Over the past year or so, I’ve been downloading and reading free ebooks from a number of sources – partly because I have a weakness for free, partly because I want to find greats reads for you that you don’t have to shell out a penny for!
But sometimes “you get what you pay for”. Sometimes a book is free because we wouldn’t slog through it for any other reason.
Is that the rule? Are the reading-gems the exception? I’ve dug back through my review archives to figure out which books are worth reading (and worth paying for, even if I didn’t have to).
Note: All deals are listed as of this writing. Authors naturally have the prerogative to change how they charge for their works. By that same token, some books that I loved but couldn’t list because they didn’t qualify might become free again later 😉! Continue reading
You must pick up a fairytale with open eyes. The well-worn road to fairyland is practically paved with princesses, curses, and talking cats. Yet for those not too “grown-up” to venture into the land of fairies, ogres, and millers’ sons, Poison Kiss offers a quick, entertaining read that delivers exactly to genre.
Everyone’s heard of the “Sleeping Beauty” story, so when the king hears that his daughter is to fill the role in the next cycle of the tale, he deliberately snubs the evil fairy and prepares to ban all spinning wheels.
When the fairy responsible for the curse brings originality to the course of events and switches the cure for the curse, the horrified kingdom is left to fear “love’s first kiss” – and wonder how a spinning wheel will help reverse the whole thing. Continue reading
Perhaps it’s a mistake to read reviews (especially critical reviews) before reading a book. I read a few reviews of Submerged, and my memory of one of them amounts to: 1) there is no coral in Alaskan waters, and 2) the female protagonist, in clinging to her past unworthiness, was making a mountain out of a molehill.
A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers.
Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town…until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear.
Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation–and Yancey’s a small town. She’s returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.
Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn’t appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey’s reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he’s not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?
My responses: 1) the Wikipedia page was inconclusive, and 2) yes, she totally is. Continue reading
A Cautionary Tale for Writers
Surfing Amazon one day for “Christian mystery” (or some similar keyword) I came across this book about a crime scene cleaner who finds evidence that the police missed – and it was free! I downloaded it, eager to start reading, and went to load it onto my e-reading device.
File is locked with DRM (digital rights management), meaning I couldn’t read it on my Nook (it’s a Kindle/.mobi file), nor on my dad’s Kindle (device registered to him, book registered to me).
Almost a year later, I did finally get to start reading (because AT&T got me a smartphone, long story short)…but needless to say it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Gabby St. Claire is a professional crime scene cleaner, and an interesting enough character. The perky go-getter type, with an interest in chemistry and forensics, she uncovers evidence in one of the houses she’s cleaning that seems to shed light on a murder investigation.
She then immediately jumps to a conclusion, and pursues that conclusion through the rest of the book. Most sleuths pursue a mystery: she pursued her conclusion…and guys. Continue reading
Wealthy young suffragette Grace Mabry is determined to do her part for Great Britain, not only to help her nation win World War I, but also to end the fighting so her twin brother can return from the front lines.
To this end, she slips into a prestigious costume ball and hands a white feather of cowardice to Jack Benningham – well-known conscientious objector and profligate nobleman.
Unknown to her (and his family), Jack is secretly a spy-catcher for the British government, using his reputation as a devil-may-care pleasure-seeker to root out traitors to his country.
This gripping premise unwound into a TOTALLY different book than I was expecting. But once I got over my initial shock, I reconciled myself to this story as worth reading. Continue reading
Rumplestiltskin meets a steam-punk-esque post-apocalyptic world and an everyman girl in this fairytale-retelling novella.
The story is a competent recast of the classic, and Ms. Pennington has once again crafted a work with deeper philosophical themes. Continue reading
It might seem that to pen a review of literary titaness Jane Austen’s best-known (and possibly best-loved) novel would be presumptuous.
Nevertheless, I shall proceed to gild the lily and explain why, when I finally crossed its threshold several years ago, I found it worthy of every adulation ever laid at its door. Continue reading
Sleeping Beauty is a set designer working for Hollywood. A Romanian gypsy casts spells of time-travel and death. An estranged royal couple mourn the loss of their only child. And the hunky love interest exhibits self-sacrificial love.
Yet, for whatever confluence of cosmic misdemeanors, all the raging richness of this story potential totally fizzled when it hit the dour surface of my consciousness. Continue reading
Ruby Black is a cabaret singer with a lifestyle of cigarettes, hard applejack, and jazz, who pinches pennies from her day job as maid while dreaming of the big time in the opera.
When she’s confronted with a two-year old murder mystery in the person of the victim’s determined fiancé, she gets involved in the dark tale against her better judgement.
This fairytale retelling is perfect for mystery lovers, as chilling suspense combines with a rich writing style. Continue reading
Ten Eleven Romance Hits and Near-Misses!
The Top Ten Tuesday topic for today is “All About Romance Tropes/Types.” I’m not a huge fan of romance for its own sake, but I do have some favorite fictional couples and almost-couples:
In this episode of Dragnet, a military officer’s wife doesn’t see him for two years, and in her loneliness has a baby out of wedlock. To avoid hurting her husband, she decides to secretly give up the baby. It might not sound very profound explained like that, but the profound part is when her husband returns to the country, he not only forgives her, but takes the baby as his own. Now, that’s the kind of romance I can get behind! Continue reading