Amazon Discounts Raymond Chandler Mysteries!

Farewell My Lovely - by Raymond Chandler (book cover)     Playback graphic novel by Raymond Chandler     Raymond Chandler book cover - the little sister

Detective fiction — classic noir-style mysteries by Raymond Chandler — are being discounted in Amazon’s Kindle Store! (Tough-guy detective Philip Marlowe may have a new mystery on his hands — the case of the discounted ebooks…) There’s even a cool illustrated “graphic novel” that’s adapting one of Chandler’s books. And two more of his classic novels have been discounted to less than $3.99!

Here’s the three Raymond Chandler mysteries that Amazon’s discounting.

Farewell My Lovely - by Raymond Chandler (book cover)

Farewell My Lovely ($3.79)

This may be the classic hard-boiled detective story. It’s the second novel Chandler wrote about Philip Marlowe, who “finds himself in the wrong place at the right time,” according to this book’s description at Amazon. Suddenly a routine case leads him into “a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.” But this 304-page masterpiece aspires to be more than your ordinary detective fiction, with something to say about corruption and our ultimate place among the good guys and bad guys all around us.

 
Playback graphic novel by Raymond Chandler

Playback: A Graphic Novel ($3.03)

The great mystery writer’s 1948 screenplay was “presumed lost”, according to a review by Publisher’s Weekly. But 20 years after the author’s death, it was re-discovered in a dark and dusty archive at Universal Studios. A French publisher created this slick comic book version, which has finally been translated into English and published as a Kindle ebook. “Betty Mayfield is blond and beautiful and has just been found guilty of murdering her husband,” reads the book’s description at Amazon. This visually stunning and highly original ebook adapts the very last novel by Raymond Chandler, and its description at Amazon promises it’s “a heart-pounding tale of betrayal, blackmail, and murder.”

 
Raymond Chandler book cover - the little sister

The Little Sister: A Novel ($2.99)

Raymond Chandler wrote only 7 novels throughout his career, and this one was completed when he turned 61. In the story his detective Marlowe is “beginning to tire…” according to one reviewer at Amazon, “and the disillusionment has started to etch permanent lines on him.” But it seems like that makes this the quintessential story of a world-weary detective fighting for right, and the reviewer ultimately lauds this as “An underrated and underestimated effort.” The fast-moving story concerns “A movie starlet with a gangster boyfriend,” according to the book’s description at Amazon, who conspires to lure Philip Marlowe “into the less than glamorous and more than a little dangerous world of Hollywood fame…”

More Great eBooks Get “Big Deal” Discounts!

Perry Mason pulp fiction cover - the Case of the Angry MournerI'll Fly Away by Wally Lamb.jpg
Shot All to Hell - Jesse James history by Mark Lee GardnerProfit Over People by Noam Chomsky

I love these big discounts Amazon’s offering on Kindle ebooks. (Up to 85% off on over 400 books — but only through August 24th). There’s hundreds of fun and fascinating titles — and cheap enough that it’s easy to try something new!

Check out the selection! Point your browser to
tinyURL.com/TheBigEbookDeal

Here’s a few more of the most interesting titles…


Perry Mason pulp fiction cover - the Case of the Angry Mourner

Five Perry Mason Novels ($1.99 each)

The famous lawyer/detective frees the innocent in five of the original mystery novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. Amazon’s discounted each one to just $1.99 — and they’re free if you’re a subscriber to Amazon’s “Kindle Unlimited” program. There’s The Case of the Haunted Husband and The Case of the Sulky Girl — in a series which made Erle Stanley Gardner one of America’s all-time best-selling authors. Over 50 Perry Mason mysteries have now been published as Kindle ebooks — each one with a lurid cover that celebrates the glory days of pulp fiction. There’s also The Case of the Angry Mourner and The Case of the Fugitive Nurse. And it’s impossible not to be intrigued by an ebook titled The Case of the Grinning Gorilla!


I'll Fly Away by Wally Lamb.jpg

I’ll Fly Away by Wally Lamb ($1.99)

His first novel, She’s Come Undone was a best-seller — and so was his second novel, written six years later — I Know This Much Is True. But Wally Lamb also has a remarkable story about stories — the ones written by the inmates at a women’s prison in Connecticut. Since 1999 he’s worked at the York Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison, where he learned that writing “was a way for these women to face their fears and failures and begin to imagine better lives,” according to the book’s description at Amazon. “Startling, heartbreaking, and inspiring, these stories are as varied as the individuals who wrote them, but each illuminates an important core truth: that a life can be altered through self-awareness and the power of the written word.”


Shot All to Hell - Jesse James history by Mark Lee Gardner

Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape by Mark Lee Gardener ($1.99)

Mark Lee Gardner is one of my favorite writers about “the old West.” He looks at America through the eyes of its outlaws, capturing the world they lived in and the larger forces that were shaping their time. Jesse James committed the most famous bank robbery of all time, according to this book’s description at Amazon, and Gardner gives the thief the same thoughtful appraisal that he brought to his previous book about Billy the Kid. “With compelling details that chronicle the two-week chase that followed — the near misses, the fateful mistakes, and the bloody final shootout on the Watonwan River, Shot All to Hell is a galloping true tale of frontier justice…”


Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky

Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order by Noam Chomsky ($3.03)

At the age of 71, Noam Chomsky penned a sharp critique of the world’s political (and economic) structure which was apparently ahead of its time. Written in 1999, this book uncovers the roots of the fiscal crisis of 2008, according to the book’s description at Amazon, which adds that “In the years since the initial publication of Profit Over People, the stakes have only risen…” Howard Zinn would call the book “brilliant and devastating…a powerful rush of facts and ideas,” and it offers a new perspective on the free market that my high school economics teacher kept talking about. “Now more than ever, Profit Over People is one of the key texts explaining how the crisis facing us operates,” claims the book’s description, “and how, through Chomsky’s analysis of resistance, we may find an escape from the closing net…”


Remember, for a shortcut point your browser to
tinyURL.com/TheBigEbookDeal

Four Sexy Discounted Kindle eBooks!

The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose LeeThe Graduate Book Cover by Charles Webb

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar HijuelosBig Time - The Amazing Spider-Man Graphic Novel

Kindle means variety — there’s always so many ebooks to choose from. And Amazon surprised me last week with with some of their choices for their “Big Deal” discount event. They’d discounted over 400 Kindle ebooks — and at least a few of their selections were sexy literary classics!

To see the full selection, point your browser to
TheBigEbookDeal



The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee

The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee ($3.99)

Yes, the famous stripper wrote a murder mystery “set in the underworld of burlesque theatre,” according to this Kindle ebook’s description at Amazon. “The G-String Murders was penned in 1941 by the legendary queen of the stripteasers — the witty and wisecracking Gypsy Rose Lee…” The story’s full of twists (and a double murder), as Lolita LaVerne teams up with comic Biff Brannigan and Siggy the g-string salesman, squaring off against corrupt policemen…. It’s part of a special series called Femmes Fatales that’s resurrecting pulp fiction and hard-boiled noir detective tales for a new audience of ebook readers in the 21st century. And through May 11th they’re also discounting another Gypsy Rose Lee murder mystery — called Mother Finds a Body!


The Graduate Book Cover by Charles Webb

The Graduate by Charles Webb ($1.99)

At the age of 24, Charles Web published the ground-breaking novel which became the legendary movie chronicling a young man’s affair with the predatory Mrs. Robinson. But both the movie and the book were really about alienation, which comes through even more clearly in Webb’s original novel. While it’s laugh-out-loud funny, there’s also real angst, according to one review, as Webb “savors that that tension throughout the book, devoting large sections to rambling dialogue showing Ben’s failure to connect.” It’s fun to see scenes where this dialogue was faithfully recreated in the 1967 movie — as well as the tantalizing additional scenes that were left out!


The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos ($1.99)

This novel won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for fiction — and when it appeared on the Kindle this November, it included a new afterword by the author! It became a movie and an international best-seller, but I was even more impresed with how one editor at Wikipedia condensed the entire novel into a few juicy sentences. “It tells the story of Cesar Castillo, an aged musician who once had a small amount of fame when he and his brother appeared on an episode of I Love Lucy in the 1950s. The book chronicles Cesar’s last hours as he sits in a seedy hotel room, drinking and listening to recordings made by his band, the Mambo Kings…” And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can even read this book for free!


Big Time - The Amazing Spider-Man Graphic Novel

Spider-Man: Big Time by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos ($1.99)

If you like stories about superheroes, this is one of the best collections of Spider-Man stories I’ve ever read. But there’s some fun looks at Spider-Man’s personal life — including his relationship with a sexy jewel thief named The Black Cat! This graphic novel opens with a great story starring all of the Avengers, but it’s not just Dr. Octopus who’s attacking New York — soon there’s a high-powered new version of the Hobgoblin! (And there’s also a new character who I’d swear was modeled after Steve Jobs.) All 144 pages of this collection appear in full-color on your Kindle Fire tablet — but for many of the new e-ink Kindles, it’s also available in black and white!

To see all 427 of Amazon’s discounted Kindle ebooks, point your browser to
TheBigEbookDeal

Amazon Announces a New eBook Deal!

Kurt Vonnegut Bluebeard Defining Moments book cover - Gordon Zacks
Perry Mason - Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink Garry Kasparov - How Life Imitates Chess

It’s one of the great things about owning a Kindle: there’s so many things to read! And for the next week, Amazon’s making it even easier, with an event called “The Big Deal”. More than 400 different Kindle ebooks have been discounted through May 11th, so everybody should be able to find something.

Check out the selection! Point your browser to
tinyURL.com/TheBigEbookDeal

I spent at least a half an hour browsing through the entire selection, and here’s some of the ebooks that looked especially interesting…



Garry Kasparov - How Life Imitates Chess


How Life Imitates Chess by Garry Kasparov ($1.99)

For 20 years he ruled the chess world with some of the highest ratings of any Grandmaster. But in 2007, as he approached middle age, Kasparov turned his mind to a book which “distills the lessons he learned over a lifetime…” according to Amazon, “to offer a primer on successful decision-making: how to evaluate opportunities, anticipate the future, devise winning strategies.” Amazon describes Kasparov’s style as “lively” and “insightful” which touches on memory, intuition, and even the fine art of fantasy. And best of all, you can also pair this ebook with an audiobook partly narrated by Kasparov himself — and then sync the audiobook to the ebook. This let’s you switch from one to the other without losing your place — or to read along while you’re listening to the professional narration!



Kurt Vonnegut Bluebeard


Bluebeard: The Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916-1988) by Kurt Vonnegut ($1.99)

This isn’t like other Kurt Vonnegut novels. It was published in 1987, shortly before Vonnegut’s 65th birthday, and the introspective novel explores the life of a strange 71-year-old painter. (“I promised you an autobiography,” the painter apologizes in the first chapter, “but something went wrong in the kitchen…”) Amazon describes the book as Vonnegut’s “meditation on art, artists, surrealism, and disaster,” and it’s actually his second novel with his character of the eccentric painter. “Rabo Karabekian” also appeared 14 years earlier in a brief scene in Breakfast of Champions. And through May 11, Amazon is discounting both books to just $1.99 — as well as the Vonnegut novel Deadeye Dick. And there’s also discounts on two fun collections of Vonnegut’s short stories — Welcome to the Monkey-House and Bagombo Snuff Box!


Defining Moments book cover - Gordon Zacks


Defining Moments: Stories of Character, Courage and Leadership by Gordon Zacks ($1.99)

One reviewer described these as “Masterpiece snapshots of leadership with mind-blowing take-home value” by an author who “walked the halls of power with the greatest…” At the age of 73, author/activist Gordon Zacks took a look back at the inspiring people he’d worked with over his life. “These stories are first-hand accounts of how people — some famous, some not — followed their passion, lived their purpose, and aspired to be part of something greater than their selves. These people had the courage to seize their moment and make the world a better place, revealing valuable lessons on the path to a more rewarding life.”


Perry Mason - Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink


The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink by Erle Stanley Gardner (99 cents!)

It’s a Perry Mason mystery — one of the original novels which formed the basis for Raymond Burr’s classic TV show. Through May 11th, five different Perry Mason mysteries are on sale for just 99 cents. Amazon also discounting The Case of the Velvet Claws, The Case of the Perjured Parrot, The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll, and The Case of the Runaway Corpse. I was surprised to discover that each of the original mysteries were nearly 400 pages long. But each one grapples with one of Perry Mason’s trademark mysteries wrapped in questions of law, like “Did Wealthy Fremont Sabin divorce his wife before his untimely death….?”


Remember, to see all 427 discounted Kindle ebooks, point your browser to
tinyURL.com/TheBigEbookDeal

The 90 Most Useful Kindle Urls

Digital Publishing vs. the Gutenberg press

Once a year, I assemble my “master list” of shortcuts to the most useful pages for Kindle owners – like all of the free ebooks, music and comic books that Amazon’s been making available. But this year there’s 40 new links which highlight all the changes that happened in 2013 that became a part of the Kindle universe!

Instead of trying to memorize a bunch of complicated URLs, I’ve created shorter, easier-to-remember addresses that still lead to the same pages.

And all 90 of them start with TinyURL.com …

FREE EBOOKS

tinyurl.com/100freekindlebooks
Amazon’s 100 best-selling free ebooks are always available on this list (which is updated hourly!) And of course, the other side of the page also shows the 100 best-selling ebooks which are not free…

tinyurl.com/ObamaKindleInterview
Amazon’s interview with President Barack Obama, available as a free Kindle Single.

tinyurl.com/AgathaChristieEbooks
All the Kindle editions of Agatha Christie’s mysteries (one of which is free!)

tinyurl.com/BackOnMurder
My favorite free Kindle mystery — a 384-page detective novel following a police detective’s homicide investigation in Houston called Back on Murder.

tinyurl.com/MrToadEbook
Read the original adventures of Mr. Toad in The Wind in the Willows as a free Kindle ebook.


FREE LAUGHS FROM AMAZON

tinyurl.com/FunnyFakeAmazonReviews
Amazon’s own list of their favorite funny fake customer reviews.

tinyurl.com/MoreFunnyAmazonReviews
Amazon’s second list of their favorite funny customer reviews.

Horse Head Mask from Amazon



FREE COMIC BOOKS

tinyurl.com/SupermanOne
A free Kindle edition of Superman #1

tinyurl.com/freeGraphicNovel
Amazon’s free full-length “graphic novel” called Blackburn Burrow – a fascinating horror comic book set during the Civil War that you can read in color on your Kindle Fire or Android smartphone, or in black-and-white on the Paperwhite, the Kindle Touch, or the Kindle.

tinyurl.com/FreeKindleComicBooks
All of Amazon’s best-selling free Kindle comic books. (For a shortcut to all of Amazon’s Digital Kindle Comics, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks

tinyurl.com/ComicsNewsletter
Amazon’s free newsletter about digital comic books.


FREE AND DISCOUNTED MP3S

tinyurl.com/FreeMp3List
I love how Amazon is always giving away free mp3s — and you can always find a complete list at this URL!

tinyurl.com/GrammyMp3s
Grammy-winning songs — discounted as low as 69 cents

tinyurl.com/GrammyAlbumMp3s
Grammy-winning albums — discounted as low as $5.00

tinyurl.com/SuperBowlSongs
All the songs used in ads broadcast during the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans (when the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers )



Amazon Kindle 399 ebook sale

BARGAIN EBOOKS

tinyurl.com/399KindleEbooks
Every month, Amazon picks 100 ebooks to offer at a discount of $3.99 or less. There’s always a new selection on the first day of the month, so if you visited the page on the last day of the month, you’d see 100 discounted books — and then the next day you’d see an entirely new selection!

If you’re in England, Amazon’s created a different page for their bargain ebooks — go to tinyurl.com/399booksEngland

And if you’re in France, there’s also a different URL for your (English-language) bargain ebooks — it’s at tinyurl.com/399booksFrance
 
 
tinyurl.com/DailyKindleDeal
In addition, Amazon’s also created a special “Daily Deal” page, where they pick a new ebook each day to sell at a big discount for 24 hours. Past deals have included a James Bond novel by Ian Fleming and Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night — and I’m always surprised by the variety.

tinyurl.com/DailyDealsEmail
Amazon will also just e-mail you every “Daily Deal,” so you never have to worry about missing one of them!

tinyurl.com/EbookBigDeal
Amazon’s special selection of discounted Kindle ebooks

tinyurl.com/KindleSelect25
Each week Amazon highlights 25 more books

tinyurl.com/KindleMatch
Discounts on Kindle editions of book when you’ve already purchased their print edition

tinyurl.com/CheapThrillers
Amazon’s special selection of “international thrillers” — all priced at $4.99 or less


KINDLE SINGLES

tinyurl.com/AmazonKindleSingles
All of Amazon’s short, cheap “Kindle Single” ebooks

tinyURL.com/KingOnGuns
Last January Stephen King published a 25-page personal essay titled “Guns”, which he’s selling as a Kindle Single for 99 cents.


NEW KINDLES AND KINDLE FEATURES

tinyurl.com/KindleFires

Amazon’s newest high-definition color Kindle tablets

tinyurl.com/NewPaperwhite
In 2013 Amazon released a slick new, high-contrast version of their Kindle Paperwhite

tinyURL.com/KindleDX2013
Amazon also brought back their giant 9.7-inch black-and-white Kindle DX in 2013

tinyurl.com/KindleSending
Amazon’s free “Send-to-Kindle” plug-in for web browsers

tinyurl.com/CustomKindleCovers
Convert your own photos into a custom Kindle cover

tinyurl.com/KindleSerials
There’s a new format for Kindle ebooks called the “Kindle Serial.” Famous authors will now deliver new additional installments of their ebooks just as soon as they’ve finished writing them! The link above takes you to Amazon’s “Kindle Serials” store.

tinyurl.com/PrimeInstantVideo
If you’ve signed up for Amazon’s free “Prime” two-day shipping service, they’ll also let you watch a ton of movies and TV shows for free on your Kindle Fire! (Or over the internet…) Browse through the complete selection here – everything from the original episodes of Star Trek and The Twilight Zone to modern favorites like Bones and even new shows created by Amazon (including one starring John Goodman).



Roger Ebert - 1942 - 2013

FAVORITE AUTHORS

tinyurl.com/EbertEbooks
Roger Ebert left us in 2013 — but here’s the Kindle editions for all his ebooks.

tinyurl.com/KindleElmoreLeonard
Elmore Leonard also left us in 2013 — but here’s Kindle editions of all his books.

tinyurl.com/SuckersPortfolio
An exclusive new serialized collection of seven previously unpublished works by Kurt Vonnegut.

tinyurl.com/CatsCradleEbook
Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat Cradle.

tinyurl.com/KurtVonnegutEbooks
Every Kurt Vonnegut ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

tinyurl.com/BukowskiEbooks
Every Charles Bukowski ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

tinyurl.com/BillyTheKidAudiobook
My favorite audiobook — a drawling narrator reads To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West.

tinyurl.com/HungerGamesEbooks
Amazon’s discounted version of the Hunger Games trilogy

tinyurl.com/BrightBooks
Classic children’s picture book revived by the loving granddaughter of author/illustrator Robert S. Bright

tinyurl.com/KindleCalvinAndHobbes
“The Essential Calvin & Hobbes” – released as a Kindle ebook in November of 2013

tinyurl.com/DilbertEbooks
My favorite newspaper comic strip is Dilbert, about the life of an office cubicle worker. In 2012, creator Scott Adams finally collected all the comic strips together into a series of ebooks that you can buy for your Kindle!

tinyurl.com/DoonesburyEbook
Doonesbury, the long-running newspaper comic strip by Garry Trudeau, is now finally available on the Kindle — in four massive ten-year retrospective collections!

tinyurl.com/PlayboyEbooks
Playboy announced for their 50th anniversary that they’d release 50 of their best interviews as 99-cent Kindle ebooks. They’re now available in the Kindle Store, including fascinating and sometimes even historic interviews with famous figures from the last 50 years, including Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali, Bill Gates, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen Hawking, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jon Stewart.

TinyURL.com/TakeiBook
George Takei is the 75-year-old TV actor who’d played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek. But now he’s also a huge internet phenomenon — and last December, he finally released his first Kindle ebook, called Oh myy! (There Goes the Internet)

tinyurl.com/KindleSimpsons
The Simpson’s once made a joke about the Kindle — though ironically, there are aren’t any ebooks about The Simpsons anywhere in Amazon’s Kindle store – or any ebooks by Matt Groening. But at least you can watch episodes of the Simpsons TV show on your Kindle Fire tablet or on Amazon’s “Instant Video” page — including the episode where they make their joke about the Kindle!

tinyurl.com/HarryPotterKindle
One of the biggest stories of last year was the release of all J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels as Kindle ebooks.

Two Maurice Sendak URLs
Where the Wild Things Are was written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, a beloved children’s book author who died in 2012 at the age of 83. Though his books were never released in Kindle Format, you can still download the full-length novel adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are that was written by Dave Eggers at tinyurl.com/SendakNovel. And you can even buy a DVD at Amazon of the rare 1970s adaptation of Sendak’s stories into television cartoons with narration by Peter Schickele — at tinyurl.com/SendakCartoons


A LOOK BACK: MORE FUN EBOOK LINKS

http://tinyurl.com/AmazonBooks2013
Amazon’s list of the top 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks for 2013

tinyurl.com/BestBooksOfTheMonth
Amazon’s Editors pick the best new books of the month

tinyurl.com/Top2012eBooks
At the end of last year, Amazon released this fun list of their top 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2012.

tinyurl.com/BestBooksOf2012
There’s another list where Amazon’s editors also choose their selections for the “Best Books of 2012”. It’s a special web page with their picks in 30 different categories, including the best print books, the best Kindle ebooks, and the best biographies, mysteries, and even cookbooks!

tinyurl.com/2011Amazon
Curious about what were Amazon’s best-selling books for 2011? This URL takes you to a special Amazon web page where they’re all still listed — 25 to a page — along with a link to a separate list for the best-selling ebooks of the year. The #1 best-selling print book of 2011 was the new biography about Steve Jobs (followed by “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever.” ) But the #1 and #2 best-selling ebooks were The Mill River Recluse and The Abbey — neither of which was even available in print!

You can also review Amazon’s picks for the best books of the autumn of 2011 at tinyurl.com/AmazonFallBooks. And here’s an even handier trick. Amazon also creates a special page each month for the best newly-released books, and they’ll always take you to that page if you point your browser to the URL tinyurl.com/BestBooksOfMay



Amazon office building in Seattle

AMAZON’S CUSTOMER SUPPORT

tinyurl.com/kindle-cs
Amazon’s Customer Service has drawn rave reviews. (If your Kindle is broken, Amazon will usually mail you a replacement overnight!) This page collects all of Amazon’s support URLs. And at its far left, there’s a special link labelled “Contact Kindle Support,” which leads to the support phone numbers for 10 different countries, as well as an online contact form.

tinyurl.com/ReturnAnEbook
Amazon lets you return any ebook within 7 days, no questions asked. Just remember this address — tinyURL.com/ReturnAnEbook — and you’ll always be able to get a refund if you’re not satisfied with your purchase.


MY EBOOKS AND GAMES

It’s my list, so of course it includes shortcuts for three very special projects…

TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel
An original word game for Kindle became one of the top 100 most-popular games for the year — and I’m it’s co-author! Check out all the fun at TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel, and discover why 42 people gave it a five-star review! And we’ve just released a brand-new sequel which you can see at TinyURL.com/ThrowInTheVowel2

tinyurl.com/500Quotes
My very first Android app — “500 Inspiring Quotes”. (Available in Amazon’s Android store, and also in the Nook and Google Play Store)

TinyURL.com/TurkeyBook
“For Thanksgiving, try this game. Find the guilty turkey’s name!”

I wrote a special “mystery poem” that was finally published in November as a funny, illustrated ebook. There’s cartoon-y pictures which show four turkeys in a farmer’s pen on Thanksgiving Day. The farmer’s approaching with an axe — but one of the turkeys has a plan to escape! (“Can the farmer figure out which one? And can you?”) The short “Turkey Mystery Rhyme” is only 99 cents — a real bargain for a fun, holiday smile.

tinyurl.com/OurFunnyDog
Lucca is a cuddly Cocker Spaniel dog who was rescued from an animal shelter, and he now adores his new family — my girlfriend and me! My girlfriend’s been telling her friends how she received “the best present ever” — this short collection of funny photos of her dog, along with sweetly humorous captions that tell the story of his life. (Like the day he met that white cat that moved in downstairs…) If you want to preview a “sample chapter first, go to tinyurl.com/GoodReadsDog — but the whole “short picture scrapbook” is only 99 cents, and it offers a nice peek at a very wonderful dog…


GAMES

tinyurl.com/FreeAmazonApps.
Amazon’s Android app store offers a free app every day — both for your Kindle Fire tablet and for any Android smartphone.

tinyurl.com/allkindlegames
Amazon has a web page devoted just to all the games you can play on your Kindle. (There’s over 400 of them!) It’s fun to see all the colorful game “covers” collected together into one magical toy store-like page.

tinyurl.com/kchess
Here’s the shortcut to a free web page where you can play chess against a computer. But you can also pull the page up in your Kindle’s web browser, so I named the URL “KChess”!


Free Kindle Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine cover illustration

FREE AND DISCOUNTED KINDLE MAGAZINES

tinyurl.com/FreeSciFiMag
Fantasy & Science Fiction is the famous magazine where Stephen King first published the stories that later formed the basis for The Dark Tower. It’s now available as a free Kindle magazine. It’s been publishing short SciFi stories and commentary for over 60 years — including the works of many other famous authors. In 1978 they published Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” short stories, and in 1959 they ran Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” as a serial. (They also published the novella “Flowers for Algernon” and short stories by Harlan Ellison, and even published a short story by Kurt Vonnegut in 1961, which later appeared in his collection “Welcome to the Monkey House.”) Amazon’s now offering free Kindle subscriptions to a special “digest edition”. (The print edition, published six times a year, is a massive 256 pages.) The digest includes all the editorial content – editor’s recommendations, the “odd books” section, film and book reviews, plus cartoons and ‘Coming Attractions’ (highlights of each issue) – along with one short story. (And if you want the full 256-page version sent to your Kindle, you can subscribe for just 99 cents more.)

tinyurl.com/FreeKindleMagazine
Amazon once gave away free “trial issues” of the Kindle edition for several magazines earlier — and now the same URL points to a page where you can always download free magazine apps! The apps deliver full-color magazine content straight to your Kindle Fire — or to your Android smartphone. There’s one for each of these six popular magazines.

     Entertainment Weekly
     Real Simple
     National Geographic
     Time
     Better Homes and Gardens
     People

tinyurl.com/KindleMagazineDeals
Deliver magazines to your Kindle at a big discount


A VERY SPECIAL KINDLE BLOG

tinyurl.com/MeAndMyKindle
It’s my blog! (That’s the URL for its page on the Kindle Store.) If you want to tell your friends how to find me, this URL makes it easy to remember. Just practice saying “TinyURL . com/MeAndMyKindle” and soon we’ll all be sharing the latest Kindle news together.


KINDLES ON TV

I love Amazon’s Kindle TV ads — and you can watch them all online at YouTube.com/Kindle. One of my favorite ones is this British commercial for the Kindle and the Kindle Touch, at tinyurl.com/UKKindleAd

tinyurl.com/KindleFireSong
There was a spectacular new TV ad when Amazon announced their new Kindle Fire tablets. It showed the evolution of print from a quill pen dipped in ink to Amazon’s latest full-color multimedia touchscreen tablet. But I loved the song they played in the background, by a new Louisiana-based band called the Givers. (“The words we say today, we’ll say… we’ll see them again. Yes, we’ll see them again…”) I’d called it an ode to all the self-published authors who are finding new audiences on the Kindle — and at this URL, you can hear the entire song on YouTube!


tinyurl.com/AmyRutberg
Before she became “the woman from that Kindle commercial,” actress Amy Rutberg appeared in a zany stage production called “The Divine Sister.” Playbill (the official magazine for theatre-goers) had her record a backstage peek at the theatre and its cast for a special online feature — and it’s a fun way to catch a peek at another part of her career. That URL leads to the video’s web page on YouTube, and there’s also a second part which is available at http://tinyurl.com/AmyRutberg2

tinyurl.com/KindleChristmasSong
It’s that cute song from Amazon’s 2010 Kindle Christmas ad. (“Snowflake in my pocket, let’s take a sleigh ride on the ice…”) At this URL, you can download an mp3 of the song “Winter Night” by Little & Ashley.

tinyurl.com/StewartBorders
On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart did a special segment in 2011 when Borders bookstores announced that it was going out of business. (“Books! You may know them as the thing Amazon tells you ‘You might be interested in’ when you’re buying DVDs…”) Correspondent John Hodgman delivered some silly suggestions about how bookstores could re-vitalize their business model — like offering in-store appearances where customers could heckle authors while they’re writing novels. Or, simply converting bookstores into historical tourist attractions demonstrating the way books used to be sold in the 20th century.


MISCELLANEOUS

tinyurl.com/kindlemap
Ever wonder where all the Kindle owners are? Someone’s created an interactive online map, where Kindle owners can stop by and leave “push pins” showing their location! There’s big clusters on the east and west coast of America (though you could still leave the first push pin for Arizona or Nevada!) It’s an adapted version of one of Google’s maps of the world, so you can also spot “Kindlers” in Iraq, Romania, and Ethiopia. And if you click on the push pins, you’ll find the Kindler’s name and sometimes a comment. (One Kindler in Spain simply posted: “Tengo un Kindle DX!”)

tinyurl.com/GoldBoxPage
Every day Amazon also offers discounts on a new item — sometimes even expensive electronics equipment. And you can always find them all at tinyurl.com/GoldBoxPage

tinyurl.com/BurningTheBook
A new ebook by the Amazon manager who was in charge of the Kindle on the day it launched!


And here’s the most useful URL of all.

tinyurl.com/90KindleURLs

It’s a shortcut to this page — so you can find all of these URLs in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Four Kindle Mystery Bargains by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie mystery book covers

She’s the best-selling novelist of all time, according to Wikipedia. In fact, there’s now over four billion copies of Agatha Christie’s novels scattered around the world — and dozens of her books are now available on the Kindle. This month Amazon is offering big discounts on three of her most intriguing mysteries. And there’s at least one more Agatha Christie ebook that’s now available for free!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s Agatha Christie page, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/AgathaChristieEbooks


Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie ($2.99)

This is a Hercule Poirot mystery — one of 33 novels that Agatha Christie wrote about her famous French detective. He also appeared in 50 more of her short stories, but for the month of November, Amazon is discounting this full-length 320-page mystery. “Mystery writer Ariadne Oliver has been invited to a Hallowe’en party at Woodleigh Common,” according to the book’s description at Amazon — where inevitably, one of the guests is murdered. “[I]t retains all the trademarks of what make Christie’s intricately woven, delightfully detected mysteries so endearing and timeless,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon, calling it “quick-paced and filled with a cast of characters who seemingly all have something to gain, or hide!”


Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie ($2.99)

Miss Marple is the detective for this mystery — another favorite Agatha Christie detective, who appeared in 20 different short stories. But there are just 12 full-length Miss Marple novels — and Murder at the Vicarage was the very first one. “[A] dead body in a clergyman’s study proves to Miss Marple that no place, holy or otherwise, is a sanctuary from homicide…” warns the book’s description at Amazon. There’s lots of twists in its 307 pages, warns one reviewer, and “The minute you think you have it figured out the author throws you a curve…!”


Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (Free!)

There at least one Christie novel which has actually fallen into the public domain. Secret Adversary opens on the Lusitania — a British mail ship that was sunk during World War I. “The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession,” Christie writes in an exciting prologue that opens the book, “and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed…” Christie introduces her some funny new “detectives” in this novel — two unemployed young men named Tommy and Tuppence — who “quite accidentally get sucked into an international mystery that reaches to the highest levels of British government,” according to one review on Amazon.


The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (99 cents!)

It’s Christie’s first published novel ever — and it’s also her first story about detective Hercule Poirot! (At a mysterious estate, a wealthy woman is poisoned shortly after drawing up a new will, and Poirot is asked to investigate.) I’ve seen public domain versions of this ebook available too, but currently it’s only available in the Kindle Store for 99 cents. According to one Amazon review, Christie only wrote this book because her sister dared her too. (“With his egg-shaped head and his well-groomed moustache, Poirot enters and soon becomes one of fiction’s best-loved detectives…”) And the reader also makes their first acquaintance with his sidekick Captain Arthur Hastings in this novel, who first appears “recovering from a war injury at the upper-class household known as Styles Court.” (Watch out! There’s going to be a murder!)

Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s Agatha Christie page, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/AgathaChristieEbooks

My Favorite Free Mystery

BackOnMurder
It was a cold Saturday afternoon when my Kindle and I went looking for a good new book to read – and I stumbled across a great free mystery. Back on Murder is part of a trilogy about a police detective in Houston, and the publisher has decided to give away the first book in the series for free. Because it’s from a big publishing house, it’s a top-notch read, a fully-developed 384-page mystery detective novel. And it’s already attracting some great reviews, including a reviewer for The Weekly Standard who wrote that “The narrative energy is relentless.”


For a shortcut to the book, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/BackOnMurder

Here’s the ultimate testimonial. This year I’ve started over 100 ebooks on my Kindle — but this is the only that I’ve actually finished! I kept turning the pages on this one to see what was going to happen next, and I felt invested in the detective and his hunt for answers. “The police procedure has a feel of authenticity,” wrote The Weekly Standard, “with extensive detail of weaponry and forensics, and the course of the investigation bears some of the messiness of real life.” They conclude that the author of the series, J. Mark Bertrand, ” is a major crime-fiction talent — one of the best police procedural writers I’ve come upon in years.”

The author spent some time learning his craft, and actually earned a master’s degree in creative writing before publishing Back on Murder. (Reading the book, I’d started to wonder if he’d actually worked as a police detective, because he seems to understand that world so well!) The book was first released in 2010, and it’s still Amazon’s #1 best-selling “police procedural” in their Mystery section. One Amazon customer even wrote that “This is the kind of book the Kindle was made for. The built in dictionary allowed me to quickly understand terms…and the note/bookmark feature allowed me to note/review my speculations on plots and twists!”

So if the author isn’t a former police detective, then who is he? I had to solve that mystery, so I tracked down the author’s personal web site. It turns out that he did in fact grew up at least close to Texas, in what he describes as Louisiana’s “humid swampland [where] he soaked up some atmosphere.” And he did eventually live in Houston, though his wife ultimately insisted that they move to South Dakota “after one hurricane too many.” So his police procedural came partly from his own memories of Houston…

The author describes himself as “a Southern ex-pat living far away…”, and part of what makes this book so compelling is there’s more at stake than simply solving the crime. The detective has been moved out of the police department’s murder investigation unit, and he’s got one chance to prove that he deserves another chance to rejoin their team. But as a reader, I was equally fascinated by just the vivid glimpses of the day-to-day life of a police detective — the behind-the-scenes banter, the hopes and the doubts, the support and the rivalries. It kept me turning pages, just to spend more time in that world, and to learn how it all came out!

It’s intriguing to see that there’s an audiobook version for just $2.99 — and that the narrator tries to change his voice for each character to give them a distinct personality. At least a few of the characters return throughout the series, according to reviews I’ve read. (The other two books in the trilogy are Pattern of Wounds and Nothing to Hide.) Some of the murder-scene details are a bit gritty, but I thought they just helped to give the story an extra kick. And in the end, I’d say this book earned the highest compliment that you can give to a mystery novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.


For a shortcut to the book, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/BackOnMurder

My Free Thanksgiving Turkey eBook


I wrote a funny ebook for Thanksgiving, and I’d like to share it with all of my readers for free. Just point your computer’s web browser to TinyURL.com/TurkeyBook , and Amazon will send it to your Kindle at no charge. And if you read it on your Kindle Fire (or on one of Amazon’s apps), you’ll even be able to see the illustrations in color. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s the backstory…

After years of blogging about new authors writing exciting new ebooks for the Kindle, I’d decided last year that I had to try writing one too. So I dreamed up a wild story about four talking turkeys all awaiting the farmer’s axe on Thanksgiving Day – but one of them has a plan for escaping! To try to make it even more interesting, I included 12 different illustrations, and I even wrote the whole thing in rhyme.

“For Thanksgiving, try this game. Find the guilty turkey’s name…!”

But Amazon surprised me by publishing my book within just 12 hours from the time I’d submitted it to the Kindle Store. (I’d heard longer estimates of “24 to 48 hours.”) So I woke up the next morning to discover that somehow my turkeys had already snuck onto Amazon’s list of the best-selling children’s ebooks about animals – and they’d stolen the #73 spot from a book about Curious George!

Curious George ebook

I still get a smile when I remember that Thanksgiving. Within another hour, The Turkey Mystery Rhyme had made it into the top six on Amazon’s list of children’s ebooks about birds, one notch above a book I’d first read back in first grade! I wrote to one of my friends that “I was almost paralyzed with excitement when I finally saw it for the first time on Amazon.” And it also made me pause for a minute during the holidays, and think a hopeful thought about the future.


“I love books, And when I read books, I go to a special place. And now I’m in that special place – I’m on the other side of the page, so to speak. And that makes me feel somehow like I’ve inherited some of the importance of the other books I usually read. (Now instead of looking at other people’s books at Amazon.com and their thumbnail images, it’s my book, and my thumbnail image…)

I’ve really been struck and blind-sided by how easy it was – how it all came together, and how everything I needed was already there…”


It was the day when self-publishing first started to feel real to me – with all the big things that that implied about the future of books. And with that in mind, I ended the e-mail by saying “I’ve tried to savor this day because it will always be my only first ebook.”

So visit this URL to check out my free rhyming Thanksgiving turkey mystery…

tinyurl.com/TurkeyBook

And I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Another Free Agatha Christie Mystery!

Agatha Christie mystery book covers

HarperCollins is giving away a great mystery ebook for free. It’s a 380-page novel by Agatha Christie — the first mystery novel that she ever wrote with her famous detective character, Miss Marple. And it’s one of three other Agatha Christie mysteries which have turned up for free in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

But this one is different. The Murder at the Vicarage isn’t an old, early effort that’s inadvertently slipped into the public domain. Harper Collins just published a new paperback edition of the novel in April, and normally its ebook edition would sell for $6.99. The publishing house even commissioned a fun new cover illustration, displaying the book’s title on a tombstone, with Christie’s name appearing as a handwritten signature (under the words “The Queen of Mystery.”) “[A] dead body in a clergyman’s study proves to Miss Marple that no place, holy or otherwise, is a sanctuary from homicide,” they tease in the book’s description.

It’s being sold at a temporary discount, presumably to publicize the new edition, so if you’re interested in reading the book, download it now before the price goes up! I like how Amazon’s page automatically performs the math on the discount, helpfully explaining to anyone confused that “You save: $6.99 (100%).” And if you need more information about the book’s plot, here’s how they described it on the Harper Collins web site.

“Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,” declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, “would be doing the world at large a favor!”

It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later – when the Colonel is found shot dead in the clergyman’s study. But as Miss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe…

There are two other Christie novels which have fallen into the public domain (at least, in the United States). One of them is Christie’s first published novel ever — The Mysterious Affair at Styles — which is also her first story about detective Hercule Poirot. (At a mysterious estate, a wealthy woman is poisoned shortly after drawing up a new will, and Poirot is asked to investigate.) And I’ve actually started reading the other free Agatha Christie novel. Secret Adversary opens on the Lusitania — a British mail ship that was sunk during World War I. “The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession,” Christie writes in an exciting prologue that opens the book, “and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed…”

This feels like a big event, because Agatha Christie is acknowledged as the best-selling novelist of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. (In fact, according to Wikipedia, even outside the novel-writing genre, Christie’s tied for the title of best-selling author of all time with one other author…William Shakespeare.) In fact, there’s now over two billion copies of Christie novels scattered around the world — and she’s also earned another very important distinction. She’s one of a handful of authors who you’ll see in a screensaver image on the Kindle!

And Agatha Christie also had a cameo appearance in one of my all-time favorite articles about the Kindle. “Before I first acquired a Kindle, exactly one year ago, I didn’t usually buy books while under the influence of alcohol…” confessed author Elif Batuman. But a couple of glasses of wine lowers her inhibitions, opening up a whole new world. (“Until technology empowered me to order books while drunk, I didn’t realise the scope and diversity of literature that I wasn’t reading purely out of embarrassment.”)

A few months ago, my drunk reading tendencies converged upon a single author. The Kindle actually made the suggestion itself, in the form of one of its standard issue author screensavers: a portrait of Agatha Christie that I found staring up at me, half-obscured by a pile of bills. She was represented, as always, as elderly, wearing a scarf with a brooch, her gray perm etched in meticulous detail. Beneath remarkably heavy brows, her eyes were shrewd and weary, as with the knowledge of countless unravelled mysteries.

The last time I had read Christie novels with any regularity was between the ages of 10 and 13, when I used to borrow them from my mother’s little sister, the most beautiful and lively person in my family, then in her 20s. I read them obsessively, one after another, either despite or because of how much they frightened me. Although the style was simple and readable, not unlike that of the Baby-sitter’s Club books, and although the detectives, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, were twinkly, grandparental types, nevertheless, everywhere these gentle souls went, someone was killed in hatred.

Suddenly I was seized by a desire to revisit Poirot, the charming Belgian with his weird moustaches. Thirty seconds later, I had clicked on “Buy now”…and there would be no physical book to reproach me the morning after.

Three Different Authors Sell One Million E-books

Three authors sell one million Kindle e-books - Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Suzanne Collins

It’s been a big week. Monday Amazon announced two more authors passed the one-million mark for sales of their e-books in the Kindle Store. And then Thursday, another author passed the same milestone!

“As a storyteller it brings me particular fulfillment to know so many readers are receiving my work through the Kindle,” said mystery author Michael Connelly. “Added to that, my name is now on a list of an amazing group of writers. I am very proud of this moment.”

Until this week, only four authors had ever sold more than 1 million e-books in the Kindle Store. The first was the late Stieg Larsson (author of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), and he didn’t reach his one millionth sale until July of last year. At the time, Amazon announced three more authors had crossed the 500,000-sales line — mystery authors James Patterson and Charlaine Harris, plus romance novelist Nora Roberts. Each of those authors then reached one million sales over the next 10 months.

              Stieg Larsson (July)
              James Patterson (October)
              Nora Roberts (January of 2011)
              Charlaine Harris (May of 2011)

But now there’s three more names to add to the list.

              Lee Child (June)
              Suzanne Collins (June)
              Michael Connelly (June)

Maybe it’s a sign that there’s more people now who own Kindles, so more e-books are getting purchased (meaning more authors join Amazon’s “Kindle Million Club.”) But there’s also a pattern here — something that some of these authors have in common. This April, Stieg Larsson became the only author to ever sell one million copies of a single e- book. (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”) But his famous mystery was just the first book in a complicated (and inter-linked) trilogy. So Larsson could’ve cracked the one-million-sales threshhold with just 333,333 dedicated fans who’d read each of his three books.

The same is also true for the Kindle’s newest million-selling authors. Suzanne Collins is the author of the “Underland Chronicles” — a five-part series of fantasy novels — plus “The Hunger Games,” a three-part series of “young adult” novels set in a pessimistic future. The first book in that series has already sold 1.5 million print copies (according to Wikipedia), and it stayed on the best-seller list of the New York Times for more than 60 weeks in a row. It’s very possible that some fans are purchasing every book in each series — eight different e-books — which would help push her faster towards the one million mark.

Amazon acknowledged this in a press release Monday. “Our Kindle customers are avid readers of series, and we’re excited to welcome Lee Child and Suzanne Collins to the Kindle Million Club,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content. “With Kindle, readers can finish one book and start reading the next one within 60 seconds – a particularly valuable feature when reading a riveting series…”

But there’s another way to enter the “Kindle Million Club”: write a lot of books! James Patterson wrote 56 different books which were best-sellers (according to Wikipedia), and Nora Roberts has written over 200 romance novels (including a series of 40 books written under her pen name, J.D. Robb). In fact, Nora Roberts wrote four of the best-selling e-books in the Kindle store last year, according to Amazon, and in the first month of 2011 they announced that yes, she’d passed the one million mark with 1,170,53 in sales in the Kindle Store. Mystery author Lee Child has written at least 16 different novels, and Michael Connelly has actually written 17 mysteries just about his fictitious detective, Harry Bosch.

Connelly published yet another new mystery in April — and in March finally saw the release of a movie based on one of his novels. Amazon announced today that “With the recent movie adaptation of Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer and the publication of The Fifth Witness, it’s no surprise to see him join the ranks of other writers of popular series in the Million Club.” The statement came from Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content, who welcomed Connelly into the Kindle Million Club. And it’s been a lot of fun watching the other authors as they issue thankful quotes to Amazon.

“What a lovely and unexpected honor to be in such wonderful company,” announced Suzanne Collins, “and see my books reaching readers in this exciting new format.” And Lee Child had an even more personal story to tell. “I started writing at the same time Amazon first went live, back in 1995,” he remembers in Amazon’s press release, “and it has been a thrill to move forward together through the years and through the generations of new technology.”

“I’m really delighted to have hit this current milestone, and I look forward to many more together.”

On Reading the Kindle While Drunk

Elif Batuman

“The Kindle is wonderful for drunk people…” argues author Elif Batuman. “Before I first acquired a Kindle, exactly one year ago, I didn’t usually buy books while under the influence of alcohol…”

I laughed out loud at her funny stories about the life of a Kindle owner, which was published Saturday in a British newspaper. (Though according to Wikipedia, she teaches in America at Stanford University in California, where she spent seven years studying linguistics and comparative literature.) A little wine lowers her inhibitions, and soon she’s slumming with the Agatha Christie novels she’d loved as a child. “…although the detectives, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, were twinkly, grandparental types, nevertheless, everywhere these gentle souls went, someone was killed in hatred.”

“Because I am a writer, people sometimes ask me how ebooks have changed the literary landscape. The short answer, for me, is that I have developed a compulsion to drunk-dial Agatha Christie several times a week.”

This article inspired me to investigate Amazon’s Kindle store, where I discovered they’re currently offering a complete Agatha Christie mystery novel as a free ebook. Thanks to Kindle blogger Mike Cane, who discovered this article (adding “This is absolutely hilarious! Don’t drink and eBook, kids!”) Her funny observations were the perfect way to start Monday morning, and I think I’ll always remember Elif’s advice — that the Hercule Poirot mysteries are “perfect for a drunk reader with a decreased attention span.” And she hints at how easy it is to splurge on the purchases of ebooks — especially since, unlike a real-life book-buying binge, there’s “no physical book to reproach me the morning after!”

But for all the jokes, I think she really appreciates the joy of being able to curl up and read with a good ebook. “…at the end of the day, when I uncorked a $7 bottle of Viognier and turned on the Kindle, a wave of well-being washed over me.”

It’s funny, because in April this Kindle-loving author had also published a long book about studying the great Russian novelists. (She’d named her book after a Dostoyevsky novel — The Possessed — giving it the subtitle “Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.”) I’d thought that was going to be a more scholarly work, but it turns out it’s a book filled with more terrific personal anecdotes, which also gradually explain how she came to love Russian novels. One reviewer called her “A Comedian in the Academy,” asking “Who knew studying Russian literature could be so funny?”

It’s a wonderful book — and yes, it’s also available on the Kindle. Though Elif Batuman is 23, she uses her smarts to weaves together her life experiences with all the things that she’s learned in her studies. She remembers the unpredictable Russian violin teacher she’d had as a teenager, and riffs on the “multitude of sad adventures” that’s cryptically promised to a character in “Eugene Onegin” (in a strange manual of dream intrepretation). She remembers being a freshman loving a senior (who’d once lived behind the Iron Curtain) — which somehow leads her to a summer job teaching English in Hungary. And then there’s a surreal experience at a children’s summer camp, when all the gym teachers suddenly approach her.


“The American girl will judge the leg contest!” they announced. I was still hoping that I had misunderstood them, even as German techno music was turned on and all the boys in the camp, ages eight to fourteen, were paraded out behind a screen that hid their bodies from the waist up; identifying numbers had been pinned to their shorts. I was given a clipboard with a form on which to rate their legs on a scale from one to ten. Gripped by panic, I stared at the clipboard. Nothing in either my life experience or my studies had prepared me to judge an adolescent boys’ leg contest…”

NPR published a small excerpt from this section, though it’s also available in the book’s free sample on the Kindle.

But click here if you’d rather try reading a free Agatha Christie mystery novel ebook while drunk!

Amazon’s most popular free mystery ebook

An original Sherlock Holmes illustration

EDITOR’S NOTE: Amazon’s most popular free mystery ebook — currently #5 on their best-seller list — is also one that my girlfriend read as part of a very strange Christmas — and a secret crime all her own…

                        *                        *                        *

The year I was 12, my brother received The Complete Sherlock Holmes for Christmas — and I received a bunch of Camp Fire Girls stuff and a copy of the Bobbsey Twins mysteries. Ick! Luckily for me, my brother didn’t really like Sherlock Holmes, any more than I wanted to read the Bobbsy Twins. (O.k., I liked them when I was 7 or 8, but really. By then my reading level had advanced to the point where I was reading real novels like The Count of Monte Cristo…)

But my brother wouldn’t give up control of his book. He hid it in his room which was, of course, completely off limits to his little sister. I am now able to confess this crime — I went into the forbidden room, found the concealed Sherlock Holmes collection — and pilfered it! Luckily for me, he didn’t want the book, just control over it, so I read through the entire collection without him knowing it was gone. What joy!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a great writer and crafter of stories. Intricate, detailed situations with flawed characters, gripping plot lines and very surprising endings. And Doyle himself led a very intriguing life. He studied medicine at the University of Edinborough, then signed on as a ship’s doctor on a boat traveling to the West African coast. Upon his return, he opened a doctor’s office in a small English town, but building a practice in a strange town takes time. So while he waited for his patients, he wrote his first mysteries.

The first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, was published in 1887. Mr. Holmes was modeled after one of Doyle’s university professors. The likeness was so good that Wikipedia says Robert Louis Stevenson (another Scotsman, then living in Samoa) recognized the professor and mentioned it in his letter of congratulations to Sir Doyle. I’ve since become a great fan of mystery novels, soaking them up like water after a surgery and long convelescense several years ago.

But Sherlock Holmes set the standard by which I’ve judged all others. I used to think I wasn’t smart enough to solve the mysteries and just read them for the pure entertainment value. Then I started reading other mystery novels and found I could solve them as I read along. Then I rediscovered Sherlock Holmes on my Kindle!

I was originally worried that maybe my joy of reading the Sherlock Holmes stories is thus overlayed with the guilty pleasure of forbidden reading — the same joy I’d get by reading by flashlight under my covers when I was supposed to be asleep. But there they all were — The Hound of the Baskervilles (MUCH better than the movie), The Red Headed League, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, The Five Orange Pips, and so many more. (There are over 50 Holmes stories). There was the wonderful writing, the fascinating plots, the twisting and turning, and such a wonderful read every time. And his friend Dr. Watson was always sharing my cluelessness.

I found that I remembered the stories, but often not the ending and as I read. I recognized things as clues but still couldn’t solve the crimes by the end. (How frustrating!) I had been excited to approach these stories with my new adult mystery-solving abilites. Then I realized there is no way to solve a Sherlock Holmes crime! I’d read carefully, finding clues, making guesses, working hard at figuring out the crime, then Bam! Mr. Holmes comes up with some puzzle piece so completely out of left field that could never have figured it out.

It was the specific type of cigar ash, Watson. Surely you’ve read my monograph on different types of tobacco from all over the world and the ash each one produces. Oh, oops, silly me for forgetting the monograph! (Which, by the way, was never available to us non-fictitious mortals….) Note to Sir A. Conon Doyle: Write the damn monograph or quit using it as the only way to solve the mystery!

                        *                        *                        *

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t worry, my girlfriend says she still loves all of the Sherlock Holmes books. Click here if you’d like to read a free Sherlock Holmes mystery for yourself!

The Ghost of Fu-Manchu

The Mystery of Dr Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer - original book cover

After watching the movie Charlie Chan on Treasure Island, I’d decided to read the original mystery novels where the detective solves crimes in his calm yet brilliant way. And I’d found all of the original novels available on the Kindle! Score!

Behind That Curtain
Charlie Chan Carries On
Keeper of the Keys

But wait, there’s more… While doing research on the Chan books and their author, Earl Derr Biggers, I discovered that Charlie Chan was created as a deliberate alternative to Chinese supervillains like Dr. Fu-Manchu. I’ve heard about Fu Manchu all my life, but had no real understanding of the character. I knew what his mustache looks like, but that’s about it.

Figuring that my public library wouldn’t have any of the Fu-Manchu books — being as they are not, shall we say, politically correct — I took my search to the Kindle. Lots of Fu-Manchu! So I started with the first book in the series: “The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu.”

Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward (writing under the much more sexy name of Sax Rohmer) created the character of the evil Dr. Fu-Manchu. Sax belonged to the Golden Dawn, a real-life mystical society that combined Masonic rituals with ancient Egyptian Rosacrucion mysticism, along with other ancient mystical writings. Their first temple, which had opened in London in 1888, drew in the young writer and influenced his choice of a pen name — and the first Fu-Manchu stories, which almost drip with mysterious dangers from the Orient. Sax describes Fu-Manchu as “a person tall, lean and feline… a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull and long, magnetic eyes of the true cat-green, invest him with all the cruel cunning of the entire Eastern race, accumulated in one giant intellect.”

This fast-paced action novel goes from one dangerous scene to another across London. In general, I enjoy reading novels from different eras, as they immerse you in another time and place, with barely time to rest or take repast — er, eat. But honestly, it was hard to get past the rampant racism of this guy. Sax Rohmer makes sure to mention the danger to the entire white race (italics not mine) with phrases like “the complete destruction of the White Race” and “Yellow Peril.” (You can almost hear the creepy music and dramatic pauses as you read.)

I wondered about the repetitive use of these shocking phrases over and over again, until I found out the story was published in installments from 1912-1913. From one month to the next, Sax wanted to make sure his audience didn’t forget the evil dangers posed by the great Fu Manchu. I was glad to read on Wikipedia that Sax was often attacked, even shortly after the first stories were published, for creating such a blatantly racist character, though he posed as “bemused” at the furor. Instead he defended his novels by saying that the portrait was “fundamentally truthful” because “criminality was often rampant among the Chinese,” especially in the Chinese ghetto of the time.

It’s easy to be bemused when the money is rolling in…

Sax was very prolific. Wikipedia lists over 50 books and short story compilations, and many of the stories were made into movies. As an interesting aside, Warner Oland, the Swedish actor who played Charlie Chan in the movies until his death in 1938, also played Fu-Manchu in the first three movies.

Ironically, after a lifetime of noxious stories about the mysterious dangers of the Orient, Sax Rohmer died…of the Asian flu.

UPDATE: I’ve just discovered that Sax Rohmer has another book that’s already in Amazon’s Top 50 classic ebooks: Brood of the Witch-Queen!

One Amazon reviewer called it the scariest and eeriest books they had ever read in their life….

Or click here to buy the original Charlie Chan novels as ebooks

Behind That Curtain
Charlie Chan Carries On
Keeper of the Keys

How Winnie-the-Pooh came to the Kindle

Last Christmas, I couldn’t find Winnie-the-Pooh books for the Kindle. The only A.A. Milne story I’d found was an obscure comic mystery he’d written in 1922. But by spring, it looks like Pooh bear had magically crept out of the Hundred Acre Wood, and squeezed his way onto the Kindle, since you can now buy Kindle editions of both
Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.

And it’s not just the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. A. A. Milne also published two books of children’s poetry – When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. Many of the poems mention Christopher Robin, and there’s also a few that are specifically about Winnie-the-Pooh, as Milne explains in the book’s introduction.

Pooh wants us to say that he thought it was a different book; and he hopes you won’t mind, but he walked through it one day, looking for his friend Piglet, and sat down on some of the pages by mistake.

Best of all, they include all of the memorable original illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. Since the illustrations were already in black and white, they look great on the Kindle. And there’s something really precious about seeing those old-fashioned children’s book images on the screen of my 21st-century reading machine.

By the way, am I the only person who thinks A. A. Milne should be one of the authors included among the Kindle’s screensaver images?