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Archive for March, 2016

Mystery Monday – The Perils of Sherlock Holmes

Monday, March 28th, 2016

The Perils of Sherlock Holmes by Loren D. Estleman

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)


This short story collection was authorized and licensed by the estate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the world’s greatest consulting detective. A discerning reader need not be wary, fearing a bad pastiche. The author of 70-some mysteries and historical westerns, Estleman has been a hardcore Holmes fan and re-reader of the stories since his adolescence in the Seventies.

Estleman is a master of the Victorian idiom: the prose sounds like Conan Doyle. However, he gives the stories his own imaginative stamp by taking our favorite duo to both the UK and US basing characters on real-life figures such Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and Sax Rohmer (the creator of Fu Manchu). There is even a story that takes Holmes and Watson to mansion formerly owned by Scrooge and now owned by grown up and successful Tiny Tim.

All in all, I read these inventive stories with a smile on my face. Just amazing work, I can’t recommend it more highly.




PaperBackSwap Easter Egg Contest

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

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Welcome to the 2016 PaperBackSwap Easter Egg Hunt!


15 Easter Eggs have been placed on random pages across the site. Can you find them all?

When you find an egg, click on it to add it to your Basket! You can access your Basket from the top of any page on the site.

You can find up to 3 eggs per day (until 3/25/2016, when the limit will be removed.
That way everyone will have a chance to find all of the eggs!)

Your limit will be reset to 3 every day at midnight. So you can find 3 eggs today,
and then starting at the end of the day, at Midnight, you can find 3 more eggs; and so on.

On Friday March 25th, the limit will be removed (you can find all of the eggs from then until the end Sunday, with no daily limit)

The Hunt will begin on March 21st, 2016 at 10 AM ET and close on Sunday, March 27, 2016 at midnight ET (the end of the day).

The Prize for two players will be a new Wish List book*!

The winner will be selected from all of the completed baskets (or the most-completed baskets) by a random drawing.

There will also be a Quick-Like-a-Bunny prize: whoever has found all fifteen eggs earliest also wins!

No purchase necessary – just log in and click the eggs you can find!

*or equivalent prize, determined by PaperBackSwap


Fiction Review – Mambo in Chinatown

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok


Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)


It has been a very long time since I picked up a book and couldn’t put it down.  When I started Mambo in Chinatown I thought I would just read for a few hours one morning and then get on with the rest of my day.  But that was not to be.  I couldn’t stop myself from turning the pages and I finished it in one day…less than 9 hours from when I started!

For me, Kwok found just the right balance with this book. She was able to address serious issues without being preachy or overly sentimental. She was also able to cover a variety of topics without the plot seeming thin.  There were moments of intense emotion but also moments of lightheartedness that made me smile.

Charlie is a beautifully created, sympathetic character and I wanted to know how her story would develop and how she would change. I felt emotions on her behalf; I was in tune with her and shared her feelings when she was hopeful, frustrated, excited and disappointed.  I really wanted her to succeed and find her true place. Wanting to know what would happen for Charlie is what kept me reading all day.

Kwok’s Mambo in Chinatown is a touching book about really getting to know yourself without being dependent on other people to tell you what to believe or do.  I definitely recommend it and know I now need to add Kwok’s novel Girl in Translation to my reading list…and I’ve already requested it from a fellow PBSer!




Mystery Monday Review – The Gold-Digger’s Purse

Monday, March 14th, 2016



The Case of the Gold-Digger’s Purse by Erie Stanley Gardner


Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)


When Perry Mason’s confidential secretary, Della Street, peeks inside a red-headed gold-digger’s purse, she spies a roll of bills big enough to gag a mastiff – and the gun that killed businessman-heel Harrington Faulkner.

Mason and Della don’t feel it proper or opportune to burden the police with their knowledge. Then – too late – it dawns on them that Della’s fingerprints are on the murder weapon. The police regard the gold-digging ingenue and Mason and Della with the most profound suspicion.

Turns out that in order to raise funds her tubercular boyfriend needs for a sanitarium stay, the gorgeous but loyal gold-digger figures on separating the businessman-heel from a little of his dough. She offers the heel her BF’s cure for the heel’s sickly goldfish. Proving nobody is completely bad, the poor fishies with ick are the only creatures for which the heel has any human feelings. However, her plan goes ahoo when the fish vanish and Faulkner ends up shot to death still with shaving lather on his face.

Thus, Mason has to solve multiple disappearances: rare goldfish called Veiltail Moor Telescopes a.k.a. “the Fish of Death,” a secret formula of an new ick remedy, a vanished bullet, and the real murderer.

In rating this 1956 mystery, the 26th Mason novel, I can give only a qualified thumbs-up. On the positive side, we readers enjoy the retro names (Adele, Genevieve, Elmer, tail-rot for ick) and retro artifacts (straight razors, fountain pens, cars with finicky chokes). The nemesis Lt. Tragg proves himself a most worthy opponent. Gardner gets across points about the fallibility of the police and their unwitting misconstrual of evidence when they think they know who the perp is. In the last scene, Perry and Della do a victory waltz at a dance hall. Letting her guard slip, she calls him “darling.”









Mystery Monday Review – Ways and Means

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Way and Means by Henry Cecil

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)



The English judge Henry Cecil (1902 – 1976) wrote comic legal fiction. Think of John Mortimer’s Rumpole stories, though more gentle and less acerbic, just as clever, funny, and enjoyable. Sometimes he is profound – see According to the Evidence, which is about capital punishment.

This novel from 1952 describes four scams pulled off by the con artists Basil and Nicholas. The shameless fraudsters unethically exploit soft spots in the British legal system in order to spin money, avoid real work, and keep their attractive wives in style. Cecil explains their ingenious scams and the vulnerable legal system in clear language. The dialogue-driven stories should be read slowly and savored.

Cecil’s bag of tricks will call to mind P.G. Wodehouse in that he uses stock characters like the dumb colonel and on the make widow. But, to my mind, Cecil writes breezy, sometimes profound stories set in a recognizable world whereas Wodehouse writes silly and not too memorable tales set in Neverneverland.

Reading Henry Cecil’s books makes me feel nostalgic for a vanished world I never knew first-hand but confirms my belief that the basic vices and virtues of human beings haven’t changed and probably won’t change down through the ages.





Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! Read Across America Day!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016


NEA’s Read Across America Day is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually on March 2—Dr. Seuss’s birthday.

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

– Dr. Seuss


What better day is there to share some photos from our recent Books for Schools donation campaign. Our generous PaperBackSwap Members know how important it is to share books with each other. And how important it is to share books with children.

This year, through the help of our Members, we shared 12,500 books with elementary schools across the country. From an inner-city school in Queens, NY to an rural school in Oklahoma, from a school on the Western Bank of the Hudson River in New York to West Bank of the Mississippi in Louisiana, from Texas to Georgia to New Jersey, to Florida we were able to share books with students who may not ever had had a book of their own.

Thank you PBSers for your generous donations of PBS Credits and PBS Money. You make this possible!


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