How Amazon Celebrates National Reading Month

Monty Python book coverDorothy Must Die book cover

Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of EverythingThe Sinister Six - Superior Foes of Spider-Man graphic novel cover

The whole month of March is “National Reading Month” in America — and Amazon has set aside a special collection of books to celebrate. “What Will You Read This Month?” asks the headline on their special web page — which links to Amazon’s picks for “The Best Books of the Month.” So what books did Amazon choose for honoring National Reading Month?

For a shortcut to Amazon’s page, point your browser to

Here’s some of the highlights…

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

“They say she found a way to come back to Oz,” reads a warning on the back of this book’s cover. “They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe…” It’s an exhiliarating act of imagination — or re-imagination — and author Danielle Paige turns it into a thrilling 464-page fantasy novel. She delivers a fresh new story about Amy Gumm — “the other girl from Kansas” — who must stalk that dreaded scarecrow and overcome all of Dorothy’s other allies. “I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked…. And I have a mission.” It looks like a great read!

Dorothy Must Die book cover

Everything I Ever Needed to Know About _____* I Learned from Monty Python by Brian Cogan and Jeff Massey

It’s an irresistible title, and the cover of the book fills in the rest of the sentence, explaining that the classic British humor show taught us about everything from history, art, poetry, and religion, to philosophy, media, the French, and fish slapping. But the pair of critics who created this 336-page masterpiece share a fond response that suggests the comedy ultimately delivered a positive message. “[T]hat we can laugh at the world instead of mourning its inequity, that we can expose evil through the light of satire and can banish hatred by laughing at the idiocy of the bully…” One reviewer for The Washington Post notes the irony that over the years the show has been embraced by the mainstream culture that it used to mock, quoting Eric Idle (one of the comedy troupe’s founding members) as saying,”Nowadays I miss people who hate us!”

Monty Python book cover

Amazon’s “Best Books of March” page also touts “The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency”, a new collection of the best humor pieces from the McSweeneys web site (which was co-founded by Dave Eggers!) I laughed out loud just reading the titles of the site’s pieces, which include “What I Would Be Thinking About if I Were Billy Joel Driving Toward a Holiday Party Where I Knew There Was Going to Be a Piano.” (“I’m not doing it. I’m just not. I know I say the same thing every year, but this time I mean it….”) Each piece offers fresh and clever takes on our popular culture, past and present. Unfortunately, this particular book is only available in paperback. But if you’d like to sample their humor on your Kindle, there is an ebook edition for an earlier collection with its own pithy title: Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney’s, Humor Category

Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything by Donald Link

He’s an award-winning chef from New Orleans, but according to the book’s description on Amazon, Donald Link “also has a knack for sniffing out a backyard barbecue wherever he travels.” His new book offers 110 recipes (and 100 color photographs) — but also interviews with barbecue “pitmasters”, and visits to colorful southern characters. (Like a Mississippi honey-grower to a Texas lamb ranch with their own pet llama!) This book offers a loving look at some great southern food — everything from slow-cooked barbecue pork, fresh Gulf seafood, Kentucky bourbon. But besides all of the welcoming treats, there’s also a fun look at the people who are cooking them!

Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything

The Superior Foes of Spider-Man Volume 1: Getting the Band Back Together by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber

Last summer a new comic book debuted with a stunning premise. It’s a story about Spider-Man — but it’s told from the perspective of his arch enemies! Can “The Sinister Six” pull off their big heist…or are they already being stalked by Marvel’s other crime-fighting vigilante, The Punisher? The first six issues of this comic are all collected here in a color trade paperback — that’s 136 pages — though unfortunately, it isn’t available yet in a Kindle edition. But it might be fun to savor this collection in full-sized pages, since according to one Amazon reviewer, “Almost every panel of every issue has something that makes you smile or giggle…”

The Sinister Six - Superior Foes of Spider-Man graphic novel cover

Although Amazon’s Kindle Store does have nearly 200 other Spider-Man graphic novels to choose from!

And remember: for a shortcut to Amazon’s other March picks, point your browser to

100 eBooks for October for $3.99 (or Less!)

Amazon Kindle 399 ebook sale

Amazon’s done it again! They’ve picked 100 ebooks and then slashed the prices in a special sale for October. You can find all 100 ebooks at This time I recognized at least one or two bargain books that were written by my favorite authors!

Amazon’s discounting books from seven different genres, too, so there’s a really nice variety to choose from. There’s mysteries, thrillers, romance, literature, memoirs and general nonfiction — and even some science fiction titles. Be sure to check the bottom of each of these page, because Amazon seems to have some grouped some more ebooks together in extra categories, like “Top-Rated Reads, Just $2.99”. And there’s even a new category, called “Popular Thrillers with Leading Ladies, $3.99 or Less”

Here’s some of the most interesting titles.

When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories by Molly Ringwald ($3.99)

This author was a movie star in the 1980s (starring in a string of iconic teen comedies directed by John Hughes, like Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club.) But now that she’s 44, Molly Ringwald “mines the complexities of modern relationships,” according to the book’s description at Amazon, “in this gripping and nuanced collection of interlinked stories.” In this 237-page novel, Ringwald describes a Los Angeles family and their friends, “revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all….” revealing “a startling eye for the universality of loss, love, and the search for connection.” It’s only been available since August, and it’s already racked up 24 five-star reviews.

Beer-Can Chicken by Steven Raichlen ($2.51)

Wait, what? According to this book’s description at Amazon, the author reveals “everything one should ever need to know about roasting a chicken upright on top of a can of beer.” But that’s not all. If you use a 32-ounce can of Foster’s beer, you can actually cook a whole turkey. If you slap on some welder’s gloves, you can even reach right into the flames to turn a stewing hen yourself, and there’s also a receipe for basting a chicken using black-cherry soda. “Raichlen’s goal is to encourage grillers to have fun and use their imagination,” Amazon’s description promises, “and he presents 74 ‘offbeat recipes’ as starting points…” Even if a recipe doesn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, “A chicken straddling a beer can, at the very least, makes a great conversation piece at an outdoor beer bash.”

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: a Novel by Ben Fountain ($2.99)

Amazon’s editors picked this novel as one of the best new books of May, so it’s a real treat that it’s now been discounted to just $2.99. In his first novel, author Ben Fountain describes eight American soldiers who survive an intense firefight in Iraq, only to be honored with a guest appearance beside the Dallas Cowboys during a Thanksgiving halftime show. There they meet a wild cast of characters, according to the book’s description on Amazon, and “Over the course of this day, Billy will begin to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms – soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.”

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates ($1.99)

She’s been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize three separate times, and won the National Book Award in 1969. But in 2009, at the age of 72, Joyce Carol Oates wrote a novel about “the most believable and thoroughly terrifying sexual psychopath and killer ever to be brought to life in fiction,” according to Amazon’s description of Zombie. Oates has already written more than 50 novels, but at the age of 72 she sat down to create “a dazzling work of art that extends the borders of the novel into the darkest heart of truth.” Two years later, it’s still one of Amazon’s top 5 best-selling psychological thrillers. Amazon calls it “her boldest and most brilliant triumph yet,” and on the book’s page it’s already racked up 36 different five-star reviews.

Remember, you can find all 100 ebooks at

Cookbook problems on the Kindle

Kindle Cookbook Recipes for Entertaining - Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker

EDITOR’S NOTE: What happens when you try to use the Kindle to read a cookbook?

I asked my girlfriend to test it out, and she shared her surprising results…

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I remember when my boyfriend first started letting me use his Kindle (thus showing that a new level of trust had been reached in our relationship). I’d browsed through Amazon’s free ebook section, and discovered Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker: Recipes for Entertaining, by Beth Hensberger and Julie Kaufmann.

I was intrigued, since I’d recently purchased a slow cooker. Interestingly, I’d downloaded a free copy, which lists the author as Julie Kaufmann, but when I looked it up to make sure it’s still free, I found it’s now selling for $9.99 and lists Beth Hensberger along with Julie Kaufmann.

In reading the cookbook, I also discovered the exciting world of font sizes. My boyfriend likes large font sizes, but they make reading recipies difficult. So I was delighted when I figured out that I could shrink the font (duh!), and thus get a lot more text on each page!

I like reading cookbooks, and have been enjoying this book. It has a wide range of interesting recipies and entertaining menu selections, including some which are elegant enough for entertaining. Unlike other slow cooker books I read, this book includes appetizers, drinks and desserts as well as the more traditional soups, stews and fondues. Some of my favorites include Steamed Chocolate Pudding, Honey BBQ Pork Ribs, Chicken Mole Enchelada Casserole, and Curry Mixed Nuts.

Unfortunately, I came across several problems when I started cooking my first meal. For one thing, it’s extremely annoying to try to arrange the recipe so it starts at the top of the page. This means that every recipe I’ve worked with is split across two pages, with part of the ingredients and instructions on one page and part on the next. This is very inconvenient when cooking. It means having to stop every so often and page back and forth to keep on track.

Another issue I found was when the book references itself. For example, it called for a barbecue sauce whose recipe was “on page 101.” Well, the Kindle doesn’t have a page 101. I did figure out I could do a search on that phrase, but other recipies also called for the same barbecue sauce, so it took some scrolling around to get to where I wanted to go. Also, I found looking through the table of contents rather tedious. Chicken recipes were on the 9th page of the table of contents section; pork recipes on the 11th. The table of contents ran through 14 pages, and every time I picked up the Kindle I had to start over on its first page. Boring.

So, I made the Honey Pork BBQ Ribs, which were delicious (and boyfriend-approved!). I wouldn’t have tried this book without the Kindle, so I’m glad I downloaded it. But I was too frustrated by the Kindle’s limited screen space to use it again. I like the book enough to order the paperback copy on Amazon because I want to try other recipes out. OMG! The Kindle isn’t perfect. Bummer.

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But in the Kindle’s defense…

The honey pork barbecue ribs were delicious!