PaperBackSwap Blog

Archive for May, 2011

Story Time with Soldiers 2011 – New Donation Program

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

PaperBackSwap and United Through Reading

Story Time with Soldiers 2011

Sometimes it’s the small things that mean the most…


At PaperBackSwap, we firmly believe in the power of reading… and the power of giving. We are excited to be able to extend our charitable work to those serving in the United States Armed Forces. Regardless of why or where they are deployed, these men and women and their families contend with danger, separation from loved ones and rigorous physical conditions. We believe that if we can ease their days at all, we should, and are ready to get started…with your help!

PaperBackSwap is proud to support our military personnel again this year by partnering with the nationally recognized nonprofit organization, United Through Reading.  Their mission is to unite families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading together.  One of the most difficult things a child can experience is having a parent deployed for an indeterminate period of time.  The United Through Reading® Military Program helps ease the stress of separation for military families by having deployed soldiers read children’s books aloud via DVD for their child to watch at home.

Click Here To Donate



Reading together unites families … together, we can send thousands of books to help our soldiers share the gift of reading with their loved ones.


Mystery Monday – Right You Are, Mr. Moto

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Right You Are, Mr. Moto by John P. Marquand

Review by Matt B.  (BuffaloSavage)


The last Mr. Moto novel has had numerous titles:  The Last of Mr. Moto, Stopover Tokyo, and Right You Are, Mr. Moto.

The Pacific War and American Occupation are over, but Mr. Moto is still working in Intelligence.

He teams up with two American spies, Jack Rhyce and Ruth Bogart, to expose Communist subversives who want to force Japan into the Red Camp. Jack and Ruth are standard Marquand characters (blue-bloods, natural aristocrats) who are going through changes in their lives that conflict with their duties.

Marquand like the themes of passages in life and feelings versus duties. An ex-intelligence operative himself, he describes closely and realistically the stress and fatigue of always having to play a part while undercover.

C. Hugh Holman, a University of North Carolina professor who helped establish the National Humanities Center, considered this book to be the best Mr. Moto novel of the six that Marquand wrote. I agree that readers who like the serious spy fiction a la John Bingham or John Le Carre would probably like this one too.

The last Mr. Moto novel has had numerous titles:  The Last of Mr. Moto, Stopover Tokyo, and Right You Are, Mr. Moto.

Memorial Day 2011

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Author Interview with J Monkeys

Saturday, May 28th, 2011


Diane G’s (icesk8tr) interview with J Monkeys, author of The Cordovan Vault


Diane G: What inspired you to write this book?

J: So the question of inspiration is a big one.  I’ve always been a writer, or at least a story creator.  As an undiagnosed ADD kid, I couldn’t sit still and do nothing or focus on stuff that I found boring (can’t even today) and I was labeled a ‘daydreamer’.  I had a very safe, mostly happy childhood, so I began to think up disasters and imagine how I would handle them.  What if that kid walking home from school behind me suddenly turned into an alien?  What would I do if I had Samantha’s powers from Bewitched?  What if there was a huge blizzard and I got stuck at work all alone?  For days.  With no food…what would I do.  Things like that.  I didn’t begin to actually write these things down until I was in college.  And I didn’t develop a full story until I was out of college.

The inspiration for The Cordovan Vault came to me because I was annoyed with my Dad. He was a member of the Masons and even when he dropped out (or whatever they call it) for personal reasons, he still wouldn’t tell me ANYTHING about that secret society.  So I thought, the heck with him, I’ll create my own secret society.  Lur Babsel and Denortus came from there and everything else followed along.


Diane: Quinn and Kayla have an interesting bond and rivalry throughout the book. Does some of this come from your own experiences?

J: I’ve certainly experienced sibling rivalry and had to work with people I didn’t like very much, but no, I’ve never had a relationship quite like Quinn and Kayla’s.  They’ll be the first to tell you that they aren’t related, of course.  And I’m excited to see how their relationship develops over the course of the story.


Diane: There are a lot of puzzles to solve in this book by Kayla, is this something you enjoyed doing as a child?

J: I’m actually not really clever enough to solve puzzles, nor am I patient enough.  I love them in other stories, the DaVinci Code and certainly the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys books.  I wanted to include them in my story and they’ll continue to be a part of this series.  It’s much easier to solve puzzles that I’ve created or adapted from things I’ve researched than to solve other people’s puzzles.


Diane: I really enjoyed the relationship between Quinn and Kayla, as well as their special advantages. Is there a reason you represented them as being so young throughout the story?

J: Thanks!  I worked hard to make their relationship seem real.  On the one hand they start out already hating each other, for years prior to the book begins, but now things have changed very quickly.  They are stuck living together, and as the story gets going, they have to work together just to stay alive.  At the same time, the story happens quickly; only two weeks pass from page 1 to page 306.  I didn’t want them to suddenly become best of friends in that short time.  That didn’t seem realistic to me.  So they still struggle with their relationship, balancing working together and the traits that have annoyed them about each other for so long.

The Advantages are their ‘super powers’ of course.  I didn’t want them to be magical or superhero-y, but they are a little different from everybody else they know, and so they have a little something extra.  An advantage, if you will.  But they don’t know how to use them, or what they can really do, or even where they come from and that’s a challenge for them.

Originally, Quinn and Kayla were older.  But as the story developed and I got input from agents and other writers, I decided that this story was at it’s heart an adventure story.  That pretty much puts it in the Middle Grade (“MG”) or Young Adult (YA”) genres, but it’s not angst-y enough to be a true YA novel.  It has more subplots than are often seen in MG books, but no drugs or sex like YA can have.  And the onscreen violence is not inappropriate for a MG reader.  So in the end, I decided that this series is in between MG and YA – an old MG or a young YA.

In the post-Harry-Potter world there is more genre-variety than there used to be, but this ‘tweener-genre doesn’t seem to have a name yet.  The ‘tweener audience would be strong 3rd grade readers to kids who are 12-ish.  And kids like to read about characters who are a little older than they are, but not too much older.  Hence, 14-year old characters.  The long answer to a short question is: It’s hard to nail down which genre the series really falls into, because there is so much gray area in defining the genres.  And the character’s age is an important factor of the book genre.  I call this series a YA adventure story with elements of the paranormal that is fit for anyone 9 to 90.  So far, more adults have read it than kids and it’s been well received.


Diane: What’s next? Do you have other books already published, and are you working on  another book?

J: What’s next? Well, lots! The Peacock Tale is Book 2 in the Livingston-Wexford Adventures. It’s a piratey adventure and should be available in September 2011.

There is a novella called The Pirate’s Mysterious Treasure that will be out around Halloween which tells the back-story of Pembroke Peacock (the pirate whose treasure Quinn and Kayla search for in Book 2).

Then The Orange Trade (Book 3) should be out in the spring of 2012 with another novella a few months after that.

I’m also working on an unrelated series of books for kindergarteners. The first of those is out (Dixie and Taco go to Grandmother’s House) and available on Createspace.com and Amazon.com. This book focuses on the sight words that kindergarteners learn – they are in blue text to make them easy to find. I’ve got the 2nd book with the illustrator now, and I’m going to write 3 more.  Then I’ll advance Dixie and Taco to first grade and write a book that relies on that reading curriculum.


Diane: Do you enjoy reading yourself? If so, what author has influenced you?

J: Do I enjoy reading?!  It’s only my very favorite thing to do in the entire world!  One reason I love my Kindle is that now I can read one handed – none of that bothersome page turning.  I have loved to read ever since I learned how to do it.  I always picture myself as the hero/heroine and books let me have the most incredible adventures.  I can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone.  I love to read.

It’s harder to say what authors have influenced me because probably every author of all the books I’ve read in my life has influenced me in some way.  Sometimes the influence comes in the form of specific writing elements that I like and hope to emulate in some way.  Other times the influence comes as a what-not-to-do type of thing.  I can’t wait to read whatever JK Rowling writes next.  I loved the Twilight books and hope Stephenie Meyer continues that story.  I like Rick Riordan’s stories, especially the Red Pyramid series.  I loved the Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew stories as a kid, and CS Lewis’s Narnia stories.  I read mysteries, crime dramas, romance and a lot of non-fiction history.  Right now, I’m reading Jessica Andersen’s Nightkeeper series.  Loving it!


Diane: Do you have a website / blog?

J: You name it, I’ve got it.  You can find my website here (https://sites.google.com/site/booksbyjmonkeys/) or just Google me.  I’m working on updating the domain name to make it easier to find me.  I’ve got a fan page on Facebook, just search for J Monkeys and like the page.  I love to hear from readers, and that’s the best place to do it.  Leave a comment and I’ll pick one person to name a character in my next book at the end of the month.  I’m launching a new blog, called the Writing Secrets of 7 Scribes (http://secretsof7scribes.wordpress.com/) with six other authors in just a few weeks.  And I’ll be launching a YouTube Channel by the end of the summer.


Thank you Diane and J Monkeys for a great interview!

J Monkeys has generously offer an autographed first edition copy of her book, The Cordovan Vault to a member who comments on this interview. A winner will be chosen at random. Good Luck!

Fantasy Friday- Nights of Villjamur

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton‏
Review written by Bowden P. (Trey)

After reading Eyes of the Overworld, I discover there is a sub-genre of fantasy called Dying Earth. And though I never new it existed, I’m a fan.

The novel Nights of Villjamur opens with a punitive seige on Folke Isaland against rebels. There we meet Brynd Lathrea, Kapp Brimir and Papus as the seige takes place. The seeds for about half the story are sown here as the connections between the characters are estblished.

The action then leaps ten years forward to the imperial capital of Villjamur. There thousands of refugees seek entrance to outlast the coming ice age, plus there are the intrigues of the technological cults, the wealthy and the aristocrats. All in all, its a millennia old snake pit known for its spires, bridges, wealth, antiques and age.

The world Newton sketches out in Nights of Villjamur is an interesting one. Its old. As in millions of years old. It sort of reminds of Against a Dark Background and McCauley’s Confluence trilogy in that regard. The world is different – there are the intelligent flying garudas that serve the Empire, blood beetles that feast upon spilt blood, banshees – the witch women of Villjamur that announce the deaths of all and technolgies and sciences so old that they have been forgotten by most, only rediscovered and horded by cultists. These ancient artifacts – relics – and knowledge of them are the magic of the setting. And oh yes, there are other hominid races too. The only two mentioned are the Dawnir – a giant race responsible for much of the impressive technological artifacts and the Rumel, a tailed, leathery skinned and long lived race.

The plot summaries I’ve seen at Amazon and on PBS don’t do the plots justice because there are many, varied and interlinked. I don’t think setting up the dominoes will spoil things too much. Randur Estevu – formerly Kapp Brimir – has made his way to Villjamur to find a way to keep his mother alive. Which leads him back to Papus, head of the Order of Dawnir and from her to her rival, Dartun Súr. Dartun Súr seeks immortality no matter the price as his age retarding treatments begin to fail. But before all this happens a member of the Council is killed mere steps from Randur which leads to the involvement of Investigator Rumex Jeryd and Investigator Aide Tryst. While all this is happening Commander Brynd Lathrea of the Night Guard, the Empire’s elite forces, is fighting off an intense and well prepared ambush.

From there the plot picks up speed and so do the quirks and descriptions of the city and its character. Before long we meet the mad and brilliant Emperor Jamur Johynn (who I’d describe as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”), the ambitious Chancellor Urtica, the prostitute Tuya and the Emperor’s daughters Eir and Rika.

I liked this book. I really did. It has some good characters and characterization, and even though they work at cross purposes, they can be understandable. Not always sympathetic, but understandable. Newton also presents an intriguing older Earth that makes me think of Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique and Jack Vance’s Dying Earth.

I’m looking forward to tracking down the sequel City of Ruin and reading it as well. The blurbs promise more action in the north, plus more darkness and weirdness.

Likes: Neat characters; Their interactions; Their motivations; The world building; Avoiding info dumps.

Dislikes: The sudden ending of the book. Its the logical spot, but I want more.

Suggested for: Fans of Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, William Hope Hodgson, Gene Wolfe and fans of the Dying Earth sub-genre of fantasy. I’d also suggest it to fans of PC Hodgell and Greg Keyes Riverborn series.

Author Interview with Lawrence Barrett

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Maria’s (SassenachD)  Interview with Author/Poet Lawrence Barrett

Lawrence Barrett, a native Marylander who has spent his life writing poetry and soldiering all over the world, is the author of Letters from the Meat Market of Paradise (2009); Ah, Desolation! (2009); Yell Louder Please (2009); and, no brakes i’m crashing (2010). Lawrence Barrett is retired from a 20-year stint in the U. S. Army where he traveled to such lovely getaway spots as Bosnia and Iraq.


Maria: How did you get started writing poetry?

LB: At a young age I was subject to a stutter and had some difficulty expressing myself, which must have been psychological because it’s gone now, except for rare moments of extreme discomfort when a little stutter sneaks up on me.  My father once suggested that I read poetry aloud and get comfortable with the rhythm of speech. I had nothing to lose so I tried. What a world that was opened up to me.  As a young teenager I found that I could not only easily understand poetry, but enjoyed it. I loved everything about it: the rhythm, the rhymes and the overall musicality of it. More importantly I found that I enjoyed writing it. It became my primary mode of self-expression.


Maria: Did you have a major influence, i.e. a person? Cultural event?  What gives Larry inspiration?

LB: When I was younger Yeats and Shelley were my main influences which of course changed over time as I discovered the poetic prose of Kerouac and the concrete simplicity and humor of Bukowski.  However, as an artist I am mainly inspired by the simple instances of life itself:  a glance, a memory, cooking soup, the sound of fingers tapping on a table, a beautiful voice rambling on about nothing at all…ECT.

As well, 20 years in the army played a significant role, giving, I believe, my verse a harder edge and a finer appreciation of human personality. I have lived all over the world, met all kinds of people and done all sorts of things. I have been blessed with a wide array of inspiration.

Perhaps one of the biggest inspirations for me is playing drums in a drum circle and in a band. The power of rhythm adds such a sense of musicality to everything I do. I am sure there is some carryover. When I am in the pocket and find that right groove that makes people dance I ultimately experience an elated sense of perfection. I believe it is the same as finding the right groove for a poem that makes people go “ahhh.”


Maria: Who is your target audience when you write?

LB: As a poet it’s hard to conceive that I have an audience, let alone a target audience; but, if I do, I guess that it would be persons who enjoy modern poetry – poetry that breaks the bounds of conventionalism. I guess I target the subway rider who has time for only a short poem or two. I target people who are at ease with their own humanity. I target readers who don’t mind a little slam [in written form]. I target readers who don’t mind a delicate poem thrown into the mix.  I target readers who don’t mind an honest American talking trash. I target readers who appreciate new art. In many ways I think poetry is a revolution of words that replaces the old forms with the new. It’s not the same thing as reading a newspaper, though reading a newspaper to some might be more entertaining. The reader who understands that is the reader I target.


Maria: Do you write just to please yourself or to move others?

LB: Simply, I write for the audience. Some fellow poets criticize me on this. Poetry is primarily the art of communicating inexpressible ideas and feelings.  If when I read and the audience does not go “wow!”; I feel that I have failed as a poet.


Maria: What do you think about the sexual tones in your writing? Do you think they may be a distraction for what you are trying to portray?

LB: Some of my poems have do indeed have sexual overtones, and some are quite sexually blatant. Some people are turned off by that. But in this age of psychotherapy for everybody I feel that sexual feelings are a part of the human experience and I try to stay true to the complexity of emotions that may contain a sexual feeling or two, if not three or four. Nonetheless, I feel no shame in expressing such intense human feelings.  To step into a book of my poetry may require a little courage and a sense of humor. The reader should know up front that they may come across some objectionable material. But then some of life is objectionable too.  As a modern artist I try to capture it all, but with a little humor.


Maria: What is next up for you? Any new projects in the works?

LB: Just more books. I love writing, and writing, and writing…


Maria: Do you have a favorite poet that you read?

LB: The list is long.  My favorite living poets are Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Billy Collins, John Kinsella, Sapphire, and Yusef Kounyakaa. My favorite dead poets are Kerouac, Bukowski, Ginsberg and Jim Carroll. Besides reading, I love going to spoken word or slam poetry events.  The quality of poetry is usually very high there and you can just here the musicality of the language explode all over the place. There is a great recording by Kerouac where Steve Allan plays jazz piano as Kerouac reads some of his work. It is some of the most beautiful spoken word I have heard in my life.


Maria: Do you have a favorite author?

LB: I grew up reading war novels. As I am working on an MA in Military History with an American Civil War concentration, I find the works of Shelby Foote and Michael Shaara entertaining.

However in a more popular vein I also enjoy the works of Michael Crichton.  My favorite books are: Joyce’s Dubliners, Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, Hesse’s Siddhartha and Bukowski’s Post Office.


Maria: How would you classify your writing?

LB: American poetry.


Maria: Are your books self published? Any information on how that is done? Do you distribute your books out at your poetry readings?

LB: Yes. I self-publish.  I publish through Createspace.com and give my books away at poetry readings if anyone is interested. I let the audience decide whether my work is worthy or not.  More often than not I get very good response, especially if I give a good read.  The internet is a very good vehicle for local artists getting their work out.  Personally I have no shame in self-publishing.  Many presses nowadays will not even publish poetry because 9 times out of 10 it’s not economical. But it is an awesome feeling when someone I have never met tells me that they really love my work and asks for a book.  It really blows me away.  But self-publishing is really very easy. I can manage my own content without the meddling of a poetry editor and I can create my own cover which in the end gives my books a very unique feel. My books have a very personal quality to them.   In the end, if you are computer savvy enough to convert word files into .pdf files then you can self-publish. It only costs me $3.66 per book; and for me that is a minimal production cost. Of course you could choose a book production service which could get very pricey, but I prefer doing all the work myself.


Maria: You have a website Larrythepoet.com, Does this also show your coffee house dates where you will read or do you just show up when you feel like it?

LB: No, but I should include reading dates. More often than not I just show up to events and read.  Just the other night I called a guy who plays drums with me in a band and had him play bongos for me at an open mic. Now they are giving me a bongo night featuring my band.  Currently my website, www.Larrythepoet.com is just a way for me to reach out to the public. Not many people will remember my name as much as they may remember Larrythepoet.  I thought it was a really funny idea for a website.  Sometimes at open mics I am being introduced as Larrythepoet. I have no control over this. It’s kind of funny to have a stupid nickname but I hope it does not overshadow the quality of my work.


Maria: Do you teach writers workshops?

LB: It has been my honor to give a number of poetry workshops.  I have had some pretty good turnouts and some good press. Mainly though I have had a lot of fun.  I really enjoy helping participants find a different angle of poetic perception if just for a moment. In essence that is what a poem is.


Maria: Some Fun Questions:

What music do you listen too?

LB: Ambient, jazz, heavy metal, Irish folk and African drum music.

Maria: What is your favorite writing food?

LB: Beer.

Maria: Do you scribble your notes on scraps of paper or carry a journal?

LB: Scraps of paper.

Maria: Are you afraid of the dark?

LB: All the time.

Maria: Shoes or bare feet?

LB: Both.

Maria: Coke or Pepsi?

LB: Both.


Lawrence Barrett has provided 2 of his books, A Little Backyard Music and No Brakes I am Crashing, as prizes to members who comment on this interview. 2 winners will be chosen at random. Good Luck!

Thank you Mr Barrett and Maria for a great interview!

Memories, Musings and Miscellany from our MoM’s

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Melody is today’s featured Member of the Month. She was named Member of the Month in June 2008.


Joining PBS special meaning for me. On March 1st, 2006, I brought my dog home after having her leg amputated the day before (due to a cancerous tumor). She was confined to a very small area in the living room. For 3-4 weeks, I camped out on the couch next to her as she healed with a stack of books nearby.

By the end of the third week, I had read all my books. I didn’t have money to buy anything new and couldn’t leave Sierra alone to go to the library. Then I saw an article in the newspaper about this website called PaperBackSwap.com. For a couple of days, I did research on these online book trading sites. In the end I decided that PaperBackSwap made the most sense and I joined up on the 31 March of 2006.

As I’m not working, I can’t justify spending money on books. PBS has given me the ability to have new reads without going broke. I’ve also been able to get rid of some books, though it didn’t work out quite as I suspected. I thought I’d be emptying shelves. Instead, I’ve got a box full of unread books and full shelves!

PBS has expanded my reading horizons as well. I tend to read books rather than authors. I’m easily bored if I read too many books in a row that are similar. Through the members on PBS, I’ve found so many different books to read. I’ve read authors I never heard of before joining and picked up books based on others recommendations. It’s so much easier to take a chance on a book when you aren’t spending twenty bucks on it. I’ve found a love for Anne Lamott, Marek Halter, Rett MacPhersonAnita Diamant, and Tracy Chevalier through PBS. There is no way to get into a reading rut when you’re a member of PBS!

But, PBS means more to me than books. I’ve been a member of the online community since I joined up. At first I lurked, trying to get a feel for the dynamics of the group. Giving the number of posts I’ve written, I’ve probably been too active.

I consider the people here my friends. They’ve helped me through some tough times and cheered me through some happy ones. This is an incredibly supportive and diverse bunch of people.

I am a lifelong reader. I think I may have been born with books in my hands, which explains why the delivery was difficult for my Mom. I remember we had this multi-volume set of children’s classics. Even before I could read, I was familiar with all the stories in every book. If someone finds those books, they can open up to the page for Heidi and find my name written there with backwards letters.

Growing up, I loved Amelia Bedelia, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Encyclopedia Brown, and The Borrowers. I devoured books in the school library, the bookmobile, the local public library, and still begged my Mom to buy me books from the monthly Scholastic books newsletter.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton would be at the top of my all time favorites list. Though, I think Go Ask Alice was the one book that stayed with me long after I read it. I grew up in the 1970s and I knew a few people who went down the same path and never returned.

There are a few of books which I found meaningful that I read as an adult. Far too many to list, so I’ll give you these: Roots by Alex Haley, Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie Siegel, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott, and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.

I am currently reading Her Daughter’s Eyes by Jessica Barksdale Inclan.


If you have any nominations for Member of the Month, submit them to us here.  Your nomination will not “expire”–anyone you nominate will have a chance at getting Member of the Month if enough nominations accumulate over time. Each month the person who has the most votes accumulated when the Newsletter goes to press gets to be Member of the Month and 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 PBS.  We are keeping a list of all the nominated members.  Who knows–one of them might be YOU!