PaperBackSwap Blog

Archive for June, 2012

Free Book Friday Winner!

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012


The winner of Pretty in Ink by Karen E Olson is:


Michelle H. (ahenleyreadit)




Michelle, your new book will be to you soon! Enjoy!

Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

Each sale helps support the operating costs of the PaperBackSwap club.

Great American Backyard Campout – 6/23

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

On June 23rd Americans all across the country will be joining in the 8th annual Great American Backyard Campout.

By Bruce


This national event was created by the National Wildlife Federation as part of its Be Out There campaign to encourage children to play outdoors, learn about nature, and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. It’s as simple as it sounds- set up a tent, grab a flashlight and sleeping bag, make some s’mores and lifelong memories.

It’s called the Backyard Campout but you can camp out anywhere; by the lake, in a park that has camping sites, in the mountains or where ever your hiking boots take you.

Studies have shown that kids spend half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago and only 25% of kids spend significant time outdoors compared to 75% in the past. Kids who spend more time outdoors are healthier, more physically active, exhibit better mental concentration, and display less aggressive tendencies. So this is a great opportunity to turn off the Xbox, walk away from the TV, and put the cell phone in a drawer for one night in order to spend quality time with those you love and experience the awesomeness of nature.


There are some things you need to remember to bring on your campout. Have plenty of insect repellent whether it is the spray on variety or a candle. Have snacks and drinks, flashlights, lanterns, blankets, pillows, and most of all a sense of adventure. Bring your favorite family game to play under the lanterns or flashlights.

Have a scary book or scary story to share by the campfire or sing your favorite songs. Hide “treasures” in the area, provide your child with a compass and map and let them treasure hunt. Lay out blankets and watch the clouds and stars.

If you are crafty, use the resources nature has provided to make great keepsakes for the family. You can make an art collage by simply collecting leaves, wildflowers, sticks and arranging them into beautiful displays on construction paper.


You can also collect acorns, twigs, leaves, bark or anything else available and with a little glue create your own nature pals.












Roast some hot dogs over an open fire. After the coals burn down, break out the marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers. If you are not in area that is safe for a campfire, a grill or camp stove are good alternatives.

There are so many possibilities all you really need is your imagination and creative spirit.

But most importantly, whether you choose to campout in your backyard or away from home, practice safety and check your local weather conditions to prepare for all contingencies. Hope to see you under the stars.




Bailey Goes Camping by Kevin Henkes


When Lightening Comes in a Jar by Patricia Polacco


The Graves Family Goes Camping by Patricia Polacco


Camping Made Easy by Michael Rutter


The Joy of Family Camping by Herb Gordon





Free Book Friday!

Friday, June 22nd, 2012


Today’s free book is Pretty In Ink  by Karen E. Olson,












ISBN 9780451229625


We will choose one winner at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

You have until Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 12 noon EDT,  to leave a comment.

Good Luck to everyone!


Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

Each sale helps support the operating costs of the PaperBackSwap club.


Author Interview with John Shors

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012


Mirah’s (mwelday) Interview with John Shors


Several years ago my husband and I moved from Hawaii to Japan and I was a little obsessed with novels set in the Pacific. And being a Navy spouse, a book with a military connection would be the jackpot. I found ‘Beside a Burning Sea’ by John Shors, a novel set during World War II and centered on an American nurse and an injured Japanese soldier.  I was so impressed by the book I had to read more.  I ordered ‘Beneath a Marble Sky’ and was blown away.  I thought it was remarkable and I quickly added ‘visit the Taj Mahal’ to my bucket list.  Put simply, John can capture the essence of a location and characters in a way that allows readers to connect with people and places much different from themselves. He has quickly become one of my favorite American writers and I know his books will stand the test of time.   In addition to these two works, John is the author of ‘Dragon House’, ‘The Wishing Trees’ and ‘Cross Currents’, which will be discussed in this Q & A.

I am so honored John agreed to answer some questions about ‘Cross Currents’, his most recent work.  The novel’s setting is beautiful Ko Phi Phi, Thailand and he weaves the stories of Americans Patch, Ryan, and Brooke with locals Lek, Sarai, and their family.  All of the characters deal with family conflict and find themselves fighting for love, family, and survival.  I was wary at first to read a fictional account of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, not sure how someone could write about such a tragedy and remain respectful to those who experienced it. I shouldn’t have been worried; John handled the scenes with grace and sensitivity. 


MIRAH:  Before we get to ‘Cross Currents’ could you describe how you became a novelist? How did you get on that path?

JOHN:  I grew up reading several novels a week and at some point (I believe in high school) I decided that I wanted to become a novelist. Of course, it’s a tough profession to break into, so the process of doing so wasn’t an instant one. After graduating from college, I became an English teacher in Japan, and later a newspaper reporter in my hometown of Des Moines. I worked on my first novel, ‘Beneath a Marble Sky’, at night and during the weekend. Under those confines it took me five years to finish the novel, but fortunately, it was embraced by readers after its publication and became an international bestseller. The success of ‘Beneath a Marble Sky’ (which tells the remarkable story behind the creation of the Taj Mahal) allowed me to quit my day job and become a full-time novelist.

MIRAH:  I love to travel and your novels are set in various countries and cover such diverse topics. I really enjoy this because it allows to me to travel to new locations without even leaving my house! How do you select your next book topic and/or location?

JOHN:  Well, first of all, thank you for the compliment. In terms of how I select my next novel, I identify a place somewhere on the globe that I have been to and believe is special. I then try to wrap a story around that setting. For instance, I am currently putting the finishing touches on a novel about Angkor Wat, which is a legendary temple located in Cambodia. One of my goals as a writer is to take my readers on a journey to some of the world’s most beautiful and unique places. These are the kinds of novels that I like to read, and I couldn’t imagine writing about anything else.

MIRAH:  Your novels seem very comprehensive because you tap into local mannerisms, dialects, and customs. What is involved in your research for a novel?

JOHN:  I spend quite a bit of time within each setting that I end up writing about. I get to know the local language, food, music, dance, topography, climate, people, etc. I don’t stay at tourist hotels, but at small places near where the locals live. It’s really important to me that my novels accurately portray the culture that I am trying to reincarnate on the page. Spending several weeks at a particular site allows me to create novels that are authentic.

MIRAH:  I love that you write in a way that brings the location to life and it becomes another character. But in ‘Cross Currents’, Thailand (specifically Ko Phi Phi) and the ocean both become characters. How did you prepare to write about the tsunami?

JOHN:  I first visited Ko Phi Phi in 1994–long before I was a novelist. Upon landing on the island’s shores, I was convinced that I had stumbled upon one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I was lucky to return to the island several times after that. I fell in love with the place and the people. Years later, when the tsunami tore through Ko Phi Phi, I was quite upset. I wanted to help, but wasn’t able to return until long after the event. When I did get back, I spoke with locals who had survived the event, had stayed, and were rebuilding. I was so impressed with their stories, with their perseverance, that I decided to write a novel that would bring the strength of the human spirit (which they all displayed in such a profound way) to vivid life. Once I began the novel, I again returned to Ko Phi Phi to interview survivors, ensuring that I was accurate in terms of how the tsunami swept across the island.
MIRAH:  You traveled to Ko Phi Phi before and after the tsunami. Can you describe how your feelings were different each time?

JOHN:  Ko Phi Phi is one of those places that was truly a paradise. It still is, though there are many more hotels, boats, and people than there used to be. It’s been a bit painful for me to witness this transition, but again, the island remains a special place. The waters, the cliffs, and the people are unchanged. In terms of my post-tsunami experience, I was impressed with how the Thais had rebuilt everything. Something like 7,000 tons of debris were removed from the bay by hand–an amazing accomplishment. I was also delighted to see children from all corners of the world running along the beach, laughing with each other.

MIRAH:  Patch and Ryan seem to be two very different brothers in the beginning but throughout the book I perceive them becoming more alike. Did you know the fate of both brothers at the start or did that reveal itself to you as you wrote?

JOHN:  I wasn’t sure how the relationship between Patch and Ryan would evolve. I wanted there to be conflict and love within their relationship. I wanted it to be tested. But I had no idea how the tsunami would affect them. It really wasn’t until I started writing those final scenes that I decided what to do.

MIRAH:  The love/hate relationship between locals and tourists seems to exist everywhere, to some degree. Lek and Sarai love living on Ko Phi Phi and understand tourism keeps them there but they obviously work day and night to make ends meet and they aren’t always treated well by tourists. During my trip to Ko Samui, I felt very welcomed by the locals but at the same time I felt tourism was taking over the island and I felt some guilt about that. How do you feel about the small islands of Thailand becoming more dependent on tourism?

JOHN:  I’ve been to many places where tension exists between locals and tourists. I don’t feel that way in Thailand. I’m not sure why this is other than the Thais don’t take life too seriously and realize that tourist dollars help them build new schools, hospitals, and roads. Yes, tourism leads to the creation of hotels and an infrastructure to support countless foreigners. But that same tourism enables the Thais to maintain good jobs, to live in beautiful places.


MIRAH:  Which character did you enjoy writing about the most in ‘Cross Currents’ and why?

JOHN:  My favorite characters were the Thai characters. I enjoyed writing about the three-generational family that runs a resort on the island. I tried to bring the joys and difficulties of their lives to life, as I had witnessed those highs and lows during my travels to developing countries. Such families often struggle to find balance. For instance, the Thai mother and father in ‘Cross Currents’ struggle with the fact that they need their children to work in order to help pay all of their bills. Of course, they want their children to go to school, to play and be happy. But they also depend on the productivity of their children. Consequently, they often muse over the finding right sort of balance between work and play. For me, as a writer, putting such issues down on the page allowed me to examine them within my own life and family.


MIRAH:  Through reading your novels I know you donate to various charities, including proceeds from your books, and try to get the word out about the charities you support. What groups are you currently involved with and how can we learn more about them?

JOHN:  All of my novels have gone to support various charities. I’m most proud of the work that I have done with the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, which is located in Vietnam, and supports homeless children. The sales of my novels have allowed me to help buy complete sets of school books for about 1,300 homeless kids in Hanoi. This outcome has thrilled me. Additional information on the charities I support can be found on my website at www.johnshors.com.


MIRAH:  And one final question, can you give us a sneak peek into your next novel, ‘Temple of a Thousand Faces‘?

JOHN:  ‘Temple of a Thousand Faces’ is an epic work of historical fiction centered around Angkor Wat. It will be full of action and intrigue, love and betrayal. I’m quite excited about it, though the novel won’t come out until February, so I have to be patient. For updates on that book, and other elements of my writing life, please friend me on Facebook or Twitter.



In closing, I would like to thank John for his time and willingness to answer my questions. I am a passionate reader and it’s a dream come true to be able to connect with a writer I admire.   It’s really been exciting for me to have the opportunity to communicate with him about ‘Cross Currents’.  So, if you’re in the mood to learn about another culture, delve into the emotions of the human spirit and be transported to amazing locations, pick up ‘Cross Currents’ or another of John’s books.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

To learn more about John and his books, visit his website at www.JohnShors.com or follow him at facebook.com/JohnShors or twitter.com/JohnShors.




World Sauntering Day 6-19

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

By Cheryl G (Poncer)


Long ago and far away, a few lifetimes ago I was sauntering on a hilly piece of green acreage in Pennsylvania when I happened upon a guy meandering about in a pair of rainbow suspenders. He asked me, “What is the difference between a mosey and a wend?”. He then ambled off in the opposite direction from whence he came.

A real stumper, first what was he doing strolling in my Eden, and why was he wandering about in rainbow suspenders?

And what of the question? What is the difference between a mosey and a wend? Or for that matter why in the world would there be so many words for walking in the English language?

Aside from from the half dozen or 8 already mentioned, how many others are there? Perambulate comes to mind, but who does that in the current century?

So off I sashayed to Roget’s to see. According to the world famous Roget’s Thesaurus, lots and many!

Advance, ambulate, canter, hike, locomote, lumber, march, pace, parade, slog, stride, strut, toddle, traipse, tramp, traverse, trek, trudge, troop, etc.

So today when you are afoot, consider if you are striding, or shambling, or shuffling, roving or roaming. Or perhaps even perambulating.

And if you find yourself on a green hill in Pennsylvania say Hello to Lary (Lary with one ‘r’) for me. He will be the guy in the rainbow suspenders pondering aloud some of the great questions of life.


A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks


Bibliotoons: A Mischievous Meander Through the Stacks Beyond by Gary Handman


Mosey by Ralph Helfer


The Strolling Saint by Raphael Sabatini


The Transcendental Saunterer by David Clyde Smith




International Panic Day 6-18

Monday, June 18th, 2012

by Gail P. (TinkerPirate)


OMG! OMG!! OMG!!! My heart is racing. I can barely breathe. I have this urge to run around waving my arms shrieking like a little girla wild womana banshee…a…a…I don’t know what except that it wouldn’t be pretty! OHNO! OHNO!! OHNO!!! It’s happening. AND, it ISN’T pretty….but, ya know, it’s perfectly OK. It’s International PANIC Day!

Why? International Panic Day? Well, I did a little research and nobody knows. Nobody knows who created it or why. But who cares? I sure don’t. However, I did learn some very interesting things about panic and some “entertaining” suggestions about how to celebrate the holiday.

According to Wikipedia (the ultimate source of all information – useful or not, factual or not), panic is “a sudden sensation of fear which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking, replacing it with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and frantic agitation consistent with an animalistic fight-or-flight reaction. Panic may occur singularly in individuals or manifest suddenly in large groups as mass panic (closely related to herd behavior)”. I think we have all experienced this. The time you lost sight of your toddler granddaughter in the mall (not that I ever did that, but I’ve heard that it can be pretty scary) or when you realized that you just got everybody else ready for the accreditation survey, but forgot to get your section done (not that I ever did that, but I see how it would be panic time) or you show up to work completely nekkid (oh, wait, that was a dream, right?). These are all “panic” of the individual variety and thankfully can usually be easily rectified with a few deep breaths or a few minutes in the closet whispering “go away to my happy place…go away to my happy place…go away to my happy place”.

What about panic of the group variety? Well, that’s much more difficult to manage. There isn’t a closet big enough to house all the individual happy places for a crowd. The only thing you can do if you are in a mass panic is place your body firmly against the nearest wall and wait for the dust to settle.

But, not all mass panics happen in small places. Probably the most famous episode of mass panic occurred Halloween Eve 1938, when Orson Welles’ radio drama convinced much of America that Martians were invading the eastern seaboard. There were reports of people fleeing from their homes into the countryside to hide. There were people hiding in basements and calling the local police to report the smell of poison gas in the air. We might think that was silly, but to set some context, many listeners only heard part of the broadcast (obviously NOT the Martian-part) and the nation was already full of anxiety about an impeding war in Europe. But, in the aftermath, there was a hint of the familiar to us sitting comfortably in the 21st century…..yes, dear PBSers, people sued…sued for mental anguish and sued for personal injury. I couldn’t find out how many suits were filed, but did learn that all but one were dismissed – a man sued for a pair of size 9B black men’s shoes. Apparently, he spent the money he was saving for said shoes to escape the Martians. And, Orson Welles himself said he should be paid.

Which leads me to the silliness of the day…a day to celebrate panic? What can we do? What is a suitable activity? I don’t believe a backyard BBQ is appropriate…too easy to panic about getting food poisoning from the potato salad. I also don’t think a beach party is appropriate…too easy to panic about shark attacks or flesh eating bacteria in the water. With the 2 most common ways of celebrating holidays off the table, you may want to consider some of these activities I found on the internet. (DISCLAIMER – If you decide to do any of these, YOU and only YOU are responsible for the outcome. Neither PBS or I will assume any responsibility for your stupidness. Clear?)

  • Type everything in CAPS so people will know you are upset about something, but don’t tell them what
  • Stuff the suggestion box at work with notes saying you suggest a padded, sound-proof room in which to flee when you feel panicy and just need a place to run around waving your hands pulling your hair with alternating shrieking and sobbing so as not to disturb the other employees
  • Steal the water cooler and send a ransom note saying it will not be returned until “things” change
  • Organize a flash mob of people demanding all of their money out of their accounts at the local BIG bank
  • Re-label the ESC key on all the computers at work with the word PANIC
  • Run out of your office screaming, then come back in a little while and act as if nothing has happened
  • Stand outside the local zoo and ask people coming out if the lion that escaped has been caught

Or maybe you just want to sit down with a good book. These are currently available on PBS….and there is something for pretty much everyone….so DON’T panic!


The Panic Years by Doree Lewak


War of the Worlds: Mars’ Invasion of Earth Inciting Panic and Inspiring Terror from HG Wells to Orson Welles and Beyond


From Panic to Power: Proven Techniques to Calm Your Anxieties Conquer Your Fears and Put You in Control of Your Life
by Lucinda Bassett


Panic Room  James Ellison (Adapter), David Koepp


Panic X Panic 1 by Mika Kawamura



Mystery Monday – The Case of the Singing Skirt

Monday, June 18th, 2012


The Case of the Singing Skirt (Perry Mason) by Erle Stanley Gardner


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


Ellen Robb doubles as the cigarette girl and chanteuse at The Big Barn, a cabaret and gambling joint that props up the sluggish economy of the burg of Rowena.  Ellen’s employer, George Anclitas, has the chief of police and city attorney in his pocket. Used to getting his own way, Anclitas recklessly cans Ellen when she refuses to help him fleece the sucker Halman Ellis, who has not only lost heavily at poker but has the hots for Ellen. Both his gambling losses ($10K in 1959 is $75K now) and his infatuation with the young beauty have enraged his wife.

When Ellen brings her wrongful termination complaint to lawyer Perry Mason, his secretary Della Street smells a rat. But Perry follows his instinct to help a client who’s not getting any breaks. Later Ellen brings a gun to Perry’s office. She claims that Anclitas had the gun planted in her luggage. Perry switches Ellen’s piece with one he has in his office safe, just in case muddying the waters for the authorities may turn out a useful thing to do. When Ellen is accused of the inevitable murder, Perry ends up defending her.

Author Erle Stanley Gardner always kept up on developments in the law though he spent large parts of his work day dictating his mysteries. For example, when the Miranda decision came down, he was quick to incorporate in his novels the changes it ushered in. This novel revolves around two surprising points of law, one of which I won’t get into as it’s a spoiler. But the other involves Mrs. Ellis’ rage over her husband’s gambling debts. Perry tells her about new application of California divorce law in that certain debts, such as gambling debts, are the separate property of the acquiring spouse, even though they are incurred during the marriage. Thus, in case of a divorce, the gambling debt is not a part of community property, but an obligation to be the separate debt of the gambling spouse. This piece of divorce law still stands in the Golden State.

Anyway, this is a solid investigation and courtroom mystery. “The Case of the Singing Skirt,” wrote well-respected critic  Anthony Boucher in The New York Times Book Review at the time, “is one of the most elaborate problems of Perry Mason’s career…This is as chastely classic a detective story as you’re apt to find in these degenerate days.”