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Archive for July, 2011

Mystery Monday – Rounding the Mark

Monday, July 11th, 2011


Rounding the Mark by Andrea Camilleri

Review by Matt B. ( BuffaloSavage)


Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano and his band of dedicated detectives return in this seventh book of the celebrated series.

Because of the interesting setting and asides about food and his fractured relationships with other characters, these are definitely worth reading for those into mysteries that take place in other countries.

After reading about six of these in the last couple of years, however, I felt  a cynical sense of Camilleri’s going through the motions – vast criminal conspiracy in business and government, vicious crimes against the innocent and vulnerable, and globalization ushering in the promised land for very few.

As usual, Salvo is a sparrow that sprinkles drops of water on a burning forest.

Camilleri’s thesis seems to be that Italian society is so profoundly corrupt that the normal response of an intelligent person is to choose the fights that could be won, enjoy eating and drinking, hang out with friends, and get pleasure in the spectrum of relationships one can have with women. That’s what Salvo does.

And it’s fun to read.

Memories, Musings and Miscellany from our MoM’s

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Today our featured Member of the Month is Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty). Jerelyn was named our Member of the Month in June 2011.


How long have you been a PBS member?

I have been a member since 3-14-09


How did you find PBS?

I follow a blog, by one of the ladies in the historical fiction forum, it was either her talking about PBS or one of my fave authors talked about it on her blog, I don’t remember which. The funny thing is that same author requested a old out of print book from me. I didn’t realize it of course until I printed out the mailing label. I wrote a quick note telling her that I had her first 2 books, both had been self published. She kindly sent me 2 new autographed copies. Thank-you Susan Higginbotham! This is also an example of the *PBS nice* that is so prevalent in our community.


How has PBS impacted your life?

I went through a very serious illness, then I fell on the ice not once but twice and was injured rather badly. Needless to say I had a lot of time on my hands, I had to stop working, my life changed, friends fell away. I was desperately wanting to find new authors and talk books. PBS has been a God send! I met some amazing people, my friend Bonnie for one I think we were friends or sisters in our last life. Boss Lady, and all the friends on the Historical Fiction Forum have so enriched my life. It was wholly unexpected, and so welcome.


What does PBS mean to you?

I have a much wider view of the world. It has pulled me out of a fairly serious depression. When your used to being out working and doing then that comes to a screeching halt, to be reduced to just your house because it was just to difficult to go out, PBS became my window on the world. I have also been interviewing authors for the PBS Blog. I can’t believe how much fun this is! I feel like I am contributing to our community, it is a good feeling.


Did you read as a child?

Oh yes. I am the youngest of 5 children. I learned to read at 4 by playing school with my sister who is 3 years older than I. She taught me to read with the Dick and Jane books. I got my first library card at 6. My first book was My Friend Flicka. I have always been a history geek. I loved biographies. I remember reading Lady With The Lamp about Florence Nightingale.


What was your favorite book growing up?

That is hard to say, but I loved Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Series. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, he lived down the street from us when I was very little. My eldest brother and sister both have a autographed 1st edition of his book.

I also loved Nancy Drew. My Mother would read them to us on trips to see our grandparents.


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

In 8th grade I had chickenpox, I read Gone With the Wind for the first time. It was my first grown-up novel, I was sneaking my elder sister romances very soon after that. Bond of Blood by Roberta Gellis,  The Flame and The Flower , and The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Pretty racy stuff for a 14/15 year old.


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

I have to say it would be Sharon Penman’s novels. She is a master in her genre, authors respect her work her fans love her. Even college professors are using her novels to teach Medieval studies, she simply the best!


What are you reading now?

I am been reading The Sweet Smell Of Decay by Paul Lawrence, also Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn.


On deck are Before Versailles, the newest novel by Karleen Koen, The Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato, and The Virgin Widow by Anne O’Brien.




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!

Video Game Day – July 8th, 2011

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Video Game Day – July 8th, 2011

By James L. (JimiJam)


Video games have been around for a LONG time.  Those who remember Pac-man’s early days may take offense at this assertion, at least until they hear that the first video game predates Pac-man by over 20 years!  In 1947, Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. and Este Ray Mann submitted an application for the very first video game related patent, then called a “cathode ray tube amusement device”.  The game was not only the world’s first video game, but the first of what have come to be known as “shooters”.  In this case, the targets were meant to represent airplanes, and the first gamers used a set of buttons and knobs to fire the cathode ray tube beam toward the oncoming blips.  Little did anyone realize, a multi-billion dollar industry was born.


The future of video games wasn’t even remotely obvious during those first fledgling decades.  In fact, it took quite a few stumbling years in the mid-to-late ‘70s before gaming began to show it’s true potential.  While many of the first home consoles (Atari, CalecoVision, Intellivision) found some success in the early ‘80s, it was largely due to what is now known as the Golden Age of Video Arcade Games that gaming truly came into its own.  Memorable classics such as Pac-Man, Defender, Space Invaders, and Centipede quickly became buzzwords in America’s pop-cultural vernacular.


While the age of the arcade enjoyed its primacy, we also saw the arrival of the home computer, as well as the rise of one of the most important words in video game history: Nintendo.  Originally a playing card manufacturer, Nintendo’s focus shifted to home entertainment featuring some of gaming’s best time-tested interfaces, like the “zapper”, a light capturing device used as a gun, and familiar to anyone who has played games like Nintendo’s own Duck Hunt, bundled in-cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System with the biggest icon since Mickey Mouse: Mario Mario, the plumber.

Since those early days, we’ve seen Nintendo joined by companies like Sega, Sony, and Microsoft, who over the years have released an army of consoles and formats, and have consistently revolutionized the notion of home entertainment.  We’ve seen games grow from simple single screen spritefests to immense and beautifully depicted virtual environments set as the backdrop for ongoing storylines and multifaceted plots more complex than the modern movie trilogy can express.  These days, gamers don’t just play for the simple thrill of a few satisfying bleeps; today’s gamers immerse themselves into the roles of their characters, roving virtual landscapes in teams and squads with comrades networked across the world, perpetuating limitless plotlines and participating in nothing less than modern mythmaking, taking the labels of hero and villain alike onto themselves.


Friday July 8th is actually the first of two days set aside for celebration of video games.  Considering how powerful these sources of amusement have become within modern society, it’s not surprising that two days are required.  From a two players manipulating blips on oscilloscopes to warehouses filled with row after row of gamer-helmed PCs; from single screens of platforms to environments so real they have weather patterns; from an informative paragraph in an instruction pamphlet to hours of in game cinematics expositing storylines to rival some of the most fantastic of novels, video games have evolved into something far greater than their earliest designers could have ever predicted.  We now live in a world chock full of video game inspired paraphernalia, including toys, movies, books, clothing lines, music scores, home decorations, entire conventions, whole lives dedicated to what has become a world unto itself.


The Myst Reader Books 1-3 by Rand Miller, Robyn Miller, David Wingrove


What Every Parent Needs to Know About Video Games by Richard Abanes


First Strike – HALO, Bk 3 by  Eric Nylund


Perfect Dark: Second Front by Greg Rucka


The Best of the Super Mario Bros


Donkey Kong Country by Michael Teitelbaum, Leif Peng (Illustrator)


Sonic the Hedgehog by Michael Teitelbaum



Fantasy Friday – Late Eclipses

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire

Review by Susan R. (Sue-in-AZ



This is the fourth book in the October Daye series.


Toby Daye is a P.I. – and also a Changling. She has a Fae mother and a human father, and she attempts to live her life in both worlds.  As a half-Fae P.I., she tries to bring human crime-solving techniques to cases involving magic.  The two don’t always blend and she’s often caught in the middle.

In this book, several of her closest friends and allies have been attacked.  And the evidence points to Toby as the attacker.  She’s being framed for crimes she didn’t commit. The local Fae queen – The Queen of the Mists – is willing to accept Toby’s guilt and has sentenced her to be executed.

Toby believes that she knows who’s behind the attacks, but she has a hard time proving anything. On top of that, she’s getting confused about events and started to second-guess her own actions. She has to rely on her friends in the Fae community for help in escaping the Queen’s dungeons and to solve the crimes being committed.

The twists and turns in this story force Toby to face up to her own Fae background – and learn things she didn’t want to know about her mother.  We get a deeper look into Fae politics, and we see their truly ruthless side.


My Review

This series seems to get better with each book.  The characters continue to be very rich and the stories full of action and intrigue.

I’m enjoying following the developing love triangle of Toby with Connor and Tybalt.  Personally, I want to see her end up with Tybalt (King of the Cats) and I have to wonder where the series will take this story line.

It was also interesting to learn more about Toby’s heritage – and more about her mysterious mother.  It turns out that Toby isn’t quite what she thought she was. I can’t wait to see where this story line goes as well!

I love the use of Toby’s “fetch”. May was supposed to be the personification of Toby’s impending death. However she’s now taken on a life of her own and has moved in as Toby’s roommate.  I love the interaction between Toby and May. They remind me of sisters who are so alike that sometimes they can hardly stand each other, but then they surprise you with their differences.


Author Spotlight: Barbara Hambly

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The PBS Blog Team is please to announce a new feature we call Author Spotlight. A huge Thank You to Barbara (femmefan) for this great idea!


Author Spotlight on Barbara Hambly

By Barbara (femmefan)


Mystery.  Historical fiction.  Fantasy.  Vampires.  Sherlock Holmes.  Graphic novels.  Science fiction.  Star Wars.  Star Trek.  Beauty and the Beast.

It’s quite an eclectic, something-for-everyone mix, with author Barbara Hambly as the common denominator.  I discovered Hambly years ago with one of her Star Trek books, Ishmael.  An odd crossover universe book, it was so faithful to the characters from both universes that it clicked for me, and I’ve followed her career ever since.  I’ve read many of her titles although some, like the graphic novels or Beauty and the Beast, don’t appeal to me, while others are out of print and/or difficult to find, even with PBS as a resource.

Don’t get the idea that because Hambly is a prolific writer who works across many genres that she must be mistress of none of them.  From outer space to ancient Rome, in unimagined worlds of fantasy, in mid-1800’s New Orleans or the pre-Revolution American colonies, Hambly maintains a sure touch with character, dialog, and story.  Her prose is top-notch, with a wonderful clarity and careful word choices that say just exactly what the author wants to say.

That she performs meticulous background research is apparent; her college training in medieval history probably contributes to that inclination.  What she does with that historical information, though, is amazing:  she creates detailed worlds with characters who live and breathe there, who slip into their milieu with an ease and naturalness that pulls the reader right along behind in willing belief.

Settings and characters are often intriguingly complex.  Don Simon Ysidro, vampire, is subtle yet dramatic, a heartbreaking blend of suave courtliness and deadly danger, who both loves and loathes his cold existence.  Ben January, the “free man of color” in Hambly’s January series, is a black doctor who inhabits a world of both structured cruelty and unexpected goodness.  In the fantasy Windrose Chronicles books, Joanna, the resourceful heroine (a type that Hambly favors) and Antryg, the wizard who is surely either demented or the wisest man alive, make a formidable pair.

Recently Hambly has turned to stories steeped in American history.  The Emancipator’s Wife is a fictional treatment of Mary Todd Lincoln, while Patriot Hearts looks at our country’s early days through the eyes of some its most prominent women.  One of those women, Abigail Adams, is featured in the history/mystery The Ninth Daughter (written as Barbara Hamilton).

Whatever the genre, although I liked some of her books more than others, I can honestly say I’ve never been disappointed by Barbara Hambly’s work yet–not even by The Bride of the Rat God, which was much better than its title and the cheesy cover art would lead you to think!  I keep track of her series and upcoming titles, knowing I’ll want to read whatever is next.  I hope that the featured books that follow will encourage you to judge for yourself.

(As a disclaimer, I probably should mention that I’m not a Hambly relative/dependent/hanger-on, nor am I on Barbara Hambly’s payroll.  🙂



A Free Man of Color (Benjamin January series book 1)


The Silent Tower (The Windrose Chronicles book 1)


The Time of the Dark (Darwath, book 1)


Those Who Hunt the Night (Asher/Ysidro book 1)


The Emanicipator’s Wife


Patriot Hearts


Bride of the Rat-God


Romance Review – The Mephisto Covenant

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen

By Nikki G. (nikkig224


The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen is the story of Sasha Annenkova, a girl trying to live a normal life despite all of the not-so-normal things happening around her. She begins the story by attempting to join a secret society in order to find out why her father was killed. Her plan backfires when the leader of the group, Alex, reveals that she is Anabo, the purest of the pure humans descended from Eve’s daughter Aurora. Before he can whisk her away to his superior, an evil man named Eryx, she is rescued by Jax and his brothers, who have a secret of their own.

She wakes up with her memory wiped, but her life begins to spiral out of control. Suddenly, her Russian mother is deported and she is forced to move to Telluride, Colorado, with her uncle’s family who absolutely hate her. Things get even more complicated when Jax runs into her during a skiing trip that turns her life upside down.

This book didn’t just have me engaged, it had me addicted. It was an absolute thrill ride with one exciting event happening after another. Faegen’s story constantly had me wondering what would happen next.

It was really interesting to see the variety of problems Sasha faced. She had the same problems that most teenagers face, like getting into college, but she also had to worry about her own life. While she was worrying about becoming popular, she was also struggling with accepting an entirely new supernatural world. Faegen’s descriptions of how Sasha felt where very thorough and I felt I could connect with her. My heart broke when her’s did and I felt the same joy she did.

A large part of the novel dealt with the morality of what Jax and his brothers, known as the Mephisto, were created to do. One thing that stuck out to me was how nonchalantly sex was discussed. Though the book seemed to center on morality issues, the anonymous sex that Jax and his brothers took part in wasn’t an issue at all.

The Mephisto Covenant is very action-packed and entertaining. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels.

Manga Review – Kizuna

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Kizuna Deluxe Edition 1, by Kazuma Kodaka

Review by Cyn C. (Cyn-Sama)  


I have a special relationship with the Kizuna series.  It was the first series that I picked up in it’s original, untranslated format.  I had found a text translation online, and I would go line by line, looking at the images, and getting the dialogue from my translation.

This had to have been at least ten years ago, and at that time, it was pretty hard to find manga here in the states, never mind find a slightly perverse sub-genre.

I remember wandering around the Japanese bookstore in a daze, trying to guess which series was the one I was looking for, when I couldn’t even read the spines for help.


Ever since then, I’ve been hooked.

I have the entire series in the original Japanese.

I have books one through seven, which were released in English by BeBeautiful, before they crashed and burned.

I even have the DVD’s.


So, with all this, why would I need to collect the new deluxe edition?

Because it’s the closest thing that I’m going to get to the original.

When BeBeautiful brought over the series, they censored out a kiss on the cheek that one character gives to another, that foreshadows their relationship, once they both come of age.

Since a kiss on the cheek does not pedophilia make, saying the fans were slightly cranky is an understatement.


June had the sense to leave that page in, when they did their deluxe edition.  It’s cute.  It’s charming.  It makes me happy.


The Kizuna series revolves around lovers Kei and Ranmaru – and all the trials and tribulations that come with Kei being part of a dysfunctional yakuza family.  Including a rebellious half-brother, and the yakuza member assigned to help keep the rebellious half-brother out of trouble.

It’s over the top, quite silly, ultra violent and sexy as hell. Kazuma Kodaka has always been, and will always be one of my favorite manga-ka.

She is part of the reason that I have no money.  I’ve spent it all on her manga.