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Stack of books

Stack of books (Photo credit: Max Sparber)

I had so much fun offering my unsolicited opinions last month, I decided to do it again.  This month my goal was to make a significant dent in the books stacked up on my Kindle.  There are more than 300 titles, most of them “purchased” for free, trapped inside that thing and I keep adding more every week.  Then I went to the library and had to check out a few titles.  Sigh.  And I got two new books (pre-ordered ages ago and forgotten about) from Amazon.

One of the realities of reading Kindle books is that once loaded, there’s only a title and author listed in the main menu.  No book description.  I never know what genre I’m reading until I start.  So this list is eclectic.  Perhaps even random.

Kindle freebies are like a treasure hunt.  Sometimes I’ll find a gem, lots of times I’ll find a pile of excrement.  So my motivation to read through all the titles on my Kindle flags when I’ve stepped in literary dog poo one too many times in a row.  For better, and often for worse, here’s what I read in September:

My Favorite

Tricked by Kevin Hearne (preordered from Amazon and forgotten about)

Awesome book #4 in the Iron Druid Chronicles about the last living druid on Earth.  Urban fantasy.  Must read the series in order, they build on each other.  This author hits all my buttons:  he’s a high school English teacher (yay!); his characters have depth; his plots are intricate and well thought out; there’s tons of action; and every book revolves around one major world mythology.  This one centers on the Native American Coyote myth (the trickster god, hence the title).  My favorite character is the pet Irish wolfhound with whom our druid communicates telepathically.  He’s everydog, but funnier.

Worth The Time

The Devil Is A Gentleman (A Niki Slobodian Novel:  Book 2) by J.L. Murray

Free through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  Urban fantasy.  Follow-up to Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea.  Starts with action and keeps building all the way through.  Great characters, great writing.  Recommend both Niki Slobodian books.

Take the Monkeys and Run by Karen Cantwell (Kindle freebie)

Hooked me on the first line:  “The sky was black, my toes were numb and I was a lunatic.”  Light, funny cozy mystery.  There was one incident involving the pet cat that freaked me out, but it turned out ok for the cat (I hate when authors hurt animals in books.  Hate.  Hate.  Hate.).  First in the Barbara Marr series.

Don’t Shoot!  I’m the Avon Lady by Birdie Jaworski (Kindle freebie)

Memoir based on the author’s blog posts.  Starts rough, but the writing improves about 25% in.  It’s not a linear narrative, but some of the stories are funny, some are strange, and I enjoyed reading about her life experiences.  (Selling Avon is hard!)

Betrayed by R.P. McCabe (Kindle freebie)

The author is up-front about his motives for writing a fictional account of the victims of a Ponzi scheme.  He makes no bones about his anger and disgust with not only the perpetrators of these frauds, but also the legal, political,  and regulatory systems that essentially abandon their victims.  The book has many grammatical errors and stylistic problems.  But the story sucked me in — I was fascinated to see how we’d get to where we were headed.  It’s obviously a revenge story and I thought I knew what form the revenge would take.  I was really, really wrong and couldn’t have been more shocked by the grisly nature of the vengeance.  In the end, there were no heroes and very few people with any integrity at all.

Gnome on the Range (Gnome Novel Series – Book 1) by Jennifer Zane (Kindle freebie)

Light, breezy romance, heavy on the sex.  Our intrepid heroine works at an adult toy store, which is the source of many ongoing jokes.  The mystery plot starts out promising but ends creepy.  A fun read and surprisingly good for a first-time novelist.

Dead Air Can Kill You by Phil Edwards (Kindle freebie)

Apparently, this is the third book of an ongoing mystery series and I felt like I missed a lot since I hadn’t read the first two books.  It’s a murder mystery with lots of goofy word play.  Entertaining.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (A Flavia De Luce Novel) by Alan Bradley

I was seduced into snatching this off the library shelf by the title.  It’s actually a young adult mystery set in post-WWII England with an 11 year old protagonist.  The murder doesn’t happen until mid-way through so there’s lots of character development and atmosphere.  Part of a series, but the novel stands alone.

Tales From The Crib by Jennifer Coburn (Kindle freebie)

A woman’s husband asks for a divorce on the same day she plans to tell him she’s pregnant.  Deals with infertility, miscarriages, pregnancy, and birth along with the strains of parenthood on marriage.  Surprisingly funny and insightful, although the husband is a complete prat for three-quarters of the book.

The Minimalist Cleaning Method – Expanded Edition by Annie Jean Brewer (Kindle freebie)

A very pragmatic introduction to frugal minimalism.  Her cleaning minimalism extends to using as few products and devices as possible.  She includes recipes for homemade cleaning products, but most are a variation of the vinegar/baking soda/water type of non-toxic cleaners that have frustrated me in the past.  She also recommends mopping your carpet with an ammonia and water solution instead of renting a machine or paying a carpet cleaning company that completely distracted me.  Usually her instructions were straightforward, but she just says, “Mop your carpet,” and I spent the rest of the book puzzling out how to do that.  With a string-head mop?  A sponge mop?  How long does that take to dry?

I appreciated her style and zeal, and there were a couple of cleaning ideas I’d like to try…but I’m not going to mop my carpet.

Free Kindle Books and How to Find Them by Michael Gallagher (Kindle freebie)

A good primer on how to use your Kindle and load it up with all kinds of free reading material.  I could’ve done without the pages and pages pitching his paid blog subscriptions, and this guy has a ton of blogs.


Not Worth The Trouble

Murder Over Easy by Marshall Cook (Kindle freebie)

Formatting problems with the dialogue made this hard to read.  Author doesn’t give many he said/she said clues to let the reader know who’s talking in paragraphs where the dialogue runs all together.  Pacing was slow.  Some weird homophobia at the end that was unnecessary and mildly offensive.

Fit To Be Dead (Aggie Mundeen Mysteries) by Nancy G. West (Kindle freebie)

Ack.  I think the lead character, Aggie, was meant to be charming, but for a 30-something, formerly high-powered bank VP, she was just inept and naive.  She acted like a 20-year old sorority girl, not an adult woman.  Pass it by unless you’re trapped on the tarmac with absolutely nothing else to do and nowhere to go.

Midnight Enchantment by Anya Bast

Fourth and final (please) book of the Dark Magick series.  So glad I got this from the library and didn’t part with any cash.  It was a hard slog to get through.  I just didn’t care about the characters, and was repulsed by the male protagonist’s magical power of illusions (rightfully described as mind f@#*ing).  I kept reading because I wanted to see how the series ended.  Once I got there, I found I didn’t care.

Bleeding Out by Jes Battis

End of a five book series, preordered and forgot about until it arrived.  Book #4 wasn’t very good and I thought he was setting up the grand finale.  I wish.  The big finale was a big dud.  It’s like he wrote this book while stoned on self-importance.  The first three books were great, skip #4 and 5.

Your Best Body Now by Tosca Reno

I got a screaming good deal on a year-long subscription to Clean Eating Magazine last year and was looking for a book of recipes by contributor Tosca Reno.  This book was the only available option at my local library.  It wasn’t what I was looking for and frankly, turned me off.  There are chapters on everything from make-up to vitamin supplements, all of which promote the idea that more is better.  When I tallied up the number of supplements recommended for a woman my age (even eating a varied diet of real food), there were more than a dozen daily pills at a cost of hundreds of dollars a month.  No thanks.  I’ll stick to the magazine, assuming I can repeat the great deal I got.

Eating Organic on a Budget by Fanny Seto (Kindle freebie)

Worthwhile only if you’re an absolute beginner to managing a food budget, which I can’t imagine in this crappy economy.  The saving grace might be the list of what’s in season each month, but even that can be sussed out pretty easily:  what’s in season is almost always what’s on sale.

If you’re interested in finding free books for your Kindle (or the Kindle app on your phone/other device), I subscribe to a daily email from Jungle Deals and Steals.  The entire blog is devoted to good deals on Amazon, but the daily email is just free books and apps.  (Scroll down a little bit and look for the button on the right.)  Or get Free Kindle Books and How to Find Them if it’s still free.