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Archive for December, 2015

Fiction Review – The Distant Hours

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)

I was recently able to attend a book event with Kate Morton, the New York Times bestselling author.  I thoroughly enjoyed her books The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden and was excited about this event. The event was sponsored by a local independent bookseller and Morton discussed her writing and research process and took a few questions from the audience.

During the discussion Kate said she had been working on a novel and about 60,000 words in she just had to let it go and write a different story.  She had characters in her mind that wouldn’t leave her be; these characters would become the Blythe sisters who would later be the prominent characters in The Distant Hours. I had The Distant Hours on my bookshelf but hadn’t gotten to it yet.  After hearing from Kate that these characters were so insistent in her mind, I thought I really wanted to read this book sooner rather than later.

The novel started out very strong.  In the beginning, Morton gives us the start of several story lines that will converge together: long lost letter delivered, questions about a mother’s past, mysterious castle and the sisters who live there, a troubled writer who experiences great loss.  Edie is one of the main characters whose story blends the past and present. In her efforts to uncover her mother’s secrets from her teenage years during World War II, she encounters the Blythe sisters.  The three Blythe sisters (twins and a younger sister) are living alone, isolated in their castle, careful not to let anyone get too close.  Rumors and stories about the spinster sisters are passed around in the local town.  Edie manages to break through their self-inflicted isolation and the truth of past events will eventually be discovered.

True to Morton style, secrets are slowly unraveled and the reader gradually learns the truth of what happened but there are some twists and turns to get there.  When we think we know what happened and understand the motivations of the characters, things get turned on us again.  I normally don’t mind this but I felt the middle of the novel seems to lose some of its momentum.

However, even with that bit of disappointment at the middle, I still believe this is a great book for those who enjoy mysteries, romance, and tales of familial woe.  And with the dark castle full of secrets, there’s a tribute to the classic gothic novels from the past. The Blythe sisters are memorable characters; I can understand why they were insistent for Morton.  Their multiple heartbreaks and how they each changed because of those heartbreaks create their isolation, both mentally and physically.  I would give The Distant Hours a solid 4 out of 5 stars and a hearty recommendation.




Mystery Monday – Minute for Murder

Monday, December 21st, 2015


Minute for Murder by Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis)

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)

Day-Lewis, poet and translator of Latin classics, supplemented his income by writing detective novels under the pen-name of Nicholas Blake.  As we’d expect from a professor of classics, his writing is erudite, witty, and lucid enough to put up with the usual British whodunit machinery of red herrings, beautiful blondes, and wacky characters.

The upside of Minute for Murder (1947) is that it is probably based on Lewis’ wartime experience working in the Ministry of Information, which Orwell satirized in 1984. Series hero Nigel Strangeways is working at the “Ministry of Morale” in the Visual Propaganda Division. He captures the tensions among different grades of staff and the problems of supervising talented but temperamental people.

The material on the human factor and red herring combine to make this rather longer than the typical old-time whodunnit, but he’s such a charming writer that we don’t mind.






Historic Fiction Review and Book Give-Away – Deadly Peril

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Deadly peril brant

Deadly Peril by Lucinda Brant

Review by Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty)


Alec, Lord Halsey is sent on a diplomatic mission to Midanich, imperial outpost of the Holy Roman Empire, to bargain for the freedom of imprisoned friends. Midanich is a place of great danger and dark secrets; a country at civil war; ruled by a family with madness in its veins. For Alec it is a place of unspeakable memories from which he barely escaped and vowed never to return. But return he must, if he is to save the lives of Emily St. Neots and Sir Cosmo Mahon. 
In a race against time, Alec and the English delegation journey across the icy wasteland for the castle fortress where Emily and Cosmo are imprisoned. The severe winter weather is as much an enemy, as the soldiers of the opposing armies encamped along the way. Awaiting him at his destination is the Margrave and his sister, demanding nothing less than Alec’s head on a pike

When does an author become a favorite?  When I first read Lucinda Brant I liked her style, I like the subject matter, and the time period. I knew by the second novel I read that she was something very special, and she is only getting better. She writes in a classic style, almost a throwback, of the best past romantic mystery writers, minus the purple prose. (I always bring this up as it is a pet peeve of mine.) She expertly captures the whole Georgian period. The world at this time was changing at break neck speed. There was untold wealth and prosperity, science and technologies where undergoing change.  Social issues so long denied were being looked at by an enlightened few. The world was opening up and Britain was at the epicenter of this change.  Brant captures that change, and you find yourself surrounded by the culture, the manners, the fashion, and politics of the period. The good the bad the beautiful, and the downright creepy might be a better way to express it.

In Deadly Peril we leave England and cross the North Sea, to where the adventure and mystery begins. As always Brant really gets you from the first chapters. I love the historical details that she brings to light like little presents, (definitely go to her Pinterest boards, for each book and see what inspired the details.) This being the 3rd in the “Deadly” series, the cast is well known to you by now, but don’t let that put you off if you’ve not read the first two.  Brant is a talented enough writer that she weaves the backstory effortlessly into the current work without bogging the new storyline down.  I will warn you however you will go get the first books, fortunately they are available in all mediums, print, e-books and audio.  While this one at the time of this writing is not out in print or audio, they will be by January.

I’ve been listening to books a lot more lately, this way I can do all the things I must do in a day while listening to the great stories that are as important as air to me.  Ms. Brant has built a relationship with the very talented actor, Alec Wyndham who has to date recorded eight of the ten novels she has published. Alec Wyndham is a remarkable talent and his work voicing these books is truly not to be missed. Marian Hussy voices the Salt books and also does an outstanding job.

Would you like to win a copy of Deadly Peril? Comment here on the Blog, for a chance to win. Winner will be chosen at random from the comments left by PaperBackSwap members. Good Luck to all!

Also coming in January, an interview with Lucinda Brant right here on the PaperBackSwap Blog!

Other books in this series:

Deadly Engagement

Deadly Affair

The Roxton series

Noble Satyr

Midnight Marriage

Autumn Duchess

Dair Devil

Roxton Family Letters

Coming soon: Proud Mary

Let us not forget:

Salt Bride

Salt Redux – ebook

Web sites:

Pinterest boards https://www.pinterest.com/lucindabrant/

Author site http://lucindabrant.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LucindaBrantBooks/?fref=ts

Twitter https://twitter.com/LucindaBrant?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor







Books for Schools 2015

Friday, December 4th, 2015

books for schools 2015 blog


Books for Schools 2015 is underway!


It is one of our very favorite things here at PaperBackSwap. Sharing the joy of reading with children. Creating a new generation of book lovers. Knowing we are making a difference in the lives of children. 

Each year PaperBackSwap, through our generous members, donates brand-new new books to selected deserving elementary schools across the country.  The goal of the program is to provide children with books that they can read for pleasure. As you know, most of us learned the love of reading at an early age, and this is a great opportunity to share that joy. In the past four years PaperBackSwap and our members have donated over 87,000 new books to elementary schools. In 2014 we reached our goal of 17,700 books sent to 18 deserving elementary schools.

Your donation of credits or PaperBackSwap Money (which is used to defray some of the shipping costs) or both will help. Let’s put books in the hands of children. To go to the donations page, click this link.

This year’s goal is 14,000 books sent to schools across the country.

Thank you for joining us in making a real difference in the education of these kids! Together PaperBackSwap and our wonderful members do make a difference!

Richard and the PaperBackSwap Teamapple