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Mystery Series Spotlight – Amelia Peabody

Monday, October 9th, 2017

The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters

By Vicky T. (VickyJo)

What is it about a series that is so appealing? You would think that several books about the same person would get—if not boring—then at the very least, monotonous.  But for me, if I enjoy the main character, then I want to continue peeking into his or her personal life; I want to continue sharing adventures and finding out what comes next.  I’m obviously not alone in this, because more and more series are being written every day, especially in the mystery genre.   

Lately, I’ve been reading my way through a series written by Elizabeth Peters.  We are introduced to Amelia Peabody in the first novel, Crocodile on the Sandbank.  It’s 1884, and Amelia’s indulgent father has died, leaving her a very wealthy spinster.  Amelia decides to use her money to see the world, and heads to Egypt by way of Rome.  She comes across a young woman named Evelyn, who has been abandoned (and “ruined”) by her lover; Amelia takes her under her wing, making Evelyn her companion as they journey on to the archaeological wonders of Egypt.   

The two women run into very suspicious happenings, and it seems as though Evelyn is in danger.  Amelia fancies herself a sleuth and is determined to not only solve this mystery, but to help the eminent archaeologist she has just met, Radcliffe Emerson, and his younger brother Walter to…well, to do everything.  Men are not the most organized creatures, are they?   

This novel is such fun!  It’s presented to the “Dear Reader” as Amelia’s journal, and the mystery aspect takes a secure back seat to the cast of unforgettable characters.  While Evelyn and Walter fall in love, Amelia and Emerson (he hates his given name) clash repeatedly, and it’s a wonder no one gets throttled.  There is sly humor throughout, and one can’t help but admire Amelia (as she knew you would, of course). 

The author (whose real name was Barbara Mertz) had a PhD in Egyptology and she used her knowledge to give her novels a very authentic feel.  She also includes real people from the time, especially Howard Carter (who eventually discovers the tomb of King Tut) and other luminaries from the world of late Victorian archaeology.  (Emerson does not consider them luminaries.  He considers them bungling idiots who have no earthly idea how to run a cursed dig.)   

There are 20 books in the series, 19 of them by Elizabeth Peters, and one published in 2017 by Joan Hess.  (Elizabeth Peters died in 2013.)

If you’re looking for a fun mystery with engaging characters, an exotic locale and not much in the way of gory murder (although be prepared for mummies) this is the series for you! 

 

Amelia Peabody Series

1 – Crocodile on the Sandbank, 1975

2 – The Curse of the Pharaohs, 1981

3 – The Mummy Case, 1985

4 – Lion In The Valley, 1986

5 – Deeds of the Disturber, 1988

6 – The Last Camel Died at Noon, 1991

7 – The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog, 1992

8 –The Hippopotamus Pool, 1996

9 – Seeing a Large Cat, 1997

10 – The Ape Who Guards the Balance, 1998

11 – The Falcon at the Portal, 1999

12 – He Shall Thunder in the Sky, 2000

13 – Lord of the Silent, 2001

14 – The Golden One, 2002

15 – Children of the Storm, 2003

16 – Guardian of the Horizon, 2004

17 – The Serpent on the Crown, 2005

18 – Tomb of the Golden Bird, 2006

19 – A River in the Sky, 2010

20. The Painted Queen, 2017 (written by Joan Hess)

 

 

Author Spotlight – Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Spotlight on Author Nathan Dylan Goodwin

by Bon S. (bons)

 

As an avid reader for some 70 years, I often wonder where are we to find our next Agatha Christie-type writer? When will another Stephen King come along? Can we ever replace James Michener or James Clavell and his Saga Series like Shogun in our lifetime?
Perhaps we already have with the popularity of Nicholas Sparks from North Carolina or did you know that Nora Roberts has over 125 books to her name and even thinks it important to add a pen name of J. D. Robb?

For our parents and our grandparents who read, when time allowed, the girls had Laura Lee Hope and the Bobbsey Twins…for young boys it was C.S. Forester‘s Horatio Hornblower and the American boys read everything from Louis L’Amour to battlefield and war novels.

Later, in our 30’s, we read Danielle Steele or Janet Dailey from Missouri, or passed a Judith Krantz on to our daughters (if we were brave enough), but now there is no one in the wings.

We have come a long way BABY in book selections and we need greater challenges to satisfy our reading needs. The Harlequin phrase is over. And did you know that Barbara Cartland was really a good writer on her non-fiction but relied on 40 writer-bees helping her design and write her 750 romance novels? Plus she was Princess Diana’s Step-Grandmother?

Now we are more serious about our habits of books and we, the power women, now turn to Karen White, Nicholas Sparks, Alice Hoffman and so many other really good writers, who combine the art of love with the art of interesting stories and we buy and buy.

But wait…there just might be a new name to add to the fantastic list of good, interesting writers coming out of England and America and being acceptable for a light read.

Anyone who has ever loved his heritage or studied the ancestry of his family might find a new mystery fascination who has been writing since 2013 and his name is NATHAN DYLAN GOODWIN.
A nice fellow from England…who started out writing non-fiction on his own famous home town of Hastings, has established himself with three historical books on Hastings. UK.

He is knocking at our ‘reading door’ now with both fiction and non-fiction and has claim to nine books. He is marrying the mystery with the genealogy theme, and this stuff is not boring. He combines the Dr. Watson’s and Miss Marble’s very well in his own Morton Farrier novella’s.

His books are read in a series, so be careful NOT to spoil his plan of presenting them. Plan to read them in the series they were written and I plan to work him onto one of my shelves of personal reading pleasures.

The books listed here are from his mystery series of Forensic Genealogist.
Vol. 1: Hiding the Past
Vol. 2: The Lost Ancestor
Vol. 2.5; The Orange Lilies
Vol. 3: The America Ground
Vol. 4: Spyglass File
Vol 4-5: The Missing Man

 

              

I feel Americans will rush to the bookstores and add these books to Wish Lists here on PaperBackSwap.
Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s series of war and non-fiction was his FIRST BOOK and includes:
Hastings at War 1939-1945
Hastings: Wartime Memories and Photographs
Hastings & St. Leonards Through Time

His latest book, from what I can tell is an ebook, A Very Old Man.  I do not know how this fits into his plan of series but it is sure to be popular and I WANT IT!

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

Author Spotlight – Georgette Heyer

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Georgette Heyer Author Spotlight by Charlie M. (bookaddicted)

Are you a fan of Agatha Christie mysteries? Discover another author very similar to her in Georgette Heyer. Georgette Heyer, you say? Didn’t she write Regency romances and historical novels? Yes, and those are probably what she is best known for authoring. But, Heyer also wrote a dozen very engaging mystery novels.

Four of the books feature Police Superintendent Hannasyde Death in the Stocks, Behold, Here’s Poison, They Found Him Dead & A Blunt Instrument.

 

Four feature Inspector Hemingway, Hannasyde’s subordinate No Wind of Blame, Envious Casca, Duplicate Death & Detection Unlimited.


The final four are stand-alones: Footsteps in the Dark, Why Shoot a Butler?, The Unfinished Clue & Penhallow.

 

Heyer’s books are classic English country house mysteries and it is said her barrister husband, Reginald Rougier, provided many of the plots for the detective novels.

 

Most of the mysteries were written in the 1930’s – early 1940’s and the characters are engaging and the plot twists inventive. Heyer’s mysteries was praised “for their wit and comedy as well as for their well-woven plots”. (critic Nancy Wingate)

 

If you have not had the pleasure of settling in with one of Heyer’s mystery novels, don’t wait. They will most likely become new favorites.

 

Author Spotlight – Ken Follett

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Author Spotlight – Ken Follett

by Cheryl G. (Poncer)

One of the great things about being a member at PaperBackSwap is finding new authors to read and enjoy.  Just like not judging books by their cover, I relearn over and over again, not to judge authors by my limited experience with their books.

I thought Ken Follett only wrote books about WWII. Boy, was I wrong. A book that came highly recommended to me was The Pillars of the Earth. Matter of fact, a close friend who I have had the pleasure to get to know in real life gave me her own copy to read. Thanks, Lori!

The 983 pages seemed daunting at first, but after the first few pages I was hooked. Read it through in about a week’s time and am very glad I did. The research that went into this book is amazing, and the story winds its way through it seamlessly.

I have always marveled at the feat of church-building, even ones built in the modern age, but to follow along as a cathedral is being planned and built in the early 10th century is awe inspiring. And to follow the builder, the monks, the daily struggles of Ken Follett’s characters really put me in the medieval time. This book came highly recommended to me and now, I, too, highly recommend it.

The next Ken Follett book I read was The Man from St. Petersburg, set in England just before WWI. It follows the Walden family, Lord, Lady and daughter, through the lead-up to the war. And just like The Pillars of the Earth, I was hooked from the very beginning.

Ken Follett’s research in both books is impeccable, weaving his story lines through history, and though we know that what he writes did not necessarily happen, his novels are believable and very true-to-life. He achieves this by his careful construction of characters, surrounding them with accurate details of the eras in which he sets his stories. He says, ““I like to create imaginary characters and events around a real historical situation. I want readers to feel: OK, this probably didn’t happen, but it might have.”

Ken Follett is a prolific author. He has penned over 30 novels, and sold over 150 million copies of his books. 4 have made the NY Times best seller list. An author I avoided for far too long is one of my new favorites. Today I received A Place Called Freedom in the mail that I ordered from another member here at PaperBackSwap. Set in 1766, it too promises to be a compelling read.

There are currently over 700 copies of Ken Follett’s book available to order on PBS. And two more on their way to me, Night Over Water and Paper Money. I am hoping they will be just as absorbing as the first two books I have read.

  

What Ken Follett books have you read? Which would you recommend?

 

 

Thanksgiving Guest Blog with Author Jess Lourey

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Picky Readers, Flying without a Net, and “Thanksgivingishness”

by Jess Lourey

Yay! I’m back at Paperback Swap, or as I like to call it, “The Humane Society for Books.” Thank you for reading, for being a part of this community, and for giving me five minutes of your time (ten, if you’re a slow reader, and if it’s wonderful if you are. It means that reading might not be quick for you, but it’s important, and important always trumps quick.)

When the amazing Cheryl tapped me to write this Thanksgiving post (and to add “thanksgivingishness” to it—her word), I was spending a lot of time thinking about what constitutes a good book. I got my start in the mystery world, and you won’t find better people or more compelling stories anywhere. That said, mysteries (and romances, fantasy, westerns, and some sci fi) all get a bad rap. They are categorized as genre fiction. In other words formulaic, write-by-numbers fluff. I’m not sure who exactly started that rumor, or who perpetuates it, but it’s settled into our collective subconscious. Many genre fiction writers are defensive about this. I may be one of them.

I’d like to think this need to prove something had nothing to do with me tackling a middle grade fantasy a year ago, or a magical realism novel this past fall, but I know better. Sure, the stories were driving me, but on some level, I wanted to legitimize myself. But you know what? As I embark on the eighth round of revisions on my magical realism manuscript, I realize that a good book is a good book, no matter the genre. The story is the key. The genre is merely the vehicle that takes it where it’s going.

This awareness made me realize that I don’t have to cater to picky readers (or writers, editors, agents, or publishers), those who only read romance, or only read literary fiction or nonfiction, or who only read any single type of book because they’ve mistaken the vehicle for the key. I can’t tell you how freeing this was for me, which brought me to a major career shift: I am now flying without a net. Specifically, I’ve decided to redefine myself as a writer. I’m no longer a mystery writer who does middle grade, or magical realism. I’m simply a story teller. In service of this new vision, I’ve also fired my agent, who couldn’t support my career shift in the way I needed her to.

That means I am now dangling over the edge, no net in sight: no genre to call home, no agent. Can I tell you how uncomfortable this is? Probably not, because you don’t know how Type A I am. I make lists. I know what I’m going to wear tomorrow. I plan time to plan. Letting go of my safety nets terrifies me. I’ve lost sleep about it. But also, on a deep, deep level, I’m grateful for where I’m at. This uncomfortable space is where the growth comes from, and the big, glorious changes. And for this opportunity to leave the comfort of the familiar for the excitement and promise of the unknown, I feel nothing but a deep and abiding thanksgivingishness.

Please keep reading, and support the stories, no matter what kinda car they drive up in. Happy holidays!

 

 

 

Jess Lourey

Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minnesota, and featuring amateur sleuth, Mira James. In multiple starred reviews, Booklist says of the series, “”It’s not easy to make people laugh while they’re on the edge of their seats, but Lourey pulls it off! Get started on this Lefty-nominated mystery series if you haven’t already!” Jess has been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998.

When not raising her wonderful kids, teaching, or writing, you can find her gardening, traveling, and navigating the niceties and meanities of small-town life. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and The Loft, and serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America.

Her latest, January Thaw, hits shelves January 8, 2014:

When Mira James moved to a small town in Minnesota, she thought she left muggings behind her . . . until she’s jumped by two men in an alley. A third man saves her, but for all his trouble he’s found frozen under an ice-covered lake.

Meanwhile, Mira’s job as a private eye in training has her tracking down the family that built the Prospect House, home of the town’s new museum. Discovering a letter that dates back to 1865, Mira finds herself embroiled in a cold case of treachery and a hot case of drug trafficking that puts the whole town in danger.

“…wry…delightfully eccentric. Readers of small-town mysteries will be charmed.”

Publisher’s Weekly

 

 

 

 

Food Week Author Spotlight – Julia Child

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

by Pat L. (PitterPat)

 

 

 

Julia Child inspired many Americans to try new cooking techniques over her many years on TV. Julia didn’t learn to cook until she was in her 30’s. She became interested in cooking after marrying Paul Child. In 1948 they moved to France, where Paul worked for the United States Information Agency. Julia fell in love with French food immediately. She attended the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and started teaching other American women how to cook French dishes. In the early 1950’s she started writing a cookbook with 2 friends. That book later became “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes one and two”.

 

 

Decades later she worked with her great-nephew, Alex Prud’homme to write “My Life in France”. It was published in 2006, 2 years after Julia died. This is a wonderful book told in Julia’s voice about the time the Childs spent in France. She describes in wonderful detail special meals they were served, the apartment they lived in, and the French people. Cooking and teaching became Julia’s passion and you can feel it through this book. You also get a glimpse into Julia and Paul’s marriage. They were truly partners and soul mates.

 

 

 

Another book that will give you more insight into Julia is “As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto” by Joan Reardon. Avis Devoto is the person who took Julia’s cookbook manuscript to publishers in the United States. Their letters reveal how much work Julia spent in perfecting each recipe that she wanted published. They also talked about politics and personal situations. Some of it I had a hard time relating to because Avis came from a life that involved hired help and lots of cocktail parties. I felt she wasn’t really in touch with the average housewife of the 1950’s. But again you see Julia’s passion in her letters about the cookbook manuscript.

 

 

 

 

If you have ever seen “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, you know that the recipes are extremely long and detailed. Julia wanted the books to teach cooks techniques not just a list of ingredients and simple cooking directions. After reading the two books about Julia, I revisited a copy of “Mastering” and had a new appreciation for how the recipes were written. I realized that Julia wanted to be in my kitchen helping me cook. She wanted everyone to enjoy the process of cooking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even if you don’t consider yourself a big fan of Julia Child, I highly recommend these books. You may also walk away thinking about what are you passionate about in life.

Bon Appétit!