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Archive for June, 2016

Fiction Review – The Snow Child

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)

The Snow Child was, to me, a sweet and sad tale of parental love and the dream that love can come when we most need it.  Based on a Russian fairy tale, The Snow Child is set in Alaska in the 1920s.  Mabel and Jack have built a life in Alaska but that life is teetering on the edge.  They are alone in a very harsh environment and are struggling with being childless and exhausted by all of the effort it takes just to survive.

Amid their struggle to make ends meet, enter a pixie of a girl who appears as if my magic, flits through the woods, and appears to be alone in the world. Mabel and Jack quickly develop parental feelings for the girl and, even though they are confused about her origins, they accept the love and completeness they feel when she is around.  Through forging new friendships and developing more confidence, Mabel comes out of the darkness that she had been experiencing since living in Alaska.  Jack feels hopeful in the changes in Mabel and the possibility of building a successful farm and life in the rugged landscape.

I found Ivey’s story emotional and hopeful.  She creates characters (even secondary characters) who offer depth and exhibit the complexities of human personalities that various readers could find relatable.  In addition to the gripping story, I enjoyed having the Reading Group Guide at the end of my edition of The Snow Child.  The author provided great insight into how she came to write the novel and the meaning it has for her.  I believe this novel would be a great choice for readers who enjoy historical fiction with a little mystery and the supernatural thrown into the mix.




Free Book Giveaway Winner! (What book has surprised you?)

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016



Winner Winner, go make dinner!

(sorry, we couldn’t resist)


The Winner, chosen at random, of the brand-new copy of

The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure
by Alana Chernila is:


Martha H.!

“We recently got some chickens. One hen was notoriously last and difficult to get back into the coop when we allowed them to free range in our yard. We thus named her after the duck in the children’s storybook that we read many years ago, The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack. Since we didn’t own this book, I used my PaperBackSwap credit to get our own copy. I was surprised about how delightful this book was, even after many years have passed since first reading it. Funny thing, after getting this book, when we now let our chickens free range, our own “Ping” is the last to leave the coop and usually one of the first to come back in. Now, what to do about our Lucy, named after Lucille Ball!” – Martha H.


And as usual we were not a bit surprised by the number of books that surprise and delight our members. From fiction to history, from biographies to cookbooks. Proof positive that our lives are enhanced and much improved by the books we find to read and love.

Thank you to everyone who shared on the Blog!


Mystery Monday – The Case of the Calendar Girl

Monday, June 27th, 2016


The Case of the Calendar Girl by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)

The 57th Perry Mason novel begins by introducing us readers to George Ansley, an honest contractor. George feels lowdown at having to bribe influence peddler and extortionist Meredith Borden to call off building inspectors that are giving George’s crews a hard time. Distracted, George is involved a car accident. The gorgeous driver of the other car persuades him to drive her home, despite possible injuries. The beguiling beauty sidetracks him even more by smiling, acting fragile and helpless, showing extreme legginess and, most diverting of all, kissing him.

After beauty’s adverse effects on his better judgment wear off, he begins to fear that he’s taken a legal misstep. That same night Honest George consults Perry Mason, buttonholing the super-lawyer and his office manager Della Street in a restaurant. Mason wants to examine the accident scene, so they return to Borden’s estate. They get scared off by savage watchdogs and barbed wire catches threads from their clothes. As it turns out, Borden is killed about this time and the police are combing the city for witnesses and suspects. In efforts to save George from the gas chamber, Mason tracks down a couple of calendar girls – women who pose for amateur and professional photographers for ads and what they called in the Sixties “art photography.”

To my mind, late Masons, say from 1958 through the Sixties, are readable but just okay. I get qualms. For instance, in this one, no question is raised whether or not the murder gun had fingerprints on it. Although it provides rather an interesting twist, it also seems far-fetched when Mason saves a client by tossing a party to the cops and then takes on the tossed one as his client. Despite the fact that Gardner’s narrative pyrotechnics always overshadowed fair play, usually we cheated readers can forgive Mason sitting on evidence and not giving us a chance to figure the case out. In this one, the lack of fair play is harder to forgive since there is more explaining and reported speech than showing us action. It’s mildly disappointing that Gardner’s usual narrative magic fails to pull rabbits out of hats in this one.

After 56 Mason novels, we can’t blame Gardner for trying new gimmicks, for the sake of his own sanity and ours. In this one, I don’t think the tricks and devices worked as well as they did in other late Fifties outings such as Gilded Lily (1956), Lucky Loser (1957), Daring Decoy (1957), Foot-Loose Doll (1958), and Long-Legged Models (1958).



Free Book Giveaway! What book has surprised you?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016



We can’t imagine life without books. They’ve been with us forever– from the fairy tales we read as children, through novels and science fiction and thrillers and memoirs, they’ve offered escape, instruction, entertainment, laughter and wisdom.

One thing we keep finding out: the genre of a book doesn’t necessarily predict what it might add to your life. Young adult books can give new perspectives even to grown-ups; some humorous books can contain a deeper truth.

So it shouldn’t have surprised us when we stumbled across some serious wisdom in a cookbook! Yes, a cookbook.

It says Start where you are. Feed yourself. Do your best, and then let go. Be helpful. Slow down. Don’t be afraid of food. Those are among the notes that Alana Chernila has on her refrigerator, and they also make the chapter headings for her cookbook, The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure.

The book goes right to the heart of a complex daily struggle for many. To eat organic, local, fresh and healthy — to do everything right — while the reality may be a grumpy hungry family at the end of a long day of work. Alana admits that sometimes she hates cooking dinner too! The Homemade Kitchen is a lovely cookbook — it’s beautifully photographed and includes basic recipes as well as fancier fare. But the author’s philosophy offers an extra dimension — like many books, this one is more than the sum of its parts.

Encountering The Homemade Kitchen reminded us again to stay adventurous in reading, to try books that might not be in a favorite genre, or a new author we’ve never heard of. Members have often told us that PaperBackSwap makes it easy to discover new authors or genres, since it’s not a huge commitment to get a book, and every book can be swapped again for a different one when you’re done reading.

Written as much for the reader as the cook, The Homemade Kitchen covers a globe’s worth of flavors and includes new staples (what Alana is known for) such as chèvre, tofu, kefir, kimchi, preserved lemons, along with recipes and ideas for using them. Here, too, are dishes you’ll be inspired to try and that you will make again and again until they become your own family recipes, such as Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta, a flavor-forward lunch for one; Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder, “late summer in a bowl”; Stuffed Winter Squash, rich with leeks, chorizo, apples, and grains; Braised Lamb Shanks that are tucked into the oven in the late afternoon and not touched again until dinner; Corn and Nectarine Salad showered with torn basil; perfect share-fare Sesame Noodles; Asparagus Carbonara, the easiest weeknight dinner ever; and sweet and savory treats such as Popovers, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Summer Trifle made with homemade pound cake and whatever berries are ripest, and Rhubarb Snacking Cake.
In this follow-up to Alana’s wildly successful debut, The Homemade Pantry, she once again proves herself to be the truest and least judgmental friend a home cook could want. ISBN 9780385346153


We are giving away a free, brand-new copy of this cookbook to one lucky member here on the Blog! Leave a comment telling us about a book that surprised you — that you didn’t expect to enjoy as much as you did– before the end of Sunday June 26th, and we’ll choose a commenter at random to receive The Homemade Kitchen . We’ll announce the winner here in the blog next week! NB: Contest open to PaperBackSwap members only (join here!).



Free Book Friday Winner!

Monday, June 20th, 2016

FBF spring 2016 banner winner



The Winner of the brand new copy of


The Red Circle by Brandon Webb is:

Marcia W.

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


Thank you to everyone who commented on the Blog!

Free Book Friday! The Red Circle by Brandon Webb

Friday, June 17th, 2016

FBF spring 2016 banner


The Red Circle by Brandon Webb

Brandon Webb’s experiences in the world’s most elite sniper corps are the stuff of legend. From his grueling years of training in Naval Special Operations to his combat tours in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, The Red Circle provides a rare and riveting look at the inner workings of the U.S. military through the eyes of a covert operations specialist.

Yet it is Webb’s distinguished second career as a lead instructor for the shadowy “sniper cell” and Course Manager of the Navy SEAL Sniper Program that trained some of America’s finest and deadliest warriors-including Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle-that makes his story so compelling. From his days as a student going through the sniper course to his hair-raising close calls with Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the northern Afghanistan to his vivid account of designing new sniper standards and training some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century, Webb reveals how the Special Operations warriors at the forefront of today’s military are forged.

ISBN 9781250055095, Mass Market Paperback

There are currently 5 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, June 19, 2016 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!



Historic Romance Review – Marrying Winterborne

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas

Review by Cyn F. (Cyn-Sama)

Cachu sanctaidd! Ei fod yn arwr Cymreig! Or, for those of us not lucky to be born speaking Welsh – Holy shoot! A Welsh hero! Normally, in historic romances, you have either a member of the British aristocracy, or if they want to go for something more exotic, an Irish or Scottish lord. Poor Wales gets ignored like a forgotten cousin.

Being of Welsh ancestry, (second generation American here!), I have longed to see a Welshman take center stage. I’m so happy that it was one of my favorite authors that did the research and created the character of Rhys Winterborne. (Pronounced Reece/Reese.) A self made man who earned his money through a successful department store in London.

In the book that started this series, Cold Hearted Rake, Winterborne became engaged to Lady Hellen Ravenel, until a series of misunderstandings broke them apart.

When we start the book, we have Lady Hellen breaking all the rules of polite society, by going to see Winterborne, alone, at his private office. For those of you not familiar with romance tropes, or the history of British social mores, a young woman, without an escort would have her reputation ripped to shreds. While it is a bit of an overused plot device, Kleypas handles it with her usual grace and charm.

Throwing subtle humor in with charming family relations has been successful in her past few series, namely the Wallflowers, and the Hathaways. I just eat them up. While there are certainly some erotic moments, reading her books is like taking a bubble bath. Warm and comforting. In fact I usually reread them at least once a year, it’s kind of like visiting an old friend. The book is peppered with a few Welsh phrases, and in case you couldn’t tell, that left me grinning ear to ear. She does provide the translations in the back of the book, but you can pretty much figure out what Winterborne is saying through the context.

If you are not familiar with Lisa Kleypas, and enjoy historic romances, I would really suggest starting with the Wallflowers series, which starts with Secrets of a Summer Night. The books take place in roughly in the same time period, and the characters pop up throughout the different series. Most of her other books take place in the same universe, and I love them all. I just think that the Wallflowers are a good introduction to her style of writing. I found the book to be delightful, and I’ll be going nuts waiting until next February for the sequel to come out.