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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
One of the biggest advantages of something like a Kindle is supposed to be the amazing savings that one can expect from owning such a device. Books should be cheaper, according to the vision that many had of what eReading was going to be. Obviously we have not quite realized that dream, with publishers keeping eBooks at prices similar to hardcover books, but all is not lost! There are hundreds of authors releasing free or nearly free books every day through the Kindle Direct Publishing system. So many, in fact, that it is all but impossible to even keep up with a list, let alone read them all. There are plenty of established successes to draw on even now, though, while I try to come up with a decent list of newer authors to pass along to you. (I would welcome suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The often overlooked, or at least undervalued, source of cheap literature is older titles that have fallen out of copyright. Sometimes they’ve fallen very far out of copyright. For a while, it was pretty obnoxious to even try looking through these books in the Kindle Store since anybody who felt like going through the effort could post their own copy in hopes of making a few dollars. In the past several months they have made a major effort to clean things up and remove duplicate copies. It’s a mixed blessing since some of the approved ones remaining seem to be bad OCR copies rather than something a person has actually looked over, but suddenly it is a lot easier to find interesting things to read.
Now, a lot of people definitely seem to think that the so-called ‘classics’ are by definition dry and hard to get through. I certainly wouldn’t recommend Bleak House to a Harlequin fan, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of perfectly approachable titles out there to take a look at. Here’s a few that I hope you’ll find enjoyable. Not all are free, mainly in cases where free copies were poorly formatted to the point of being hard to read, but all are under $3.
She by H. Rider Haggard
You’ve got an ancient family mystery dating back thousands of years, a secret society hidden in the heart of the unknown, supernatural powers, and near immortality. This would be an amazing movie, if only the reaction to certain scenes involving the treatment of death wouldn’t be so extreme.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Everybody knows the broad outlines of the story, from movies if nothing else, but you miss a lot without reading the book. Some of the most hilariously flawed ‘heroes’ that you are ever likely to read about. You may be surprised by how off base your expectations are, if you’ve never read it before
Sherlock Holmes Collection by Arthur Conan Doyle
Another selection that a surprising number of people have never given a chance to. This particular collection contains all four of the novels and 46 short stories, which I believe make up the whole out-of-copyright collection. It’s been said that what fascinates people about Holmes is not the process he uses, but how much fun it is to watch him do it. Give it a try for yourself.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
This book is a great suspense/mystery book with just a little bit of the fantastic thrown in. It is really a fun time overall and has quite possibly the best villain ever(who was, coincidentally, modeled physically on the author himself according to many accounts!) This one would be worth it for that character alone.
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.
Where 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.
- one (e-)book(/guide) author
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.
Gutenberg 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.
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.
Although, 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.
As 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!
It 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.
Joseph Conrad is famous not only for his works adapted into well-known films such as Apocalypse Now and Sabotage; he also stands out as he was a Polish-born novelist who learned to speak English fluently in his twenties and then wrote in English, too. Many books are available now in Kindle edition, some of them for free.
Heart of Darkness first appeared as a series in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1899 and was published as a novella in 1902. It was partially based on Conrad’s experiences in the Congo as he served as a steamer captain. Though the book is famous on its own, Francis Ford Coppola made it even more well-known, having adapted the novella into Apocalypse Now changing the Congo to Vietnam and Cambodia during the Vietnam War. “Assigned by an ivory company to take command of a cargo boat stranded in the interior, Marlow makes his way through the treacherous forest, witnessing the brutalization of the natives by white traders and hearing tantalizing stories of a Mr. Kurtz, the company’s most successful representative.”
The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (published in 1907) is set around the life of Mr. Verloc, a London businessman and spy. The book is different from other Conrad’s works as it does not deal with the usual seafaring themes; instead, it is considered a political novel since it describes revolutionary groups and anarchists. Alfred Hitchcock had adapted the book for his movie Sabotage released in 1936. “This absurdist story is noted for its adept characterizations, melodramatic irony, and psychological intrigue.”
Lord Jim (published in 1899-1900 in Blackwood’s Magazine) is believed to be based on true facts, though Joseph Conrad never admitted that openly. As a ship with pilgrims travelling to Mecca is about to sink, the crew members abandon the vessel and the passengers. Having faced the court for this crime, the first mate Jim redeems his guilt in a remote settlement in the Indonesian archipelago. “The novel, which explores the nature of the human spirit, is a delicately crafted picture of a character who reaches the status of literary hero.” The book was twice adapted into movies: by Victor Fleming in 1925 and by Richard Brooks in 1965.
Joseph Conrad on Kindle
If you are already a fan of urban fantasy or would like to get to know this genre, you may well start with The Wild’s Call, which is offered for free on Amazon, compliments of Luna. “It is seven years after the collapse of modern civilization, and the world is entering a new Dark Age. Can best friends Elysia and Darien trust the animal spirits that are beckoning them to escape into the wilderness and create a new way of life?” The book is a prequel to Jeri Smith-Ready’s Aspect of Crow trilogy, including Eyes of Crow, Voice of Crow and The Reawakened, the first two available in kindle edition.
Until the end of March you may also get a free download of Laura Lippman’s short mystery story The Babysitter’s Code. A babysitter finds a gun in the house where she is working, and that makes it difficult for her to stay within the babysitter’s code. If you like it, take a look at Lippman’s short story collection, Hardly Knew Her, “…filled with delightfully unanticipated twists and reversals…”
As part of celebration its 60th anniversary, several Harlequin are available for free on Amazon.com according to official Amazon Kindle Blog:
- The Bride’s Baby by Liz Fielding. “Events manager Sylvie Smith is organizing a glittering fund-raising event: a wedding show in a stately home. She has even been roped into pretending to be a bride…a bride who’s five months pregnant…”
- Dancing in the Moonlight by RaeAnne Thayne. “Lieutenant Magdalena Cruz had come home-And all she wanted was to be alone…”
- A Very Special Delivery by Linda Goodnight. “It was the surprise of a lifetime for recluse Molly McCreight when single dad Ethan Hunter entrusted her with his infant daughter while he delivered medicine to an elderly man during an ice storm…”
by Janice Kay Johnson. “When a blizzard strands Fiona MacPherson and her students in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, their only hope of survival is to seek shelter at Thunder Mountain Lodge…“
Stranded with a Spy
by Merline Lovelace. “When Mallory Dawes, suddenly infamous in the States, decided to take that vacation to France, her problems were just beginning: a lost passport. A car swept out to sea…”
His Lady Mistress
by Elizabeth Rolls. “When Max, Earl Blakehurst, meets Verity he sees a downtrodden servant. He doesn’t recognize her as the daughter of a colonel under whom he used to serve, the girl he’d once helped years before…”
by Nancy Warren. “Dylan Hargreave thinks I’m an actress paid to pose as his girlfriend at a North Carolina society wedding. How did this happen to me, of all people…”
According to Amazon Blog, following Kindle books by Random House will be available for free until May 31, 2009:
- Settling Accounts Return Engagement by Harry Turtledove. “In this well-thought-out alternate history, the first in a new trilogy, Turtledove combines elements of the Civil War and WWII with disturbing results. Confederate President Jake Featherstone has launched an undeclared war of revenge on the U.S.A…“
- His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. “In this delightful first novel, the opening salvo of a trilogy, Novik seamlessly blends fantasy into the history of the Napoleonic wars. Here be dragons, beasts that can speak and reason, bred for strength and speed and used for aerial support in battle…“
- Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt. “Pratt is a deft storyteller whose blend of suspense, magic, and dry humor kept me entertained and turning pages. Blood Engines is one of the most absorbing reads I’ve enjoyed in a long time, gluing me to the couch…“
- Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. “The bastard sons of kings play a noble role in fantasy: not only were King Arthur and Modred by-blows, but it is often suggested that Merlin himself came to power from the “wrong side of the bed.” While Hobb’s offering has a few too many illegitimate heirs backstabbing around, this is still a delightful take on the powers and politics behind the throne…“
- Red Mars by Stanley Robinson. “The first novel in the astounding trilogy, Red Mars chronicles the lives of the first arrivals to Mars. The planet that the settlers find is empty of life and many of the pioneers want to begin changing the ecosystem right away to be suitable for human life…”
All of these books are ranked pretty high in the Kindle store now. And although I have plenty of books lined up for reading right now, I will download these while they are free and before I forget so I can read them some time later.
Just a heads up on current amazon promotion running until March 9, 2009. I’ll mak a habbit of regularly updating on this topic which I have recently neglected.
If you buy “Murder In The Latin Quarter” by Cara Black, you will receive “Murder In The Marais”, another installment in the mystery series about detective Aimee Leduc for FREE.
If you are interested, details and interview with Cara Black can be found on official Amazon Kindle Blog.
While this is technically not free, costing $1 comes pretty close to it. Book publisher Orbit is running a promotion allowing Kindle owners to download one of their books per month for one dollar.
Almost free eBook for March 2009 is Empress By Karen Miller. It’s a fantasy story of Hekat, who is no more than an unwanted mouth to feed, worth only a few coins from a passing slave trader. But Hekat was not born to be a slave. For her, a different path has been chosen.
Another good place to download free books for your Amazon Kindle is http://www.munseys.com/. Main website itself is a bit heavy for Kindle Basic Web to render so you can use section of the website that is specifically optimized for mobile browsing: http://www.munseys.com/joomla/. There you can browse books by category. Within categories you can search. Unfortunately you can’t search all of the categories at once and you can only search by book title.
Still it’s a very nice place to get books. Books are in Mobipocket PRC format and most have usable table of contents. As of 3/1/2009 munseys.com boasts 23,853 books in it’s collection.
This is the second post in the Free Kindle Books series…
It so happens that there are 4,800+ books that Amazon.com has made available for Kindle owners to download for free. Books are delivered via WhisperNet just like the paid books. But price is $0.00 (you save 100%).
You can find these books by sorting your search results by price from low to high. If you are in luck free books will be on top of the list. You can browse the complete 400 page list.
I’ll gradually build complete list of these books and make it available on this website. For now here is a list of free books by my personal favorite, Mark Twain.
P.S.: As I was building the Mark Twain list I’ve noticed that althogh Amazon website features 4,800+ titles, many books are split into multiple parts so number of actual titles available is lower.
This post commences series on absolutely free books available for Amazon Kindle. There are many places on the web that have very good literature available for Kindle for free legally and these places are worth knowing.
First such place is ManyBooks.net. It has 20,000+ public domain books digitized and hand proofed by Project Gutenberg. ManyBooks.net adds value by making these books available for download in many formats including Kindle native AZW which makes if very convenient.
You can visit ManyBooks.net using Kindle browser via WhisperNet and books will be added to your collection once they are downloaded or you can download files to your PC and copy them to Kindle via USB connection or SD card. One drawback is that website wasn’t designed with Kindle browser in mind and is a bit awkward to navigate
There is also mobile version of the website available at mnybks.net. It’s more optimized for mobile browsers including one on Kindle. You would want to download Mobipocket PRC versions as they are the ones natively supported by Kindle for direct downloading.
So you can read great classics like Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Alexander Dumas and many others completely free.
Anna is the jewel of St. Petersburg society until she leaves her husband for the handsome and charming military officer, Count Vronsky. They fall in love, going beyond High Society’s acceptance of trivial adulterous dalliances. But when Vronsky’s love cools, Anna cannot bring herself to return to the husband she detests…
They were all in this business–Dick Allenby, inventor and heir-at-law; Jerry Dornford, man about town and wastrel; Mike Hennessey, theatrical adventurer; Mary Lane, small part actress; Leo Moran, banker and speculator; Horace Tom Tickler–alas, for him!–was very much in it, though he knew nothing about it.
Mr Washington Wirth, who gave parties and loved flattery; old Hervey Lyne and the patient Binny, who pushed his invalid chair and made his breakfast and wrote his letters–and Surefoot Smith.
There came a day when Binny, who was an assiduous reader of newspapers that dealt with the more picturesque aspects of crime, was to find himself the focal point of attention and his evidence read by millions who had never before heard of him–a wonderful experience.
Mr Washington Wirth’s parties were most exclusive affairs and, in a sense, select. The guests were chosen with care, and might not, in the manner of the age, invite the uninvited to accompany them; but they were, as Mary Lane said, ‘an odd lot’. She went because Mike Hennessey asked her, and she rather liked the stout and lethargic Mike. People called him ‘poor old Mike’ because of his bankruptcies, but just now sympathy would be wasted on him. He had found Mr Washington Wirth, a patron of the theatre and things theatrical, and Mr Washington Wirth was a very rich man.
He was also a mysterious man. He was generally believed to live in the Midlands and to be associated with industry.
His London address was the Kellner Hotel, but he never slept there. His secretary would telephone in advance for the Imperial suite on a certain day, and on the evening of that day, when supper was laid for his twenty or thirty guests, and the specially hired orchestra was tuning up, he would appear, a stout, flaxen-haired man in horn-rimmed glasses. The uncharitable said his flaxen hair was a wig, which may or may not have been true.
He was perfectly tailored. He spoke in a high, falsetto voice, had a trick of clicking his heels and kissing the hands of his lady guests which was very Continental.
His guests were hand-picked. He chose–or Mike chose for him–the smaller theatrical fry; members of the chorus, small part actresses, an obscure singer or two.
Once Mike had suggested a brighter kind of party. Mr Wirth was shocked.
‘I want nothing fast,’ he said.
He loved adulation–and had his fill of it. He was a generous spender, a giver of expensive presents; people living on the verge of poverty might be excused a little flattering.
You could not gate-crash one of Mr Washington Wirth’s parties, invitations to which came in the shape of a small oblong badge, not unlike the badge worn by the ladies in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, on which the name of the invited guest was written. This the recipient wore; it served a double purpose, for it enabled Mr Wirth to read and address each of his guests by her name.
Mary Lane was well aware that the invitation was no tribute to her own eminence.
‘I suppose if I had been a really important guest I shouldn’t have been invited?’ she said.
Mike smiled good-naturedly.
‘You are important, Mary–the most important person here. The old boy wanted to know you.’
‘Who is he?’
Mike shook his head. ‘He’s got all the money in the world,’ he said.
She laughed. Mary Lane was very lovely when she laughed.
She was conscious that Washington Wirth, albeit occupied with the cooing attention of two blonde lovelies, was watching her out of the side of his eyes.
‘He gives lots of parties, doesn’t he?’ she asked. ‘Dick Allenby told me today that they are monthly affairs. He must be rich, of course, or he wouldn’t keep our play running. Honestly, Mike, we must be losing a fortune at the Sheridan.’
Mike Hennessey took his cigar from his mouth and looked at the ash. ‘I’m not losing a fortune,’ he said. Then, most unexpectedly: ‘Old Hervey Lyne a friend of yours, Mary?’
She denied the friendship with some vigour. ‘No, he’s my guardian. Why?’
Mike put back his cigar deliberately.
The orchestra had struck up a waltz. Mr Wirth was gyrating awkwardly, holding at arm’s length a lady who was used to being held more tightly.
‘I had an idea you were connected,’ he said. ‘Money-lender, wasn’t he? That’s how he made his stuff. Is Mr Allenby related to him?’
There was a certain significance in the question, and she flushed.
‘Yes–his nephew.’ She was a little disconcerted. ‘Why?’
Mike looked past her at the dancers.
‘Trying to pretend they enjoy it,’ he said.’ They’re all getting gold-mounted handbags tonight–you’ll get yours.’
‘But why do you ask about Mr Lyne?’ she persisted.
‘Just wondering how well you knew the old man. No, he’s never lent me money. He wants gilt-edged security and I’ve never had it. Moran’s his banker.’
Mike was one of those disconcerting men whose speech followed the eccentric course of their thoughts.
‘Funny, that, Mary. Moran’s his banker. You don’t see the joke, but I do.’
She knew Leo Moran slightly. He was by way of being a friend of Dick Allenby’s, and he was, she knew, a frequent visitor to the theatre, though he never came ‘back stage’.
When Mike was being cryptic it was a waste of time trying to catch up with him. She looked at her watch.
‘Will he be very annoyed if I leave soon? I’ve promised to go on to the Legation.’
He shook his head, took her gently by the arm, and led her up to where Mr Wirth was being delightfully entertained by three pretty girls who were trying to guess his age.
‘My little friend has to go, Mr Wirth,’ he said. ‘She’s got a rehearsal in the morning.’
‘Perfectly understood!’ said the host.
When he smiled he had white, even teeth, for which no thanks were due to nature.
‘Perfectly understood. Come again, Miss Mary Lane. I’ll be back from abroad in three weeks.’
She took his big, limp hand and shook it. Mike escorted her out and helped her into her coat.
‘Another hour for me and then I pack up,’ he said,’ He never stays after one. By the way, I’ll bring on your gift to the theatre.’
She liked Mike–everybody liked Mike. There was hardly an actor or an actress in London who had not agreed to take half-salary from him. He could cry very convincingly when he was ruined, and he was always ruined when hard-hearted people expected him to pay what he owed them.
Download “The Clue of the Silver Key” by Edgar Wallace for your Kindle:
“The Clue of the Silver Key” by Edgar Wallace [.azw file]
A suggestion and a highly intriguing one–on how to settle the problems that involve face-saving among nations! A great short story by Nathaniel Gordon.
Excerpt from the e-book:
It was stifling hot in Jerusalem in the afternoon of June 16, 1956, and Major General Terence Patrick O’Reilly, United States Army, was rather more bored than usual. His Army career had gone well—two stars already at forty-five—until the mysterious workings of the Pentagon had given him perhaps the most frustrating posting a soldier could have.
He was chairman of the mixed United Nations armistice commission trying to keep the uneasy peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors. For months he had presided over unending investigations of border incidents, some petty, some not so petty. He had signed reports reprimanding and recommending and approving, but nothing ever came of them, and he no longer expected anything ever would.
Today’s hearing was different, and not strictly in his field. But because he was an engineer, and because both Arabs and Israelis trusted him, he had agreed to listen to their opposing arguments on using the waters of the River Jordan.
Too many years ago, the United States had offered to provide most of the funds for a “little TVA” on the river, benefitting both Israel and Jordan alike. At first, both had refused outright to have anything to do with the other. But over the years, skillful negotiating by Eric Johnston, the American President’s personal envoy, had brought Israel and Jordan closer and closer together—until now they agreed on the disposal of ninety per cent of the water.
But farther than this they would not go. For months, years, they balked on the remaining ten per cent, and the dams remained only blueprints.
Terence O’Reilly was sick unto death of the arguments, and thought everyone else was, too. He had heard them over and over; he knew them by heart. He knew they were evenly balanced, with justice on both sides. He knew both nations longed for a settlement, but he knew neither would back down, for reasons of “face.” Worst of all, he knew that any decision of his was meaningless. It was purely advisory, and he knew all too well what “advisory” opinions counted for out here.
Yet he tried to look interested as the delegate from Jordan wearily produced an argument that every man in the conference room could recite word for word. In a brief lull, General O’Reilly groaned: “Why don’t they toss a coin for it?” It was not as sotto voce as he meant.
The Arab delegate stared at him. “I beg your pardon!”
Flushing, General O’Reilly apologized, but the Arab was already talking excitedly to his fellow delegates. Puzzled, O’Reilly heard a confused babble of Arabic, then sudden silence.
The Arab delegate had a glint in his eye as he asked for the floor.
Download “The Golden Judge” by Nathaniel Gordon for your Kindle:
“The Golden Judge” by Nathaniel Gordon [.azw file]
As promised, following on from last weeks promotional e-book “Nate” by Beth Williams” by Samhain Publishing, this week you can download their second promotional e-book “Giving Chase by Lauren Dane” absolutely free from today (August 4) until August 10.
Here is the book synopsis;
Together they find a special love?can it survive the threat stalking her?
Some small towns grow really good looking men! This is the case with the four Chase brothers. The home grown hotties are on the wishlist of every single woman in town and Maggie Wright is no exception.
Maggie has finally had it with the men she?s been dating but a spilled plate of chili cheese fries drops Shane Chase right into her lap. The sheriff is hot stuff but was burned by a former fianc?e and is quite happy to play the field.
After Shane?s skittishness sends him out the door, Maggie realizes that Kyle Chase has had his eye on her from the start. Now that Shane has messed up, Kyle has no intention of letting anything stop him from wooing her right into his bed.
Despite Maggie?s happiness and growing love with Kyle, a dark shadow threatens everything?she?s got a stalker and he?s not happy at all. In the end, Maggie will need her wits, strength and the love of her man to get her out alive.
Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, graphic language, and some violent situations.
Download Giving Chase (Kindle Edition) by Lauren Dane – free until August 10.
A practical handbook of pertinent expressions, striking similes, literary, commercial, conversational, and oratorical terms, for the embellishment of speech and literature, and the improvement of the vocabulary of those persons who read, write and speak English. By the American author and former instructor in public speaking at Yale University.
American writer, Grenville Kleiser (1868-1953), is best known for his writings on humor, inspiration and positive thinking. Besides Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases, he authored Model Speeches for Practice, Successful Methods of Public Speaking, The Training of a Public Speaker, and others, all now published by PDQ Press. Kleiser is quoted nearly as often as Mark Twain thanks to his wit and insight Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment. To every problem there is already a solution whether you know it or not. It is often better to have a great deal of harm happen to one than a little; a great deal may rouse you to remove what a little will only accustom you to endure.
It is a wonderful resource for writers.
Excerpt from the e-book:
The most powerful and the most perfect expression of thought and feeling through the medium of oral language must be traced to the mastery of words. Nothing is better suited to lead speakers and readers of English into an easy control of this language than the command of the phrase that perfectly expresses the thought. Every speaker’s aim is to be heard and understood. A clear, crisp articulation holds an audience as by the spell of some irresistible power. The choice word, the correct phrase, are instruments that may reach the heart, and awake the soul if they fall upon the ear in melodious cadence; but if the utterance be harsh and discordant they fail to interest, fall upon deaf ears, and are as barren as seed sown on fallow ground. In language, nothing conduces so emphatically to the harmony of sounds as perfect phrasing–that is, the emphasizing of the relation of clause to clause, and of sentence to sentence by the systematic grouping of words. The phrase consists usually of a few words which denote a single idea that forms a separate part of a sentence. In this respect it differs from the clause, which is a short sentence that forms a distinct part of a composition, paragraph, or discourse. Correct phrasing is regulated by rests, such rests as do not break the continuity of a thought or the progress of the sense.
GRENVILLE KLEISER, who has devoted years of his diligent life to imparting the art of correct expression in speech and writing, has provided many aids for those who would know not merely what to say, but how to say it. He has taught also what the great HOLMES taught, that language is a temple in which the human soul is enshrined, and that it grows out of life–out of its joys and its sorrows, its burdens and its necessities. To him, as well as to the writer, the deep strong voice of man and the low sweet voice of woman are never heard at finer advantage than in the earnest but mellow tones of familiar speech. In the present volume Mr. Kleiser furnishes an additional and an exceptional aid for those who would have a mint of phrases at their command from which to draw when in need of the golden mean for expressing thought. Few indeed are the books fitted to-day for the purpose of imparting this knowledge, yet two centuries ago phrase-books were esteemed as supplements to the dictionaries, and have not by any manner of means lost their value. The guide to familiar quotations, the index to similes, the grammars, the readers, the machine-made letter-writer of mechanically perfect letters of congratulation or condolence–none are sententious enough to supply the need. By the compilation of this praxis, Mr. Kleiser has not only supplied it, but has furnished a means for the increase of one’s vocabulary by practical methods. There are thousands of persons who may profit by the systematic study of such a book as this if they will familiarize themselves with the author’s purpose by a careful reading of the preliminary pages of his book. To speak in public pleasingly and readily and to read well are accomplishments acquired only after many days, weeks even, of practise.
Foreigners sometimes reproach us for the asperity and discordance of our speech, and in general, this reproach is just, for there are many persons who do scanty justice to the vowel-elements of our language. Although these elements constitute its music they are continually mistreated. We flirt with and pirouette around them constantly. If it were not so, English would be found full of beauty and harmony of sound. Familiar with the maxim, “Take care of the vowels and the consonants will take care of themselves,”–a maxim that when put into practise has frequently led to the breaking-down of vowel values–the writer feels that the common custom of allowing “the consonants to take care of themselves” is pernicious. It leads to suppression or to imperfect utterance, and thus produces indistinct articulation.
Download “Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases” by Grenville Kleiser for your Kindle:
“Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases” by Grenville Kleiser [.azw file]
Back in May we got wind of a new social fanzine site especially for science-fiction and fantasy readers, Tor.com was due for launch we were told imminently, but as with these things the launch actually didn’t happen for a couple of month – over the weekend Tor.com was launched.
If you read the earlier post you know that had you signed up for the newsletter, Tor was giving away a free e-book every week in their weekly newsletter. Now that the site has launched, Tor will make available all 24 titles that were given away in the newsletter–only till the 27th of July, so head on over to the site and download them–in their Freebies Bonanza, there is a selection of artwork for download as-well, some would make an excellent desktop wallpaper.
Here is the list of all the available e-books;
If your a fan of science-fiction and fantasy books then you might want to bookmark Tor.com, and sign up for access to more advanced community features, whilst the site is still in officially in beta there is a lot there for you to look at and read. There are already some lively discussions going on in the community forum with Tor and Macmillan employees and the blog on the front page is filled with interesting news and stories.
Unless you’re a mathematician, the chances of you reading any novels about geometry are probably slender. But if you read only two in your life, these are the ones. Taken together, they form a couple of accessible and charming explanations of geometry and physics for the curious non-mathematician. Flatland, which is also available under separate cover, was published in 1880 and imagines a two-dimensional world inhabited by sentient geometric shapes who think their planar world is all there is. But one Flatlander, a Square, discovers the existence of a third dimension and the limits of his world’s assumptions about reality and comes to understand the confusing problem of higher dimensions. The book is also quite a funny satire on society and class distinctions of Victorian England. The further mathematical fantasy, Sphereland, published 60 years later, revisits the world of Flatland in time to explore the mind-bending theories created by Albert Einstein, whose work so completely altered the scientific understanding of space, time, and matter. Among Einstein’s many challenges to common sense were the ideas of curved space, an expanding universe and the fact that light does not travel in a straight line. Without use of the mathematical formulae that bar most non-scientists from an understanding of Einstein’s theories, Sphereland gives lay readers ways to start comprehending these confusing but fundamental questions of our reality.
Excerpt from the e-book:
Of the Nature of Flatland
I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.
Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows–only hard with luminous edges–and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said “my universe:” but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things. In such a country, you will perceive at once that it is impossible that there should be anything of what you call a “solid” kind; but I dare say you will suppose that we could at least distinguish by sight the Triangles, Squares, and other figures, moving about as I have described them. On the contrary, we could see nothing of the kind, not at least so as to distinguish one figure from another. Nothing was visible, nor could be visible, to us, except Straight Lines; and the necessity of this I will speedily demonstrate.
Place a penny on the middle of one of your tables in Space; and leaning over it, look down upon it. It will appear a circle.
But now, drawing back to the edge of the table, gradually lower your eye (thus bringing yourself more and more into the condition of the inhabitants of Flatland), and you will find the penny becoming more and more oval to your view, and at last when you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of the table (so that you are, as it were, actually a Flatlander) the penny will then have ceased to appear oval at all, and will have become, so far as you can see, a straight line.
The same thing would happen if you were to treat in the same way a Triangle, or a Square, or any other figure cut out from pasteboard. As soon as you look at it with your eye on the edge of the table, you will find that it ceases to appear to you as a figure, and that it becomes in appearance a straight line. Take for example an equilateral Triangle–who represents with us a Tradesman of the respectable class. Figure 1 represents the Tradesman as you would see him while you were bending over him from above; figures 2 and 3 represent the Tradesman, as you would see him if your eye were close to the level, or all but on the level of the table; and if your eye were quite on the level of the table (and that is how we see him in Flatland) you would see nothing but a straight line
Download “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” by Edwin A Abbott for your Kindle:
“Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” by Edwin A Abbott [.mobi file]
Following on from last weeks free e-book- Geek Mafia.
In this sequel to Geek Mafia Dakan takes you on a thrillride filled with conmen (and women), cross-dressing martial arts experts and a murderous plot. From start to finish the momentum will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. I highly recommend reading the first installment, Geek Mafia prior to this edition so you have a full understanding of the storyline. A fantastic book, I can’t wait for the next release from Rick Dakan! – D. Mobley
Excerpt from the e-book:
TWO and a half hours later, Paul met Isaiah and, as it turned out, Winston at the Blue Parrot restaurant over in Bahama Village. The restaurant was one of Paul’s favorites, and also one of the most popular breakfast joints on the island. Most of the dining area consisted of picnic tables spread out beneath the trees, with chickens scrambling around the mulch-covered ground while the owner’s dogs prowled about hoping for table scraps. The ultra-casual setting belied a relatively sophisticated menu that included seafood eggs benedict that Paul craved at least once a week.
Even at this early hour the restaurant was crowded. This time of year, with so many tourists on the island, there would soon be an hour’s wait. Most of the tables had happy diners chowing down at them. But Paul didn’t see Isaiah anywhere among them. He was about to ask the hostess for a table when his phone started to vibrate in his pocket. It didn’t even surprise him when he saw the number Isaiah had been using on the caller ID.
“I assume you’re watching me from somewhere?” Paul said as he answered.
“Look up,” Isaiah responded.
Paul looked up, first into the trees and then at the second floor of the ramshackle wooden building that housed the restaurant’s kitchen and small indoor dining section. On the second floor was another dining room, one usually closed except on the most crowded mornings. He saw Isaiah standing at the top of the stairs. He’d changed into less formal attire – a pair of jeans and a simple, short-sleeve button-down red shirt. Paul nodded at him and shut off his phone as he made for the stairway.
Upstairs he found Isaiah and Winston both waiting for him at a table, along with pitchers of coffee and juice and a platter of muffins and croissants. They had the small dining room to themselves, and Paul assumed they’d paid for the privilege of not being disturbed any further.
“You found my favorite restaurant,” said Paul. “You seem to know everything.”
Isaiah ignored the barb. “Please, take a seat,” he said, motioning to the chair across from him.
Paul nodded to Winston by way of saying hello, sat down and poured himself a cup of coffee and took a blueberry muffin from the tray. “Is there going to be a waitress coming?” he asked.
“Is there something you need?” asked Isaiah.
“Eggs. Bacon. Toast.”
“If you could wait until we’re finished,” Isaiah said. “It shouldn’t take long.”
“Fine,” said Paul, munching his muffin.
“So, did everything go all right at the hotel?” Winston asked. “Did you…?”
“Yeah, it went fine. We got her out of there.”
“Where is she now?” Winston asked, his voice sad.
“For the moment we’ve got her hidden in a freezer in our backyard,” said Paul. “But that’s not a good long-term solution. It’s not even a good short-term solution. If you could…”
“We’ll help you dispose of it,” said Isaiah.
“I’ll take care of it,” said Winston. Isaiah looked over at the old man and the two stared at each other for half a heartbeat. “She was a friend. I owe her that much.” Isaiah nodded in agreement and they both turned their gazes back on Paul.
Download “Geek Mafia: Mile Zero” by Rick Dakan for your Kindle:
“Geek Mafia: Mile Zero” by Rick Dakan [.azw file]
If you haven’t read the original “Geek Mafia”, then you can download that here for free.
Fired from his job as a videogame designer, Paul Reynolds meets an alluring, conwoman named Chloe. With the help of her gang of techno-pirate friends, Chloe helps Paul take revenge on his former employers. He falls in love with their fun loving, off the grid lifestyle almost as fast as he falls head over heels for Chloe. But can he trust any of them, or is he the one whos really being conned? Inspired by author Rick Dakans own eventful experiences in the videogame and comic book industries, Geek Mafia, satisfies the hunger in all of us to buck the system, take revenge on corporate America, and live a life of excitement and adventure.
Excerpt from the e-book:
Paul Reynolds crisscrossed his sketchbook with furious strokes, filling the pages with images of the vengeance he would take on his former coworkers at Fear and Loading Games. He’d founded the company three years back and, just a few hours ago, his partners and erstwhile friends had fired him without cause or warning. He concentrated hard as his pen brought to life demonic figures from one of the best-selling comics he’d created, scythe wielding cyber-men called Myrmidons who tore into surprised computer programmers with fangs and claws. Elsewhere on the page, computers assembled themselves into 21st century Golems, rising up against traitorous CEO’s and producers to crush them to bloody pulp as they cowered beneath their desks. Sitting at the bar in Señor Goldstein’s Mexican Restaurant in San Jose, California, Paul’s own artwork engaged him for the first time in months, maybe years. Under other circumstances, that would have made him happy. But today’s circumstances allowed only two emotions: despair and a burning desire for revenge. Not wanting to succumb to the former, and not quite wanting to find a gun and go back to the office, he instead drew.
He had turned to a fresh page and begun to sketch his most elaborate revenge-scheme yet when a woman walked into his line of vision. There were four or five other women in the restaurant already (most of them employees), but this one stood out. This one would’ve stood out anywhere. Her hair, cut short and spiky, was dyed a magenta so bright it nearly glowed. She wore a tight black t-shirt, baggy olive drab shorts that hung on shapely hips, and heavy black boots with two inch thick soles. She had a faded black messenger bag slung across her chest, the strap pressing between her breasts. If Paul had to guess, she wasn’t wearing a bra. She definitely wasn’t your average Silicon Valley techie on an early lunch break, and certainly not a restaurant employee.
Grateful for the distraction, Paul focused on the newcomer, chilling his anger for a moment with a swift sip of margarita and melted ice. He ran a hand through his fine brown hair, brushed a few wrinkles out of his Green Lantern t-shirt, and sucked in his bit of beer belly before he turned back to the sketchbook and kept drawing. He didn’t care what his pen pushed onto the page as long as he looked busy. As far as Paul was concerned, a sad man sitting at a bar before noon was not someone that striking young women with ruby hair engaged in random conversation. However, as past experience in many a coffee house and dive bar had taught him, a scruffy artist sketching away when normal folks should be working often attracted all kinds of interesting attention. And so, he sketched.
“I’m here to speak with the manager,” the woman said to the bartender.
“Yeah, he’s here.” the bartender replied and skulked off to find the boss.
The girl leaned forward onto the bar, drumming a random beat on the wood with her knuckles while she looked around the room. Paul, who’d been watching out of the corner of his eye, took the noise as an excuse to glance over at her. She was looking right back at him, smiling.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” he replied. He gave a smile, but inside he was suddenly embarrassed by the attention. He didn’t want to hit on girls. He wanted to get drunk and figure out if there was any way he could avoid his looming fate. But he hadn’t dated anyone in over a year, and some urges – and some women – refused to be ignored.
“What’re you working on there?” she asked.
“Oh, just doodling you know,” he said as he looked down at the page. He’d sketched the outline of a hydra-like monster with five heads and ten tentacles. Four of the heads were laughing as the tentacles strangled the fifth. “I’m a…I’m a comic book artist.”
Was that true? Was he no longer a videogame designer then, just like that?
“Really? Very cool.”
“But tell me something,” she said as she came over and claimed the bar stool next to his. She smelled like soap and shampoo, clean and fresh. “Are you really a comic book artist or are you, like, a comic book artist in waiting?”
“You know, you meet guys all the time in bars or Starbucks or wherever who carry around their notebooks and sketchpads and say they’re writers or artists. But…..
Download “Geek Mafia” by Rick Dakan for your Kindle:
“Geek Mafia” by Rick Dakan [.azw file]
Watch out for the sequel “Geek Mafia: Mile Zero”, which we will put up next week.