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Musings, Memories and Miscellany from our MoM’s

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Matt B. (BuffaloSavage) was named our Member of the Month for May 2016.



How long have you been a PBS member?  How did you find PBS? How has PBS impacted your life? What does PBS mean to you?

I have been a PBS member since 2006, so I am coming up on the 10th anniversary. I found PBS through a web search in which I was looking for a book for purchase; that is, PBS had a book review of it. The offer was a pretty good deal and the PBS way of doing things contrasted with another service’s chaotic (to me) and grabby ways.  I had stacks of pocket and trade paperbacks I had promised myself to cull, and getting to a post office was no problem since a branch was within walking distance of my office. Since then, PBS has given me the chance to meet nice people. PBS represents to me the means by which I can score many curious books that I would not have found otherwise. Like at a used book sale, I never know what I am going to find.


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

The book that impacted me most as a child was Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. It is a family memoir that describes growing up in a family with twelve children whose parents, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, were both efficiency experts in science and industrial engineering.  Frank was the first to propose that a surgical nurse hand instruments to the surgeon during a procedure. After Frank died suddenly of a heart attack, Lillian made great contributions to the design of kitchen appliances and household furniture, not to mention the design and marketing of feminine hygiene products. Her reports were models of lucid argument and precise writing.


Saving time and energy and effort became very important to me. What I learned from that book was that there were better ways to do everything, all I had to do was think, be creative, and consciously avoid getting into ruts by testing new ways to do jobs. Emphasizing efficiency, practicality, feasibility, planning; doing more with less; and even making due with limited resources have all helped me in my professional life. It just shows there no knowing how a book will influence a certain kid in a certain place in a certain time. Sure, my parents taught a strong work ethic but I was lucky that book was assigned in school, maybe 5th or 6th grade.


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

The books I re-read as an adult are self-help books by Albert Ellis. One is A Guide to Rational Living and the other is How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything: Yes, Anything. Both books argue that it my belief that I’ve been, for example, needlessly hassled or disrespected or whatever that leads to my upset feelings. I make myself upset, not other people, not the world as it is. Ellis would advise that I dispute my irrational thoughts, by asking myself, ‘Just what is the evidence that so and so harmed me? I don’t know what was going through his mind.” Or, “Even if he did slight me, where is the law of the universe that says everybody I meet has to be friendly, talkative, and all round overjoyed to talk to scintillating me?” Ideally, I use reason and logic to develop and support disputing ideas. And I focus on what I can control: my own responses, my own will, the one thing that I have power over, the one thing that cannot be taken from me.



What are you reading now? 

Now I am near the end of The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw. It’s the grim story of the terrible things Hitler and the Hitlerites did to Jewish people, foreign workers in Germany, and the German people as the Allied armies advanced from both the west and the east. The books explains why the Nazi leadership, the military, and the civilian population fought on though the war was obviously lost.







Do you know of another PaperBackSwap member who just seems to go above and beyond? One who makes you smile, or helps you figure out something about a swap, or who simply makes you glad she or he is part of the club? You may just have found yourself a MoM (Member of the Month)!
MoMs are special members, ones who put a little extra effort in for the benefit of others, even when they think no one may ever notice. Maybe they send their packages well-wrapped bearing cheerful stickers on the outside, or they post interesting topics in the Discussion Forums that get people thinking and talking, or they work behind the scenes to correct book listings or upload images to book listings. Maybe they’re Tour Guides and help other members navigate swapping, or maybe they create extra-fun games in the Games forum, the kind after which everyone feels like they’ve made new friends.
If you believe that you have encountered a MoMsubmit your nomination to us here. Tell us why you think the member is a MoM — the more details, the better! The Member of the Month 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 the club. Who knows–the next MoM might just be YOU!





Books for Schools 2015

Friday, December 4th, 2015

books for schools 2015 blog


Books for Schools 2015 is underway!


It is one of our very favorite things here at PaperBackSwap. Sharing the joy of reading with children. Creating a new generation of book lovers. Knowing we are making a difference in the lives of children. 

Each year PaperBackSwap, through our generous members, donates brand-new new books to selected deserving elementary schools across the country.  The goal of the program is to provide children with books that they can read for pleasure. As you know, most of us learned the love of reading at an early age, and this is a great opportunity to share that joy. In the past four years PaperBackSwap and our members have donated over 87,000 new books to elementary schools. In 2014 we reached our goal of 17,700 books sent to 18 deserving elementary schools.

Your donation of credits or PaperBackSwap Money (which is used to defray some of the shipping costs) or both will help. Let’s put books in the hands of children. To go to the donations page, click this link.

This year’s goal is 14,000 books sent to schools across the country.

Thank you for joining us in making a real difference in the education of these kids! Together PaperBackSwap and our wonderful members do make a difference!

Richard and the PaperBackSwap Teamapple





Audio Book Review – The Confession

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

The Confession by John Grisham

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)


Recently, the debate over the death penalty in the United States has been getting more attention.  I hear it mentioned in the news regularly and politicians and citizens continue to argue over the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent for future crimes by others and the ability to rehabilitate offenders.  No matter how you feel about the issue, it can become a heated debate full of strong opinion.

During a recent work trip I listened to The Confession by John Grisham.  Donte Drumm, an African-American teen in Texas, is convicted and sentence to death for the kidnapping and murder of a white cheerleader from his school.  Drumm confessed to the crime (even though the victim’s body was never found) but insisted later at trial that it was a coerced confession given after hours of being interrogated and lied to by officers.   Drumm’s lawyer, Robbie Flak, continues to fight every angle to get Drumm’s conviction overturned.

Mere days before Drumm’s scheduled execution date Travis Boyette, a convicted sex offender, walks into a pastor’s office in Kansas and confesses to the murder of a Texas cheerleader years earlier.  Thus begins a bitter, often angry, frenzied attempt to get Boyette’s confession before the eyes of the court in order to save Drumm.

In listening to this audiobook, there were times I found myself gripping the steering wheel so tightly my knuckles were white.  The down-to-the-wire desperate rush of the story had my head swimming and my heart racing.  I think no matter what side of the death penalty debate you are on, this novel will make you think twice and contemplate whether what you believe is right or wrong.

I have already sent my audiobook of The Confession to another PBS swapper but if you’re interested in a fast-paced, gut-wrenching novel on justice (or the lack of), I encourage you to add this to your list.  The narration is excellent and the sheer thought-provoking nature of the novel is valuable.


Mystery Monday – Blues for the Prince

Monday, August 25th, 2014



Blues for the Prince by Bart Spicer


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

Published in the early Fifties, this hard-boiled mystery was the second in a series of about a dozen novels starring Philadelphia PI Carney Wilde. Wilde investigates a murder among the members of a band that still plays hot jazz (aka Dixieland) in the face of up-and-coming bebop. Admittedly, this novel has little action or detecting, but its setting, scenes and characterization make this an outstanding read. It is included on many “best mystery” lists.

Spicer was a journalist so that implies he valued an organized plot and fluent understandable language. His style is neither simple like James Cain nor complex like Raymond Chandler, but he strikes a balance between concise and literary. His dialogue is authentically hard-boiled without being cheesy (Cain’s failing, on his bad days), and his similes and metaphors are not self-conscious or over the top (Chandler’s failing, at times). The character of Wilde doesn’t crack wise nor is he given to mordant urban folk wisdom. His portrait of the weary homicide detective is realistic and humane.

Interesting to readers who like music would be the asides about Early Jazz, the kind of music that Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, and Joe Oliver played. Obviously, in a book about jazz, race is an unavoidable topic. Spicer makes clear that among the musicians, it was not an issue compared to the artistic judgments of “plays good music” versus “plays lame music.” The critic for the New York Herald Tribune Book Review said that Spicer does an “excellent job . . . showing the relationship between whites and Negroes both in the unbiased world of jazz and the more deeply biased outside world.”


Mystery Monday – The Case of the Hesitant Hostess

Monday, July 7th, 2014


The Case of the Hesitant Hostess by Erle Stanley Gardner


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


Fans and critics agree that the following Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner rank the best for courtroom fireworks, convoluted plots, and swift pace:  The Case of the Lazy Lover (1947), The Case of the Lucky Loser (1957), and The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll (1958).

I would argue, however, that The Case of the Hesitant Hostess (1953) should rank among the best because of its setting and atmosphere. Gardner examines the process in which a gang makes pots of money by opening nightclubs and gambling joints. Punished for their good looks by being coerced to become shills, hostesses distract suckers from realizing they are victimized in crooked games.

Unwary squares find themselves in trouble as rubbing elbows with crooks gradually turns into helping said bad guys do their dirty work or paying big costs like death, injury, and disability when not paying up. Given enough venal ruthlessness, Gardner finds, gangs find it relatively easy to gain control of a medium-sized burg, corrupt the police department, and stymie reform with bribes and violence.

The gritty noir setting and tone remind us of Gardner’s other series featured the PI duo of Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. Crime doesn’t not come out of everyday stuff like infidelity or personal indiscretions. Instead, the crime is the outcome of a complex criminal scheme. Gold Comes in Bricks (1940) is about an intricate fraud. Turn on the Heat (1940) examines the corruption of local politics: seedy cops, crooked politicians, co-opted news reporters, mean gangsters, and cowed citizens.  Top of the Heap (1952) is about gambling hells, income tax scams and fraudulent gold mines.  All Grass Isn’t Green (1970) is about the ins and outs of dope smuggling for criminal syndicates. Gardner took endless interest in process, such as how gangs succeed, how detectives ferret out information, how the cops manipulate and prime impressionable  eyewitness to misidentify blameless people as perps.

There are lapses in this Hesitant Hostess. We don’t even get the name of Mason’s client until the fourth chapter. Perry meets one of Drake’s operatives, talks to him at length, and we never get his name either. We are told Perry and Della win in a casino but are not told what they played. Chapters 3 and 16 are so long – unusually long for Gardner – that we wonder if Gardner just lost track of the length of his usual chapters.  The motive for framing Mason’s client rather wilts under scrutiny.

But I quibble. To both Mason fans and newbies, I highly recommend this mystery as one of the more tightly plotted and atmospheric Perry Mason novels from the Fifties.

Free Book Friday Winner!

Sunday, April 20th, 2014


Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale


The winner of the copy of this week’s Free Book Friday prize is:


Jennifer D. (cricket75)


Congratulations Jennifer, your book is on the way to you!

Thank you to everyone who commented on the blog!



Author Interview with Carol Piner

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Interview with Carol Piner, author of Evidence of Insanity

By Mirah W. (mwelday)


I recently read Evidence of Insanity by Carol Piner and she generously offered to be interviewed for our blog. Piner’s book is a compilation of tales that work together to showcase the life of the main character Callie, a character based on the author herself.  As a proud member of the GRITS (Girls Raised In The South), I found some of the stories hilarious and true to the craziness that is southern living.  While some of Piner’s stories are outrageous, some are touching.  In this interview, Piner tells us more about her inspiration, writing process, life in the south, and what makes her tick.


Mwelday for PBS Blog (MW): You consider yourself a storyteller.  What made you decide to take the leap into writing a book?

Carol Piner (CP): I have always been a storyteller and the stories in the book are ones I have been telling all my life. I not only always wanted to write a book about them, but I always intended to. It was a matter of timing. Once I lost my office, and I had nothing to do, it was time to finish it.

With a bow to my humor, I always said I was waiting for the important characters to die off so they wouldn’t sue me. That was not completely a lie. I never wanted to write it while Mama was alive because I knew it would hurt her. I couldn’t do that.  I set it in Carteret County because I wanted the people who talked about us to read how cruel they were. It escaped hurting me for the most part, but it hurt the other children and Mama. After things happened, I tended to find them funny, so it was a clean slate for me.


MW: I imagine there could have been some colorful language provided by your characters.  Why do you think you chose the short story method as opposed to a novel with dialogue?

CP: Again, I wrote the stories as I told them. Some were repeats from stories I was told. I didn’t even touch the surface of stories about my family. Dialogue was not even an issue and I think it would have slowed it down. I wanted it fast, but hopefully gripping.  I have always been far more interested in what people did and why. I am interested in people’s interactions with each other and what generates them.

I am currently writing a book called “Bitcherooni and Buddy” and it is along the dialogue theme, but still very funny and somewhat psychological.  I am also writing a more literary novel called “The Laugh”. It is set in the late 1800s. I think it is going to be quite interesting because I love that time period and how people treated each other. I have always been drawn to that gentility and good manners, even as a teenager.

MW: You begin your book with a lot of violence and chaos.  Why did you choose this approach?

CP: I began with the chaos because that kitchen and the “plays” created in there were what I remembered most when I thought back. Although all the children were relatively young, our personalities had already been formed and they never changed. Mama and Daddy were catalysts that set us off. Personally, I loved it.  I never saw it as violence. I have heard it called domestic violence before. It was simply all we knew. We thought all families were like that. The kitchen and what went on there was more like a staging in a play and we all knew our parts.

MW: Do you believe in the nature vs. nurture theory?  If yes, which do you tend to support the most and why?

CP: Nature or nurture. I must say, strictly based on my life, that it was all nurture. I believe if we had two different parents, things would have been different for all the children. Daddy was a womanizer. So was Jimmy and Teeny (their real names).   Mama smoked, was an alcoholic, and was drug addicted by the time she died. Not one of the girls have ever been hard drinkers or ever smoked at all. Marybeth did fall to the prescription medicine lure. So, I don’t believe it’s all inherited.  Me…my whole goal in life was to not end up like any of them, and I succeeded. I grew up determined to do just that: work and succeed.


MW: Your character’s story begins with her growing up in Carteret County, NC and she identifies several things she doesn’t like about the south (fire ants, not being able to keep secrets, the heat).  I grew up in SC and can relate; I dislike those things as well!  But there are also some things I love about the south.  I know your book isn’t a direct autobiography but you did grow up in the south.  What did you love/hate about it?

CP: I loved the South. I hoped my commentaries about the freedom, the beach, and the water expressed that. Although poor, Carteret County has beauty everywhere. Even the docks are beautiful when you see how happy the tourists are visiting here. The things I mentioned in the book were simply because they were irritants in Paradise.  I have lived in Pine Knoll Shores, N.C., Charleston, S.C. and Lancaster, PA. All are gorgeous. I have been blessed.

MW: Your character, Callie, addresses her love of reading more than once.  What are your favorite authors or books?  Why?

CP:  I am always at a loss when asked about favorite authors because I have so many. They include authors such as Elizabeth George. I love her. And any writer that wrote about the 1800s, such as Jane Austen. I love Charles Dickens. Anyone who writes about the law such as John Lescroart, Greg Illes, Scott Turow, and on and on. I love any book whose writing is intelligent and well researched. You learn from your reading regardless of what it is.

MW: Your title, Evidence of Insanity, is repeated several times throughout the book.  Do you think most people at some point in their lives think their families exhibit evidence of insanity?  What can we do to break out of this cycle or do things unlike our families?

CP: I have sold over 2500 books and that does not include Amazon, Lulu or AuthorHouse. I have made tremendous friends and they all tell me stories of chaos in their homes: the out-of-control brother or aunt or their own personal rebellions. Do I think it’s everywhere, no. Do I think it’s widespread, yes.

As for what we can do about it, that gives me pause. I see and hear about the atrocities committed by young and old and I worry for the future. Somehow we have to reach back and begin to treat each other with respect. It does not appear that in the texting age that is being done. I heard of a study today that said parents are on their phones more than their children, leaving children without parental directions.

MW: I agree. Some members of society seem to relish in treating people badly and without respect. Along those lines, Callie experiences a variety of complicated relationships.  What do you think makes for a healthy, uncomplicated relationship? Is there any such thing as uncomplicated relationship, in your opinion?

CP:  Callie was me and my relationships were definitely unhealthy, but I learned something from each one. Eventually I came to understand I was an enabler and had to stop it. So, until I can do that, I will do without a relationship.  I have always been very happy alone. I can trust me. It’s as simple as that.  I am not speaking of wandering eyes. I mean I can take care of myself and intend to.

As for an uncomplicated relationship, the marriage between my sister, Crystal, and her husband, Dave, is one I consider very healthy. They were together 40 years before he died. Although they lived in Wisconsin, they came to see me every year and how they treated each other showed their love and affection. She came a long way from Aunt Ella’s and I am very proud of her.


MW: What feelings or thoughts do you hope your work evokes in your readers?

CP: I was very surprised when I asked Rod Cockshutt to review my book for me. He was a reviewer for the Raleigh News and Observer. His review makes me shiver to this day. I never expected words like, “amazing accomplishment for a first time writer”, “poignant” and he finished it by telling me not to, under any circumstances, change the last 10-15 pages. And he read the very, very unedited version.

I want people to realize you can laugh regardless of the circumstances. Things will look better tomorrow. Turn your back to the painful. Keep going. Be patient. Show restraint. Use your mind. Believe in yourself. I have had those who asked was the book cathartic. Absolutely not. I still live right where it all happened and people are still talking about us. What could possibly be cathartic about it?


MW: You painted the cover art for your book.  If you had to choose one medium…visual art or writing….which would you choose and why?

CP: Visual art or writing. I see them as compatriots of a kind. Each painting is a thought brought to light, just as writing is. My paintings are very happy and colorful. That is who I am. Writing makes me put my mind to use. I am 65 years old, but I am energetic, happy and my mind has never stopped churning. Currently, I am reviewing for Kindle Book Review and I get lots of good books to read and review. I contribute captions to pictures on under the screen name NCcharmer. I have been curious about doing reviews on PBS. I am still new and don’t know how yet.  I will not be doing either until I become bored with what I am currently doing. Then, I will be ready to do something else. First, I will probably finish my books because I can see the ending and how to get there.


MW: I love newcomers to PBS, it is one of my favorite websites.  So, welcome to PBS!  We’re glad you found us and want to be a part of the site. The site has many wonderful sections, including discussion forums, donation opportunities, games, a showcase for member writings, and much more.  But, at the heart of it all, we are a community of readers willing to share our love of books with one another. What would you consider the best book someone has shared with you?

CP: The best books shared with me were sent to me by my friend, Linda Cloe. She is a member of PBS and sent me a book by Deanna Raybourne. It is about Lady Jane Grey and I become totally involved in it. I have read four and am waiting for the release of another. In the meantime, I will take whatever I can get my hands on. I seldom read a book I don’t like.


I know I’m not the only PBS user who will agree with that sentiment; we love books and read all kinds! Thank you for sharing your book with me for this interview, it felt like I was given a real opportunity to get to know you as a person through your character Callie.  Your unique writing style felt more like sitting in a room with a friend listening to her stories than actually reading. Thank you for contributing your time for this interview and we hope to see more of you on PBS!


If you’d like to win a copy of Carol Piner’s Evidence of Insanity, comment on this post.  And you don’t have to be from the south to win, a winner will be chosen at random from all comments by PBS members.   Good luck!