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Archive for August, 2012

Free Book Friday!! Are you ready for a football book?

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Today’s free book is  Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow 


ISBN 9780062007285

Over the course of the last five years, Tim Tebow established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of college football and a top prospect in the NFL. During that time he amassed an unparalleled resume—winning two BCS national championships, becoming the first sophomore in NCAA history to win the Heisman trophy, and in the face of massive public scrutiny, being drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Denver Broncos.

Now, in Through My Eyes, Tebow brings readers everywhere an inspirational memoir about life as he chose to live it, revealing how his faith and family values, combined with his relentless will to succeed, have molded him into the person that he is today. As the son of Christian missionaries, Tebow has a unique story to tell—from the circumstances of his birth, to his home-schooled roots, to his record-setting collegiate football career with the Florida Gators and everything else that took place in between.

At every step, Tebow’s life has defied convention and expectation. While aspects of his life have been well-documented, the stories have always been filtered through the opinions and words of others. Through My Eyes is his passionate, firsthand, never-before-told account of how it all really happened.



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

You have until Sunday, August 26, 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!







Winners! The Toadhouse Trilogy Winners!

Friday, August 24th, 2012






The Winners of Jess Lourey’s new book,

The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One:


Kathy S.


Mirah W. (mwelday)


Lori B.


Congratulations! Your books will be to you soon!

Thank you to everyone who commented on the interview!

Thank you Jess Lourey!

To read the Author Interview with Jess Lourie, click HERE








Historical Fiction Review – The Second Empress

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court by Michelle Moran


Review by Kelsey O.


The Second Empress is the story of Napoleon’s second wife, Maria Lucia, the daughter of the Emperor of Austria. Napoleon sets aside his first wife, Josephine, due to the fact that she was unable to bear children for him and probably another contributing factor could well have been her numerous rumored affairs. If it is one thing most people know about Napoleon is he doesn’t liked to be made a fool of. Moran portrayed Napoleon just how history portrays him, egotistical.


Maria (later renamed Marie Louise) has no choice but to obey the summons by Napoleon, even though her heart belongs to Count Adam Neipperg. I found that Marie was a very determined woman. She knew exactly how to appease the volatile Napoleon without facing her great-aunt Marie Antoinette’s fate. Moran did a wonderful job staying true to how history recounts Marie Louise’s life. She appeared meek, but she was a very clever woman and knew her duty. After bearing the heir for Napoleon, she cements her position. There was never any love between the two, mainly because they each loved another. Napoleon, even after casting Josephine aside, remains devoted to her as the letters between them that Moran incorporates into the story proves and of course Marie loves Adam.


The Second Empress is also told from the POV of Pauline, Princess of Borghese and Napoleon’s conceited sister. There were many speculations about Pauline and Napoleon’s relationship. Pauline thought very highly of herself and thought that she and Napoleon should rule together as the Egyptian royal families did. After her brother got rid of his first wife she really thought that he would ask her to marry him and rule with him. When it became known that he was going to wed an Austrian princess, Pauline is livid. This begins the downward spiral of Pauline, whether it is because of her illness (from her many liaisons with men) or her jealously or a combination of both. Not the most likable character but then she wasn’t the nicest person so job well done on Moran’s part.


The third narrator is Paul Moreau, Pauline’s half-Haitian chamberlain. He provides a unique perspective into the lives of Pauline, Napoleon and Marie. His voice provides the reader with more information that otherwise would not be achieved with only using characters on the inside of the royal family. Paul and Pauline’s relationship is strictly friendship and towards the end you see the strain Pauline’s vanity puts on this friendship.


Moran’s novels are always rich in detail and her characters are historically quite accurate. I loved that she focused on Napoleon’s personal life and how his military strategies actually tear them apart. There were times that I didn’t care for the short choppiness of the chapters towards the end made the story feel rushed, but all in all this was an enjoyable read.



Author Interview with Jess Lourey

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

An interview with Author Jess Lourey by Cheryl G. (Poncer)


Cheryl: Congratulations on the release of your new book and thank you for coming back for another interview with us, we are so glad to have you have agreed to join us again!

I thoroughly enjoyed your new book, The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One. I am someone who has never read fantasy books, but having read your Murder of the Month series, I am a huge fan of your writing. I thought this book would be an opportunity for my first foray into this genre. And I was completely drawn in from the first sentence, “The sky is the color of blueberries and cream”. Your descriptive style of writing is such a great fit for Fantasy writing. 

Jess: Thank you! I know how many amazing books you have on your to-be-read pile, and I really appreciate being pushed to the top of it. 🙂


Cheryl: Young Adult Fantasy is not your usual genre, where did this story come from?

Jess: I grew up reading mysteries and fantasy, and both of them feel like comfort food for the brain to me. The specific The idea for the The Toadhouse Trilogy came from the alchemy of these three things: 1) reading Cornelia Funke‘s Inkheart series, Mary Pope Osborne‘s Magic Treehouse series, and Suzanne Collins‘ The Hunger Games series, 2) a sense that I was shortchanging myself by not reading the classics outside of college, and 3) raising two amazing kids, an older sister and her younger brother. All three factors were rolling around in my life the same year, and I had a thought: what if a sister and brother one day realized they’d been living in fiction all along, and they had to travel into their favorite classics to save themselves? That idea snowballed, and from it, The Toadhouse Trilogy was born. Books are magic.


Cheryl: Was it a difficult transition switching from writing for adults with a sense of humor, to writing for a young audience?

Jess: Less so than I thought it would be. Kids are smart, a lot smarter than some of us old broads. 🙂


Cheryl: Your protagonist, Aine is quite an amazing young woman. She is strong and independent, with a bit of naivety and cynicism tossed in to make her absolutely believable. Was she harder to create than your other leading lady, Mira James, from your Murder of the Month series?  

Jess: Absolutely harder! What a great question. See, I based Mira on me, sort of a bionic (in both failures and successes) version of me, and so when I’m not sure where to take her, I just look around. Aine, however, is her own person. She’s got a little of my daughter in her, but otherwise, she’s created out of whole cloth. It took me two massive rewrites to stop trying to control her and just follow her through the story.


Cheryl: You reference some great classic literature in your story. And your characters get to interact with characters from these classics. How did you choose what stories they visit? Do you have a personal favorite among the stories they visit?

Jess: The short answer is that I chose only books published before 1926, which means they’re in the public domain and I won’t get sued for using them. The long answer is that I chose books that I always wished I had read, or read and loved, and looked for ways to weave them into my plot. I end up absolutely loving every one I use—otherwise I wouldn’t let them into the Toadhouse—but my favorite in the first book is actually Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s a clever story about the duality of humans, but also, Stevenson’s version never says exactly how Mr. Hyde dies. I got to capitalize on that in my story by writing the “real” ending.


Cheryl: Is there a story you would like to visit?

Jess: Truthfully, I want to visit EVERY story with a few rules: I don’t get tortured or die in them, and I get to leave when I want. What a better reality for a writer and a sociologist than to be able to REALLY ACTUALLY enter books? Sigh. I tell you what. The Toadhouse Trilogy is my love letter to fiction.

Cheryl: Tell us a bit about Gilgamesh. Like the ancient king of Uruk he is named for, will he ever be “brought to peace”?

Jess:  Gorgeous question. Gilgamesh is believed by many to be the first book ever written, which is why I chose him as the pilot through stories. He’s also a haunted man who has to live with the most painful of mistakes. He’s complex, and I’m not sure if peace is in his future. I do know that he and Aine begin to fall hard for each other, though, and I have mixed feelings about that.


Cheryl: The other characters in the book, Gloriana, Spencer, Tru and Mondegreen, how did you come to decide on their names?

Jess: I gave all the fairies names that are actually literary terms (Mondegreen, Kenning, Tone). The rest of the characters’ names are based on literary figures or actual authors, and you’ll have to read through to the end of the trilogy to find out who is whom. 😉


Cheryl: Literary terms? Can you expound on this a bit?

Jess: See, this answer might make me sound smarter than I am. I Googled “literary terms” and arrived at an awesome list of words, many of which I was reading for the first time (this, despite a Master’s degree in English. For example, a kenning is a usually compound and abstract term used in place of a single noun. This is an example from the Free Online Dictionary: “for example, storm of swords is a kenning for battle.” Great word, right? So, I made Kenning the name of a fairy in Toadhouse, and gave all the rest of the fairies literary terms for names that also match their personalities. You’ll have to read the whole trilogy to find out why fairies have names that are also literary terms. 🙂


Cheryl: And parts two and three? Are they in the works? Will Aine still retain her starring role? Will Gilgamesh return?

Jess: Gilgamesh, Aine, and her brother Spenser will be in all three books, and Aine will retain her starring role. Like many of us, though, she has some hard decisions to make, decisions that will forever alter her relationship with Gilgamesh and Spenser.


Cheryl: This is the first book that you have self-published, can you tell us a bit about that process and what you did to make this a successful self-published book?

Jess: Eek. Yes, this is my first self-publishing adventure, and I’m not sure yet if it’s a success. All the major publishing houses loved my concept for this book, and once they read it, they also said they loved the plot and characters. However, to a house, they said they couldn’t get teens interested in classic literature and so couldn’t publish the book. I loved it too much to let it die, so I hired two professional editors (a content editor and a copyeditor), a professional interior designer, a professional cover designer, and a professional web designer. $6000 later, I feel like I have a book that is worth people’s time and money. It’s been out for a month, and it’s gotten great reviews but only sold around 200 copies. If you catch me at a weak moment,  I’ll tell you that some days I feel like I spent my entire savings on a pawful of magic beans.


Cheryl: PaperBackSwap members are avid readers. What can we do to support indie authors like yourself, besides reading and enjoying your books?

Excellent question! 🙂 Readers can please support indie book sales by “liking” the book on its sales page and posting reviews wherever they hang out. Word of mouth is also a tremendous tool. A fairy gets its wings every time a reader spreads the good word about a book, and better yet, it means a writer is closer to being able to afford to keep on writing.


Cheryl: Did your research on fairies for this book provide you with any unexpected results?

Jess: Fairies play a very major role in The Toadhouse Trilogy, and I loved researching them. Katharine Briggs’ research into fairy folklore has been a great resource, and I just love the magic of them, and their rules, which are consistent throughout most of literature.

Cheryl: Have you met any fairies in real life? Are you yourself a fairy?

Jess: I do believe in the supernatural, and I hope someday to meet a fairy. If it has happened already, though, I’m afraid I missed it. I’ll do a better job keeping my eyes open!


Jess Lourey is the author of The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One, the first in a young adult series that celebrates the danger and excitement of reading. She also writes the critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month Mysteries for adults with a sense of humor. She’s been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998. When not gardening, writing, or hanging out with her wonderful kids and dorky dog, you can find her reading, watching SyFy-channel original movies, and dreaming big.

This is Jess Lourey’s second interview with us here on the PBS Blog. You can read her interview with us about her Murder of the Month series here: Link

Find out more about Jess Lourey by visiting her website at, visiting her on Facebook at, or emailing her at




Three lucky members who comment on this blog will win a copy of The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One.

A winner will be chosen at random. Good Luck!










Mystery Monday – An English Murder

Monday, August 20th, 2012


An English Murder by Cyril Hare


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)



Although written in 1951, An English Murder (also published as The Christmas Murder) has the elements of a cozy mystery that was written in the Thirties. It takes place in an English country house. The characters are familiar and they play out a ripping good yarn with lots of twists. Intelligent themes and literate prose engage the little grey cells. Yet another attraction is that it takes places at Christmas, though the murder does put a damper on celebrating.

The first half covers the background. Unusually for a cozy, Hare includes political differences as a factor that strains the relationships among the characters. The cousin of an impoverished peer is a socialist Minister of Parliament.  The obnoxious wife of a rising man in the MP’s treasury is ambitious for her hubby and accordingly into expediency. The son of the peer has gone black sheep by becoming involved in a neo-fascist group called The League of Freedom and Dignity. The loyal butler’s daughter is determined not to let her working class background hold her back. Observing all this with a tolerant eye is Dr. Bottwink, a Hungarian Jewish university professor, who is going over the family’s papers as part of his research on 18th century English politics. Dr. Bottwink tells the loyal butler that the English have been lucky to live a country where politics can be safely ignored, even in the 20th century.

Be assured that this is not a political novel disguised as a mystery or thriller, however.  Hare never lets politics interfere with the unfolding of his ingenious plot. Hare was a judge in the civil courts before he turned to writing full time. So like that other lawyer-writer, Erle Stanley Gardner, his plots turn on elaborate motives and intricate schemes that go wrong and end in murder. As in his earlier novel Tenant for Death, this is an especially pleasing mystery.







Free Book Friday Winner!

Saturday, August 18th, 2012




The winner of Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is:


 Tammy S. (tmarie)


Tammy 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!

It’s Free Book Friday!

Friday, August 17th, 2012


Today’s free book is Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper


ISBN 9781416971719

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school — but no one knows it. Most people — her teachers and doctors included — don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.

Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind — that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

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

You have until Saturday, August 18, 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!