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Archive for October, 2016

Mystery Monday Review – The Instant Enemy

Monday, October 31st, 2016

The Instant Enemy by Ross Macdonald

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)

Troubled parents call in PI Lew Archer on a runaway daughter case. An additional detail is that the girl and her unstable boyfriend have stolen pop’s shotgun and a few cartridges. Poking around, Archer finds evidence that the weapon has been turned into a sawed-off shotgun. Then a millionaire financier is kidnapped by the young ‘uns. Hey, it’s 1968 in the mystery, so maybe those crazy kids were influenced by the movie Bonnie & Clyde.

The distraught mother of the millionaire offers Archer $100K to get her son back in one piece. As usual, the more interviews Archer conducts, the more tangled the connections among the principals become, which may throw a less than attentive reader. The descriptions are intense and revealing. This, a poor duffer’s stuff:

I could recognize some of the things on sight: a broad-bladed fisherman’s knife to which a few old fish scales were clinging like dry tears, a marriage certificate with deep fold-marks cutting across it, a bundle of letters tied together with a brown shoestring, some rifle bullets and a silver dollar in a net sack, a small miner’s pick, a couple of ancient pipes, an ineffectual-looking rabbit’s foot, some clean folded underwear and socks, a glass ball that filled itself with a miniature snowstorm when you shook it, a peacock feather watching us with its eye, and an eagle’s claw.

Granted, the “dry tears” are over the top, but this gaffe is balanced by the “ineffectual-looking” good luck charm.

All the interview scenes are outstanding, but Macdonald writes brilliantly the interview in which a witness who’s been sitting on something coughs up crucial dope. Macdonald sets an especially rapid pace in this one.




Author Interview and Book Give-Away!

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016


Author Interview with Paula W. Millet by Diane G. (icesk8tr)

I would like to thank Paula W. Millet author of her first book Angelique’s Storm for taking the time to be with us today. Congratulations on the publication of your first book!

Thanks for inviting me!  I am excited to connect with the PaperBackSwap community to discuss my book.

In looking at your web site, we see that you were a teacher for many years. What inspired you to become a writer, and does the teaching background make it easy for you to make this transition?

Indeed. Teaching high school English and Speech was my professional career, having spent decades in the classroom, so my interest in literature and fascination with words has its roots in that part of my life. When I retired, I had the time to pursue some of the interests I had deferred when the time demands of balancing work and family were too great. Writing a book was always on my bucket list. I like to refer to this as my second chapter.


What is a quick synopsis of Angelique’s Storm?

Probably the easiest way to describe the plot is to give you the synopsis from the book cover:

The rain came down in heavy sheets and the wind howled around her as the angry surf churned in response. But she had battled the storms of life before, and she would not be intimidated, not by nature’s fury nor by a man, even one who once had her heart… 

When the beautiful plantation-born socialite Angelique Latour is swept off her feet and quickly wedded to a swarthy scoundrel, her world is turned upside down. Although schooled to be a charming, proper Creole belle, her fine education does not prepare her for the cruel irony that leaves her penniless and alone. Haunted by loss and betrayal, she refuses to be a victim, tapping into her own resourcefulness to save herself in a world where men traditionally hold the power and position. And just as a unique opportunity for reinvention, redemption, and romance presents itself, forces of nature and the universe plot to spoil her happiness, driving her hopes with a hurricane’s fury into the wide expanse of the Gulf of Mexico. Angelique’s Storm weaves a powerful tale of suspense, treachery, and survival against the backdrop of pre-Civil War South Louisiana


What gave you the ideas for the story Angelique’s Storm?

I currently work part time as an educator at Tellus Science Museum. We have a program for our school groups called Galactic Weather. And one day, while in the lab, I started thinking about life before modern meteorology, the peril of being unable to warn people of impending storms. Weather forecasting has saved many lives, hasn’t it? That was a pivotal moment for me, giving me the basic premise for Angelique’s Storm. The conflict, and plot were the vehicle from which the story could be told as I began to weave a romantic historical tale of these ill-fated characters caught in one of the most disastrous storms in recorded history, which interestingly enough, has had very little written about it, either in fiction or nonfiction. Of course, I became totally captivated by Angelique in the process.


You really brought this story to life with your writing and made me feel like I was right there with Angelique! How much of your childhood and background played into this?

Growing up in South Louisiana, specifically Terrebonne Parish, provided me with a rich cultural heritage.  Weekends were spent at “the camp,” which almost always included a boat ride out to Last Island. And as a child, I thought it was the most magical place on earth, a pristine sandy beach to explore with wild abandon, while the grown-ups fished in the surf. I can’t remember the first time I heard the story of when it was a lively resort more than a century earlier, the holiday destination of choice for the well-heeled bourgeoisie. But those tales always ended with a vivid description of the devastating hurricane that whipped through the island, destroying everything in its path. The tragedy seemed to cast a somber shadow over the beauty of the place, but in my mind, it was all so dreamy and romantic and terrible.

My interest in the last barrier island never seemed to wane as I grew into adulthood and sadly watched it slowly erode into the Gulf, its vulnerable position causing it to grow smaller and smaller with each decade. I happily brought my own children there to collect seashells and catch blue crabs, to build sand castles and swim in the salty water.  And I shared the history with them as well, a legacy passed on to the next generation. When I moved to Georgia, I had to visit one last time, just to say goodbye.

It seemed appropriate, then, that I would chose this mystical place as the setting of my debut novel. And while I certainly felt a kinship with the island, researching the stories of those who lived, played, and died there renewed my enthusiasm for writing a story about what might have happened. My imagination took it from there.


How long did you take to write the book?

About ten months, although I did take four months off at the midway point. Life sometimes gets in the way, making it hard to commit to the routine of daily writing. And then, my muse took off to Belize, leaving me to fend for myself. The inspiration returned in February, when the cold winter months motivated me to complete it. Within six weeks, I was ready to edit and revise the draft.


Did you stay within your planned outlines, or did you ever write yourself into a situation you could not get out of?

I knew where I wanted the story to end and had already mapped out a powerful climax in my mind, so I worked backwards in the outlining, which was the basic skeleton of the story, with only a couple of pages of key points.  I also had random sticky notes posted everywhere, jotting down ideas whenever one came to mind.  Much to my delight, the details and characterization magically appeared, often surprising me in the process. So I think I am a plotter, but I also like to fly by the seat of my pants when necessary.


How do you deal with the times you may encounter writer’s block?

Does opening a bottle of good wine count? Sometimes, you have to just take a break and wait for the creative juices to flow once more. Forced writing often comes across as such, right? And then, there is that fickle muse. She does like wine, though.


We see that Angelique is a very strong woman who seems to be able to get through anything. Is Angelique anyone you know, or a combination of people in your life?

The world has always been influenced by fearless, loving women, those survivors, who have had the faith, and fortitude to weather the storms of life without giving up or becoming bitter. There is beauty and power in that determination. And so I think that Angelique is a metaphor, patterned after so many of the female role models I have known in my life, both friends and family. I hope that this book indirectly honors them.


Being a person who never liked history, your book actually compelled me to look up the events from that time frame and the story of the Last Island. Were you always a history buff?

 I never pictured myself as a writer of historical fiction. I tend to think of it as the names, dates, and places that we were all forced to memorize in school, which killed any interest in the past for me.  Or so I thought. But I have come to understand that there are remarkable stories of people who lived through amazing moments in time, tales handed down to us through documents and fragments they left behind. This allows us to piece together a fascinating puzzle, envisioning what might have happened, to indirectly view history from a human perspective.

 And yes, Angelique’s Storm combines much of the conflicting accounts of what happened on that fateful day and night of August 10, 1856.  But the story itself is fiction, a romantic tale of the horror of nature’s fury and the triumph of the human spirit had we been there to witness it.


Do you enjoy reading books yourself? If so, what types of books do you enjoy?

I have always been an avid reader; I think most writers are, don’t you?  I used to anxiously wait for the bookmobile to make its way through our neighborhood as a kid. (Do they even have those anymore?)  And I had a library card from the moment I was old enough to get one. Books have taught me, comforted me, transported me.  Goodness knows, as both a student and teacher, I read the classics, those timeless works from the masters. Now, I tend to like contemporary fiction, with real settings and believable characters, but a good storyline will entice me to read almost anything, especially if it is well written and unique. Let’s just say, I don’t limit myself to one genre. Most readers don’t, especially with so many exciting choices out there.


Will there be another book in your future?

The allure of Angelique’s story has compelled me to delve further into the fictional tale, so yes, there will be a sequel, Angelique’s War, which takes our heroine into the Civil War and its challenges. I am currently halfway through the rough draft, which I do believe is going to take the reader on a wild ride. I plan to release it next spring. The third book in the trilogy will be Angelique’s Peace.

I also have completed a work of contemporary fiction, a novel that now needs to be tweaked. Once I finish the editing, I will release it. I am hopeful that will happen next summer.

And because I like a challenge, I already have an idea for another trilogy, which, ironically, will be cultural, historical fiction as well.


Where is your Angelique’s Storm available? How can readers keep up with you?

It is currently available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. I have an author page linked to the book there. I also have a Facebook page (Paula W. Millet, author) and a website (paulamillet.com), where I blog regularly. And you can find me on Goodreads, too. I enjoy connecting on a more personal level with readers, so I hope that your community of booklovers will feel free to join in the discussion or contact me directly. I’d love to hear from you!


Thanks so much for spending time with us today!!

Thank you! I have enjoyed it.  Writers are always hopeful that something they have written will find a way into a reader’s heart, so I appreciate the opportunity to connect with your membership.


Ms. Millet has generously offered a brand new copy of Angelique’s Storm to a PaperBackSwap member who comments here on the PaperBackSwap Blog. A winner will be chosen at random.




Mystery Monday Review – A Fragment of Fear by John Bingham

Monday, October 24th, 2016

A Fragment of Fear by John Bingham

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)

Mystery writer James Compton vacations in Italy in order to follow his doctor’s orders to rest. At Pompeii, the strangulation death of an elderly Englishwoman, Lucy Dawson, draws his attention as a subject for an article or story. During the course of his researches, he receives telephone calls in which a cultured voice urbanely warns him off. When Compton persists in his amateur sleuthing, the threats become more overt and frightening. Like Ruth Rendall writing as Barbara Vine, Bingham creates an atmosphere of menace.

Unlike the plucky amateurs in Eric Ambler or Andrew Garve’s novels, Compton is no match for the villains that want to stop his poking his proboscis into matters that don’t concern him. Bingham liked a little too much to explain behavior with so-called “national characteristics” so he has Compton, who tells the story in first-person, explain his stubbornness with “Irish bloody-mindedness and combativeness.” The irony, too, is that though Compton is a mystery writer, he can handle neither the bad guys nor the cops, who attribute his paranoia to the trauma of the car accident.

Like William Haggard’s gladiatorial arenas of board rooms, swanky clubs, and bureaus of espionage, Bingham’s world – that is, the Hobbesian state of nature — is fraught with danger. Bingham’s day job was, after, in counter-intelligence, where they are paid to anticipate the worst case threats to the realm. Near the end Bingham has Compton reflect, “the peasant is surrounded by more than he imagines. Behind the eyes which observe him are yet others, which observe those eyes in their turn, and behind the predators slithering in the undergrowth are yet others, stalking the predators …. We live in dangerous times. All one can do is to keep the spear ready…touch the amulet, and hope for the best, and trust that, as in my case, the tribe can after all protect not only the tribe but the individual.”





Mystery Monday – Some Buried Caesar

Monday, October 17th, 2016

Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)


This mystery is the sixth in the Nero Wolfe series, first published in 1939. Like many Golden Age mysteries, it is rather long but it’s not “stamp your foot” too long like the first four (Fer-de-Lance, The League of Frightened Men, The Rubber Band and The Red Box).

The draw of Some Buried Caesar is that Lily Rowan makes her first appearance as Wolfe’s sidekick Archie’s love interest. Also, Wolfe has to leave the brownstone, which is always a treat for fans of the agoraphobic Wolfe. Archie and Wolfe are taking a road trip to fictitious Crowfield, NY where Wolfe is showing off orchids (his hobby) when they have a traffic accident. Archie and Wolfe end up in a paddock being chased by a bull. It’s pretty funny.

While the car is being repaired ($66.00, i.e. $1,100 in our 2016 money). He is hosted by the founder, Pratt (as in pratfall, to the word-loving Stout) of the fast food chain called Pratteria. The vulgarian’s plan is to barbeque a $45,000 ($755K now) prize bull, Hickory Caesar Grindon, as a publicity stunt. His neighbor abhors this plan and then hires Wolfe to find the killer of his son who was found dead, apparently gored by the bull.

As mentioned above, this novel never feels too long except in one place near the end when Archie is jailed by local cops as a material witness (I assume this novel was first serialized in a magazine, thus the pressure to spin things out). The incidents are consistently funny.




Romance Review – Hot SEAL Rescue

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

HOT SEAL Rescue (HOT SEAL Team #3) by Lynn Raye Harris

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)

With a Lynn Raye Harris I expect several things:

* There are going to be a lot of hot, alpha guys with protective instincts [many of whom you’ve met in previous books] in the plot and the hero will be front and center.

* The heroine will be in jeopardy but NOT a shrinking violet or a whiner, she’ll be up front and doing her best – which is usually pretty damned good.

* There will be bad guys who deserve what they get.

* There are going to be a LOT of page turning action scenes, both in and out of the bedroom – scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat and up past your normal bedtime.

* There will be stubborn refusals to admit the truths of their relationships and emotional, heart-touching moments between the hero and heroine when the light finally dawns.

So how does HOT SEAL Rescue stack up? It nails every one of them.

Our hero is Cody “Cowboy” McCormick and the heroine is CIA agent Miranda Lockwood. Miranda ‘kidnaps’ our hero by sticking a gun in his side and he goes along with it because she looks like she’s in trouble. And she is, of course, and some of the trouble is caused by her decisions throughout the book. Trying to avoid spoilers here but there are blown covers, hot sex, deaths [faked and otherwise], CIA moles, differing agendas, hurt feelings, and a truly satisfying happily ever after.

Thank you Ms. Harris, it’s another winner. I loved it.

Note: Apparently an abbreviated version of this story appeared in the anthology SEALs of Summer 3. This is the full story.

HOT SEAL Team series

1: Hot SEAL

2: Hot SEAL Lover

3: HOT SEAL Rescue

And, of course, there’s the original Hostile Operations Team series:

Book 1: Hot Pursuit (Matt & Evie)

Book 2: Hot Mess (Sam & Georgie)

Book 3: Hot Package (Billy & Olivia)

Book 4: Dangerously Hot (Kev & Lucky)

Book 5: Hot Shot (Jack & Gina)

Book 6: Hot Rebel (Nick & Victoria)

Book 7: Hot Ice (Garrett & Grace)

Book 8: Hot & Bothered (Ryan & Emily)







Mystery Monday – Murder Most British series by Dorothy Simpson

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Murder Most British featuring Inspector Luke Thanet
Series by Dorothy Simpson
by Cheryl G. (Poncer)


I recently ran into book one of this series, The Night She Died here on PaperBackSwap. And since I love a British mystery I ordered it. And then proceded to order the next 8 books in the series.

The Kent countryside and the village of Sturrenden are described beautifully by Dorothy Simpson  in each book, as the seasons pass. They are as much characters in the books as the rest of the cast.

The Murder Most British follows CID Inspector Thanet around the Kent countryside solving murders. Thanet is not a blustery blowhard cop. Rather he is an officer who cares about his wife, children, co-workers and his victims. He actually hates his first glimpse of a dead body. Luke Thanet believes in getting into the victims life and mind to figure out who the murderer is.
So far Ms. Simpson has written 15 books in this series. I am up to number 7. Each mystery is a who-done-it, but also a why-done-it. I have only managed to figure out the murderer in 2 of them. But at the ending, they made perfect sense.

While these may be considered by many to be cozy mysteries, I think they are more “thinking mysteries”. While there is no adult content nor gory blood and guts, Inspector Thanet and his Detective Sergeant, Lineham do delve into minds, habits and motivation of suspects on their list.

In Puppet for a Corpse, Thanet says, “A good detective not only has to be intelligent, persevering and prepared to do enless boring routine work, he also needs one other quality: Intuition. I see it rather as the ability to make connections which are there but are not immediately apparent. Subterranean connections.”

Unfortunately, in 2000 Ms. Simpson suffered a repetitive stress injury and was forced to stop writing.

This series can be read out of order, but I have enjoyed reading them in order and following along as Thanet and Lineham’s personal lives and characters develop.

  1. The Night She Died   1981
  2. Six Feet Under  1982
  3. Puppet for a Corpse   1983
  4. Close Her Eyes   1984
  5. Last Seen Alive   1985
  6. Dead on Arrival   1986
  7. Element of Doubt  1987
  8. Suspicious Death   1988
  9. Dead by Morning   1989
  10. Doomed to Die   1991
  11. Wake the Dead   1992
  12. No Laughing Matter  1993
  13. A Day for Dying   1995
  14. Once Too Often     1998
  15. Dead And Gone    2000

Musings, Memories and Miscellany from our MoM’s

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Matt B. (BuffaloSavage) was named our Member of the Month for May 2016.



How long have you been a PBS member?  How did you find PBS? How has PBS impacted your life? What does PBS mean to you?

I have been a PBS member since 2006, so I am coming up on the 10th anniversary. I found PBS through a web search in which I was looking for a book for purchase; that is, PBS had a book review of it. The offer was a pretty good deal and the PBS way of doing things contrasted with another service’s chaotic (to me) and grabby ways.  I had stacks of pocket and trade paperbacks I had promised myself to cull, and getting to a post office was no problem since a branch was within walking distance of my office. Since then, PBS has given me the chance to meet nice people. PBS represents to me the means by which I can score many curious books that I would not have found otherwise. Like at a used book sale, I never know what I am going to find.


What book impacted you most as a child or young adult? 

The book that impacted me most as a child was Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. It is a family memoir that describes growing up in a family with twelve children whose parents, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, were both efficiency experts in science and industrial engineering.  Frank was the first to propose that a surgical nurse hand instruments to the surgeon during a procedure. After Frank died suddenly of a heart attack, Lillian made great contributions to the design of kitchen appliances and household furniture, not to mention the design and marketing of feminine hygiene products. Her reports were models of lucid argument and precise writing.


Saving time and energy and effort became very important to me. What I learned from that book was that there were better ways to do everything, all I had to do was think, be creative, and consciously avoid getting into ruts by testing new ways to do jobs. Emphasizing efficiency, practicality, feasibility, planning; doing more with less; and even making due with limited resources have all helped me in my professional life. It just shows there no knowing how a book will influence a certain kid in a certain place in a certain time. Sure, my parents taught a strong work ethic but I was lucky that book was assigned in school, maybe 5th or 6th grade.


What is your favorite or most meaningful book read as an adult?

The books I re-read as an adult are self-help books by Albert Ellis. One is A Guide to Rational Living and the other is How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything: Yes, Anything. Both books argue that it my belief that I’ve been, for example, needlessly hassled or disrespected or whatever that leads to my upset feelings. I make myself upset, not other people, not the world as it is. Ellis would advise that I dispute my irrational thoughts, by asking myself, ‘Just what is the evidence that so and so harmed me? I don’t know what was going through his mind.” Or, “Even if he did slight me, where is the law of the universe that says everybody I meet has to be friendly, talkative, and all round overjoyed to talk to scintillating me?” Ideally, I use reason and logic to develop and support disputing ideas. And I focus on what I can control: my own responses, my own will, the one thing that I have power over, the one thing that cannot be taken from me.



What are you reading now? 

Now I am near the end of The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw. It’s the grim story of the terrible things Hitler and the Hitlerites did to Jewish people, foreign workers in Germany, and the German people as the Allied armies advanced from both the west and the east. The books explains why the Nazi leadership, the military, and the civilian population fought on though the war was obviously lost.







Do you know of another PaperBackSwap member who just seems to go above and beyond? One who makes you smile, or helps you figure out something about a swap, or who simply makes you glad she or he is part of the club? You may just have found yourself a MoM (Member of the Month)!
MoMs are special members, ones who put a little extra effort in for the benefit of others, even when they think no one may ever notice. Maybe they send their packages well-wrapped bearing cheerful stickers on the outside, or they post interesting topics in the Discussion Forums that get people thinking and talking, or they work behind the scenes to correct book listings or upload images to book listings. Maybe they’re Tour Guides and help other members navigate swapping, or maybe they create extra-fun games in the Games forum, the kind after which everyone feels like they’ve made new friends.
If you believe that you have encountered a MoMsubmit your nomination to us here. Tell us why you think the member is a MoM — the more details, the better! The Member of the Month gets a newsletter mention and a nifty MoM icon to wear on profile and forum posts with pride.  So go for it! Tell us who’s helped you in the Forums, who’s been a great swapper, who in your opinion is a credit to the club. Who knows–the next MoM might just be YOU!