I say to use 1/2" cement backerboard over 3/4" exterior grade plywood. Then, about every 6 months or so, you'll need to seal the grout. It isn't waterproof.
Yes, particle board is out. There a lot of step-by-step 'instructions' all over the WEB on how to tile countertops. If you can't find them, find a book on Kitchen & Baths; not Floors (as you've already found out, this book isn't helping you much.) Be sure to do your homework before you make your first cut.