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Archive for February, 2016

Literature & Fiction Review – Montana 1948

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Montana 1948 by Larry Watson

Review by Vicky T. (VickyJo)

Montana 1948 is a short, but powerful novel by Larry Watson.  It was published in 1993, won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, and was named one of the Best Books of 1993 by two very respected literary magazines, Library Journal and Booklist.  It deserved these honors, and more.

David Hayden looks back at the summer of 1948.  He was 12 years old, and living in Montana.  His father is the sheriff of Mercer County.  He is a quiet, dedicated man, who never wears his badge or carries his gun, much to David’s disappointment.  David’s uncle Frank is a doctor, a charming man ready with a smile and a joke; he is a war hero, a local celebrity, and a respected physician.

So–here’s the premise:  What if you’re the sheriff of a small community, and you find out that your own brother, a doctor…a man much admired by family and friends….is accused of molesting the Native American female patients he treats out on the reservation.  If it were a stranger, you would arrest him and hold him for trial.  But it’s not a stranger; it’s your brother, your father’s favorite.

Just as you think Sheriff Hayden has things settled with his brother, a sudden turn of events kicks the dilemma up a notch.  Tragedy strikes and things get worse, if that’s possible.

We watch the events of the summer of 1948 unfold through young David’s eyes. David must watch his father make a terrible choice between family loyalty and justice, and he learns powerful lessons about love, honor, courage and the abuse of power.  He’ll never look at his family in the same way again.  This book is an absolute gem.














Mystery Monday – Gas City

Monday, February 22nd, 2016


Gas City by Loren D. Estleman 

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)


This crime novel opens with the funeral of the wife of a corrupt police chief. His corruption has played a role in enabling a Rust Belt city of three-quarters of a million, allowing it to get all the vice it wants in the bad neighborhood but enjoy safe streets where nice people live. Other enablers of dope, illegal gambling and prostitution include organized crime figures and their minions and politicians and their hangers-on. In this hard-boiled novel, it’s hard to tell difference between hustlers with guns and hustlers with fountain pens.


But the death of the chief’s wife has consequences. First, it puts the chief though a crisis of conscience. A good Irish Catholic, suicide is out of the question. So he decides to get unbought and clean up city’s rackets, thus inviting getting knocked off by an enraged Mob. Second, the anti-vice campaign motivates a drunken PI to clean up his act by doing his job better and quitting smoking and drinking. His GF, a prostitute, considers leaving The Life. Third, with so much virtue going around, a serial killer starts to get sloppy with clues, as if he were feeling that the only way he was going to stop killing was if he got caught.


This is a crime novel, not a mystery. The main focus is not on catching the serial killer, but on the changes the various characters are going though. Incidents lead to a climax that ties everything up in a nice bow. Estleman’s goal for this novel, I think, was to examine the effects of crime and its attendant corruption on politics in a small city. He never forgets the human element, though, in creating plausible characters and motivations.






Fiction Review – The Sugar Queen

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)


The Sugar Queen was recommended to me by a friend after I told her I enjoyed Allen’s Garden Spells.  I’m glad I took her recommendation; I wasn’t disappointed in The Sugar Queen.

Josey is living in practical isolation with her mother and housekeeper.  She has forced herself into basic servitude to her mother in an effort to make up for being a difficult child.  One day she finds a woman hiding out in her closet. What? Yes, Josey finds Della Lee, local waitress, hiding in her closet.  Josey is perplexed and annoyed and doesn’t understand what Della Lee is doing there and why she won’t leave.

Pretty soon Josey finds herself going out on errands for Della Lee and, miraculously, her life starts to open up.  Josey finds a new friendship but could she find more?  After years of being without friends or outside hobbies, she’s making decisions she knows her mother would not approve of and she’s daring to be herself.

The Sugar Queen has a little dusting of fantasy but that is part of the charm about Allen’s novels. If you’re looking for a little book escape with family drama, love and friendship with some magic thrown in for good measure, pick up a copy of The Sugar Queen.  (And if you can manage to get your hands on the Random House Reader’s Circle edition, take the time to read the Reader’s Guide at the end…there are some great tidbits in there!)





Winners! 5 Winners of the brand-new book, Deadly Peril by Lucinda Brant!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Deadly peril brant

The 5 Winners of the brand-new book, Deadly Peril by Lucinda Brant are:


Diane D.

Debbie D. (debsbooks)

Linda V. (L221147)

Lori H. (HoweHowse)

R E K. (bigstone)


Congratulations to all of our winners and thank you everyone who commented on the Author Interview!


President’s Day 2016

Monday, February 15th, 2016


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Abraham Lincoln  


Some President themed books available to order from other members here at PaperBackSwap




The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln


The Wit and Wisdom of the American Presidents

Profiles in Courage

Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President

The President of the United States of America

Last Chance to enter to win the Book Give-Away by Lucinda Brant

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Deadly Peril by Lucinda Brant


If you havent yet entered to win one of 5 copies of Lucinda Brant’s brand-new book, Deadly Peril, here is your chance.

Lucinda Brant has offered to give two copies of Deadly Peril, and three audio codes good for an audio book download of Deadly Peril to members of PaperBackSwap who comment on the Author Interview with our Member Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty). Click on the link to read the interview and enter the contest:

We will choose 5 winners at random on Sunday, February 15, 2016. Good luck to everyone!

Thank you Ms. Brant and Jerelyn for a great interview and give-away!




Historical Fiction Review – Colonel Brandon’s Diary

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016


Colonel Brandon’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)

I love Jane Austen’s novels.  I have read each one more than once and I wish there were more.  I am forced to go to Austen retellings and continuations by other authors.  Amanda Grange has a series of novels that provide retellings from the heroes’ points of view.   I recently picked up Colonel Brandon’s Diary from one of my (too many?) ‘To Read’ bookshelves.

What I enjoyed about this book is I think it made Colonel Brandon more relatable.  In Sense and Sensibility he seems so serious and hard to get to know at times. This novel sheds some light on his possible thoughts and reasons for his actions.  Grange presents a Brandon with a gentle, caring spirit, which I think we see in Austen’s novel but not to this extent.

Robbed of happiness in love at a young age, Brandon thinks he is destined to be alone until his path crosses with that of Marianne Dashwood.  Brandon continues to try to right the wrongs of the past and make up for things he think went wrong because of his decisions (or indecision).

While I don’t think Grange’s novel possesses the depth of Austen’s novels, I think Grange does pay good homage to the characters and the spirit of Austen’s novels.  I think this novel series of heroes’ diaries is a fun way to revisit some favorite Austen characters.  I have also read Captain Wentworth’s Diary and Mr. Knightley’s Diary from Grange’s diary series and I liked Colonel Brandon’s Diary the best of the three.  If you’re a fellow Austenite, you may want to give this series a try.