Our hearts are broken
The two ladies who bring you this blog of cheap reads are sisters. Suddenly yesterday afternoon our 45-year-old brother John suffered a fatal massive heart attack. Our loss is great; our hearts are broken.
John worked for years at the local General Motors dealership, managing the parts department and body shop and most recently in sales.
He served in his state’s National Guard for 27 years; including deployments in Afghanistan and Kosovo. John had a wide circle of friends and knew just about everyone in his hometown.
His family lived with our 95-year-old father. John tended the cattle and all things around the farm so Dad could continue to live there.
John’s wife of just a few years is devastated as are his children and step-children. If you are a praying person, please pray for his widow Sherrilyn and his children Jessi, James, Nicole, Sara and Abby. Please pray for Dad, too.
I’ve taken the comment moderation off so that you can post without my approval. I’m sorry if spam comes through. The site may be a bit shortened the next few days as our family gathers to cry, remember and grieve together.
We are John’s sisters –
Paula and Susan
Cheap Reads – Fantasies
John’s 13-year-old daughter Jessi loves to read fantasy. These cheap reads are two of her favorites.
The Lightning Thief (99 cents) Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe.
Artemis Fowl [Kindle Edition with Audio/Video] ($1.99) Twelve-year-old Artemis is a millionaire, a genius-and above all, a criminal mastermind. But Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of the bedtime stories-they’re dangerous!
WESTERN ROMANCE: The Attraction Between Me And Him Were Beyond This Planet
I’ll agree there is something that is beyond this planet, but it isn’t an attraction.
The description of the story includes this phrase:
…the woman who had his heart since they were tiny tykes toddling around the prairies
I lived on the prairie for a decade and never saw tiny tykes toddling around.
This is the most concerning line in the description:
He was heading back to his home town and hoping to catch up with his family and friends after having a long adventure with just his horse and a couple of men.
Before you think the worst, the next sentence is:
They had gone over west to help his uncle with his cattle ranch.
Even though I haven’t read this short story, I don’t recommend it. However, last Friday 11 people have posted 5-star reviews and two have posted 4-star reviews. What do I know?
Did you hear about the fellow who was recently crushed by a pile of books? He’s only got his shelf to blame.
Need a Cover Up?
An Office Max store in our area is closing very soon. In its waning hours, most of the remaining inventory is covers for e-readers, tablets and phones selling at very low prices. I purchased the leather cover at left for the Fire HD 7″ for $10. If a store is closing in your area, you might call to confirm they have Kindle covers and last date the store will be open.
A follow-up to my crossbody Kindle bag: Several of you asked. I purchased it at Kohl’s.
An eclectic collection of fiction and non-fiction, these three books are only 99 cents each.
The Fence (99 cents) Dick Lehr’s The Fence, subtitled, “A Police Cover-up Along Boston’s Racial Divide,” is a shocking true story of racism, brutality, official lies and negligence, when the truth about the savage beating of black plainclothes policeman by white officers was hidden behind a “blue wall of silence.”
The Good Neighbor (99 cents) When Francie and Colt Hart drive past an abandoned 150-year-old farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania, they both fall head-over-heels in love with it — but for entirely different reasons. The more they learn about the house, and especially the tragic history of its previous occupants (whose descendants are their new neighbors), the more it threatens to drive them apart.
Blood Music (99 cents) New York City is caught in the cold grip of a brutal serial killer who savagely rapes and murders his young, blonde victims. As the death count rises, he sends taunting notes to the newspapers, all with unsettling references to his obsession with classical music. The media is titillated and has dubbed him the “Symphony Slasher.”
Sunday is the day to honor mothers and mother-figures in our lives. I’d like to tell you about my mom.
She spent countless hours reading to her children as we didn’t have television or videos to entertain us. We wore out a set of Books of Knowledge and a Big Book of Bible Stories as she read from one of those just about every day.
She was a mother to seven children and a farm wife who didn’t have time to read much for herself while we were young. If she read the newspaper the same day it was delivered, she was happy. As the older siblings moved on to adulthood and the youngest ones became more independent she returned to the peaceful pastime of reading a book of her choice. She especially enjoyed Janette Oke, author of inspirational historical novels.
Mom passed away just over 20 years ago on a cold March morning. When my husband and I went to the family home to be with Dad, I noticed her book on the end table, the bookmark at about 1/3 through. It’s a sweet memory I have of her love for reading.
Did your mother influence your love for reading or the genre of books you read? Do you swap books or recommendations about great reads now that you are both adults? If your mother is no longer living, do you ever read a book and think that a character reminds you of Mom?
Authors and Mothers
Check out this slideshow of authors with their mothers or authors who are mothers. I had not heard of a few that are featured here, but all of us can recognize the mother’s touch.
100th Anniversary of the Lusitania Sinking
RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner, holder of the Blue Riband, and briefly the world’s largest passenger ship. When the RMS Lusitania left New York for Liverpool on what would be her final voyage on May 1, 1915, submarine warfare was intensifying in the Atlantic. Germany had declared the seas around the United Kingdom a war zone. On the afternoon of May 7, RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-Boat, 11 miles off the southern coast of Ireland causing the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew. –Wikipedia
Barnes & Noble has reduced the price of a book of history of the Lusitania and her passengers. As of the time of this post, Amazon has not yet priced matched. Let’s hope Amazon quickly offers this book for only $1.99. I’ll keep an eye on them and update this post. Please check back later in the day to see if the price has changed.
Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy (Hoping it is soon price matched to B&N for $1.99; original price $11.49) In her riveting account of this enormous and controversial tragedy, Diana Preston recalls both a pivotal moment in history and a remarkable human drama. The story of the Lusitania is a window on the maritime world of the early twentieth century: the heyday of the luxury liner, the first days of the modern submarine, and the climax of the decades-long German-British rivalry for supremacy of the Atlantic. Above all, it is the story of the passengers and crew on that fateful voyage-a story of terror and cowardice, of self-sacrifice and heroism, of death and miraculous survival.
The Paper Magician ($1.99 Audiobook $1.99) Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.
The Glass Magician ($1.99 Audiobook $1.99) Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.
Shopping with Tiger
The handbag that I had carried for three years was worn out. I dreaded finding a new one. Men may not understand the trauma of replacing a purse: if you can’t find a place in the new bag for all the items that were in the previous bag, something has to go.
While my husband and I were recently driving by a large retail area, I casually suggested we stop to look for a new purse. Suprisingly Tiger made the left turn into the parking area.
I knew the brand I wanted and just had to choose the model to buy. Though it is smaller than the one I was using, I chose the one on the left.
While I was looking through it to determine where everything would fit, Tiger said, “Why don’t you get this one, too? You could put your Kindles in here when you travel.” My husband is a genius!
On a recent weekend trip I packed the 8.9″ Fire, Voyage and Samsung tablet into the crossbody bag shown at right. The large Fire fit completely inside. This slim bag isn’t a space hog in the car, either.
Tiger and I recommend that you consider buying something similar for your reading devices.
HarperColllins and Amazon sign agreement
HarperCollins joins Simon & Schuster, MacMillan and Hachette Book Group to reach an agreement with Amazon to continue the availability of their books on Amazon’s website. No details have been released, but Business Insider published an article stating that HC was not going along with the terms Amazon offered. Other publishers agreed to be able to set prices on most books, but would be given incentives to sell at lower prices.
HC imprints include Harper, HarperCollins, Avon, Harlequin, Ecco, William Morrow, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson and many more.
Penguin Random House is the only large traditional publisher that has not yet signed a new contract with Amazon.
Brian McGilloway is a popular Irish author who has enjoyed popularity in the United Kingdom. His first novel, Borderlands, published by Macmillan New Writing, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger 2007 award. The second novel in the series, Gallows Lane, was shortlisted for the 2009 Irish Book Awards/Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year.
The first DS Lucy Black novel, Little Girl Lost, became an Amazon Kindle No 1 Bestseller in 2013.
If you enjoy crime thrillers, these two by Mr. McGilloway are selling for only 99 cents each.
Someone You Know: A Lucy Black Thriller (99 cents) Just before Christmas, the body of a sixteen-year-old girl is found along the train tracks on the outskirts of a small town. As Detective Lucy Black investigates the teenager’s tragic last hours in search of clues to her death, she realizes that some of the victim’s friends may have been her most dangerous enemies—and that whoever killed her is ready to kill again.
The Rising: Inspector Devlin Mystery (99 cents) When Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin is summoned to a burning barn, he finds inside the charred remains of a man who is quickly identified as a local drug dealer, Martin Kielty. It soon becomes clear that Kielty’s death was no accident, and suspicion falls on a local vigilante group. Former paramilitaries, the men call themselves The Rising.
When another drug dealer is killed, Devlin realises that the spate of deaths is more complex than mere vigilantism. When personal crisis will strike at the heart of Ben’s own family, and he will be forced to confront the compromises his career has forced upon him.
The 2015 Pulitzer Prizes for books were announced on April 20 at Columbia University.
All the Light We Cannot See ($12.99) won the prize for fiction. The bestseller is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The Pulitzer jury described the novel as written in “short elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology.”
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History ($9.99) was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. It is major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes.
The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe ($11.99) was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for biography. The Pope and Mussolini tells the story of two men who came to power in 1922, and together changed the course of twentieth-century history.
Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People ($9.99) was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for history. Encounters at the Heart of the World concerns the Mandan Indians, iconic Plains people whose teeming, busy towns on the upper Missouri River were for centuries at the center of the North American universe.
#Youdunnit: Three Short Stories is currently available to download to your Kindle device for $1.23. The description reads: Three very different murders and three unique takes on your travel photographer turned reluctant sleuth, Lucinda Berrington. Deep in the suffocating British countryside, the gangland streets of Cape Town or the glossy world of professional cycling, Twitter followers are meeting an unsavoury demise.
Reading further in the description:
This ebook is brought to you free of charge by Penguin, in association with Specsavers.
Oops! Someone needs to tell the pricing people at Amazon.
If you are looking for something a bit lighter than the Pulitzer Prize winners above, here are a few bargains for young adults and anyone who is young at heart. Each book is selling for $1.99.
Paddington: The Junior Novel ($1.99) When Paddington arrives in London, he’s excited to explore the city that he’s heard so much about.
Favorite ($1.99 Audiobook $1.99) Part thriller, part coming-of-age tale, Favorite is an engrossing young adult novel in which nothing—and no one—is as it seems.
The Promise of Amazing ($1.99) Wren Caswell is average. Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. One fateful night, their paths cross at Wren’s family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts.
Typos and Grammar Errors
Those nagging typos, grammar errors and misplaced modifiers! Read this blog often enough and you will find plenty of them in either the book blurbs from Amazon or my ramblings.
Here are blurb excerpts and titles I’ve found recently:
Jordan was married to the love of her life. Together they were building the “Happy Ever After” future they’d both dreamed of. When a stalker becomes obsessed with her and brakes into her house intending to take her for his own sick desires.
Weswestern Historical Romance
With taught prose evocative of Laura Lippman’s Life Sentences and Dennis Lehane’s Moonlight Mile
Just today, the non-fiction book in the Daily Deal is identified as Paradise Rex (scroll down-the Science Daily Deal on the left) instead of Parasite Rex.
Tee-shirts for readers
If you want to let the world know you are a reader, you might want to purchase one of these tee-shirts now selling on Etsy.com. I typed in “reading shirts” to find these three. NOTE: We do not receive commissions from Etsy.
Many of you have already found the typo/grammar error on the shirt above that I missed. I was a bit tired when I put this post together last night. It’s a long story that involves my 95-year-old father, cows on the road and barbed-wire fence repair.
Buy these three mysteries for only 99 cents each.
Night Hush (99 cents) In this gripping and action-packed debut, an Army Intelligence officer and a Delta Force soldier must race against the clock to stop a catastrophic terrorist attack …
A Killing at the Creek (99 cents) Prosecutor Elsie Arnold loves her small-town home in the Ozark hills, but she’s been waiting for a murder to come along and make her career. So when a body is found under a bridge, throat cut, Elsie jumps at the chance to work on the case, even if it’s alongside the brash new chief assistant, Chuck Harris—and her latest flame, Detective Bob Ashlock.
Race to Death (99 cents) A man plummets to his death during the York Races. Despite the large crowds, no witnesses are able to help confirm whether the death was a suicide or a murder. Newly promoted, Detective Ian Peterson is plunged into the complex case that splashes across the headlines.
Not really great
While looking for great reads to post on our site, I scan many reader reviews. Helpful comments will tell me if the writing drags, the plot has flaws, the characters are underdeveloped and even spoilers.
I recently read this comment posted by a reader:
Some of these kindle books are not really great. I wish they reviewed these a bit closer before they put them out there for purchase.
My first thought was, “Really?” Not knowing if the reviewer was referring to grammar errors or the quality of the writing, it is hard to know what should be reviewed.
If you look at just about any book with more than 20 reviews, some readers will love it while others will give it a thumbs down. Some will mention definite reasons for their favorable or unfavorable rating. Others say “What an awesome book!” or “I just couldn’t get into it.” If books were reviewed before becoming available, whose opinion determines which books make the cut?
With more than 3.5million items in the Kindle Store, Amazon will not be reviewing books before putting them out there for puchase. The company is counting on you to let your fellow readers know if the book is worth their time. Let the buyer beware.
Amazon Dash Button
Amazon recently announced the Dash Button – a wireless ordering option that will place an order with Amazon to replenish household items. Currently only Prime members are being offered this unique opportunity.
To learn what some are saying about the concept I recommend you read these articles The Amazon Dash Button Fiasco (watch the video) and The Horror of Amazon’s New Dash Button.
Have I ever wished for such a device when in a pinch? Yes. Would I use this device regularly? No. But I enjoy the shopping experience – finding the best value for the price and comparing brands and products.
I’ve been contemplating how this idea would work for the Kindle. Would it download the next book in the series? Another book by the same author? Same genre? The idea just isn’t ready for the Kindle yet.
Enjoy a cozy mystery for just $1.99 each.
It Takes a Witch ($1.99 Audiobook $3.49) Darcy Merriweather has just discovered she hails from a long line of Wishcrafters-witches with the power to cast spells by making a wish. She’s come to Enchanted Village to learn her trade but finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation…
Murder Is Binding ($1.99) When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial.
Boiled Over ($1.99 Audiobook $3.49) For Julia Snowden, the Founder’s Day summer celebration in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, means helping her family’s clambake company to prepare an authentic taste of New England seafood. Any Mainer will tell you that a real clambake needs wood for the fire . . . so why is there a foot sticking out of the oven?
Amazon announces changes to Cloud Service
Amazon recently announced changes to their cloud service. If you are a Prime member or Fire owner, you will continue to have unlimited space for pictures. At least for now.
If you need storage, the prices are reasonable:
• Unlimited Photos Plan (free 3-month trial, then $11.99 per year—equivalent of less than $1 per month): Store an infinite number of photos inCloud Drive without worrying about taking up space on phones, cameras, or other devices. Customers can upload existing collections and store all future photos taken. This plan also includes 5 GB of additional storage for videos or other documents and files.
• Unlimited Everything Plan (free 3-month trial, then $59.99 per year—equivalent of less than $5 per month): Store an infinite number of new and existing photos, videos, files, documents, movies, and music in Cloud Drive.
Take a trip down Amazon’s Memory Lane
Amazon has become such a part of America’s culture and everyday life that it’s hard to believe the company started just 20 years ago in 1995. Business Insider.com (a publication in which Jeff Bezos is an investor through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions) has provided a trip down memory lane to show us how the face of Amazon has evolved through the years. To think that we could be shopping on Cadabra.com or Relentless.com.
You might have missed it yesterday, but Amazon had a 1999 webpage as their home page for April Fool’s Day as shown below. Remember those little tabs across the top?
These three suspense-filled novels by Lisa Jackson are selling for just $1.99 each.
The Morning After ($1.99) Another body is found. And another. Each gruesome discovery unnerves Nikki a little more. Now, as a serial killer pulls her ever deeper into his sick game, she has no idea how close she’s getting to the truth–or how deadly it will be. . .
Wicked Game ($1.99) Twenty years ago, wild child Jessie Brentwood vanished from St. Elizabeth’s high school. Few friends suspected that Jessie was hiding a shocking secret-one that brought her into the crosshairs of a vicious killer…
Ready to Die ($1.99) His blood quickens as he stares at the photographs. Six faces, all guilty–and detectives Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez are at the top of his list. One by one, he’ll stalk them, then he’ll squeeze the trigger, savoring the way each lifeless body crumples to the reddening snow. One down already. And then there were five. . .
Finding forgotten books in the archive
While doing everything possible to delay the paperwork for the tax accountant, I browsed through my Kindle library to select books to add to the to-be-read list, specifically looking for great reads that I had forgotten.
Here are just a few great books – all purchased for under $5 each – that are back on the list:
Behold, Here’s Poison ($9.99) – Historical mystery by Georgette Heyer (Love the cover!)
Glitter Baby ($5.99) – Contemporary fiction by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Killer On A Hot Tin Roof ($5.38) – Cozy mystery by Livia Washington
The Negotiator ($9.99) – Inspirational suspense by Dee Henderson
11/22/63 ($11.99) – Alternative history by Stephen King
I need an app that randomly selects a book from my archive each week, loads it to my default Kindle and sends an e-mail reminder.
Do you have forgotten books languishing in the archive? How do you keep your to-be-read list fresh?
Amazon Improving the Streaming Video Experience
Earlier this week Amazon announced a a free, over-the-air software update in the coming weeks to the Fire TV Stick that includes:
• Expandable USB storage on Amazon Fire TV–You can now use a connected USB mass storage device to expand your Fire TV storage for downloaded apps and games.
• Connect to your hotel or dorm room Wi-Fi with captive portal support out of the box–Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are the first streaming media devices to enable you to connect to Wi-Fi that requires web authentication–this includes Wi-Fi at most major hotels, as well as some universities.
• Private listening on Fire TV–Support for wireless Bluetooth headphones to Fire TV lets you listen to your movie, TV show, or music without bothering others in your household.
• Browse and search Prime Playlists–Prime members can now take advantage of hand-crafted Prime Music playlists directly from Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.
• Hidden PIN entry–The new PIN entry screen that hides the numbers selected.
• New shortcuts–Quickly put your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick to sleep or enable display mirroring by pressing and holding the Home button on your remote.
These three cozy mysteries are only 99 cents each.
Unsolicited advice for authors: Whoa there!
Our father has enjoyed and worked with horses all his life, beginning when he farmed with a team in the 1930s. He won our mother’s heart by insisting she ride his favorite mount, Susie Belle.
Anyone who works with horses knows that the animals respond to word commands. Dad often uses those same expressions with his children.
When we were young, we would bubble over in our excitement to tell a story. Our high-pitched voices firing at rapid speed would prompt Dad to say, “Whoa there! Not so much all at once.”
I have the same unsolicited advice for authors: Whoa there!
Recently I’ve read novels that take on multiple social and economic ills and offer a solution to most of them in 300 pages or less.
If an author is passionate about a topic, then write an issue-based novel with a compelling story that incorporates the subject. If appropriate, introduce the other side of the issue to build conflict. Become an expert on the issue, going beyond just giving an opinion.
But please – Don’t take a position on gun-control, corporate farming, eldercare, home-schooling and climate change in the same book! A single novel with so many issues will offend every reader at some point .
As Dad would say, “Whoa there! Not so much all at once.” Tell your story, but practice restraint when it comes to pushing social issues.
What is Literature Jeopardy?
BookRiot.com has culled the Jeopardy archives and created more 40 sets of Jeopardy answers that relate to literature. The nine answers are followed by the nine questions, so don’t scroll down too far when you check out the fun here.
This is one answer that I questioned correctly (if that is the proper way to describe the process):
A: Mother of Bonnie Blue, she ran a sawmill after the Civil War.
Q: Who is Scarlett O’Hara?
Buy these three mysteries and thrillers for only 99 cents each – a great price.
Bone Valley (99 cents) In her never-ending quest to log more billable hours, Sarasota lawyer Lilly Cleary agrees to defend Angus and Miguel, two fervent environmentalists who are being sued for libeling . . . an orange!
Point Doom (99 cents) Failed private investigator JD Fiorella was a pro at finding trouble. Mixing it up with the wrong people in New York, he escaped to L.A.—only to hit rock-bottom after too many nightmares and too much booze.
Lineup (99 cents) A brutal rape in a quiet Tel Aviv neighborhood has the police baffled. There are no witnesses, suspects, or clues, until the victim’s father steps in and finds overwhelming evidence pointing to Ziv Nevo.