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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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Charles Dickens Bicentennial Celebration

This week, there are celebrations around the world to commemorate the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, one of the most notable authors in literary history.  Most, if not all of Dickens’ novels are available on the Kindle for free.

A Christmas Carol is probably the most well known Dickens masterpiece because it is often read at Christmas and is a popular play.  It has also been adapted for film multiple times over the past 50 years.  All of his other works have also have been adapted for theatre productions.

I had to read Hard Times and Great Expectations in high school and college, but I never really got to know the background behind the writing.  If I ever do decide to tackle them again, I want to explore the inspiration that contributed to the development of the characters.  When you are in high school, reading classics always seems like such a chore.

Dickens faced a lot of adversity in his younger years.  His father spent time in prison because of debt.  Dickens had to quit school and work in a shoe factory.  The hardships that Dickens experienced were manifested in his writing.  Many of his characters are children who face some sort of obstacle.

Think of Oliver Twist, who begged for more food and got reprimanded for asking.  Food that was barely more than slop at that.  There are so many important lessons woven through each story.  Hard Times reveals a world based only on facts.  Also notice the irony of the names in the book.  The characters’ names are often the opposite of their personalities.  Anything outside linear thinking is unaccepted.  Ebenezer Scrooge gets visits from the supernatural who remind him the true meaning of Christmas and the spirit of giving.

Charles Dickens made a profound effect on the literary world during his short life.  He died of a stroke at the age of 58.  Even if you hated his novels during school, you might find that you get a lot more out of them as an adult.  Charles Dickens’ books, as well as many other classics, are all free on the Kindle and Kindle supported devices.

Meanwhile, I need to go tackle A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield.  Surprisingly enough, I never had to read them in school.  It is always good to at least have some knowledge of the major classics because it is rare for literature to stand the test of time like his novels have.

 

 

Best Places to find Free Kindle Books

There are many options on where to find free Kindle books.  Amazon has dedicated a page to list all of the options.  The only catch is that you really have to be diligent about tracking the special promotions.  They disappear quickly.

First off, the Kindle Store has limited time promotions on different books.  I’ve found some good ones through the Top 100 Free Kindle books list.  This list is updated hourly, so if you see one you like, grab it immediately.  the list includes popular free games such as Pixel Perfect Holiday Puzzles.

The free books offered by the Kindle Store are mostly romantic or religious themed.  But, if you take some time to look through the list, you can find some books with a good storyline.  It is a great opportunity to explore new authors who don’t get the recognition from the big name publishers.

Pre 1923 classics can be found in a variety of places.  Project Gutenberg is one of the original sources for free e-books.  It currently has a collection that includes roughly 30,000 titles.  You can download the books to your Kindle via USB.

Amazon’s free book page provides links to Project Gutenberg, as well as other internet based e-books.  Open Library, ManyBooks.net, and Internet Archive offer up to millions of titles.  For web based e-books and limited previews, check out Google books.

Some great programs were launched this Fall: Kindle Library Lending and Kindle Owner’s Library Lending.  Kindle Library Lending is available in 11,000 and counting libraries across the US.  Most libraries have a widget somewhere on their website that directs you to their Kindle books available through OverDrive.  My local public library just added Kindle Library Lending, and it offers a mix up new and old books.  There is already a waiting list on many of them.

Amazon Prime members can access the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  It is a Netflix for books type deal.  You can only check out one book a month, but it doesn’t have a due date.  The library includes over 5000 books.  Lots of bestsellers in the collection.  One thing to note is that you have to download the book directly from your Kindle direction instead of on Amazon’s website.

So, to sum it up, there are tons of free e-book options available for all of the Kindles.  The great thing about the free classics is that you can use them for school.  The physical books are not that expensive, but with a lot of them it can add up.  Free is always good!

I’m hoping that if I wait long enough, the Steve Jobs biography and other major bestsellers will be available for lending.  But, that will probably be awhile.

 

Free Kindle Book – Change of Heart by Fran Shaff

 Change of Heart is a heartwarming, yet grief stricken love story that is certainly worth reading.  It is currently on the Kindle Top 100 list of free books.  It is hard to gauge how long a book is going to be free, so catch it while you can.

Change of Heart is set in the 1850′s Midwestern United States.  Marietta Randolph lives in Chicago, and is forced to travel to the wild lands of Nebraska to pick up her nephew.  Zack’s parents, Kathy and Clint, were murdered by “savages”.  So, Marietta has to fulfill her legal guardian duties that she agreed to in case anything happened to her sister and and brother in law.

She makes the long trip to Nebraska in a carriage.  There she meets Jase, Clint’s brother.  Jase is like a second father to Zack, and took him in after his parents’ death.

In the usual fashion of Western romances, you have the incredibly appealing rancher.  Add being trapped in a snow storm, and you can probably figure out the rest of that part of the story.

Fran Shaff has the ability to capture the reader’s attention and make her stories so real that the reader just escapes into the fictional world..  The element of grief and family adds depth to the story.  I love books like that.  It is so nice to escape into another world for awhile.

She has won a number of awards for her Romance writings, as well as Children’s literature.  She also won E-Book of the Month Award from MyShelf.com.  Most of her books are available for Kindle, and are $3.99 and under.

So, if you’re a fan of sweet romances, give Change of Heart a try.  The reviews overall are positive.

C. Donne

“CHANGE OF HEART will touch a place deep in your heart. Marietta, Jason, and Zack all lost people they loved deeply when Clint and Kathy died, together they are able to comfort each other and begin to heal the wounds that are left when something so horrible happens to someone you love. I adored the unselfishness both Marietta and Jason show by their willingness to make sacrifices for Zack. Fran Shaff does an amazing job pulling the reader into the story so that you feel like you’re really part of it. I became so involved, I’d read all the way through the story before I even realized it, and was extremely impressed to find myself so emotionally involved that I cried at several points. “

Free Kindle Book -Thanksgiving Cookbook by Gooseberry Patch

The holidays are fast approaching and that means lots of delicious recipes.  A cookbook  in particular that is full of holiday treats is the free Kindle edition of Thanksgiving Cookbook.

Thanksgiving Cookbook includes 24 recipes, mostly involving pumpkin or turkey, but there are some others like harvest apple cheesecake.  Yum!  I love apple cider.  The cookbook includes several different recipes for it as well.

The set up and design of Thanksgiving Cookbook is pretty easy to read and doesn’t require too much fancy navigation.  It just moves from recipe to recipe.  There are little decorating tidbits at the bottom.  I enjoyed these because they sure do get creative with common household items.

The only big suggestion that I have as far as the layout of the book goes, is to include a table of contents so that the reader doesn’t have to go through the introductory section.  The best way to skip to the recipes you want is to go to the Kindle’s menu and select the “go to” option.  Once there, just select “table of contents.”  I admit that searching for recipes on the Kindle is a little more cumbersome than searching for them in a traditional recipe book or card that has colorful markers.

Gooseberry Patch is a company run by two women who wanted to work from home to raise their families.  The style of the cookbook is very warm and family oriented.  Very fitting with Thanksgiving being such a family style holiday.

So, stock up on Kindle cookbooks like Thanksgiving Cookbook.  Another good, free cookbook to try that isn’t holiday themed, is called Prevention Healthy Favorites.  I’m sure there will be a lot of holiday cookbooks, and even non holiday ones popping up in the Kindle Free book list.  So, keep an eye out for them.  You can’t go wrong because they’re free!

Serene

“Gooseberry Patch is one of my favorite companies. A while back, they often produced little cookbooks on a variety of topics. This is one of them. If you are expecting a large book, be forewarned, there are only 24 selected recipes in this book. The Kindle version, however is nicely formatted with good hyperlinks to each recipe, and cute clip art added to make the pages look less barren. ”

Benjamin Lew

“I found this Thanksgiving cookbook to be very helpful with the upcoming holidays coming up. The illustations were wonderful and it has gotten me inspired to learn some new ideas and ways of cooking the presenting the holiday fall meals. Lots of great pratical advice and wonderful receipes.”

Free Kindle Book – Just the Way You Are by Barbara Freethy

I’ve read a few of Barbara Freethy’s romance novels, and have really enjoyed them because they have storylines that tend to have more depth than your basic, trashy romance novel.

Just the Way You Are is about two sisters: Tessa and Alli.  Alli seduces Tessa’s boyfriend, Sam Tucker and that leads to a surprise pregnancy and a troubled marriage.

In sibling relationships, there is often one sibling that is super successful.  That sibling may have the good looks, an amazing job, and the husband or significant other that everyone else would die to have.  Alli lives in the shadow of Tessa, who is a supermodel.  So, this book examines the dynamic of sibling relationships.

The unifying symbol in Just the Way You Are is a pearl necklace that Alli and Tessa’s grandmother, Phoebe started with her husband.  After Phoebe has a stroke, Alli and Tessa come together to find the last pearl in the necklace.  The pearl necklace represents the love their grandparents have, and it helps heal the wounds from the past.

Just the Way You Are will probably not be on the list of free Kindle books very long.  Right now it is #1 on the Top 100 list.  So, if I were you, I’d grab it soon before it goes off the free list.

If you’re into sweet romance novels and beach reads, other authors similar to Freethy are Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs, and Barbara Delinsky.  There are more that you’ll find listed as suggestions when you look up these authors.  Most of their Kindle books are pretty cheap.  They’re not always just about romance.  They explore other types of relationships as well.

After going over the reviews, I saw that several reviewers mentioned how real the characters seemed.  I love it when authors create stories that let you escape into the characters’ lives and forget that they aren’t real people.

Viaggiatrice

“The best romance novels are the ones that do not follow formula (at least in every aspect). Barbara Freethy has always been good at making her characters a little more realistic and a little less cookie-cutter. It is a great relief to find someone who does. This story is very well done. None of the characters is a saint, all have insecurities and doubts, and each is very flawed.”

amie

“I always enjoy Barbara Freethy’s style of writing before. She always manages to create characters that real, who are not flawless, and fill with insecurities — which make them real human. And the new novel “Just The Way You Are” impresses me just like others.”

 

 

Free Kindle Book – The Pastor’s Wife by Jennifer Allee

You might notice from looking through the Top 100 Free Kindle books list that there are a lot of religious themed books on there.  The Pastor’s Wife is one of them, but it takes on a different perspective than the average Christian fiction novel.

Maura Sullivan married Nick Shepherd six years ago and he took over the congregation of a small church in Granger, Ohio.  Nick gets so sucked into helping the members of his congregation that he neglects his marriage.  The rift in Nick and Maura’s marriage grows so wide that Maura goes back to California to work with her father.

The story opens when Maura gets a letter from a recently deceased member of the Granger community who gives Maura an old theater in her will.  The theater comes with a stipulation though.  Without spoiling the plot too much, this stipulation reveals the issues in Maura and Nick’s marriage, and forces them to confront them head on.

The Pastor’s Wife is told from a unique perspective because it gives an honest portrayal of how the pastor must balance the needs of his congregation with the needs of his wife and family.  Sometimes church members can certainly take up a lot of a pastor’s time and energy.

So, The Pastor’s Wife is a sweet, but thought provoking story.  I really enjoy these types of books because they give me a break from hectic daily life while teaching me little life lessons.  Trust me, I like my fair share of suspense and intense plots, but stories like The Pastor’s Wife have their place as well.

One of the other things I liked was how real the characters were.  Even the pastor had his own flaws to work out.  So, I felt like I could relate to them better that way.

Carla Stewart

“The story is tender and woven with grace. Jennifer raises many questions about the relationship of a pastor with his congregation and his family. Does God call a man or a couple? What roles are appropriate for the wife of a pastor? It gave me a new perspective in what it must be like to live the “fish bowl” life. A thought-provoking, but gentle book from a lovely author.”

Judi Bush

“I took a chance on this free Kindle book and I’m glad I did. Jennifer Ailee’s story of hope that turned to disappointment, brokenness that led to healing and redemption is wrapped in an easy reading story that keeps you interested throughout the book. This is the style of story that calls you to a cozy chair where you curl up and escape your busyness and are inspired to see challenges through.”

 

 

Free Kindle Book – Rain Song by Alice Wisler

Rain Song is Alice Wisler’s first novel.  She has since written several others that I have yet to read, but intend to.  Wisler grew up in Japan, but now resides in North Carolina.  You’ll find elements of Wisler’s own life woven throughout this book.  For a limited time, Rain Song is free on the Kindle, and is in the top 20 of the Kindle Top 100 free books list.

Rain Song is thought provoking, with a relaxed, conversational tone.  If you want action and suspense, you might want to consider something different.  It is a curl up on the couch on a rainy day with a cup of tea type book.  Rain Song is set in Mt. Olive, North Carolina, and the main character is Nicole Michelin, a 31 year old middle school English teacher.

The book is about overcoming fears and getting what you truly want from life.  Rain Song also focuses on Nicole’s relationship with her family, particularly her close relationship with her grandmother and her young cousin.

Nicole was born in Japan and lived there until tragedy took the life of her mother. She has an extreme fear of flying.  Nicole fights to overcome her fears of flying as she develops a special relationship with Harrison Michaels, a young man living in Japan who responds to her columns on a fish website.  You’ll discover how Harrison plays an important role in his connection with her time in Japan.

When striving to overcome fears, it is important to keep your eyes on what’s on the other side.  Nicole had the choice of whether she wanted to let her fear of flying run her life, or face it head on in order to have the ability to get the things she truly wanted.

It took me a little while to get into Rain Song, but I liked reading from Nicole’s perspective, and her thoughts and interactions with her family and peers.  I also enjoyed learning a little bit about Japanese culture.

Dana Lorelle

“This is one of those books that makes me grateful for public libraries — because if not for a display of this author’s books in honor of her coming booksigning in our town I would never have stumbled upon this little gem. It is a deceptively simple book — on the surface the plot would take about three lines to summarize and the characters an equal amount of text. Yet swimming beneath that is depth of thought, of feeling, of description. It’s one of those books that makes me question the separation between the narrator and the author herself because the main character is so real, except that the author has published multiple books. The realism of her narrator, then, speaks to talent and imagination — as does the book itself. “

Good Resources for Free and Discounted Kindle Books

If you’re vigilant about tracking the daily Kindle news, you will find a bunch of good books for free or discounted prices.  They don’t stay discounted for very long, so you have to act fast.

Bookmark Amazon.com’s reader forums.  Overall, these are good resources for anything Kindle related.  Kindle users are the best judges of what works best and what doesn’t.  But, for discounted and free books, check out the forum titled: Discounted / Price Dropped Kindle eBooks.  Put that title in the search box since there’s no way to directly link to the forum itself.  There’s also a Free Kindle book forum that is worth checking as well.  Even if you don’t find a book you like, keep checking.  This forum is updated often.

Don’t forget to check the Top 100 Free Kindle bestsellers list.  A lot of these books are cheesy romance novels or self help books.  Occasionally though, you’ll find a bestseller, or other good book to try out.  About half of the books on my Kindle came from this list.  I was able to discover new favorite authors by finding their books here.  The list also includes Kindle games and active content.

Don’t forget the new Kindle Daily Deals going on.  They include major discounts on bestselling books.  There are some bestsellers that I can’t afford the full price for.  Some are as much as $15!  So, I’ve been keeping track of the Daily Deals to see if they show up there.  One of the most notable ones to show up on the Daily Deals was The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly.

Through the forums, I found a great website that provides alerts when prices are dropped on a book.  It is called eReaderIQ.com.   The website lets you track Kindle price drops, search for your favorite books, view the free Kindle book list, and see what books have been recently converted to Kindle.  The recently converted book option is quite handy.  There are a bunch of other discounted Kindle book websites.  You’ll find them recommended by readers on the forums, and pretty much anywhere there are discussions regarding the e-reader and e-books.

Aside from all of the resources here, you can check out the Amazon Kindle Twitter and Facebook page for more news and discount sale information.  The Facebook page has been an excellent resource for both authors and readers alike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Kindle Textbooks

At first, when I came across this free e-book source, I was suspicious that this website will be our regular free e-book scam full of links that lead to anything, but the e-books. However, after some quality time spent on Open Culture, I was impressed by the textbook section.

To access it, press “Textbooks” on the right top corner. Though, the list of free textbooks is not very extensive, the variety of subjects is pretty nice: Linguistics, Physics, Mathematics, Political Science, Music, History, Biology, Economics & Finance, Engineering, Earth Science etc.

The textbooks are offered in various formats. The reason for this is that the books are hosted on different servers. This is a well selected collection of links that lead to text-books’ locations. For example, A Textbook of the History of Painting by John Charles Van Dyke is actually located on Project Gutenberg site. Hence, there is an option for downloading it in MOBI format for your Kindle. Introduction to Physical Oceanography by Dr. Robert Stewart is hosted by Texas A&M University and it is in PDF format. Calculus by Gilbert Strang is offered by MIT in PDF format.

Also, Open Culture collects the list of the usual classics and links for free audiobooks.

Open Source’s list of textbook perhaps is one of the better lists I’ve seen so far. Hopefully, you kindlized students out there will find this source useful. Happy studying!

Reactions to Free E-books

Lately, I can’t help myself but notice a new emerging movement of free e-books haters. Mind you, I’m not talking about the pirated free e-books haters. That emotional response to copyright infringement is congruent. I mean a group of people, who dislikes the fact that:

1) free e-books exist;

2) free e-books are popular among readers.

direct publishingWhere do I see these people? Well, they tend to hang out around Kindle-related websites leaving vehement anti-free e-books comments here and there. You probably know what I’m talking about.

To my astonishment, I discovered a common trait among the free e-book haters (how about I just call them FEH): they tend to be authors themselves. So, why would the wise writers be so against the fact that their fellow writer decided to offer his/hers work for free?

It appears that FEH perceive readers as ungrateful, evil crocodiles who only want to consume free stuff and never pay for the literary labor. Well, that’s just silly! A thankful reader, who enjoyed a freebie will always go looking for more books by the author he/she enjoyed.

So, I have a theory. You see, FEH usually are recently sprouted authors with one e-published work, with some useless subject matter, say How to Choose Your Paper Mate Pen Wisely: a Very Thorough Guide (sponsored by Paper Mate). So, if they put their sole literary child out there for free, then how would they make their first billion? And that’s how we get “Free e-books spoil people! Let’s close all the public libraries!” (© imaginary FEH).

Of course, this theory relies on a completely hypothetical situation, which is most likely absurdly inaccurate. However, the point is that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) influenced publishing towards making it more accessible. As a result, the modern literary world not only expanded, but also became more commercialized. There are many emerging authors, who write not for the love of writing, but for the chance to “win” a lottery in publishing business. And the concept of free books is just standing in their way.

I hope I’m wrong about it. Although, if I’m somewhere close to the truth – dear FEH, your chances to make a fortune on a useless guide will come true only in case if a million of e-book shoppers will stumble and fall on “buy this guide” button. Or, it might be one unfortunate shopper – stumbling and falling a million times. Perhaps, you might need to reconsider changing a profession from a pure business person to a business person, who writes well. And very possibly, the hostility toward free e-books will somewhat diminish in its proportions.

Yours truly,

- one (e-)book(/guide) author

Happy Birthday Jules Verne!

Jules VerneJules Verne was one of the first authors to venture into the Science Fiction genre during the mid to late nineteenth century.  He wrote about underwater, space and air travel years before their time.  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and Around the World in Eighty Days are all available for free on your Kindle or Kindle DX.

Twenty Thousand Leagues features a submarine called Nautilus that was built to look like a fish.  Smart idea because this way warships are fooled into thinking it is a real fish.  The top fin of the submarine was used to destroy the ships.

As modern readers, some reviewers said that Twenty Thousand Leagues was really entertaining and a surprisingly good depiction of a modern invention.

Around the World in Eighty Days is full of adventure and other crazy shenanigans.  Phileas Fogg and his companion, Passepartout, set off with limited funds to make it around the world in eighty days.  By completing the task, they would win a large wager.  Along the way, they nearly get arrested, get attacked by Indians, and nearly lose each other through missed connections to various part of the journey.  It is crazy what lengths they have to go through to make each leg of the journey.  We have it easy with cars and airplanes!

Verne uses A Journey to the Centre of the Earth to education readers on life in ancient times such as the Ice Age and when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth.  This book kind of reminds me of the show “Land of the Lost”, where a father and his two kids fall through a crack in the road, and end up in the dinosaur age.  A Journey features Professor von Hardwigg, his nephew Harry, and their guide, Hans.  The professor believe that there were tubes in volcanoes that lead to the center of the Earth.  They come across many geological artifacts and other unexpected adventures.  This book is said to be the most outdated of all of Verne’s books, but it still has some merit in terms of how it looks at the earlier times.

The Collected Works of Jules Verne consists of 36 novels and short stories written by the author, including the three that I just mentioned.  This is a great deal, and the reviews are all really good.  I like that you can have all of Verne’s works in one place.

For a little more background on Jules Verne’s life, take a look at my Kindle Screensaver Blog post.

Free Kindle Books on Open Library

Open Library is an amazing non-profit project (partially funded by California State Library). It is trying to catalog book (and e-book) titles and their locations, thus creating a gigantic library. As Open Library owners describe, “One web page for every book ever published”. The idea is to be able to find any book’s location – be it in a store, library, or in electronic version. Open Library is an open project. Anyone can (and is encouraged to) participate: adding book titles, editing the existing catalogue, fixing typos. Also, their software and documentation are also open. There is no registration required for downloading free e-books. However, you need to register on Open Library if you want to participate in the project.

KindleI have to warn you: finding where to download a free e-book is not really intuitive in Open Library. To find a free e-book, you need to type the book title/author’s name in the search bar (there is also an advanced search option, where you can also look for a book by ISBN, subject, place, person, or publisher); check “Only show e-books”. On the results’ page the list of books will have one of three icons – borrow, DAISY, or read.  All the available e-books have the “read” icon beside the book title.  Press “read”.  It should open the book in read-online mode.  Press the icon “i” on the top right corner, next to the “play” option.  It will open a menu with available e-book formats: PDF, Plain Text, DAISY, ePub, and finally, my favorite, “Send to Kindle” option.  Ta-da!

As you might have noticed, other than “read”, there are two more icons appearing in the Open Library search results: “borrow” and “DAISY”. “Borrow” finds the book in the closest to your current location library (it searches by zip-code); and DAISY is a format for vision-impaired readers. According to Open Library, DAISY offers “the benefits of regular audiobooks, with navigation within the book, to chapters or specific pages.” You can find out more about DAISY on their official website.  As far as I understand, DAISY format is not that easily accessible.  One needs to get a key issued by the Library of Congress NLS program.

Quite frankly, I think I’m very impressed with Open Library’s book catalogue idea and its execution.

Some Thoughts on Free E-books

KindleHow often do you read free e-books on your Kindle? Always? Most of the time? Sometimes? Rarely? Does the fact that the book is free, make your reading process more enjoyable? Yes? No? Maybe?

As I’m looking for different sources for free e-books libraries, I come to conclusion that every single source for free e-books has some disadvantages. Aside from Project Gutenberg and ManyBooks.net (most of its books originate from Gutenberg), all of the free e-book libraries are highly commercialized. It really depends, which way a website owner decides to go – either infest a book catalogue’s pages with ads; create membership fees to highly disadvantage free membership’s choices; or even insert advertisement pages in the “free” e-books.

Of course, it’s understandable. There is absolutely no profit for these websites’ owners to invest their time in producing high quality free e-books. So, the free e-books theme is just a way for many to bring users to the website. And advertisements are their actual products. I see so many fake free e-book sites without real content – it’s starting to get on my nerves. It appears that all the domain names with “free e-books” are taken for these exact purposes. To find one site, be it with ads, but containing actual e-books, I go through ten fake ones.

I mean, really, ginormous kudos to Gutenberg for doing what they are doing. And if you are feeling generous, I do encourage you to make a donation to Gutenberg Project to keep them alive. It is tax-deductable.

Another issue with free e-books is that, of course, they are poorly edited. Even Amazon freebies’ content suffers in the quality: as some people noticed that most of Amazon Free Kindle books have editing errors (such as missing passages). Also, my beloved Gutenberg’s e-books are not all perfectly formatted.

Do you notice when a book is poorly edited? Does it bother you much?

Free E-books for Newbies (Part II)

If you’ve been in relationship with your Kindle for a while now, then there is nothing new for you in this post. If you are new to the whole e-books searching process, then I will be proud to present you the best source for free e-books available on the internet.

Basically, the biggest chunk of free Kindle e-books is resting on the backs of two elephants: the aforementioned Amazon’s free e-book collection and Gutenberg project.

Don QuijoteGutenberg is the most gorgeous e-book project I have seen so far. It is almost twice as large as Amazon Classics. There is no registration needed for downloading e-books. There are no flashing and eye-irritating advertisements (compared to other free e-book libraries). Gutenberg e-books are available in Kindle-friendly .MOBI format; and usually, there is an option, whether you want to download a book with or without images.

Aside from the enormous collection of classics, Gutenberg has an impressive collection of books in foreign languages – Spanish, Greek, Latin, Russian, German, French, Japanese etc. Maybe I will finally fulfill my dream to read Don Quijote in the original.

It has the majority of well-known old texts, so if you are a History student – you will always be able to find some works of such authors like Herodotus, Thucydides, Plutarch etc.

The universal problem with the quality of free e-books does not escape Gutenberg. Most books are converted in MOBI format automatically, so there is no guarantee that the e-book will look perfectly on your Kindle.

Some Free E-books from Forgottenbooks.org

Forgotten Books was recommended to me by a reader, Glynn, who, I’m guessing, is affiliated with this company.   Forgotten Books is an independent publishing company focused on reviving old print.

To tell the truth, I do not really like what Forgotten Books is doing with their free e-books feature.  And the reason being – their free e-books are in low quality .PDF format.  To attain a copy of a high-quality .PDF, a person has to pay a membership fee.  I have hard time understanding, why Forgotten Books are trying to charge for better quality .PDFs for the books that are free from copyright and generally available online for no cost.

Fol Tales From the RussianAlthough, they do have this e-book of the day for free feature – if you sign up for their subscription, you can download their book of the day in good quality .PDF for your Kindle for free.  Today’s book of the day is actually the reason, why I changed my mind and decided to write about this source.  Today’s book of the day is Folk Tales From the Russian by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal (first published in 1903).  The Tsarevna Frog, Father Frost, Baba Yaga and other awesome fellows!  This book is also available on Google Books (in .EPub and .PDF) and on Surlalunefairytales (online only) for free.  Also, it is available on Amazon for $1.75. Russian Folklore tales are wickedly good.   I sincerely encourage you looking into them.

So, I signed up for the subscription and downloaded Folk Tales From the Russian from Forgotten Books.  I have to say that putting a line through the e-book is very uncool of you, Forgotten Books.  Google Books’ version of this book is way better quality.

Perhaps, Forgotten Books’ other books of the day will be as cool as today’s.  And I hope they will improve their not-so-reasonable-for-now free e-book offers.

Free Kindle Books for Newbies

Alice
What is the first thing a new Kindle owner does? Right! The dance of joy. Okay, but the next thing?

Dorian GrayAs for me, it was the diving into the ocean of Amazon’s free classics I always wanted to read, but did not have the patience to. Now – guess what, when I’m stuck on an airplane, frankly, I have no escape. Also, getting free classics from Amazon, with their 1-Click feature, is the most convenient way for me to upload the books on Kindle.

Great Expectations – one day I’ll read it, maybe, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I haven’t read it yet. Click.
Well, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is my sacred text I always have on my bedside. Click.
The Picture of Dorian Gray – to have it in my pocket always available for re-reading.  Upload.
The Sayings Of Confucius – to impress one professor I know.  Click.
The Prince – for the same purposes as the book mentioned above.  Click.
Prince

However, remember that with free cheese there is always a catch. According to Amazon’s reviewers, some of these books are sloppily edited (missing certain passages and such), which completely ruins the experience if you are trying to savor one of your most favorite books. On the other hand, if you want to get familiar with some works for the general education purposes and you are not planning on conducting an in-depth analysis of this or that character, then perhaps the imperfect, but free editions will suffice for you.

Also, Amazon has a page with limited time offers for certain e-books. Some e-books are listed for a nominal price, some are cheaper than usually, and some are free.

Free Kindle Books on Feedbooks

Feedbooks is a book store, selling books and e-books with an unpredictable price deviation in comparison the Kindle Books on Amazon.  Some books are cheaper and some books are more expensive than Amazon’s selection.  So, before buying a book from Amazon, perhaps, you would want to check it out on Feedbooks first.  You might save a dollar, or two.  Or not.

FitzgeraldHowever, e-books are being sold all over the internet.  Finding places where to buy e-books is not that challenging any more.  So, from this point of view, Feedbooks’ selection of priced books is not much of an interest for me.  I’m on the quest of finding free e-book libraries for your Kindle.  And if you click on “Public Domain” section, Feedbooks provides a limited, but still worthy of checking out selection of free e-books.  The registration for downloading the free e-books is optional.

ForsterOnce you found that special book for your solitary enjoyment, do not press “download” immediately.  It will automatically download the e-book in EPuB format.  Click on the book’s title and then you will have a choice of downloading the book in PDF or “Kindle” format, which is actually .MOBI.

As I already said, by all means, it is not a large free e-book library.  However, you can still find Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which is not available on Amazon for free (the prices vary from $0.95 to $11.99).  Also, there is Cory Doctorow’s I, Robot available for free (not available in Kindle Books on Amazon).  And those, who complained about free Kindle Edition of E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View (missing passages and such), give it a try to this version on Feedbooks, maybe it is better.

Happy reading.

Kindle Screensavers – What Do They Mean?

Ever wondered about the story behind the Kindle and Kindle DX screensavers?  Here are a few tidbits about them.  If you ever get a chance to go to New England, you will find the artifacts of the lives of many of these famous literary figures.

Famous Authors, Playwrights and Poets

Harriet Beecher Stowe – She is the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Stowe was born on June 14, 1811 and was the daughter of the well known religious leader, Lyman Beecher.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a revolutionary anti slavery novel that set the anti slavery movement into motion.  Stowe publicly spoke out against slavery and included her views in her other writings.  She wrote 20 books total.  You can visit her house in Hartford Connecticut.  It is right beside the Mark Twain house.

Mark Twain – One of my favorite authors.  He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Both are hilarious, and I love the way Twain writes in the the jilted dialogue that they speak in.  His house is in Hartford, Connecticut, and is a sight to see.

John Steinbeck – Also a favorite of mine.  His most well known novel is The Grapes of Wrath, which is set during the Great Depression, and follows a family of Oklahoma sharecroppers who face economic hardship and desperation.  They somehow manage to hold on to a glimmer of hope for the future as they travel to California to find work and a better future.  Of Mice and Men is another one of his famous works and describes the tragic journey of two ranch workers, one of whom is mentally retarded.

Agatha Christie – Bestselling writer of detective novels.  She has sold 4 billion copies of her novels which is the most copies of books sold short of the Bible.  Many of her books are available on the Kindle, including the Secret Adversary, which is free.

Jane EyreCharlotte Bronte – Well known for her novel, Jane Eyre.  This is a gripping story that involves many plot twists and turns, a tragic fire and a crazy ex wife.

James Joyce – He is most well known for his book, Ulysses.  The protagonist, Leopold Bloom and the other characters of this book are modeled off of Homer’s Odyssey.  Ulysses is one of the greatest works of modern literature.

Virginia WoolfMrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse are two of her most major literary contributions. Woolf struggled mentally with sexual abuse and from nervous breakdowns following the death of her mother and father.  You will find her life experiences reflected in her works.

Alexandre Dumas – He began his career as a playwright, but later switched to novels including Count of Monte Cristo and The Three MusketeersThe Count of Monte Cristo chronicles the resurgence of Napoleon and the events of the Bonaparte family’s reign.  The novel gets its name from an island that Dumas visited where Louis Napoleon, Napoleon’s cousin was imprisoned. It also discusses the racial prejudice against his father, who was of Haitian descent and a general in the French Army.  The Three Musketeers features d’Artagnan, a guard over the musketeers.  The three musketeers are three friends who have an extremely tight bond.  They look after each other at all times.  This novel is the first of three novels in a series called the d’Artagnan Romances.

Jules Verne – One of the founders of science fiction.  Well, what was considered science fiction in the nineteenth century that is.  His novels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days all explored sea and space travel before they were even invented.  Considering how mainstream those are now, it is really interesting to have historical reference to these ideas as something far fetched or futuristic.

Emily Dickinson – Most of her fame came after her death when most of her poems were Emily Dickinsondiscovered.  She lived in the Dickinson family homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts her whole life with the exception of her brief stint at Mt. Holyoke Seminary.  Death of loved ones throughout her life resulted in a great struggle with depression.  I visited her grave not too long ago, and got a glimpse of her house.  The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson is available on the Kindle

Jane Austen – For more information about Jane Austen and her novels, check out the Pride and Prejudice Kindle Blog Post or the Jane Austen Kindle Blog post.  She does a great job of capturing the social atmosphere of the early nineteenth century.

Durer – An important figure in the Northern Renaissance and one of the first European landscape artists.

Authors Formerly Used as Screensavers

Edgar Allan Poe – He is known for introducing the detective-fiction genre and also was a contributed to the science fiction genre. His poem, “The Raven” was a huge success.  Poe completed one semester at the University of Virginia, but left due to lack of money.  He also tried and failed as an officer’s cadet.  So, you can probably see how his life struggles influenced the tone of his writings.

Oscar Wilde – An Irish writer, playwright and poet, his most well known works are The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being EarnestEarnest is a play that puts a humorous spin on the Victorian social scene.

John Milton
– He served under Oliver Cromwell during a time of religious and political upheaval in England.  His most famous work is Paradise Lost, an epic poem about Adam and Eve, their fall from grace and the consequences that follow.  This poem does a great job of exploring the major issues of the time.

Lewis Carroll – Author of the famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  His tales are unique and great for the imagination.

Symbols and Paintings

Sibylla Samia – depiction of the ancient Greek priestess who prophesied Jesus’s birth in the stable.

“Albertus” page – glyphic, serif font named after the thirteenth century German philosopher Albertus Magnus

Hercules Constellation – Fifth largest constellation and is named after the Greek mythological hero Heracles.  The constellation was named by the ancient astronomer Ptolemy.

Man at table with lion in foreground

17th century astronomer & his wife w/ giant sextant

the Audubon finches-in-a-tree

Fish

Illuminated page with Iohannis aquila in upper right corner

Cathedral floorplan

Woman with Book

Kindle 3

Kindle Themed Screensavers

Kindle definition – formerly one with falling letters, now it is the definition with a tree in the background.

Kindle feedback request w/ some sort of coding machine – On the Kindle DX, the feedback email is [email protected]

These are all of the ones I’ve found so far, if you know of any others that I may have missed, let us know!

Some Free E-books on Free-ebooks.net

I am slightly disappointed with www.free-ebooks.net for trying to rip off fellows Kindle-ers, but it might be useful for someone, so I will hide my judging stare away.

111 Egg RecipesI have many problems with this site.  The first one is the domain name – “free ebooks” is kind of a way overboard name for a site with such limited availability of the actual free e-books.

Another issue with this site is that .MOBI format is available only for an upgraded membership.  They have e-books in .PDF format for no charge, but here is the catch – you can download only 5 books per month for free.

One more minor annoyance: they require users to register for downloading e-books.

Also, the site’s content is poorly edited – some book titles have typos, sometimes authors’ names are missing and so on.

So, yes, the site is limiting from all ends.  However, the selection and variety of the books is quite large.  The library is not restricted by the usual classics, to the availability of which we are so used to.  I enjoyed the quantity of “100 Recipes of Something-Something” type of cook books: 111 Egg Recipes, 300 Chicken Recipes, 300 Recipes for the Grill and so on.  I also liked the selection in the Tutorials section.  There are books like: Build Your Own Home Theatre, An Introduction to Pipe Band Drumming, or even How to Create a Garden Pond.

Hence, if you are looking for a very specific book, this is a good back-up source.

Free E-books from BookRix

Here is another emerging resource with free books – bookrix.com. This is not the largest e-book library in the world; it has a little bit less than 13,000 books available for your pleasure. The site has a good and clean design and it is not overwhelmed by ads.

The downside of this library is that it is less Kindle-friendly as we are used to. BookRix offers books in EPub format and that means conversion for the Kindle crowd. Hello, Calibre.

Edgar PoeThere is an optional registration for the book lovers, which is actually a good thing – BookRix has a pretty solid roster of active users. I like when e-book libraries have user involvement, because that usually means there are book reviews. And book reviews help me in deciding which new and unusual book to pick.Joseph Conrad

So if you were thinking to read good old Edgar Poe’s The Raven for free, then welcome to BookrRix ($0.99 on Amazon). Also, BookRix has Joseph Conrad’s Mirror of the Sea available for free ($0.95 on Amazon).

BookRix is an emerging-author-friendly site. So, if you are hiding your first book creation under the pillow, not sure if the world is ready to buy it, but kind of, hesitantly, but surely, want the world to read it for free, then Bookrix has a good audience for you. Try it out! Maybe your baby will get harrypotter-popular!

And, of course, if you are not a snobby classics-only avid reader, then perhaps you will discover a young author you will fall in love (of literary admiration, that is).
Enjoy.

Free Kindle Books from Bookyards

HemingwayPerhaps, you will find not so widely known free e-book library www.bookyards.com a valuable source in your search. They proclaim themselves as a “library to the world”, but against the grand proclamation, it has a modest collection of approximately 17, 000 downloadable e-books. It does not require any forms of registration for downloading e-books. SteinbeckAnd all the e-books are available in supported by Kindle .PDF format.

You can enjoy Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck for free (compare to Amazon‘s $12.99); or Hemingway’s The Sun Always Rises ($11.99 on Amazon); F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby ($10.99 on Amazon). However, I have to admit, Bookyards’ fiction section is quite limited.

This free e-book library is mostly education oriented. So, a student, or a researcher, or just a curious erudite might find this resource a very useful one. If you were looking for an electronic version of C. Bresciani Turroni’s Economic Policy For The Thinking Man, or perhaps the Marquis de Nadaillac’s Manners And Monuments Of Prehistoric Peoples, or Charles Marquis Smith’s Electric and Magnetic Measurements (all of which are unavailable in Kindle edition on Amazon) – then Bookyards will become your favorite source for e-books.

The organization of the site is pretty easy to navigate; all the available e-books are a couple clicks away from downloading. Also, Bookyards displays the list of the most popular downloaded e-books on the front page. To my giggly astonishment, one of the most downloaded books is not Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (kudos to Project Gutenberg’s Top 100), but it is Sharipov’s Classical Electrodynamics! See? What an extremely different contingent of e-book users frequents Bookyards.

I hope you will find this library useful in your free e-book search.

Free Kindle Books For New Owners

There’re any number of new Kindle owners out there now, thanks to the holiday gift giving season.  Mayhaps you picked one up for yourself, but chances are good that many new owners are those who didn’t see it coming.  The first thing you’re going to want to do, of course, is get some reading done!  The fact that the Kindle is one of the few eReaders to come with no preloaded content can be a bit off-putting to new users for exactly this reason, but there are options! You just have to know where to look.

Kindle Classics

The easiest books to find cheaply, or in this case freely, have always been those out of copyright pieces that nobody really has any claim to.  If you’re interested in classic literature, and I’m going to assume that you are, then you want to check out the Kindle Popular Classics section of the Kindle Store.  They have thousands of titles sitting around for you at no cost that you are almost certain to recognize.

Didn’t find what you were looking for there?  The major standby for free classics is, of course, Project Gutenberg.  They have everything you can think of, in most cases, but it’s a little bit harder to use since it means an extra step to get those .mobi files to your eReader.  Still, with 33,000+ books to choose from it might be worth the dragging and dropping to your Kindle via USB.  Technically you can even download these and email them through the Whispernet wireless delivery option, but that might well cost you a few cents and it isn’t that much more convenient unless you completely lack USB ports free.

Other sites endorsed by Amazon as great options are Manybooks.net, openlibrary.org, and archive.org.  You’ll find a lot of overlapping content, but each has its own uniquenesses.

Promotional Freebies

You’ve got two main types here.  The easiest one to find in any quantity is the Kindle Limited Time Promo listing.  From time to time authors or publishers find it beneficial to push new authors, books, games, etc by giving them away and spreading the potential word of mouth range a bit.  Take advantage!  You might not find any of your favorite authors on here, but it’s a great place to try to find something new.

The other type can be a little bit harder to come up with.  In this age of self-publishing, some authors will throw out their first couple books, or the first couple in a series, for free on an ongoing basis.  As yet I haven’t found a reliable way to search specifically for this as a category, but look around and check some reviews and you’re likely to have some luck at least coming in cheaply.

Overall, your options are plentiful even without spending a dime.  I’m not claiming these are all of your options, or even the best of them, but they are the easiest given the Kindle‘s lack of open format support.  If you’re new to the eReading marketplace, chances are you’ll have a good long while before you work through what you have available right off the bat.  Enjoy your new toys!

Tolstoy and Kindle

The Elegance of the HedgehogAs I was reading Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog (which I quite enjoyed, by the way), I could not help myself but notice that the author emblematizes intelligence and erudition in one particular author, Leo Tolstoy. I found it a little amusing and curious – in order to demonstrate the concierge’s intellectuality, Barbery keeps mentioning Tolstoy as her favorite author. The hilarious part, of course, is that she names her cat Leo and that is supposedly what highly intelligent people do. Tolstoy, in fact, becomes the reason why the concierge befriends one of the wealthy and highly educated residents, Mr. Ozu. He is also a fan of Tolstoy, and also gives his cats Tolstoy-related names – Kitty and Levin, from Anna Karenina (which by the way, is free in Kindle edition). And do not question his intelligence! Of course, he is a bookworm – he read Tolstoy!

War and PeaceIt is not the first time, when I see Tolstoy’s name being dropped here and there as a symbol of individual’s high education. I do not want to dwell upon the thought, whether I agree or disagree with such choice of symbol for erudition. However, Tolstoy’s novels do look intimidating just by looking at the size of the paperback, and even worse – hardcover books. I remember, when I was reading War and Peace, I think, I developed an unusual group of muscles – right around my wrists, just by holding the heavy tome of War and Peace. Also, snuggling with such book in bed is not as comfortable due to the weight of the volumes. And I’m not even going to begin discussing the pains of carrying such book around and reading it in public transportation or in the office, while you wait for the appointment. I mean, it’s not only that you look hilarious behind a gigantic book – almost like Harry Potter behind an encyclopedia of magic spells. It’s just simply impossible to carry such enormous weight around.

The beauty with Kindle is the readily available collections of Tolstoy’s novels for sale. And, also one would not feel intimidated by the ginormous size of Tolstoy’s books. If you considered reading Tolstoy, went to the bookstore, flipped through the pages and ran away scared of the amount of pages, then seriously consider giving Tolstoy another chance – try reading his works in Kindle. Yes, you can still see how many pages there are. However, the beauty with e-books is that they conceal the intimidating part – the physicality of big volumes. You start reading, get into the plot, and you would not even notice until you are through with the novel. War and Peace around is priceless.

Jane Austen: A Timeless Collection of Classics for Kindle

If you are a Jane Austen fan, what could be better than having all of her novels in one available for the Kindle and Kindle DX for only 99 cents?  The Works of Jane Austen includes Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Love and Friendship and Lady Susan.  The collection also includes a biography of the author, as well as indexes for each novel.

You can download her novels including Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion individually for free.  I think it is easier to have them all in one place though.  The reviews of The Complete Works of Jane Austen are nothing less than 5 stars.

One thing that stands out about Austen’s Emma is that it is more of a character study novel than a romance.  So, for those who prefer less romance, this one is your book.  Emma is about a rich young woman named Emma who takes Harriet Smith, a beautiful, but not so smart young girl under her wing.  Emma tries to dictate Harriet’s love life and meddles in everyone’s affairs.  She learns the hard way that she does NOT always know best and that controlling other peoples’ lives do not put you in a favorable light.

Emma’s controlling and self absorbed nature is a trait we see often today.  The trait may manifest itself in more modern day ways, but the trait remains the same.  So, the reader can relate to the novel despite that it was written so long ago.  However, many readers are not a big fan of Emma’s character, which in turn reflects on their opinions of the novel as a whole.

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s debut novel.  It explores the romantic misfortunes of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne.  It is interesting to discover the reactions of each as they are betrayed by the men they love.  Marianne is a free spirit with disregard for society rules, whereas Elinor is much more rational and reserved.  The novel shows that a good relationship requires a balance between romance and reserve.

Persuasion was Austen’s final novel, and it was published after her death.  As with her earlier novels, this one explores the social aspects of nineteenth century England.  Anne Elliot is persuaded to leave the love of her life because he did not allow her to move up the social ladder.  Years later, he reenters her life and she never found anyone else.  The message is to follow your heart and instincts.  Often, even your closest friends may not be right about who you are meant to be with.  This sentiment is true even today.

Not too long ago, I read a book called According to Jane by Marilyn Brant that follows Ellie from high school to age 34.  Through this time, Jane Austen lives in her mind as a friend and confidant.  As you read this book, you will find elements from Austen’s novels.  Ellie and Sam are a modern Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Ellie is persuaded to go against her instincts in many cases and suffers one romantic disaster after another.  I like the tone of this book and I like how Brant makes Jane such a natural part of Ellie’s life.  According to Jane brings you into the life of the character and makes you feel like you are experiencing life right along with her.

Jane Austen Kindle books: Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Kindle EditionPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, is a classic most of us remember from English class in high school or college.  You can download it on the Kindle and Kindle DX for free along with many of her other beloved books including Emma and PersuasionJane Austen does an excellent job of caputuring the essence of ninteenth century courtship and marriage.

Pride and Prejudice features the Bennetts, a country bred family with aspirations to move up on the social ladder.  Their income and way of life is at the hands of a distant relative.  If Mr. Bennett dies, they lose everything.  So, the future is in the hands of the Bennett daughters who must marry for financial security and for good social standing.

After meeting Mr. Bingley and his friend, Mr. Darcy, Mrs. Bennett sets out to marry them off to at least one of the her daughters.  Mr. Bingley quickly takes to Jane, the oldest daughter and they enjoy a pleasant relationship and marriage.

Much of Pride and Prejudice is focused on Elizabeth Bennett, the second oldest daughter.  She is sought after by Mr. Collins, but the feelings aren’t mutual.  So, he settles for Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte instead.  Society today can still appreciate the distinctions of marrying for love versus marrying to settle.  The emotions of jealousy and longing involved are timeless.

The relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is an unlikely one because they have to overcome the obstacles of conflicting personalities, as well as interference from Mrs. Bennett.  In efforts to not reveal key parts of the story, I urge you to pay attention to how their relationship unfolds.  Elizabeth is smart, has a great sense of humor and deals with the issues with her siblings and meddling mother quite well.  She shows traits of independence and intellect that is unusual for women of that day and time.

It all depends on your literary preferences.  Some really connect well with Pride and Prejudice and Austen’s other novels.  Others find it boring.  Austen does such a great job of developing her characters and interconnecting their lives.  She also has a very unique writing style that will always be revered in the literary world.

What do you think of Austen’s books?  Do you have a particular favorite?