Amazon Discounts Avengers Comic Books!

Marvel’s The Avengers has become one of this summer’s biggest movie blockbusters. And to celebrate, Amazon’s discounting the Kindle edition of six big graphic novels starring The Avengers — and there’s also several free Avengers comic books in Amazon’s Kindle Store! And anticipating the next upcoming Marvel blockbuster, they’re also discounting the Kindle edition of a Marvel graphic novel about Ant-Man (called “Small World”).

For a shortcut to the discounted graphic novels, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/AmazonAvengersComics


Avengers - Heroes Welcome

Avengers: Heroes Welcome #1 by Brian Bendis and Mark Brooks (Free!)

Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, plus She-Hulk and The Wasp, greet a young superhero named Nova. But I like the theme of this free comic book — which is heroism, and the personal choices that each individual superhero has to make. It’s a special 14-page introduction to some of Marvel’s most popular characters. And it’s great to see them all in high-definition color in the Kindle app on my tablet!


Captain America - First Vengeance

Captain America: The First Avenger #1: First Vengeance by Fred Van Lente and Luke Ross (Free!)

Captain America is one of my favorite Avengers — and this 2011 comic tells the “origin story” of the man who wears the red, white and blue. It was considered “the official prequel” for Marvel’s 2011 summer blockbuster (the Captain America movie). And four years later, it’s still Amazon’s #1 most popular graphic novel in their “Media Tie-In” section.


Avengers - Fury's Big Week

Marvel’s The Avengers Prelude: Fury’s Big Week #1 (of 8)Free!

This free comic book was the official prelude to Marvel’s The Avengers movie back in 2011. “In a world full of green monsters, gods, and men in iron suits…” asks the book’s description at Amazon, “How will S.H.I.E.L.D. maintain the status quo?” it’s a fun 13-page glimpse into the life of Nick Fury — Samuel L. Jackson’s character in The Avengers movie, who makes the decisions about how to confront the next crazy alien invasion. And if you enjoy the comic, there’s 7 more issues that continue its story!


Avengers Volume 1 - Brian Michael Bendis - The Heroic Age   Avengers - Volume 1 - Marvel Now

Avengers, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr. ($3.99)

Avengers, Vol. 1: Avengers World (Marvel NOW!) by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena ($3.99)

Strangely, there are two discounted Marvel graphic novels that are both named Avengers, Volume 1. One features the spectacular 2011 relaunch of the team for Marvel’s “Heroic Age” (written by long-time Avengers writer Brian Michael Bendis). Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man join Wolverine and Spider-Man for a massive superhero showdown with some time-traveling supervillains, in a story that ends with a great science fiction twist. And the other graphic novel represents a passing-of-the-torch, as Jonathan Hickman took over the series, sending the Avengers into a high-stakes war that leads them to Mars, the Savage Land, and ultimately to the very origins of planet earth!


Thor - God of Thunder - The God Butcher cover

Thor: God of Thunder Vol. 1 – The God Butcher by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic ($3.99)

This massive 136-page collection collects six issues of the “Thor: God of Thunder” series from 2013, and it’s drawing rave reviews from readers on Amazon. “This is an incredible series with larger than life storytelling brought to life with epic art,” wrote one reviewer, calling the collection “A great jumping on point for new Thor fans, like myself.” In a powerful story that spans thousands of years, Thor discovers a forgotten cave “that echoes with the cries of tortured gods,” according to the book’s description at Amazon. And far off in the future, he must later confront “the berserker legions…as the last god-king of a ruined Asgard!”


Avengers - Absolute Vision

Avengers: Absolute Vision – Book One by John Byrne ($3.99)

I wrote about this one earlier this month. It’s a mammoth collection of original Avengers comic books to commemorate Marvel’s release of their new blockbuster, Avengers: Age of Ultron. This 432-page tome collects 11 classic issues of The Avengers — plus two more of the big “Avengers Annual” issues, as well as Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, Fantastic Four #256, and Doctor Strange #60. See The Scarlet Witch and The Vision, as well as memorable confronations between Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man — arguing whether Tony Stark has finally taken things too far. And this book even includes a rare story where Hawkeye, Black Widow, and three of their superhero teammates make an appearance on David Letterman’s late-night talk show!


The New Avengers - Breakout

New Avengers, Vol. 1: Breakout by Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch ($3.99)

This 160-page graphic novel collects six issues of “The New Avengers” during their spectacular “Breakout” event back in 2004. The epic story followed the aftermath of a jailbreak of massive proportions, with supervillians from the Marvel universe suddenly running around on the loose. Iron Man and Captain America team up with Wolverine, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman and Luke Cage, and the chase leads them to the Savage Land. One reviewer on Amazon described it as “The Start of Something Great,” and it’s always fun to see a team of Marvel superheroes back in action.


The Mighty Avengers - The Ultron Initiative

Mighty Avengers, Vol. 1: The Ultron Initiative by Brian Michael Bendis and Frank Cho ($3.99)

This 168-page graphic novel collects six issues of Marvel’s “Mighty Avengers” comic. Iron Man (Tony Stark) attempts to rebuild the team, and it’s nice to see Natasha Romanoff (the Black Widow) back in the line-up. They join with Ms. Marvel, The Wasp, The Sentry, and Wonder Man, but soon they’re confronting the evil super-robot Ultron. “A group this powerful should be ready for just about anything,” reads the book’s description at Amazon, “except, perhaps, the return of a genocidal killing machine…”


Ant-Man and Wasp - Small World graphic novel

Ant-Man & Wasp: Small World by Tim Seeley ($3.82)

Many men have worn the tiny, size-shifting suit of Ant-Man — and two of them square off in this entertaining graphic novel. “Eric O’Grady once stole the Ant-Man suit from Hank Pym,” explains the book’s description at Amazon. “But now, Eric is the only one who knows about a secret AIM plot to steal Pym’s greatest invention!” So the old Ant-Man and the new Ant-Man team up for an undercover mission that — aw, you had me at “Ant-Man.” I’m a fan, and I loved this graphic novel.

And this is a great time to be a fan of Marvel comic books.


Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s discounted Marvel graphic novels, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/AmazonAvengersComics

Is “The Goldfinch” a Masterpiece – or a Threat to Literature?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

There’s something dangerous in the “The Goldfinch” — and not just the “high stakes” anxiety that pervades its story. Last year the novel won the Pulitzer Prize, along with a pile of rave reviews from numerous book reviewers (including Stephen King) — but it’s also provoked a high-stakes controversy. According to Vanity Fair, the producers of The Hunger Games are already making a movie (or possibly a TV series) based on the novel. But the magazine also points out that despite its glowing accolades, the book has also received “some of the severest pans in memory from the country’s most important critics and sparked a full-on debate in which the naysayers believe that nothing less is at stake than the future of reading itself!”

For example, The New Yorker wasn’t just unimpressed with The Goldfinch; they argued “Its tone, language, and story belong in children’s literature.” The London Review of Books also complained that the novel was a children’s book for grown-ups, and The New York Review of Books harped on cliches which somehow slipped past the editors, as well as sections which were “bombastic, overwritten, marred by baffling turns of phrase.” Their ultimately question? “Doesn’t anyone care how something is written anymore?”

And The Paris Review was even more blunt, arguing that the novel “doesn’t undo any cliches—it deals in them.” There may have been a gentile literary “patina” coating the novel, but underneath it all was a shoddy work of fiction. So why all the acclaim? “Nowadays, even The New York Times Book Review is afraid to say when a popular book is crap.”

Part of the excitement comes from the fact that author Donna Tartt only releases a new novel once each decade – and she already has a high reputation. I’ve often wondered if that subtly influence all reviewers — of movies, books, and even music. If an artist has created something great, and then they’ve released something else, there’s a buzz, an anticipation, a wave of excitement. It seems like there’s an unspoken pressure not to stop the fun — not to be that one killjoy who blurts out “It’s not as good as what came before…”

Vanity Fair had some sympathy for the editor of the highbrow Paris Review, “who struggles to keep strong literary voices alive and robust, [and] sees a book like The Goldfinch standing in the way.” They tracked down the critical editor to pin down what exactly was the danger of the book’s popularity, and got a very specific response. “What worries me is that people who read only one or two books a year will plunk down their money for The Goldfinch, and read it, and tell themselves they like it, but deep down will be profoundly bored, because they aren’t children, and will quietly give up on the whole enterprise when, in fact, fiction — realistic fiction, old or new — is as alive and gripping as it’s ever been.”

But maybe the last word comes from Jay McInerney. The author of Bright Lights, Big City made his own splashy debut years ago, and 20 decades ago had recognized when the same thing was happening to Donna Tartt. The two authors became friends, and when Vanity Fair wrote their article Tartt was unavailable for comment — but McInerney wasn’t. And he insisted that his friend hadn’t even read any of the reviews — not the negative ones, and not the glowingly positive ones, either. So he’s absolutely certain how she’s reacting to this new controversy over her book’s popularity and the negative reviews it’s provoked.

He says she’s not “losing any sleep” over them.


For a shortcut to the book’s page on Amazon, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/ReadTheGoldfinch

Amazon Offers New Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy eBook Discounts

Lovecrafts Monsters by Neil Gaiman   The End of the World - Stories of the Apocalypse by Neil Gaiman and George R R Martin
Avengers - Absolute Vision   Ursula K Le Guin - Wild Girls

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite science fiction authors, and he’s contributed short stories to two wonderful science fiction anthologies. Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin also appears in one of them, and they’re all part of Amazon’s special selection of discounted ebooks for June. They’re even discounting a prize-winning novella by Ursula K. Le Guin — plus a massive collection of comic books starring The Avengers!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s discounts, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/399KindleEbooks


Lovecrafts Monsters by Neil Gaiman

Lovecraft’s Monsters by Neil Gaiman and others ($1.99)

All the gothic horrors of H. P. Lovecraft are resurrected again by the top science fiction writers of today. Neil Gaiman contributed “Only the End of the World Again,” in which Lovecraft’s “Deep Ones” confront a werewolf in a story that one Amazon reviewer described as ” very original and extremely entertaining.” Amazon’s description of the book promises that “Each story is a gripping new take on a classic Lovecraftian creature, and each is accompanied by a spectacular original illustration that captures the monsters’ unique visage” (by John Coulthart, the illustrator of The Steampunk Bible. There’s 16 stories (and two poems) about classic Lovecraftian characters like Cthulhu, Shoggoths, and Elder Things — presented “in all their terrifying glory.”


Avengers - Absolute Vision

Avengers: Absolute Vision – Book One by John Byrne ($3.99)

A mammoth collection of original Avengers comic books — just in time to commemorate Marvel’s release of their new blockbuster, Avengers: Age of Ultron. This 432-page tome collects 11 classic issues of The Avengers — plus two more of the big “Avengers Annual” issues, as well as Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, Fantastic Four #256, and Doctor Strange #60. See The Scarlet Witch and The Vision, as well as memorable confronation between Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man — arguing whether Tony Stark has finally taken things too far. And this book even includes a rare story where Hawkeye, Black Widow, and three of their superhero teammates make an appearance on David Letterman’s late-night talk show!


The End of the World - Stories of the Apocalypse by Neil Gaiman and George R R Martin

The End of the World: Stories of the Apocalypse
by George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and others ($1.99)

George R. R. Martin and Neil Gaiman both contributed stories to this 340-page anthology, which also features works by Orson Scott Card and Arthur C. Clarke. In fact, there’s 19 different authors in what Amazon describes as an “explosive collection of the world’s best apocalyptic writers”. Even the titles are stunning — there’s “Flight to Forever” (a time-travelling story by Poul Anderson), and Arthur C. Clarke’s story is called “‘If I Forget Thee O Earth…”. (And George R. R. Martin’s titled his story “Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels”…) Publisher’s Weekly called this anthology “a moving and powerful reminder of humanity’s capacity for self-destruction and powerful will to survive.” And Amazon’s also discounting the audiobook to just $2.99 (so you can switch back and forth between reading the stories and listening to them!)


Ursula K Le Guin - Wild Girls

The Wild Girls by Ursula K. Le Guin ($2.99)

This remarkable short novel won the Nebula award for science fiction in 2003 — when the author was 73! But it was only a few years ago that it was finally published as a book, and now Amazon’s discounting its Kindle edition to just $2.99. (And if you’ve already purchased a print edition from Amazon, they’ll discount the ebook to just $1.99.) In the Kindle Store, the book’s characters are described as “two captive ‘dirt children’ in a society of sword and silk, whose determination to find a glimpse of justice leads to a violent and loving end…”

As a bonus, this book also includes a special non-fiction essay by the Ursula Le Guin “which demolishes the pretensions of corporate publishing and the basic assumptions of capitalism” (titled “Staying Awake While We Read”.) And the book even ends with a surprising interview with Le Guin “which reveals the hidden dimensions of America’s best-known sci-fi author.”


Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s discounts, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/399KindleEbooks

The Kindle vs. The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I just finished reading “The Goldfinch”. It’s a 771-page novel by Donna Tartt, spanning fourteen crucial years in the life of a teenaged boy, and its touches down in several different locations and events — all expertly described by author Donna Tartt. Last year it won the Pulitzer Prize, along with rave reviews from numerous book reviewers (including Stephen King). But I wondered if reading it on the Kindle changed my experience of the book…

It’s not just that it’s harder to flip forward to the beginning of the book. (Although I was stunned at how many keystrokes it took my older Kindle just to peek back at the first third of the book. It required five different actions — pressing Menu / selecting Go to… / hitting the Keyboard button / typing in ‘4210 Done’ / and then pressing ‘Location’ again… ) And it’s not just that I was missing that haunting illustration on the cover of the 1654 painting by Carel Fabritius…

I’d been pushing myself to finish the ebook before a book club meeting on Sunday, so I was trying to read 3% of the book every night this week. “I’m 94% done,” I bragged to my girlfriend one night, and then the next night told her “Now I’m 97% done!” The percentages seemed meaningless — what exactly is 97% of a Pulitizer Prize-winning novel? But it also lured me into thinking there was more to the ebook than there actually was — since it actually ended suddenly at…98%.

It turns out that the last 2% of the Kindle ebook was reserved for a special section titled “Outstanding acclaim for Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch“, listing all the publications that selected it as one of the best books of the year. (The New York Times, Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, NPR’s Fresh Air…) The list goes on and on — the Sacramento Bee, the Seattle Times, the Kansas City Star — and eventually it also included Amazon.com (as well as Barnes and Noble). They’re listed right above the San Antonio Express-News and the Orlando Sentinel. And then there’s many, many pages filled with nothing but quotes from positive book reviews about the ebook I’d just finished reading…

Critics are already complaining about the “overwrought message tacked on at the end as a plea for seriousness” (which is how Vanity Fair summarized one critic’s response). But imagine my experience — waiting for the grand message that makes sense of the pile of plot and characters that filled the preceding 775 pages, only to discover that the book has ended prematurely, at the 98% mark. After weeks of reading and waiting for that thrilling literary pay-off…surprise! This novel has already ended…

So I’d like to suggest that Amazon use the last page of a story as the “100%” mark when displaying percentages in a Kindle ebook. Maybe it’s a technical challenge — these additional pages might be reported as 101% and 102% — but I think that’s preferable to the alternative. These final pages are really just advertising, and they’re much more important for people who are browsing a print copy in a bookstore.

And does anyone who’s finished reading a novel really want to then read excerpts from a review about it from The Sacramento Bee?

For a shortcut to the book’s page on Amazon, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/ReadTheGoldfinch