PaperBackSwap Blog

Archive for August, 2012

Fantasy Friday – Agatha H and the Airship City

Friday, August 31st, 2012


Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio


Review by Bowden P. (Trey)


This was a very fun book. Partly because I’m a fan of the Foglio’s gaslamp fantasy web series, Girl Genius. I also think it would be a fun one for steampunk fans, and for anyone who enjoys a light hearted fantasy. Don’t get me wrong – there are some dark parts – but by and large this is as lighthearted as the comic.

So … what’s it about? It is about Agatha Clay, a marginal student at Transylvania Polygnostic University, set in a vaguely familiar alternate Europe. One where the Industrial Revolution came early and turned it into an all out war. Mad geniuses, sparks in the vernacular, madboys and girls in the even more vernacular, created various ultimate weapons and, well, either conquered with them, or were destroyed by them. Or some combination thereof. Needless to say, being an innocent bystander in this setting is not for the faint of heart. Or slow of feet. The setting is alternately fun, absurd and very dark. Well worth it as part of the show.

Back to Agatha. She’s not a spark in a world where all the significant advances have been made by sparks (they’ve literally changed the world – you can’t reach the Americas any more and most of the British Isles is under water). Once beyond the prologue (that helps set the scene), it starts with Agatha having a bad day, that rapidly gets worse as she is mugged and arrives at the university late. There, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach (ruler of most of Europe, enforcer of the Pax Wulfenbach and of the motto “Behave. Or else.”) makes a snap inspection of the University with his son and heir Gilgamesh Wulfenbach in tow.

Before the inspection is over, Agatha got expelled, the head of the university and town is dead and her world is completely turned upside down. And by the time the book is done, her life has had so many changes and gyrations that you’d need n-dimensional math to fully describe them all. So I’m not even going to try.

Again, this is a fun book. And a good one too. It does retell the early parts of the series, adding more details (fans like me may get more out of that than others coming into it cold), alternate views, scenes that didn’t make it into the comic and off camera takes on the events of the comics. It also makes things clearer.

And, oh yes, it is funny. If you’re looking for the broad, rapid paced hero of Illegal Aliens and the Bureau 13 books with Polletta, you’ll be disappointed. But its still funny. Not as broad, fairly nuanced, but funny. Its also touching. There is a scene with Krosp and his creator (we learn who it is in the Agatha H and the Airship City) that I found touching.

The verdict:

Likes: Additional details, alternate views on the events of the comics; Character development (Moloch gets fleshed out) and richer characterization; More world details and world building; Strong female lead (by the end – I’m looking forward to the sequel).

Dislikes: Mostly seems aimed at the fans of the series.




Free Book Friday on Thursday Winner!

Friday, August 31st, 2012




The Winner of Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet Savory and Adorable Recipes by Dani Cone is:


 Dee W. (dwolters)


Congratulations, Dee. Your book is on the way to you!



Thank you everyone who commented on the Blog!







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!

Remember, every new book purchase supports the club and helps keep membership free!





Free Book Friday on Thursday!

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Today’s free book is Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet Savory and Adorable Recipes by Dani Cone



ISBN-13: 9781449403058

Praised by Bon Appetit, DailyCandy, and Sunset magazine, the secrets behind Dani Cone’s signature handmade, all-natural miniature pies are revealed for the first time inside Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet, Savory, and Adorable Recipes. Whether you’re grabbing the perfectly portable Flipside on the way to work, enjoying a Piejar as a tasty afternoon treat, or looking for a fun and impressive dinner party dessert, Cutie Pies provides the perfect morsels to satisfy sweet and savory cravings alike.Inside Cutie Pies, Cone presents 40 exclusive recipes inspired by the unique line of compact pastries she serves at her Seattle-based Fuel Coffee and High 5 Pie locations, which have received a Best of Seattle Weekly award. Sweet, one-of-a-kind treats like a Mango-Raspberry-Lemon Piepop mingle with savory recipes like Cone’s Curry Veggie Piejar, all in a distinct and delightful design.Cutie Pies is illustrated throughout with more than 20 mouthwatering, full-color photographs, and its contemporary fashion and straightforward recipes enable bakers everywhere to create these tiny treats with big flavor.

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

You have until Friday, August 31, 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!

Remember, every new book purchase supports the club and helps keep membership free!







Romance Review – Hot Ticket

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012


Hot Ticket: Four Sexy All New Stories That Will Make You Stand Up And Cheer…

Same Rink Next Year / Lucky Charm / You Can’t Steal First / Can’t Catch This

by Deirdre Martin, Julia London, Annette Blair, Geri Buckley


Review by Sobia A. (SoBe)


So, if you can’t tell by the synopsis, (or just forgot it), Hot Ticket is a sports themed anthology, with 4 stories, in all. They’re all pretty quick reads, I finished the whole book in less then a day.


Lucky Charm by Julia London

Let me start by saying I have very limited knowledge regarding sports,…baseball, football, hockey, whatever, with the exception of the World Cup, I don’t pay attention to any of ’em. But what usually happens when I read a sports based  story, or when  I watch a sports based movie, is that they make me think I should give said sport a chance. The fans, the  love of the (whichever)  game, the camaraderie, they all just look like so much fun! However, Julia

London’s contribution to this anthology was the first I’ve come across that made me glad I wasn’t a sports, (specifically baseball) fan… and even more glad I don’t listen to sports radio.

For me the biggest issue was the heroine, I just really didn’t like her, she came off as a bit too selfish/self involved for me to like. Maybe it was the page restrictions, as we didn’t get enough time to spend in her head, but for me, everything that came out of her mouth was of the ‘me!me!me!’ variety, rather than the self assurance *I think *  the author was after. The hero was irritating too, but not nearly as much, at least not IMO. He, by the end of the story, gets over himself…admits he’s overly sensitive, that he was acting like a big baby…and by the time I finished the story I didn’t mind him, half so much.

As for the story itself, it was just meh…. Whiney hero meets heckling sports dj, blames her for his slump, demands a meeting, sparks “fly” insert drama, drama, drama, resolve drama, the end….and again maybe it’s the lacking length,  but their relationship just didn’t come off as believable, not for me anyhow. I never could figure out why they were even together!

Having said that, this is my third and last Julia london read. She’s a decent writer, but  I keep trying just to end disappointed, so 3 strikes and I’m done. And I’ll admit, starting the book off with this story, almost made me stop reading! As it is, it’ll probably be awhile before I go anywhere near another sports romance. A generous 2 stars.


Same Rink Next Year by  Deirdre Martin

Another meh. This was a sweet story, but had very little substance. It was in no way bad, but thankfully it was short as not very much actually happened.

The Hero and heroine reunited ( their first meeting takes place before the story begins, but is lightly flashbacked later on)  they had sex, they talked a bit, they doubted their relationship, they resolved their issues.  The characters were all okay, the secondary characters were okay, though there did seem to be a few too many, and the story ends in a weird place…well, more like in an unfinished place…I’m not even sure I’d call it an HEA…more like a HEA for now…

And  I don’t really understand why it’s labeled  as part of  Martin’s NY Blades series… There weren’t any Blades or any mention of Blades in the book! 2 stars.


Annette Blair’s ‘You Can’t Steal First’

This was (I think) only my second Annette Blair title and as such, pretty much left me feeling indifferent towards her as an author.

The story itself was irritating mostly because of inconsistencies within the story…like its implied that the heroine was pretty good friends with the Hero’s sister before growing apart, but then later in the story we find out that the H’s sister almost died…how would a really good friend not know that? It’s one thing not to keep in touch after high school, another thing entirely to not know someone who’s supposedly close to you, is on their deathbed. Again maybe it’s the length, playing its vile games on what could’ve been a good story, but as it was I kept getting pulled outta the story by little inconsistencies like this one.

Oh and character development overall seemed pretty weak, for instance the hero’s Latino, and there were only two things that implied it…his name ( is Tiago a Latino name?) and one word of Spanish….honestly if we hadn’t been flat out told he was Latino, I never would’ve guessed. Also I couldn’t seem to figure out if the hero was a player, with a girl in every port, or if he was just playing a part, a sort of, you gotta do what you gotta do, sorta thing…Maybe it’s the restricted

length again rearing its frustratingly ugly head, but in a longer story I can almost see his character start out in a not so great way,  but then grow into a hero worthy of being called a hero…but the way it is now,  it feels like one minute we’re supposed to think he’s an overly promiscuous batter, the next he’s Dudley studly do-right. It just doesn’t work..at least not for me.

Honestly, I think the best use of Annette Blair’s story is to test drive her writing style,  to see of you can put up with it or not. .I can’t. . It seemed more piecemeal than any cohesive story.  2 stars.


Geri Buckley’s Can’t Catch This

This  last story wasn’t bad, but I think it was the weakest out of the 4…  And considering my opinions of them, that’s saying something!

It takes place mostly at a football stadium, but the main character isn’t a sports player of any kind, so maybe it’s just me, but the story sorta felt outta place…however, it was also the only story to explain the sports terminology it used ( and for me, that was a much appreciated

bonus!) …it also had no conflict, at least not really. Stuff just happened, no build up, no climax, and only a mediocre resolution.  It was just so bland…and  for an anthology length story , it had far too much unnecessary filling! 2 stars



Altogether, this anthology  never really goes beyond the realm  of ‘just okay’ . None of the stories WOWed me, none captured my full attention,  and none  sent me on a buying (or requesting) binge…if you’re in the market for an easy read, maybe at the beach or in a waiting room or anywhere you need some mindless entertainment  without the threat of avid, engrossing interest, Hot Ticket fits the Bill. Otherwise, everything just felt too rushed, too quick,and too lacking in details,  for it to really be enjoyable.



My Favorite PBS Feature – Gold Key

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

by Linda (Angeleyes)



When I heard about the Gold Key Membership this time last year I was skyin’.  It was such a pain to search each individual friends WL when I wanted to post a book or find a RL book.  Now I could do it the easy way.  So I went to the kiosk (the last grey tab across the top of the PBS header) and clicked on Gold Club Membership, put in my credit card info and voila !  I was a Gold Card member.  First thing I did was go check out my WL books to see if they were listed on my friends WL.  And a few were, so I posted them and it made me happy knowing my friends would get a little surprise.

A few days later I was talking to a PBS friend and we began discussing the “pros & cons” of the new Gold Key Membership.  Being an avid PBS’er I told her I felt being a Gold Club Member benefits me, my friends AND the club.  With optional services such as these, PBS can make a bit of money to pay the programmers and other staff that we all rely on to keep the site up and running. For $1.08 a month (3.5 cents a day) I can help the cause AND enjoy the “special” features. It was definitely a no-brainer for me.  (I think I’d shrivel up and die without my daily PBS fix. How about you?)

We agreed and then she chuckled and said “another plus is the Gold Key badge on your member profile. You all know how we LOVE our badges !!

One thing I hadn’t really thought about was the “directed delivery” feature of the membership.  With a library close by and a plentiful TBR pile I’ve never been one to be in a hurry for a book.  Until……I started reading a new series – I’m a cozy series nut ! – and couldn’t wait to read the next one.  So I hope online and order the next book.  It was available in the system  !  Yay !!  And of course I had to check the member’s bookshelf to see if there were any other books in the series available and yes, yes there were.  So I ordered the next 2 books and hoped they would get to me soon.  Then I noticed they were coming from Ohio and did a little jig right there in my seat.  No long cross-country trek for these books.  Barring any crazy USPS detour they would be to be within the week.  One more reason to love that Gold Key Membership !   (As you can see, little things make me happy)

So I’m spending my days working, my nights reading and chatting with friends on PBS not thinking much about the perks of PBS (just happy Groovyglittergirl hasn’t broken the site..lol) and then a teacher friend posts in one of the forums that she is need of multiple copies of the book “Go Tell Alice” for her classroom and was asking for help in ordering it.  That’s when I remembered that with the Gold Key Membership you can order multiple copies simultaneously.  I directed her to the membership and “saved the day”.  I felt a bit like Superman there for a minute.

It’s time for me to renew my membership and as I do with all memberships I always take the time to “review” and weigh the cost with my usage of the features.  I’m one of those people who always break things down into minute detail as I’m sure you noticed above with the 3.5 cents a day.  Seriously, who thinks in those terms?  I think I have way to much free time.  Anyway, I digress.  Since I use PBS printable postage and the Gold Key Membership offers one Courtesy Postage Fee per month, membership actually only costs $6.39 because I would have spent the $6.60 (55 cents X 12) anyway.  Now the membership is less than 2 cents a day.  See how my brain works.  WAY too much free time I tell ya.

Now PBS is really good about telling you when a paid feature is about to expire and the Gold Key Membership is no exception.  In addition to the nice email they sent me they have a banner across the top of my “lists” page that tells me if I don’t get my tush in gear and renew my wish list will return to 200 from the 300 I’ve had this past year.  Now I’m what you might call a “readin’ fool”; I read about 200-225 books a year and ALWAYS have a TBR pile but I have never been able to top about 125 books on my Wish list.  The idea of having 300 spots available makes me giddy even though I know I’ll never be able to fill them all.  Despite not being able to fill the slots I’m not willing to lose them so I will be renewing before my deadline of 8/31/12.  Who wants to temp the Fates?  Not me !

And to make sure the Fates don’t put me on their list the next time I play in a buddy swap I’m going to buy my buddy a 1 yr Gold Key Gift Certificate.  It will be a win all the way around. 

So stay on the Fates good side, Sign Up for a Gold Key Membership!  (and put in a good word for me with the Fates, will ya?)

For additional information on the Gold Club Membership check out the Help Center – FAQs about Gold Club Membership.









Mystery Monday – The Last Child

Monday, August 27th, 2012


The Last Child by John Hart


Review by Dianne (gardngal)


This book was given high praise in all the written reviews on its cover, and every one of them is spot on.

In spite of more than 400 pages, it reads so fast and exciting that the reader is never bogged down by the number of pages.  The prose is excellent. Characters are well developed and you care greatly about what is happening to each of them.

From the Prologue all the way to the Epilogue, you will follow Johnny and his best friend Jack as they attempt to solve the mystery of Johnny’s missing twin sister, Alyssa.  The author introduces new characters just at the right time in their search, giving the reader another suspect to think about, so you will always be guessing.  The author weaves several mysteries into the plot that seems to be a seamless single case.  It all works to become an intricate tale.  Just when it seems the secret is obvious, and the crime is solved, another twist in the road has you rethinking the entire list of possibilities.

You will suspect everyone, and question all your choices again and again.  Nothing is revealed until the last  pages, and you will be gasping in surprise.

A very satisfying read, and an excellent job of moving the plot to its end.


Free Book Friday Winner!

Sunday, August 26th, 2012


The winner of Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow is: Heather S. (aurone)

 Heather, your book is on the way to you, Enjoy!

Thank you to everyone who commented!



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!

Remember, every new book purchase supports the club and helps keep membership free!