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Archive for June, 2014

Mystery Monday – Widow’s Web

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Widow’s Web by Ursula Curtiss

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

 

Ursula Curtiss, like her sister Mary McMullen, wrote stand-alone mysteries and suspense stories. They often featured a dash of romance and the setting of a New England town. In Widow’s Web, the main character is a male reporter who suspects that his partner in journalistic exploits was done in by a wicked woman.

Curtis grabs us in the first 30 pages, with a gothic atmosphere of suspicion, disbelief, and tension. She’s especially good with the noisy crashes and bangs of everyday life that scare the liver out of the reader. Like Victor Canning in the menacing mystery The Rainbird Pattern, Curtis contrasts decent people who want to earn what they get with psychopathic predators that unobtrusively exploit, steal, and kill.

She won the Red Badge Mystery Award in 1948 for Voice Out of Darkness. The Forbidden Garden was filmed as What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? by Palomar Pictures in 1969. Other books by Curtiss are creepily titled The Stairway, Out of the Dark, The Deadly Climate and The Noonday Devil.

 

 

 

 

Free Book Friday Winner!

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

 

The Winner of The Heir Chronicles Box Set by Cinda Williams Chima is:

 

Mariah C. (shoogie)

 

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

Thank you to everyone who commented!

Free Book Friday! The Heir Chronicles

Friday, June 27th, 2014

This week’s Free Book Friday prize is:

 

The Heir Chronicles Box Set by Cinda Williams Chima

Three boys, three talismans, one destiny. In this page-turning trilogy, Cinda Williams Chima explores what it means to be different, what’s worth fighting for, and what’s worth dying for. Set includes THE WARRIOR HEIR, THE WIZARD HEIR, THE DRAGON HEIR.

ISBN 9781423125945, Set of 3 Trade Size Paperbacks

There are currently 16 members wishing for this boxed set. 1 lucky member will win.

 

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, June, 29 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!

 

 

Paranormal Romance Review – Fifth Grave Past the Light

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones

Review by reacherfan1909

 

Darynda Jones hit the book market in 2011 with First Grave on the Right and gave paranormal and UF authors a bad case of author envy.  Charley Davidson and Reyes Farrow are easily two of the most original characters in a long time.  Ms Jones also hit the high notes for strong, well-developed prose, fast pacing that never feels rushed, and dual plots line – one is the plot that is the mystery in the book that is resolved within each book.  The other is the over-arching plot about Charley herself and Reyes Farrow and just what they are to each other – and to the universe.  And she does this with an odd mixture of humor, and horror, and mystery that shouldn’t work, but does so splendidly and with such verve, wit, and style it’s a delight to read.

In Fifth Grave Past the Light, Charley and the now released Reyes Farrow, are neighbors.  And she wants to be a lot more, but how can the son of Satan and a Grim Reaper (actually a portal for souls – a kind of beacon and doorway for the dead to pass through to reach heaven) who is the daughter of light ever manage to get together?

It isn’t unusual for Charley to wake up and find ghosts in her apartment.  After all, Mr Wong has been there the whole time.  And not all ghosts are ready to pass.  Not only can they see her, some are quite chatty.  But having a ghost that stutters try and buy you a drink in your Dad’s bar?  That’s awkward.  Especially since it’s a cop bar and they tend to notice people talking to themselves.  Even worse when your former high school BFF turned nemesis sits with her friends mocking you and making you feel 15 again.  Hell had just come to Earth.  Even worse, Charley was in her ‘available slut’ outfit trying to attract Marvin Tidwell, suspected cheating husband.  Turns out, Marvin has a ‘type’, and Charley is NOT it.  But Cookie, her zaftig secretary, BFF, and neighbor is.  So Charley calls for reinforcements.  A nervous Cookie seems to be doing so well, until Marvin spots the microphone and Cookie, scared, grabs for her gun.  But Marvin manages to point the gun at Charley and time slows – as it always does for her – as she sees the bullet leave the barrel, tries to move, but can’t move fast enough and knows she’s about to die.  Then Reyes is there, as he has been so many times in the past, and literally takes a bullet for her.

Oh, her apartment has a frightened young girl hiding under the bed who places 3 scratches down Charley’s face.  And then there’s all these women, victims of a serial killer, so traumatized they can’t even help Charley find out what’s keeping them from passing thru to the light.  And her sister has her going to see a psychologist for PTSD after what happened with Earl Walker  – AND she told the psychologist Charley’s secret.  And she needs Gerald Swopes’ help with doing background checks on Marvin – only the last time he helped her, he died and Reyes sent him to spend some quality time with Dad – AKA Lucifer.  And a key and note from Reyes – “Use the key.”  But does it open his apartment?  Or something else?

Throw in a nurse who sees the future and visits Charley I spectral form yet has no memory of it, a police captain who wants to see just how Charley works to help her Uncle Bob have the highest clearance rate in the whole department, Cookie taking gun safety classes, the mother of her ghostly teenage assistant wanting to know why she keeps depositing $500 a month in her bank account.  It’s a tough few days.

As always, despite the many threads in the story, the Darynda Jones not only manages to weave them all together into an engaging tale that moves at a breakneck pace, she brilliantly walks the line between laughs and a dark, grim reality – with one notable flaw, one that has cropped up in earlier books.  The author has to introduce a lot of information, kind of a data dump, to move the over-riding story arc along.  This isn’t easy, so she often has a character handle this in a single fell swoop toward the end of the book.  This time she selected Swopes, and used his time with Satan as they way to get the information in.  But suddenly Swopes has all these additional sources and the scene, a key one to the continuing story arc – get a very ‘deus ex machina’ feel to it.  Of all the things that happened in the book, it was the one that seemed to not quite work.  Maybe because I found the choice of character for the ‘big reveal’ didn’t quite fit.  I think it might have worked had she introduced a different, new, enigmatic character to handle it with Swopes.

 

Fifth Grave Past the Light remains an excellent read and gets a A- (4.5*) from me, a very rare high rating.  As a series, the Charley Davidson books are highly recommended reading for paranormal fans. This series should be read in order to follow the storyline.

 

In addition to the Charley Davidson series, I recommend, Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan series, Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinel’s of New Orleans series, Cecy Robson’s Weird Sisters series, and Kalayna Price’s Grave Witch series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Book Friday Winners!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

 

 

The Winners of the brand-new Hardcover copies of the book Ghosts of Manhattan by Douglas Brunt are:

Toodie L. (toodie)

 

Carolyn G. (demifess)

 

Katrina A. (katkish)

 

 

 Congratulations! Your books will be to you soon!

 

Thank you to everyone who commented!

Free Book Friday!

Friday, June 20th, 2014

 

This week’s Free Book Friday prize is:

Ghosts of Manhattan: A Novel by Douglas Brunt

Delve into the world of high-stakes trading with this wry, comic debut about life on Wall Street and one man too hooked on the money to get out even as his career threatens to ruin his marriage and corrode his soul.It’s 2005 and the living is easy. Nick Farmer is thirty-five years old, in peak condition, and thriving as a successful bond trader with the seemingly unstoppable investment bank Bear Stearns. His nightlife has been a swirl of liquor, hookers, and cocaine. He clears seven figures every year and has become fiercely addicted to his annual bonus. But the lifestyle is taking a toll on him and his marriage.  When a nerdy analyst approaches him with apocalyptic prognostications about the imminent decline of Bear’s high-flying mortgage-backed securities trading, Nick is presented with the kind of ethical dilemma he’s spent a lifetime avoiding. Throw in a seductive financial journalist who seems to be more interested in Nick’s physical assets than in the percolating financial Armageddon, along with the prospect that his own wife may have found a new romantic interest of her own, and you have the recipe for one man’s personal and professional implosion.  In this gripping debut novel, Wall Street insider Douglas Brunt offers an in-depth look at the banking crisis and the reach of its personal impact. By turns hilarious and harrowing, Ghosts of Manhattan takes you to the seedy underbelly of the finance world and into the rarified lifestyle of a charming but flawed character as he struggles to find the right path in a complicated urban heart of darkness.

ISBN 9781451672596, Hardcover

 

3 lucky winners will each receive a brand-new copy!

 

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

 

We will choose 3 lucky winners at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

 

You have until Sunday, June 22, 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 Horizontal Man

Monday, June 16th, 2014

The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

This mystery would be enjoyed by readers that appreciate the dark psychological suspense novels of Ruth Rendell as Barbara Vine or Helen Eustis’ contemporary Margaret Millar. Eustis portrays characters in The Horizontal Man as under a great deal of mental pressure whose symptoms are jumpiness, touchiness, tears, insomnia, irritability and avoidance of people.

Eustis plays fair in that from the very first chapter the reader is challenged to continue, wondering if and if so for how long the intense descriptions of overwrought states of anxiety will continue. She also dares us readers with a cast of unsympathetic characters. Loners, sneaks, cranks, bullies, users, nervous Norvuses – readers who have worked at a university will be convinced that Eustis experienced at first hand the academic setting, to have captured the motley collection of personalities found among some unhappy faculties. It’s a an interesting twist on the stereotype of lecherous tenured male prof to make the flirty manipulative professor Freda Cramm – sounds like a woman’s name in an Edith Wharton novel – a sexual predator.

As for the story, in the overexcited first chapter, an Irish faculty member is murdered while visiting an American women’s college that sounds like Smith, it being an exclusive private liberal arts school in New England. A pair of unlikely detectives take up the investigation.

Recent college grad Jack is a novice reporter for a local mediocre newspaper. College gal Kate, tough and teased about her stoutness, dominates Jack as they bungle about with their theories about the crime and blunder into a romance that is oddly affecting, as the reader ends up really pulling for their unlikely affair. Jack and Kate provide much needed comic relief. To my mind, because the anti-Nick and Nora fade into the background in the last chapters, the fun of reading falls off.

Like many challenging books, The Horizontal Man goes into the category of “love it or hate it.” To my mind, as in the not-really-a-mystery mysteries of Mary Fitt, the utterly convincing characters make this worth it. This novel won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1947. Her only other mystery novel was The Fool Killer (1954).