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Archive for February, 2015

Free Book Friday!

Friday, February 27th, 2015

FBF banner 2015 spring


Today’s Free Book Friday prize is:

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)


By Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess)

For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris — Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.   Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives — the ones we’d like to pretend never happened — are in fact the ones that define us. — In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

ISBN 9780399159015, Hardcover


There are currently 604 members wishing for this book. 1 lucky member will win 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 1 winner at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

You have until Sunday, March 1, 20154 at 12 noon EST, 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 – Too Many Cooks

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

Consulting detective Nero Wolfe must leave his beloved brownstone in New York City in order to deliver the keynote address at a meeting of master chefs. One of masters has a sausage recipe that Nero has been seeking for decades so this allure tempts him to the Kanawha Spa resort in Marlin County, West Virginia. A wicked chef who steals recipes, jobs and wives ends up the murder victim, presenting us with a virtual locked room mystery. Nero investigates .

One stand out scene is when Nero speaks to a group of black cooks and waiters. To persuade them to open up, he delivers Stout’s enlightened (for the late 1930s) views on social justice. He is so effective that he persuades a college student to speak up and tell what he witnessed in the murder room – a white man in blackface due to burnt cork.

This was the fifth novel in the series. To my mind, it shows that after the first 3, which were very long in the golden age tradition, Stout was starting to tighten up his plotting. His sentences are still lengthy, with copious phrases and clauses. Stout did like hard words too, such as “coquine” instead of “naughty” or “sassy.” Taking Nero out of the brownstone, of course, lends itself to ‘fish out of water’ situations.

Highly recommended despite the time-bound attitudes.






Audio Book Review – The Light Between Oceans

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, Read by Noah Taylor


Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)


I listen to a lot of audio books while traveling for work.  I have listened to audio books that have had me in tears, laughing out loud, and cheering for the characters.  I have listened to others and rolled my eyes at the awful portrayals and strange voices given to characters.  For this review, I am considering the audio version of The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, what I consider to be a very well-written and superbly narrated novel.

Tom Sherbourne spent several years fighting in World War I and, upon returning to Australia, he is assigned to be the lighthouse keeper on the remote island of Janus Rock.  Just before heading to Janus for the first time, Tom meets Isabel Graysmark.  Through occasional visits during shore leave and letters delivered with supplies, Tom and Isabel fall in love; they marry and she joins him on Janus.  They have difficulty having a family of their own and after losing three children, they are both in a fragile state when a small boat washes up with a baby and a dead man.  Isabel refuses to alert authorities of the little girl and Tom wants to do the right thing and report the foundling.  Their battles of wills and conscience put their relationship in a tailspin.

The audio book is read by Australian actor Noah Taylor.  He has recently been in Game of Thrones and the mini-series Hatfields & McCoys.  There are times when Taylor put so much emotion into the words of Isabel and Tom that I physically flinched.  Their raw emotions and embattled consciences are so clear. I’m not sure I would have been so solidly against Isabel had I read the book instead of listened to it. The one-sidedness of Isabel’s view of her family versus the biological family of the baby girl came across as selfishness rather than grief of the loss of her own children.  Taylor gives Tom a steadfast but tortured voice.

Taylor is able to convey the calm, rational nature of Gwen (aunt of the baby) and the panic of Hannah (birth mother of the baby) in his delivery.  I think the voice he gives Isabel’s mother is grating and annoying, which is how I view her character at times.  His tone changes measurably with each character, man or woman, and enhances who they are, their relationships to Tom and Isabel, and their positions in the novel.  I don’t know if I would have felt the same way about the characters if I would have read the book, if I would have interpreted their words and actions in the same way.

M. L. Stedman has written a gripping story of love and loss and how our love for other others and our grief can propel us into doing things we would otherwise consider irrational.  Taylor gives a great voice to the characters and I think he upholds the integrity and beauty of the novel.

Have you read The Light Between Oceans?  Do you feel the same way about the characters or are your feelings different due to reading the novel rather than listening to it?

What do you think of audio books?  I love to immerse myself in a good book while in a car or plane but I know some people just can’t engage with the audio books.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and any great audio book recommendations. Happy reading…or listening!




Mystery Monday – The Case of the Sun Bather’s Diary

Monday, February 9th, 2015

The Case of the Sun Bather’s Diary by Erle Stanley Gardner


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


A girl’s father has been wrongfully convicted of a bank heist and penned in San Quentin. The loot was never recovered. Assuming the girl knows where it’s stashed and is tapping the haul, the insurance company PI’s and LA cops take turns keeping the girl under surveillance. She knows she is being watched but that does not stop her from nude sun bathing in remote SoCal spots where she has parked her fancy trailer.

We hard-core Perry Mason fans simply sigh. We are used to opening chapters that feature “opaque raincoats” (TCO Glamorous Ghost) and “swimming nymphs” (TCO Negligent Nymph) and hitchhiking girls who “looked childish in her innocence, a platinum blonde with a poker face, wide blue eyes, thin, flawless skin and a good figure (TCO Vagabond Virgin).”

But this odd Perry Mason story provides plenty of departures from the scantily-clad norm. For one, at 230 pages, it is unusually long, with all the chapters a bit over 10 pages. Gardner stretches things out with longish passages about the routine steps in tracking down a perp, the minutiae of transporting cash in armored cars, and puzzling activity that leads to Nowheresville, contributing to neither the plot nor character development (not that Gardner was an adept in that department). Finally, in an odd preliminary hearing scene, Mason himself has to take the stand and get grilled by DA Hamilton Burger, who very kindly reminds him of his right not to incriminate himself.

If you are a hard-core Perry, Della, and Paul fan like I know I am, you’ll like this one despite the rather inane plot. If you are new, you should read, say, The Case of the Counterfeit Eye.