 winners:



Debbie S. (mom-of-many) member since 9/13/2007


Gail L. (gaill) member since 5/29/2007


Alana L. (racemom) member since 3/21/2010

Kerrie W. member since 12/29/09


Ellen H. (eeeee) member since 7/3/2006


Becky P. (beckmom) member since 3/18/2008


Joe Z. (zelman) member since 7/28/2010


Lori S. (GroovyGlitterGirl) member since 8/18/2007



Thank you to everyone who entered our contest! May everyone’s Birthday be as great as our 8th Birthday has been!






8 Years, 8 Members, 8 Books

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

For PaperBackSwap’s 8 year anniversary, we asked 8 members to tell us about 8 books that have mattered to them.

Today we feature Whitney (whitneyab)






Reading has been a life-long love of mine, and the day I found PaperBackSwap was a happy one indeed. Some of my happiest childhood memories revolve around people reading to me, as well as time spent in a library. To this day, my library card is one of my most prized possessions.

The earliest book I remember my mom reading to me is Are You My Mother? by PD Eastman. The joy of this book lasted for many years, because I have two younger sisters and eventually I read it to them.



Next came the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which introduced me to the joy of reading book series. To this day I love the idea of favorite characters continuing on in subsequent books.



The Black Stallion by Walter Farley was another favorite. This book introduced me to the concept of reading and re-reading a favorite story. Interestingly enough, I still have that exact copy, and I gave it to my daughter, who also loved it.



This brings me to my next selection, which is a favorite because it introduced my baby to the love of reading: Pat The Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. I started to read to her when she was about 6 months old, and she loved to hear that story over and over, touching every page.


The next book on my list is The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing by Marilyn Durham. This is the first book I ever read that wasn’t specifically written for children, and I read it on the recommendation of my father. Although I don’t remember much about the story other than the fact that the book had a sad ending, the reason it makes my list is that it helped me broaden my horizons as a reader, and to re-think the concept that every book had to have a happy ending in order to be a good story.


The very first romance book I ever read was Valley Of Paradise by Margaret Rome. Although not the best I’ve ever read, it was the book that introduced me to one of my favorite genres.

Along those same lines, The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton also makes my list for introducing me to science fiction/thrillers. To this day, Crichton is one of my favorite authors.






The final book on my list of top 8 is: the book I just read, whatever that book may be at any given time. Or maybe that should be: the book I’m about to read, whatever book that may be.





8 Years, 8 Members, 8 Books

Monday, September 10th, 2012

For PaperBackSwap’s 8 year anniversary, we asked 8 members

to tell us about 8 books that have mattered to them.

Today we feature Vicky T. (VickyJo)





Books can be dangerous.  The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.”~Helen Exley


“I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.”~E.M. Forster


It’s true.  Books can change your life, or shape your outlook on life.  It’s happened to me, when I least expected it.  It’s probably happened to you too; think back to your childhood and the books that changed your thinking, opened your eyes or ignited a spark in your soul.


I grew up in a house that had a fireplace in the living room.  On either side of the fireplace were built-in bookshelves, full of books to which I had complete access.  I can remember roaming through those shelves, looking for something to read.  Reading was a compulsion right from the beginning.


            I was about eight years old when I first found Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.  I was horse-crazy at eight and I’m sure that was my inspiration for picking Black Beauty.  Little did I know that Anna Sewell would forever change the way I looked at horses, and in fact, all animals.  I am far too tender-hearted where animals are concerned, and have always been that way since reading about Black Beauty’s life.  I grew up to work with dog/cat rescues, providing transportation for animals on their way from kill shelters to a foster home or hopefully a forever home.




Fifth-grade found me bored and turning to the fireplace shelves yet again.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte spoke to me with a cold shock of recognition and delight.  Jane was the underdog—someone I could root for, someone who knew how it felt to be lonely, to be put upon.  Ms. Bronte was describing my life! (With only brothers in my family, and embarrassing parents, I might as well have been an orphan; my life couldn’t possibly be any more grim as far as I was concerned!)  Not to mention the spooky mystery of Mr. Rochester and his wife.  It was a lovely combination of heartache and fear.



            That was the same year I found a copy of The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone.  His account of Heinrich Schliemann discovering the lost city of Troy hummed through my veins, and created a life-long love of ancient Greece, Homer and archaeology.  I can remember telling my mother that I was so afraid every archaeological treasure would be found by the time I grew up and was ready to be an archaeologist!  Sometime later, I read Pauline Gedge’s wonderful novel about Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh in Ancient EgyptChild of the Morning fascinated me, pulled me back to a time so thoroughly and completely, it felt as though I was remembering another life.  Another passion discovered!  I went on to college and obtained a degree in Anthropology with a minor in Ancient History.


While some of the choices from the fireplace bookshelves influenced my career choices and calibrated my moral compass, others created a love of genre fiction and specific time periods in history, loves that remain with me even now, 45 odd years later.


Edgar Allen Poe’s brilliant tales left me feeling spooked and wanting more; mysteries are still a favorite pick of mine.



Ray Bradbury’s works of short fiction, such as The Martian Chronicles or The Golden Apples of the Sun, instilled in me a strong love of science fiction. One of my favorite books of all time is a science fiction award winner by Connie Willis, Doomsday Book, a book I would never have picked up if not for my early forays into Bradbury’s world.



Historical fiction was an early favorite, as I’ve mentioned, but some books led me to become fascinated with certain time periods of history.  Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff turned me from being mildly interested in the story of King Arthur to realizing that he could have been real, and Sutcliff showed me quite clearly what his life might have been like by showing me the ‘reality’ of 5th century Britain.  I grew up collecting books, both fiction and non-fiction, about the Once and Future King.



  I could go on and on.  Books have been my constant companions since the age of four, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  As I examine my reading life, I can clearly see the threads traveling from the present back to the exact book that started it all; the book that made me care about treating animals with kindness, the books that made me want to travel and discover ancient mysteries, the books that made me long for knights and castles and heroes and glory.  Books have enriched my life and I’m grateful to my parents for stocking those fireplace bookshelves so well.  I think that’s why I settled into life as a librarian; I too want to share my love of reading and books with others.




“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.”~James Bryce


8 Years, 8 Members, 8 Books

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

For PaperBackSwap’s 8 year anniversary, we asked 8 members to tell us about 8 books that have mattered to them.

Today we feature Robin K. (jubead)




When I was first asked to participate in this blog, I panicked.  I had to share eight books that made a difference in my life…Holy Hannah!  Once I started it was hard narrowing my choices down to only eight books.  Well, I did it and here are my eight books!


My all-time favorite no matter what my age is The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle.   This book was written in 1938 and while there are many adaptations based on this legend, this is my favorite.  It is available through Gutenberg as a free download.  I guess this is my White Knight fantasy, someone who will protect and stand up to injustice.  This is my go to book when I need the safety of my “escape” bubble. Robin Hood is a medieval hero who stands up against injustice and gives a voice to those without position or power. Other telling’s I have read are Sherwood by Parke Godwin (set 100 years earlier than other Robin Hood telling’s) and Robin Hood by Paul Creswick whose telling covers not only the adventures but the man.


When I was young, Curious George by H.A. Rey was my favorite.  It seems to this day, I am always thinking about monkeys!  I am not sure how old I was, but I do remember sitting on my mom’s lap while she read this series….a lot.     I remember George’s adventures and how they made me giggle — it was a happy time.  I must say that I never warmed up to the Man in the Yellow Hat, he really annoyed me.  Maybe it was the yellow hat?  My mom saved several of my favorite books from my youth and gave them to me when I became an adult.  I am not sure why she did this, but I am happy to have Curious George on my library shelf.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl was one of the first books that I selected to read.  The cover sold me on the book, I loved peaches!  The book is mystical and full of adventures.  I vividly remember coming home from school and finding it on my bed.  I wasn’t too thrilled to see the book, because that meant reading.  I struggled with reading when I was young and reading during those years did not hold a lot of happy memories.  It kept my interest and I couldn’t put it down.  I can flash back to that day, visualize the house we were living in at the time and see myself sitting on my bed resting against the headboard.   My mom was calling me for supper and of course I ignored her … until she came upstairs.  I remember rushing through supper, helping to clear the table and then bolt back upstairs to read this book.  This scene repeated until the book was finished.


The fourth book was a 5th grade reading assignment.  Mrs. Carter was my beloved 5th grade teacher.  She understood my reading challenges and helped me find books that I would enjoy and devour.  After leaving the 5th grade, I fell out of love with reading until I was in my late 30s.  I truly wish Mrs. Carter was around to inspire me to read through those years.  Only now do I appreciate her dedication to her students.

The assignment was to read and write a report on Johnny Tremain by Esther ForbeFrom that day forward, I was hooked on American history.  May it be fiction or non-fiction, I love reading about American history.  My favorite periods are the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

The story was based in Boston and fourteen year old named Johnny Tremain who was a talented silversmith apprentice.  A severe injury to his hand while working on a project leaves the hand useless and ends his dream of becoming a silversmith.  After overcoming challenges, Johnny becomes involved with pre-revolutionary politics and participates in the Boston Tea Party and helps Paul Revere warn the colonists at Lexington.  Once an arrogant teenager, Johnny learns humility and grace.  He even falls in love.  I think my mom still has the book at her house.  I think I need to give her a call…


Roots by Alex Haley is my 5th selection.  Though it is not a book on the Civil War it does cover the period and the main reason for the war.   Even though there is controversy surrounding Alex Haley’s accuracy of events and plagiarism, this book is still powerful.  I read this book when I was 17 years old and it has a place in my library.

Being a white Jewish girl from New England, I studied slavery in school, but to me it was part of a history lesson and something I needed to remember for a test.  This book put a human face on slavery.  I finally realized that the end of the civil war may have opened the shackles but they were not removed.  I finally got what slavery might have meant to 4 million slaves and their decedents.  Being Jewish, I have experienced prejudice, but I never felt the true bite of racism.  I will never wrap my head around prejudice, racism and hate; but I did learn what is to have pride, dignity, compassion and hope.  The cast of characters pulled out all of my emotions from anger to happiness, crying to laughing, and from feeling despair to feeling hope.


A close friend recommended The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman when I was in my early 20’s.  I wasn’t sure about the series because it was about a widowed grandmother who had grown children and was bored with her life.  She decides to re-enter the work force as a spy for the CIA.  I fell in love with Mrs. Pollifax!  She is a grandmother everybody would love to have in their family.  She is smart, sly, caring, and who would expect her to be a spy.   Her family has no clue that she is a spy and when she is home she attends her garden club meetings.  The series takes you around the globe with different plots and twists.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes cozy mysteries.  This series always left me feeling happy and inspired.


Death on Demandby Carolyn Hart was the book that got me hooked on cozy mysteries.  The series takes place on the coast of South Carolina.  Annie Laurance inherits her uncle’s book store and every Sunday she holds a meeting for mystery writers to discuss mysteries.  One of the writers threatens to release dirt on the other writers and shoed up down not long after.  Now Annie is the prime suspect and she enlists the help of her dear, handsome, rich, lawyer friend Max Darling to find the real killer before she is arrested.  Later in the series, Annie and Max marry and they work as a couple to solve murders.  I have found many other cozy books on PBS with the help of Geri R. (geejay), who I consider the queen of mystery. Geri introduced me to Fran Stewart (Yellow as Legal Pads), Peggy Web (Elvis and the Dearly Departed) and Sue Ann Jaffarian (Ghost a la Mode) to name a few.


Lastly, my guilty pleasure…Romance.  My very first romance and favorite is Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie.  Most romances I will not read again, but Bet Me is not on that list.  Though this is a contemporary romance the book deals with a lot of issues women struggle within our society each day. With humor Jennifer Crusie expresses how many woman feel who do not meet society’s view of a beautiful woman.  The book had me laughing out loud, snickering at the one liners and the chemistry between the main characters.  It also has the fairy tale ending, which I love!



I hope you all enjoyed the eight books that made a difference in my life!  PBS has allowed me to try authors and genre I normally would have tried if I were paying full price.


Happy 8th Birthday PBS and many more!! 






8 Years, 8 Members, 8 Books

Friday, September 7th, 2012

For PaperBackSwap’s 8th Birthday, we asked 8 members

to tell us about 8 books that have mattered to them.

Today we feature Marie E. (MarieE)



Growing up I always had plenty of books to read.  I received a new book every time I went to the grocery store with my Mom, and since we did that once a week I acquired quite the collection in my pre-school years.  After I received my first library card in Kindergarten I was a regular at the library.  My love of books has not changed and I am always looking for a new book to read.


My favorite book growing up was Where’s Spot by Eric Hill, I read that book over and over again, I loved lifting the flaps in the book.  Along with the book I also had a Spot stuffed toy.  Spot actually was a very special toy; he went with me often.  When I was 3 or 4 my Dad had a meeting out of town, we arrived at the hotel before the official “check-in” time and my parents were told they had no rooms available so my Mom & I sat in the lobby waiting for a room to be available while my Dad was in his meeting.  I decided that Spot needed to jump around the lobby and I wasn’t listening to my Mom, mainly because it was also nap-time, it was amazing how fast we got a room when Spot was jumping all over the lobby.  We still joke how Spot was able to get us a hotel room quickly.



Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell  & Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley are two other favorite books of mine.  In 7th grade, I was reading at least a book a day if not two and my teacher required us to read some books from her extensive class room library, by the time I was in 7th grade I had already read most of the books in her class room library, but she had Gone with the Wind which I knew was a classic, and was also a very long book, roughly 1,048 pages, so it kept me busy for a while.  Another girl in my class and I read the book at the same time and discussed it every day.  Was it appropriate for a 7th grader, maybe not, but I enjoyed reading it and then its kind-of sequel Scarlett.  I have since read both books several times and still enjoy them today.  I saw my 7th grade teacher a couple of years ago at Target and she still remembers that we are the only two students she ever had that ever read the book cover to cover and then read Scarlett on top of it.


I initially was not all that interested in reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, when it first was released.  My younger brother enjoyed the series and made me take him to Wal-mart one day so he could buy the newest book (I am not sure which one it was), on our way he was telling me how great the series was and decided to give the series a try.  He had all the books at that point and I started with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and loved it, I was skeptical of the hype, but the series grabbed me and by the time the last book came out I was waiting in line with him.  Harry Potter started my keeper shelf.


Another series I have enjoyed is The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, the book is defiantly young adult but I enjoyed reading about Mia over and over throughout the many book series. The Disney movie may have made the series popular, but the books have staying power for me.  I have the entire series on my keeper shelf.



When I first started with PaperBackSwap I was introduced to many new books, One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, Bk 1) by Janet Evanovich  (ISBN 9780684196398) is one of those books.  I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the book, but the book only cost a credit so I tried it and I was hooked.  Some of the books in the series are better than others, but the characters are so funny and I am always ready for the next book to be released to read about their newest adventures.



Romance books have always been the core of my reading material.  I even subscribe to Harlequin’s HQN/MIRA line of books so I always have a fresh shipment of books that come each month in the mail, kind of like the Dr. Seuss books for kids.  Virgin River (Virgin River, Bk 1) by Robyn Carr was not a book I immediately was drawn to but after seeing it on so many of my friends wish lists I added it to mine and I am so glad I did.  Robyn Carr is flat out one of my favorite authors, she writes so vividly that you almost feel like you are there with the characters in the book.  The series started out with 3 books and now has something like 20 books in the series and they are each as good as the last.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series.



I don’t read much non-fiction, but the title of this book grabbed me and frankly the books are hilarious.  Bitter is the New Black : Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster (ISBN 0451217608), Jen has written several books to date and I always love the titles.  If you are looking for a good laugh one of her books is a great place to start.



I love to read, I feel like I am forgetting something if I don’t have a book or my Nook in my purse when I leave home.  I am so glad I found PaperBackSwap 5 ½ years ago, I have enjoyed every moment of being a PaperBackSwap member, even though I absolutely love my Nook and the free e-books I can check out from my local library, I still come back to PBS several times each day.  I post all of my books here, with the exception of any that are un-postable and even those I do my best to “give” away to other members for free.


Happy 8th Anniversary PaperBackSwap!!!!!!!









8 Years, 8 Members, 8 Books

Thursday, September 6th, 2012


For PaperBackSwap’s 8 year anniversary, we asked 8 members

to tell us about 8 books that have mattered to them.

Today we feature Linda (Angeleyes)


Books I love


Pick 8 books that are special to me. Are they crazy? Just 8. How in the world am I supposed to do that? I’ve read THOUSANDS of books and many, many, many have left some sort of internal “mark” on me. Many of which I can’t even tell you why. So I sat and pondered. Over the last 40 years which books have really “packed a punch” so to speak that maybe aren’t your normal books everyone has heard about. Well here are my 8. I hope you give them a read and enjoy them as much as I did.


Scuffy the Tug Boat and his Adventures Down the River by Tibor Gergely & Gertrude Crampton

This is the book that started it all for me.  The very first book I remember and as a child my absolute favorite.  I made my mom read it to me every day and when I learned to read I read it to her.  When my son was born 19 years ago I passed my well-worn copy on to him.  If only Scuffy knew what he started..lol  I’m sure he would be proud.  Scuffy also taught me that it’s natural to want to go out and explore the world but you don’t have to get lost while you do it.


The Secret of the Old Clock – Nancy Drew, No 1 by Carolyn Keene

By the time I was 8 years old a book was a natural extension of my hand.  Everywhere I went I had a book.  The local librarian knew me by name.  One day she suggested I venture out of the children’s area into the “big kid” room and pointed me in the direction of the Nancy Drew books.  I had never before read a series book and felt so adult-like.  I found book 1 – The Secret of the Old Clock and promptly found a seat and began reading.

This book was different than anything I had read before.  This time I felt like I was right there in the story.  Nancy, her friend Helen, housekeeper Hannah and even her dad were my friends.  My imagination was on fire.  Navigating the twists and turns with Nancy, I reveled in how independent, mature and headstrong she was.

The story finds Nancy involved in a search for a missing will. She is assisted by her father, who is a noted attorney, and her friend Helen.. As her investigation progresses she not only finds herself at odds with unworthy heirs, but confronting furniture thieves as well.

2 hours later I was finished.  I was so proud of myself and a lifelong passion for mysteries was ignited.  Excited I pulled off as many Nancy Drew books as I could carry, checked them out and strutted on home.  My dad saw me walking up the street towards the house and asked if I had cleaned out the library…lol.  For years after that I could be found every Saturday walking to and from the library with my backpack and my arms filled with Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and The Bobbsey Twins books.


Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Cruise &, Bob Mayer

I stumbled onto Paperbackswap in September 2007 with a very small repertoire of authors read under my belt.  After exploring the site for a day or two I came across a book that looked kind of interesting and was different than anything I had read before.  Excited to use my newly obtained credits, I ordered “Agnes and the Hitman” and within a few days it arrived.  I jumped right in and read it while my teenage son played video games.  I finished the book before he finished the game.  I loved it !  The plot, the characters and the laugh-out-loud dialogue were perfect.

I am told I can be somewhat cranky and/or sarcastic so I felt Agnes was a kindred spirit of sorts. I mean when I read “… your ass is grass and I am a John Deere super-classic riding lawn mower with a V6 engine and a double cutting blade, do I make myself clear?”  I laughed out loud. This is SO something I would say.  My son asked me what was so funny and when I read it to him he asked if I wrote the book..lol

The premise of the story is things turn south for Agnes Crandall’s wedding catering business when a dognapper invades her kitchen holding a gun. Agnes wallops him upside the head with a cast iron skillet, knocking him thru a hidden door in her kitchen and killing him. An unexpected hero – Shane – arrives through a window to rescue her, only he turns out to be a professional hit man who was hired by his retired gangster uncle to protect Agnes. Shane’s uncle sort of forgets to mention that $5 million dollars is hidden somewhere in the house – thus the need for protecting Agnes. This leads to a string of hit men, gangsters, crazies and wedding guests searching for the money. And then there are the flamingos, the flamingo-themed wedding, and the flamingo-colored dresses. Not to mention the stripper with flamingo pasties.  Oh and did I mention Agnes has anger issues?

There were twists and turns and every time I thought I had figured out WHODUNIT, the authors threw a monkey wrench in the mix and The HUMOR plus Agnes and Shane’s HOT relationship kept me plowing through the book to see how it ended.

I strongly urge you to give this book a try but make sure you keep a fan close and the liquids far (or you’ll be sure to spit them out all over the book from laughing..)



Every Woman Needs a Wife by Naleighna-Kai

Hey I want a wife too ! I ordered this book simply because of the title and it had me laughing out loud.  I felt proud to be female when I went along on this ingenuously crafted novel with Kai.

When Brandi Spencer catches her husband (Vernon) of more than a decade with his mistress (Tanya), she decides to forgo the crying, kicking and screaming and to attack her husband where it will hurt him the most – by going after and taking his mistress! What woman does not need someone to take up the slack with cooking, laundry, taking care of the children, extracurricular activities, but what wife goes so far as to actually hire the mistress-with contract to boot-and moves the other woman into her home?!

In the midst of it all, both women realize that they have both been used and that Vernon deserves to be taught a lesson. As Brandi and Tanya scheme and plan how to get even with Vernon, they bond and a friendship is formed. Each woman also reclaims her self-worth and self-importance as she sheds baggage and horrible memories and experiences of the past.

A thought provoking read that made me laugh, cry, and say YOU GO GIRL ! at the same time, I kept thinking to myself,  “I wonder if I would think of such a thing.  What a fantastic response to such a horrifying situation”.  And of course I could not put it down because every time I tried a new twist would come up that had me laughing even harder and thinking even more.  I appreciated the fact the characters weren’t bitchy or catty but were intelligent and used intellect to “fix” their problems.

This book left me with a sense that anything worth having is worth fighting for.  Of course when my BF saw me reading this and all he had to go by was the title I think he was a little concerned.  That has since passed and he seems to be less fidgety but anytime I want to get him stirred up I pull out the book and sit it on the nightstand…lol.


My Best Friends’ Girl by Dorothy Koomson

Boy meets girl.  Boy falls in love with girl.  Boy sleeps with girl’s best friend.  Girl finds out…..years later. And the world as they know it falls apart.

Told in first person prose, this is the story of forgiveness, redemption, motherly love and an understanding of the fragility of the human condition.  From the moment that Adele Brannon and Kamryn Matika met in college, they were best friends. They thought nothing could come between them, but then Adele did the unthinkable. She slept with Kamryn’s fiancé, Nate.  By the time Kamryn finds out, a few years have passed and Adele is the mother of a child named Tegan.

When the betrayal is revealed, Kamryn breaks up with Nate and walks out on her friendship with Adele and the goddaughter she adores

Years later, and after a series of unanswered letters from Adele, Kamryn finally responds to one that is truly a desperate cry for help, returning to London to a hospital room where Adele lies dying.

Kamryn reluctantly goes to see her and to her complete and utter shock Adele begs her to adopt her daughter, Tegan. With a job she loves, a hectic social life that does not include kids, kittens and motherhood, the last thing Kamryn needs is a five year child old tied to her designer apron strings. Especially not a child who reminds her so much of a time she would rather forget.

But upon finding a traumatised Tegan living in awful conditions with Adele’s vile stepmother and uncaring father Kamryn takes the bull by the horns and takes the child on.

The journey that ensues is emotional tale of love, friends, and the unusual forms that family can take; it was a page-turning delight that held my attention all the way through.  This story reminded me of my best friend in high school who just happened to be black to my white.  28 years, 4 children, 2 ex-husbands 2 current “husbands” and a few life changing conditions between us we have learned of love, family and friends on our own terms.  And I know that should one of us lie dying the other would “stop the world” for the other.  Because that’s what family does.


Obedience by Will Lavender

I am a puzzle person.  Give me a game of Tetris, or a Suduko or even a game of Freecell and I’m content.  Give me a book with an infuriating, brilliant puzzle that compels continuous, non-stop reading from beginning to end to discover how everything winds up and I’m in heaven.  Obedience is one of those books. It sticks with you for days after you finish it. Remembering what it was like to be an 18-21 year old college student, I remember how unsure everyone is at that age and how impressionable they are. This book plays on all of those uncertainties and shows just how easily manipulated we can be.  This is not your ordinary thriller. There are no assassins, spies, or detectives, this thriller invites the reader to contemplate college relationships, professor-student indiscretion, the helplessness parents feel when their children are away at college, the role of graduate assistants, academic creativity, and more.

Three students at Indiana’s Winchester University are taking a philosophy class — Logic & Reasoning 204 — and have been given their only assignment for the term – locate a hypothetical young girl named Polly. Fail and she will be murdered. The professor feeds his students information about Polly’s family and friends and provides details about her actions just prior to her disappearance. He states that “the best way to learn logic is to decode a puzzle.” By solving the “Polly puzzle,” they “will learn to think, and induce, and carve out the blight of lazy thought.”

The students begin to discover similarities the assignment has to a real case of a missing girl in a neighboring town that’s gone unsolved for several years. And their professor even wrote a book about the case. As the three of them dive deeper into the assignment, they begin to question their professor’s word and believe that the case of Polly is actually real. When some clues begin to relate directly to their real lives, things get even more disturbing.

As the students encounter more mysteries, clues, and people – a strange warning from the dean, his cheating wife, a graduate assistant with a weird tattoo, campus police phone calls after forwarding emails, photographs, and the professor’s book – they decide to travel to the town of the real life missing girl where more strange characters await.

My son recently described his reading experience of “Obedience” as “a story that traps me to the point I can no longer stop reading. My choice is gone. It’s like rolling down a hill at such a high speed that you can’t stop. You’re enjoying the thrill, but praying the ending will be a good one and this book is awesome”.  I don’t think I could have said it better myself.


The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

I’d been on a cozy mystery reading binge for about a month and I decided to branch out and see what else my TBR pile had to offer. “The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes”  hmmm.. I’d received this book from a swap and at the time decided to keep it on the “I’ll get to it someday” shelf.  Well, what the heck.  Today was as good day as any.  I got my drink, my snack and the book and ventured outside to soak up the sun and read for a while.  A few hours later I was as red as a lobster (oops, I forgot the sunscreen !) and my mind was blown.  This book was phenomenal!  It pulled at my heart and didn’t let up until I read the last word. The mistakes that we make when we are young haunt us into our adulthood. We pray that our children don’t make the same ones and don’t find out about ours.

16 year old Cee Cee is seduced by a handsome older man, Tim Gleason, and is manipulated into helping him and his brother with the crime. Left to guard the prisoner at a remote cabin in the woods, events transpire that force Cee Cee on the run with a newborn infant in tow. Unable to bring herself to leave the little girl with her father, Cee Cee makes a decision to raise the child as her own. Years pass. Cee Cee, now known as Eve, has created a pleasant, comfortable life for herself and thinks she has moved far beyond those days in the forest — so far that she has almost forgotten that they ever happened.

The fantastic story of a young girl who gives up her entire life to finally telling the truth to save the man who manipulated her so many years ago, it really makes you think about what choices you would really make in difficult situations.  I found myself tearing up at how her decisions affected her family and wondering if I would have the guts to make the decisions she made.  This book put a knot in my stomach but I convinced I’m a better person for it.


Trapped by Chris Jordan

Rarely do I read a book that leaves me with that cold shivery feeling but “Trapped”  is one of those books.  Long Island single mom Jane Hartley is frantic when her sixteen-year-old daughter, Kelly, a survivor of childhood leukemia, disappears from her bedroom one night. To Jane’s frustration, the police believe that Kelly ran off willingly with her boyfriend, Seth. Unaware that her daughter even had a boyfriend, Jane soon discovers that Seth is no boy. He is an adult—a man who, after meeting Kelly on the Internet, took the teenager on one thrill-seeking ride after another. From motorcycles to skydiving, Jane’s little girl has been hiding some dangerous secrets.

Like mother, like daughter.

Adamant that Kelly is not a runaway but, rather, is being held against her will, Jane hires ex-FBI agent Randall Shane to follow the trail of her missing child. But every step brings them closer to a cold-blooded predator lurking in the shadows… coiled around Jane’s shameful secret…waiting to strike.

An extremely fast paced, highly emotional thriller brilliantly done with enough red herrings mixed in that I was constantly second guessing myself; the connections between various players can be shocking, secrets are revealed and mysteries solved. The killer is made even more frightening in the fact he is completely insane and has some very strange ideas about kinds of magical abilities he believes he has. And we all know sometimes the most powerful weapon is in, fact, the mind.  After reading this book alone on a Saturday night, I had the overwhelming urge to go and spend some quality time with my teenage son, just to make sure he was safe.  (He of course probably thought I was nuts but what the heck, you only live once, why not embarrass the heck out of your child when you scare yourself half to death…lol)