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Archive for April, 2015

Mystery Monday – Murder Makes the Wheels Go ‘Round

Monday, April 13th, 2015


Murder Makes the Wheels Go ‘Round by Emma Lathen


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


In the glory days before the oil shock of 1973 – 1966, to be exact – Michigan Motors aims to turn the Big Three into the Big Four. Trouble is that first it must mend its reputation which was sullied by three of their top executives going to prison.

The trio that was convicted of price-fixing has just been released from the joint. Rumor has them either welcomed back or shunned by the company. Our series hero, investment banker John Thatcher, is also worried about the future of the company. He’s been sent to the Motor City by his employer, Sloan Guaranty Trust, to investigate the prospects of the company, if any.

One of the ex-cons, the talented and forceful Ray Jensen, is found shot and stuffed into the back seat of a limousine. Suspects abound. Wahl took Jensen’s place and has no plans for demotion. Krebbel, the new president, wants to minimize messes and move on. Jensen’s wife and her lover, another company exec, have an obvious motive. Jensen’s jail bird buddies and their wives fret about being abused again.

The novel has a couple of problems. It’s more a novel of manners than mystery since there are no clues. Granted, it is like a golden age mystery in that the reveal strains credulity. Picking nits, I have to say that I’m from near Motown. I was disappointed in the authors when they created the Grand Island Tollway in Detroit when actually the Grand Island North and South Toll Bridges are in Western New York. Also, there is no Elwood Street and Sebago Road intersection in Detroit since the former street is in a northern suburb and the latter road does not exist in that metro area. Disappointing since even before Google, accurate and complete paper maps existed for writers and editors to consult.

Her sarcastic digs at car guys typify New York City snooty attitudes about Detroit, even in its heyday. The PR field and its practitioners are energetically mocked. In this outing, her dry, witty dialogue reveals character and moves the plot. The prose style is stylish, like a Talk of the Town piece in the New Yorker. I think the characterization of the hero works best. Thatcher is an updated version of the gentleman detective. He is intelligent and talented but doesn’t make a big of show of it. He does get off sharp nifties when the situation calls for it. He genially carries on even when Lathen puts him in zany situations.


Emma Lathen was in fact two women. Mary Jane Latsis was an economist and Martha Henissart an economic analyst. So when they are talking about business conditions from the late Sixties to the early Nineties, they know what they are talking about. They wrote under a pen-name in order to protect professional associations, mostly captains of industry with fragile egos.




Free Book Friday! Iron Fey Boxed Set – Winner!

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

FBF banner 2015 spring winner

The Winner of the The Iron Fey Boxed Set by Julie Kagawa is:


Sandra E. (Sandia


Congratulations, your books will be on the way to you soon!


Thank you to everyone who commented on the Blog!


Free Book Friday! Iron Fey Boxed Set!

Friday, April 10th, 2015

FBF banner 2015 spring


This Week’s Free Book Friday Prize is:


The Iron Fey Boxed Set by Julie Kagawa

This Boxed Set includes a copy of each of these 4 books:


ISBN  9780373210787, Trade Size Paperbacks

There are over 100 Members currently wishing for these books, and 24 wishing for the 4-book Boxed Set.

To enter to win this 4-book Boxed Set, 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, April 12, 2015 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!



Author Interview with Jennifer Ashley

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Author Interview with Jennifer Ashley


By Mirah Welday (mwelday)


I recently discovered the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series by Ashley Gardner and was hooked with the first book! So far I have read the first five novels and one novella from the series.  A fine mix of gallantry, romance and mystery, the series is fun and intriguing.  After doing some research, I discovered the author was Jennifer Ashley, writing as Ashley Gardner.  I found Jennifer on twitter and made a comment that I loved Captain Lacey and would love to have an opportunity to interview Jennifer for the PBS blog…and I got a response from her!

I hope you enjoy my interview with Jennifer and that you’re inspired to pick up one of her novels, she writes a variety of genres so there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! So without further delay…..

MW: You are prolific writer, writing a variety of genres as Jennifer Ashley and Allyson James.  What made you decide to create the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series, writing as Ashley Gardner? Is there something particular about that time period that interests you?

JA: The Regency does fascinate me, because it was such a complex time. Jane Austen’s world is only a small part of it, and even she hinted at darkness–the dangers to a woman unprotected by family, for example.  I wish I could remember *exactly* what prompted me to set the mysteries in this time period, but I think it was simply that I loved reading about it and researching it. Then when I “met” Captain Lacey, I wanted to write about him.

I love that you say you “met” Captain Lacey; I think it’s fascinating how the mind of a writer works.  What is your process when developing new ideas and writing for the series?  Approximately how long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me about 2-3 months to write a full Captain Lacey novel. I write 5-7 novels a year, total, so I can’t spend all my time on Lacey, darn it. But while I’m writing other things, I think about the book a lot, make notes, and do research on the aspects I want to bring up. I have quite a lot of material once I finally get to sit down and write.

Captain Gabriel Lacey is a dynamic character.  He has a strict sense of honor and integrity and, while a proud man, he is also humble. I think Lacey is wonderful but I am probably a bit biased since I’m married to someone in the military!  What was your inspiration for Captain Lacey?

Thank you! Actually, when I thought about doing a Regency series, I toyed with the idea of having a Regency dandy as the sleuth. Then I realized that had been done (several times–Beau Brummell has been the star of a few series), and I wanted a character the exact opposite of a wealthy Regency dandy.  I didn’t deliberately create such a character; I just let the idea swim around in my head. Captain Lacey took form and kept on growing, while I stood back and watched him. He’s a very organic character, and very real to me, in many ways.

My husband also was in the military–in the cavalry, in fact! He is a great source for information about weapons–and will quickly tell you all the gun errors made in TV shows and movies–quite a few!

Lacey isn’t the only great character in the series. I just love Grenville.  He and Lacey are an odd pair of friends in some ways but it really works!  I enjoyed The Sudbury School Murders because I think it took their friendship to a different level. What is it about the two of them that you think makes them a great pair?

Grenville is like the famous George Brummell in that his taste set fashion daily, but different because Grenville is from an old and titled family (though Grenville himself is only a distant heir to the title). Grenville has inherited a lot of money, and his wise investments have only made him richer.  At the same time, the proper English existence is not enough for him–Grenville has an adventurous streak he constantly feeds. This makes him a good friend for Lacey–Grenville envies Lacey his forays into danger, but also values Lacey’s resourcefulness and wisdom. They play off each other, though deep down inside, they are much the same: both are honorable, compassionate men who are willing to put themselves in danger for others.

If you had to cast the two of them in a movie, what actors do you think you would want to play Lacey and Grenville?

That’s a good question! I’m very bad at keeping track of who’s who in the acting world. Colin Firth certainly could play Captain Lacey. I’d be interested to hear what readers think about who should play whom.

No doubt, Colin Firth would make an incredible Captain Lacey…and I think I’d love to see Jonny Lee Miller or JJ Field as Grenville!  That’s a movie I would love to watch!  And then there’s James Denis (I’m thinking Jason Statham could play him in the movie)…he’s involved in shady dealings and is known to be a dangerous man but I can’t help but feel hopeful that deep down he’s good.  I don’t want to like him but I do! Why do you do this to me, Jennifer? Are we going to learn more about Denis in future novels?

Of course, you will learn more about Denis. He is a fascinating character to me, a villain definitely, but he has an honor, and understands that honor in Lacey. I know readers who are more or less in love with him, and that’s fine! I like him, because I’m never quite sure what he’s going to do.

Well, if you’re not sure what he’s going to do, I think we’re all going to be in for some Denis surprises!  In each novel of the series, relationships are tested.  I think A Body in Berkeley Square was all about secrets being revealed from various characters.  I can’t wait to see what happens with these relationships in future novels now that these secrets have been revealed.  Do you already know where you want these characters to end up or do you take it one book at a time?

I have a vague idea how relationships will develop over time, but I do like to take things one book at a time. I might develop something unexpected in a book, and I want to leave room for it to grow naturally, instead of forcing my characters into certain paths. So the answer is yes, I know where they’re going, and no, I don’t.  🙂  I do want to explore more of the Brandon / Lacey relationship, as well as those with other characters as the series progresses (don’t want to spoil…)

I think (so far) The Sudbury School Murders is my favorite in the series. I liked seeing the reactions of Marianne, Bartholomew, Matthias, and Lacey to the incident with Grenville.   Do you have favorite moments from the series or a favorite book?

I have a fondness for A Covent Garden Mystery, where Lacey’s past runs into his present. I liked that book. I also like A Death in Norfolk, because Lacey goes to his boyhood home and deals with more of his past. And we learn a lot about James Denis. 🙂  I also enjoy Murder in Grosvenor Square, my most recent book, which takes Lacey into the next phase of his life and makes him look hard at his friendships.

I look forward to getting to those books in the series! The friendships are one of the things I enjoy most about the series.  But I also enjoy the characters, secrets, intrigue, love, scandal.  When you read for enjoyment, what types of books or authors do you like?

When I have a chance to read for enjoyment, I like mystery novels (currently very fond of Kerry Greenwood). I also like biographies and social histories, sci-fi / fantasy that has a lot of action / adventure, and have decided I really like steampunk too! It’s a fun genre where almost anything goes. I have the hankering to write some. 🙂

Steampunk is very fun! I’d enjoy to read your take on it. According to your website, you’ll be releasing book 10 in the series, The Thames River Murders, soon.  Can you share any insight into this installment and what might be in store for Gabriel Lacey in the future? Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to share with the readers at PaperBackSwap?

Yes, I plan to have The Thames River Murders out this summer. (check my website http://www.gardnermysteries.com  periodically for pre-order info). This one will be a cold case brought to Lacey by Thompson of the Thames River Police, but it will have ties to Lacey’s current life.

I also have many other series going! The Shifters Unbound series (paranormal romance) continues in April with Mate Bond, with more installments in June and July. The Mackenzies series then picks up in August, September, and October. I’m writing a new era of Mackenzies, going back to the 1745 uprising.

I’ve also begun a new contemporary romance series called Riding Hard, which is lighter and sweeter than most of my series–it’s a small-town family saga rather than heavy romance.

I’m also continuing my Stormwalker (urban fantasy series) this year. Would like to put out a book and perhaps a novella, but I’m still in planning stages.

That’s a lot of writing! You are one busy woman, Jennifer, so I won’t keep much longer! I’d like to end with some fun rapid fire questions….

Chocolate of Vanilla?


Ok, I love that you used all caps and an exclamation!  You’re my kind of woman!

Cake or Pie?

Cake (and tortes). Though I just made a kick-butt coconut cream pie that really turned out well!

Yum, I’d love that recipe!

Winter or Summer?

Summer–love the heat!

Cats or Dogs?

I love them both equally. Though I have cats. Devil cats.

Morning or Night?

Night. I live in the desert. I like darkness.

Coffee or Tea?

Tea!!! Unlike Captain Lacey, who loves his coffee, I can’t stand it! 🙂 Tea, I drink by the gallon.

I agree, tea is delicious!

And on that note, I’d like to thank Jennifer for being so generous with her time. It’s been a joy to get to know her better and learn about her writing process and upcoming works.  For more information on the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series, check out Jennifer’s website:  http://www.gardnermysteries.com and for more on Jennifer’s other series and genres, check http://www.jenniferashley.com.





Historical Fiction Review – All the Light We Cannot See

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)


Earlier this year, I picked my top 5 books to read in 2015 (see Hello, 2015! blog post) and All the Light We Cannot See was at the top of my list. This book was quite the emotional journey for me; there were some tears and one moment when I wanted to throw the book across the room.

Set during World War II, Werner and Marie-Laure come from two different worlds. Werner, an orphan German boy, finds a crude, broken radio and he is drawn into science and technology and wanting to know how things work.  He develops an amazing skill of fixing and building radios of all kinds, from all sorts of parts.  Werner and his sister Jutta imagine an incredible world where they can learn and get out of their down-trodden circumstances.

Marie-Laure grows up in France.  As a child she loses her sight and her loving father is determined to do what he can to help Marie-Laure live a normal life.  He carves a wooden scale replica of their neighborhood for Marie-Laure to study so she can develop the confidence and comfort to walk on her own through their neighborhood.  She learns Braille and has amazing adventures through the pages of the books her father is able to give her.

Werner and Marie-Laure live in a time fraught with peril and doubt.  Germany is embracing the promises of Adolf Hitler and, in the beginning of Hitler’s control, neighboring countries don’t realize what an evil force he will be for them to overcome.  Werner and Marie-Laure don’t know of one another and the struggles they experience.  However, eventually their paths converge due to circumstances brought about because of the war.

Focusing on these two children provides a unique perspective on a time in our history that is constantly explored and written about.  I came to care for Werner and Marie-Laure and felt frustration that they were living during such turmoil.  The converging of their lives is beautiful and destined.  All the Light We Cannot See is a wonderful novel with rich, completely thought-out characters with moments of hope that kept me engaged.  If you enjoy World War II-based historical fiction, I think you should add All the Light We Cannot See to your list of books to read this year.



Free Book Friday Audio Book Bundle – Winner!

Monday, April 6th, 2015

FBF banner 2015 spring winner


Never Go Back by Lee Child

Revival: A Novel by Stephen King

The Winner of the Audio Book Bundle is:


 Linda M.


Congratulations, your books will be on the way to you soon!


Thank you to everyone who commented on the Blog!



Mystery Monday – The Rubber Band

Monday, April 6th, 2015

The Rubber Band by Rex Stout


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


The Rubber Band aka To Kill Again

First serialized in six issues of the weekly Saturday Evening Post in 1936, The Rubber Band is the third novel featuring the heavy agoraphobic detective Nero Wolfe and his active wise guy of a personal assistant Archie Goodwin.

The story begins with a highly successful businessman trying to persuade the lazy Wolfe to investigate the apparent theft of $30,000 from his office suite. Coincidentally enough, the woman that his colleagues are convinced is guilty of the theft, aptly named Clara Fox, visits Wolfe’s office. She tries to persuade Wolfe to take up the case of collecting an old, undocumented debt.

Given the debt, the theft, and the inevitable murder, the plot becomes complex. Count on Stout to keep the balls in the air, play fair, and end with a surprising reveal. On top of the story, though, is the attraction of being the fly on the walls of Wolfe’s brownstone on West 35th Street. As J. Kenneth Van Dover wrote in At Wolfe’s Door, “It is the center from which moral order emanates, and the details of its layout and its operations are signs of its stability.”

Though populated by four males, nothing brings to the mind the locker room as the place is spotlessly clean and gourmet meals are served on a rigid schedule. The place becomes a madhouse, however, because Wolfe allows Clara Fox to hide from the cops in the brownstone. Misogynist Wolfe falls for her a bit, while Archie looks askance and ribs him about reading her Hungarian poetry.

With such a safe domestic interior as the brownstone, I can’t see the Wolfe novels as hard-boiled. Archie is tough and ready with weapons, but he’s too funny and nice a guy to be compared with Sam Spade or Lew Archer. Sensing Goodwin’s genial soul, in the early Sixties a cousin of mine – a reader down to her shoes – named her basset hound Archie in his honor.

Plus, Stout hit on something with character of Wolfe. Wolfe is the thinking device, the heir of Sherlock Holmes, but his conceits and pompousness are a hoot . “Confound it, Archie. I have you to thank for this acarpous entanglement.” Stout, a lover of big words, reverses the roles when he has Archie complain about Wolfe’s eccentric ways: “I exploded, ‘If this keeps up another ten minutes I’ll get Weltschmerz!’”

The League of Frightened Men and Fer de lance were the first two Wolfe novels. Both were too long, nearly painfully so. The Rubber Band is long also but it never feels long. I think I would recommend The Rubber Band to a reader new to Wolfe, but tell them an even better place to start would be with the post-WWII outings such as The Silent Speaker. Then read Black Orchids and Some Buried Caesar. The novellas, which number about 50, are, in a word, perfect.