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Archive for July, 2012

Put on Your Walking Shoes: It’s Moon Day

Friday, July 20th, 2012

by Mirah W. (mwelday)


Warning:  This post begins with my stream of consciousness thought process.  Please bear with me, it gets easier to understand.  Well, at least, in my mind it does.

Let’s see…Moon Day….schmoon day…what’s that about? Google…ah, Armstrong walking on the moon.  That’s boring.  Or cool.  Conspiracy. Space race.  What are those Russians up to these days? Apollo has landed.  Ok.  Landed.  Land…walking on land connected to moon would be what?  Moonwalk?  Haha…don’t want to write about Michael Jackson.  New Moon…um, no.  Comanche Moon…oh, I love that book.  Woodrow.  Augustus.  Lonesome Dove.  No, Comanche Moon.  Famous Shoes!  I love him!  And he walks on land in a book called Moon.  Can I use that?  Sure, why not.

So that’s how it happened.  That’s how I got the topic for today’s holiday blog post for Moon Day.  This post is dedicated to Famous Shoes, the Kickapoo tracker in the books Comanche Moon and Streets of Laredo, two books in the Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry.  If you haven’t read them, well, I honestly don’t know what to say to you except…go on PBS and request them.  Now.  You won’t be sorry.  The series is one of the best I have ever read.

Famous Shoes is one of those characters I remember long after I’ve finished reading.  To be honest, lots of characters from the Lonesome Dove series are in this category but Famous Shoes is special. He had a relatively limited role compared to the other, more prominent, characters in McMurtry’s works but I think his quiet excellence is what made him so wonderful and unforgettable.    There are several traits that make Famous Shoes one of my all-time favorite book characters: he is dependable, independent, curious, introspective and not afraid of a good journey.  Plus, he inspired a shoe obsession for me but I’ll get to that later.

Famous Shoes was known for his ability to move quickly and show up unexpectedly. ‘Famous Shoes was a slight man with a deceptive gait.  He never seemed to hurry, yet he had no trouble keeping up with a troop of horsemen’ (McMurtry, p. 33).   Famous Shoes walked to his own beat, I guess you could say, but he always completed his task.  Captain Inish Scull would trust Famous Shoes to be away tracking for days and never thought Famous Shoes would fail to return or leave them in the lurch.  For a man who did not trust anyone, it seemed Scull put trust in Famous Shoes.  It’s his quiet dignity and sense of purpose, I think, that made Famous Shoes trustworthy and dependable.

Curiosity and search for knowledge sets Famous Shoes apart from the other characters in Comanche Moon.  He was, without a doubt, independent in his search for knowledge:  ‘The man would walk a thousand miles to listen to a certain bird whose call he might want to mimic’ (p. 108).  I admire Famous Shoes for going against the grain and doing his own thing.  He didn’t care if people thought he was crazy for taking on seemingly pointless treks.  He learned from his journeys and sometimes the education came from the journey itself and not the destination.  I sometimes go to places and do things others don’t agree with or they think are pointless, but you know what, those journeys make me a better person.  I think Famous Shoes shared my way of thinking.

Famous Shoes was a journeyer.  I believe that’s part of the reason why I connect so much with him.  In one of my favorite passages of Comanche Moon, the reader learns more about Famous Shoes’ journeying spirit:

‘The journeys people took had always interested him; his own life was a constant journeying, though not quite so constant as it had been before he had his wives and children.  Usually he only agreed to scout for the Texans if they were going in a direction he wanted to go himself, in order to see a particular hill or stream, to visit a relative or friend, or just to search for a bird or animal he wanted to observe.

Also, he often went back to places he had been at earlier times in his life, just to see if the places would seem the same.  In most cases, because he himself had changed, the places did not seem exactly as he remembered them, but there were exceptions.  The simplest places, where there was only rock and sky, or water and rock, changed the least.  When he felt disturbances in his life, as all men would, Famous Shoes tried to go back to one of the simple places, the places of rock and sky, to steady himself and grow calm again’ (p. 548).

In my life I move often and I think I have a journeying spirit like Famous Shoes.  Part of my journey is sometimes looking back to places I’ve been before and things I have experienced.  Living in different places has taught me lessons on so many things: independence, compassion, resilience, patience, understanding, friendship and love.  When things in life seem confusing or overwhelming, I like to think back to simple times.  My ‘water and rock’ is Hickam Beach in Hawaii…going on my own, enjoying the sunshine and sound of the ocean.    My ‘sky and rock’ is Misawa, Japan…looking out from our balcony at hawks floating by, the mountains and beautiful sunsets.

Ever since I read Comanche Moon I had in my mind a picture of what Famous Shoes’ boots would look like.  I saw them as a fawn brown with fringe.  For years I wanted what I called ‘Famous Shoes Boots’.  I don’t know why I wanted them; maybe I thought I would be infused with the wisdom of my favorite Kickapoo if I had the right shoes. But as much as I searched I couldn’t seem to find what I was looking for.  For years my husband heard me mention them.  I would look online at moccasins and boots and he would hear my ‘no, not quite’ comments.   I think he thought I would never be satisfied.

During a trip to Kyoto last year for my birthday my husband and I were walking to our hotel and he nudged my arm and said ‘Famous Shoes!’  I was like, ‘Where?!  What?!’  He pointed to a Japanese girl walking nearby who had on the boots I’d been looking for.  I couldn’t believe it….would I find my boots in Japan?!  A couple of days later on the way back to our hotel after dinner we saw a shoe store and THE boots were in the window.  My husband urged me inside to try them on and I walked out with my ‘Famous Shoes Boots’!

First of all, my husband is great.  I’ll just interject that observation here.  Amongst the throng of people walking the streets of Kyoto, he was the one who first spotted those boots and he actually remembered the name Famous Shoes.  And two, now I feel one step closer to being a journeyer of purpose.  I may not have gained all of Famous Shoes’ wisdom when I put them on, but the boots remind me of the importance of the journeys in my life. And trust me, the fact that I found the boots while on a journey was not lost on me.  I wore the boots home after our trip.  I even took a picture of them while at the airport; I’ve included it here so you can gawk at my level of obsession.

Mirah’s Famous Shoes Boots

In conclusion, I say:  Walk on like Famous Shoes.  Find your purpose and what makes you happy and keep on trekking.  Whether you’re searching for answers or a place to feel at peace, keep on looking. Whether it takes you to the moon or the house next door, be open to the journey.


Cited:   McMurtry, Larry.  Comanche Moon.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.







Author Spotlight – Andrew Gross

Friday, July 20th, 2012

One of our very favorite authors here at the PBS Blog is Andrew Gross.
In August 2001, Andrew Gross was kind enough to agree to an interview with Diane G for us.
And now with his newest book release, 15 Seconds: A Novel, he is coming to Georgia to sign books just for us PBSers! (Well not really, he is on a book signing tour for other people too!)


By Diane G. (icesk8tr)

For those of you who enjoyed the Author interview with Andrew Gross that was run on the blog on August 11, 2011, you could have a chance to meet him and get a signed copy of his new book titled “15 Seconds”. I live in the Atlanta area, and he has never come here for a book signing, and I am so excited that he will finally be here!! Maybe he will be in an area near you!

His new novel is the story of how a life can be destroyed in just an instant! I can’t wait to get a copy of this book and read it! The description of the book is as follows:  Henry Steadman is a successful Florida plastic surgeon on his way to deliver a keynote address at a conference when his world falls apart. Stopped by the police for a minor traffic violation, the situation escalates and he is pulled from his vehicle, handcuffed, and told he is under arrest. Several other police cars arrive and the questioning turns scary, but after it subsides, and Henry is about to move on, the officer is suddenly killed in his car and there is only one suspect: the very person he was about to arrest not ten minutes before. Henry! When a second friend turns up dead, Henry realizes he’s being elaborately framed. But in a chilling twist, the stakes grow even darker, and he is unable to go to the police to clear his name.


I know I will be there to meet him in Atlanta, anyone joining me?

July 22, 2012
Atlanta area
3:00pm Eagle Eye Bookshop
2076 N. Decatur Rd.
Decatur GA.


So, who wants to go to a book signing on Sunday? We will be at Eagle Eye Bookshop about 2:30pm, if anyone in the Atlanta area wants to meet up there. We will be the people with the PaperBackSwap totes!





We are giving away an autographed copy of Eyes Wide Open by Andrew Gross to a member who comments here on the Blog.

A winner will be picked at random. Good Luck! and hope to see you on Sunday!














Free Book Friday on Thursday!

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Today’s prize is:  



Catching Fire (Hunger Games, Bk 2) by Suzanne Collins,

ISBN 9780439023498




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

You have until Saturday, July 21, 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.

Historical Fiction Review – With Violets

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012


With Violets by Elizabeth Robards


Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)


I remember being in my high school art class when I first learned about the Impressionists.  The way they painted the everyday moments of life changed the conception of art.  These artists had a different perspective and used their brushstrokes to bring light to canvas in a way that hadn’t been done before.  I can’t imagine the world without the haystacks and sunsets of Monet, the movement and beauty of Degas’ ballerinas, or the faces and events captured by Renoir.

But amongst the men were a few women.  One of the most well-known is Berthe Morisot.  She is the main character in With Violets by Elizabeth Robards.  Robards sweeps her readers back to Paris and gives us a glimpse into the lives of the artists who would change the landscape of what art could look like and how art is defined.

The novel opens with Berthe at the Louvre, copying the masters and trying to create a life of her own with her talent and canvas. She is past prime marrying age, as her mother is always willing to point out.  Berthe’s life is set on a path of happiness, heartbreak and scandal when she catches the eye of artist Edouard Manet.  Manet is a successful artist and he and Berthe begin what will become a heart-wrenching romance.  Even through her tumultuous relationship with Edouard, Berthe never loses sight of her real goal: to be recognized as a true artist, just as the men of her social circle.

Berthe joins some of her male artist colleagues, including Monet and Renoir, to have an exhibition of their own.  Tired of the constraints placed on them, they longed for an outlet to choose for themselves what paintings would be part of an exhibition.  They formed the Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers so they could independently showcase their works of art.   It is after this exhibition when the term ‘Impressionism’ is first used.

What Robards provides with this novel is a walk alongside the brilliant artists of the Impressionist movement.  We see they were real people with real problems; they argued with one another on the best way to gain a voice for themselves and their work.  Berthe was ahead of her time. She was an independent thinker when women were supposed to be compliant and follow the leads of their husbands.  Berthe followed her dream of being an artist even though it wasn’t what her family and society thought she should do.

I think Robards painted a masterpiece with this novel. It would have been amazing to sit next to Berthe as she painted at the Louvre or traded banter with Degas but being able to read With Violets was the next best thing.


Atlanta Area PBS Meet-Up

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

by Cheryl G. (Poncer)


Question: What is larger in area than 8 football fields, is a constant 70 degrees Fahrenheit and powers information all over world from a little corner of Georgia?

Answer: The Data Center where the PBS Servers live.


This was the venue for a recent Atlanta Area PBS Meet-up. For an un-techy like me, the facility was fascinating. I can only imagine what tech savvy members were thinking as they toured the facility, understanding what they were seeing much better than I.  Server cabinets in every direction, as far as the eye can see.

Temperature control, power supply cabinets, backup power supply cabinets, the whirring of cooling fans and the awed hush of all the bits and bytes of information that was being transferred through this building at any given second. I couldn’t help but think of how far we have come in just a few short years from messengers, to the Pony Express, to Air Mail, to telegraph, to telephone and now to a place where information is just a few key strokes away from us.

The safety measures at the facility are very high. 24 hour security, cameras on every square inch, triple and quadruple layers of identification, like ID badges, fingerprint scans, retina scans and visual comparisons are needed before anyone can get into the inner sanctum where the server cabinets are, and the cabinets are locked too. Cameras are not allowed inside the facility, and every visitor must provide valid picture ID just to get into the lobby of the building.


The PBS Team thought it would be a great place to let some of our member see behind the scenes into the workings of this amazing facility. 120 members from around the Atlanta Area were invited to meet with the PBS Team and Tour Guides.

Several members were allowed exclusive access to tour the facility floor with PBS Founder, Richard Pickering and to see the PBS servers, up close and personal. Everyone else had a mini tour, where they were permitted to see out onto the massive floor from an observation room.


After the tours, Brendon, from the Data Center gave a presentation with facts and figures about the facility.

The building is in a valley, to protect it from tornadoes, and is built with enough reinforced concrete to withstand a category 3 hurricane. (Which would be very rare in NE Georgia)

Utility power is provided via 4 independent redundant Georgia Power feeds, and from 3 separate power sub stations. If power goes out in one, the feed is automatically switched to another, if that one goes out the feed is switched to the third one. If all the power is out, backup generator protection is provided by 6 Caterpillar 2.25 MW diesel units. These units can keep the facility running as usual, for 6 days before they need to be refueled. The electric bill runs to hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, and they are billed every day for it. EVERY DAY!

The floor of the Data Center is raised 48”, the cooling is provided by 200-30 ton Lieberts provide air flow to the raised floor space. The cooling system also has its own generator backup, 6 – 2.0 MW generators.


Next on the agenda:

Richard led a Question & Answer session with the PBS members. The PBS Team, Site Volunteers and members all shared a lot of great information about how the site works, including information about site features like Gold Key and the Wish List.



After a break for snacks and time to meet new friends and catch up with old friends, there was a rousing game of PBS Trivia.  With prizes ranging from PBS pens and travel mugs to brand new books, everyone was a winner!   With prizes and new friends made, this was a wonderful afternoon well spent.


Thank you, Richard and the PBS Team, the PBS Volunteers and Staff who coordinated this event, the staff at the Data Center, and all the members who attended! 





Mystery Monday – Fata Morgana

Monday, July 16th, 2012


Fata Morgana by William Kotzwinkle


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


William Kotzwinkle blends elements of fantasy and mystery in this curious novel.  Set in 1861 in Paris, detective Picard finds he’s getting the crappy assignments simply because he burnt a tenement down in the course of an unsuccessful pursuit of the serial killer Baron Mantes.

Picard’s mission is to investigate the doings of a charlatan who’s separating gullible members of the aristocracy from their money. The swindler is using a fortune-telling machine that pops out predictions on the order of, “People close to you have been taking advantage of you. Your basic honesty has been getting in your way.” Really? Like that’s not accurate for, like, everybody?

The fantasy elements are keen senses of wonder and the macabre, especially in the descriptions of the toy market in Vienna and the climax set at a masquerade ball. There is also the inevitable quest, which takes Picard to Nuremburg, Vienna, and remote districts of Hungary.

Feeling bewitched by feelings of dread and fear of his own demise, he finds himself in odd interviews with a hashish-smoking police chief, a kindly Gepetto-like toymaker, and a primitive family in rural Hungary. These evocative passages reminded PI Lew Archer’s quests for information in Ross Macdonald’s crime novels.

Not being a reader of fantasy, I have no feeling for whether knowledgeable fantasy fans would  like this 1977 novel. I’m confident that mystery fans who are looking for something different will probably like it. Kotzwinkle writes plain English, able to get across the uncanny without resorting to over the top language. He follows the conventions of a mystery fairly. Plus, though the hero is insecure, middle-aged and overweight, he’s quite the hit with the ladies. I suspect this will console middle-aged and overweight male readers,  though fans of erotica may find the sexy passages rather like alcohol-free beer.


Other books by William Kotzwinkle:

The Bear Went Over the Mountain


Doctor Rat


The World Is Big and I’m So Small


Walter the Farting Dog



Fantasy Friday – Tainted Night, Tainted Blood

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Tainted Night, Tainted Blood by E.S. Moore

Review by Kelsey O.


First Line:

“The body lay crumpled in the driveway—a heap of cloth that could have been anything if not for the distinctive smell that drifted on the light breeze.”


Kat, aka Lady Death, is back taking down one vampire house after another. In Moore’s follow-up to To Walk the Night, Kat is faced with a new challenge. Someone is also taking down vampire houses and werewolves and they aren’t making it pretty. They are also killing innocent Purebloods. Kat notices that the kills look like what she did before she was changed and before she had silver weapons. But who is doing this and why? When Kat comes face to face with the person behind this new rash of killings, she is faced with a new dilemma. This person, who she once thought dead, is someone near and dear to her heart. But how did he survive and how will she end his murderous rampage without killing him? Kat also discovers a little town that seems to be under a spell. She is drawn to it yet in her mind she knows that something just isn’t right. But when you can forget your troubles and worries, would you want to know the secret?

The town, Delai, that Moore introduces is a mystery and I am curious to see where he is going with this. It has many interesting characters and even when reading about it, you feel peace and wonder maybe this is a good place for Kat. Here Purebloods, wolves and vampires all live in harmony with each other but sometimes something too good can’t be true, right? Moore makes us anticipate what will happen in this serene town and what Levi, the so-called leader, has in store for Kat.

A storyline that I was hoping would progress would be the one between Kat and Adrian. There is an attraction there but Kat is so stuck on fighting it that it at times it is frustrating. Adrian isn’t a golden boy that is for sure and his very neanderthal thinking is obviously a trait that will have to be curbed for these two to have any kind of relationship.

Moore continues his dark and terrifying world with a great second installment in his Kat Redding series. Moore’s characters are raw and edgy. Kat’s sidekick, Ethan and his demon, Beligral, are brought to the forefront more. I wish there could have been more growth out of Kat. She is still struggling with being a vampire and finding a place in this world. Being alone is what is making her weak. She is also still running head on into trouble without thinking and seems to end up in a bloody heap. The best thing she does is form a semi-truce with Jonathan, the Luna Cult leader, so maybe there is still hope for her. In the words of Jonathan, “Things would be much easier if we could learn to work together.” If only Kat would see that.